Mac Conversion

I finally pulled the trigger; I’m now a Mac user. About a year ago Traci’s laptop’s video card mysteriously died so we bought her a replacement desktop computer. We were tight on cash so we bought a low-end Dell running Vista. I’ve lamented since then on my frustrations and disappointments with Vista and Traci absolutely despised it. It was then I began to think once again seriously of moving to Linux and avoiding an upgrade to Vista, but I found that Linux still just wasn’t quite there on the desktop yet. It was closer than it had been in the past but still not what I needed.

As a result I decided to take another look at the Mac. It had been a few years and since then OSX had been released and the prices had dropped some. Long story short, I began to think seriously about a Mac and began researching what it would take to switch from Windows. I found that it was easier than ever to make the switch.

So after about a year of Vista Traci finally had had enough. We decided to pull the trigger about two weeks ago on a new iMac for her. We received it on a Friday and had her completely moved over to the Mac by Sunday morning. After spending the weekend with her Mac I decided it was time to make the switch myself and ordered mine.

I originally thought I wanted the 24″ display but after working on Traci’s I decided 24″ might be a little too large. I instead opted for the 20″ display but increased the hard drive to 750 GB and the memory to 4 GB. I also bought the wireless keyboard and mouse because the cords were so short and I wasn’t sure they would reach once I got a new desk (sometime in the future).

The Bad

There really aren’t that many negatives about this computer. My biggest disappointment was that the wireless keyboard had no number pad (or the buttons in between the number pad and the main keypad). It was a shortened keyboard missing many keys I regularly need. I called Apple and they shipped me a replacement wired keyboard at no charge. Now I have the full-sized keyboard and love it. I can’t really call this a problem since Apple fixed it promptly for me.

There are only three USB ports so they go pretty quickly. The keyboard has two USB ports which gives you back an additional port at least. I don’t consider this a show-stopper; I could pick up a USB hub for a few bucks if need be. Five USB ports would be better.

The speakers are adequate but not great. I’m not too surprised considering it’s an all-in-one solution. It wasn’t a big deal to me in the first place so I’m not too worried about it.

Also iSync didn’t work so I had to buy a replacement which set me back $39.

The Good

Now here’s where the list gets long. I love this thing! I like so much about it it’s tough to know where to begin. First off, it’s not Vista! That’s a big deal to me because I really didn’t like Vista and the thought of spending maybe a couple grand on a new box, only to have to put Vista on it, made me ill. I’m running Max OSX 10.5 “Leopard” and it’s top notch. It’s what Vista should have been. It’s clean, it’s consistent, it’s rock-solid, and it looks beautiful. It’s also Unix which I really love.

One of the biggest gains for Traci and me is that we were finally able to get rid of Outlook. I’d been trying for years but I was stuck; nothing else did the job completely. Outlook moves like a bloated cow and its IMAP support completely sucks. It did the job but not without pain. Now Traci and I are using iCal instead. She can e-mail appointments and tasks to me just like we did with Outlook and then she syncs her iPhone to iCal. I sync my Palm Z22 to iCal as well. Unfortunately due to iSync not working I had to buy a copy of The Missing Sync to sync my Palm to my Mac. That software works perfectly though so although it was an unexpected expense it was worth the money. It also syncs my tasks and address book.

I’m using Mac Mail for my IMAP e-mail and it works beautifully; much faster and better than Outlook ever did. Things truely work the way they’re supposed to now.

I’m using VMWare Fusion to run Windows on my Mac. There are a couple programs that I haven’t been able to completely replace yet; Quicken and my family tree software primarily. I’m also using it for my scanner. My scanner is old and won’t work on either OSX or Vista. No matter which way I went that scanner was dead. This way I’m running it on XP in VMWare and giving the scanner a second lease on life.

Virtually all the software I used on Windows has a port for the Mac or an equivalent. I’m finding that I use Windows on my Mac very, very infrequently. I’m using OpenOffice, Firefox, and TrueCrypt natively on the Mac. KeePassX and Adium are Mac equivalents for KeepPass and Pidgin, respectively. There’s a lot of pre-loaded software on the Mac that replaced applications I was using on Windows. No surprise that my iPod works with the Mac.

Speaking of the VM I’m also running Ubuntu and will soon install Fedora 9 in a VM as well. The beautiful thing about WMWare is that it has allowed me to get rid of a physical box in my office for Linux. I added extra memory to the Mac to handle the virtual machines and everything is performing beautifully.

I love the look and feel of all the hardware. The wireless Mighty Mouse feels great and the keyboard looks and feels smooth and natural. I love the low profile keyboard with the near-silent keys. The display is beautiful and the 20″ screen feels comfortable and has enough real estate for everything I need to do. The all-in-one design works nicely in my office, eliminating the CPU unit on the floor and freeing up space in a small room.

My old computer had six case fans and two power supply fans. It sounded like a C-130 taking off and you could hear it all through the house. The Macs are silent; I can’t hear them at all. Our entire house is now free from computer noise (but not from the noise of a three year old!)

Backups used to take me an hour and a half every other week but I’ve been using Apple’s built-in backup utility called Time Machine. Time Machine is wonderful; I plug in an external drive and it recognizes it and asks me if I want to use it for backups. I say yes and it does the rest. I’m now backing up my entire system by simply plugging in a drive. Brilliant.

I bought a Linksys print server a few years back to put our printer on the network. It took me three hours to get my Windows box to see it and to print to it. It took me five minutes on the Mac. Seriously.

Conclusion

It’s been a little less than a week now and I’m completely satisfied with the iMac. I couldn’t be happier with the decision to switch.

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9 Replies to “Mac Conversion”

  1. iSync will not sync between Macs. You need a MobileMe subscription for this (works fine for me, despite what you can read on the internet). Or try syncing through a third party such as Google calendars. Then there are the likes of sugarsync etc.

  2. Have you tried VueScan for that scanner of yours?

    http://www.hamrick.com/

    I’ve found it to drive pretty much any scanner, and there are Mac versions, Windows versions, Linux, etc.

    Highly recommended.

    Oh, though you didn’t mention it, if you have issues translating files from Windows to Mac OSX, I suggest you try MacLink Plus from DataViz:

    http://www.dataviz.com/products/maclinkplus/

    It can convert pretty much any file. I’ve used it for years in my business, where file translation was a must.

    Good luck and enjoy!

  3. You didn’t mention what kind of scanner you have but have you tried the Image Capture app with your scanner? It comes with OS X and should be in your Applications folder. I found that it works on my old Canon usb scanner. Another option is Vuescan. It works with a huge number of scanners and might be worth a look. There’s a free demo at http://www.hamrick.com/

  4. Wow, thanks for the comments guys. I will check out VueScan; I think I saw my model listed. Image Capture didn’t see my scanner unfortunately.

    As far as syncing goes I’m using The Missing Sync and it works beautifully. My wife e-mails me iCal appointments by adding me as an attendee and I accept and add to my iCal calendar. Then I sync to my Palm. It’s essentially the same functionality I had with Outlook only faster and cleaner with no MS bull.

    I had the opportunity to play around with OS X this past weekend and learn more about it. The more I use it, the more I love it. This Mac is awesome!

  5. I agree, I hate Vista too. I’ll stick with XP SP3 as it works great for me. Stable and reliable as far as I’m concerned and no need to upgrade hardware or worry about software compatibility.

    We are currently exploring deploying Vista in my office. The problem is that we are not getting the needed hardware upgrade to make Vista work. Home office is shipping us a bunch of RAM and the plan is to add just enough RAM to make Vista work. Not well thought out.

    I’ve never really uses a Mac. Macs are still a little pricey. I use Knoppix, installed to hard drive as a permanent partition, at home and have been very happy with it. It does everything I need to do and more. Comes with OpenOffice, Firefox, Thunderbird, etc.

  6. @Nathan
    Macs aren’t cheap but man, I love ’em. I use Ubuntu Linux on my file and database servers and my laptop. I use Fedora on my webserver. I have a single Windows instance in a virtual machine on my Mac and I’m very close to getting rid of that one.

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