OT: Macs

Okay not Shaw or DC related but this is something I have been thinking about. I’m preparing myself for something almost as jarring a converting to a new religion. After decades of being a Windows user, I’m thinking of converting to Macs. What should I start with? I’ve heard bad things about the Panther OS, and I don’t want to go from one sucky system to another.
Any guidance would be helpful.


9 thoughts on “OT: Macs”

  1. Okay–I’ve been lurking for a long time, thoroughly enjoying your take on life in Shaw, as I live north of U Street, off 14th.

    But as for the Mac comments, my partner and I converted to Mac 6 months ago. I love it. My mom, not the techie type, also converted to an iBook and she’s done a great job and really loves her iBook.

    I’m not sure where you would start, if you want a Mac mini to hook to an existing set-up or if you are looking for an iBook. But the Apple store in Clarendon could probably help determine your requirements.

    Good Luck!


  2. Panther is usually heralded so not sure what bad thing someone would say. I have both a PC and a G4 laptop. IMO, macs are better in everything EXCEPT the web browser is a little slower. Also, if you download a lot of streamin video, make sure the sites you use support macs-sometimes they don’t. If you have an IPOD and use it a lot, MAcs rule. Having both for a couple of years, my next one will be a Mac, even though they are more $. Go to http://www.macprices.com which tracks the prices for mac products every day.

  3. As a recent convert, here’s what I’d recommend. Start with a Mac mini. That’s what I started with, and I recommend it to anyone making the switch because it (a) less expensive than the other Macs, and (b) because you can use your current display, keyboard and mouse.

    I have one caveat concerning expense. Because I’m a pretty demanding user and spend a lot of time online and with games and design, I upgraded the hard drive to 80G and the RAM to 516MB. That made it more expensive, but still less expensive than a new Windows system. If you’re getting upgrades, you’d do better to order directly from Apple, as the stores may or may not have what you need.

    If you want to continue using your Windows machine for some things, you’ll need a KVM switch, which will allow you to use the same keyboard, display and mouse for both computer, and switch between the two as needed. These are pretty easy to find. I got mine at Office Depot. You’ll need to be sure you got one that matches your connections. If your keyboard and mouse are currently USB, then you’re all set. If not, I’d get serial-to-USB adapters for them, since the Mac mini is all USB.

    One other caveat. If you have a lot of peripherals (printer, etc.), as I do, you’ll want a USB hub, because the mini only has two USB ports.

    Also, you might want to pick up a copy of The Missing Manual for Panther since the one for Tiger isn’t out yet. Your Mac will probably come with Tiger installed or with a disk for Tiger, but the Panther manual will tell you what you need to know to get started.

    Let me know if you need further info/advice.

  4. Macs = good. (I’ve got two)

    Unfortunatly Apple just announced a MAJOR under the hood type of structural change for the Macintosh (they’re changing from PowerPC chips to Intel chips). This has a few reprocussions.

    Mac’s are legedary for remaining useful for much longer than your average Wintel machine. With the change in processor this *may* (and I stress may) impact the next years worth of machines (they will be the last of the PowerPC macs). Apple is also very, very good at making such changes as painless as possible: for all intents and purposes you won’t know if you’re running a PPC Mac or an Intel Mac, but there *may* (again, I stress may) be an issue 4-5 years down the road as some software becomes Intel only. Personally, I predict that all of the major software (Apple’s own awsome iLife applications, MS Office, Photoshop, etc) will continue to support both types of Macs for a long while. Just something to be aware of.

    On the plus side, though, the machines are a dream to work with. In terms of what to buy if you’re just going to be doing day to day stuff I’d go with either an eMac or an iBook. The MacMini’s are nice and cheap, but you’ll need to supply your own keyboard, mouse and monitor (no biggie) and they are a little underpowered to be honest. The eMac on the other hand is still pretty cheap, has a great 17 monitor (downside, its a CRT and heavy). If portability is important you can’t go wrong with an iBook. Solid little machine for a reasonable price.

    Whatever you buy prepare to add another 256-512 Megs of memory (don’t do this through Apple, you can get it cheaper elsewhere and install it yourself). And if you buy new you’ll get the latest and greatest version of OSX, which is Tiger. Much faster than Panther (especially when using Apple’s browser Safari). Other than crappy Safari speed, however, Panther wasn’t sucky at all.

    BTW, feel free to come over and poke around on either machine at our place if you want to get a feel for OSX.

  5. Terrance said: That made it more expensive, but still less expensive than a new Windows system.


    I have heard nothing but good things about macs, but there is no doubt you pay a premium and that PCs are cheaper.

    As far as upgrading goes, don’t do it through Apple. Their rates are unreasonable. For upgrading the mac mini’s RAM, you just need to find an amenable techie. No need to pay Apple’s huge markup on the memory; it’s just commodity stuff.

  6. I’m a Windows convert, albeit to Linux rather than Mac. I wouldn’t recommend Linux for the average user just yet, but Macs now run on Unix so its like the best of both worlds.

    To address Mac’s decision to switch to Intel chips, I wouldn’t let that scare you away. The reason they did that is because most Unix/Linux development now is geared towards the Intel platform, in an effort to make Linux mainstream & compete w/ Windows. So, Mac is just making sure their machines are getting the most benefit possible from the thousands of Unix/Linux developers out there. And I don’t think it will shorten the lifespan of a Mac, because again, there’s a HUGE difference between the same hardware running a Unix-based OS vs. Windozzzze. Its not Intel that sux, its Windows. Macs running Unix on Intel will be fine. And like someone else said, you can keep the Windows PC & ween yourself gradually.

  7. The reason they did that is because most Unix/Linux development now is geared towards the Intel platform, in an effort to make Linux mainstream & compete w/ Windows.

    [Donning geek hat]

    Actually, Apple made the switch because niether PPC supplier (IBM and Freescale) could produce competative chips. On the desktop end IBM couldn’t ramp up the G5’s speed quick enough (they still haven’t delivered the 3Gzh chip they promised two years ago) and on the laptop side they were stuck with G4s (that weren’t going anywhere) since the G5s run hot as hell. Jumping to Intel gave them access to the Pentium M, which is pleanty fast *and* (more importantly) is low powere / runs pretty cool.

    Darwin != Linux, and there’s not much overlap (for technical and political reasons). Plus, Linux has run on non-intel archs. for a long time now. Apple isn’t going to gain anything from the linux camp by moving to Intel. Very few userspace apps (at least the widely used ones) are processor specific (that was the whole point of unix/C in the first place: portability). All of the linux user space programs that are of any use to Apple (apache, CUPS, perl, bash, etc) already work on existing Macs. Not to mention these are all things that work “under the hood” and 99% of Mac users have no clue they’re there. As for desktop apps, linux programs are usually written on top of KDE or Gnome. The mac desktop is a totally diffent beast.

    The switch was purely because their existing chip suppliers couldn’t provide in a timely manner the type of chip Apple was looking for. Intel can. Simple as that. As I had mentioned in the earlier post for most people they won’t even know anything has changed.

  8. Thank you all for your comments but I’m afraid Nathan will have to be the last as I can no longer follow the discussion (ie it’s over my head).

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