Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Journey to the Dark Side - Part Deux

Once I was a PC snob, I've converted to the dark side, bought myself a MacBook and now I am a confirmed Mac Nerd.

The Machine

What I like about the Mac:

The Leopard operating system is rock solid.  I've owned my Macbook for over a month and the system has yet to crash.  Boot times for my Dell would take several minutes, for the Mac it runs about 30 seconds and most of the time, I just close it up without turning off the system.  It pops right back up the moment I open the lid.  When I try that it XP, it system would go into a fatal sleep mode.

My MacBook is half the size of my Dell and the batteries seem to discharge much more slowly.  The built-in wireless card connects to my Buffalo wireless network without a hitch.  I connected my laptop to my Canon printer and the system recognized the printer and started printing without a hitch.   I was nervous about getting just 2 gigs of RAM - that's just barely enough memory to run Vista, but apparently that's more than enough memory for the Mac.  So far, it seems to handle everything I've thrown at it.

Programs are seamlessly integrated together.  No need to futz around with settings trying to make programs make nice with each other.

Backup using Time Machine is a dream.  I purchased an external Passport HD, reformatted it for the Mac and hooked it up to the USB port on my Mac.  Time Machine did the rest.  Backups are painless and run in the background.

Oh yeah, the all aluminum case is way cool.

What I don't like:

The glass track pad is a moderate pain in the kiester.  Apple did issue a software patch for it, but it still glitches from time to time.


Being cheap, I opted for iWork instead of Microsoft Office.  Although iWork Pages saves documents in its own format, it can read Word files.  To save in Word, I have to 'export' the file.  Most Mac software is thought of as being more 'intuitive' that Windows, but I'm not convinced.  There's still a learning curve which system you use.  I generally like Pages.  My biggest gripe is that it didn't come with a manual - so help is on disk or on-line.  Whoever designed it wasn't a writer.  Formatting page numbers, especially starting a novel chapter at any page other than page 1, requires plowing through menus.  It's much easier with Word.

Safari vs. Firefox  I haven't tried Firefox for the Mac, Safari satisfies most of my needs.  It doesn't have the Window's version of  Firefox's capability to block ads or install a wide variety of plug-ins, but then again, Safari doesn't have the memory leaks that plague Firefox either.

iPhoto seems lightweight in comparison to Photoshop Elements, so I opted to purchase PE.  I've installed it, but haven't used it much.  To be effective, I'll need to try to hook the laptop up to a monitor.

My biggest gripe on software is the lack of a decent financial management program.  I'd been using MS Money on my PC, but that isn't available for the Mac.  Reviews for Quicken for Mac are abysmal, so I've been searching for something to manage my money.  I tried a turkey called Cha-Ching.  It's a dog, don't bother.  I recently bought something called Checkbook which is okay, but not as sophisticated as Money.  It'll do for now, but there's a market out there for a programmer willing to work on it.

I love my MacBook.  So much so, that I'm thinking about replacing my Dell desktop with an iMac.  Sigh, how far the mighty PC snob has fallen.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Shoeing of the President

The scary thing about this video isn't some guy tossing his shoe at the President.  Hey, more power to him.  The scary thing is the sloppy response by the Secret Service.  Watch the one agent sitting to Bush's right.  He must have his thumb up his ass as he never really responds to the threat.  Replace shoes with a weapon and the President is toast.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Switching to the Dark Side

I've finally succumbed and turned to the dark side.  I've given up on Windows and bought a Mac  Book.  I'd told myself I'd never buy another Apple after they dumped the Apple II line.  My first computer was a beauty - an A motherboard Apple IIe with 64 K of ram (that's kilobytes my friend) and dual 128 5 1/4 inch floppy drives.  It came with a state of the art 10" green and black screen.  That puppy put me back $2500 (that's in 1979 dollars) and I must say it was love at first sight.  I eventually added another 64 K of ram: cost $120, a 10 megabyte hard drive that sounded like a vacuum cleaner and was the size of a small suitcase: cost $500 and a Brother clackity-clack dot matrix printer: cost $300.  The Apple IIe eventually ended up running a creative writing BBS called The Blue Parrot.  The Parrot was up and running for 5 years, an eternity for BBSs in pre-Internet days, then my power supply croaked. Sigh.

Saying no way to Apple products, I drifted from the Atari ST (great machine, no user base) into the IBM world.  Microsoft DOS sucked, Windows was even worse, but like most clones, I made do the best I could.

A few months ago, my Dell Inspiration showed ominous signs of pending failure:  boot errors, frequent blue screens of death - common enough with Windows, but the frequency was increasing.  I looked around - XP was on the way out the door and Vista sounded like hell on earth.  I looked at the new Macbook-a little light on ram , but the reviews were good and the operating system seemed solid.  I said what the hell and plunked down $1300 and took that puppy home.

I haven't been disappointed.

Next:  A review of the computer and software from a long time computer nerd perspective.