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Common Myths for the Macintosh

There are lots of reasons that people don't want to switch from Windows to Macintosh. I assume the most common reason is simply because Windows works for the people that are using it. The old adage "If it ain't broke don't fix it" tends to apply here. These people are not upgrading to Vista either, they're staying with Windows XP or even Windows 98 and are just fine.

There are however an increasing number of people that are moving to Macs now - many of them people like me that hated Macs at one time. I believe there are lots of reasons for this, not the least of which is that people that are running Windows XP are faced with an upgrade to Vista as their next logical step and feel that maybe it's okay to consider a Mac since they have to go through a full operating system refresh anyway.

One of the reasons I was not interested in Macs for a very long time was that I clung to many facts about the Mac that I felt eliminated it from contention. Well, as with many things in life it turns out the facts that I knew about the Mac were either hopelessly outdated or simply myths. What I wanted to do was tell you the ones that I was aware of and often cited when I dismissed Macs in the past.

Mac's only use a single mouse button
I'm not a Mac historian, my history with the Mac being very recent but I've read that Mac multi-button mouse support has been around for some time. You may look at the MacBook keyboards and only see a single mouse button or a Mighty Mouse and think that it's not supported. The reality is the MacBook track pad has an ingenious way of supporting right mouse clicks that I find better than having the extra little stub that is a right mouse button.

You simply press two fingers to the surface and click the button and it emulates a right mouse click. While the Mighty Mouse (which I personally detest) only appears to have a single mouse button it does indeed support right clicking. I just plugged in my Logitech mice and happily right click whenever I need to.

There are not that many applications for Macs
Windows does indeed have far more applications written for it than are available for Mac. What you have to do is look at the quality of those applications though. Many of the hundreds of thousands that are cited for Windows were written back in the 90s and few have been updated. Sure, most still work but that doesn't mean they are still relevant. I have found no lack of software for my Macs -  virtually anything I have needed is available in native Mac format. 

Frankly, as a Mac n00bie I was shocked by the volume of quality Mac software available, especially on the consumer front. The number of Mac titles for business software, especially in the vertical markets for small businesses, is much smaller though.

Macs are closed machines that cannot be expanded
I have personally swapped out the memory in my MacBook inside of about 5 minutes. I upgraded my MacBook's hard drive in another 5 minutes. That's about all you can physically do with any laptop, whether it's a PC or a Mac. My Mac Pro upgrades were even easier. That machine is designed to make expanding common hardware about as easy as it gets. It took me less than a minute to install a 1TB hard drive - so little time I grabbed my video camera and filmed how easy it was:


Sure, I can't overclock my processor and the number of graphics card drivers that are supported by OS X is significantly smaller than Windows but to say I can't put non-Apple replacement parts into my Mac is just not the case. The Mac Mini and iMacs are limited in their upgrade options, but the same holds true of the Windows machines from Dell and HP that have the CPU and display all packaged together.

Macs don't work well with Windows machines on a network
I've got a GB switch at home and a variety of Windows XP, Windows Vista, Ubuntu and now Mac machines on it. Sharing files between the machines is very simple. My Macs can see my Windows shares and my Windows machines can see my Mac shared folders. I shared my printer attached to a Windows machine with my Mac and it was able to use it just fine.

Macs are more expensive
This is the one that I struggle with a bit. Yes, the Macs are slightly more expensive than PCs in general, but you have to look at what you are or more importantly not getting when you buy a Mac. Low cost PCs are often subsidized by bundled application software that is included with a new machine. When I recently bought a little HP that would eventually serve as my Ubuntu workstation it came so loaded with crap and Windows Vista that it barely even ran out of the box. The average consumer that isn't a techie would be hard pressed to clear up all of the stuff that bogs down the average new PC.

For techies it's a different story. You can go to places like Newegg and build a high performance system that has exactly what you want on it - nothing more, nothing less - and adjust expectations on price accordingly. But doing that means you are your own technical support clearing house. When the motherboard in my newly built gaming rig wouldn't post I had to call the manufacturer and work through a series of steps before we found that the board was shorting out. I needed to RMA it myself and undergo the same process when the replacement arrived days later. It took me the better part of two working days to build up that machine.

That said, I did that because I enjoyed doing it, however that time comes at a cost. Is your time worth anything to you? If it is and you don't find joy in doing this kind of technical troubleshooting then getting a fully tested and serviced machine that works out of the box is incredibly valuable. You get what you pay for in this case.

Macs can't run my Windows software
Well, that of course is not the case. I can take a legal copy of Windows XP or Vista and without spending any money use Bootcamp (which comes with OS X) and boot into Windows if I have to. It's standard PC hardware so it runs great. Better yet, grab a copy of VMware Fusion and run the Windows applications side by side with your Mac apps.

I haven't tried playing any high-end games on my Macs yet. This blog has burned up my remaining free time so they are out for now, though that's the most common complaint I've heard that I can't refute. Perhaps someone can jump in here and clarify that one. Can you play high end games like Crysis on Mac hardware and get decent performance?

Macs are mouse centered machines. You constantly have to grab the mouse.
Macs not only have excellent keyboard support, the use of shortcuts is profound. About the only thing I've found that doesn't work as well as Windows is the use of mnemonics in dialog windows that make it easy to jump to a field in a large form with lots of items in it. When a dialog pops up inside of a Mac I find that I generally grab the mouse.

On the other hand shortcuts on the Mac are consistent between applications and liberally sprinkled throughout. If you have ever seen someone that really knows the Mac well use a keyboard to do some work it's an exercise in humility. It's like productivity++.

So there you have it, the myths that I clung to that kept me from seriously considering a Mac for so long. I'm sure there are other reasons that people think switching from Windows to Mac is a bad idea - I've seen enough flame wars on the topic to know that it's a religious issue for many. 

82 comments:

Mike said...

Hi David:

As for Mac Mini's, yes they are a little bit limited in what you can upgrade on them. For a non techie, I would not encourage this, but I have done the following:

Ram, 2Gb and a core 2 duo 2.33 processor to replace the core duo 1.66 that my box originally came with. The processor upgrade was really easy, just pull the heat sink, pull the old processor, drop in the new one and close it up.

I'm envious of the Mac Pro and that will be my main machine to replace the windows desktop I have now.

Liked the video, really appreciate the engineering to make the drive addition/replacement so easy.

MV

alternapop.com said...

the two button argument is, and was, just a bit ridiculous. i still see people post this in various blog comments as a negative.

as you've said, macs have supported two button mice since around 1999 (OS 8.6).

i find it funny that people who make this argument pretend to be 'advanced' computer users. one could make the argument that advanced computer uses don't really even use the mouse that much. they use the keyboard instead.

the Control, Option, and Command key are great tools that are under utilized. i use them far more than i use the right button on my mouse.

Anonymous said...

In addition to alternapop.com's comment, my beige G3 (purchased in late 1997) has had a 3-button mouse since I've had it. I find the center button (or scroll wheel) more useful than the right button, but my 14-year old son disagrees. I haven't had a Mac that didn't support multi-button mice since my very old Mac/SE. But it's true, I still hear the "Mac's only support a one-button mouse" myth; it's like a vampire, it just won't die, even when you prove to the Windows fanatics they're wrong.

Kevin J. Weise

Anonymous said...

Excellent article David-

You simply summed up 24 years of misinformation in an easy-to-read way.

Yes, Macs have had multibutton mouse support since 1985 so that is probably the biggest myth out there.

There are roughly 19,740 OSX apps now and everyone of them is better than what is available on Windows.

Your contrast of techies building PCs compared to the higher price of Mac is interesting and spot on. PC techies tend to build a cheap box from cheap parts but then use full retail pricing to say Macs are more far expensive. Modern price-trackers like pcprices.net offer a real-time way to see all Mac prices in one spot. But PC techies never mention that :)

Anyway, keep up the fine work!

William said...

A far as cost are concerned, if you spec out a Dell on their website as close to the Mac you are looking at, you will be surprised at how close the prices are. Usually they are within a hundred dollars or so, and sometimes the Mac is the less expensive one.

TCO Guy said...

When considering the cost of a Mac versus a PC, in addition to the junky software underwriting the price, you have to consider that you don't need to buy virus software or have Geek Squad come to your house to install the thing. How much is your time worth to you? A dollar a minute? Think about how many frustrating hours you've had getting Windows to work properly -- how much time you've lost in the process. When you buy a Mac those days are suddenly in the past.

Think "total cost of ownership." One earlier poster is still using an 11 year-old computer? Think he got his money's worth?

Anonymous said...

This was a great article. I'd like to point out that you can use the keyboard for dialog boxes, but it's not quite as friendly as Windows. You have to turn full keyboard support on (in Universal access) and allow it to include checkboxes and buttons and stuff (sorry, can't think of the exact thing it says while sitting in front of a WinXP box at work). By turning that function on, however, you can use the arrow keys and the tab key to move along those buttons in the dialog box. Also, the Return/Enter key will always activate the blue button. The space bar will always activate the button with a blue aura around it. Escape is always cancel. I'm a LONG time Mac user and just learned some of these things. :)

Peter said...

"Macs are mouse centered machines. You constantly have to grab the mouse."

For a wonderful view of the whole mouse versus keyboard thing, take a look at Bruce Tognazzini's old Apple articles here (part 1), here (part 2), and here (part 3).

Eytan said...

Yeah, Apple added intrinsic support for contextual menus in 8.9, July 1997, because others had been doing it for years (and selling mice with support). I first started using a multi button mouse with the mac in 1992. I think it was the 3rd party software adding support for it that finally pushed them that way (I loved how the browsers all had "click and hold" to get a contextual menu, something you can get with FinderPop [www.finderpop.com].
As for applications, everyone should know about this site:
http://osx.hyperjeff.net/Apps/
It is a great searchable, category based index, with licensing terms (price, freeware, shareware, donationware, BSD, GPL, etc.), CPU, and type of app (carbon, Cocoa, X-Win, Java) listed. THis is an OS X ONLY list. Currently it is at 19,204. Rememeber, ALL these apps HAD to have been touched in the last 7 years because they are OS X.

Eytan said...

oops, I meant to say 8.0

David Alison said...

@Anon: I actually covered the dialog tabbing issue in yesterday's post. While I can get the tab key to work the way I am used to what I don't have is the ability to hold down a key like I can in Windows (Alt-Letter) and have it jump to specific fields in a dialog. If I have a field that contains the label "First Name" and I hit Alt-F in that dialog then the cursor will move to the First Name field. I do miss that. Otherwise, the setting I outlined yesterday makes it much easier to use.

@Eytan: You always help out man and that link is great - I hadn't been to that site yet. Thanks!

Eytan said...

You are too kind David. Your blog has been a great asset for me to recommend to my friends and a great read. It is heartening to see someone adopt the Mac so quickly, write about it intelligently, and avoid falling into the trap of being a Mac Zealot (well, too quickly anyway. You are starting to extoll the mac a lot so I guess we do need to watch out ;) )

Hendrik said...

I think the one thing that is still mostly true is that the Mac is not a great option for gamers. While iMacs have decent graphics cards the fact that they can't be upgraded is a problem (for gamers and gamers only).
And while the Mac Pro is probably great for gaming it is clearly targeted at (rich) professionals and not so much consumers/gamers.

Anonymous said...

not only do macs have a sizable amount of quality software available but its also got a large variety of free and open source software.... I found this site not to long ago and was shocked by the amount of good free stuff out there for macs now http://www.macoverdose.com

Paul said...

Hi David -
Some other points on costs:

1. The actual price of comparable machines is pretty close, and if you subtract the cost of virus protection software and update subscriptions, it's about equal. If you add all the software in the Mac, the Mac is cheaper. If you subtract the cost of buying two computers if you need both a Mac and a PC, it's quite a bit cheaper.

2. Mac resale values are considerably higher. Buy comparable Dell and Mac laptops, and then sell them on eBay a year or two or three later. The Mac will always sell for much more than the Dell.

3. Studies have shown that Mac users are more productive in general - they spend a lot less time on maintenance, crashes, conflicts, driver installation, incompatibilities, virus removal, zombie slowdowns, etc.

I suppose that if you totaled all these up, the Mac eventually pays for itself compared to many Windows machines. :-)

Paul

David Alison said...

@Hendrik: As someone who used to follow the PC based gaming world pretty closely I will say that the vast majority of effort in gaming titles is focused on console games anyway. Most of the big shops, especially EA, merely port their games to the PC after developing them for consoles and it shows. I know more and more people that used to invest a lot of money in their gaming rigs that are getting off the upgrade train that was required to keep up with the latest technology in PC gaming. Most of them simply buy console games.

@Eytan: Honestly, I do sound like a total fanboy now but the reality is I'm trying to be as objective as I can. If people read that as irrational exuberance then so be it. :-)

Loci said...

A very good article. what I find amusing is the inversion of the function..that being, the question I found myself recently asking myself, and I cannot be alone in this. "Is there a reason I should buy a (Windows) PC instead of a Mac?"

Mac software is better. I find this to be the case over and over no matter what I am looking at. In my case, I *love* 1Password, and I can't run that on Windows at all.

While my iPhone integrates with windows, my personal experience is that it is like how my ankle 'integrates' with a wayward shopping cart. I will survive, but there is nothing pleasant about it, and I won't walk right for days.

I find myself as default computer support person for friends and family. I am slowly replacing my kid's computers and cellphones with Apple, as they go off to school, I will have a far easier time maintaining their Mac computers, and won't have to uninstall WildTangentwhatever for the 50th time. Its hard to put a value on that.

On a personal level, how can a person not find talking with Microsoft for the umpteenth 'activation' anything besides humiliating? I am sorry, but you do not enhance your business or income by conveying the assumption that every user is a counterfeiter, and that is precisely what they are doing. What is the value of not being assumed a liar or cheat?

I really think the curve in inverting; the switch to intel was the first shot over Microsoft's bow, the iPhone platform (if not the device) is another serious blow.

Even if a person finds the dollar TCO to be uncertain (which I do not), please call Apple and then Dell, HP or Microsoft, and rate your telephonic (or even web) experiences. I don't know what narcotic Apple gives its staff, but its working.

Rip Ragged said...

David,

In dialog boxes, generally, pressing [return] will activate the highlighted button.

A command key combination with the first letter of the other buttons will normally activate them instead. For example cmd-D will select "Don't Save" in most cases. Cmd-N will usually select "No."

Dialog boxes in Apple's software are pretty reliable about holding to that standard. Other software is hit and miss, but I've found the better the software, the more reliable it is about staying with the protocols.

Here's another undocumented feature - If you're listening to iTunes you can roll your mouse over the miniplayer, even if it's the backmost window, and adjust the volume with your scroll wheel. You don't have to click on it. Just mouse-over and scroll.

Jalada said...

Excellent points, with regards to cost, I think people turn away from Mac far too easily due to price, and don't think about what that extra cost actually gives them - stability, ease of use, no need to buy/subscribe for antivirus stuff. And so on.

I find myself more and more of a Mac advocate every day, when in the past I like you, would never consider one. Since December I have been a very happy MacBook owner -and I find myself hardly ever using Windows.

Eytan said...

@Rip Ragged
On that same not, Command-. or ESC double as cancel
In the case where a carriage return would add another line, Enter is the key to press to select a highlighted button in a dialog/

MosesR said...

I love my Mighty Mouse!! I can program up to 4 buttons and have 360 degree scrolling. Which beats the heck out of up/down, left/right scrolling. More over by holding down the Command button while scrolling gives me instant magnification (very important to my old eyes).

Michael said...

As for Crysis, I finished it a few months ago on my 2.8GHz iMac running XP SP2.

All of the graphics were set to medium and I suppose I could have tweaked the settings a bit, but I was impressed with the Crytek engine's performance as it was and have since moved on to other games.

The latest Quake still refuses to run on my iMac however I attribute that to the way Microsoft has completely buggered OpenGL.

I have never owned a windows pc and never will. Mac user since 1987 and Apple ][ owner since 1981.

David Alison said...

@mosesr: I love the idea of the little track ball that the mighty mouse has, though I hear it can get fouled up and need cleaning. What I hate about the MM is that I tend to rest my palm on the mouse when using it and I would accidently click the mouse all the time. As for zooming - I hold down Control and roll the wheel on my Logitech and I get that zoom too - it's a nice feature.

Eytan said...

@David - yeah, the ball gets gunked up...
but just wet a paper towel and roll over it a couple of times and it is as good as new - not the hard way I had to do it with my trackball and ball mice...

Qka said...

Concerning your comment that you don't game because of the time spent on this blog, all I can say is that gaming's loss is the world's gain! You do a great job on this blog - keep up the good work!

As for the mouse buttons - I use a Logitech mouse aimed at the Windows market with my PowerBook G4 running OS X Tiger. Besides the right and left buttons, the scroll wheel (fully functional!) also clicks. I've set up Expose to use that third button click to activate the Expose Show All windows function. I find it very handy!

Concerning the mouse vs. keyboard shortcuts, I saw an opinion years ago that it is best to go with what works in any particular application. For example, while word processing, your hands are on the keyboard. In that context, keyboard shortcuts are the way to go. When using a graphics application, your hand is on the mouse, drawing, moving items, etc. In that context, context sensitive menus through the mouse are the way to go. The best systems provide both options, allowing the user to use that which is most productive in the given situation.

eric Lin said...

I think another reason why people dislike Macs when it comes to networking with PCs (especially for IT people) is the creation of "._" resource fork files when a Mac file is moved on to a PC. Those can and do clutter up network drives really quick!

I found it really annoying at first when copying files from my Mac to PC.

BigVnD Opportunity said...

Good Job, David !

But david....

I'll be crazy if i keep using windows.

Sparhawk said...

As for games on the current Macs, it run fine with Bootcamp. I have a MacPro 2x2.8 GHz (2008) with a nVidia 8800 GT and I play at Command&Conquer Tiberium Wars and Silent Hunter 4 with all graphics at max, 1920x1200 and it's smooth and beautiful!
For the games ported on MacOS X, it's the same.

David Alison said...

@Sparhawk: Thanks for that update. It's funny, I commonly hear that games like Crysis won't run well on a Mac with settings maxed out but the reality is that with settings maxed out Crysis barely runs on high end PCs too.

McDark said...

Good read on a still much misunderstood topic among everyday folk, and reinforced by Windows bigots.

Kind of on a similar line, there's a site I stumbled across recently that expands on the Mac misconception concept even more.

34 Reasons why not to buy a Macintosh

A bit 'waffley', but worth a read I thought.

David Alison said...

@McDark: Thanks for the link. Someone clearly put a lot of time into that one.

Whatever said...

David,

if go to system preferences -> Keyboard & Mouse and click on the "Tap to click" check box, u will not use the trackpad button again, simply tap with one finger for a left click, or two fingers for a right click.

(i find the combination of two fingers on the trackpad + one on the button a bit tricky)

by the way, a right click is not always required to bring up the contextual menu, it should also appear after a long click. (but most application developers have forgotten that UI guideline)

David Alison said...

@Whatever: Thanks for the tip - I have actually gotten quite used to the MacBook's keyboard and mouse gestures abd the single large button. Many of my older PC laptops came with the single touch click on the trackpads as the default option and I really struggled with it, especially when trying to deal with the subtleties of dragging and dropping.

Martin said...

no i idea why i'm called whatever :D

(must be my google blog name)

my real name is martin :)

ping said...

I'm using USB Overdrive to fully exploit the six-button Logitech mouse I'm using.

You may have noticed that the scroll wheel normally can only scroll vertically, but you can hold the [SHIFT] key to make the scroll wheel go horizontally instead.

That is where the scroll wheel's button comes in handy: I've assigned the scroll wheel button to the [SHIFT] key, so without pressure the scroll wheel still goes up and down, but when I hold it down it goes left and right instead. Very neat and quite intuitive two-dimensional scrolling with just one scroll wheel!

It doesn't stop there, though.

Since the scroll wheel button is now a modifier key, all other mouse buttons can now be combined with the scroll wheel button. So at least in theory you now have one action button less (because the scroll wheel now only activates the [SHIFT] key) but for the remaining buttons (five with my mouse) you now have two combinations each (with and without [SHIFT]).

In the same vein, I changed the right mouse button to just [CTRL] key functionality. That means that I need to first press the right button and then the left button in addition (chord clicking, in a way) to get a context menu which sounds odd at first but which is actually easy to get used to.

For the now just four remaining buttons I now have four combinations each, however, and more:

After enabling it in the Universal Access control panel and [CTRL] now being assigned to the right button, I can simply hold the right button and the scroll wheel will now zoom in and out. Neat, isn't it?

While I'm leaving the left button alone, the remaining three buttons now invoke the three Exposé functions and Dashboard (using three buttons without and one with the right button held down). I still have eight button combinations free for other functionalities, but I've found that Exposé is for me by far the most important functionality to have directly on the mouse.

USB Overdrive makes this kind of setup possible and is quite useful in practice. But of course, your own mileage may vary. ;-)

Anonymous said...

David,

First, let me start by saying that I have been really enjoying and learning a great deal from your blog. My wife has had a Mac for the last five years, while I have been on Windows. Your blog has given me the tools to understand her Mac, administer it, and most recently, get over it's death and transition her to a new Mac. I've had to learn quite a bit, as she doesn't really understand how a computer works....

One of the reasons I have enjoyed your blog so much is because it has been reasonably unbiased -- free of blind Apple worship that is typical of Apple fans. However, this particular post has given me pause, as I believe it deviates from the unbiased nature of your other discussions...

Let's start with the first "myth". Yes, Mac has "supported" a multi-button mouse for years. However, not until very recently has a Mac laptop had multi-button functionality out of the box. For example, the only way to get this functionality on our old PowerBook G4 was to buy SideTrack. This was even true after upgrading it from 10.3 to 10.5! So I spent $120 on an OS upgrade only to find out that none of the new gestured worked with the old hardware.... Lovely!

There are enough applications for the Mac. However, as you say, the business end is problematic. This is partly Microsoft's fault. Business runs on Office and Office for Mac is castrated. I don't know how else to refer to lack of VBA support in Office 2008. That's absolutely appalling. The Mac Office suite also does not include Access, so, for example, I cannot manage the MySQL database on our website through Access natively like I can on my Windows machine. Entourage also seems to be a pale imitation of Outlook.

I agree with your statement about expansion.

I am obviously doing something wrong, but the Windows machine cannot log into the Mac on our wireless network. The Mac can log into the Windows machine just fine. I've spent a couple of hours on it already and I can't figure it out. "Easy" and "Mac" are overused as synonyms.

My wife works with an elderly lady whose hands shake badly making it very difficult for her to write. Unfortunately, she also cannot find any ribbons for her old typewriter. So, we decided to get her a computer. I really wanted to get her a Mac because it does seem to promise a better experience for someone like her. So, let's compare the cheapest machines...

Dell Vostro: Core 2 Duo, 2.4GHz, 2GB RAM, 160GB 7200 RPM drive, 19 in widescreen monitor, 3 years of McAfee, Windows XP, and no extraneous bloat-ware -- $550.

Mac Mini: Core 2 Duo, 1.83GHz, 1GB RAM, 80GB 5400 RPM drive, NO DISPLAY, Nothing else -- $599!

I mean, come on, people! The apple is an inferior machine in every spec and is more expensive without a monitor! There is no comparison.

Now that Macs have switched to the Intel architectures, it's obviously much easier to run Windows on them. The PowerPC emulation software did not work nearly as well.

Macs *are* much more mouse centered on a very basic level. On Windows, one can do almost anything through the keyboard by stepping through the menus using the underlined letters. Anything in the Start menu can be accessed through the keyboard -- how do you access the doc or the Apple menu on the Mac without a mouse? For a concrete every-day example, let's take window management. Let's say I have 4 windows open in an application. In Windows, I press Alt-W, look at the list of windows, and then press 1, 2, 3 or 4 on the keyboard to select the window I want. Or I can use Alt-Tab. On a Mac, I *have* to use a mouse -- the "Window" menu cannot be engaged through the keyboard and Alt-Tab only toggles between applications, not windows.

This is a fundamental difference. On Windows, all menus in all applications can be opened using Alt and (usually) the first letter. Then any choice within those menus can be accessed with a second keyboard stroke: Alt-F, u for Page Setup. There is no way to access these kinds of "lesser used" commands without a mouse on a Mac.

Now I would like to address one "myth" about a "Mac". The one where it "just works..." Apple products have bugs just like PC products -- Apple users just seem much more willing to put up with them. I'll give a few examples. The first is the syslogd process . It's a bug -- a serious bug, that Apple has known about since 10.5.0 and has not fixed. I strongly suspect that this bug killed my wife's PowerBook G4 -- it pegged the processor and the hard-drive for HOURS! Oh, and it's really nice of Apple to, by default, only show "My Processes" in Activity Monitor rather than "All Processes." This way, the computer slows to a crawl, but you can't tell why. Who ever wants to see only "my" processes"? I eventually figured out how to kill syslogd through Terminal but the damage had already been done -- a few days later the power circuit on the motherboard was fried....

The old PowerBook could not remember the WEP password for our wireless network. Didn't matter how many times we checked the "store in Keychain" box... And it would not automatically connect to Wireless when taken off Ethernet. The new MacBook Pro doesn't have this problem.

Similarly, Mac Mail seems to have trouble remembering POP account passwords. Microsoft Entourage works just fine with the same POP accounts.

And here are some other questions for all you Mac people who are going to skewer me for this post. Why can't I resize a window by grabbing any edge? Why do I have to type an obscure command into Terminal to be able to see system files in Finder? Why do I then, separately, have to enable "Other", "System Files", "Include" in Finder search? David, you must be a very patient person to put up with having the menus for all your apps stuck in the primary monitor in multi-monitor mode -- what's the logic for that?

Here is another "no, it doesn't just work" example, with a twist... I am visiting some friends who have an HP Office Jet 4135v multi-function printer shared through their XP machine. I can connect to the printer fine through the wireless network. But, there is no driver for this printer on Mac OS. The Apple website says there is, but it's not on the list in Options and Supplies > Driver... Here is where it gets interesting -- connecting the printer directly into the USB port works just fine. An HP Office Jet 4300 series driver magically appears. There is no way to change it, so there is no way to see where it is on the OS. So there is still no way to print through the network...

So, why don't I just go to the HP website and download the driver? Here, I'll help: go here and look at the size of the downloads. 188MB! No problem, I am on DSL... This is obviously a lot of crap, like photo-management, that I don't need. I'll download the whole caboodle but only install the print driver... 20 minutes later... Oh, I can't install only the printer driver. It's 500MB (uncompressed) of crap or nothing. No "advanced" install option like in Windows -- only "simple" here. 500MB of bloat just to print!?! That's nuts!

So, it's HP's fault, right? Well, yes and no. In my experience, on Windows, for aggregate packages of stuff, one always has a choice to do a manual install of selected components. On the Mac, this choice is available rarely. This is partly because the Mac is supposed to be "easy." This is Apple's credo and marketing holy word. But, choices are hard, so vendors like HP just choose not to give us any.

Let me finish by saying that we replaced the dead PowerBook with a 17in MacBook Pro. I am using the machine to write this post right now -- it's very nice, I like it a lot, and I understand why David is so taken in by Apple. However, I remember your posts explaining why you switched, David. The basic reason, correct me if I am wrong, was that you were bored with Windows. Microsoft has really shot itself in the head with Vista and for people who are tired of XP's tried and true, OS X is a wonderful alternative. I agree with this -- as I said, I really like the new PowerBook. But, I disagree with the premise that "Mac is better." It's different, and it's better at some things, most importantly, in my opinion, the "design of the user experience" that is somehow more pleasant than the boring efficiency of Windows. But it's not better at all things, it doesn't "just works" always, as the pitch implies, and it does some things markedly worse. Apple's real achievement is that, somehow, it has managed to condition its users to simply accept shortcomings as features. "Sacrifices must be made in the name of clean design." In the end, even the guy who started the campaign to get Apple to replace batteries in IPods just caved in and bought another IPod. It's crazy.

Now let the flogging begin.

Makke.

Eytan said...

Wow, yeah, no reason to flog you, but you do seem a little angry, and misinformed...
I guess I am first. I hope you don't mind I answer some of his comments David

1st, the comment about the scrolling/right click.
The earlier mac trackpads (3+ years ago) were not able to sense 2 fingers simultaneously, you are correct. I don't think anyone is talking history here, but present tense. FinderPop was/is a great tool to have the right click come up after a delay.

2nd, Office. You can blame that on MSFT. The next version will have VBA off, but it is really not in MSFTs best interest to make it a 100% equal citizen. If this is vital for you, it is - of course, MANY databases, including mySQL, can be easily installed. And Open Office and NeoOffice are both great clones of Access. Not saying this is your panacea, but there are always options. I don't think David was saying things are exactly the same.

For networking, make sure you have "Windows sharing" enabled under sharing - just like you need to turn on sharing in Windows, you need to turn it on on a Mac, and enable it for the various services you want.

Price, no contest. No one is arguing you cannot get a cheaper machine than a Mac with more power. It will often not include all that comes with a Mac (Mac OS X, iLife, FireWire, Bluetooth, Wifi, etc) but you can certainly get something cheaper. When you look at the low end (specifically, the mac Mini) Apple does not really have competitive hardware. It is a shame.

To pick a window using the keyboard - Exposé key, then use the arrow keys. Spacebar to bring the window to the front. Within an application, Command-~ switch between Windows.
Maybe archaic, but no more than many of the keyboard shortcuts on Windows, CTRL-F2 brings up the selection of the 1st item in the menu bar. At that point you can navigate the menus like in windows. CTRL-F3 focuses in on the Dock. Once any window is selected, Tab moves between controls. See the keyboard preferences for the shortcuts, and be aware you can change them. Just because you don't KNOW the shortcuts does not mean they are not there. On that note, how do I do "New Folder" in Windows without hitting multiple keys or using the mouse? So anyway, any "Lesser" option can be handled either with those shortcuts, or assigning custom keystrokes within the Keyboard System Preference.

So we finally get to the meat and potatoes - there were some problems with your wife's PB G4 and you are unhappy. Sorry, no one here claimed that Macs are problem free. "Just Works" does not apply to that - but rather to the smooth integration of most things on the Mac. As for the Activity Monitor, if you knew enough to open it, you should only blame yourself for not looking at the entire screen. The Pop Up menu to choose all processes is pretty prevalent.

Okay... "...Why can't I resize a window by grabbing any edge?"
That is the way the Mac works. If you don't like it, there are 3rd party ways to change it. For some, that is fine.

"Why do I have to type an obscure command into Terminal to be able to see system files in Finder?"
So as you won't mess with it. There is a great tool, TinkerTool, which turns those on. The assumption is you don't need them, and if you do a quick Google Search will help you find them. No one said things are perfect.

"Why do I then, separately, have to enable "Other", "System Files", "Include" in Finder search?"
You have to do the same in Windows, and given how much faster search is, you could enable disable those 30 times and STILL find your files faster.

"David, you must be a very patient person to put up with having the menus for all your apps stuck in the primary monitor in multi-monitor mode -- what's the logic for that?"

Not sure how you did your printing, but there are a variety of reasons why that may not have worked. Including not choosing the right kind of print sharing in the Printer Utility. I assume you checked Windows Printing - make sure you also have the Firewall open on the windows for sharing, and you are on the same subnet. There could be a dozen of reasons why things don't work.

I have a couple of things to say in closing. One, there can and will always be problems with any platform. It sounds like your experiences with the Mac are to fix problems when your wife has them, which will OBVIOUSLY leave a raw taste in your mouth. Maybe if you used one you would feel different.

2nd, as I was pointing out in my earlier post - yes, Dave is starting to extoll themac - nothing wrong with that, he is enjoying it. I don;t think he disparaged Windows in this blog. Why dod you have to respond with so much venom and bitterness to his post? Why is it such a deal to you? You sound like more of a Windows Zealot than Dave is a Mac Zealot - think about that.


If you really read his blog, you would have seen he downloaded an add on for that.

Eytan said...

A couple of corrections to my earlier post. I should have previewed.
In the office section, I meant to say that the next version of office will have VBA back.

In the area where I quoted you on disparaging David's ability to work with multiple monitors and putting up with the dual screens, David found solutions that work fine for him for menus on multiple monitors. If you were a regular reader, you would know that. I did not realize your wife had multiple monitors - you sure did not seem to indicate she is that kind of a power user, just a standard user.

All in all, it seems like you came here to be bitter.

semioticmonkey said...

Very well said, David.
There are not that many applications for Macs point is exactly what i'm repeating from so many year.
If you look at TextMate, CSSEdit and Scrivener as examples, you'll see a bunch of clones (TextMate is the more requested by the windows folks. There are 3 clones contenders and, by using them, none fo them rach the original) on wintel side but none ot them with same attention to detail, user-centric design and innovation.
This is the main point. Innovation (little or incrmental, doesn't matter) in software development (in features or workflow) are stagnant on wintel. 400 text editors and all of them with the same feature set. None of them trying to think outside the box.
Yes, there are inverse cases, too.
On the diff-merge market segment, wintel is well ahead of the Mac folks, for example. I struggle using opendiff via term when on wintel there is the free optimus winmerge. Just for completeness of the information given. I don't like to sound like a zelot.

Anonymous said...

Hi

Just to correct a comment on PowerBook trackpads. I have a late 2003 12" G4 PowerBook and using an open source driver, iScroll, I have two finger scrolling very similar (but not identical) to the latest MacBooks. According to the iScroll developer, most Apple notebooks from 2003 supported two finger taps even though there was no software support in OSX until much later.

CS

Anonymous said...

Another story about Macs "just working" - a friend o of mine spent two whole days trying to get his HP laptop, HP portable printer and HP printer 11g wireless card to communicate with each other. The laptop was running Vista Home and all the hardware was less than 6 months old. He brought it over to my place and using Bonjour I had the printer working from my MacBook wirelessly in less than 30 seconds. He was speechless.

He finally got it working with his laptop after I told him to use the Windows version of Apple Bonjour.

CS

ping said...

semioticmonkey: On the diff-merge market segment, wintel is well ahead of the Mac folks, for example. I struggle using opendiff via term when on wintel there is the free optimus winmerge.

From what I've seen winmerge doesn't offer anything I'm missing in BBEdit (you can use the free TextWrangler for that as well).

You may just not know all that's actually available.

Not to say there can't be actual deficiencies on the Mac, I just don't see that as one of them.

ping said...

semioticmonkey: On the diff-merge market segment, wintel is well ahead of the Mac folks, for example. I struggle using opendiff via term when on wintel there is the free optimus winmerge.

From what I've seen winmerge doesn't offer anything I'm missing in BBEdit (you can use the free TextWrangler for that as well).

You may just not know all that's actually available.

Not to say there can't be actual deficiencies on the Mac, I just don't see that as one of them.

David Alison said...

@Makke: Wow man, lots of text in there. I actually debated turning my response into an entire new post but figured I'll just plop it in here instead.

Before I get started I need to make a couple of things clear.

1) I have only had my Macs for less than four months as of today. My history with them is limited to OS X Leopard and a MacBook and Mac Pro. I've never pretended to be a Mac expert and when providing tips that I've discovered have learned to qualify them based on the OS X version that I am using. Turns out a lot of people still use older Macs with older OS X versions that read this blog.

2) When I wrote the Myths article I qualified it at both the beginning and ending that these were the myths that I clung to. I didn't do a lot of research on the topic - this blog is about my experience, nothing more, nothing less. I personally had to dispel these myths in my own mind before I would even consider a Mac.

That said, you are taking me to task for issues that predate my Mac experience. Sorry, but I can't help you there. I can completely understand your frustration with the PowerBook issue you experienced. I've had people write comments in my blog complaining about horrendous service from Apple, defective machines that broke down repeatedly and buggy Mac based applications that caused them lots and lots of problems. I have not had those kinds of problems - all I can do accurately is provide my experiences. I have however documented every single experience I've had, including the negative ones, in this blog.

On the price front I said in my article that Macs are slightly more expensive than PCs, however comparing them to one another is difficult to do at best because you have to look at the entire experience. One of the folks that reads this blog sent me a great link that does more detailed comparisons: System Shootouts. They've tried to take a detailed look at these systems point by point.

What prevented me from considering the Mac was the entire "Macs are so much more expensive" statement in general. People cited a Mac Pro costing $4,000 - and I simply said "Yeah, way too expensive". The reality is my recent Mac Pro purchase, which I got directly from Apple as a refurbished machine (which saved me $500) ended up costing less than the custom gaming / development rig I built a year ago. Sure, they were built for different purposes but my Mac Pro is easily more powerful than my Windows XP system.

My MacBook ended up costing me about $1,500 after my RAM and HD upgrades, about $700 less than my HP Laptop running Windows Vista. The HP has a bigger display and is hardly a direct comparison to the MacBook, yet I've gotten considerably more value from my MacBook because I really enjoy using it. My Vista experience has been... problematic at best.

And just to clarify something, you cited the cost of a Mac Mini compared to a Dell. You are correct, the Mac is much more expensive, however the Dell is running Windows XP, an OS that's over 6 years old and is about to be phased out by Microsoft. The Mini would be running the latest version of OS X and from everything I've seen the performance on it would be fine.

At the end of the day people simply need to determine what level of machine they really want and see if it will work for them. Is it worth paying that price? For me the joy I've gotten from my Macs and the general increases I've seen in productivity have made the price issue irrelevant. That may sound fanboy'ish and biased but it really is how I feel.

Eytan addressed lots of the detail points in your comment so I'll leave it here - thanks Eytan!

Now if you don't mind I'm going to go back to nursing my hangover. My wife's out of town and the guys came over for poker last night. I've now learned that after drinking too much beer that switching to Rum and Coke is a really bad idea.

Really bad.

ping said...

Anonymous: blind Apple worship that is typical of Apple fans.

What did you think the word "fan" means, actually? 8-)

There are many more Mac users, however, who are simply pleased with their overall experience with Macs despite the occasional annoyance, which is quite a different thing. So let's just stay clear of the personal slights, okay? ;-)


Anonymous: Let's start with the first "myth". Yes, Mac has "supported" a multi-button mouse for years. However, not until very recently has a Mac laptop had multi-button functionality out of the box. For example, the only way to get this functionality on our old PowerBook G4 was to buy SideTrack. This was even true after upgrading it from 10.3 to 10.5! So I spent $120 on an OS upgrade only to find out that none of the new gestured worked with the old hardware.... Lovely!

You've got a five years old machine and a feature which has always been advertised by Apple as a hardware feature is not included in an OS upgrade as an extra freebie, as advertised? What is there to complain about?


Anonymous: So, let's compare the cheapest machines...

Dell Vostro: Core 2 Duo, 2.4GHz, 2GB RAM, 160GB 7200 RPM drive, 19 in widescreen monitor, 3 years of McAfee, Windows XP, and no extraneous bloat-ware -- $550.

Mac Mini: Core 2 Duo, 1.83GHz, 1GB RAM, 80GB 5400 RPM drive, NO DISPLAY, Nothing else -- $599!

I mean, come on, people! The apple is an inferior machine in every spec and is more expensive without a monitor! There is no comparison.


The mini is inferior in some specs - what you've ignored is that the mini has gigabit ethernet, Wifi, Bluetooth, digital audio in+out, FireWire, a full-version software package including a full OS version (not some cut-down "home" version), is positively tiny, near-silent and consumes a fraction of the energy of the huge Vostro tower which comes rather bare.

That doesn't make the mini any cheaper, but its compromises are made in a completely different direction - it may not be what you would prefer in every case, but at least for me nowadays the only excuse for a big honking tower with a corresponding electric bill is when I actually need high-end performance (the kind the Mac Pro provides).

The mini is worth its price - it may just not be what you're looking for. Or it might actually be after all if you re-checked your priorities.

Easy usability is quite a relevant feature especially for the elderly, among other things.


Anonymous: Macs *are* much more mouse centered on a very basic level.

No, not at all. Due to pervasive and consistent key combinations across almost all applications, experienced Mac users use the keyboard a lot, maybe more than most Windows users.

You can even easily customize the key bindings for any application in the "Keyboard & Mouse" perference panel.

And with a utility like Butler you can assign anything, by using AppleScript even complete sequences of actions across multiple applications, to any key combination, available anywhere (global hot keys) and much more.


Anonymous: Anything in the Start menu can be accessed through the keyboard -- how do you access the doc or the Apple menu on the Mac without a mouse?

[CTRL]+F2 (user-configurable in the "Keyboard & Mouse" control panel)
[CTRL]+F3 for the Dock

Anonymous: For a concrete every-day example, let's take window management. Let's say I have 4 windows open in an application. In Windows, I press Alt-W, look at the list of windows, and then press 1, 2, 3 or 4 on the keyboard to select the window I want. Or I can use Alt-Tab. On a Mac, I *have* to use a mouse -- the "Window" menu cannot be engaged through the keyboard and Alt-Tab only toggles between applications, not windows.

No. [CTRL]+F2 and then "W" or "WI" to select the window menu would get you there. A widespread convention is also that [CMD]+[number] will immediately select the respective window.

[CMD]+> and < rotate through all windows of the current application.

As explained above, Exposé works with the keyboard as well.

There is also the Witch utility which provides list-based window navigation both within the current application and across all applications.

It is really a good idea to accustom yourself with the possibilities by reading the documentation or simply asking on a forum.


Anonymous: Now I would like to address one "myth" about a "Mac". The one where it "just works..." Apple products have bugs just like PC products -- Apple users just seem much more willing to put up with them.

It's the total level of annoyance or satisfaction which makes all the difference, so as long as I only encounter minor annoyances and I'm very satisfied otherwise, of course it will affect the way I'll complain.

Anonymous: I'll give a few examples. The first is the syslogd process. It's a bug -- a serious bug, that Apple has known about since 10.5.0 and has not fixed.

I've simply never had that problem. This might be of help, though:
macosxhints.com - 10.5: One fix for a runaway syslogd process
It seems some third-party applications may be involved in the issue. The syslog daemon working hard can just be the symptom of a problem lying elsewhere and there causing lots of loggable events.


Anonymous: Oh, and it's really nice of Apple to, by default, only show "My Processes" in Activity Monitor rather than "All Processes."

It's a clearly visible selection popup at the top of the window. And yes, normally I'm interested in my applications' power draw. By default drowning the processes the user knows about in the entire list of system processes would be stupid and would almost certainly lead to significantly increased support for people having accidentally terminated essential system processes. So it's the same as elsewhere on the Mac: You can do almost anything, but the most obvious is generally the default.


Anonymous: And here are some other questions for all you Mac people who are going to skewer me for this post.

I've noticed you are looking for a fight. But other Mac users are not the cause of your difficulties. Many could have been avoided by simply looking a bit closer. And for many others we might even be able to help you out.


Anonymous: Why can't I resize a window by grabbing any edge?

Because Apple is highly resistant to changing basic mechanisms, for better or sometimes for worse. Since Mac apps generally remember your last window positions and auto-resizing usually works well, that's much less of an issue than it would be elsewhere.


Anonymous: Why do I have to type an obscure command into Terminal to be able to see system files in Finder?

Because you only need that if you've got obscure intentions. ;-)
Most people will never need that. And as said, TinkerTool can still change the Finder's behaviour there.


Anonymous: Here is another "no, it doesn't just work" example, with a twist... I am visiting some friends who have an HP Office Jet 4135v multi-function printer shared through their XP machine. I can connect to the printer fine through the wireless network. But, there is no driver for this printer on Mac OS. The Apple website says there is, but it's not on the list in Options and Supplies > Driver... Here is where it gets interesting -- connecting the printer directly into the USB port works just fine. An HP Office Jet 4300 series driver magically appears. There is no way to change it, so there is no way to see where it is on the OS. So there is still no way to print through the network...

Even Apple can't and won't solve all problems with Windows. Not their job.


Anonymous: In my experience, on Windows, for aggregate packages of stuff, one always has a choice to do a manual install of selected components. On the Mac, this choice is available rarely.

By far most Mac software does not come with an installer at all. It's simply drag and drop. Done. If HP can't manage to provide a decent driver package, complain there.


Anonymous: But, I disagree with the premise that "Mac is better." It's different, and it's better at some things, most importantly, in my opinion, the "design of the user experience" that is somehow more pleasant than the boring efficiency of Windows. But it's not better at all things, it doesn't "just works" always, as the pitch implies, and it does some things markedly worse. Apple's real achievement is that, somehow, it has managed to condition its users to simply accept shortcomings as features.

Calling the rest of us stupid and manipulated might be less problematic if you hadn't made various avoidable mistakes yourself. :-I

That is a major issue for many people coming from Windows: They expect things to work the same as they did under Windows. Which is perfectly understandable, but it is simply not realistic.

When I'm on a different platform, among the things I'm doing is to try to find out how things are done on that different platform; And I try to adapt my habits to the platform as much as I try to adapt the platform to my needs. That is the only way that works, but it works very well.

The problem today is that too many people have no experience with anything but Windows and they have become so entrenched in the often problematic ways Windows works that they often have lost the capability to look for solutions in other places than exactly in the ones they have been used to (for better or worse).


If you really exploit the Mac, it is a very powerful and despite its own shortcomings a very pleasant platform to work with which is highly customizable and especially strong for "power users" on both flexibility and ease of use.

But demanding it to work just exactly like Windows would only make you unhappy with it - that just won't and can't work.

David Alison said...

@Ping: that was an outstanding post - you just revealed a slew of little tips for me as well!

semioticmonkey said...

@ping: I know TW/BBEdit but
a) BBEdit costs way too much and i'm TextMate user anyway.
b) TextWrangler is in no way similar to Winmerge. Use it on your wintel machine and see for yourself. Maybe with Tortoise SVN integration.
http://tortoisesvn.tigris.org/

The one and the only, good on both the platform, is Araxis Merge but it costs an arm and a leg :)
http://www.araxis.com/merge/index.html

ping said...

semioticmonkey: I know TW/BBEdit but
a) BBEdit costs way too much and i'm TextMate user anyway.
b) TextWrangler is in no way similar to Winmerge.


I'd say BBEdit is easily worth its price. Among other things, I can directly diff, merge, commit and otherwise work with the repository

So what exactly are you missing?

semioticmonkey: The one and the only, good on both the platform, is Araxis Merge but it costs an arm and a leg :)

Price is a completely different subject, especially with professional tools. But is there really a substantial functionality gap on either platform in this regard?

SDWgraphics said...

Actually, you CAN tab. From LifeHacker website:
"4. Tab between all controls.

By default your Mac's Tab key doesn't move between controls on a page or form other than text boxes and lists. Click the "All Controls" radio button at the bottom of the Keyboard & Mouse pane in System Preferences to right this wrong."

Full article:
http://lifehacker.com/390226/top-10-things-you-forgot-your-mac-can-do

Hope this helps!
PS - Someone mentioned in your other article about dragging apps to the trash. I don't recommend that since apps install pref files, etc.

I DO recommend AppZapper which will erase EVERTHING associated with an app from your machine. The beauty of it, though, is that it just puts everything in the trash so if you accidentally delete something, you can just go to Edit>Undo in the finder. You can find it here:
http://www.appzapper.com/

Also, you might want to check out these two sites if you haven't already:
http://www.maczot.com
http://www.mupromo.com

Both sites off a steep discount on ONE Mac app a day. Its a great way to learn about new mac apps and get them at a steep discount.

I hope I helped. Welcome to the Mac community, I'm so happy you have seen the light!

Anonymous said...

I can see that my post turned out to be much more antagonizing than I intended. I included several generalities that were unnecessary and offended people -- I apologize for that. However, it also seems that people automatically focused on the negative and ignored the positive things I said about Macs. I further have a lot of respect for David and, as I said, I have learned a great deal from reading all his posts.

There is too much in the posts for me to be able to respond to. I will attempt to touch on a few things briefly.

Thank you for the Expose, Menu, and Dock shortcuts. Through trial and error I figured out that they all require a Fn in addition to Ctrl on a laptop. Expose works well, although I wish it would give an indication when some of the windows are minimized. Getting up into the menus is cumbersome: too many keystrokes: Fn-Ctrl-F2, W, Enter, First letter of window name, Enter. 5 keystrokes total. On Windows its two keystrokes: Alt-W, window number. @Eytan - to create a new folder, in Windows Explorer, Alt-F, W, F for File, New, Folder. So, I stand corrected - these things can be done on a Mac. But they are easier and faster to execute in Windows. No need to memorize shortcuts -- just read the commands and choose the underlined letters.

>A widespread convention is also that [CMD]+[number] will immediately select the respective window.

As far as I can tell, Cmd+number in Safari selects the bookmarks in the menu bar. In Word or Firefox it doesn't do anything. CMD+> and < also doesn't work for me. Cmd+< seems to open the preferences dialog.

The problem with the HP printer has nothing to do with Windows. I can see it through the network (so the sharing is fine). The only guess I can make is that the Mac comes with a USB driver that only works for a USB connection, not a network connection. I don't understand why the driver should care what kind of wire is used....

In my experience, a single application usually comes as a drag and drop. Packages come with installers.

Finally, I don't expect things to work the same on a Mac as they do on Windows. What I do expect, is to be able to figure out how to do something by looking through the documentation (help) provided with the computer, especially on a machine that claims to be "easy". For example, typing "system files" or "view system files" in Mac help brings no results. (I don't consider trying to move mail or address book data from the dead computer's hard-drive onto the new machine as "obscure intentions". The Migration Assistant, just like the HP installer, does not give enough custom control to move over specific bits of old data... )

As I said in my previous post, the Mac is definitely better at some things, I am happy to even say many things, with the design of the user experience being one of them. However, Windows has some admirable qualities as well. I enjoy using the new MacBook, but I miss some things that I think are done better on the Windows side.

Makke

semioticmonkey said...

@ping: Try Araxis and see for yourself. The problem here is not the features set but how everything works.

Every OS can open windows, save files and so on but what's the difference?

Every of these applications can diff/merge/committ (i can diff/merge/committ with TM too) but the diff precision, the workflow, the choice, the price/quality ratio makes the difference.

We used Eclipse diff/merge plug, Changes, Filemerge, BBEdit, Winmerge, Ultra Compare and Araxis on a large scale Java web application and i assure you the speed and accuracy of Araxis is unreachable as the workflow. Ultra Compare is a good second option.

What i'm saying is what is missed is the offer in the market segment capable of give us a choice for the money we spend.

When you have to spend 40$ to have a worse Winmerge clone, there is something wrong in the ecosystem about. Don't you think?

BBedit costs too much for what it offers. Obviously, non in a absolute world. Only in my opinion.
But, please, no TM vs BBedit here :)

GCC said...

What a great thread! As a Windows at work/Linux at home computer user, I've never had enough time on OS X to find a bunch of the shortcuts and other routines you all have contributed here. I'll definitely look this up next time I'm on a Mac.

I would not consider purchasing a Mac laptop until they come with full keyboards and a real two-key trackpad (the two-fingers workaround is clumsy). These interface limitations are far more important to me than operating system differences. I cannot get beyond the feeling that I am playing a toy piano.

I am increasingly comfortable using desktop Macs with a real keyboard and a two-button mouse. I look forward to practicing some of the stuff I've learned here next time I'm confronted with one. Thanks!

Partners in Grime said...

Good responses to Makke. Personally, I think he makke a mountain out of a molehill.

McDark said...

@GCC

"I would not consider purchasing a Mac laptop until they come with full keyboards and a real two-key trackpad (the two-fingers workaround is clumsy)."

Well my experiences are very different. I find having to contort my thumb to get a second button "clumsy". I find the 2 finger click (and 2 finger scrolling) of a Mac laptop to be very natural and ergonomic, and is something I miss greatly when I have to use a Windows laptop.

Pecos Bill said...

@alternapop.com about having multibutton pointing devices... I could not agree with you less. Once I found that Docked folders will show their contents when context-clicked, I knew I had to have a right (for me) click. Though it took me ages to get used to it on a winBox, I was able to and it was simple on a Mac. Now that I sadly use windoze at work more than my Macs, I am sometimes context-clicking more than I used to. Now that we have Stacks, a right click is less needed.

@Eytan: Apple didn't start natively supporting additional buttons until OS X. Apple reportedly was the first to come up with context menus which, true to form, M$ stole so they had meaning for all those unused buttons. Apple talked about them for Copland (which died) long before OS 8 (OS 7.6 with some features from Copland tossed in) released. 8.5.1 was my favorite OS before X because it added the nanokernel making cooperative multitasking bearable.

Eytan said...

@pecos bill
Correct. My bad. While they supported the idea of a context click, they did not natively support HID 2nd button until 10.x. You needed to have a driver. Once 10 shipped, even in classic mode any 2 button mouse worked.

Alphageek said...

Heh - my question is simple. What was the catalyst that made you revisit these myths? That's the question that's been nagging me for a while. Was it just incrementally more exposure with other people using Macs or what?

Some of my comments over at:

http://www.infrageeks.com/groups/infrageeks/weblog/ab76f/Re__Common_Myths_for_the_Macintosh.html

David Alison said...

@Alphageek: Most of the key reasons I cover in my first post in my blog. If I really want to trace the dominoes that fell and served as a catalyst I would have to say that when my friend Bradley started using Macs. I always respected his opinion, especially since he believed that everyone was entitled to hear it ;-)

For Bradley - ever the leading edge techie - he got an iPhone right after they were released and loved it. That led him to consider the Mac, which he subsequently switched to.

While there were a number of things that pushed me in the direction of rethinking a Mac, the most direct catalyst can be traced back to the release of the iPhone, which I don't even have!

Qka said...

Since the Dell Vostro was mentioned, I thought I'd add my 2¢.

I work with a non-profit that bought a Vostro with that 19" wide screen. The only problem is that the software included doesn't come with a driver for that screen! The best driver available has significant vertical compression of the screen image. While others are OK with it, it gives me a blinding headache within minutes of starting to use it.

That is not value, at any price!

Anonymous said...

qka,

I set up the Vostro last night. It is by no means a Mac -- a bit like a difference between buying a new car or a used car, I suppose, since the OS is 6 years old, as David mentioned. Vostro is available with Vista Home Basic for the same price, but that's a step even farther back, as far as I am concerned. Setting up the MacBook Pro was much more fun. However, the purpose of this computer is basically to replace a typewriter for an old lady -- I think it is more then adequate to the task.

Anyway, I didn't have the same problem you describe. I set the screen resolution to 1400 x 900, which is the native monitor resolution, and everything looks fine. The driver was already installed on the machine and included on a CD that came with the monitor.

I suspect your display resolution is set to a non-widescreen format. I apologize if you already know all of this, but, if you don't, the way to check is to right-click on the desktop, choose Poperties, go to the Settings tab, and make sure it's at 1400 x 900. There is also a way to do this through the driver interface, but I don't have that in front of me. Also, if you want to check it out, here is the link to the driver on Dell's site:

http://support.dell.com/support/downloads/download.aspx?releaseid=R151906&formatcnt=1&libid=0&fileid=211208

Hope this helps.

Makke

ping said...

semioticmonkey: Try Araxis and see for yourself. The problem here is not the features set but how everything works.

In BBEdit I have the repository functions at my disposal with single keystrokes, including fully transparent SSH login to the remote repository server.

For my uses, I'm just not missing anything. It could not be simpler or quicker and hardly more convenient for what I need.

ping said...

Anonymous: I can see that my post turned out to be much more antagonizing than I intended. I included several generalities that were unnecessary and offended people -- I apologize for that. However, it also seems that people automatically focused on the negative and ignored the positive things I said about Macs.

You're not helping your case too much... Making derogatory remarks about people isn't countered by making positive ones about Macs, really. Not that I'd really take offense here myself, but you might really want to reconsider some aspects of your communication. ;-)


Anonymous: Thank you for the Expose, Menu, and Dock shortcuts. Through trial and error I figured out that they all require a Fn in addition to Ctrl on a laptop.

You can select the default status of the fn Key in the "Keyboard & Mouse" control panel ("Keyboard" tab). I generally have it switched to standard function keys by default, so the hardware control functions will require fn to be pressed. I need those a lot less frequently than the user-definable functions and I've assigned the Exposé functions to F8-F10 on the MacBook Pro instead of using the single predefined function on F3 with modifier keys.

It's simply a matter of preference here, and it shows that it really pays to go through all the preference panels and aquaint yourself with the options at your disposal. You can generally not make dangerous mistakes all too easily there; Just be careful about the network settings so you wont be cut off from Google just in case. ;-)


Anonymous: Expose works well, although I wish it would give an indication when some of the windows are minimized.

You've got the Dock on auto-hide? ([CMD]+[ALT]+D will hide or show it.)

I've never missed hidden windows in Exposé yet - after all, it's supposed to show only the visible windows anyway.

But you can set Witch to show all windows including the minimized ones or the minimized ones separately. That might help if it's an issue for you.


Anonymous: Getting up into the menus is cumbersome: too many keystrokes: Fn-Ctrl-F2, W, Enter, First letter of window name, Enter. 5 keystrokes total. On Windows its two keystrokes: Alt-W, window number.

Just use Witch.


Anonymous: to create a new folder, in Windows Explorer, Alt-F, W, F for File, New, Folder. So, I stand corrected - these things can be done on a Mac. But they are easier and faster to execute in Windows.

It's simply [CMD]+[SHIFT]+N in the Finder. That's it.


Anonymous: The problem with the HP printer has nothing to do with Windows.

Yes, it does. Windows is very much involved there.

Have you tried the steps as described here?

Printer Sharing - Windows XP Printer Sharing With Mac OS X 10.5


Anonymous: Finally, I don't expect things to work the same on a Mac as they do on Windows. What I do expect, is to be able to figure out how to do something by looking through the documentation (help) provided with the computer, especially on a machine that claims to be "easy". For example, typing "system files" or "view system files" in Mac help brings no results.

Fiddling with system-internal files is nothing you'll find in a user manual of a decently designed system.

And it's the wrong approach anyway in your case here.

Anonymous: (I don't consider trying to move mail or address book data from the dead computer's hard-drive onto the new machine as "obscure intentions". The Migration Assistant, just like the HP installer, does not give enough custom control to move over specific bits of old data...)

That's a prime example of "Windows-think" at work. I don't fault you for it because it's kind of natural with your background, but you should also not fault the Mac for not matching your mistaken assumptions.

You were expecting something that's horribly convoluted and difficult and counter-intuitive, but it's actually much simpler.

What are Mail and Address Book? They are applications, nothing to do with "system" files whatsoever.

Mail and Address Book data are both application data, and they are user-specific.

So where should user-specific data go? Well, into the user's home folder, of course! There are a few special folders right in your home folder for special kinds of data, but neither of the two you're looking for would fit into those categories.

Application-specific data which is local to your user is collected in the Library folder. And there you have it: ~/Library/Mail simply contains all your Mail data. Mail preferences are as usual to be found in ~/Library/Preferences, but the data is simply in ~/Library/Mail. Copy it over to the other system (if you want also the preferences, but those mainly concern window sizes and stuff like that) and you're done.

Mail has a bit of a special status due to its central importance, but "normal" applications will hold their data in aptly named folders in ~/Library/Application Support/ instead.

And there you'll find the local data of quite a few applications, neatly named and ordered.

One of them is the ~/Library/Application Support/AddressBook/ folder, which you can again just copy over to the other machine and that's that. You can also copy the Address Book preferences if you want.

Please note that Mail and Address Book should not be running on the target machine while you're copying the new data to it, or they might overwrite some of the newly copied data again with their current status.

Things are generally quite a bit more logical and consistent than you may be used to, so a significant part of switching from Windows to the Mac consists of un-learning the expectation that anything which is of any use must necessarily be difficult, cryptic, dangerous and fragile and accepting at least the possibility that things might be relatively straightforward, thought-through and logical.

More often than not, on a Mac you'll find it working the way you've hoped and not the way you've feared... ;-)


Anonymous: I enjoy using the new MacBook, but I miss some things that I think are done better on the Windows side.

There will surely be some things of that kind, just make sure you actually know what the Mac does have to offer... ;-)

Daveoc64 said...

I do think these arguments have some validity:

Single Mouse Button - yeah, you can do the two finger click, the mighty mouse has the hidden second button and 3rd party mice work - BUT and it's a huge BUT, Apple strongly discourages such usage of its computers. Not offering a second mouse button on the MacBook lines doesn't help either (how about a tilting button - you choose whether it allows right click).

The reason this IS a problem, is that Mac OS X and the applications heavily rely on using right click, despite making it hard for the user to do so.

For me, that's the problem with right click on the mac.

There are not that many applications for Macs - This is true, and I don't think you can argue against it. There are many Windows apps that don't have decent Mac equivalents. It's a problem no matter how much spin you put on it.

Macs are closed machines that cannot be expanded - yeah the VERY expensive Mac Pro can be upgraded, but as you point out the consumer oriented Mac Mini and iMac cannot. That's all that matters. Consumers aren't likely to get a Mac Pro.

The MacBook is probably the best at upgradeability although the graphics let it down.

Macs don't work well with Windows machines on a network - I think that with Leopard this is true. I find that the Finder fails to find my computers (a mix of Windows XP, Vista, Ubuntu 7.10/8.04 and also a NAS) frequently. The easiest way (other than having to manually go to the IP address of specific devices), is to reboot my Mac. Hardly what I expect in 2008. Tiger was better!

Macs are more expensive - this is a fact. While the user experience may be "better" (in some ways), this is not a myth or inaccurate.

Macs can't run my Windows software - when you have to go down the route of installing Windows on a Mac, I think this is entirely accurate. Out of the box it can't run Windows software.

You're effectively stating that Windows can run Windows software!

Macs are mouse centered machines. You constantly have to grab the mouse. - this is probably the only thing I agree on. Mac OS Does have a lot of convenient and useful keyboard shortcuts.

David Alison said...

@Daveoc64: OK, I'll bite. Some retorts to your statements:

You said: "Single Mouse Button - yeah, you can do the two finger click, the mighty mouse has the hidden second button and 3rd party mice work - BUT and it's a huge BUT, Apple strongly discourages such usage of its computers. Not offering a second mouse button on the MacBook lines doesn't help either (how about a tilting button - you choose whether it allows right click)."

Where do you see that Apple discourages that usage? If they do, why even support the functionality at all? The access through the MacBook trackpad is actually quite intuitive to me and feels more natural than the small buttons normally found on PCs. When I want to right click using the trackpad on a two button machine I have to curl my thumb very awkwardly under my hand since I'm point with my index finger. The usage of putting two fingers on the pad and clicking the single large mouse button is much more ergonomic to me.

You said: "Macs are closed machines that cannot be expanded - yeah the VERY expensive Mac Pro can be upgraded, but as you point out the consumer oriented Mac Mini and iMac cannot. That's all that matters. Consumers aren't likely to get a Mac Pro."

Well, I don't know about that. First off, I bought a dual quad core Mac Pro from Apple for $2,300. That's not VERY expensive. You also imply that consumers will want the Mac Mini or iMac, yet I don't know of consumers that open up their machines and expand them anyway - they just use USB or Firewire devices. The most common consumer upgrades are RAM and HD - both of which can be upgraded.

You said: "Macs don't work well with Windows machines on a network - I think that with Leopard this is true. I find that the Finder fails to find my computers (a mix of Windows XP, Vista, Ubuntu 7.10/8.04 and also a NAS) frequently. The easiest way (other than having to manually go to the IP address of specific devices), is to reboot my Mac. Hardly what I expect in 2008. Tiger was better!"

I have 4 Windows XP machines, 1 Vista laptop, 2 Macs and 1 Ubuntu workstation on my network and have been able to see each on the network just fine, including sharing printers between the machines. Maybe this is because I started with Leopard and didn't have Tiger in there to begin with? I personally have not experienced problems though.

You said "Macs can't run my Windows software - when you have to go down the route of installing Windows on a Mac, I think this is entirely accurate. Out of the box it can't run Windows software.

You're effectively stating that Windows can run Windows software!"


Out of the box the only software that any computer will run is what came with it. I can't run MS Office on my machine until I load it on, right? So why is that any different than doing that with VMware Fusion and Windows? At least now I can run everything I need on a single machine if I want to.

You said: "There are not that many applications for Macs - This is true, and I don't think you can argue against it. There are many Windows apps that don't have decent Mac equivalents. It's a problem no matter how much spin you put on it."

There are over 19K software titles available for Macs. I've spent the last 4 months looking for different software to take the place of Windows titles and so far have had great success. Are the applications I am finding direct one for one replacements with every single feature? No, but that would require a port of an existing application. What I've found are packages like OmniGraffle, which replaces all of the functionality I personally used in Visio and added some great new stuff as well. Others have complained that OmniGraffle will not interrogate their network and diagram it automatically, as Visio can.

There is some functionality that you can get with Windows but simply cannot get on a Mac, however the vast majority of common tasks is easily serviced by the library of Mac software available.

Keep in mind that my article was about reasons that I WAS NOT considering a Macintosh before. Many Windows fanboys - and their Mac counterparts on the other side of the fence - use biased versions of these arguments when trying to influence people. I am trying to be as unbiased as I can when relating MY experiences in addressing these myths first hand.

SDWgraphics said...

daveoc64 said...
"Single Mouse Button - yeah, you can do the two finger click, the mighty mouse has the hidden second button and 3rd party mice work - BUT and it's a huge BUT, Apple strongly discourages such usage of its computers. "

Apple Does NO SUCH THING> they have never discouraged people from buying a different mouse or from not using control+click- how ridiculous! If you don't like the way the mouse works OR having to hold down the control key when you click, buy a different mouse.


"There are not that many applications for Macs - This is true, and I don't think you can argue against it. There are many Windows apps that don't have decent Mac equivalents. It's a problem no matter how much spin you put on it."

Really. I highly doubt that. What I do believe is that you haven't done any research into the mac community. Did you know that 70% of mac application can ONLY BE BOUGHT ONLINE?!?! Why, because retail stores can only hold so much. I'm absolutely positive that there are windows apps that can only be bought online as well. I have yet to not find a mac equivelant. The app may not be EXACT to the windows app, but they ALWAYS get the job done. Here is an example. Ebay has a an app for listing and selling. It is for windows only. I use GarageSale (iSale is also available) Not only do these do the same thing as the Windows app, but they make gorgeous listings as well.

Version Tracker. com Go to Mac OS X, Updates by Category. You can now to choose any category and find a windows equivelant. You find THOUSANDS of apps to choose from for your mac so PLEASE, do not even try to say there are no applications for the mac.

"Macs are closed machines that cannot be expanded - yeah the VERY expensive Mac Pro can be upgraded, but as you point out the consumer oriented Mac Mini and iMac cannot. That's all that matters. Consumers aren't likely to get a Mac Pro."

You are right on one point, Consumers are not likely to get a SOUPED UP mac pro. But if people buy $2700 PC towers than why not the basic Mac Pro at $2700? And there really is not an equivelant to the iMac in the WIndoze world. Yes, there are some models that look the same (ONE), but the specs don't compare. Guess What?? I have installed Hard Drive, Ram, and optical drives in iMacs and my old Powerbook G4. How are they not expandable?what, because I can't throw a second hard drive in. I would have to argue that if a PC user bought a laptop - They couldn't either. If I am missing the point, let me know, but I just don't see the argument or reasoning. Get an external hardrive if you need that more space or a time capsule and back up everything wirelessly.

"The MacBook is probably the best at upgradeability although the graphics let it down."

Thats because the Macbook is more like a "kids" machine, something you buy for your kids for school. If you want graphics, you want the MacBook Pro.

"Macs don't work well with Windows machines on a network - I think that with Leopard this is true. I find that the Finder fails to find my computers (a mix of Windows XP, Vista, Ubuntu 7.10/8.04 and also a NAS) frequently. The easiest way (other than having to manually go to the IP address of specific devices), is to reboot my Mac. Hardly what I expect in 2008. Tiger was better!"

You got me on this, but not because you are right, but because I have no Windows machines on my network so have no experience with this.

"Macs are more expensive - this is a fact. While the user experience may be "better" (in some ways), this is not a myth or inaccurate."

Actually, if you compare what is INSIDE the mac to a windows machine that has THE SAME STUFF INSIDE, the Mac can be CHEAPER. Not always, but in the case of the iMac, there is a PC equivelant called the ONE that is missing a ton of features that you need to request in order for it to be truely comparable to the iMac. This actually raised the price to $1429 which is more comparable to the 24 inch iMac but this was only for the 20 inch One. Therefore, in this case, the iMac is cheaper.

"Macs can't run my Windows software - when you have to go down the route of installing Windows on a Mac, I think this is entirely accurate. Out of the box it can't run Windows software.
You're effectively stating that Windows can run Windows software!"

Your right, but can you legally run OS X on a windows machine? NO. Also, you CAN run windows apps right out of the box. It just depends on whether or not you ordered your mac to come with bootcamp partitioned or Parallels already installed. You CAN GET WINDOWS ON A MAC RIGHT OUT OF THE BOX. You just pay a little more for the conveninece. And, yes, I can run ANY SINGLE PIECE OF SOFTWARE that I want. I don't have to find a Mac equivelant, I can just run the windows or Linux version and NOT have to buy another machine. On what planet is this a negative?

Macs are mouse centered machines. You constantly have to grab the mouse. - this is probably the only thing I agree on. Mac OS Does have a lot of convenient and useful keyboard shortcuts."

Did no one see my comment on his other blog? In preferences>Mouse and Keyboards> You have to click the checkbox for full functionality of the tab keys. This will enable you to tab to your hearts content and you will need the mouse much less.
However, I see nothing wrong with being Mouse centered. I have a laptop and use an external keyboard and mouse because I HATE trackpads and keyboards kinda annoy me as well. There is an app called LazyMouse which helps a lot of us who hate reaching for the keyboard. The point I am trying to make...To each his own.

SDWgraphics said...

Sorry, I as time constrained but can elaborate more for anyone who is interested.

Preferences > Keyboard & Mouse > Keyboard Shortcuts

At the bottom is Full Keyboard Access.
For some reason, the default is Text Boxes and Lists ONLY. Change it to All Controls and your keyboard funcationality will return or make it more Windows like.

Hope this helps some!

Syllopsium said...

The problem is that they aren't entirely myths. For the sake of argument I'll agree that everything except the price and expandability are true.

For the remaining two, the macs are only good value provided the consumer fits exactly into Apple's target profile. Specifically the range misses a moderately expandable mini tower.

Want to replace the graphics card, use your own monitors, run three monitors or go to a single quad core processor? Tough : the Mac Pro is your only option, and is a very significant price premium if you don't want or need all that power..

The Mac Mini also suffers from overpriced expansion. A fully loaded mini should really be less than an imac..

I would also argue with the high resale values being 'a feature'. All I see is insanity. Even if you assume Mac hardware is well built and OS X deserves a price premium, insanity is the only word to describe hardware 3 generations removed (G4), with no warranty regularly going for not that much less than say a new mac mini.

I personally have spent a reasonable amount of type faffing around building my PC - it would, perhaps, have been easier to buy one. Once built though, it just carries on working, and whichever way I slice it - a Mac Pro (the only viable Apple box for me) is still $2000 more than any PC box that would achieve what I require. That's simply far too much that could be usefully spent on things like holidays and bikes instead of expensive computer kit.

ping said...

Syllopsium: a Mac Pro (the only viable Apple box for me) is still $2000 more than any PC box that would achieve what I require.

What exactly do you require, then?

The Mac Pro starts at $2299,- if you only want a single CPU. I sort of doubt that you can get a PC for $299- which can match it at what it's got... ;-)

Your point about a cheaper Mac tower is valid in principle, of course, but the question is how many people really want that kind of machine nowadays. The desktop market is rapidly shrinking, and most people never touch the inside of their computer, maybe with the exception of a RAM or harddisk upgrade.

Graphics cards are already a relatively rare replacement. Important for some gamers, but not really for many other people.

And for this relatively small group the Mac Pro actually begins to make sense again. So the main group Apple really shuns at this point is the sub-group of gamers who are looking for a cheap computer built around a relatively expensive graphics card. Unfortunately those are the kind of customer who are not very attractive for a computer manufacturer - only for the manufacturer of the graphics card. So I don't see Apple rushing to fill that small and low-margin niche anytime soon.

But with Apple one never knows, of course... ;-)

Syllopsium said...

I knew someone would ask.

Ideally, I'd like a midi or full tower case with one processor (dual or quad core), up to 4GB RAM, one to two hard disks (can live with one, after all there's always firewire) and either two graphics cards for 3+ fully accelerated monitors or one graphics card with four connectors (there is such a 3870X2, for instance), either of which *must* be upgradeable (at additional cost for mac customisation)

In a really ideal world I'd also love space for a SCSI card, but that's very specific to what I want and there's always USB options.

Yes, owners of three monitors isn't a large market, perhaps it's not economic for Apple to cater for people that want to play the occasional not-too-highpowered Windows (non console) game, and it might eat into the market of the Mac Pro for instance.

That's not really the point though : PCs are flexible to do what I want, and Macs aren't without significant outlay. I know I'm not alone on this - other mac users are busy trying hacks like the Matrox Dual/Triplehead2Go or USB video adapters. Both are unfortunately severely limited in their abilities.

ping said...

Syllopsium: I knew someone would ask.

You're welcome. ;-)


Syllopsium: Yes, owners of three monitors isn't a large market

And much smaller still is the market of people determined to do that on the cheap. Most Mac users on that level simply get a Mac Pro and are done with it (for up to eight 30" monitors).


Syllopsium: That's not really the point though : PCs are flexible to do what I want, and Macs aren't without significant outlay.

Sure. Cheap flexibility is the domain of PCs with Windows or Linux. And I doubt Apple is losing any sleep over that progressively shrinking segment. Even though it will still remain very relevant for very specific uses (industrial monitoring workstations, for instance).


There is a flip side to it as well: For all the internal hardware flexibility of a cheap PC tower you're saddled with a rather rigid system overall - even an iMac with its very limited internal hardware flexibility is easier to adapt to what most people actually need in practice than a PC tower which requires endless fiddling and can run only two of the main systems while the iMac will run all three.

Most people nowadays experience a system with effortless expansion via USB, FireWire and WiFi and basically universal software capabilities as more flexible than one where the expansion card slots are basically where the flexibility starts and ends agin and/or where it comes at great cost of time and effort.


None of that is saying that your needs weren't valid in any way. But would it really make sense for Apple to create another model line just for such a small niche?


One thing to consider is that Apple only uses two CPU and chipset families at this point:

From the Mac mini through all the MacBooks up to the biggest iMac it's all Intel's mobile CPUs and the corresponding chipsets.

The Mac Pro uses server CPUs and the corresponding chipsets.

The problem is that Apple would probably need to open a third line just for the "Mac semi-Pro" with Intel's desktop CPUs and chipsets, and for such a small and low-margin niche I can't see that to make much sense at all.

Syllopsium said...

Actually... taking a very quick look at the internals of the iMac, it's not so much a stretch as you might think.

The thing that really rankles is that even if you exclude oddballs like me who want three monitors (a minority, I accept) there's no Mac below the Pro which even does dual monitor support without forcing the use of a built-in monitor.

Dual monitor support is hardly an unreasonable requirement, and my personal preference is to spend money on peripherals which last for a long time (likewise, I expect whichever computer I buy to work with my keyboard and mouse, even if I have to buy a converter).

That's slightly getting off the point, but the 24 inch iMac uses an MXM module, meaning that Apple could - if it wished - offer an upgrade path.

It'd enable Apple to maintain control and upgradeability of its hardware - it could probably be done as a larger, squat Mac Mini if they didn't want to go midi tower (think a 1U server in a shiny case - take out the iMac motherboard, tweak it slightly and stick in an easy remove drive box).

I entirely take your point about upgrading based on external serial buses rather than internal cards, fiddling, cooling etc and don't necessarily disagree.

We'll have to agree to disagree on some points though - it's not 'cheap' - we're talking $2000 more than a PC to get a fast dual monitor Mac without a built in display! Also, the 'limitation' of a normal PC not running OS X is an Apple enforced limitation - it's entirely possible to hack a PC to do so, if you wish (I do understand the whole point of a Mac is that you don't have to do that sort of stuff).

In other words, Apple could satisfy a number of people with a Mac Midi where all upgrades were plugin modules under their control.

ping said...

Syllopsium: Actually... taking a very quick look at the internals of the iMac, it's not so much a stretch as you might think.

I have no doubt that it could be done - far from it. I would just not get my hopes up from Apple's point of view. Apple chooses their models very deliberately, and they only do additional ones if they think they can really do something original which is extraordinary in its own way. They don't do "me too" products if they can help it at all.

And that's only partially a matter of preference - they also stay enough out of the mainstream to maintain a distinct proposition which isn't easily matched by the competition.

I'm not saying that such a product wouldn't make sense for you or maybe even for myself. I'm currently typing this on a PowerMac G5 (first generation) and I'm toying with the idea of connecting my two monitors to my MacBook Pro instead through the Matrox dual-link-to-dual-single-link splitter you've already mentioned which should suit me just fine. But a newer, smaller tower might still be another alternative.

The question is just whether Apple from their point of view would see much sense in such a cheaper, smaller tower. From a manufacturer's point of view I would be very reluctant to introduce a machine which would cause me the introduction of a third CPU and chipset architecture for sale at lower margins and aggressive head-to-head competition on price.

What users want is not always what a manufacturer can be interested in.


Syllopsium: We'll have to agree to disagree on some points though - it's not 'cheap' - we're talking $2000 more than a PC to get a fast dual monitor Mac without a built in display!

I'm still waiting for a description of a $300,- PC which can match a Mac Pro, since that's the only way you'd get to that difference.


Syllopsium: In other words, Apple could satisfy a number of people with a Mac Midi where all upgrades were plugin modules under their control.

Of course they could - but what is "a number", exactly? And what are the margins they could achieve there when the primary point of the machine would be that it would be much, much cheaper than a Mac Pro? Why would they bother?

Syllopsium said...

Whether Apple is interested or not is not actually relevant to the discussion of whether certain points are myths or not. From the point of view of a customer looking for certain requirements that a Mac does not fulfill, the myth holds.

However, seeing as you brought the price dimension up again, I've spent some time to check my prejudices on this matter, and the results were midly surprising to me.

The Mac Pro, for what it is, is extremely good value. I have never actually disputed this, as I looked into what went into it some time ago.

The problem then lies as to whether a system is constructed to match the Mac Pro, or to match a certain requirement.

If the Mac Pro is matched exactly (like for like hardware) it fares extremely well, and in some cases actually beats an equivalent PC build.

If it is matched by a 'similar' configuration (i.e. quad core, 4GB RAM, two full speed x16 PCI-e graphics cards), then it also comes within 3-400 pounds (multiply by 2 to get dollars) - and here I will accept that there is some inherent value in a different platform.

It's also not really any cheaper to build your own quality PC, as it can easily work out more expensive than a retail configuration. The difference being your self built components are of higher quality, and can be used in the future for upgrading.

The problem therefore lies when you try to meet a particular aim on a PC - in this case that being 'a reasonably fast machine with a fair bit of memory and dual monitor support'. If a reasonable machine (discrete graphics, 64 bit OS, premium range) is chosen it easily comes in at half the price of a Mac Pro.

If you look for machines with integrated graphics but dual monitor support, the price differential becomes not merely large but ludicrous even if the raw power is somewhat different. However I am, as I mentioned, trying to compare systems constructed from reasonable quality components..

True, the Mac Pro does a lot more - but that isn't the point as the buyer doesn't *want* that functionality.

So there you go. If you look at it from the viewpoint of what the Mac Pro offers, then lo! the myth is exploded as a fraud.

If you look at it from the viewpoint of performing certain tasks, then the mac comes a cropper.

It appears to all be about perspective..

ping said...

Syllopsium: So there you go. If you look at it from the viewpoint of what the Mac Pro offers, then lo! the myth is exploded as a fraud.

Okay, so noted.
I just wanted to have my perception checked yet another time. ;-)


Syllopsium: True, the Mac Pro does a lot more - but that isn't the point as the buyer doesn't *want* that functionality.

Sure. But choosing to forgo specific unattractive product niches (as seen from the manufacturer!) is a main reason why Apple has returned to spectacular profitability.

And that will mean that at least some users will continue to find a better match elsewhere.

But I personally am served very well with Apple's "Pro" products so far.

Syllopsium said...

I don't disagree at all. However, so long as Apple continues to pursue that strategy the myths will hold, and certain market segments will avoid buying Apple kit.

Personally I feel Apple could make money with a 'Mac Midi' as mentioned, but that's not my call.

Offtopic - in a mild victory for mac users everywhere I appear to have bought a dual screen capable second hand G4 for a price that is merely a bit expensive rather than extortionate. It won't be suitable as my main system, but the decision of whether to move to a Nehalem PC system or buy a Mac Pro in two years may be an interesting one.

If I like this box, I'll probably resell it on ebay and buy a Mini with a Dual/TripleHead2Go. Not ideal, but passable as a second system until I have enough cash for a Mac Pro.

ping said...

Syllopsium: don't disagree at all. However, so long as Apple continues to pursue that strategy the myths will hold, and certain market segments will avoid buying Apple kit.

That some (still many) people will buy something else probably can't be helped for various reasons; But the myth is still false:

You get what you pay for with a Mac. This makes the myth of "overpriced" Macs simply false.

But you can indeed get away cheaper when you have lower needs which Apple does not serve. But that has nothing to do with Macs being "overpriced" - they are merely oversized in that case.


Syllopsium: Offtopic - in a mild victory for mac users everywhere I appear to have bought a dual screen capable second hand G4 for a price that is merely a bit expensive rather than extortionate.

Which model?


Syllopsium: It won't be suitable as my main system, but the decision of whether to move to a Nehalem PC system or buy a Mac Pro in two years may be an interesting one.

Good point. That should indeed mean another performance jump.


Syllopsium: If I like this box, I'll probably resell it on ebay and buy a Mini with a Dual/TripleHead2Go. Not ideal, but passable as a second system until I have enough cash for a Mac Pro.

I don't think that could work. Only the "Pro" Macs (both desktop and portable) have dual-link DVI which you'd need for the Matrox splitter. All other Macs are limited to 1920*1200 in total with their single link (like most PCs).

Syllopsium said...

We can argue about semantics, but for a user wanting certain function X they can see a PC as providing it at a much lower cost. It's still about a point of view.

It's a 1.25GHz emac - yes, it's old, but it can also be hacked to support dual monitor. Long term I don't want an integrated display device, though..

Sadly you're mostly right about the Matrox boxes. It can take an analogue output from the Mini, but is restricted to 2x1024x768 which sucks to say the least. I was hoping for a minimum of 1280x1024, which is still a long way from the 1880x1440 or 2048x1536 I have currently (yes, I do realise image accuracy suffers at such high resolution)

comfort said...

a good read

Scott Turner said...

@ McDark, re the 'Reasons why not to buy a Mac' site.

That's a site I often quote to 'non-believers' I come across day to day. But you should note that that's an old address that hasn't been updated for a while. It has apparently moved to a new host where it has been updated regularly:

whynotmac.net76.net

battery said...

thanks a lot.

faris hussain said...

Really nice article, inversion of the function really amazed me in different manners. I am definitely looking forward for it.

Apple News

Hardy said...
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