Notes from my research on the Big Switch

Joined
Feb 28, 2006
Messages
3,047
Location
Green Bay, WI
The switch from a PC to a Mac has become an emotional topic of almost religious proportions. I don’t care which one I get. I am not joining a social club, I am buying a machine. Plain and simple. So here is my review of the situation with no prejudice one way or another. If you think I am slanting toward a PC or Mac think again…. I wrote most of this up as a summary so I can make my decision. I thought I would share it here for others considering the big switch. If it helps great! If it gets a PC or Mac person mad…well, sorry I guess.

I will not be responding to any posts as this is nothing more than my review and as such I am done with my decision.

I have taken the last 6 weeks to try and understand the realities of switching. My consideration came about as I discovered that my home computer has become my darkroom for 80% of the time and the remaining 20% is spent doing work in operating my paper converting company. The imbalance provided a reason to explore whether I could accomplish my 20% business work even if I switched to a Mac. Additionally, I have heard that Mac’s “just work” and my Daughter has a PC that was being bombarded with AOL stuff as a result of ever 13 year old requirement of instant messaging. If ever there was a need to have something “just work” this was it…..

To make sure I gave everything a fair shake I bought a 1.83ghz, 1gb ram Mini about three weeks ago and my daughter is using it now.

The Processor:
The Intel chip Mac’s are outstanding. But surprisingly they have some limitations in using the full capability of the machine. This is not Apple’s fault, but Adobe’s. The entire Adobe Suite is not compatible with the Apple Intel Chip. In order for any of these programs to run (ie: Photoshop CS2) the computer has to do some calculations behind the scenes before feeding it to the processor. This “filter” is called Rosetta. A program that utilizes the full Intel power is said to run “Natively”. If a program was not written specific for the Mac Intel chip then it needs to “run under Rosetta” and it does not utilize the full horsepower of the Mac’s processor and will run slower than if it was run on a similarly equipped PC. Which is interesting considering Mac’s market perception of “better graphical processing power”. Technically I can prove, at least right now, that that is not true when using Photoshop. (Note: I said horsepower….not software)

It sounds like this will correct itself in spring of 2007 when Adobe releases a “universal” or “binary” version of the Creative Suite (perhaps called CS3). However, there will be an upgrade cost and no-one really knows what that might be yet.

Start-up
The Mac came out of the box and I plugged it in and turned it on. The hook-ups are the same as a PC and the power up process took the same as my P4 2.4ghz PC. Despite a 4,000kbs DSL line it took 15 minutes to download the updates. It rebooted itself three times and then came up. The experience was about equivalent to my last PC start-up. No better, no worse. I did enjoy the fact that I did not need uninstall all the free junk that comes with my Dell machines

Network:

I have a wired network and plugging in the cable brought up the options. I struggled to share files and printers until I discovered that Mac’s have a series of “invalid” characters in share names. One being a “space”….so I needed to re-name all my printers and shared files and re-build the network. Fine I guess, but not the plug and play some seem to suggest it is and proof the Mac’s have their quirks in networking as well.

Software

The reality is Mac’s make up less than 10% of the PC population. As a result Software for the Mac is not a prevalent when compared to a PC system.

I like music running in the background while I process photos. Either streaming radio or off my playlist. My PC options include a slick “sunshade” WinAmp, MusicMatch, Windows Media Player & iTunes. Of these I really like WinAmp for streams and Music Match for my library. iTunes is my least favorite as it restricts music portability to an iPod. I won an Ipod, HP iPaq and a MP3 player. Itunes will not interface with the latter two. Yes, you can do some drag & drop to these devices outside of iTunes, but that is not the most intuitive way to do things and certainly a compromise. I have not found any player options other than iTunes for the Mac. MusicMatch & WinAmp do not exist. Windows media Player did for awhile but support was dropped and this is a dying application on the Mac.

Aperture is a pretty nice piece of software for us photo folks and might be a tipping point. It is Apple specific and not available to PC’s. The trial version I have messed with is pretty sweet. It is a light table, slide sorter, advanced editor and more all in one application. It’s $300 but probably worth every nickel from what I can see and could actually be the tipping point for some of us on the fence. It is that cool. This software has crashed twice on the Mini processing d200 Raw files and that is a little concerning….but it might just be the computer’s inability to handle 16 MB files. It would be cool running natively on a MacPro

MS Office for Apple is pretty nice and a nice clean interface. So far operationally it exchanges seamlessly with my PC version at work. I like that a lot.

I have other software I like (Photodex Pro Show Gold being one) and that is also not available for Mac’s. The Intel MacPro have two ways you can actually run PC programs on a Mac. You will need a legal copy of Windows XP to use these. BootCamp is a free download from Apple and after some installation work will allow you to select which operating system you want when you boot-up the computer. Parrells let’s you actually run a PC in a window on the Mac desktop. This is a slower approach to running PC only software, but is the quickest way to gain access to the programs. Compared to a PC the Mac by far has the most flexibility

In general Software releases are slower or non-existent for the Mac’s when compared to PC’s. Apple software of course is the exception. The most surprising is the delay in Adobe’s release of their Creative Suite to take advantage of the new Intel based Mac’s. Time will fix this, but the reality is it will run faster on a PC than a Mac…right now.

Interface:
The interface isn’t any better or any worse IMHO. It is just different. 20 Minutes and a capable PC person can find their way around the Mac OS. I actually like the PC version of file management a bit better as I can drag and drop files around quicker with multiple open windows…but I haven’t bothered with trying that on a Mac yet as it is no big deal either way.

Virus’s
It appears there are some variations on why Mac’s don’t get virus’s….
1. The OS is written as a sharing type code and is inherently harder to crack and infect the system. That makes me feel good.
2. The other is that there just aren’t enough Mac’s out there and it isn’t worth the hackers time to write a code to infect them. That doesn’t make me feel so good.

If the latter is true then it is only a matter of time before virus protection will be a requirement on Mac’s. Right now my Mini does not have any virus software and as a longtime PC user it feels like unprotected sex…. 

It is nice not to update my Zone Alarm and check scan times and results. It just seems odd that I am not getting any spyware and I have no real way to check.

The lack of firewalls and virus protection has the Mini flying on the internet compared to a PC. Downloads are quicker and site transfers are faster.


Plug-ins, add-ons and other stuff
I was surprised when I got to this part. The cool graphical interactive tool “Shockwave” will not run on an Intel Mac unless you change your browsers to run through Rosetta (see above). Interactive kids websites that use this plug-in need to be changed to run in Rosetta….and that slows them down. Moving Buddy Icons don’t work on AOL IM…so what? Well I don’t care, but my daughter does.

In general it seems that latest technology plug-ins do not work as well with the Intel Mac…yet…as they do now with a PC. I have not researched this one to death yet, but buying a Mac and handing it off to a kid that likes those cool interactive websites might be a disappointment until these plug-ins are re-written for the Intel machines. A similarly PC will run these better and faster.


Stability:

The Apple ad’s would have you think that PC’s are a time bomb waiting to crash and destroy your life. As a Marketing professional I applaud their work. It is a brilliant ad campaign and with each computer “issue” a PC person has it re-affirms the Apple “story”. It is some very good advertising and marketing work.

(my first real opinion here) I think that this perception was based on some of the older MS OS such as Windows 200 and 98 and are largely resolved….but that is just my opinion…nothing more less.

However, my experience has shown that a properly maintained PC operates pretty well and actually, considering my Aperture crashes, (see above) has been more stable than the Mini over the past three weeks. In many respects, if you are not comfortable with managing a virus protection program then a Mac is the way to go as there isn’t one to screw with!

Cost
The MacPro is cheaper when compared to a similarly equipped Dell. My recent configured MacPro 3.0 compared to a Dual processor Dell was over $1000 cheaper.


Summary:
The Mac’s don’t “just run” they need human interface to work right. The amount of interface may be less on a Mac but that has not proven the case for me yet. I describe the experience as “similar to a PC but different” Does that make sense?. Networks did not magically set them selves up. Files updates didn’t “just happen” …there was work for me to do and things for me to learn. And I am fine with that. But to proclaim it anything else is a bit blind sighted and naïve.

For me the primary issue is the number of programs that require the Rosetta filter to operate on an Intel Mac. Especially Photoshop, which I use a lot. Long term that will be resolved when the new release is issued in Spring….but that will come with an expense to upgrade. Not saying that’s too long to wait or too much to pay…just the facts.

The amount of software that is limited or non existent for a Mac versus a PC is concerning especially if you have a need for some of the more interactive web stuff and games.

It certainly is nice not to have to worry about Virus software and perhaps that will be the case going forward on the Mac’s, but I for one am not sold on that fact.

This would be a no brainer if more things ran “natively” on the Intel Mac. Of immediate concern would be the number of programs that are not available for the Mac OS coupled with the number that are available buy unable to utilize the Intel chip’s horsepower. Things will get better for sure though.

There are a lot more variables and this is only one man’s honest assessment of the situation….this and 50 cents will buy you a soda.


Result
So what am I going to do? Not telling…………… but I need to order something today.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Joined
May 4, 2005
Messages
503
Location
Salida, Colorado
I have watched all the threads concerning PC and Apple with great interest since a new computer is in my future.

Thanks for a well written and honest article.
 
Joined
Apr 5, 2006
Messages
946
Location
Long Island, NY (ex-London, UK)
Randy, as a happy Dell user sitting in the fence regarding a Mac (fence-sitting mainly due to a total lack of funds) I have really appreciated the time and effort you have put into the previous discourse(s) and this latest personal summary. Sharing your process has helped a lot of people understand "the other side". I feel more educated, and better placed to make an informed decision (when my lottery tickets win).

Thanks again.
 
Joined
Sep 19, 2006
Messages
527
Location
Jupiter, FL
Wow Randy, That is a lot of good information. I particularly like the fact that you wrote it as matter of fact without bias or grandiose generalizations. That is what I like most about the Cafe; People sharing their experiences with the genuine desire to help others.

As for me, I have Dells right now. They are fine, but I do plan on going with Mac next year. The reason for me is OSX.
 
Joined
Apr 30, 2005
Messages
7,819
Location
Gilroy, California
Sounds reasonable to me.

The one thing I would add is that times are changing. Apple is selling Macs at the fastest clip in its entire history. So while it remains a much smaller platform, it is growing and will mean more attention given to the platform.

I've done work on both platforms (and others too) and I still put considerable effort into keeping up with Windows software development. But these days I feel I can dedicate myself to OSX even more than I have in the past.

Some of this is optimism on my part, but I am pragmatic and really platform neutral (I use Windows as much as anything else) and I just see lots of anectodal evidence that this is happening.
 
Joined
Apr 24, 2005
Messages
6,099
Location
Denver, CO
Randy,

Do you have a link to the Disney site that wouldn't work. Amanda plays on there a lot and has not said anything to me.
 
Joined
Apr 21, 2005
Messages
3,625
Location
Houston, TX
The one thing I would add is that times are changing. Apple is selling Macs at the fastest clip in its entire history. So while it remains a much smaller platform, it is growing and will mean more attention given to the platform.
Maybe... as Randy said Apple has been extremely effective in their marketing and for some the supposed "hip" factor of Mac's is really attractive.

But Mac's will never over-take Windows as long as you can only buy a Mac from Apple.
 
Joined
Apr 30, 2005
Messages
7,819
Location
Gilroy, California
Maybe... as Randy said Apple has been extremely effective in their marketing and for some the supposed "hip" factor of Mac's is really attractive.

But Mac's will never over-take Windows as long as you can only buy a Mac from Apple.

As long as it's viable, it doesn't matter if it overtakes Windows.
 
Joined
Jun 2, 2006
Messages
461
Location
Houston
Whatever the outcome, Randy has made an informed choice. A lot of computer users do not.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Joined
May 5, 2005
Messages
185
Location
Covington,LA.
My take

I am not on this site as much as in the past , since I have recently switched systems. However, I must ad my 2 cents.
I find most of Randy's post have a obnoxious, arragant tone.
Nothing personal really, but it puts me off. It seems a 'I know more that you' thing. This one is no exception.
I don't care what he decides to buy..it's his cash. I know I love both of my little Mac's...and can't wait to get another.
In closing...this is my humble opinion..

oh..why am I going to the dark side...I made the mistake and tried a 5d...the rest is history.
Thanks to all who recently purchased my mint condition used Nikon gooies. Please give them good homes...see 'ya on the dark side.
peace..ken
 
Joined
Jun 2, 2006
Messages
461
Location
Houston
Network:[/B]
I have a wired network and plugging in the cable brought up the options. I struggled to share files and printers until I discovered that Mac’s have a series of “invalid” characters in share names. One being a “space”….so I needed to re-name all my printers and shared files and re-build the network. Fine I guess, but not the plug and play some seem to suggest it is and proof the Mac’s have their quirks in networking as well.

Just in case anybody else runs into this. This is a Samba issue, not unique to Macintosh, but Unix systems that use Samba. And some Windows machines also. I believe the spaces in share names would not work with DOS either, seem to recall Lan Manager issues with that long ago. There are other ways to solve it besides removing the space, but that is probably the easiest.
 
C

cgaengineer

Guest
As a long time Windows users I will second Randys findings as I purchased a MAC mini last weekend. I do however love the use, but I still have my Windows Machine attached with a KVM switch.

Its nice to cruise the internet without worries of spyware, but this can be done on Windows with Firefox.

The OSX GUI is not as intuitive as the Windows GUI, nor is there enough options in the right click menu.

Lack of programs, and program support is the main reason to own a Windows machine.

I also like the way the program options in Winows are accessed in the program rather then the file menu of the MAC OS...this seems like a bit more effort is required to access settings.

I to, prefer Winamp to itunes, I am not saying itunes is junk, I just prefer Winamp.

I like how programs install in OSX...no registry changes, if you want something removed...simply delete it...how easy and non destructive is that?

Windows OS is way more advanced then OSX...the amount of custom features is second to none...this maybe more then average user needs, but its there if you want to use it. OSX is stripped down and simple, maybe too simple for a more advanced Windows user.

MSN IM looks just like the one on my Windows machine.

I know the MAC mini is not the fastest machine Apple builds, but I have to say for a machine with a 1.66 Core Duo and 512Mb of ram, this thing skoots along just fine...and likely better then an XP machine of the same specs (Going to download Bootcamp to find out)

So for you Windows users on the fence...go out and get yourself a MAC Mini, I think you will enjoy like myself...Will I ever be a MAC only user?, not likely...but I will likely purchase another one...then I can try Xgrid!!
 
Joined
Jul 22, 2005
Messages
2,322
Location
nashville
Randy,

Personnally I want to know where to get a soda for 50 cents. :wink:

Seriously though I am sure other will benifit from your analysis.

Thanks for the post.

25 cents at walmart:)

Randy this is awesome!! thanks you
 
Very interesting analysis, Randy!

A few thoughts here: First, you are writing from a really brief user experience with a Mac Mini. While the Mini is a cute little machine and gives a lot of bang for the buck, it is not intended to be a computer for running powerful and sophisticated programs like Aperture and CS2. Last year when I was making the decision about which machine to purchase for myself, I ruled out the Mac Mini, even though I was tempted by the low price, small footprint and of course its cuteness factor, because I knew that I would need something more powerful for running CS2 (Aperture came out a few weeks after I had made my purchase). Therefore, IMHO it's really not an accurate assessment of the potential of intel Macs with regard to running programs such as Aperture, CS2 or Office for the Mac through Rosetta when you are talking about a Mac Mini, even a fully maxed-out one. If you had bought and were using an iMac or a MacBook Pro or a Mac Pro for running CS2 or Aperture, I suspect your overall impressions and subsequently your analysis would be very different. CS2 on my MacBook Pro (Core Duo) with 2 GB RAM runs nearly as fast as it does on the native PPC G5 iMac (also 2 GB RAM). It moves VERY quickly on my Mac Pro. The Mac Mini was never meant for running CS2 or Aperture; the target audience is very different and those who know they're going to be running those programs purchase one of the higher-end Macs.

Not quite sure why you had problems with sharing the Mac Mini on your wired network. When I set up my iMac last year, it hooked right into my network, which was primarily wired and had one wireless laptop PC on it. I will say, though, that I never did set the iMac up using an ethernet cable, as I didn't need to do so -- the machine worked flawlessly with picking up wireless signals from the wired/wireless router, so why bother with the ethernet cable?

Is it possible that some of the issues you've mentioned are due to your ISP? For instance, if you're using AOL, hm...... I've been told that it doesn't play well with Macs. Sometimes it doesn't play well with Windows, either -- there's a reason it's often referred to as "AO-Hell!" :biggrin: I suspect the same applies to AIM, as that is, of course, an AOL-driven program.

I don't know anything about kids' games or kids' websites, but I can say that, yes, there are a few websites which are problematic with Safari. This is easily resolved by downloading and installing the Mac version of Firefox.

You mention liking to listen to music while working on projects in your computer....you can certainly do that in iTunes without any problem and without it having anything to do with being able to put the music on a portable music player....Not quite sure what your concerns are here. For me, iTunes was a joyous discovery and once I figured out what it was all about it didn't take long for me to trot back to the Apple store and buy an iPod. For various reasons I hadn't had much interest in portable music players in the past, so this was another whole new world that I was able to explore and enjoy.

Whatever your decision in the end is, whatever it is you decide to purchase, the bottom line is that it's your time and your money.... Whether you purchase an Apple computer or a Windows-based computer from another manufacturer really is no skin off my nose. For me the important thing is that I am happy with the choice I made a year ago and the additional choices/purchases I have made since.... and I can only hope the same for you.
 
Joined
Jan 29, 2005
Messages
2,761
Location
nowhere
It seems a 'I know more that you' thing.

What's wrong with that? I heard that phrase straight into my face many times in my life and hope to hear more. That is because nearly each time I'm learning something :) Backpatting leaves you with nothing.
 
C

cgaengineer

Guest
Connie, I dont think Randy was talking about connecting to wireless/wired network, more of connecting to other computers within the network (File Sharing, Printer Sharing) I am a networking guru and I have yet to connect my mini to a domain...talk about difficult...a workgroup is one thing, a domain is another. As far as wireless...not a problem, all I had to do was convert my 64 bit encryption to 128bit so that I could connect.
 
Thanks, Chris! I just re-read that section and I see what you mean.... OK, it's a little different process sharing files and folders between two Macs and sharing files and folders between a Mac and a Windows-based PC. I didn't have any particular problems, though, in sharing the files and folders from my WIN XP Pro machine with the iMac.... However, I know that WIN XP Pro is much better at the whole networking thing than a WIN XP Home machine is. That might have something to do with it. Sharing between two Macs I later ran into when I bought my PowerBook, but again it wasn't that difficult a process. And believe me, I'm no networking guru!! I do find it interesting that last fall I also was working with my late mother's WIN XP Home machine, trying to get it on the network and had an awful hassle with it. Finally did manage to get it hooked into the network so that I could retrieve necessary files from it, but when I compare the networking experience of the Macs to the networking experience of trying to get that WIN XP Home machine on the network, the Macs were far easier to work with, all the way around. Just my particular experience: others' may vary....
 
Joined
Feb 6, 2005
Messages
3,497
Location
South SF Bay Area, CA.
Well documented experience and void of emotional baggage. Kudos, Randy!

I'd just like to add that Shockwave is really a cousin of Flash, and that software used to be developed by Macromedia, which is now part of Adobe. So, yes, Adobe is the one responsible for not putting out a "universal binary" version of Showckwave sooner, like they are doing with the CS2 suite. I wonder what is the real hold up for this...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macromedia_Shockwave
 

Latest threads

Links on this page may be to our affiliates. Sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
Nikon Cafe is a fan site and not associated with Nikon Corporation.
Forum post reactions by Twemoji: https://github.com/twitter/twemoji
Forum GIFs powered by GIPHY: https://giphy.com/
Copyright © Amin Forums, LLC
Top Bottom