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Shopping for a Mac: A Journey (3)

I bought it. Ordered it on the Biccamera online (because I'm a slave to their point system) and it arrived three days later – “it” being a sleek, all-in-one ''20 display. As with any previous big decisions in my life, in the end, it was anti-climatic. I like shopping, and if a question is whether or not to buy something, I always opt for buying it.

And even when I was wondering if I wanted to become a Mac user, I knew I would have no choice. It has become more about whether I was willing to ditch something I'd been dependent on for a long time (Palm) than if I wanted to convert to Mac computers. And the answer was obvious. I wasn't going to be that royal to a dying platform.

Two weeks later, I'm happy to report that transition has been pretty smooth. Lots of people say that these days you can do everything you do on Windows on a Mac as well, but I'm still impressed with its ease of use. I took out the display, keyboard and mouse out of the box, plugged it in, and connected them with each other, and that was it. Within minutes, I was checking e-mails. (I know it would have taken longer if our house wasn't entirely wired for WiFi.)

Mac people -- both employees and just fans -- never tire of telling us how you can start web-surfing practically the moment you take a Mac out of a box. I've heard it so many times it shouldn't have surprised me. But it still thrilled me; it's a great no-fuss, no-drama system.

Case in point: I unplugged my beloved UBS-connected Brother printer/scanner from the Dell and plugged it in to the new iMac, and printed a map to a restaurant I was checking out the next day. It took me less than two minutes. The same with a headset (for Skyping) and a digital camera.

With Windows, you know what would have happened. You connect something to your computer, a balloon that says something like Windows has detected new hardware pops up, and demand you follow the new hardware wizard. It asks whether you are copying the drive from one place or the other. It will automatically find it, other times you have to find it yourself. Then you watch a silly animation of some papers flying from one place to another. Sometimes I don't know how many times in my Windows days I anxiously watched the whole thing, only to be told minutes later that the setup failed or the wizard couldn't install it. (Maybe it's different with Vista. I wouldn't know.)

Likewise, transferring data from my old Dell to a new iMac has been a breeze. I copied all my Word documents, text, jpeg and pdf files to a memory stick (which I had since way before that guy from Apple Store Ginza told me to buy one) and stuck it into the iMac. No problem with both Japanese and English files.

No problem, either, with moving Thunderbird mailboxes and Firefox bookmarks to the iMac.

The only no no-problem, of course, was my Palm data. I tried to download the latest Japanese Palm OS that's available -- but that doesn't work on the version of Mac OS I have Then I downloaded the latest English Palm OS. That works only in English. More than 75% of my data is in Japanese. Some Japanese Palm devotees have combated this problem for years, coming up with their own "patches" to make things work in Japanese. But none of these patches are good for my iMac. So I tried to install an old Palm OS from a CD -- which of course the computer refused to read. I'd posted questions on a couple of online forums to net zero response. I e-mailed a couple of pals who I knew were Palm users. To my disappointment but no surprise, they had all moved on, conducting their business on their cell phones, Blackberries or iPods.

While wasting time this way, I knew I was fighting a losing battle. I needed it. I needed to be able to tell myself that I did absolutely everything I could before I finally bid farewell to my Palm. Three of them, actually, as I bought two used m505 Palms off Yahoo! Auction out of fear a few years ago when the company stopped marketing the Japanese Palm. (It is a common practice among devoted Japanese Palm users.)

Otherwise I've been happily adopting the life with an iMac. I still have my old Dell set up on a bookshelf next to my desk just in case, but I haven't touched it for days. There is some getting used to regarding how to operate Mac's keyboard and its language converter, but it’s not difficult. At the same time, I didn't exactly fell in love. While I enjoy Mac's neat features like dancing icons on the deck and the volume button on the keyboard, to me it's still just a computer.

Outside of Palm Desktop, there is just one thing I'm going to miss. It's a utility application called Tyu Tyu Mouse so many Japanese have accustomed to. Once you install this program, the pointer, or a cursor, on a screen becomes a cute little animated mouse, and it literally runs around all over the screen. “It” remembers where it often goes, and goes back to where you are most like it to be without your moving the pointer yourself. For example, when there is a window asking you to click "yes" or "no," and if you have answered most of the previous questions "yes," the cute little mouse will quickly run to the "yes" box. And it squeaks while running. When I first bought my own PC -- it was an IBM desktop with Windows 3.1 on it -- that was one of the first sharewares that I installed.

I loved it so much that I upgraded it every time a new version was released, and I installed it every time I had a new computer -- in fact, I had it on all my desktops and laptops I used at home and work. (Except for the computer in the office where I started to work a little over a year ago. The place is pretty strict about not letting its employees downloading applications.) Getting a Tyu Tyu Mouse on a new computer was been a marking ritual; an attempt, in a way, to personify a computer.

Unfortunately, it is a strictly Windows-based application. Now I will have to drag the pointer myself.


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