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Sitgestraveller 07-01-2011 03:42 PM

About to start the adventure
 
Hi everyone. :)

I am NOT currently a Mac user. I've only ever known PCs and windows. I have 1 XP machine and 1 Ubuntu machine that share a network connected to broadband.

I love games and but also am very familiar with Microsoft Office and have invested an awful amount of time in developing the database Microsoft Access to deal with my information management requirements. I really can't contemplate reproducing the functionality in a brand new datbase such as FileMaker Pro (not to mention the expense of buying the software in the first place).

So my love of video games (Half Life 2 is amazing!:)) and need to keep Access have caused me to hang on to PCs for much longer than I would otherwise have done.

The situation with the advent of Intel Macs has made me make a stupendous decison. I will make a leap of faith and buy an iMac. I am targeting the 27" i7 model with 8GB RAM.

The thought of being able to use bootcamp was the initial enticer but the more I think about it, the more I want to keep my Mac 'virginal' and free of Windows.

However, with that wish comes challenges.

I need to see how I can retain the ability to run the games I want and keep using Access but without going near Windows.

And so, if I may, I would like to ask a series of questions to you wise and learned Mac gurus. Many many thanks in anticipation.

Questions:

1. Are there any dire warnings that I should heed when moving over to a Mac?

2. I have two external 2TB drives that NTFS formatted and are full of pictures (jpg) files, music files (mp3) and DVD image files (ISO and NRG). Will the iMac run/mount these files with the built in Mac software?

3. I read that whilst I can read my 2TB drives, I can't write to them unless they are slaved off the back of a Windows PC and I write to them via the PC machine from the iMac. What suggestions are there for dealing with this as I think it's a clumsy solution. I hear that you can buy 3rd. party software to allow the iMac to write to the NTFS drives (e.g. Paragon). Any elegant solutions that anyone can think of or do I need to copy the whole lot (2tb!) to the Mac and then reformat the external drive and copy it all back again?

4. As I said, I don't want to go near Windows and I hear that Crossover for Mac (from Codeweavers) is a way forward. Has anyone got experience of this for the use of applications (Access 2000) and Gaming? I'm hoping that whilst their may be a built in 'hit' on performance for gaming using Crossover that the hardware on the latest iMacs is so powerful, it will make up for it?

5. I'm a fairly keen picture taker and currently use Picasa for managing my photos. I think I would like to give iPhoto a go as it ties in with all the other Mac software but I've heard that it's not as good as Picasa and that the photos in iPhoto are mashed into 1 physical file so if that get's corrupted, yur whole photo collection is stuff. Is this true or are the pictures separate but so buried in a complex folder structure of iPhotos's making that it appears to be a 'black box'. Can Picasa work side by side with iPhoto so I can make the most of the best features of each or will there be a need to duplicate all the pictures as each application has a different way of handling the files?

6. My current mail is Gmail from Google. I love it because it doesn't clog up my own resources. I understand that iMail can work with Gmail but I suspect it would pull everything down onto the local drive thus eventually taking up loads of space. Can it be configured to simply provide a 'window' onto the Gmail inbox and yet be able to use the iMail functionality (e.g. Stationary facility).

7. I make DVDs of all my holiday footage that I take. I currently use a mini DV camcorder and once I've edited it, I burn it to an ISO image on the hard drive. Will iDVD allow me to do this rather than burn it directly to a physical DVD?

Phew- I think that's it for now.

If anyone can give me their thoughts on any of this, I would be most grateful.

Thanks very very much.

chas_m 07-02-2011 12:48 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Sitgestraveller (Post 1260439)
Hi everyone. :)

Hi and welcome. Before we get into this, I just want to compliment you on a brilliant post that is clearly thought-out, easy to read, and to the point. Bless you.

Quote:

The thought of being able to use bootcamp was the initial enticer but the more I think about it, the more I want to keep my Mac 'virginal' and free of Windows.
I approve of this, but unfortunately your conditions make that impractical.

Quote:

I need to see how I can retain the ability to run the games I want and keep using Access but without going near Windows.
While most of the really popular PC games make their way over to the Mac sooner or later (and I mean that literally -- some are released on the same day, others two years later), not all of them do. While CrossOver Games and Steam can help with some of this, if you're really into a lot of the latest stuff and don't want to wait, I think a Bootcamp-enabled Win partition is the way to go.

Quote:

1. Are there any dire warnings that I should heed when moving over to a Mac?
My only "dire" warning is that you should read my essay (link at the bottom of this post). :)

Quote:

2. I have two external 2TB drives that NTFS formatted and are full of pictures (jpg) files, music files (mp3) and DVD image files (ISO and NRG). Will the iMac run/mount these files with the built in Mac software?
Quote:

I hear that you can buy 3rd. party software to allow the iMac to write to the NTFS drives (e.g. Paragon). Any elegant solutions that anyone can think of or do I need to copy the whole lot (2tb!) to the Mac and then reformat the external drive and copy it all back again?
The elegant solution is to buy the software that enables the NTFS write support -- someone here will chime in if there's a better option than Paragon, but as I recall all of the NTFS solutions are pretty cheap. The free solution is the one you mention. :)


Quote:

As I said, I don't want to go near Windows and I hear that Crossover for Mac (from Codeweavers) is a way forward. Has anyone got experience of this for the use of applications (Access 2000) and Gaming?
I've had some luck with it running basic Windows programs as experiments, but no luck running anything major. They sell and support CrossOver Games as well as "regular" edition. Codeweavers' own site lists MS Access 2000 as having "Bronze" support, meaning (in their own words) it will install and run, but there are enough bugs that they warn customers to use the program with caution (save often, in other words).

Given your two specific needs, I have to recommend that you give up on the idea of keeping the machine all-Mac. You'll have a much easier experience setting up a separate Windows partition using Boot Camp and just booting into Windows when you need it.

Quote:

5. I'm a fairly keen picture taker and currently use Picasa for managing my photos. I think I would like to give iPhoto a go as it ties in with all the other Mac software but I've heard that it's not as good as Picasa and that the photos in iPhoto are mashed into 1 physical file so if that get's corrupted, yur whole photo collection is stuff.
You've heard incorrectly. iPhoto automatically (unless you opt to turn this off) stores your photos in a single PACKAGE, but that's not the same as a single file (more like a folder, just one that isn't immediately accessible). I find iPhoto to be FAR superior to Picasa, but you can judge it for yourself and always use Picasa on the Mac if you decide you prefer it.

Quote:

Is this true or are the pictures separate but so buried in a complex folder structure of iPhotos's making that it appears to be a 'black box'.
I'm not sure what that means, but iPhoto DOES protect the originals from being tampered with by obscuring their location. This is to protect people from themselves and their own tendency to want to do the file-level managing themselves, which I always have to point out is what a computer should be doing. How iPhoto stores or manages the files should properly be of ZERO interest to the user as long as the program presents them in the manner desired, which it does, and as long as the program makes it easy to transfer copies of desired photos to other programs (like email), which it does. But iPhoto RELIES on its database to do its management, and if the user mucks around in the database, the database gets corrupted in the same way that examining and moving around/deleting some of the contents of a PST Outlook file may render your email unreadable. So don't do that, instead work from inside iPhoto itself to do what you want to do and everything will be fine (or alternatively simply turn off the default "let iPhoto manage stuff" preference).

Quote:

Can Picasa work side by side with iPhoto so I can make the most of the best features of each or will there be a need to duplicate all the pictures as each application has a different way of handling the files?
Due to the duplication and potential confusion factor I can't recommend running both simultaneously except as tests to see which one you prefer using a limited and "expendable" set of photos.

Quote:

6. My current mail is Gmail from Google. I love it because it doesn't clog up my own resources. I understand that iMail can work with Gmail but I suspect it would pull everything down onto the local drive thus eventually taking up loads of space. Can it be configured to simply provide a 'window' onto the Gmail inbox and yet be able to use the iMail functionality (e.g. Stationary facility).
Not to be picky, but there's no such program as iMail. It's just called Mail.

Anyway, the answer to your question is no. But email doesn't really take up significant space, so it's really kind of a non-issue unless you're emailing yourself movies or something. I could easily put every email I've gotten or sent (WITH attachments) in the last five years on a double-sided DVD-R, and I get a LOT of email (actually I just verified this -- 7.5GB over five years).

Quote:

7. I make DVDs of all my holiday footage that I take. I currently use a mini DV camcorder and once I've edited it, I burn it to an ISO image on the hard drive. Will iDVD allow me to do this rather than burn it directly to a physical DVD?
Yes.

Sitgestraveller 07-02-2011 02:51 PM

Thanks!
 
Hi Chas_M,

Many thanks for your wise words. I shall ponder....

One final question if I may:

Do you think AppleCare is worth buying? I'm a bit skeptical and can't help feel that (like other insurance type policies) it's a bit of an unneeded expense. I should be covered by the first year warranty anyway and usually the premiums for such extended warranties would pay for any unlikely repair after a year anyway.

What do you think?

Many thanks....

chscag 07-02-2011 03:03 PM

I always remember the amusing answer to the question about buying life insurance.... "Why should I buy life insurance, I've never died."

A forum search regarding Apple Care will yield some very interesting answers. The bottom line is it's up to you. Apple products are the very best and tend to hold up well but like anything else they do occasionally break.

Search the forums first and then decide.

Sitgestraveller 07-02-2011 03:13 PM

AppleCare
 
Hi Chscag,

Yes- point taken but I suppose it's a judgement call (risk?) on when/if you'll need it and whether it's better to save the premium for such an occasion.

Lifeisabeach 07-02-2011 05:20 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Sitgestraveller (Post 1260779)
Hi Chscag,

Yes- point taken but I suppose it's a judgement call (risk?) on when/if you'll need it and whether it's better to save the premium for such an occasion.

I don't normally buy warranties myself because, well let's face it… they make a LOT of money off them. That said… I'm actually contemplating getting one for my iMac because the cost of repairs is utterly insane. The motherboard alone would run around a full grand. That's just sick.

Sitgestraveller 07-02-2011 05:33 PM

AppleCare
 
Thanks lifeisabeach,

I must admit- that's the only thing that worries me. The iMac is so proprietary and un-user maintainable that it might make sense to get the Applecare....

I certainly have never bought such warranties for PCs as I'm happy as a lamb messing inside my PC box...! :-)

Gold68 07-02-2011 09:54 PM

WOW!....this was truly a informative post! :)

Mini_mi 07-02-2011 10:52 PM

One approach that I follow, wait until your near the 1 year mark then purchase the coverage. It starts from the day you purchase the coverage not the date of computer purchase.

chscag 07-03-2011 12:34 AM

Actually, if you're going to buy Apple Care, it should be purchased after your 90 days of free telephone support is over. Although the machine is warranted for parts and labor, you do not get free telephone support after 90 days. If you buy Apple Care, you get free telephone support for a full three years in addition to a warranty for parts and labor.

Sitgestraveller 07-03-2011 04:07 AM

AppleCare
 
Aha...interesting thought. Thanks guys.

I thought you had to buy Applecare on the day you buy your new mac...

dmccloud 07-03-2011 01:50 PM

You can buy AppleCare anytime before your one year manufacturer warranty for parts/labor expires.

Sitgestraveller 07-03-2011 02:22 PM

Applecare
 
Great- thanks dmccloud.

Demapples 07-05-2011 06:26 AM

AppleCare for switchers: worth it. I have 25 years of DOS/Windows experience, but I've run into some sticky problems even with basic use, needed to make a few calls to Apple tech support for my new Apple gear, and don't regret it. Like when iPhoto refused to open -- would have never fixed that one myself. $75 for every new Apple toy is a bit much however, especially since some of the questions were about integrating two or more devices. The AppleTV was completely trouble free. Most of my few calls were about the iMac, and the iPad was second.

Sitgestraveller 07-05-2011 07:16 AM

Applecare
 
Thanks Demapples. Seems like it's down to personal experience and need for the service.....


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