Home > Geeky, Software > Apple computer review part two: Software

Apple computer review part two: Software

March 31, 2007

Recently one of the users I support (in an all-Windows environment) told me why he has a Macintosh at home.  He said, “I bought a Mac because I don’t have an IT department to call on when there’s a problem.  And after two years it works exactly as well as the day I bought it, which is perfectly.”

To us Windows users, that sounds like a fantasy.  But I’ve heard it from enough credible sources to believe it.  So I’ve been trying to become more familiar with Macintosh computers.  Not only because I’d like to see some Macs in our computer labs, but also so I can give some integration support to personal Mac users in our college.  Also, I wanted to give a more useful answer to people who ask “What kind of computer should I buy?”  More on that question at the end of this post.

Way back in November I visited Apple’s Chicago office, and wrote at length about the “Apple Briefing, a PC guy looks at Macs”.  That post describes the variety of applications that runs on Macintosh computers as it was presented to me, plus reposting some thoughts I’ve had about Macintosh marketing and culture over the years. Briefly, I wrote that Apple computers come with an astounding array of excellent applications, that Apple now has an outstanding server line, and that the Apple corporation has changed to become more corporate-compatible, though some Macintosh users, have not.

In last week’s post, Apple computer review part one: hardware, I looked at the physical design and function of an Apple Macbook.  Briefly, I found it to be a top-quality device with a couple ideas I really liked, but a couple features in which it seemed that ergonomics had been sacrificed to visual appeal.  I would consider owning one if they made a smaller (3 lb), enhanced-durability model with very long battery life.

In this installment, I’m following up on the November post by describing my subjective experience as a PC guy using the new Macintosh operating system, OS-X.  This is really the most important because the operating system is the personality of any computer.  I am not and do not pretend to be an expert on OS-X, which should be of interest to Windows owners considering a Macintosh purchase (because expert opinions on ease-of-use are worthless).

OS-X impression

In the past I’ve not been terribly impressed with Apple’s offerings.  OS-X changes this picture.  It is far more compatible with Windows than previous Mac OS versions. Even if you don’t like Windows, this is important unless you enjoy isolation.  OS-X is also a much heavier-duty operating system than OS-9.  It’s rock-stable and secure.  It’s fast.

If you read my other two posts, you know I think cuteness is for kittens, not for computers.  I like an interface that draws as little attention to itself as possible, so right away I found OS-X annoying.  The default Mac desktop is plagued with the same crayola-color interface that obscures so much graph data in USA Today, but don’t let that put you off.  With a little customizing you can mute those loud colors and put the focus on your content.  (Illustrations show the default colors)

But all that stuff is superficial.  What matters to me and to my users – is this a computer or an expensive paperweight?  Is it really easy to use or is that only sales hype?  Can I get my work done on it?  Can I get new kinds of work done on it?  What happens to all my files?  My email?  What if it breaks?  Us PC folk remember non-transferrable file formats, pointlessly different floppy-disk formats, and the general isolation of Mac systems that – for some reason – Mac users were smugly proud of.  Is it worth the learning curve? And why were they so damn expensive?

The file compatibility issue is pretty much solved.  There is no longer a “Macintosh” or “PC” version of a Microsoft Word file, for instance.  Graphics files adhere to a standard now.  With most popular file types you can bounce a file back and forth between your Mac and your PC with no worries.

Macintosh computers have a reputation of being only for graphics, and the one I used was exceptionally smooth at handling media files.  And by smooth, I mean a completely new experience for a Windows user.

One exception is Windows Media files.  You can still download WM9 for Mac, or use Telestream’s Flip4Mac but Microsoft “has no plans” to continue developing Windows Media for Mac.  So save your videos in Quicktime format whatever platform you use.  Another exception is using Outlook Web Access from your Mac.  The full functionality requires IE6 or higher, which Microsoft says they “have no plans” to develop for the Mac.

You can get new kinds of work done on your Mac.  OS-X comes with some wicked-cool bundled apps.  Us Windows users are used to pretty much ignoring bundled apps because, well, they’re crappy – but the ones that come with OS-X and in iLife are non-crappy.  In fact, they actually have features you need that actually work to get actual work done, and are actually easy to use, and the computer doesn’t lock up when you try to use them.  This is a bit disconcerting to an experienced Windows user; we’re used to paying top dollar for anything useful.  Keep that in mind when you think about the price. 

Just for example – suppose you’ve used Windows Movie Maker, which is cheap and clunky.  The Macintosh equivalent feels more like a piece of expensive professional software, only logical and smooth.  And the professional version is a superset of the bundled version, so if you upgrade you are ready to begin working.  Very different from the transition, say, from Movie Maker to Adobe Premiere (which is really more at home on a Mac anyway).

Or for example, the bundled photo editing software.  We Windows/Photoshop users are accustomed to a linear relationship between functionality and cost, and an inverse relationship between those things and ease-of-use.  We’re used to ads that say; “intuitive” when they really mean; “You will be lucky to ever figure out five percent of what this application can do”.  Editing a photo on the mac with the included software is a surprising experience.  (Of course Photoshop is a longtime Mac favorite and industry standard, but for most of us non-professionals…)

Both Apple and Microsoft advertise stability.  We Windows users are accustomed to being stopped cold by a misbehaving application – the computer basically locks up.  You try to close it and after a minute or so, you get; “This application is not responding.  End now?”  But “now” is a cruel joke.  For several minutes you click and argue with one dialog after another, watching CPU usage bounce between 50% and 100%, and try to stop the loop that has taken over your computer, hoping not to crash entirely and lose unsaved documents in other applications that are running.  “Multi-threaded, my ass!”, you fume.

Contrast this with what I experienced on the Mac.  One unstable application I use is Mozilla Firefox, and it’s no better on the Mac than it is on the PC.  But the first time Firefox got jammed up on the Mac, it just disappeared.  A little dialog popped up: “Firefox had to close unexpectedly.  Do you want to restore the session?”

Suspicious, I clicked “Yes”, and as if by magic, Firefox started up again and all the same websites opened up in the dozen or so tabs I’d had open.  Total interface involvement, one click.  Total time lost, twenty seconds.  Workflow interruption, nearly zero.

Miraculous.  I’ve never seen a computer recover that fast from a jammed-up application.  I had a chance to try it several more times with the same result each time.  The only time I saw an application that had to be ‘force-closed’ was Entourage, which is from Microsoft.  But after it was force-closed (which worked on the first try), the computer ran fine.  On a PC when you finally succeed in forcing a Windows application to close, you’re well-advised to restart the computer. 

Using a Mac is not without its annoyances.  Some of these derive from the fact that half of “intuitive” is simply whatever you are used to.  With continued use, the Mac will become easier.  But many derive from Apple’s attempt to be stylish and cool.  A good example is the use of terms like “Finder” which, while descriptive, is sort of dumb.  And the “Magnifier” that follows your pointer as it sweeps across the “Dock” – it’s just sort of silly.  Of course Windows is full of this sort of crap too, and worse. 

And at least one is inexplicable to me.  In Windows and Linux, I always set larger mouse pointers.  This is useful for my eyesight but also a boon to the victims of my presentations – they can see where I am clicking.  The Windows and Linux pointers look smooth and professional.  On the Mac the only control I could find for a larger mouse pointer produced a blocky, pixelated pointer of ugly.  Oh, well.  No doubt there’s a fix but it wasn’t obvious.

On balance, after many years of supporting Windows’ computer users, my intuition is that most users will find the Mac more intuitive.  This is not the only factor in deciding what to buy (you can get used to anything) but it is very important.

Wireless connection and other network issues

I have set up hundreds of laptops for wireless, and the Mac was by far the easiest. It literally took me 15 seconds to connect to the elaborate campus network, and the system’s memory for external wireless networks was uncanny.  Really, pig simple, and once it connected it held onto the signal like ductape. 

Windows laptops’ wireless spans a wide gamut of difficulty levels.  My Thinkpad is medium difficulty.  Toshiba’s gee-whiz wireless utility, amazingly difficult.  None as easy as the Mac. Linux laptops, once you get the wireless card recognized (difficulty level, seldom easy ranging up to 10+), medium difficulty to operate.

I found connecting to network resources a mixed bag.  Joining a Microsoft Active Directory1 required the assistance of a MCSE with massive cross-platform savvy – my admin status and experience wasn’t enough.  Once that was done, however, mapping network drives was easy enough, with the exception of drives on Linux servers that were joined to the domain via Samba.  Here’s a tip for connecting to Windows network resources, whether mapping to drives or getting your Exchange mail into Entourage – FQDN is your friend.  Use the Fully Qualified Domain Name when mapping to anything and you’ll be fine.  Obviously this is of little importance in the home.

Running Windows on a Mac

I did not experiment with “Parallels”, the extra-cost aftermarket program that allows you to run Windows, and Windows applications, on your Macintosh.  But I have seen it work and it is flat-out amazing.  Windows applications just float free on the Macintosh desktop.  You can cut and paste data from Win to Mac applications, open and close them at will.  They’re not speedy but if you have special Windows applications that you have to use, you can be pretty confident of running them successfully on your Mac.

OS-X and Vista, and cost-effectiveness

Having said that, excessive visual slickery does seem to be the order of the day, as evinced by Windows’ “Vista”.  If you have not used Vista, well I don’t want to ruin the surprise or anything but basically I hate it.  Someone called it “the longest suicide note ever written by a corporation” and that isn’t a bad description.  Vista tries so hard and yet fails on many levels.  To this is added the annoyance of many different flavors of Vista so that if you make a mistake and buy the wrong one, you won’t have capabilities that you wanted.

In OS-X, there’s one desktop version and it has every feature Apple makes.  You can set up more sophisticated functions and there’s very little that would have to be bought separately.  Which brings us to the issue of cost.  Macs are more expensive than PC’s to buy (though not as much more as you might think).  But once you get your PC home, the money starts flowing in the other direction. 

Need to upgrade your PC from Vista Home to Vista Media?  Shell out.  Need software to work with media?  Shell out.  Application crashed?  Get your wallet.  Virus updates?  Mo’Money.  Whoops – your hard drive is getting fragmented.  Do you know how to fix it?  Call your support guy.  Can’t figure out how to run it?  Pay for training.  Then in a couple years your system runs like crap and you need to pay someone to blow it all away and “reload everything”.

So if the most important thing about a computer is what it costs, reckon the cost of ownership, to say nothing of the value of your time and frustration.  Buy a Mac, you suffer through maybe a month of declining frustration as you climb the learning curve. (Visit Apple’s ‘Switch’ page.  Run the tutorials, and maybe read a book, for crying out loud.)  Use the Spotlight.

So why doesn’t everybody just switch over to Macintosh?

In the corporate network environment, any change to the computer platform is a huge undertaking that begins with presenting a sound business case to the pointy-haired boss, who does NOT want to re-learn how to get his email. And he has a point – he really doesn’t care about elegant design, he cares about getting his work done.  Then there’s staff training, and applications that were created at great expense for the company, and legacy data files, and support-staff expertise (not easy to acquire) – the list goes on and on.  I could definitely imagine a good business case for switching but it isn’t as easy as plunking different boxes down on desks.

Also, corporate culture and “Mac culture” tend to clash.  If you doubt this, imagine (as an extreme example) the drive-by commenter “Heath” from my Macintosh hardware post, as a consultant to a big corporation telling them that they need to switch the whole company to Macintosh right away, or they’re all a bunch of morons.  For that matter, imagine the chances of the smart-assed “Mac” guy from the “Mac vs. PC” commercials even getting hired.  (I’m a lot more like the PC guy)  Yes, it can happen, but there’s considerable resistance.  Smug and superior is not an attractive way to begin any conversation.

For individuals, the picture is a little different. 

  • If you are a gamer and want to run high-end games developed for Windows, that’s probably the way you should go.  (Check the forums because I’ve heard Vista isn’t exactly taking the gaming world by storm) 
  • If you are a tech and don’t mind taller learning curves, and you use older equipment, but still want a heavy-duty operating system, Linux is for you. 
  • But for most purposes, with Vista metastasizing all over the Windows’ world, there’s no contest.  It is true in many areas that local Macintosh support is harder to find than local PC support – but you’ll probably need less support anyway.  And though you should buy the AppleCare hardware warranty, the Mac is likely to be more cost-effective when you factor in your time and support costs.


So I am now actually recommending that most individuals buy a Mac to use at home or on the road. 

Huh.  Never thought I’d say that.


  1. July-August ‘09, we ran into a major snafu when our campus upgraded to AD08.  Somehow it knocked all the Apples off the cart, and it took Apple weeks to come up with a solution to the disaster.  The college of visual arts was hardest-hit with the most Apples, but we have some crucial Apple servers and it played havoc with essential services.  None of this showed up in the pre-testing that was done prior to the campus rollout of AD08.  It also doesn’t change my recommendation to individuals that they get a Mac for home, though I’ve been using Ubuntu Linux now and am very happy with it.  But for enterprise applications, think twice.

  2. OpenOffice is available for the Mac, and now there’s a straight port of it into OS-X; NeoOffice.  Don’t pay for an office suite!
Categories: Geeky, Software
  1. Lucas
    March 31, 2007 at 16:31 | #1

    You can change the magnification settings on the bar at the bottom of the screen—it is a pretty annoying “feature.”  With a few modifications to default settings, you can easily make your Mac very, very accessible.

    I wonder, a few years down the road, what the computer world will look like—I would say that about 20% of the people I know have Macs, but they’re mostly college students.  What happens when these students graduate and go into business?

  2. March 31, 2007 at 19:41 | #2

    I started out with Macintosh in 1985, switched to windows in 1993 due to the mass of Windows/DOS in the business world.  It was then a case of “eat sh*t.  Two billion flies CAN’T be wrong.”

    I’m seriously considering changing back, or maybe doing the “plague on both houses”, Linux…


  3. Ted
    April 1, 2007 at 09:23 | #3

    So why doesn’t everybody just switch over to Macintosh?

    Because Steve Jobs is in charge? It’s one thing to use an appliance (ipod, iphone) because it has a shorter shelflife. PCs and servers, have a longer shelflife and more extended uses, so users (both end-users and technical) need a mature environment before the product can be feasible.

    What’s up with Apple Servers? What’s the relationship between servers, users and business integration? I realize that your reviews are relative to Apple desktop products, but this isn’t 1985 where desktops of any kind are disconnected. It matters what the backend of the company looks like, supports like, thinks like.

  4. April 1, 2007 at 09:58 | #4

    Mac OS-X is starting to look like a far more mature product than Windows, which (Vista) is starting to look desperate, flashy and bereft of innovation.  The Apple servers I have looked at were best-of-class with well thought-out support, and we’ve had great luck with them on campus in our MS Active Directory environment.  But even outstanding products have transition issues, and corporations can’t just suspend business while those are worked out.  Platform changes are risky even if to a better platform.

    I suspect the transition to Vista will be perilous for many corporations, and many large entities have just said “no”.

    If I were starting a new company, I’d probably go Linux/Applesauce end-to-end.

  5. April 1, 2007 at 12:19 | #5

    What happens when these students graduate and go into business?
    They end up, like MC, bitching out microsloth, sometimes not under their breath.

    Thanks, DOF, for a very thoughtful and wide-ranging review.

  6. April 1, 2007 at 14:42 | #6

    Not only was this an excellent post, but your timing was perfect. Like many PC users, I have been waiting until Vista is stable to buy a new PC. As I’ve started hearing widespread disappointment with Vista, I’m starting to wonder about returning to Mac for my next computer.

    I initially abandoned the Mac platform because the statistical software I needed for my job was not compatible (it still isn’t) and because I didn’t want the hassle of using a Mac at home and a PC at work. It sounds like it may be time for some rethinking.

  7. April 1, 2007 at 18:40 | #7

    Excellent review of MAC, I can’t wait for Linux, even though I am doubting anything positive seeing how we spent 2 hours getting wireless working.  Anyways, I am glad to see MAC got a decent positive review.  I think it is a good OS and deserves positive praise.

  8. james old guy
    April 2, 2007 at 13:44 | #8

    It will be interesting to see when and if the Federal Government goes to VISTA. The long hard OS battle in the halls of the Pentagon are over and for better or worse it is a windows world.

  9. April 2, 2007 at 13:56 | #9

    Certain sectors of the Fed gov have already said no to Vista, and with a loud clash of a hammer.  They were pretty adamant about not upgrading.

  10. April 2, 2007 at 15:09 | #10

    Yeah, despite Mac’s security advantage, I have a hard time imagining Mac culture working out well at the Pentagon. :lol:  

    Maybe Vista SP-1 will address some of the more egregious cuteness and annoying security questions.  Interesting to see what would happen if MS came up with a “Gov” version of Vista that was all business, super-secure and no silliness, bet it would be very popular with people who have work to do.

  11. Bruce Boeck
    April 2, 2007 at 15:11 | #11

    As vjack says, I have been holding off, hoping against hope that Vista would make me smile.
    So far it hasn’t, from what I’ve read.
    So, in the brave new world where DOF recommends Mac’s (ye gads!), I now have a greater problem—I can be a sheep and go the Vista route and, perhaps, suffer Everlasting Torment, or I can switch to a Mac and have more fun doing what I want and not cursing the gods who first ventured out from the silicon seas to evolve into Microsoft. Hmmmm…..

  12. April 2, 2007 at 15:35 | #12

    Maybe Vista SP-1 will address some of the more egregious cuteness and annoying security questions.  Interesting to see what would happen if MS came up with a “Gov” version of Vista that was all business, super-secure and no silliness, bet it would be very popular with people who have work to do.

    Not to sound anti-M$, which for me is hard to do, but what you just said goes against the very nature of M$…

    I now have a greater problem—I can be a sheep and go the Vista route and, perhaps, suffer Everlasting Torment, or I can switch to a Mac and have more fun doing what I want and not cursing the gods who first ventured out from the silicon seas to evolve into Microsoft. Hmmmm…..

    Coming from a Linux user’s perspective… go with the MAC fo sho!!

  13. April 4, 2007 at 10:24 | #13

    Thanks for the review DOF.  I’m a gamer so I’ll still be going for Windows but it sounds like I need to hold on to XP for as long as possible.

    2 points.  One is on your Firefox anecdote.  I’ve had that very same experience on my XP box…where the application dies and I relaunch.  It gives the option to restart the old session and within about 10 seconds everything is back with all tabs open just as you described.

    The 2nd point is about Mac’s security.  Most of it’s “secure” status is a result of the numbers.  Why work on hacking a mac when they’re such a small portion of the machines available?

  14. April 4, 2007 at 12:05 | #14

    Excellent point Rick, but keep in mind that MAC is based on Unix.  Hackers don’t write scripts and virus’ for MAC because it is Unix based, and Unix is damn hard to break into.

    It would be comparable to deciding whether to steal $1000 from a baby’s hand or robbing Fort Knox…

  15. Ted
    April 4, 2007 at 17:28 | #15


    Greenpeace ranks Apple last for green

    Probably belongs down in the hardware review, but it’s too far down by now.

    Anywho, thought it was perversely just that the uber-trendy Mac users would be supporting a company that ain’t the most eco-friendly. There’s going to be some gnashing of teeth and crying in the lattes over this.

    Apple got the nod from EPA offshoot, but not Greenpeace. Smells like corporate PR.

  16. April 4, 2007 at 18:22 | #16

    Not sure but the greenest PC manufacturer is probably Dell or Lenovo due to sheer economies of scale and – I kid you not – the emergence of strict environmental laws in China.  (Not that they are well-enforced but really large companies have a hard time slipping under the radar) 

    Greenpeace… science-free environmental radicalism. If they got their way, millions of people would starve and I bet that would be fine with them.

  17. April 4, 2007 at 19:43 | #17

    Greenpeace pisses me off cause it gives real treehuggers like myself a bad name!

    I think HP or one of the big companies has a green line of computers.  Good idea really, but what would do more is if power users such as myself turned off the computer over night.

  18. April 4, 2007 at 21:03 | #18

    One thing you can do is to set your computer to take a nap when it isn’t in use.  Saves a buttload of energy.  Even just setting the LCD monitors in our main lab to sleep saved about as much energy as a large suburban home uses on average (more if you count heat abatement).  Savings would have been correspondingly bigger if we could have implemented that change back when we had all CRT monitors.

    Two things keep people from turning their computers off at night; the need to install security patches (best for institutions to do that en masse, and while people are not working) and because it takes so damn long to boot up.  To the extent that boot time affects user behavior, it affects energy usage then.

  19. April 4, 2007 at 21:45 | #19

    Setting LCD monitors to sleep doesn’t abate much energy or heat because LCDs use very little energy or heat.  Yes it does save energy of course, but that is little fry.  Why not go after larger savings.

    I was originally going to continue on about hibernation and how we should be making use of that, but I have a better idea, one that solves your M$ patch issue to turning off systems.

    Get virtualization running and set the computers to hibernate.  If a virtual OS is running you never have to worry about patches or viruses, cause a hacker can’t do anything with a virtual OS.  Then when can power down the systems, or hibernate them every night.

    Damn I just saved the COB enough money to hire me full time.  :cheese:

  20. April 4, 2007 at 21:46 | #20

    Whoops, should read… “Then we can power down…

  21. April 4, 2007 at 22:16 | #21

    We were running them 24/7 with the screen saver showing – that’s full power.  Figure ‘bout 150 – 185 watts per LCD monitor during operation, (about a tenth of that value during “sleep”), times the number of LCD monitors we have = not chicken feed.  But you’re right there are larger considerations.  Computer itself uses 200 – 350 watts in operation, and all the power either of them uses has to be extracted from the room as heat, along with all the lighting and about 60w/person as well.

    We should do experiments on computers receiving patches while asleep.  Could they be made to wake up, patch, and go back asleep?  The CPU is ticking along around 1/4 speed or less and the hard drive is stopped, but it should still be able to get the call.  For one reason or another I have not had good luck getting them to recognize “wake-up” signals across the network. At minimum we should spin down the HD after 2 hours or so – the OS is pretty good at spinning it up again when needed.

  22. April 4, 2007 at 22:25 | #22

    If we use virtualization though we would never have to patch the OS ever again.  We could run OpenSUSE on all the systems, and have XP running as a virtual OS.  Since the buggy as hell XP is running as a virtual OS there is no need to ever have to patch it.  Then we can shut down the systems as much as we want cause we never have to patch anything.

  23. April 5, 2007 at 06:25 | #23

    Right.  We’ll pick up that topic in the office though, because it’s way off-track for this thread. /tangent

  24. May 14, 2007 at 23:21 | #24

    Let’s take a look back when XP came out… How many issues came with it? Then the SP1 came out to fix them, however, with the SP2 even more issues came out. My feeling is that Microsoft feels that the general public should be thier “Beta version test cases”. I find that a bit harsh, although it keeps my tech business running… So, when it comes to Vista? I’d wait until the SP3 version is available and then maybe I’ll upgrade. Hopefully by then all the other people out there that just have to have the latest greatest, will have worked out the kinks of the “beta” version. In addition, as 95,98,2000,and ME are not being supported by tech support, no more programs fixes, and only security for 2000, I suppose XP will follow suit eventually. But by then, I’ll need a new computer because the motherboard or the CPU will have crashed by then. (ha Ha) What is sad though, is that for the general public, the new computers put out by Gateway, Dell, IBM etc. only have Vista installed along with Office 2007! Best of luck to them… I’ll just keep upgrading what I have and probally do alot better, again my tech business is booming!
    Cheers to all, hope I didn’t offend anyone. PS someday I’m going to get a mac just for the fun of it. Something new to tangle with…

  25. May 15, 2007 at 08:00 | #25

    Offend anyone… are you kidding, this was hilarious:

    My feeling is that Microsoft feels that the general public should be thier “Beta version test cases”

    My Micro$oft line is this:

    Do I hate Micro$oft?  Are you kidding!  They keep me employed.  They’re the reason I have a job.

    Don’t forget Dell now has OpenSource Systems

    What is sad though, is that for the general public, the new computers put out by Gateway, Dell, IBM etc. only have Vista installed along with Office 2007!

  26. May 15, 2007 at 15:11 | #26

    ;-P So I guess I’m not the only one, boy is that a relief. And yes, I am sure that those that work for MS keep their jobs this way, however sad or frustrating it may be for others.

    Must be honest to tell you that my older brother is one of many MS “Certified System Management Administrators”, and even at times when I can’t figure things out, like how to get MS 0utlook Express files to go to 0utlook when updating from 2000 to 2003, he doesn’t always know the answer. Correct that, he knows the answer, but the solution sometimes either has no bearing on what I really need, or it just plain doesn’t work the way is should… If anyone really knows how to retrieve Express files and import them into 0utlook 2003, send me a link to that forum or quick answer site.

    Oh and by the way, even my MS CSMA brother says wait to go Vi$ta… scary huh?

  27. Kaspersky Not Blacklisted Key
    April 6, 2008 at 02:23 | #27

    very interesting…

  28. June 16, 2008 at 11:07 | #28

    I switched to a mac and only one program is missed… Beyond Compare!

    BC compares folders side by side and I found it particularly useful for syncing my websites.

    I am still looking for a solution :(

  29. June 16, 2008 at 18:52 | #29

    There should be a UNIX command that can do the same thing. Try messing around with “grep”.

  30. June 16, 2008 at 19:00 | #30

    Nope, Grep ain’t gonna stand in for Beyond Compare.  There’s just no comparison between them. (Sorry, couldn’t resist!  :coolsmirk:  But he’s right about BC vs. Grep.)

    Carey, your Twitter says DeltaWalker is a good substitute – now that you’ve used it a few days, what do you think?

  31. June 17, 2008 at 04:13 | #31

    George – Delta Walker is working for me. It is a bit slower than BC when comparing FTP sites (probably because you have to use MacFusion to map the ftp site to a drive, and compare from there).

    It is actually more reliable than beyond compare (I used to get problems comparing ftps on certain setups with BC).

    The file side-by-side comparison is nicer to use but one feature missing is that you cannot manually link two lines together, if that makes sense.

    Overall its working and I think once I give it some time BC will be a distant memory!

    I do use grep for other things but with they type of stuff i do (web development on lots of sites) a GUI really helps.

  32. August 6, 2008 at 04:40 | #32

    I’ve been looking for such intricate details on mac for a while, thank you for posting your experience. I’ve heard a lot about the dual functionality of running Windows on a Mac but never tried it myself. I do have both, but love my Mac and want to be able to run Windows on it without issues. Now I think I know how.

    Thanks so much

  33. July 2, 2009 at 19:01 | #33

    Came back and had to laugh, even at my own response over 2 years ago.

    Vi$sta is now what’s keeping me afloat in the tech biz and I have to laugh that there will NEVER be an sp3 of Vi$ta.

    So what is Window$7 = XP with a Vi$ta face from what I’ve read.

    But this is what bothers me now: 2.5 BILLION $ for ad-marketing for MS deci$ion engine, what a joke!
    What happened to M$N or Window$ Live? Why re-create what you already have instead of make what you have better? The only answer I can think of is $$$$$$ in marketing.

    Notice how the only computers you see in stores like Be$tBuy and Walfart are Vi$ta? The price will be going down, down, down so that they can get these out of these big warehoses. Why? because of Window$7… Do they really think that the general public will believe it’s not a Vi$ta sp2 with a new name? and why not? because everybody believes in NEW, BETTER and IMPROVED must be better.

    Hence the divorce rate in our country… Maybe the French do have a point after all… at least it’s no big surprise and everybody has it’s place in the relationship. ha ha….

    GO OPENSOURCE! I’ve become a convert and my other brother who states he’s a “Linux” guru seems to chuckle more and give me more hugs. Maybe it’s because I truelly am now a part of the computer world or it’s because he’s so damn happy that I finally got the entire picture of the bull$shit Bill Gate$ has been feeding the world.

    Now if only our government agencies would get wise and stop spending all our money on useless upgrades on half A$$ programs. Ok, too much to ask for in one blog…

    Cheers, Taz

    PS it’s posts like these that I “earned” my nick name($)… lotflmao in $$ wasted on MS… just had a thought, MS think about it… they get our hard earned money one bit at a time and it appears to be not much, hence the micro part and the soft part? And that’s why they have the monopoly… ever go to the bathroom and the person playing the banker seems to have more money then they did before you went pee, only to find out at the end that they stole from the bank? Not very funny really when you lose your A$$, now is it?

  34. July 2, 2009 at 19:25 | #34

    Came back and had to laugh, even at my own response over 2 years ago.

    Welcome!  I so glad you did.  And your timing is perfect.  Your new comment was the first thing in my inbox when I logged into my desktop machine after reinstalling Ubuntu this evening.

    I’m definitely not a guru but I’ve learned to like Ubuntu.  Still earn a living supporting Windows, too. 

    You said it:


  35. July 3, 2009 at 01:03 | #35

    Hey George,

    Did you have any problems with the install? did you run a dual boot with WINXP? I’m so bad at math that I think I messed up with the partitions and now have to wipe drive and re-install the MS OS and THEN Ubuntu. That’s what I get for over thinking things some times and for the stupid WIN OS hogging the entire partition to begin with!

    I have a couple more suggestions that might be good topics for the DOF blog. I’ll be sending them along in a separate email so you can choose where to post them, if indeed they are of interest to you as well.

    I want to run through your site to make sure I’m not asking duplicate ??? or topics first.

    Cheers, Taz

    PS as in “Tasmanian Devil” or I go by Melunie as in Me-Lunie for Looney Toons. So if I’m a bit spacey that day, I’ll be Melunie, if I’m on a rant, then it’s Taz and if I’m helping someone out, then it’s 1centwiz because I try to be Penny Wise or my with inflation, I can’t afford 2 whole cents worth…

  36. July 3, 2009 at 05:02 | #36

    No Windows on this machine, though I do have a dual-boot laptop.  I have three partitions; /, /home, and /swap. 

    / = 10gb.  I should have made it twenty.
    /swap = 4gb, I think.  But I can’t remember for sure.
    /home = whatever’s left.

    Having a separate partition for /home is analogous to having one for “\My Documents” – you can reinstall the operating system without losing your stuff.

  37. Tamra Raiche-Skibsted
    October 20, 2009 at 23:02 | #37

    Hey DOF, A friend has a mac and wants to give it to me. He’s willing to put in a newer OS for me and some new memory… what do I need to learn? Also, a friend of mine is looking at Laptops, what would you suggest if she wants to use it for business and pleasure like watching movies?

    Also, I still can’t get online with my dual boot to Unbuntu… It says it finds the action tec, but it won’t connect. I know that the CD I got from Linux works because I’ve loaded it on another laptop that used to have vista, down graded it to xp, and had to find all new drivers for xp to work on it. And it got online ok once linux was installed.
    My laptop is a Gateway MX6426 running winXp.
    Thanks for any help you can offer me…

  38. October 21, 2009 at 01:54 | #38

    Hi Tamra, you friend is very nice to you!  Here’s an introduction page for Macintosh: Mac 101.  For me the hardest thing was dragging a jump drive to the trash to unmount it.  Makes even less sense than clicking Start to shut down on a Windows system.  But otherwise it was pretty easy to use.

    I’m currently annoyed with Apple for a number of reasons.  It’s great for personal computers, but seems to have problems integrating into an enterprise-scale Active Directory.  Not a problem for home use, but I use Linux at home.

    A quick search for Ubuntu and Actiontec does turn up some problems.  Are you using the latest version of Ubuntu?  Enabled proprietary drivers? (System, Administration, Hardware Drivers)  Sorry, that’s all I’ve got.  As mentioned above I’m not a guru, so maybe one of the more knowledgeable readers can be more helpful.

  39. November 3, 2009 at 09:22 | #39

    Hey everyone; I found an introductory manual for the Macintosh online, and it’s FREE.  You can download the .pdf document and print out your own copy.  It looks pretty good:

    The Incredible Free Manual For Every Mac User.

  40. November 27, 2009 at 23:52 | #40

    I dont think Apple cares as much as how many people are using their OS. Otherwise they wouldnt even care creating BootCamp software to run windows on Mac machines. The only major concern from Apple is how many people buying their hardware. Apple has been a hardware company and always has been. Little that they know that they could be a great software company…. wait…Nahh, they dont care about that either since they are moving pass that to a service oriented company. Does iTunes, MobileMe, Apps Store ring any bells, anyone?

Comments are closed.