So, despite my whining that a MacBook Pro costs more than $500, comparative to a PC, I shelled out the cash and bought the Apple product. Why?
The thought of buying a Mac could not have been further from my mind even a few weeks ago. However, as I started exploring the tech community around Chicago something stark emerged: at all these meetings, the vast majority of software developers were using MacBooks. One even looked in horror at PC and remarked, "You're using Windows? But Rails does not work very well outside of Mac and Linux environments". I had been coding in Rails for about nine months on a PC, but that very same evening his prophecy proved correct: some of the libraries and programs we were using for the exercise that evening just did not want to work on my PC.
At business school, we learn about how Windows created a network effect: they developed an operating system that gained so many users that application developers wanted to develop for Windows rather than any other operating system. User consequently wanted to buy Windows, because there were so many applications being developed for it.
Strangely, the Apple fan-boys now seem to be creating their own network effect. The inventor and high-priest of Rails, David Heinemeier Hansson, is one of them. Now every Rails developer seems to be following in his footsteps. As the software developer who looked at my PC in horror continued, "Rails developers often don't even test their libraries on PCs, so you're never sure they're going to work... and whenever you watch screencasts of the Rails thought-leaders, they're always using Textmate [an Apple application]".
So there you have it. I'm not one for agonizing through pain in making Rails work on an environment it was not designed for. So I bought a Mac.