Thursday, May 10, 2007

A Big Apple in the Big Apple - Switching to a Mac

Carrying the 65 pound box which housed my new computer was no easy feat. The brushed steel tower (which resembles a giant cheese grater) weighs fifty pounds.

The Mac Pro was too big to fit under my desk. And upon examining the interior one can see why. It’s voluminous with minimalist leanings. The components are clearly labeled; there’s plenty of room for expansion. One can install up to 16 gb of ram (in eight slots) and as much as 3 terabytes of storage with four 750 gb hard drives. This would make sense if you were a serious video editor.

I ordered the 2.66 ghz quad core with 1gb of ram and a 250 gig hard drive – this is the base configuration – there are also 3 ghz quad and eight core models. The only add-on was a Bluetooth adaptor.

I was able to get a discount by ordering through a student. It was pretty easy to do and led to a savings of $200 or so. I ordered 2 GB of RAM from an aftermarket vendor as Apple RAM is a rip-off. I plan on ordering another 2 GB in a few months.

5 GB should allow me to live the dream of running all my applications all the time without conflict or decreased performance.

So why did I buy a Mac? There are comparably priced PCs which offer similar stats. In the end, I’m of the opinion, that the operating system is far superior to Vista or XP. In every debate I researched, Apple was a winner – which is surprising considering they only have 5 – 6% of the computing market. Even hardcore PC users admit that Apple is better; the exception is gamers.

My first impressions of the OS 10.4 Tiger were good. I had anticipated waiting for the launch of 10.5 Leopard – this was postponed until the Fall so I went ahead and pulled the trigger.

First impressions?

The interface is clean – the system does not come pre-installed with a bunch of crappy programs – although there were a few I deleted right away. Uninstalling them is easy enough (one simply drags them to the trash can).

The computer is fast – all that RAM comes in handy. I can tell when browsing, where Firefox alone is taking up 500 megs of RAM with 25 separate tabs open. Web applications like GMAIL and an AJAX inspired BlogSoop backend load much faster than on the PC.

At first I was very frustrated by some of the differences in keyboard layout. What’s the deal with the Open Apple Key?? It’s in a terrible position for copying and pasting stuff – an activity I find myself doing quite often. It took me about two hours to reconfigure the keyboard so it behaves as a PC. This was no small feat. If Apple wants to draw more PC-users away, they should make it a simple process. The core differences are the ALT & CNTRL keys as well as the Home & End Keys.

The stupidity of a one button mouse speaks for itself. It’s completely nonsensical to not have two buttons. While I do like the ‘Mighty Mouse’ rolling track ball, I decided to set up my own mouse instead. I had to spend some time configuring a back button. I recommend finding a mouse with a 4th button near ones thumb. Going “back” a page on websites is the second most commonly used method of navigation on the internet.

I was able to "find" copies of Office 2004 (for MS Word, Excel and PowerPoint) as well as the new Creative Suite 3. (I need to better version so I can exploit the Bridge functionality – which now makes sense that I have a computer powerful enough to run all programs in parallel.)

One feature I love is the ability to minimize an application and have it hide away out of site and mind. In Windows one always has to see open programs in the Taskbar at the bottom of the screen. Another great feature is Spotlight, a computer wide keyword search – functionality Windows has finally introduced with Vista.

A further complaint is related to the way windows are displayed without a solid background. I find this distracting. I don’t want to see my desktop if I’m working on something. This will be resolved with the introduction of ‘Spaces’ in Leopard, where one can alternate between four different desktops.

It also seems that the Mac was not set up with dual monitors in mind. The menu bar, which in PC’s is always at the top of a running application, is permanently fixed to one screen. So, for any applications running on my second monitor, I have to mouse all the way over to the far left corner to access the menu.

All in all, I’m happy with the switch. I feel much more elegant in my computing. I’m sure I will only continue to enjoy the Apple as time passes and I adjust.


Blogger gregory said...

It only gets better as time passes!!!

1:41 PM  

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