A while back, I talked about my family's love for our new MacBook's iChat functionality. For more than a year now, my kids' grandparents have gotten a huge kick out of reading stories to their grandkids twice a week through the iChat audio/video feed. At the scheduled time, we just sign on, and seconds later we're having face-to-face time with extended family 1000 miles away. Yeah, the video conversations will never live up to actual hugs and kisses in person, but they're a fantastic alternative to phone calls and occasional emailed photos.

The MacBook and its iLife suite proved to be a potent introduction to the world of the Mac for this Windows guy. Not long afterward, I owned an iPod and was transferring my sizeable CD collection to the digital realm. (I'm still less than happy with the quality tradeoffs I need to make in this process, and I still love the tactile feel of an actual CD, but my younger friends tell me I'll get past that.) I've spent hours perusing the Apple Store for obscure podcasts and sampling music. So, whereas my music was fairly recently confined to my CD player and turntable, it has now exploded across my computer screen.

Another important part of my family—photographs of our most cherished memories—was relatively recently confined to our old 35mm Canon SLR camera and rolls of film. Like everyone else, we dutifully and judiciously snapped our photos and took them to the lab for processing, hoping they'd come out wonderful. Now we take hundreds of pictures willy-nilly and just weed out the bad ones. We had made the switch to digital photos and the computer before the arrival of the MacBook, but it was in iPhoto that we really started getting excited about photo manipulation and sharing. We use our iMac account to share slideshows and create photo books. Similarly, in iMovie, we can manipulate and share our home movies, using iDVD to make custom DVDs. We're currently setting up our own Web site through iWeb.

I guess I'm mentioning all this with a sense of awe that I've given over so many of my life's joys to a computer. And I'm not saying that you can achieve this kind of life-into-the-computer-realm life change only by way of a Mac. Obviously, you can find any number of similar solutions on the PC. But in my life, it was a Mac that showed me my digital future. My connected-home future. Ironically, now I'll probably be turning back to Windows solutions to really get the quality I want in solutions such as a media center. (And it will probably always be a Microsoft solution at the center of my gaming life.) The sky's the limit in our digital home, and I have a Mac to thank for starting me on the journey.