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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?" :)

imac and os x review from a switcher


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crispy

 
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Member Since: Jul 14, 2007
Location: Japan
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For those of you who are in the market for a new computer, and are wondering: should I end my marriage to Microsoft and go get me a Mac? I have a review here and what I hope will be a few insights.

Let me start by saying that I am not new to computers. I got my first computer in about 1983. It was a Timex Sinclaire 1000: Check out the specs on THIS baby!

http://www.old-computers.com/museum/...asp?c=477&st=1

My second computer was an Atari 600/800 xl

http://www.old-computers.com/museum/....asp?st=1&c=27

So, needless to say, I've been around awhile. I've been a dedicated Microsoft user for more than 20 years, since BEFORE windows, back in the good old days of the 'c' prompt.

Finally this year, after years of defending Microsoft, making excuses for Microsoft, buying practically everything Microsoft was selling: I had had enough. I kicked the bum out ... and got me a mac.

It's a beauty. 24" imac? Goodness, this screen is big. Makes me wish the cursor were a little bigger so it wouldn't take so long to get across the screen.

First impression: That's it? I turned on the computer, typed in a few details, and POW, HAL was ready for his first lesson! This thing connected itself to the internet. I don't know how. I didn't do anything but plug it in! Somehow, it just worked. I went back to the manual, I searched online. I was sure I was missing something, that I wasn't doing something right. With WinXP, I had to use an internet connection wizard. Where was the internet connection wizard on a mac? Then I finally got it: Mac doesn't need it, 'cause Mac does it for you.

The beautiful thing about this operating system is that you don't have to think about it. It regularly does in one step what generally takes three to five steps in XP.

I live in Japan. Windows was great because even though my computer was in Japanese (and I came here completely unable to read Kanji), I could still use a PC because everything is in basically the same place.

Mac is great because I don't need to guess what the menu says, and I don't need a special (professional) version of the operating system, or to download MUI GUI packs, or follow arcane rules. I just go to preferences and change the language.

Everything I love about this mac is that the whole OS is designed that way: it is very user friendly, it is very efficient, it is very easy. I hardly even notice how easy it is ... until I get to work and try to do the same stuff on my windows PC at work.

Mac isn't for everybody. I'm not going to bash windows completely. Our relationship has come to an end, but HEY, maybe windows works for some people.

Let me tell you what's been difficult about the mac: it has an OS, and that's about it. There isn't a lot of software on it, and some really basic stuff is trialware. There are no clipart libraries. No texture libraries. My mac is like a green field, and after coming from a PC that was loaded with software, I've gone through some major software withdrawal. It's made worse by the fact that my town only has one store that actually sells Macs and two stores that sell software for Macs, and neither store has a very big selection.

Luckily, if you look around, you can usually find some software that'll do what you want. My computer at work has all my work software. So I just needed a few things for home. Here are a few suggestions to make switching less painful.

Office: I tried iwork, and iwork is great ... but it's really more than I need. I don't do anything very graphics-intensive. I like the interface for Pages, and it's easy to use, but it's just not right for my needs. Also, although Pages will import and export to Word's DOC format, it doesn't handle the format very well. I had to do a lot of cleanup after import and export. Instead, I've started using Neooffice. Check it out.

http://www.neooffice.org/neojava/en/index.php

It's well-designed, and it does the job. I was worried because it says they still have a bug that prevents the suite from printing above 300dpi. However, I printed a few pictures using both Neooffice and Pages: I couldn't see any difference.

So, if you want a cool, easy to use program with lots of options and layouts for text and graphics: I recommend Pages. It's very reasonably priced. If, on the other hand, you're like me and your needs are few and simple: Neooffice.

Graphics: I've used dozens of graphics programs. I'm not a pro, but I've done computer graphics for more than 15 years. The BEST program I've ever used was Microsoft Photodraw. It was perfect for an amateur, and I could do lots of really cool stuff with a few clicks. STUPID Microsoft discontinued it. Nothing can replace it for me. I still have it at work. However, if you're an amateur, and you don't mind reading a few tutorials: Inkscape's not bad. It's free and it'll do some cool stuff. I'm also considering Pixen, but I'm not sure just yet. I'm still thinking.

http://www.inkscape.org/
http://opensword.org/Pixen/

The only thing holding me back on Pixen is that it doesn't seem to have text functions, and I sometimes like a little text in my graphics.

Browser: Safari's all right, but I prefer Firefox. Especially if you're coming to Mac from a PC, Firefox's GUI is comfortingly bloated. Safari's a little minimalist for my tastes.

FTP: Cyberduck. Cyberduck is a really cool, really easy FTP program. I know that there are other programs that are undoubtedly better (I've heard Fugu is good), but Cyberduck reminds me of a program I used in windows: FTP Commander. Let that be a lesson to you: withdrawal from Windows can be easier if you have a few programs that are familiar.

http://cyberduck.ch/

Games: I miss my games. I collected a LOT of cool windows games over the years, and there's a LOT of freeware on the net. However, I've found a few pretty cool games (free, naturally) to kill time with.

SNES9x. If you have any old SNES roms, or can find some: this is a GREAT time-killer, and a real blast-from-the-past.

http://www.snes9x.com/

Spatterlight. Wanna play some text adventure games? C'mon! Don't knock these! This is what we did before graphics (when we weren't playing PONG). Spatterlight will do what no Windows program will do: it will play virtually all text adventure games (so I'm told). That's pretty good engineering!

http://ccxvii.net/spatterlight/

Inform. Wanna MAKE some text adventure games? Try Inform. I haven't used it yet, but it looks promising.

http://www.inform-fiction.org/I7/Welcome.html

MyMahj. This is a nice Mahjong tile solitaire game. Not a lot of options, but HEY! It's free, right?

http://www.apple.com/downloads/macos...le/mymahj.html

Battle for Wesnoth. I'll admit, I've only done the tutorial on this strategy game, but it looks really cool, so I'll recommend it.

http://www.wesnoth.org/

Aleph One. This is a game engine for playing a game called Marathon. Marathon's a LOT like the original Doom, and there are some other Doomlike games you can play. I tried it. It's cheesy, but I have a feeling it'll be good for days when I want some mindless action.

http://source.bungie.org/get/

Lincity-NG. This is a simcity clone, and I've only played it a little, but again, it looks like it might be cool for rainy days, or when there's nothing else to do (except work).

http://lincity-ng.berlios.de/wiki/index.php/Main_Page

The best, I've saved for last:
GL-Tron. This is the lightcycle game from the movie Tron. It's simple, it's cheesy ... it's also really, really addictive. I love this game. Best 30 seconds of my day!

http://www.gltron.org/

So here's my advice: if you want to switch to Mac, be ready to go digging for programs and games, and be ready to do without some stuff you've gotten used to.

As I said, the 'switch' is not for everybody. However: Unless Microsoft really changes for the better and/or Mac really changes for the worse, I don't think I'll switch back. I think this divorce is final.

'Dark Puppy of the Apocalypse'
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stoldie

 
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Nice post, some good info there!
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Levi

 
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Good post. Have you seen www.freemacware.com ? There's a new program added every day, and there's 400+ divided into categories already on the site. The downloads section on Apple's website is also pretty good and includes shareware and commercial products. That should help you out on the software front.

As for your cursor; have you increased the tracking speed, or is it still on the default setting (I can't work with it on it's default setting)? System Preferences>Keyboard & Mouse.

Some other games you might want to check out:

Zuma
Bejeweled
iPoker
X-Moto
Solitaire XL

As for emulators, there's VisualBoyAdvance (Game Boy), StellaOSX (Atari 2600), SMS Plus (Master System/Game Gear), Nestopia (NES), and Genesis Plus (Genesis/Mega Drive) if you enjoy any of those systems too.
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novicew

 
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Interesting read. Quite amazing to how the processing power increased over the last 2 decades.

Quote:
Originally Posted by crispy View Post
It's a beauty. 24" imac? Goodness, this screen is big. Makes me wish the cursor were a little bigger so it wouldn't take so long to get across the screen.

Well you might have figured this out already, but in case you haven't, you can adjust the cursor scrolling speed in System Preferences > Keyboard & Mouse > Mouse Tab
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Ryvyan

 
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As a soon-to-be proud MacBook owner, thanks for all the links and tips you have provided in this post! I almost forgot about the Mahjong game you posted; my dad LOVES it but I have not gotten round to installing the game back on my current PC after the old one (with the game) crashed.

I'm very worried and have posted a post myself asking people about (among other things) Pages documents and converting them for PC users. I have not had a certain reply on NeoOffice last I saw the post, but I have read much about it and hope it would be good enough for my school and such.

Arigato gozaimasu!
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Red Snapper

 
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Cool review, thanks for those great links too!
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crispy

 
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Well, it's been three years since I traded my old PC for a Mac, and I ain't going back! In fact, tomorrow, my brand new Mac will be delivered. I'll take my old Mac to work and then that will be pretty much the end of Microsoft and Me. Funny what three years will do.

I'm going from ...
a 24" to a 27" monitor.
a core 2 duo to a quad core i7.
an NVIDIA GeForce 7300 GT to an ATI Radeon 5700.
1gb Ram to 8gb Ram.
250 gig HD to a 1TB HD.
128 mb of vram to 1gb of something or another.
I'll have a wireless mouse and a trackpad.

I've got iwork and final cut express as well.

Naturally, I could have gotten something better if I'd wanted it, but this will suit my needs for the next few years.

It's AMAZING how much has changed in 3 years.

You know what my favorite part of the Mac is? I like that thing where I press a mouse button and I can see all my windows in a glance and choose the one I want. Whenever I use my PC at work, I'm constantly missing it.

The magic mouse and trackpad are going to be fun, but I've been using a PC trackball with my Mac. It's got 5 buttons, and I really like it, and I'll miss it, but I'm really curious about the trackpad. It reminds me of a youtube video I saw about 10gui. So I think that's a good step.

YouTube - 10/GUI - 10 Finger Multitouch User Interface

For graphics, I use gimp. It's good for basic editing.

GIMP - The GNU Image Manipulation Program

For page layouts, I've been using Scribus, and Scibus is awesome.

scribus.net | Scribus Open Source Desktop Publishing

It takes a while to learn, but I love how it handles graphics ... but for a page layout program, it really sucks at TEXT! I can't understand that. I'd been using it because it's cross platform, and its suckiness at text is a large part of the reason I'm getting a second Mac. I'm going to redo all my work in Pages.

I love iWork now. Pages works with graphics and layout much better than Office, and ever since Word 2007, I've been mad at Microsoft for screwing up the menus so that I can't find anything anymore. Also, I LOVE keynote. Keynote totally rocks. I especially like how it can treat each letter as a separate item for animations. Adds an extra bit of ZOOM to my presentations and helps keep people awake.

As soon as Open Office came out with a completely Mac compatible version, I started using that to switch files back and forth, and Ill still keep open office as a backup, but I plan to go with Pages after this.

OpenOffice.org - The Free and Open Productivity Suite

For video editing, I've been using iMovie and iDVD. This has been a great combo for a long time, and this is another HUGE reason I needed a better mac. My current Mac can't really handle some of the video files I've been working with. However, I have been wanting to take video editing to the next level, so I'm going to try out Final Cut Express.

For audio editing, I've been using Audacity for awhile now.

Audacity: Free Audio Editor and Recorder

However, I feel that garageband will give me better audio. Audacity has a lot of effects and I'm only starting to use garageband so I'll have to see how it compares. Garageband certainly has some interesting possibilities.

I'm still sadly lacking the kind of graphics software I want. Microsoft Photodraw really filled a lot of needs for me. I made posters, certificates, signs and all kinds of things. I could create beveled shapes, 3d text effects, and a lot of things with just a click or two. I'm not ready to spend five hundred bucks for something from Adobe, and I haven't really found anything I like. I've looked at Pixelmator, and it looks lovely ... but I'm not really sure if it'll do anything that Gimp doesn't do. I'd really like to find an easy-to-use graphics app.

Pixelmator

For some text and icon effects, I've been using Art Text 2 from Belight Software.

Art Text — Text art and graphic software for Mac — Overview

Some of it comes out more pixelated than with Photodraw, but it can do a variety of formats, including EPS, which comes out well, even if it gives trouble to some of the page-layout apps.

I manage a small work-related library, and I'm currently looking at Delicious Library as a way to keep track of our books and who's got what.

Delicious Library 2

My one can't-live-without-it Mac app though is Crossover Games.

Windows Games Seamlessly Integrated on Mac or Linux - Mac Windows Games, Linux Windows Games - CodeWeavers

Now, I know that I can put Windows on my machine and play my games that way, but my 20 year marriage to Microsoft is pretty much coming to an end (not counting supervised visits with the office laptops) now that I'm trading in my Windows machine and taking my old Mac to work. So Microsoft and I kinda aren't speaking right now.

Through crossover games, I'm successfully playing:
Aliens vs. Predator 2
Arcanum
Battlefield 1942
Call of Duty 2
Deus Ex
Doom 3
FEAR
Galactic Civilizations 2
The Orange Box
Medal of Honor
Metal Gear Solid
STALKER
Silent Hunter III
Star Trek Bridge Commander
Star Wars Battlefront 2
Star Wars Jedi Knight Jedi Academy
Morrowind
Tomb Raider Chronicles
and Unreal Tournament 2004

Yeah, I know a lot of these games are OLD, but guys, my first video game was friggin PONG back in the 70s!

pongmuseum.com - APF TV Fun - Model 401

So pretty much every game made in the last 15 years still looks pretty cool to me.

The point is that I have more games than I can play, and once my new computer comes in, I'll be able to play a LOT more games that I couldn't play before (for example, I'll finally have enough ram to play L4D2)!

So that's my update on my Mac review.

I'd still like to find some good not-so-earth-shatteringly-expansive graphics software though. Any suggestions?

'Dark Puppy of the Apocalypse'
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To the original poster that is a very nice post. Well said .

Just be careful when you talk about video game rom files. Like the SNES ones you mentioned. It's ok to talk about the emulators like SNES9X but rom talk is at times a little taboo. Cause they are in essence the original game cart hacked and ripped to a disc so it can be played on your computer with an emulator.

Personally I have no issue with rom talk. But the mods here might have a different view on that.
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@OP Lots of good info there. Glad you are enjoying the new machine.

@ Levi Thanks for that url. I wasn't aware of that site but why in the world did you mention both Zuma and Bejeweled in the same post? The OPP won't come up for air for days. lol

Sylvester Roque Former Contributing Editor About This Particular Macintosh

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Oneironaut

 
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I like browsing Macupdate.com for interesting programs. I'm interested to see how the new Mac app store will look like.
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