Calling All Apple Users

January 9, 2009

On December 21 of 2008, my Dell Inspiron 4300 desktop computer turned seven years old.  That’s 49 in dog years and probably 204 in computer years.  Let me tell you a little about this machine.  It’s got a 40 gig hard drive, which is darn near full.  It’s got 512 megabytes of what was once smokin’ hot RAM, but which nows seems to wheeze and cough when asked to do much more than boot up.  It’s running Windows XP (Service Pack 2, but only because I upgraded a couple of years back) on a Pentium 4 chip at 1.7 Ghz, and it’s got several USB ports, all of them USB 1.1 (except for the entra ones I installed myself, which were supposed to run at 2.0 speeds, but didn’t until I installed the XP Service Pack).

This computer has been wonderful to me.  [Knocks on wood.]  It has never crashed.  [Knocks on wood again.] I’ve written many, many books and stories on it. And it only occasionally does annoying stuff, like shutting down programs that I’m still using or closing Internet Explorer while I’m in the middle of looking for a site.  That said, I’m ready for a new computer.  I am SO ready for a new computer.

I had convinced myself for a while that I was going to get an iMac, that I was finally going to make the big jump over to Apple.  I’d heard all the horror stories about Vista and I wanted no part of any of that.  Then we had to get a new computer for my girls and because we couldn’t afford an Apple for them, we got another Dell desktop.  Yes it has Vista.  And to my surprise and delight, Vista has been fine.  More than that, it’s been great.  The girls love it.  I love it.  [I’ve heard the Windows 7 is just about ready to come out, but the other day when I tried to go to a site and read about it, my computer closed IE.  I tried again.  Same thing.  Every time I went to that site, it closed IE.  Every.  Single.  Time.  It’s like it knew what I was thinking.  Creepy.]

Anyway, now I’m back to trying to decide between a new iMac and a new Dell.  The iMac costs more by quite a bit and I’ve been using PCs a long time, so I have lots of old software that I’d have to abandon if I made the jump.  But I’m ready for an OS that doesn’t need to be handled like a pinless grenade. 

So, all you Apple users out there (Stephen Leigh, I’m talking to you!), this is your chance.  Proselytize away.  Convince me.  Talk me down from the Windows ledge.  Why should I switch?  Why is it worth the extra hundreds of dollars?


18 Responses to “Calling All Apple Users”

  1. Well, I am with you. I needed to replace my laptop and was trying to decide between mac and pc. I figured that Vista would be a learning curve, it would be different from my desktop (xp) and the worst part is that I hate having to go in and do all sorts of settings changes in Windows to make it work okay–read not stupidly. I also am tired of all the virus attacks and all the annoyances of Dell pcs (they seem to be loading more and more junk on the computer that I have to get rid of–often third party stuff that is just annoying and useless to me.

    Apple seemed to offer less of that, less worry of viruses, more promise of supporting the os for longer. Now keep in mind that I don’t do a lot of funky things. So far it’s worked as promised, very intuitive. I’ve occasional weirdness with the mouse sort of freezing up but it goes away. The bootup is quick and while there are definitely differences between the pc and mac, it doesn’t seem to be a big deal.

    One thing I like is the time machine program that will regularly and automatically back your disk up if it’s hooked to a backup drive. So you don’t have to remember.

    I probably will get an iMac when I replace my desktop. It’s two years old and it’s been going so seriously slowly. Which means I probably have to clean the registry and some other things. That isn’t all that hard, but it’s seriously annoying because it’s typical and I have to do it and waste my time. Sick of it.


  2. Alan said

    Well, let me be the voice of dissent. I’m all for PC over Mac and I always buy Dell. I recently needed a new PC (last year) and finally got a laptop after years of desktops. It’s a PC, a Dell and it’s running Vista. Heresy!

    But I’ve had no problems at all. Vista is a little bit weird with some of the changes, but really nothing you can’t get your head around – and certainly easier than trying to get used to Mac’s OSX, which is very different from Windows.

    I think Macs are over-rated. As for the virus thing, Norton Antivirus & Internet Security has worked for me – regularly updated and I’ve never had a virus. Hard drive backups are easy and most external HDDs come with software now that will do the auto-backup of your PC that Diana was talking about the Mac doing. And all your old PC software won’t suddenly become redundant.

    My vote would be to stick with PC – when I got this new computer I seriously considered switching over, but didn’t bother for the reasons above and I’m glad. I’m sure I made the right decision.

  3. davidbcoe said

    Yeah, Di. That pretty much sums up my feelings about all this. The jump seems like a big deal, but I’m wondering if it won’t really be when the time comes.

    And Alan, that pretty much sums up what’s giving me pause as I contemplate the jump. This machine has never had a virus either, and as long as one keeps the virus subscriptions up to date that’s not really a worry. But my Mac friends would say, “Yeah, but who wants to worry about those subscriptions?”

    Anyway, thanks to both of you for the comments.

  4. I got hit with my first PC virus when I first got my desktop. It was a new one and there weren’t a lot of protections for it. But really, that isn’t what made me change. More of it was the hassle of the setup and the constant need to get add-ons and run other programs. I so totally get what Alan is saying–I kept going back and forth for months. I’m not in the Mac Cult by any means. But it has been simple and easy to shift over to and hasn’t caused a lot of problems. I do like that I have a pc desktop to keep using certain programs, but a lot of them are old enough that I need to upgrade to use them well and that was another reason this was a good time to shift. If I have to put the money out for them anyhow, I can see which system I’m more likely to keep using.

    Look forward to hearing what you decide. I can say that the imac screen is really pretty and nice. Saw it at Best Buy. I expect you can get the same for pcs, but not sure that I actually would. Would feel too decadent. But if it came with . . .

  5. Alan said

    It seems to just boil down to taste at the end of the day and there’s really not that much between the machines any more. Except price, I suppose.

    Let us know what you buy, David!

  6. Brian said

    We bought a new macbook last year for my wife. This was about a year after I bought a new HP notebook. One thing that MACs trounce PC’s is running speed. Sure, a brand new PC can run pretty fast, but eventually it gets bogged down with 3rd party programs, updates, and the operating system requirements. Macs run fast no matter how old they are. The OS is intuitive and has many great features built in. My favorite is the new browser in FINDER. IT lets you choose from different styles, the new one being similar to coverflow as in iTunes, except its even better. If you are looking through documents, PDFS, PPTS or whatever you can click on a document to get a preview of it without actually running the whole program. ITs so much easier to look through old files and find something you’re looking for. Also if you are looking for a document, no matter where, you can search for it in finder, and with the new Time Machine feature you can search for stuff you deleted and retrieve it, or old versions of files (requires external hard drive). Im very happy with iWork as well, but you can get the standard Office programs too. iWork is just so much easier to use, and you can export Pages files to PDF’s, or PC formats. Sometimes you lose certain formatting features when converting between formats though.

    I also use Macs media software, like all the imaging and video stuff they offer, and am becoming acquainted with Garageband, which I have high hopes for.

    The only problem I gave had so far is when streaming video from one of the network websites to watch TV shows- sometimes it freezes up. I am inclined to attribute this to the websites MOVE video player which is a required download if you watch TV online, but I cant say for sure. Either way its occasionally annoying to have to restart the computer when this happens.

    So Im a mac guy from now on. Im happy to pay more for what I think is a better product.

    (PS, I havent used vista, so I dont know how it compares)

  7. davidbcoe said

    Thanks for the feedback, Brian. As I’ve said elsewhere, it seems to me that Windows users often say that they have no trouble with their computer’s OS, but you never hear Windows users rave about it. You hear raves from Mac users all the time. And it certainly would be nice not to have to worry about crashes and viruses and the dreaded blue screen of death.

  8. Jen Bachman said

    Let me start off by saying that I am a little biased. I have been an Apple customer for 25 years. As a chemist, I have used PC’s at work because I have had to, and through the years I have always felt like I needed to learn another (programming) language to operate Windows. The thing I hate most about it is that it is NOT INTUITIVE. Apple has the market on this.

    One thing you should be aware of is that there are programs out there to enable you to run Windows on your (Intel-chip-containing) iMac. We have some games that our kids like to play that need Windows. For $39.99 we installed Parallels Desktop – and all of our PC-based software runs fine. For serious gamers whose games require very specific and powerful video graphics cards – this won’t work. But I have every confidence that it would work for you.

    My husband just added that Macs usually also come well-bundled with everything one needs to get started. We chose to purchase Office since we tend to do work at home, and that was a nice chunk of change, but we have also heard great things about iWork. Without repeating everyone’s comments about the blue screen of death above, it is just so much more relaxing not to have to worry about glitches, viruses and the like screwing with my game of Bookworm.

    Rob’s sister just bought a Macbook after years of Dells and bought hers because the people at the Apple store treated her so much better than the people at Best Buy and the like. I too have had nothing but enjoyable experiences with Apple customer service, whilst friends and former students have wailed long and loud about crappy customer service from Dell and HP.

    You should ask your friends to let you surf the net and do some stuff on their new iMac. That is, if you can pry them away from it for a little while. 🙂 I’m with Brian – you certainly get what you pay for.

    Good luck!

    • davidbcoe said

      Thanks, Jen. I played with Nancy’s machine the other day and liked it a lot. I’ve thought about using parallels, but if I’m going to do this, I’d rather make a clean break rather than allow Windows issues to follow me into Mac world.

      I appreciate the feedback. Maybe I’ll come by and let you and Rob give me a demonstration on your machine at some point.

  9. Alex Pendergrass said

    Hope you haven’t decided yet!

    For me, I’m pretty well versed in both platforms, and for my money, Apple is the way to go. Just from a completely materialistic view, Macs are sleek and much more visually appealing.

    Now, for the OS, Apple has a ton of features that make it easier for PC users to switch. Someone mentioned Parallels already, and there’s also the built in Boot Camp, which lets you install your XP or Vista, and you can run both at the same time, dragging and dropping files between OSes through the use of some other programs.

    For me, I like to edit video (gaming montages; if you’re curious, I have links! Pretty proud of ’em.), and I have the programs on PC (that I acquired for free and not-so-legally), so Boot Camp lets me not have to use my old, terribly broken PC to do this.

    As far as browsers go, IE is a joke amongst the gaming community I’m a part of. Firefox is where its at for me. You can very easily customize the look and features of the browser (I have iTunes controls built in on mine and have the buttons made to look like a level from Super Mario). The built-in Safari on Macs is also a great, more secure alternative to IE.

    And as a last curious fact, some school or study (it was a few months ago at least, but I can Google it if you’d like) found that Vista runs better on Macs than it does on PCs. 🙂

  10. Alan said

    Jen – “As a chemist, I have used PC’s at work because I have had to, and through the years I have always felt like I needed to learn another (programming) language to operate Windows. The thing I hate most about it is that it is NOT INTUITIVE. Apple has the market on this.”

    I think this is down to what you learn first. I often use a Mac and find it not intuitive at all, but I used PCs first. It’s like a second language and you’ll never be as fluent as your native tongue!

    Alex – “You can very easily customize the look and features of the browser (I have iTunes controls built in on mine and have the buttons made to look like a level from Super Mario).”

    I’ve got friends like you!

    But let’s be honest, David – you’ve already decided on the Mac, haven’t you.


  11. davidbcoe said

    Thanks for the comments, Alex. No I haven’t decided yet (Alan, take note! 🙂 ) so your perspective is much appreciated. I think that I have decided that if there was no difference in the cost, I’d make the switch. But it is a lot of money (several hundred dollars difference) at a time when things are feeling a bit lean.

    Still pondering…

  12. Alex Pendergrass said

    I forgot one huge feature that I wished I had last night in Web Graphics I: Spaces.

    Essentially, you have four separate workspaces/desktops. Whenever I’m writing, I use one space for Internet things (iChat and Firefox and perhaps Transmission), one space for iTunes, one space for Word/WriteItNow, and one space for Preview for images of the map of my world.

    Instead of fumbling with minimizing/maximizing windows to find one you need or to get to the desktop, just set up some Spaces, and switch instantly between them.

  13. Alan said

    That’s an interesting feature – but how is it really any different from Alt+Tab ing between open applications?

  14. Alex Pendergrass said

    Mainly that you can have a whole workspace of applications open per Space. For me, Firefox and iChat fit on the same space open at the same time. And being able to switch spaces really fast to see your uncovered Desktop helps, at least for me.

    They have alt+Tab, too. But I just like not having to have a bunch of unrelated applications open in the same workspace, alt+Tab-ing through a bunch of windows over and over again. Going from Internet Space, to Writing Space, to Music Space, to Pictures Space, etc. helps my work flow, at least.

  15. Alan said

    Ah – well, that’s a very good feature then. I like that. (Not sure it would convince me to switch to Mac, but it would certainly sweeten the deal!)

  16. davidbcoe said

    Thanks for continuing this discussion, Alan and Alex. I’m finding it fascinating and very helpful. Still haven’t made a decision….

  17. Alan said

    No problem – I’m learning things too!

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