2010-02-03

Mac Unmeasurables

So, a friend of mine asked me to measure "Mac Unmeasurables" recently. For that reason, I decided to go ahead and start this blog post. I'll keep updating it with new ones as I go forward, but this should help some people that are interested in buying a Mac, but don't understand why specs don't match exact specs from laptop to laptop. Keeping in mind I'm forced to use Windows systems every day of my life, because business still hasn't figured it out either. As a side note, I will not be providing apologetics in this post. If you don't realize that Mac Mice have more than one button, go out and look. I'm thinking I'll provide an apologetics post in a few days.

Foundation piece: Apple is a hardware and software manufacturer. They put them together for optimum performance. There is little 'lag' and stuttering in the Mac OS, unlike any other operating system on the market (not counting Chrome OS- It's not really out of beta yet as of this writing, and I can't count that). Apple also understands presentation. Even in the box, they are careful in how they present their products. It's not 'throw it in the box and hope'.

  • 5 minute setup. The most recent Windows systems have started to match this, but you still have to get rid of all the spam-ware that they pre-install on your system.

  • Immediate productivity. Mac finds the network, you enter the password, done. No guess work.

  • Intuitive interface. Most people instinctively grasp the dock in OS X, and the toolbar is always there. The only knock I'll give this part is that when you close the window, you're not closing the program. That's no so intuitive. But it does make it faster to bring that window back, if you have the memory to keep the program running with everything else you're running.

  • Less errors and less 'fiddling' time. Sure, it's not as customizable as a windows box. At least, not exactly the same ways. But, I've never had a Mac crash on me. I know people that have, but I haven't. Further, I demand a lot from a computer. I'm a web designer, and I can have twenty windows open, five-to-ten programs, and a video encoder going at the same time. No problem on a Mac. I avoid that situation like the plague on Windows.
    • Speaking of video encoders. I haven't had a single "free" Windows video encoder work for me without fiddling. Props to Handbrake on the Mac.

  • Closing the lid does what I would expect. It puts the computer to sleep within ten seconds. I've only ever seen one pre-installed Windows sytem do that- An IBM T42.

  • Opening the lid does what I would expect. Windows can't even compete in this arena: My Mac is ready for me to go within probably 2 seconds of opening the lid. Roughly three times since I started using a Mac (years ago), did it take longer than 2-3 seconds.

  • Turning on a bluetooth keyboard that is paired with the computer, whle it is sleeping, turns the computer on. Great for external displays.

  • Simple, stupid backups. Time machine is the first back up technology I would trust my mom with.

  • PDF viewing. Adobe Acrobat Reader? Yeah. It sucks. Everyone knows it, yet they still use it. It amazes me. Preview is much faster at viewing PDFs than Reader. Speaking of which, Mac has a built in preview mechanism for almost every file type. If you're in finder (the equivalent of explorer), looking at your files, just hit spacebar to preview it. Whether it's an image file, video, text, doc, rtf, pdf, it'll show you some basics of what is in there.

  • ...there will be more...


Here are a few points specifically for geeks, because those tend to be it's biggest critics:

  • BSD. Use all your favorite *nix based programs on it. No dual booting, no dealing with all the silly little things you have to in *nix. It's ready to rock and roll. Pull up the terminal, and do all the old familiar tasks you normally can on *nix.

  • Perfect for server connections. Use standard secure shell style protocols. File system paths are familiar. Don't know how something works? Use the man pages.

  • All the networks tools built in to the GUI. Network Utility. Info, netstat, ping, trace, whois, finger, portscan. All baked right in.

  • A usable dashboard. Windows doesn't come with a good dash. They're trying more, but the F12 key drops the dashboard right down over everything and you have access to your time, calendar, notes, all sorts of stuff. Much easier.

  • Need a tool for developing? Admining? It's on Mac. Probably freeware. SQL? Sequel Pro. Developing? Eclipse, IntelliJ, Netbeans. CVS/SVN? Oh yeah.

  • Your favorite browsers are there. Firefox, Chrome, Opera. It's all there.


Here's the trump card: Mac's run Windows! If you really feel it necessary to run a Windows program, you can emulate it on Crossover, or use a virtual environment with VMWare Fusion (Parallels is horrible, I would never recommend it). Mac gives you every environment, and ease of use. No other system can claim that.

Here are a few parting words to think on: Who is the innovator? Where do most new techs come from? The mouse is from Mac. Bluetooth? Mac. CD Drives? Mac. Firewire? Mac. All those pretty programs that showed up in Vista? Yeah. Mac first. It's been called iLife for a long time. No, it's not as open (but there aren't any operating systems outside *nix bases that are). No, it's not as cheap. No, it's not perfect. But am I willing to pay for the experience? For ease of use? Simplicity?

My answer? Yes. Will it always be my answer? Who knows. I use it because it's better. If someone comes along and makes something else better, I'll be there. For now, it's Mac.

2 comments:

Erik said...

I've been using macs for about 6 or 7 years now. One of the oddities about macs is that the higher tier laptops are placed at a better price point than the higher tier desktops. Probably because the Mac Pros are running on mid tier server hardware.

I have had a PPC based mac once or twice not go to sleep upon closing the lid. Haven't had that happen with the Intel mac yet and mine was on one of the first shipping runs they made of them (I bought it before I realized the product hadn't -quite- started shipping yet). The other quirk from a Unix geek perspective is you have to dig up the dev tools. It's not awful to do but it's more work than you'd see on any free unix or Solaris. Not certain about the other commercial unixes. Give me a copy to play with (and hardware to run it on) and I'll let you know. :)

- Chris - said...

If you consider the principle reasons that a person would buy a huge case to set next to their desk, I think you would find 'power' high on that list. It's a problem of dichotomy in the PC world. The hardware that runs standard desktops for them is cheap and thrown together. Someone that is willing to actually sit at their desk, in the Mac world, is far more likely to be a graphics designer or someone that just demands -that much more- performance out of the system. Running it the desktop on mid-tier server hardware, therefore, macs sense. If Mom wants to buy it, why would she want to take up all that extra space? Just get an iMac, and throw it on the table in an out of the way place. No reason for someone like that to commit to more. Of course, they've tried to compete more in the "PC Market" with the Mac Mini, but that really did go against the grain at Apple. Not that I don't appreciate it. I'm glad they're starting to get their products in more peoples hands. It might eventually help the stigma of Apple systems.

As far as the comment on geek tools goes, well, if you're enough of a *nix geek to know that you need those tools, you're probably enough of a geek to go get 'em. :)

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