A hardcore Windows guy gets a Mac

I have been a Windows developer for many, many years. Before I was a Windows developer I was a DOS developer. I've always been a Microsoft fan, heavily invested in doing Windows development. Really, since 1984 - my first job doing professional software development - I have been true blue Microsoft. When I would watch the Mac ads with the nerdy PC guy and the cool Mac dude I always secretly rooted for the PC guy.

Last year something interesting started to happen. Many of the people in my network of friends and family started buying Macs. They were sick of the hassles of Windows, with the viruses and spyware and ever slowing performance. They seemed to be drawn in to the Apple advertising - it spoke to them. And they seemed very happy.

I wrote that off as non-techies just looking for something new and easy. The Macs did look better with Mac OS X - it seemed like a really smooth operating system. But as far as I was concerned it was just a fad.

Then my daughter was accepted to go to Virginia Tech. She wanted to be a Marketing Communications major so we started looking into everything she would have to buy, including a mandatory PC. I was excited to go out and get her a new laptop with XP or Vista on it until I read that her department required Macintosh. What?!? They said they were "easier" and had fewer problems. Of all the departments for her to want to be in this was the only one that required Macintosh. I was really pissed and so was my daughter. Having been brought up on PCs she wasn't ready to deal with a whole new OS. We decided to simply cave and get her a Mac - a little white MacBook.

At first she struggled with it, trying to figure out how to do the things she was so comfortable with before. When she came home for her first visit however her attitude had changed. She really liked her Mac. Hell, loved the little thing.

"Don't get near my Mac!!!"

She had her music on it, happily surfed the web and used it for e-mail. She got MS Office from the school really cheap and was extremely happy now. This was not what I had expected.

The final straw for me in reevaluating the Macintosh was when two friends of mine that were long time PC guys, heavy techies that were also developers, went out and got Macs. They raved about the machines, talking about how nicely put together everything was and how stuff just worked really well. The funny thing was neither of my friends cited real, hard specific things. It was more a feeling. "I love my Mac". It just seemed so personal.

All of these events led me to think maybe I should get one of these. I could easily justify it because while I have an XP development machine, a Vista laptop, and an Ubuntu workstation, I didn't have a Mac to be able to test the web sites I build. The Safari browser had always been touchy so having a machine that would let me test stuff right away made sense. Yeah, that's it - this is for testing my web based applications!

With the justification out of the way I talked to people about which one I should get, agonized about what would work best and meet my limited needs. I chose a MacBook; essentially the same machine my daughter has. 2.2GHz processor, 2GB RAM, 120G hard drive. Pretty basic.

So what I want to do on this blog is give you a play by play of a hard core Windows guy experiencing a Macintosh for the first time. I'll try to make this as light as I can, focusing on what I find cool and what is a challenge.If you're a Windows person thinking of moving to Macintosh I hope this is of help.

Initial impressions:
Really nice piece of hardware. Screen is really beautiful and somehow feels much bigger than 1280x800. It doesn't have the little fragile things my HP has, with eject buttons protruding and threatening to break off. If nothing else the MacBook design and engineering team knows how to build something that looks really, really nice.

One thing I was surprised by was the keyboard. It looks like a little chicklet keyboard off the PC JR from the early 80s! I thought it would be odd to type on it. I was wrong. The keyboard is a pleasure to type on - very easy to touch type with and the travel on the keys is nice.

It is taking me some time to adjust to the shortcut combinations for navigation and selection though. On Windows I'd hit Ctrl-Right arrow to move the cursor right one word at a time. With Macintosh it's Option (Alt). I'm also used to hitting the End key to pop to the end of the current line of text.  Since this is a laptop keyboard without an End key I now have to hit Command-Right arrow. No big deal, just something to get used to.

Getting started with the Macintosh was pretty easy, with one exception. When it tried to detect my wireless network it prompted me to enter the password for it - it really needed the WEP key. I knew it immediately but I can imagine that someone that was non-technical would need an explanation on that one.

What was completely refreshing though was the complete lack of AOL links, "Free" anti-virus software, Weatherbug, etc., etc. Yeah, it asked me to join the .MAC service (declined) but that was really it. Within a couple of seconds I was able to start surfing the web. The last machine I bought - the one that became my Ubuntu workstation - came with Vista Home Edition. That thing had so much crap on it from HP that the machine was essentially useless out of the box. That's probably more on HP than Vista but with Apple I didn't have to worry about that at all.

Overall, my first impression of the MacBook is very good. My friend Bradley, a heavy techie Windows guy and recent Mac convert, was trying to explain to me why he likes his Mac so much. It's funny but he couldn't really describe it other than to say he really loves his Mac. There's just something about it that makes it feel special.

Always the sceptic I guess I had to try it for myself. I think I'm starting to get why he likes his Mac so much.

Update as of April 7, 2008:
Since I published this initial post I have received over 100K hits on this page. Many folks comments, both here and on Digg, question the depth of this review. It was written on the first day I had my Mac so it's clearly light. If you look through the archive on the left you will see that I've been writing about it steadily for over two months now. My latest post, "After 2 months, why I switched" contains a summary if you are interested.

Thanks for reading!



Nicholas said...

You've joined fellow PC-enthusiast Chris Pirillo in the switch. Check out his 50 reasons to switch from MS Windows to Apple OS X post.

David Alison said...

Hey Nicholas - I just read that post yesterday! I really like his list, I think he hits everything right on the mark and it's clear that he's not just towing the fanboy line.

Michael said...

Congrats on the Mac. I, too, am a long time Windows and DOS developer. I was just tired of running multiple anti-virus programs and anti-spyware programs just to surf the web at home. The funny thing is, I work for Microsoft as a contractor.
But I would not change a thing. I love the Mac; the hardware, the software. It has been a big change for me, but I am learning to get by and I love giving coworks a hard time about their computer crashes.

David Alison said...

I've given up hassling my non-Mac friends to at least try it out. By far the biggest relief since moving to Mac has not been worrying about the viruses and Spyware. I'm sure as the popularity of the Mac continues to grow this platform will start to get the attention of the haxors of the world but right now I'm enjoying the respite.

Kannapolis 2.0 said...

You can fix the home/end problem! Download Doublecommand:

It's a keyboard remapper for Mac.

You'll need this for your programming anyway, to set your keys the way you like in a terminal.

I use it to remap keys so my IBM Model M keyboard can be used perfectly on my Mac! Yea, it's the clicky one from 1984! Now that's a programmers keyboard. You should have:

David Alison said...

@kannapolis: Dude! I used to love clicky keyboards. I even have one of these:
My Mac's Keyboard

Old school FTW!

Actually I try to adjust to each system's keyboard. Remapping makes me feel like an idiot if I try to use someone else's machine. Since I'm pushing to get all Macs in the house anyway were' in a nasty transition state. Thanks for the links though!

BookingAlong said...

Love the Mac but I still use my PC for many things, too. I'm in transition, I guess....and when I reach the tipping point, I'll be fully Mac friendly. :)

Anonymous said...

One of us David. One of us.

David said...

I'm relatively young - 21 - but my dad was a software developer for DOS/Windows as well, so along with that came using my first PC (IBM Monochrome, 10mb HD, 128k RAM - If I recall correctly) at age 2. Pac-Man. I made the switch to Mac about two years ago and have been LOVING it. I still like Windows XP though, and even though my current machine is a MacBook, I have plans to build a windows desktop sometime in the next few months.

Anonymous said...

Good story. Mine is similar except that I grew up on UNIX. I was a developer for IBM back in the 80s and 90s. I left IBM to ride the dot-com wave, and everyone used PCs except for the goofy artsy guys in the graphics dept.

I hated the PCs, but I never tried the macs. Windows felt like a crippled little runt of an OS compared to UNIX. Then I heard that Macs were unix based. I didn't believe it, but after a demo, I bought one and fell in love with it. I'm home again!

Kuda Boalha said...

cant wait to hear what you have to say about the performance in regards to having your development environment on it.

Mike said...

I guess I still don't understand the draw to Mac. They look pretty, yes, and they do what they can do well but what they can do is pretty limited.

A lot of people I know love Apple because they have this illusion that they don't, and won't ever have to deal with viruses. 2 things to point out with that. Right now, Mac is living on security by obscurity. Second, running Windows, you won't see a single virus unless you, the user, don't know what attachments to not click on and what phishing links look like. Randomly getting a virus doesn't happen.

I work in the business of Desktop Support and we troubleshoot both Mac OSX and XP and one thing I really enjoy with a Mac is that when their is a problem, it seems to fix itself, but when the thing really breaks, It's a rough ride to getting it working again.

Another thing a lot of people love to complain about with Windows is all the bloat-ware that comes with it. You as a Windows developer should know how to format a hard drive and get a clean install. Others need not do more than a bit of research to educate themselves on how to remove most, if not all of it.

I guess I don't see what the draw to Mac is. It can't do as much. The Hardware is more expensive and upgrading is a joke. From a functional perspective, they are grossly inferior.

I guess if you are just getting into the world of computing, they are easier to use but as a user from the days of 3.0, I couldn't see me switching to Mac OSX.

Chris said...

Congrats on the new mac. Shortcuts will become second nature in no time, but what's bugging me is what kind of techie protects his network with WEP? You might as well just leave it open.

chineseliveinjavaisland said...

Wow, I thought it's just me.. More interestingly, I also work for Microsoft as a contractor. Michael, did u bring your Mac when meeting with the client ? :)

3DPeruna said...

I'm an architect who's office is heavily invested in Autodesk products. They won't work on a Mac without Bootcamp or something similar...and we spend too much of our day in Autodesk stuff to make it worth it.

We've checked out the architectural software available for the Mac - and it's all worse than Autodesk (not to mention the headaches of trying to transfer files between engineering consultants).

We're stuck with MS. So far, we're OK staying with XP. I'm afraid of the day we're forced to Vista.

Anonymous said...

Your review didn't mention anything substantial about using your new mac. Yeah, it's pretty and sleek. Does it let you do the things you want to? Does it let you develop in the way you want?

Rob said...

I switched to Mac about a year ago, and there's no looking back. I feel like all those clock cycles that are eaten up by AV/AS programs are liberated again. And since OS X, Macs coexist perfectly in UNIX/Linux development environments, and all the Open Source programmers I know have Macs. Apple doesn't market that part of Macs, but maybe they should. Oh, and need windoze still? Use Parallels. I can test web pages on almost any browser all on one machine. Try that with a windoze PC!

Jack said...

I am a PC developer that has been in recovery for many years. I still use the PC at work as a network analyst and Microsoft AD administrator. I got frustrated with my home PC when every time my wife wanted to use it there would be something I would have to do for it to work for her. I switched to a Mac Pro last August after a year of investigation. Love it, love it, love it. My only gripe is the difference in how MS and Apple handle window resizing. At first I found myself looking for ways to do things on the Mac that I could do on the PC. That did not last long. Now I'm looking for ways to do things on the PC that I do with ease on the Mac. Give yourself some time, I'm sure you will really come to enjoy it.

Kill said...

In your article, you mentioned you keep an ubuntu workstation around...

I dont know if you get into any linux internals or make use of the command line, but if you have any traces of unix geek in you, you should be at home in OSX. Its got all the good unix stuff in the back, and a very nice terminal app, along with its polished front end.

Check out darwinports or fink... this will give you the BSD port system and/or apt-get (just like ubuntu/debian) for installing OSS software.

Anonymous said...

This is not a blog about anything. What? you like the keyboard and you have to push alt instead of ctrl? What about when something around you on the network stops working... try and troubleshoot it with a MAC.

I agree, for basic, home users... Mac's are fine. But anyone that weighs out the whole comparison with a neutral attitude will see that Windows is far more complete than MAC.

Jack said...

Dear Anonymous:

I don't use my Mac for business, but I could easily. I'm currently running XP Pro in bootcamp and through VMWare. XP works better on my Mac than my Dell.

Erhan Hosca said...

i was hoping for a slightly more substantive comparison as far as actually developing software on the two platforms instead of "wow its a neat machine, i open the lid and i already start feeling better" ..

you could have compared:
* programming environments
* api's
* the ease of getting things done

you know stuf that really matters for a developer ...

Jack said...

I guess when you run out of valid arguments you switch to name calling. I'm crushed.

MCAndre said...

I'm starting to make software, so it's great that Macs come bundled with Perl, Java, Python, and Ruby. I think it's stupid that Microsoft charges for the full version of Visual Studio. Apple's idea is perfect: give away Xcode, and people will make more software for the Mac. I've built software for Linux, Macintosh, and Windows and the most fun is had on the Mac side.

jonathan said...

hi david! if you are into keyboard shortcuts and navigation, you might check out Quicksilver. it's hard to describe, but is kind of a hybrid CLI/GUI headsup display. free and opensource, natch.

Flidge said...

im a geek, but only in a way where it actually provides any real value to me. Aesthetics are irrelevant to me, price, functionality and software is my main choice.

I cannot fathom the corporate love people give apple, i dont care how good they machines are, it creeps me out when people say how their apple just "looks so nice". Do you need a larger sign to display your public shallowness? Was it coincidence that the movie fight club picked on apple specifically? nope.

if anyone ever said to me than an advertisement "spoke" to them, i would immediately ban them from talking to me ever again :D

Let me check, this laptop appears to be a gateway, my other PC is a home build and I have zero brand loyalty to anyone or anything. Price and specs etc are all that make my choice for me.

dont get me wrong though, I think OSX is a great OS and macs should have a larger share of the market, ideal for those who've had windows traumas over the years :) or just want a change etc.

but spyware and viruses? I run AVG with firefox/thunderbird and im all clear, as are most people i know who use that setup :)

Anonymous said...

Well, I hope you enjoy your temporary freedom from virus, but what happens if/when Apple becomes as popular as Windows? You'll have the same instability problems as everyone else.

Anyway, you want a real change? Do what I did and ditch your Macbooks and Laptops and pick up a nice HP2710P Convertible Tablet. You'll spend hundreds less, and be able to do much more than any Mac/Laptop user can.

Cody said...

I don't know why the people that haven't used Macs say they are limited? Limited in what? I work in IT in a small corporation. I am also the online tech. I am the only one in the company that has a Mac (MacBook Pro) and I have no problems with compatability at all. This is in a network of almost 40 machines all running Windows XP. I can still do remote access, access our server and make changes and do everything a PC can do, but more efficiently. I have XP running on boot camp, but I only ever use that to play games.

Anonymous said...

Heya - I too am a web dev and just switched from PC to Mac a couple weeks ago. A BIG "Gotcha" to watch out for though is that when you're copying a folder named "music" that has 3 albums in it over top another folder named "music" that has 300 albums in it *the 300 albums will be replaced by 3 albums*. In Windows it offers the option to merge the contents of both folders. On the Mac it simply replaced the whole folder. I just got stung by this yesterday and now have to re-rip a bunch of my music fom cd. PAIN IN THE A$$!!!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, that's it - this is for testing my web based applications!

Nice rationalization, but just FYI you could have downloaded Safari for Windows to test your web apps in the Safari browser.

When it tried to detect my wireless network it prompted me to enter the password for it - it really needed the WEP key. I knew it immediately but I can imagine that someone that was non-technical would need an explanation on that one.

I disagree, a non-technical person would be confused by the technical term "WEP Key" -- WEP, WPA, WPA2 ... non-technical people don't care. It's password, always password. Nice and simple, and nice job by Apple's desginers. I recently bought an Airport Extreme base station it was a painless experience getting it up an running; much easier than any LinkSys, Belkin, or D-Link router I set up before. Apple knows what they're doing when it comes to usability.

Nice article -- please write more!

Anonymous said...

Clowns who thinks I couldnt own their unix derivative OSX boxes are SOOOOOO mistaken. Apple has only enjoyed "security" until recent years thanks to their black box os obscurity. Get a clue you tubby virgins, apple is the emo of computers. Sure theres some cute one that I would bang on, but nobody wants to put up with its limited usefullness very long.

Anonymous said...

Ubuntu is better than MAC. Same warm fuzzy feelings and Virus free environment, but it's much easier to find software to make it useful in day to day operations.

When it's all said and done though, when I'm busy... I run to my windows box because nothing can compare to it for productivity.

Shawn Frame said...

The "Command-Right arrow" works fine in Aqua, but not in terminal.

In terminal you would use CTRL+E to place your cursor at the end of current line. Alternately, you can use CTRL+A to go to the beginning. These commands work in both UNIX and Aqua environments.

Have you tried developing on the Mac with Xcode? I am curious what your opinion would be of Cocoa, from the perspective of a Windows developer.

And if your not familiar - Textmate is an amazing text-editor for the Mac.

Good luck with your Mac.

Anonymous said...

As a long time window user I too have recently made the OS Ubuntu. I have friends that are hard-core OSX fanboys (and girls) that have tried to convert me for years, but the nitpicky things I cant stand on a mac are much worse for me than the nitpicky things on windows. Recently a friend of mine showed me Ubuntu and all became well with the universe. With a few technical (but easy to figure out) steps I've managed to find an OS that combines the best of both systems without having to pick a side on those ridiculous PC vs mac commercials. I find it odd that you mention that you have Ubuntu, but dont discuss it beyond that...

Anonymous said...

i dont understand how this argumment about MAC vs PC is really MAC vs Windows. and all the problems any new or old mac user has had with a windows based PC do not have anything directly to do with the operating system, ok, sometimes it does. as for spyware/antivirus, i ran XP PRO for 7 years, same install the whole time, no antivirus or spyware needed, im smarter than that. I now run VISTA Ultimate. again, no AV software or spyware, i just dont click on what gives it to me. as part of my job, i have to troubleshoot the mac OS on a daily basis, and as far as im concerned, its messy in terms of where what you need is. yeah, ill have to say the same about vista, but about 10 minutes of tweaks its perfect.

Anonymous said...

I was hoping to see more comparisons, not just the 'feel good stuff'. I work as an Interactive Designer in the advertising industry and everyone in my department uses a MAC. That is everyone except for me. I don't need computer hardware to inspire me, I need a tool that I can use when I'm feeling creative.

I'm looking forward to seeing more substantive comparisons.

Abid Hussain said...

I'm a Windows developer and have been studying for my MCTS using a Macbook with Visual Studio 2005 (C#). I gotta say, the thing I really love about it is that I can use my Windows development apps in a Sandbox (using Parallels). It doesn't slow the machine down, it runs at full speed.

So I guess any comparisons between APIs, SDKs and the like is irrelevent , because you can do full on Windows software development .

The advantage, of course, is that when Windows acts like a bitch (which it often does), you can do the obligitary reinstallation of Windows, without having to worry about losing a weekend reinstalling all of your apps.

Anonymous said...

oh, and if you dont like the eject buttons and the cheap build quality of your pc, DONT BUY LOW END CRAP! ie HP. go to a normal computer shop and buy a custom pc, cheaper, faster, no crap on it. BIG BOX stores PCS are crap.

Anonymous said...

To all the Viruses Are Around The Corner folks...

Wrong. The reason it's so easy to write viruses for Windows is that you can write processes to run as System which is a higher access level than Administrator. The security of Windows is simply borked because the kernel at it's core is single machine, not networked (see also 3.1, NT). On OS X (and just about any properly (i.e. you didn't touch it)) *nix to do anything out side your /~ directory you need to be root (or su sudo et al). So for a virus to work the way you'd expect it to the user would literally have to put an Administrator password in. That's severely limits the effectiveness of a virus I'd say.

William said...

I used to be a big Windows and Linux guy but now I've moved to Mac OS X and FreeBSD. BSD Unix (OS X included) is a lot faster and more cleanly written than Linux and Windows.

For me, Mac OS X is the new Microsoft Windows and FreeBSD is the new Linux. Windows Vista is Microsoft's very sad attempt to create a OS X like operating system.

My Dad is very sadly a Windows developer. Its hard to get him to convert to using Mac, FreeBSD, C/C++, and Java. But even HE HATES Vista. About everyone I talked to hates Windows Vista.

Yes, Java runs on OS X and FreeBSD. It is much faster than running Java on Linux.

With that being said, long live: BSD (OS X is Mach BSD), C/C++, and Java! Mainly because my software engineering experience has been using C/C++ and Java where the target production environment is Unix/Linux.

I'm going to dump my Windows XP desktop in favor of FreeBSD and later on buy a Mac Desktop along with Office on Mac.

What I hate most about my job is that my company forces all software engineers to use Windows XP. I'd rather have an OS X box.

My personal preference in terms of O.S would be:
Mac OS X, FreeBSD, Linux, Windows.

Jeremy said...

Mike, you don't get the attraction to a Mac because you're not giving it a chance at all. You've already decided against all empirical evidence that the Mac is a toy you can't upgrade or do anything with. Yet you're in a forum filled with programmers and artists who have switched to the Mac with only minor hiccups.

Here's the thing, Mike. A Mac is not a shiny PC that can't be upgraded. It's not virus free because of obscurity, either. It's inherently more secure due to UNIX (although not impervious!) and you don't NEED to upgrade a Mac hardly ever-- it comes with everything in the box. You need to break free of your preconceptions. I know it sounds trite but it's the truth. What is the worst thing that happens? You either try it out and like it, or you stick with your old Windows box. You only stand to have a better experience, not worse.

Scott Mitting said...

I'm a little younger than you, so I was growing up and doing DOS/Windows coding as my childhood hobby in about the same timeframe you're describing. Perhaps I can describe what I like better about OS X in a way you can understand.

I've been coding c# in Parallels since it came out and love it, but many many times I've seen Windows hanging while my OS X cpu is at 0%.

I'll give a little code example of how to screw up windows, that I KNOW you've done at least once (and got a bluescreen in Win98).

// I'm rusty so this is psuedo-c++
int WinMain(...)
while (GetMessage(&msg,....)) {

int WinProc(Message msg, ...) {
while (true) { }

This will hang the windows message pump. I'm 99% positive this is what's happening when I see Windows hung but my computer idle. If this message pump is truly pre-emptive, then I guess it must be launching these guys in threads and waiting for a timeout (seems to be the case).

I never get this crap on OS X. I've never taken the time to understand how the OS works behind the scenes (I've been doing this for a living since making the switch, time is money) but apps clearly don't hang one another. The OS itself rarely crashes, and when it does, I'm usually doing something pretty crazy involving hardware with 30 apps open.

I'm hoping that gives you some quantitive insight into what users are liking about their Macs but can't put into words.

Anonymous said...

I do not understand what you gentlemen are discussing here. I use Xubuntu :-)

Anonymous said...

Two things:
1. There's a system wide help file that actually works very well for the MAC OS X (type "command ?" and it'll come up from the finder or what ever application you had up front and running.

2. Keychains and Airport automatically logging in your WiFi.
go down to the dock (bottom of the screen)
find the gray preferences panel (big apple on it) > go to the network preferences > airport. Your automatic login network prefs are in there with PW for locked networks.

once you have entered in the information you can choose to fully connect fully automatically or ask for a keychain password that will authenticate you as the user and open up all the passwords and certificates.

Don't forget that if you're serious ... you can use the terminal application and control everything with BSD Unix commands -that's how my hacker friends use their macs.

wdavis0911 said...

Go try Quicksilver! Oh and don't forget tell your daughters about it.

Another cool app is finderpop:

They are the first things I install on any new Mac.

SpAzEr said...

I really dont see how, in my personal experience, mac is better.

I have a C2D 2.4ghz, 4 gigs of ram and a 8800gt, with over 500 gigs of disk space on windows Vista Ultimate.

Its been a year and its still going strong. I browse all over the internet, do some hardcore gaming and watch HD movies, as well as some hobby 3d rendering and Photoshop. This thing has only crashed 2 times; due to a scratched disk and my outdated dvd drive. Thats it.

So when people complain about viruses, spyware, lots of crashes, yada yada... Is what I am experiencing... not normal?!

I really dont see how Mac is better. I can do... much more on this windows machine. But thats just me I guess :)

wdavis0911 said...

Oh here's the video demo of Quicksilver.


David Alison said...

Thanks for all of the comments folks. I'm a little shocked by the response frankly. Couple of things:

The review is light because I wrote it the first day I got my Mac. If you look through my blog you'll see that I post nearly every day so there is more detail as I go along.

I don't work for Apple... or anyone else right now. So no shameless plugs here.

I don't hate Windows (well, I hate Vista at times but I really like Windows XP). I'm not in any specific camp, though I was a Mac hater for a while. I guess I've just outgrown the hate phase.

I'm writing the blog because I wanted to share my experiences. Writing is cathartic for me and when I'm not writing code this is one of the things I do.

That said, I hope you actually do enjoy reading the blog and find something useful in here.

krunk- said...

When folks ask me why I prefer OSX over windows I don't have any trouble at all coming up with an answer aside from "feeling": UNIX

Course the next question is "Why not linux?", to which the answer is equally easy: Applications and commercial support.

That about sums it up.

Jeff said...

As a long time windows user, ive had some problems transitioning to OSX font smoothing. Whenever I look at it it seems blurry to me. I go back to my PC and it looks fine.

Got any tips?


Shawn Frame said...


Fiddle with the setting in the Appearance Pane of your System Preferences.

Justin said...

I run a small photography studio for a living, five Windows XP boxes networked together with two printers. I have a terrabyte drive in one that is shared so all my computers can access customers images, as well as our daily calendars, thus making my network the center of my business. When something goes wrong, I get a long line of upset people who were expecting to see and buy pictures, but instead get to come back another day.

I'm not a developer, coder, programmer, or anything like that. I'm a guy that has to deal with the equipment my boss purchased without any support or help, no IT department at all.

An earlier comment hinted that, when network things go wrong in XP, it's easy to fix. I'd love for you to come on by and show me how easy it is. Explain to me why, one moment, I can access a shared drive over a network, then, twenty minutes later, I can't. Nothing has changed, haven't touched a single thing, just one second it's there, and the next second...gone. Restart all the machines? Nope...turn sharing off, then back on? Nope....remap the network drive? Nope...wait long enough, and suddenly, oh, hey, it's back!

It's my humble opinion that computer should never have flaws for no observable reason. Computers are not people - they can not have "good" days and "bad" days. If you get to the point where you have to accept your computers "quirks," then you don't really have a computer, do you? It's more like having a crazy Uncle you always have to make excuses for.

But then, then I go home. I go home to my ancient 1Ghz G4 tower. It runs, it's always on my network, if I don't have internet access, it's always because someone turned off the lightswitch that controls the outlet that my hub is plugged into. I don't have viruses. I click on some of those spam e-mail links for fun, just to check out the bad grammar and spelling.

Someone above complained about how hard it was to upgrade a mac. Seriously? This thing has a freaking pull tab at the top, I pull it, the whole case opens with all the PCI slots just ready and waiting for new cards, all the drive bays way more accessible than any PC I've ever had to shove a drive into, and ram slots that even a child could figure out. You have a hard time upgrading a Mac? Do you have hands?

The bottom line is that Macs do not have the mysterious quirks and flaws that Windows have in spades. I don't know anything about how they are programmed, but it seems that, in the lower layers of things, Macs communicate internally much better than Windows. Settings are set in one place, and when they work, they stay working. My experience with Windows is the opposite.

Someday, my workplace will be all Macs. Years ago, we photographed an event for Apple. They never paid on the back end, and owe us $700. The day Steve Jobs himself comes and pays us is the day we get Macs, according to my boss. I dream of not having to spend a significant amount of time running from computer to computer trying to figure out the network problem, or why suddenly Photoshop won't run on a brand new Dell. Someday...

So there you have your "non-touchy-feely-squishy-advertising-embraced" explanation (albeit from a layperson) of why we prefer Macs.

Fred said...

The Mac OS is tied to the hardware and vice versa. Windows is not tied to any particular hardware and works with just about any setup.

Loving apple for the functionality of the OS when tied to one particular set of hardware is nuts. When you have one developer with no vendors, a perceived "hassle-free" environment is simple. Don't hate on Microsoft for giving you the freedom of using whatever hardware you want.

It's like saying you love living in communist China because you feel safe and you don't have to worry yourself about what the government is up to. (hey at least I'm not comparing Macs to Nazi Germany and invoke Godwin's law :D )

Adrian Hosey said...

David - Wait til you start coding for it! Make sure you have the newest version of XCode, the 3.0, which should be on your install dvd. XCode 2 was starting to lag behind Visual Studio but XCode 3 is slick, and Cocoa is really good.

Maxxxy said...

I can tell some of those who have commented have never actually tried OS X at all. Believe me, I was one of the worst Mac haters around, but that changed after a Work Experience week with a guy who owned a MacBook Pro. I was impressed so I headed for the base-line MacBook. I mean, if I hated OS X, I could always just install Windows in bootcamp right? 6 and a half months later and Windows has never actually seen my laptop. For me, OS X is the kind of OS that I always wanted, but Windows never provided. Of course, I always thought that there was "obviously" no software or hardware for the Mac, a claim which is sounds ridiculous when I think it again today. Let me say as well that OS X definitely isn't perfect by any stretch. There are things that need sorting out here and there. I have grown quite fond of it now, and I am planning on getting a Mac Pro some time in the future.

Just remember, when you use OS X, don't expect it to be like Windows, because for the most part, it really isn't. And if you don't like after a while of using it? That's fine. I don't see why everyone has to flame each other over something as simple as an Operating System.

eboy said...

The real question is why you wouldn't use a mac.
Why would you use xp???

ben said...

I wrote "Reflections on a month of MacBook experience" a while back.

There's no way to reliably disable font anti-aliasing in 10.4+. The best you can do is to update your eyeglass prescription (definitely on my to-do list).

Though I've been non-partisan through my entire career (and most of my user tenure), my own feelings are right in line with David's. Twenty years of using Microsoft operating systems gets you into a certain groove, and adjusting to other window managers is painful. Latest annoyance: ergonomically, the same macro that toggles fullscreen video on the Mac, opens the File menu on Windows.

You'd think that with all this promotion of Switching, Apple would've given at least some thought to the experience that guys like David and I would have; if nothing else, those of us with a predilection to vi or emacs also figure out that the Mac is a phenomenal platform for writing code.

But nooo, the Steve In Black is an arrogant bastard.

Jay said...


Will you be doing any native (Cocoa) development on the Mac? As a developer who professionally works on many platforms, but really, really likes developing on the Mac, I'm always curious to hear the reaction of other developers learning Cocoa.

ben said...

Oh, and for those who wonder why XP is not really Good Enough (and who can't be bothered to read the Chris Pirillo link upthread)... skipping (most of) the bits about security, here's a list:

* Even if you don't have admin privs, you can actually USE a Mac without grief
* Safari is a Ferrari next to the overfull wheelbarrow that is Internet Explorer
* Defrag? Tee. Hee. Hee.
* Apache out of the box. Woohoo!
* None of this frakkin' workgroup nonsense.
* So. Very. Quiet.
* In the unlikely event that you'll need to use a three-fingered salute, it will actually work.
* The OS does NOT try to do your thinking for you.

Syt9FxIbhYn4cLhKHvzK9fPSdqutPR1tGAc- said...

I wouldn't say I love it, but I like to use it once in a while. I have a white macbook that I bought out of my curiosity. I think, it doesn't matter which os that we are using as long we can get full productivity in using it.

Travis Ritch said...

Welcome aboard, brother!

Stephen said...

WHOOOO HOOO Virginia Tech! Im a Hokie as well (class of '09) and I'm saddened by other depts. (Including my COE) in their rejection of anything non windows when there is actually a good amount of OSS floating around the university.

Sure you daughter got MS Office for only about $50 or so but isnt Neo/OpeenOffice free?

Also VT has SystemX. Essentially 1,100 apple servers running YDL networked together to make a supercomputer with out the super price tag.

And to all the anons flaming, why piss on other peoples parades eh? they sure arnt making you switch.

CD Fresh said...

I made the move 2 years ago after finally giving up on Microsoft and Windows. I now own an iMac, a macBook Air, and an iPhone. I have been so very happy ever since. Now, i still develop on the MS platform, but spend much more time now developing for with XAMPP and XCode Objective C. Glad to hear the word is spreading. I have become a Apple preacher of sorts in my local group of influence and tell everybody of the hassel-less ease of use with the Mac line up. Take care. Great article.

jcr said...

"towing the fanboy line"

The phrase is "TOE the line", as in, making sure that your feet are exactly on the line where they should be, such when standing in military formation. "Towing" the line makes no sense.


Taylor said...

I just love the native BSD environment thats built into OS X. As a developer and an Ubuntu user, you gotta know what I'm loving about that.

Mike said...

why is this world so dicotic? I love my win2k3 server at work and my XP at home. and I really like the Mac and mess with terminal in my friends computer.
I have a palm sized computer that runs OS X and I love that damn little thing. (iPhone)

Robert said...

So does anyone have experience with using Visual on the mac (dual boot os) ? And I've read that the macbook gets very hot...anyone?..Thanks

Justin said...

Above, Fred hits the nail on the head, though he does hit it the wrong way. The magic idea from that is that Macs work because they are for one set of hardware. But he presents it like that is the drawback to OS X.

What is the point of choosing an OS that is flawed on any piece of hardware over an OS that works almost flawlessly on one set of hardware? I'd choose the OS that works any day - and therein lies the argument.

I have a VW, and the steering system for the VW is made by...VW. I wouldn't want to put a GM steering system in it, have it work with lots of flaws (e.g. "sometimes, if your headlights are on, for some reason, when you turn left, it goes right and you crash"). I certainly wouldn't run around touting my death trap as superior simply because I can use a different steering system with the car.

If Microsoft made hardware to go with it's software, hardware that didn't act funny, or mysteriously stop working, I might buy that computer.

It seems to me that this would drive any developer nuts - don't you have to do extra work to make sure every possible thing some idiot like me could shove into his PC will work with your piece of software?

I know this is forum is mostly for developers, which I am not, so I'll stop commenting and stick to reading what they guys that make all this stuff have to say.

Rick said...

I'm a admin who supports both macs and pc's and I have to say without a doubt my favorite mac feature is "Target disk mode" Just hold the T ley down on boot and you've converted your machine to a firewire drive. Such a simple but smart and incredibly useful feature. I can't count how many times I have been troublshooting a windows machine, or exchanging large files between two machines quickly and wished windows machines had the same ability.

Phil said...

I love when people say Mac's are less prone to viri. If anyone has been following the iPhone jailbreak/unlock cat/mouse game that's been going on, this is a prime example of how OSX can easily be infected with a virus. Poor coding techniques that lead to buffer overflows in processes running with elevated permissions is the key. The whole TIFF exploit that existed in Mobile Safari on the iPhone and Safari on OSX could have easily been used to install malicious software on a Mac, hence the iPhone jailbreak. Instead of breaking out of the jail you could have easily wiped the contents of the iPhone / OSX partition.

To put it simply, if a program runs at elevated permissions (read: system services)and it isn't carefully checking user data it writes to memory, then running arbitrary code (even without user intervention) is a possibility in ANY operating system, on ANY platform.

If you were to write viri for profit then of course you're going to target the largest crowd you can (ie: Microsoft Windows).

Just my $0.02.

If it were up to me Apple would stick to designing hardware and user interfaces. Leave the hard core productivity software up to Microsoft.


mdurwin said...

I started off on PC as well. HP specifically. I was a hardcore PC guy until art school when I was forced against my will to switch. No I own a dual G5 at home that I do web, video and graphics work. I have an iMac and dual G5 at work (advertising), an iPod and iPhone and wouldn't switch for anything. It's great fun listening to my boss and our account execs bitching about computer issues. Except for one bad apple (!) in the office, all of our Macs work without a glitch.
To 3DPeruna who talked about using Autodesk, my wife is a designer and spends all day with Cad and Revit. She's setting up a home office and is doing so with an iMac, the big 24" one. Of course she'll have to get XP Pro for it to run her applications, but from what I understand, it'll still run better then on a PC. At least we won't have to deal with the crashes, virus and spywear protection and all the other random crap and headaches her Dell comes with.

Tony said...

Going from Visual Studio to XCode 3 is like switching from riding in the back of a limo to foot-powering your own rusty pedal cart.

You can still get where you are going, but its a lot slower and more painful.

Maeve said...

I am a long time Apple user and I recently bought a PC- Dell laptop

Although there are things I like about it and it is good to have two platforms around ( my husband has a macbook). I hate the pop ups and virus stuff. I can't figure out how to trouble shoot. I hate Windows vista.

Never again ..........I am going to swap with my husband and let him us this for writing letters.


Jason said...

I am a long-time Windows and DOS user who used a Mac at work when it was OS9 and wasn't terribly impressed (though I always admired their simplicity). In November, I replaced my wife's HP laptop with a Macbook Pro because of the glowing reviews Leopard was getting among non-techies and diehard XP users alike. I agree that Leopard is a really great operating system for home users. The more I use it, the more I prefer it to XP Pro. I'll never stop using Windows entirely, but I find myself using the Macbook more and more (to the chagrin of my wife). I have also tried various Linux systems, and I do think Ubuntu has lots of potential for things like home theater PCs -- but they need to make installing things like wireless cards much more automatic. All in all, I really think Leopard is the best home user operating system on the market. In my opinion, Microsoft would be better off conceding home users to Apple and focusing more on enterprise solutions.

mdurwin said...

By the way David, welcome to the dark side.

Andrew Kharlamov said...

I was a C# Developer since 1.0 all the way through to its current release. I basically gave up Vista and PCs at the recent Developer Conferences. I even got myself a development job (writing java code :') ) it's safe to say that the switch was well overdue. Although eclipse is still a buggy piece of software. I must say it has never run smoother on Ubuntu/Suse/Windows then it does on my leopard an tiger macbook pros. I have to tell you though I have my machine setup with vista and os x and I only went back one time to play a video game when I got really bored of coding. Overall OS X is a well designed OS, although I still prefer windows file manager over finder. Oh and I am starting to figure out that there isn't really a lack of software for mac like most users complain about. That game is also on OS X I just don't have a copy of it for the mac.

Murdock Scott said...

Has anyone instructed you on how to perform the secret handshake yet? Have you special undergarments that protect you from viruses shown up via FedEx yet? Don't worry sometimes there is a backlog. : )

Welcome to the fold!

jra said...

To approach keyboard nirvana try this:

re-map your caps lock to ctrl (in the mac keyboard settings)

learn the basic emacs ctrl- keys
b (back-left one char)
f (forward-right one char)
n (next-down one line)
p (prev-up one line)
a (begin of line)
e (end of line)
d (delete)
k (kill-delete to end of line)

These work in all Mac text fields. After a couple hours of learning them you'll never want to move your fingers from 'home' to reach for the lower left ctrl key or the arrow keys.

good luck

ciphun said...

Hey David, welcome to the Mac community. You have a nice blog as well. Good luck in starting your new business. If you ever need some print/design work done for your business or other need, let me know!

homelessdragon said...

Count me among those who were formerly die-hard Microsoft supporters now turned Mac-lovers. Switched last October, used Boot Camp for a while, then phased that down to VMWare... Now I can't stand to use windows anymore.

Travis said...

If you really get into the mac and start to have withdrawls when you got back to Windows development I recommend getting a mac pro or macbook pro and using VS under Parallels. I'm working on a pretty large .NET project that way and I love it. Anytime I need to search the web or check my mail I just change the space (I use Parallels in fullscreen assigned to it's own space) and do my work. When I come back I'm ready to get back into coding.

Parallels is also great for testing any type of client-server code since you can run the whole architecture on one box.

Thomas B said...

At Erhan Hosca:
"i was hoping for a slightly more substantive comparison as far as actually developing software on the two platforms instead of "wow its a neat machine, i open the lid and i already start feeling better" .. you could have compared: * programming environments * api's * the ease of getting things done"

Clearly correct.

And the comparison is shortly as follows(only my impression, not the truth in any way whatsoever). 1) Prog envir totally: Microsoft wins (previously "hands down", but now with Xcode 3 marginally). API's: huge win for Xcode (i.e. MacOSX), really huge, like very big. Getting things done: Xcode clearly wins (in my mind thanks-) to the "enforced" OOP model and the really excellent API's. The API philosophy comes from the NEXT time and are really good and solid. Also, the enforced OOP. I have to say that this OOP model was a big instep, but in the end a huge winning.

So, yes. Goes in the line with the article.

Dylan said...

I frequent a local (non chain) coffee shop that has free internet. The owner recently changed it so that he wasn't broadcasting the network ID. So now you have to do what you'd expect to be the simple task of specifying the name of the network. No one on a Mac has a problem doing this but the owner told me he estimates the success of Windows users at about 20%.

Last weekend I helped a couple of Windows XP users who were having problems. The confusion is that in Windows most people have 3 different interfaces for managing WiFi. There is the original XP interface where your network names are buried deep in dialogs. There is the improved XP interface that shows your available networks and their signal strengths on a more user friendly screen. Then, most confusingly, there is usually some third party utility from the network or laptop vendor that is set to override the Windows management. Your average user gets lost in all these conflicting interfaces.

In this case, I put the blame more with the laptop vendor that puts all their own system management crapware on top of Windows. But regardless, who, what, where, why doesn't matter to the end user. What matters is that 80% of Windows users in this coffee shop can't do something that should be so freakin' simple like specify a WiFi network name. This is an example of why I now strongly recommend Macs for most users.

Dave said...

I think Mac is great, for non-techies. I'd have to say Vista is garbage. I liked XP alot, but its old now. The winner to me is Ubuntu. It isnt perfected like Mac is, but on a Mac its like I am treated like a child, you are using one of those oversimplified touchscreens that won't let you do anything beyond the simple. It looks great but once you start digging you come up shallow. To me Mac is even more closed off than Windows. So I would go back to Windows before moving to Mac. Ultimately Ubuntu wins it for me.

jmeeter said...

Excellent post, I read the entire thing! :D

Thomas B said...

To some anonymous "zune browns" (relating to the avatar for anonymous on this page, nothing else):

Anonymity through obscurity is a myth today for Mac OS X. Like most UNIX systems, like MacOS X is a prime target today. At least for the true hackers, the hard-core really good ones. But less so for the poor hack-boys, using pre-made programs.

Will MacOS be hacked? Sure. Sooner or later it will. No question about it. But not that often (and hopefully severe) as has been seen for some other OS'es. In full thanks to the solid, long time work of many, many UNIX developers over long times. And thanks to the fact that Apple cherishes and values its UNIX heritage.

One more thing, Apple does well inter-playing with the open-source community. But I wish they would do even better in the future....

Skidmark said...

i use and LOVE both, always have, always will, at home and work. Im Bi when it comes to computers :)

Thomas B said...

In my last post:

"Anonymity through obscurity" should of course be "Security through obscurity".

My huge mistake due to the late hour here.

Sorry everyone...

Travis said...

Yes OS X on a Mac is virus free. VIRUS FREE. I don't understand who PC users are trying to fool with their 'proof of concept' mumbo-jumbo.
Macs are virus free. Deal with it.
(oh and spyware free and any other malware free too)

srobot said...

What "real" can you do on a Mac that you can't do on Windows? Best thing I know is Microsoft Office, which you can use in Windows!

Is it easy to write programs for?

I'm a computer programmer, so unless there is something for me, I'm NOT using a Mac, Windows and Linux is just fine for me!

I don't care about "oh, I feel so good. I have sooo much money, so I paid a ton of money for a Mac! Macintoshes are soooo good, Windows sucks, I tried putting Vista on my outdated Win95 box, and it did not work..." Heck! Try putting OSX 10.5 on your old 10.0 Crapintosh! I think that will work quite nicly!!!!!! NOT!!!

Please answer my questions! Anyone!

Thomas B said...

@ SpAzEr:

That is because you never tried anything else.

Like the author of this lovely blog article suggests, you do not know until you tested more than "the" only alternative. Broaden your horizons. Try other things than VISTA (and it's fore-bearers).

At lest, install aLINUX distribution (Ubuntu is a very good choice), free- or openBSD.

I was, like the author, a hard core-Win. Macs were only toys, cute but totally useless things. This was in the Mac OS 7-8 era. But I started to use both. Later on, VAX.VMS and SUNOS as well. Even somewhat later, linux.

The key is to try and compare. You simply will not know how happy you are with VISTA until you have compared to other systems yourself...

Thomas B said...


Are you talking MS Office or programming?

Two totally different things.

MS Office, THE very latest version from MS, actually only runs on MacOS X (Office 2008 for Mac OS X)

And yes, if you are serious about programming (not Visual BASIC crap) mac OS is probably easier to get the things done on quicker and better (better API's).

His Highness said...

Welcome to the Mac family. Your post will really help a lot of people with an objective point of view.
If you need some tips and tricks to get productive on your mac feel free to check my blog at

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions on your new platform.

mouring said...

I've been running a PowerBook or a MacBook Pro for over six years now. The PowerBook replaced my old Dell Linux laptop.

I'm by no means a "Windows must die" or "Linux sux" person. I just was in the market for a new laptop with an UNIX operating system, and I was disappointed with the support/feel of Mandrake, Redhat, SuSE, etc (note, Ubuntu didn't exist at the time.. so don't ask about it =)

I spend the majority of my day doing web development, system administration, windows/unix desktop support, and software development on Solaris/Linux/BSD boxes.

Mind you, I did video editing on the Mac along with general Mac support back in college, and I wasn't very impressed with MacOS 5 to MacOS 7. =) However, seeing MacOS X was based on NeXTStep (which I fell in love with in college, and even owned a slab for a while) I gave it a chance.

I've barely looked back. My only two serious complaints are (a) I have to be a bit more picky about add-on buys (Not all USB devices are created equal) and (b) My library for gaming is all Windows based, and rarely do any of those titled get ported or when they do I can't justify the $60 rebuy of a game I own. (Side Note: Same is true with any Windows software I own in general.)

But as I said, since I already spent majority of my work day under some form of UNIX writing some shell script or doing some data processing it fits well with my life style.

I'm now very happy with my Mac Book Pro as my primary computer and the little Mac Mini pretending to be a media center box in my living room. =)

- Ben

Robert said...

Can I run VS.NET on a Mac and will it run fast ...and...does the thing get very hot ?..or is it just like then normal heat with other laptops?

Adam said...

As for your right click dilema you can hold control then click or in your system preferences you can have the pad detect two fingers then when you click it will act as a right click.

Bruce said...

I'm a long time and original mac user. I did buy a PC for work years ago as I needed to be able to run proprietary software, and I learned to respect the machine. I've had a PC and Mac sitting side by side at home for years now, and I like having the options. The funny thing is...while Mac's are known for ease of use and being a "consumer" machine, I've flopped their roles. My PC is my web browser and game machine. My mac is my workhorse, it does EVERYTHING else for me. When I do wind back down to one platform, it will be Mac alone.

muffinpeddler said...

@William, you are a fucking idiot. "Long live c/c++ blah blah blah" no one gives a shit about what you think is the greatest and what you think is faster/slower than anything else. You think FreeBSD is more cleanly written than Linux? Is this just an inkling? Do you know Java is faster/slower on Linux than FreeBSD? Or is this just a personal observation?

Sean Straus said...

This article was a pointless waste of my time. Nicholas, please don't share any more of your life, I can't take any more idiocy.

And the rest of you congratulating him, why not just try good old fashioned masturbation.

Dustin said...

Hey David, as a fellow Mac convert, thought I'd share that you can easily move to the beginning and end of a line easily by using the arrow keys.

For a single line of text, use the up arrow to go to the beginning or down arrow for the end. For a multiple lines, you can use the command key + the directional arrow (up or down). Finally, the command + arrow, works for left and right arrows too (for navigating to the beginning or end of the current line).

Glad you're enjoying your new Mac. Hope this tip helps.


Bruce Anderson said...

@Mike: "and they do what they can do well but what they can do is pretty limited."

Spoken by someone who's got his head up his ass and hasn't used a Mac since System 6. MacOS X is Unix, idiot. So what you're saying is Unix can't do much.

@Mike (again) "Right now, Mac is living on security by obscurity."

That's been posited and debunked more times than you've had hot meals, bucko.

Sheesh. Why are so many people full of hatred for Macs? They're great computers. Perfect? No. But then in what way is Windows perfect?

Julie said...

Idiots...if you think there are not serious security vulns in unix then you should resign from your sudo IT jobs. Feel free to check out IBM's aix patch pages or Novells sled patch pages - theres a shitload of security patches. In the unix world, vulnerabilities are simply not "labled" as viral ingress issues, but in the end its all words. The more common place an os the more folks are tinkering with it and trying to get in. Since Apple made the switch to a unix deriv its days of "virus free" are over and only douchenozzles who know NOTHING about security believe otherwise. Get a real job or shutup and go back to retouching photos and making mix tapes and synching your pretty but non-G3 iPhones you happy-happy-joy-joy market slave ass clowns. Go ahead and convert and see how easy it is to find a good job where your pretty little toys mean something to people who really know technology.

Robert said...

Ok, none of you are really developers because you cannot even answer my frickin simple question....Can I run on that thing..oh well..I will just go to a mac shop and get an answer..and who cares about all that linux-windows crap..that's old

shoppe said...

Most developers I've met can barely power on a PC, let alone administer and maintain one. Developers should stick to comparing Java to .NET and leave PC vs. Mac arguments to those that actually know computers.

srobot said...

@Thomas B

My point is which can do more, Windows, OS X, Linux, or BSD?

I'm not talking out of box, I'm talking over time.

I'm sorry, but Office 2007 for Windows and Office 2008 for Mac is ALMOST* the same thing!

* The software has slight GUI differences due to OS layout styles.

@Who ever told me to use Linux

I've used many Linux distros (I like and use Fedora 8 now), tried FreeBSD (could not get it installed)

Before we say one OS is better we MUST use the SAME system types (2GB RAM for 2GB RAM, NOT 2GB RAM for 1GB RAM). It's just not the same when one is a walmart computer and the other is a Mac Pro!!!

N/a said...

Ok, I'd like to think that I've approached the os question with an open mind. I've tried to at least dabble in many different operating systems, from DSL, Kubuntu, Ubuntu, centOS, XP, and OSX. (and yes, while Ubuntu and Kubuntu are related, do realize that the applications bundle does lead to a different user experiences) While the extent of what I've tried makes me by no means an expert, it at least qualifies me to an educated guess.

Macs can be stable, and yes, it's because they are designed for very specific hardware. XP can also be very stable, if you don't mess it up. I've been running XP on this computer since early September, and haven't had any major issues. I even keep it on most of the time. Kubuntu is also pretty stable, when used on decent equipment. It isn't a cure for parts on their last days.

XP can look pretty, as does Mac. Ubuntu is pretty as well(I booted 7.10 the other night, and was stunned. I had forgotten how pretty it can be), and KDE (the desktop environment for Kubuntu) 4.0 shows a pretty good image of where KDE is going.

While I have nothing against people using Macs, I personally can't afford one, nor do I find anything really enviable about one, other than the fact that they are pretty well designed and, well, pretty. But starting at $1099 for something other than a Mac Mini, It's just so expensive. And if it actually breaks, it's expensive to fix. It also has one of the most annoying crash screens (telling me to reboot doesn't tell me what's wrong...) At least with Windows it tells you what messed itself, to an extent.

Windows has it's fair share of problems too, tho shovelware is the vendor's fault, and not the OS's. A clean install of XP comes with practically nothing. (wish it came with Firefox tho... Save me the trouble of having to do it myself...) So, Vendor's fault. As for viruses, it's usually someone pulling a stupid. Because, people do stupid things. It's just our kind of thing. It's what we do. Most of the flaws with Windows is how it was built tho. So, yeah, some fault on the OS too.

Linux is working on better support for everything, and trust me, it's getting better all the time. Just look at the differences between 6.07 and 7.10. They're fantastic. As for a lack of "commercial support", Dell now sells laptops preloaded with Ubuntu, and has been selling servers with Red hat, if I'm not mistaken, for years. Factor in Eee PCs and Linux being sold by Walmart, and I'd say it's getting better all the time. And I'm not sure how easy it is to find the nvidia drivers for newer and much more high end cards, but I've never really had trouble with finding drivers for linux boxes. Commercial support is getting better and better with time.

So, for the moment and for me, I'm a huge fan of Linux. Not because I haven't seen what else is out there, but because I have seen what is out there. While Macs are well designed and stable, they are just too expensive for my wallet. I like XP, but I'm not entirely sure I like being Bill's bitch. So, the happy medium, not too expensive( as in free, so cost of equipment), still stable and virus free, is Linux.

But that's just me. Everyone has their own flavour of OS

l0ckergn0me said...

Welcome to the dark side. :) Hat tip to Nicholas for cross-linking to my shift post. said...

I had been a SunOS programmer for > 10 years until I started doing serious programming on Windows a few years ago; then last year I was given a Mac at work, really thought it would be delightful.

No, I was thoroughly disappointed.

Little things like uninstalling an application - I couldn't figure out how to, had to google it (drill down to some obscure directory and run a perl script, please). Not nearly as many free applications online as Windows/Linux or even SunOS/Solaris available for Mac (perhaps I didn't know where to look?). My Mac keyboard has an "End" key but it doesn't work, goosh, can't they accomodate that? (yeah, I know, ctrl-E, but the End key works on alot of Solaris apps you know).

It's an eye candy but comparable apps (like firefox) run faster on a comparable equiped PC. So yeah, the Mac "just works", it "just works slower".

I don't recklessly install "freeware" on my Windows PCs so they have always been virus/spyware free, despite the fact that I don't even run any anti-virus or firewall. I don't understand why other people (technie???) find it so difficult to do.

Jim said...

Markng -

If you still have that Mac, you may want to give it another shot. The "End" key works as expected for me in Leopard. I also usually have no problem finding freeware apps for the Mac - try Uninstall an app - Just delete it - it's fine and won't leave behind too much. If you want something a bit more permanent - use the shareware app AppZapper. For web-browsing - I used to prefer Firefox, but have found the newest version of Safari to be faster and more stable. Hope this helps!

FYI - Mac user at home, Windows user at work. Also built my own PC (Win XP) and am familiar with both Windows and Mac (though, I have to say - I keep trying Linux, but just can't get into it...)

David Alison said...

@N/a: I completely understand where you are coming from and don't disagree with anything you've written. I believe that the various Linux distributions are as important as ever now. For years I cycled through distros until I settled in on Ubuntu and really like it. I think I started playing with Mac at just the right time because this version of Leopard has been getting pretty good reviews from the Mac community. It's not without issues but it's been rock-stable for me and I've been installing and removing new applications like they are going out of style.

@Windows doesn't get viruses: I've heard this quite a few times. "If you know what you are doing you won't get a virus". That my friends is great if you are hyper aware of everything you do. And don't have kids that may use your computer.

I placed one of my former gaming rigs into our den for use by the family. That machine was clean and fast and performed great with Windows XP. Within weeks of putting it out there and giving my 3 kids access to it the machine had slowed to a crawl and popups were everywhere.

Crap. Ok, reformat, reinstall Windows XP, apply all of the patches, then immediately install the Symantec suite. This time it lasted for nearly a year before becoming unusable. Symantec wasn't very good about catching the adware crap that someone had managed to put on the machine because every 5 minutes or so IE would pop up with a random ad.

Think this can only happen to noobs using Windows? Up until recently I was really into FPS games like COD4 and BF2. New patches for them would come out regularly but since EA and the other game companies couldn't afford the bandwidth needed to support the massive downloads they depend on mirror sites for that. Well, some of these mirror sites like to alter the package and put some extra stuff in there (adware crap) to offset their bandwidth costs. Looked like a legit, EA endorsed download to me.

What all this means is that when you use Windows XP without anti-virus protection you are always walking in a dangerous neighborhood and you need to be very aware of your surroundings at all time. Stay alert and on your toes and you should be fine. I do not get that feeling at all with my Mac.

I'm sure some human tool will attack the Mac as it becomes more popular. Fortunately, right now, it's still a nice neighborhood.

fhydraulics said...


I had the exact same experience when sending my daughter to college. Luckily, I was a UNIX guy and became her "sysop" when she came back from college; doing updates and backups. (She was an undergrad art student/communications major... went to Grad school in business.) My daughter did not have a mandatory Mac requirement; her school was both Mac and PC.

I'd guess that I had less of a transition. What I loved was that I no longer was buying NAV and that other crappy firewall stuff.

Never a major problem since OSX 10.1. Had a few disk drives crashes after continuous non-stop use while in college.

Good to see that we've had the same experience,


Jonathan said...

You'll be happy until your hardware craps out on you, and for what would cost 30 bucks to replace on a PC, will cost you around 200 or more on your mac, only to have it break on you again. Apple uses bad hardware. I had an emac. I had it for 6 months, until one night my computer froze and would not turn on again. Something happened to the screen and the motherboard. After I got it back from the apple store, my computer would always flicker, start over heating and would make crunching sounds. It also started working slower and slower, it was almost unbearable to use, until not too long ago it wouldn't come on again. Now I use my boyfriends pc, which works 3X's faster than any mac I laid hands on. My friend bought an ibook, the last ones that had come out. He had to replace the motherboard 3 times. He decided to get a brand new powerbook. After he got it home, the p key didn't work and still doesn't. Stick to your pcs folks. With macs, all you're paying for is Apple to build you a pretty computer that has crappy parts and charge you up the ass for their crappy crap.

Brian said...

Hi David - I too am a Windows developer that hasn't been totally converted from the Windows to the Mac platform, but so far I like what I'm seeing from the Apple camp.

I purchased my first MacBook in December and started to chronicle my experiences. If interested, you can find my ramblings at

I'll be reading up on your adventures as the weekend goes on. Thank you for sharing your adventures with us.

David Alison said...

@fhydraulics: OMG - you said sysop! I haven't heard that term in so long!

@jonathan: If I had those kinds of problems I would stay away from a Mac too! The circle of people I'm around have been pretty lucky I guess since hardware reliability has not been an issue with any of them. I'm still new to this so maybe they've improved QC.

@brian: I like your blog man - added it to my RSS feed.

Peter Samson said...

I transitioned to a Mac laptop almost one year ago. There is no going back...

Matthew said...

All I can say is that PC manufactures suck. You have to build them yourself. I have been building PCs for a better over 5 years now and I have never had any problems with Windows XP. I use no Anti-Virus software or use any crappy browsers like AOL. I cannot remember the last time I had a virus.

I can run any program I need and play any game that I want. I would like to see a Mac play Crysis on Very High Settings. I have Windows XP, Vista and MAC OSX installed on it. I only use MAC when I have to troubleshoot something for MAC users at my school.

The thing I like about PCs is the customization options available. One thing I do like about the MAC is that it looks nice and that it uses UNIX unlike Windows.

The one thing though I hate about macs is the hardware. Its all proprietary, if it breaks you have to send it in to get fixes. With my PC and just just replace the part or repair it and its up and running.

When deciding on getting a PC and MAC you have to think what are you going to be using it for. For email and facebook or music MACs are a good choice. But for the more hardcore gaming or large apps, get a PC.

TechMan2000 said...

The solution is simple : Run Leopard on a pc. Most popular p35 boards with a core2duo will do. Then you have the best of both worlds : Cheap pc hardware and leopard.

My opinion after using it for a while : It's nice but no games, no good usenet programs, no media center, bad codec support, horrible quicktime/itunes/iphoto.

If you are thinking about a mac and have a look first with leopard on a pc, when you like it you can always later decide to buy one of the overpriced "look it's nice" boxes from apple itself.

GullyFoyle said...

There is nothing obscure about uninstalling a program on a Mac. You drag the application to the trash then you empty the trash. Zingo! Program uninstalled.

Concerned about hanging preferences? You needn't be but if you are.

open ~/Library/preferences/, drag pref to the trash. Not necessary but keeps things neat.

SJ said...

Just wanted to say something about a previous comment. The person stated that Mac security is currently running on security through obscurity. Despite some vulnerabilities that do indeed need attention, I couldn't disagree more. Mac OS X uses good core security methodologies, and offers very usable and secure solutions out of the box. It seems like the person didn't really understand what security through obscurity actually means.

Welcome to the Mac, David, I have absolutely no doubt that you will find it a much more enjoyable development (and recreational) environment to work with.

For those of you who are just switching and are interested in keeping yourselves secure, you're welcome to visit , which features a guide on Securing Leopard as well as regular news and other tutorials on keeping your Mac and your data safe.

- SJ

David Alison said...

@SJ: great link and a very interesting site. Thanks!

duarschloch said...

To make your mac even better, you should put Ubuntu on it! Mac os/x has its perks, but I haven't found anything better than linux when it comes to productivity and multi-tasking.

Macs are too over-priced for my taste.
I work with an 8 core, 2 cpu mac system at work and I could build the same system for under 1500. Beats the 5k or so my work paid for it.

And I know this has been said over and over, but cant they get a second mouse button? Seriously, ctrl-click is annoying as hell especially if you're doing any editing in video or audio. I have to bring a mouse to work.

John said...

You're probably getting tired of hearing "me too", but Me too! I have been a systems administrator for 11 years and have my own computer repair business. Nearly half of the employees where I work (mostly physicians) bought macs for their everyday needs and kept calling me with questions, so I got approval to purchase one so I could help out. Bought a mac mini, bumped up the ram and fell in love. I run Windows with Parallels for all the Windows stuff that is inevitable. Remote desktop for Mac to get to all the other pcs in the office.

Thanks for the article,

David Alison said...

@duarschloch: I'm not a big fan of the Mighty Mouse, though it does support right clicking. I pretty quickly attached a Logitech mouse to my Mac and it works great. OS X has excellent support for right clicking.

I also have Ubuntu on a workstation at home and love that distro - easily the most user friendly Linux variation I've played with.

While you can build a comparable machine through NewEgg for a significant amount less than the comparable hardware from Apple, there are other benefits to the Mac solution model. The big one is that since everything is a predefined set of hardware you don't have to worry about compatibility issues. From an Apple standpoint it becomes much easier to support.

A Mac is not for everyone. I can see why some people get upset over the lack of hardware choices outside the one Apple wants you to have. That used to get to me too. But since I've been using a Mac it's not bothering me. It's just worked, which I really like. It's nice for a change not to worry about driver versions and compatibility issues.

sid9102 said...

I love macs. However, i'm a gamer. I really like macs because of the media apps like garageband and imovie, and i like the way everything works together. However, I'm gonna stick with vista for the games. also, i seriously don't find that many problems with vista. It isn't too slow on my com (which has 1 gig ram, and a pentium d (ooooold processor)), and its not like i'm always infected with viruses or anything. i'm not a fanboy of anything. I'd instantly switch if all video games became compatible with osx. i find osx quite easy to use, and i helped a friend set his mac up when he got one. Still, most complaints about "using multiple antivirus and antispyware softwares just to keep it working" and "it crashes like 7 times a day" are bull.

Emainiac said...

I love these people that try to convince people that are truly happy with a product that it is bad. I've been a Mac (I also dislike it when Mac is in all caps.) user all my life. I was actually teased in junior high and high school because of that fact. Apparently using Macs made me "gay." This is the sort of rambling gibberish that makes the PC community a real turn-off sometimes.

To the people that spout random garbage, no one is listening to you. We love our Macs. We find them to be capable, and the tons of open source and freeware that is available shows that fact. The Apple community is one big thing that I enjoy. You see someone with a Mac laptop or computer, you instantly have a common bond. Seeing someone with a Mac just tends to bring a smile to my face. It feels like redemption. I was teased, but now, I'm starting to gain the upper hand.

18 years, Windows free. (Save for what I was forced to use in the public school system.)

MacBook Pro, Running Leopard and Ubuntu 7.10 (just for fun :) )

@srobot-"Heck! Try putting OSX 10.5 on your old 10.0 Crapintosh! I think that will work quite nicly!!!!!! NOT!!!"

Before I moved out, I was running the latest version of Tiger on my 400mhz, 512mb RAM blueberry iMac. Some of the flash was missing, but it sure ran.

Tony said...

"What about when something around you on the network stops working... try and troubleshoot it with a MAC. "

Are you kidding me? Macs are Unix underneath - BSD unix specifically, and have FAR more ability to troubleshoot network problems than Windows.

GreyedOut said...


My advice is learn to use the Mac OS X specific key/combo's... kinda like when you learn a new language--the only way to be truly fluent is total immersion ;)

In answer to some other posts, I'm definitely out of the norm in terms of user experience... people turn down the hate!! Let people use what they want to use... and try not criticizing "without walking a mile in another's shoes"...

I grew up coding on paper tape and punched cards, from UNIX on PDP's, to VMS on VAX's, then using A/UX on Lisa's, moving to AIX on IBM RISC systems. I was a beta tester Windows 0.9 on x86's, used Mac OS 7/8/9, loved the introduction of Win 3.01.

For over 27yrs, I developed, optimized and hardened computers, databases and networks... I've programmed in binary, assembly, 3gen and OO languages... Not a novice user, I say use what feels right to you, and jump in a whole way.

For some this is a PC running Windows, for others a PC running Linux, (having a PC running OS X would be a violation of the license agreement, so...) for others a Mac running OS X :-)

BTW, when it comes to personal computing, I use a Mac :)

David Alison said...

@greyedout: I couldn't agree more (the hater attitude).

It's tough for me to keep the keyboard combinations straight because I'm a pretty fast touch typist AND I have to use both a Windows XP based PC and my Mac side by side right now. I'm getting better being able to switch between the two though.

Rev. CMOT TMPV said...

Welcome to the Mac world. Enjoy your machine.

Marcus Ronaldi said...

My oldest brother has always used Macs (since he gave me his Adam).
I got into Macs in 2000 because I wanted to do video editing which was not readily available on PC's at the time.
Since that time when it comes time to get a new computer I do not even consider PC's. I have to use a Dell at work and it just clunks along.

Often my friends will ask for technical advice and my first is to switch to Mac.

David Alison said...

@Marcus: Macs have come a long way, especially since the release of OS X. I think a lot of people using Windows dismiss Macs because they tried them out back in the 80s or 90s and haven't what they are all about now. I was in that camp until recently myself.

Mac User said...

I'm a Mac convert and I'm a believer. Love my Mac.

Anonymous said...

Simple: They don't have a password

Anonymous said...

Is there any place to find stuff about Macs said by Dave before he got his MacBook?

David Alison said...

@Anon: Nope, sorry. I didn't start blogging until after I got my Mac. My anti-Mac comments were usually said to co-workers when one of our web based applications wouldn't work on Safari.

Anonymous said...

Hi! I just got a MacBook Pro but still need Win XP to develop applications for Windows. I want to use "boot camp" to have both OSs installed. Do you know if it is safe to code under windows on a MacBook? Regards Nick

David Alison said...

@Anon: Sure, I did it for quite a while. Here are some previous blog posts I have on the topic:

The challenges of running Visual Studio on a Mac
Mac: How quickly does VMware Fusion run my development environment? Very.
Mac: VMWare Fusion and Visual Studio 2008 Express Edition

Hope this helps...

UltimaHosts said...

First thing I did when I got a Mac (as a Windows Dev) was to load XP via Parallels desktop. After being on the Mac for 1 year now I can really only say that I like the actual hardware - though it cooks my lap at times. I am heading back to a Windows notebook in my next cycle.

Daring said...

Wow, you made a really good posting about a Mac. I'll read all of your postings before buying a Mac!