Section 13. Easier Wireless Networking

13. Easier Wireless Networking

Remember when connecting to the Internet required installing a modem, untangling a cord, unplugging the phone, plugging into the outlet, looking up a dial-up number, and wrestling with modem configuration files?

High speed wireless connections (or WiFi, for short) have changed all that, thank goodness. My Windows-based friends all have WiFi-enabled computers, but they spend more time fussing with their WiFi connection than I do. "What's the hexadecimal equivalent of that ASCII password? Is that WAP or WEP? Where do I tweak my network properties settings?"

My Mac makes wireless networking simple. I open my laptop, I choose a network, I enter my password, and I'm online.

14. Protection from Viruses

Have you ever looked up the list of viruses designed to wreak havoc on the PC?

Have you compared that to the list of viruses designed to attack a Mac?

Macs are not invulnerable. And although OS X (pronounced "Oh Ess Ten"), the Mac operating system, incorporates a number of safeguards, Mac users should back up valuable data and use anti-virus software, just in case.

However, do the math: since fewer viruses can attack the Mac, your chances of becoming a viral victim are drastically reduced when you switch.

15. Protection from Hackers

Almost every week, it seems, Microsoft issues yet another patch to shore up "security holes" in Windows and Internet Explorer. Hackers exploit these security flaws to track your activity, control your computer, and commit everything from mischief to felonies.

No operating system is completely secure, and every computer user should take reasonable precautions. Mac users have powerful security options, including a built-in firewall, a "stealth mode" to hide your computer from prying electronic eyes, and programs such as Little Snitch ($24.95, from that warn you when programs misbehave.

Stories about hackers taking control of Macs remain rare. (The stories you do hear are usually exaggerated.) Want to improve your chances of avoiding a hack attack? Switch to a Mac.

16. Productivity

Switching to a Mac greatly enhanced my productivity. On my Mac, I get more work done in less time.

My Mac doesn't freeze up unexpectedly. When a shareware demo does crash, OS X remains stable. Because I don't worry about the integrity of my Mac, I focus on getting things done.

On my Mac, menus make sense. Controls are consistent. The software I use is more stable, better conceived, and more visually appealing. The result? I love working on my Mac.

Some of America's most popular productivity gurus (like Merlin Mann, whose, pictured in Figure 4, is a frequent stop for fans of David Allen's Getting Things Done philosophy) are Mac users. Want to boost your productivity? Make the switch.

Figure 4. At, Merlin Mann, one of the Web's most outspoken productivity gurus, writes frequently about time-saving "life hacks" for Mac users.

17. Intelligent Monitor Management

Last year, I connected my PC to a digital projector and hit Fn-F8 to display my Very Important Presentationand nothing happened.

I tried other keys. I fiddled with projector settings. I rebooted. Nothing worked.

When you connect your Mac to a monitor or television, the display settings update automatically. Your laptop's screen can mirror the image on the monitor, or you can extend your desktop to cover both screens. If you're making a presentation, you can send one slide to the projector and preview the next on your Mac's private screen.

When you disconnect from the monitor, your Mac will make all the necessary adjustments for you, like magic.