My MacBook Pro Experience - Day 9

My MacBook Pro Experience - Day 9

Summary: I hadn't planned on a "My MacBook Pro Experience" post today but a question by ShadeTree in the TalkBack section of yesterday's post I think deserves a longer answer than I can give it as a reply in the TalkBack section.ShadeTree asked: "Are you worried that if you converted to using the Mac your blog would lose its' relevance? I mean after all the Mac user is fairly well insulated from the hardware. Since you blog on hardware wouldn't using a Mac make you less knowledgeable?"


I hadn't planned on a "My MacBook Pro Experience" post today but a question by ShadeTree in the TalkBack section of yesterday's post I think deserves a longer answer than I can give it as a reply in the TalkBack section.

ShadeTree asked: "Are you worried that if you converted to using the Mac your blog would lose its' relevance? I mean after all the Mac user is fairly well insulated from the hardware. Since you blog on hardware wouldn't using a Mac make you less knowledgeable?"

There have been a lot of good questions generated by this series of posts but this one is worthy of a longer answer.

The truth is that I'd never make a 100% switch to the Mac OS platform.  No way.  I'm not built like that and I don't look at things that way.  Just like I never switched 100% to Windows XP and I'd never make a 100% switch to Vista.  I still have machines here in the lab that run Windows 98 and ME.  Why?  Because I get questions about these platforms and issues crop up.  Admittedly most of the work on older platforms is now done through VMware, but I still run multiple copies of these platforms and still have the disks at hand.  I don't look at the Mac OS or Mac hardware as being a platform to make a leap to, but as tools that I can use and knowledge that I can leverage later on down the line. 

In this blog and over on my PC Doctor blog I've talked a lot about Windows Vista because there's a lot of interest and buzz there.  It's new and people are interested.  I've also been working hard developing training materials and guides for corporate users and a lot of stuff that will be useful to the average home/small office user.  There's going to be a lot of interest there and since I make a large amount of my income helping people get the most out of their PC and their investment in the the system, it's only logical that I concentrate a lot of effort there.  That's not because I'm biased towards Microsoft.  But I've also noticed that I'm getting more and more Mac and Linux related questions and enquiries.  There's no doubt that there's a growing interest in these platforms.  With that in mind, it makes sense (both business and personal) to keep an eye on what's going on and learn some new skills.

Every so often a post that I write here generates comments comments from people who think that I'm being biased.  Really, I'm not.  I'm a pretty open-minded guy.  If I say that CPUs from one manufacturer is better than another, that's not based on a bias, it's based on the information and the current line-up.  Same with hard drives, graphics cards and operating systems.  Life's too short to get caught up in that way of thinking.  Currently I think that Intel's Core 2 Duo are the best, a while back I was supporting AMD.  In the future AMD could become my favorite again. 

Coming back to the Mac, I feel that the experience has been a good one.  Learning is never a bad thing.  I'm hoping to repeat the same experiment with the Linux platform later on in the year.

Thoughts?  I'm especially interested in hearing from people who work purely with one platform.

Previous installments:

Topic: Apple

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  • Fair enough!

    I found your response well reasoned and relevant. i believe that PC enthusiasts and Mac enthusiasts vary in one very significant regard. The PC enthusiast enjoys tweeking and trying things to improve the performance of their machines while Mac enthusiasts peffer not to be bothered with the details. Neither approach is right or wrong just different.
    • I think that you're right

      If you like to fiddle and tweak, then Windows seems to offer far more opportunities.
      Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
      • Tweaking Windows worst of both worlds.

        It's not as customizable as linux, and that drives me crazy.

        It's not as programmable as Linux OR Unix on the Mac, and that drives me crazy.

        If all you want to do is fiddle safely with switches in the GUI, then, yes Windows gives you that opportunity.

        If we're talking tweaking hardware for gaming, then, yes there's a whole culture there in Windows, and for good reason.
        • Just because you do not know how to tweak it ....

          .... doesn't make it less customizable. Windows has probably the best suite of programming tools and API's available.
          • Sure, they're available....

            if you're willing to pay through the nose for what oughta be publicly documented. Same for the tools...overpriced.
    • Small sample size

      ---i believe that PC enthusiasts and Mac enthusiasts vary in one very significant regard.---

      I'm not sure I agree. I think that the Mac enthusiasts you're likely to encounter fit in well with the ideas you've presented. But there is a significant number of Mac users who are into tweaking and customization. This number has increased massively since the switch to a Unix based OS, giving tweakers full command line control, a great improvement over OS9 and its ilk.

      So, aside from a lower visibility on sites like ZDNet, which isn't really of interest to the hardcore Mac "tweaker", you also have to remember that you're dealing with a much smaller population in general. There may actually be a higher percentage of Mac users who modify their hardware/software than there is in the PC world. But, given the overall numbers for the full populations, it still ends up a tiny sized group, one that may be too small for you to notice, unless you're looking for it.
      tic swayback
      • Tweaking isn't just reserved to hardware

        but software too. The OS as far back as I can remember, has been a haven for GUI
        mods since 7.5. Nothing has changed with the later variants of OS X (early ones were
        touch and go). Most of us into our gear, don't have much of the original ineterface
        left anymore. All custom chopped.
    • Hmm, I don't agree

      While the average Mac user may wan't nothing to do with tweaking hardware, the same goes for the average PC user. When it comes to enthusiast, there are a lot of Mac users that like to tweak hardware (myself included). I have over clocked, done case mods, even custom built Macs using parts from different machines. Which is quite a bit more involved than doing so with a PC that is designed to be slapped together. It generally requires custom wiring power supplies, and in some cases making a custom PCB to power things up.

      What I am getting at is there are hardware geeks on both sides of the fence. I have done plenty of PC mods too, and I have Mac OS, Windows, and Linux machines in my house. I just prefer to use Macs for my day to day use because I have the fewest issues with them. I think it has to do more with the personality of the person, more than what hardware he tweaks. Much like with cars, a guy who tunes a Mustang is not much different than a guy who tunes a Camaro.
      • I agree with that.

        Let's face it, most of us here, reading and responding to these blogs, are
        enthusiasts and it's easy to start thinking that most computer users are
        pretty much like "us". But the truth is that most computer users have to call
        the help desk if they accidentally pull out the ethernet cord. Enthusiasts
        like us are a different breed, regardless of their platform of choice. I've
        never built a custom Mac like you have, but I started modding with my
        Kaypro II (my second computer) and there's not a stock box left in the

        One more point that I think is salient; in all the years I've been using
        computers, I never could get my wife interested in anything that had to do
        with the computer. Doing anything but the most basic things in Windows
        just frustrated her. But within a month of getting my first Mac, it's now a
        routine part of her day. To be honest, I'm pretty sure she just thinks this is
        some new version of Windows that's easier to use.
  • More knowledge is better

    I think one of the big complaints that many users, particularly Harry Bardal, have with a lot of the information presented in the tech press--it's all of one flavor. Most articles compare slightly different computers that run the same software. If you're offered a choice in OS, it's usually Win2000 vs. XP vs. Vista. By broadening your horizons, you can give your readers a better view of the available options. I hope after your Mac experiment ends, you'll consider a similar Linux experiment.
    tic swayback
    • The implication that Windows users haven't ....

      .... tried Linux, particularly the ones represented here, is probably a false one. This is less true of the Mac due to the high cost of entry. The whole idea that people use Windows because they don't know the alternatives may be true of the general populace but not the professionals here. The implication is you must not have tried it or you wouldn't be using Windows. Nothing could be further from the truth.
      • No implication intended!

        I'm sorry if you had a defensive reaction to my post, it was not my intention whatsoever to comment on the knowledge base of the readers of ZDNet in any way. I'm sure many, if not most here have wide areas of knowledge and like to consider multiple alternatives. No implication intended.

        And that's why it's better to have columnists that do the same. There are different things that different platforms do better than the others. By only covering one platform, it does a disservice to the readers. I don't know about you, but I want as much information as possible here, rather than strictly limiting it to what's popular.
        tic swayback
      • Partly

        While there is a 'Mac Tax' when you have to buy new software, the hardware is not much different if you compare it to good quality PC stuff. Yes you can custom build a machine for less, but this is not something the average user does. The average person goes and buys an HP or Dell (or other brand). Apple notebooks are well priced in comparison (which I think is why Apple is selling so many right now). The desktops do cost a bit more, the Mini could stand to be a little cheaper, but the iMac is not badly priced. The MacPro is quite a bit cheaper than a similarly equipped Dell, but it is not a machine for the average user.
      • The List

        Let's run down the list shall we? Bear in mind that I'm paraphrasing and any of
        these contributors are welcome to call me on my interpretation of their
        viewpoints. David Berlind say that he would use OSX in a second if it was available
        on hardware that accommodated his RSI. Mary Jo Foley has claimed that OSX is
        "frustrating" and too hard to use. I suggested she review technology rather than
        her own muscle memory, she suggested that someone else is better suited. Ed
        Bott is apparently prepared to review OSX and update his familiarity, but not
        prepared to pay for it. Or, as Adrian has done, ask for a loaner. Finally Adrian
        seems to have been genuinely unfamiliar with the now 6 year old OSX. His
        preparedness to look into OSX, comes as more interest is generated around the
        platform, and suggestions roll in, that he gives it a shot. To his credit, he's doing
        it, and talking about it.

        To my mind, this sampling of tech professionals, tells me that there may very well
        be a large pool of Windows users, who are not in fact using the correct criteria for
        choice. At the very least, it brings up a lot of pointed questions. These are people
        who spend a good portion of the day behind a computer screen. OSX is a refined
        and mature platform, that returns stability, security, and ease of use. It allows the
        use of all major OS's (concurrently). if it's outside of consideration because of
        having a nominally higher price tag, or because of unfamiliarity, I don't find this
        point of view rational or acceptable. Neither should you.
        Harry Bardal
        • My comment was not meant to imply an "Apple Tax".

          What I meant to say is a PC user can sample Linux without buying new hardware. They cannot do the same with OSX. Since Apple locks the OS to the hardware you cannot casually sample OSX. You must commit to the purchase in order to try it. Try it before you buy it is not possible. This is a significant barrier to switching to this platform. Apple limits the number of people who might switch by their own system lock-in.
          • Try an Apple Store...

            You can spend all day at an Apple store if you want to check a new MacBook out. They're pretty good about staying out of your way or answering any question you may have. Granted that you have to buy it if you want to take it with you, but you had to buy (or build) a PC before you could use Windows or Linux. That's just kinda the way the world works. And in all fairness, you can load OSX on multiple Mac's w/o the s/w licensing issue associated with Microsoft.

            Choose your platform and have fun.
          • This is a great idea for our next family vacation!

            We'll travel the 6 to 8 hours to the nearest Apple store, stay over night, spend the next few days in the Apple store, maybe sneak out for a bit of sightseeing. Sounds like a kids dream come true! ;)
            Fact of the matter is the Mac is not very accessible for a test run. And even if it were, you can't find the nuances of a system in part of a day. <br>
            Luckily my Uncle lives nearby and has OS X. I personally find Windows more rewarding on many fronts. Especially that of programming real world applications that I can then use or market to the larger populace.
          • Ahh ok

            I see what you mean. Yeah you can try it out in a Mac Store, but that does not really give you the chance to use it in day to day life for a few days.
          • Not a totally fair comparison

            You can sample Linux on your Windows PC because most Linux distros are
            free. But if you had purchased a Linux computer, you would have to buy
            Windows before you could sample it. I understand that's not the same as
            having to buy new hardware, and I agree that's a limitation for OSX. But we all
            know that Apple tried it the other way and ran into a lot of the same
            incompatibility issues that affect PC's today.
          • Why do Mac zealots lie?

            [i]But if you had purchased a Linux computer, you would have to buy Windows before you could sample it.[/i]

            Seriously, if you had any good arguments that weren't lies, shouldn't you use them? When you start off with a lie, we are all left to wonder why you can't come up with any truthful arguments.

            [url=] [/url]

            [i]"Why does this system come without an operating system?"

            "There are several popular operating systems in use these days - Windows, Linux and even the famed "Lindows (Linspire)." We want to allow our customers options to configure it as they wish. The price of a Windows license on any system adds nearly $100 to the cost of the system. Without it, you save nearly $100 on the system! This supports our ongoing efforts to bring you the lowest prices everyday.[/i]

            Can I install OSX on any of these machines? No. Do I need to pay for OSX when I buy a Mac? Yes. Sorry, but your argument that you need to buy an OS when you buy the machine [b]only[/b] applies when that machine is a Mac. You should learn more about non Mac PCs before you start telling us how the system works.