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Switcher Hangout The place for switchers to discuss their new machines, and how to work with OS X. General support can be had here for newbie stuff, like "How do I restart my new iMac?" :)

Potential Newcomer looking for advice


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silverwolf761

 
Member Since: Mar 14, 2010
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Hey all.

I'm going to be in the market for a new laptop this summer/fall primarily for school use, and the Macbook Pro is looking like the forerunner so far. Since this will (most likely) be my first mac, I want to take as many steps to ensure I'm not getting caught up in any hype, and therefore will limit any potential buyer's remorse (different strokes for different folks, and so forth).

-If there is anyone reading this that uses their Macbook Pro at University, how well does it hold up, and could they recommend any bags/protectors to keep it in good shape?

-Would my 80GB iPod classic (Windows version) work on a mac? (not a deal breaker by any means if not as I will still have my windows-based desktop)

-Whether iWork or Office would be better for word processing and mild slideshow creation (with university-level school work in mind). I've seen conflicting reports on which is better, but the general consensus is that Office for Mac is abysmally slow

-anything else you all think I should be aware of being a first-timer?

If I do take the plunge (and it's looking like I will, at least for now), hopefully my Mac and PC will coexist without any unnecessary shenanigans

Thanks guys.

EDIT: Oh, and one more question. I had heard that OSX comes with a bunch of (good) software bundled, but I see they are offering others when I go to the Apple Online store. I had thought (most likely incorrectly) that some version of Final Cut was included, but that doesn't look to be the case. Anyone willing to give a current, quick rundown of included software? (no need to mention things like calculators, browsers, and things like that. Just the "major" stuff)

EDIT2: And another question that kind of ties in with my question about the iPod above. When you see hardware that says "for Mac", is there any fundamental difference besides included drivers and/or software? For example, my Canon Digital SLR should work fine on a Mac, right? Same with printers?
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chas_m

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by silverwolf761 View Post
-If there is anyone reading this that uses their Macbook Pro at University, how well does it hold up, and could they recommend any bags/protectors to keep it in good shape?
I recommend at least a neoprene sleeve to keep it in. I personally have oily fingertips so I have a silicone keyboard cover on mine as well, but that doesn't apply to everyone.

Quote:
Would my 80GB iPod classic (Windows version) work on a mac? (not a deal breaker by any means if not as I will still have my windows-based desktop)
It would need to be reformatted (and thus erased) to work on the Mac.

Quote:
Whether iWork or Office would be better for word processing and mild slideshow creation (with university-level school work in mind). I've seen conflicting reports on which is better, but the general consensus is that Office for Mac is abysmally slow
You'll want to check with your instructors about this, but on the specific subject of Keynote vs. Powerpoint, there's no contest: Keynote blows PP out of the water.

I tend to use Pages much more as a "desktop publishing tool" rather than "just a word processor," so naturally I like it quite a bit better than Word's half-hearted attempts to be both. Apple knows from desktop publishing, having dominated the field for more than 30 years now.

As a word processor, Pages is a less-powerful version of Word, but wholly compatible so this is actually a PLUS in my eyes rather than a minus. Having said that, if you're doing complex footnoting and your teachers are expecting stock-standard complex Word documents, you may be better off with Word for Mac.

As for Numbers, well its not Excel. This is both a plus AND a minus.

Quote:
anything else you all think I should be aware of being a first-timer?
Yes.

1. There are no viruses on the Mac. None. Nada. Zip. You don't need an anti-virus -- or even a soft firewall! Believe it!

2. PC users tend (IME) to "overthink" the Mac. That's exactly the opposite approach you should take. It's really VERY intuitive, you just have to "let go" of the idea that it HAS to be complex.

3. Unlike in Windows, clicking the "close" button does NOT (generally) quit the application. Command-Q does. Even though today's computers have plenty of RAM, try to get in the habit of actually quitting programs you're not using. It's perfectly fine to have Mail on while you surf and listen to iTunes, but its bad to leave bunches of programs open doing nothing. Takes up RAM that could be speeding up whatever you ARE doing.

4. Also unlike Windows, there is **no** "Maximize" function. This is something Windows switchers seem to have a hard time with -- they seem to want every window to COMPLETELY take over the screen. This befuddles us.

The "size" button on a Mac window resizes the window to the "right" size for the data it contains, not "maxes it out." It takes some getting used to, but ultimately its a better idea.

5. Flash kinda sucks on the Mac. This is Adobe's fault, not Apple's, but there it is. I recommend using a Flash "filter" like ClickToFlash both to avoid obnoxious ads, and to speed up web browsing. You can always (as the name implies) click (or whitelist whole sites) when Flash is actually needed. You'll be surprised how rarely that is.

Quote:
EDIT: Oh, and one more question. I had heard that OSX comes with a bunch of (good) software bundled, but I see they are offering others when I go to the Apple Online store. I had thought (most likely incorrectly) that some version of Final Cut was included, but that doesn't look to be the case. Anyone willing to give a current, quick rundown of included software? (no need to mention things like calculators, browsers, and things like that. Just the "major" stuff)
Too much to list, but the MAJOR highlights are:
*Safari (an excellent, standards-compliant browser)
*Mail (a very good database-driven mail client)
*the "iLife" suite, consisting of iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD, Garageband and iWeb
*iChat, a pretty awesome video/audio and text chat client -- mainly works with AIM and has limited functionality with some others, but is not compatible with Yahoo and MSN (thank god). There's a free program called Adium if you want to text chat with every network on the planet, but I prefer audio/video chatting, so I use iChat for mostly "Mac people" and Skype (free) for "PC people." Seems to work really well.
*Address Book. Deceptively powerful and ubiquitous throughout the system. Be sure to put in your family and friends on this, or import them from VCARD format from your PC. You'll be glad you did.
*iTunes. Spend time with this program immediately, as most other Mac programs are based on its UI paradigm. Plus its completely awesome.

Quote:
EDIT2: And another question that kind of ties in with my question about the iPod above. When you see hardware that says "for Mac", is there any fundamental difference besides included drivers and/or software? For example, my Canon Digital SLR should work fine on a Mac, right? Same with printers?
Correct.
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DarkestRitual

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by silverwolf761 View Post
Hey all.

I'm going to be in the market for a new laptop this summer/fall primarily for school use, and the Macbook Pro is looking like the forerunner so far. Since this will (most likely) be my first mac, I want to take as many steps to ensure I'm not getting caught up in any hype, and therefore will limit any potential buyer's remorse (different strokes for different folks, and so forth).
Howdy. My name's Jason. MacHead for life (since the late 80s/early 90s). I'm glad to help you out.

Quote:
-If there is anyone reading this that uses their Macbook Pro at University, how well does it hold up, and could they recommend any bags/protectors to keep it in good shape?
I'll do you one better. I use my 13 inch aluminum MacBook (it's a 13 inch pro with different ports) everywhere, including band practice. She has taken many drum stick pieces to the back of the screen. The aluminum holds up well. I do not protect it at all beyond my Brenthaven Sling I backpack (they make different sizes for each macbook). The backpack is great if you don't need to carry a ton of other stuff with you, like books. So probably not for university if you don't have digital textbooks.


Quote:
-Would my 80GB iPod classic (Windows version) work on a mac? (not a deal breaker by any means if not as I will still have my windows-based desktop)
It will require reformatting, but I would format it for OS X instead of windows, because your desktop will be getting a lot less use once you start using OS X.

Quote:
-Whether iWork or Office would be better for word processing and mild slideshow creation (with university-level school work in mind). I've seen conflicting reports on which is better, but the general consensus is that Office for Mac is abysmally slow
I got through College with NeoOffice and OpenOffice. (Same program, different ports). Saves to office formats, and is free.

Quote:
-anything else you all think I should be aware of being a first-timer?
Be prepared to question why you didn't do this sooner.

Quote:
EDIT: Oh, and one more question. I had heard that OSX comes with a bunch of (good) software bundled, but I see they are offering others when I go to the Apple Online store. I had thought (most likely incorrectly) that some version of Final Cut was included, but that doesn't look to be the case. Anyone willing to give a current, quick rundown of included software? (no need to mention things like calculators, browsers, and things like that. Just the "major" stuff)
iLife - iCal (calendar), Mail, GarageBand (excellent), iMovie, iDVD, iWeb (a pretty crippled blogging tool geared for use with mobile me, but i don't subscribe to mobile me), iChat (I'd replace with adium for most general use, but if you use video chat, ichat is nice)

Mail is the best native mail app out there, too.

Quote:
EDIT2: And another question that kind of ties in with my question about the iPod above. When you see hardware that says "for Mac", is there any fundamental difference besides included drivers and/or software? For example, my Canon Digital SLR should work fine on a Mac, right? Same with printers?
Yea, that'll work fine. When it says "for Mac" it's usually a hard drive of some sort that they format to Mac OS journaled or FAT32 instead of the Windows only NTFS. Other times, it's marketing. But yea, only need to really be careful with storage devices that may need reformatting (but that's easy enough to reformat on your own using Disk Utility... done it countless times).

Hope that helps.
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iZach

 
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Well Chas and Darkest summed it up pretty well, but I'll just add a few more things...

iLife Apple - iLife - Do more with photos, movies, and music on a Mac. comes with your mac as well.

As for your SLR, you can just take the memory card out and put it in the slot on a MBP. I do this all the time with my SLR and 21.5" iMac and it's very handy! No cables to deal with!

I would also recommend using the "help" feature in applications. I found that I wouldn't use them on windows because they weren't really help at all, but most of the apps on a Mac have very intuitive and understandable instructions. (especially iWork)

How do you like them Apples?
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Mr. Drums

 
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My iPod was WIndows formatted and ran rine on my Mac - I think it only needs to be reformatted if moving from Mac to Windows.

Look, it is just a computer, so get what you want and will be happy with. All these questions and "research" and "almost ready but not quite sure" seem silly to me. If you like it, buy it and don't look back, and if not, get something else. The iWork suite works just fine for word processing, presentations, etc. I also run Office for Mac and it works fine as well. They both work equally fast, both have frozen up on occasion, just like any other program.

The Mac works fine for school work, and so does any other laptop. Just get what you like! There's my $20 worth of advice! : )
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Nethfel

 
Member Since: Feb 25, 2009
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EDIT: looks like I need to increase my typing speed - when I started typing there were 0 replies ROFL!

Greetings and welcome! I know I can't answer all of your questions, but maybe I can get you started

Quote:
Originally Posted by silverwolf761 View Post
-If there is anyone reading this that uses their Macbook Pro at University, how well does it hold up, and could they recommend any bags/protectors to keep it in good shape?
This one I know I can't answer - although I work at a school, I'm not a student in school, and I know during the time in college it is possible to be pretty rough on ones stuff.

Quote:
Originally Posted by silverwolf761 View Post
-Would my 80GB iPod classic (Windows version) work on a mac? (not a deal breaker by any means if not as I will still have my windows-based desktop)
There is no reason why it wouldn't - only thing I could think of was the problem with iTunes 9 in general that some people had syncing click-wheel ipods like the classic - I don't know if this has been fixed by the current version (9.0.3). You will want to get your music off incase you don't have it copied. Then you'll just set it up to be synced with the iTunes on your Mac. Just transfer your music/playlists/etc. from your PC to the Mac (if you don't have too much music, it's easy to use the backup and restore function within iTunes. I used only 4 dvds to backup my music at the time I switched (although now it'd take a few more ) )

Quote:
Originally Posted by silverwolf761 View Post
-Whether iWork or Office would be better for word processing and mild slideshow creation (with university-level school work in mind). I've seen conflicting reports on which is better, but the general consensus is that Office for Mac is abysmally slow
I'd say get what you feel comfortable with. iWork apps will export to Microsoft apps (ie: powerpoint, word, excel) so if you have to turn a file in to a teacher you can without a problem. The only issue that could arise is if for some reason you needed Publisher or Access (although you can get around the Access issue if you install OpenOffice or NeoOffice for access specific work)

Quote:
Originally Posted by silverwolf761 View Post
-anything else you all think I should be aware of being a first-timer?
Big thing is to just play - enjoy the system. Know that things are different on the Mac world - accept that and learn what they are - people who have the most trouble switching are those that try to compare every feature in Windows to OSX, and try to make OSX work/look like Windows. People are so used to programs being maximized (full size of the screen) that it's a shock to many to come to using the OSX environment where windows are the size they need to be rather then taking the entire screen. Also, you'll want to probably get an external hard drive so you can backup your machine - the Time Machine app that is part of OSX makes this a braindead operation, and makes it about as easy as possible to get back to where you were if you have a hard drive failure.

Quote:
Originally Posted by silverwolf761 View Post
If I do take the plunge (and it's looking like I will, at least for now), hopefully my Mac and PC will coexist without any unnecessary shenanigans
Shouldn't be a problem I use a Mac at work and maintain ~200 Windows systems and 4 linux systems with it. Now if you network the two some people have some trouble with the Mac seeing the PC or vice-versa, but if you need to map a share, you can usually still do it via IP if you can't find the computer in the shared section.


Quote:
EDIT: Oh, and one more question. I had heard that OSX comes with a bunch of (good) software bundled, but I see they are offering others when I go to the Apple Online store. I had thought (most likely incorrectly) that some version of Final Cut was included, but that doesn't look to be the case. Anyone willing to give a current, quick rundown of included software? (no need to mention things like calculators, browsers, and things like that. Just the "major" stuff)
It comes with a lot of Unix software (OSX has a modified BSD unix base), other than that - you get all your standard stuff like you mentioned (browser, email, calendar, address book, RTF text editor, iChat, built in spell checker, etc.) and Macs also include iLife - which includes iPhoto (photo management and touchup/printing/etc), iWeb (web design software), iMovie (video editing software), iDVD (dvd authoring software).

Unless I'm missing a portion of iLife, that should be about it for extra software. There is a lot of wonderful freeware available for the Mac tho - and a lot of Unix apps are also available for the Mac via MacPorts and it's easy to use front end Porticus.

Quote:
Originally Posted by silverwolf761 View Post
EDIT2: And another question that kind of ties in with my question about the iPod above. When you see hardware that says "for Mac", is there any fundamental difference besides included drivers and/or software? For example, my Canon Digital SLR should work fine on a Mac, right? Same with printers?
It should. Mac comes with a TON of drivers. If it doesn't have one, it tries to find it on the net; if it can't then you'll need a disc from the manufacturer. One of the happiest days I had when I first brought my Mac Laptop to work (which I have sold since work gave me an iMac to use there, and I don't travel enough to justify keeping the laptop) and hooked it into the network and searched for printers, it found the various network printers and installed the ones I asked it to without needing additional discs. Honestly, for some stuff (like HP printers) I probably wouldn't use HPs discs and just use the drivers within OSX since HP tends to include a ton of bloatware on their install discs.

In terms of the camera, if it doesn't recognize it (since really, all you'd hook it up for would be to transfer photos unless you're using computer control) you can just take the memory card out (and if it's not and SD card), get a cheap multi card USB reader and just transfer the photos via the reader.

I'm not going to say every piece of hardware will work - but in terms of your common stuff, you shouldn't have a real problem.

My Macs: 2012 Non-Retina 15" MBP; Mac mini G4, 1.25 GHz, 512m ram (server); Late 2011 11" MBA, 1.8GHz i7, 4Gig Ram, 256Gig SSD, HD3000; Powerbook 12" G4 1.33GHz running Debian as a server; Apple TV (1080p version)
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toMACsh

 
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Go for it! You'll get excellent help here, as you can see.
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silverwolf761

 
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Thanks a lot for the replies guys. Every little bit helps.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Drums View Post
Look, it is just a computer, so get what you want and will be happy with. All these questions and "research" and "almost ready but not quite sure" seem silly to me. If you like it, buy it and don't look back, and if not, get something else.
Hehe, fair enough. I agree 100% that it is "just a computer", but it's also an investment. An investment I have to be sure will suit my needs for as long as possible.

Believe me, my moderate trepidation isn't from some supposed allegiance to windows, it's just that... actually, most of the reasons I had are pretty minor now that I think about it. So it's pretty much a non-issue.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nethfel View Post
Honestly, for some stuff (like HP printers) I probably wouldn't use HPs discs and just use the drivers within OSX since HP tends to include a ton of bloatware on their install discs.
That's an understatement if I ever saw one. I'm almost certain that I will never own another HP desktop/laptop ever again for that reason, and a couple others.
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silverwolf761

 
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Another question: Is it worth it to get the antiglare display? I know it'll ultimately come down to personal preference, but I've heard that the standard display is almost obnoxiously reflective. Anyone have any experience with this?
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DarkestRitual

 
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<3 my glossy display. Even when it's bright outside.
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Hi.

I am in the Military and also pursuing my degrees in Computer Science and Physics. I use the new Macbook and it goes everywhere with me. I use my Mac perhaps 8 hrs per day. it works perfect and never crashes or hangs or gets any infections.

I do lots of programming and have found the transition to programming on a Mac to be so much easier and nicer then being on a PC. I do not use MS Office as I the free Openoffice.org and it is great. It even saves into MS .doc format.

I find my Mac to be so reliable and just love using it. If you really really need to use windows, You can install via bootcamp. Which is a great option to have.

The only thing Microsoft could make that would not suck, would be a vacum.

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