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  1. #1


    Member Since
    Mar 01, 2008
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    Switching [back] to Mac -- questions
    A couple of disclaimers: I'm new here (though I have been reading posts every so often), and I'm not here to stir any feathers. If this thread belongs more in the "Windows, Linux, and Other OS" forum, certainly, mods, feel free to move it there. I'm also accustomed to forum regulations, so while I didn't do a specific search for everything on here, I do feel that I've read the bulk of the general answers to my questions elsewhere (such as the "50 reasons to get a Mac" article).

    That being said... I do have a few questions remaining about going to a Mac. I'm a mechanical engineering student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and have used Windows machines since 1998, really. Between 1995 and 1998, I used Mac, back when it was running a fantastically crash-prone OS (don't remember which builds... but I wasn't impressed). Moving over to Windows made me like Windows a lot more, mainly because it was far more stable. Now, I'm running my four Dell Precision M60 (bought in January of 2005 with a 2.0 GHz Dothan, 1 GB RAM, and 128 MB nvidia Quadro Fx1000. It's also got the 7200 RPM, 80 GB HD, and in general, I love it. I prefer a stripped-down OS that's compatible with my engineering programs -- mostly Pro/Engineer and Matlab -- and this three year-old machine continues to do a good job with both. This paragraph, in a nutshell, means that I'm relatively good with Windows -- I know how to adjust it, how to fix it, and how to find things (grabbing a Youtube video from the cache, for instance, or tweaking the registry for a faster shutdown). I'm also familiar with the UI.

    That being said, my best friend introduced me to his MBP a year ago. At first, I was hesitant to embrace it, but I've since become more attracted to Macs. My lingering question is three-fold: whether to get a Penryn or wait for the Montevina platform; whether the price increase over a comparable Dell is justified; and what advantages Leopard will bring to me, someone who barely uses any features in Windows. I'd appreciate any suggestions you have on this -- particularly the last point. I'll elaborate some more for those of you interested...

    1) I don't NEED performance after this semester. I'll be starting grad school in the fall, but I'm fine enough with going to a computer lab to use Pro/E or Matlab if need be (and I can also dual-boot). The main reason I'd want to wait for Montevina is for more USB ports, better battery life, and whatever fun gizmos Apple throws on there. However, the single reason I'm attracted to the [2.4 GHz] Penryn is that the 2.4 GHz Penryn is now $1999 ($1799 with education discount). I can justify this; the $2800 (after tax) 2.4GHz Merom is simply too expensive. If Apple doesn't continue to offer the $1999 price point, a Mac is absolutely no in my near future. A corresponding performance upgrade will therefore be appreciated only if the $1999 price point continues to exist. Again, I'm not looking for performance.

    2) Dells have more USB ports and I'm familiar with Windows. This justifies a Dell purchase for me. The XPS 1530 has the same graphics card [256 MB version] as the MBP [256 MB version], and the Precision line continues to offer the workstation-class Quadro graphics cards. Though I won't necessarily need the Quadro, I know that I can get a comparable Precision [to a MBP] for roughly $1,900 after taxes (compared to $2138 for the MBP after taxes) when Dell has its discounts, and the 1530 can be had for around $1,500 when there's a discount (my neighbor has one).

    3) The big question is Leopard vs. XP. Like I said, I don't need fancy features; I want functionality. While the glistening Leopard OS does indeed look great, I'd rather have a processor not be stressed 15% of the time than for the native OS processes to consume 15% just to open folders and be fancy in doing so. I also have a fairly long list of applications that might or might not work in Leopard (see below) in addition to other compatability questions:

    a) What archiving program do you recommend? I have a bunch of .7z files (akin to .zip or .rar files) on my current machine... i can download certain .7z programs for mac, but i dunno how stable/good they are.

    b) I know Macs are supposed to be more secure (due either to their architecture or because there's fewer people with Macs...), but what anti-virus and firewall do you recommend?

    c) I run a program called CCleaner -- is a similar application necessary for Macs?

    d) Would I need specia codec packs to run, say, DivX? (I use "Cole 2K media" on my current machine)

    e) Does Mac come with its own CD-burning program? (I'm using Easy CD creator)

    f) I use Foxit Reader to open pdfs. I know Preview does it, but are there any advantages to using Preview? I can annotate in Foxit and love it because it's insanely light and fast.

    g) I take a lot of photos and want to start using Google Photos to display them (rather than Facebook). Does iPhoto interface with Google? Or would I still need Picasa?

    And I think that's it. I apologize for this hugely-long message. If there are two specific questions I have, they'd be:

    1) Given my performance needs and desires, is it worth it to wait for Montevina?
    2) Given my familiarity with Windows and my desire to have as streamline an OS as possible, is there any reason for me to switch OS?

  2. #2

    louishen's Avatar
    Member Since
    Oct 22, 2007
    Location
    London
    Posts
    8,968
    Specs:
    Mac Mini Core i7 2012 | White 2009 MacBook 2 Ghz | 733 Mhz G4 Quicksilver
    Wow thats a long post

    I can't answer all your questions but whether you stay with DEll or move to Macs is really down to your own preference, If you really begin to like your friends mac then I would go for it - just for the thrill of a change

    3 - you don't need fancy features

    Well, Leopard has plenty of those, but dont let that put you off. Leopard will still run on 5 year old apple hardware (800 Mhz G4s) - so apple have managed to pack a cutting edge OS that still runs on pretty old macs - unlike Vista

    Apps

    You will most likely find very good OS X alternatives to most of your apps, and for specialists stuff you can always use boot camp to run your trusty XP

    Archiving

    You can use apples new slick time machine - or if you like unix - apple has built in support for standard unix archiving commands (you can also downlod free GUI to these unix archiving commands.

    Secure

    OS X closes off most ports by default - and comes with an inbuilt firewall based on open source components. The mac is no more secure because there are less of them, they just make it very difficult for mailware to load without you knowing about it

    CC Cleaner

    Most people here recommend ONYX and Main Menu both free

    Codecs

    There are add on codecs to quicktime - Perian and Flipo4Mac spring to mind

    CD Burning

    Its built in to the OS - but you can use the open source Burn or the excellent commercial Toast for a bit more functionality

    PDF

    You can create PDFs in the OS, not sure about annotation but I think Adobe Reader 8 lets you do this

  3. #3


    Member Since
    Mar 30, 2004
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    USA
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    12" Apple PowerBook G4 (1.5GHz)
    Since you
    1. Don't seem to mind sticking with XP
    and
    2. Need to run Pro/E

    I can't really see any reason for you to consider a Mac.

  4. #4


    Member Since
    Mar 01, 2008
    Location
    Illinois
    Posts
    45
    To both repliers, thanks for your responses... appreciate the thoughts.

    technologist -- I think a lot of people wouldn't "mind" sticking with a family sedan [such as my Toyota Camry], but I'd bet that a lot of people would find it fun to drive a Porsche 911 GT2 or Audi R8. The difference there is far more extreme than going from XP to Mac, but I've enjoyed my time with the Mac and and really intrigued. I wouldn't have written that long a post if I truly felt I should stick with Windows. I'm willing to part with over $2000; I could use this elsewhere. However, I think it's worthy enough to justify my spending it... now rather than later.

    No offense meant here -- I'm just serious about getting a MBP and would love opinions on the Windows->Mac OS switch.

    (Pro/E is not required, by the way -- I'm more or less finished with it. I can use a Mac or my current system if need be.)

  5. #5


    Member Since
    Mar 01, 2008
    Location
    Illinois
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    45
    Here's another question that popped up. Is it possible to clear the dust out of the MBP fans without voiding the warranty? I occasionally remove my M60's CPU fan and blow it out with compressed air. It stayed clean for two years, but for some reason, the third year of its life injected a ton of dust into the fans.

  6. #6


    Member Since
    Mar 01, 2008
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    Illinois
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    Any other opinions?

    Sorry for the bump.

  7. #7

    eschur21's Avatar
    Member Since
    Mar 10, 2008
    Location
    Petoskey, Michigan
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    37
    I too come off a fresh switch to mac. I used windows for 13 year or so. Did computer programming, web and graphic design, photo edit and general nonsense stuff so I can maybe help you out. Aside from the mac pros here answering your questions on mac I can try too.

    Come summer or shortly after SP3 for XP...thats it. The future is Vista for them whether you like it or not. Vista all though does look nice it does not like old computers. Buying a dell when you could by an HP is like buying a ford pinto if you could afford a mustang. Don't. Dells are budget computers no matter what anyone says. They are.

    That being said, being able to do XP is great...but that helps about 5 years ago. Vista will soon replace XP and than your looking at trying to figure out vista or going to mac....if thats the case. mac.

  8. #8

    dalison's Avatar
    Member Since
    Feb 16, 2008
    Posts
    207
    Specs:
    Mac Pro 8 core 2.8Ghz, 12GB RAM, 2.3TB HD; MacBook Pro 2.4Ghz, 4GB RAM, 200GB HD
    I got my Mac a little over a month ago and really enjoy using the machine, though technically I haven't "switched". I have many computers here and my primary focus continues to be my Windows XP machine because it's a hardcore system (not a light and highly portable MacBook) and runs my development environment really well right now.

    Your decision should be made on objective and subjective points; you outline the objective issues really well. Make that a budget decision and be done with it. Technology always gets cheaper so you can wait, but technically you could wait forever since it's permanent cycle.

    On the subjective side, Macs do take getting used to if you are a proficient Windows user. Most of the big things work as expected but there are lots of little things that are fundamentally different and they will trip you up if you let them.

    In the month I've been on this board I've seen many people that love their new Macs and a couple that can't stand it and want to go back to Windows. I believe that's all in the attitude you take to adopting anything new and whether it will accomplish your primary task properly.

    Bottom line: If a Mac will run your applications, you can afford it and you are willing to embrace something new go for the Mac. With a Mac you can run both Windows applications using something like VMWare or Parallels as well as any Mac application. If you go with the Dell you will only run Windows applications, but frankly that's probably okay based on what you have said.
    --David
    My blog about my move from Windows to Mac: www.davidalison.com

  9. #9

    Alexis's Avatar
    Member Since
    Apr 20, 2006
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    Al iMac 20" 2.4Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo
    Don't worry about security.

    There are no viruses and you don't need anti-virus. Simple as.

  10. #10


    Member Since
    Mar 01, 2008
    Location
    Illinois
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    45
    Thanks for the updates. I have a particular question (for anyone) about eschur21's comment about Windows OS. If I'm perfectly happy with using XP, for how long could I run XP in Parallels or Boot Camp before I can't use it anymore? What exactly is going away?

    (In other words, does this mean I should consider switching to Vista NOW? Or install XP and continue ising it in Parallels/Boot Camp?)

    [Edit: the reason I want to have Windows at all is that I need a quick-running version of Office. Office 2008 for Mac is significantly slower than it is on my computer, and as I mentioned, I want to run minimally. If Office 2008 for Mac could run faster, I'd be fine without Parallels or Boot Camp at all. Any ideas on why it runs so slowly?]

  11. #11

    WolfsBane's Avatar
    Member Since
    Dec 21, 2007
    Location
    Treasure Valley, Idaho. US
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    406
    Specs:
    20" iMac 2.4GHz w/ WD My Book 500GB HDD. MacBook Pro 2.4GHz. iPhone 5, white, 16 Gigs.
    The execution of Mac OS X is a little different than Windows. And I can sympathize with your previous exposure to the previous Mac OS, (it was CP/M in my case), but the OS that currently exist in Mac machines if a different animal based on BSD/Mach Kernel. Below the pretty interface lies the foundation of a rock solid OS that is based on one of the most stable platforms for computer applications devised... UNIX.

    a) What archiving program do you recommend? I have a bunch of .7z files (akin to .zip or .rar files) on my current machine... i can download certain .7z programs for mac, but i dunno how stable/good they are.

    For Archiving and backing up, I rely on Time Machine. Simple and very efficient. The first time it runs, it will back up all your targeted drives. After the first run, however, it will look at your files and update only those files that have been added or changed since the last backup.

    b) I know Macs are supposed to be more secure (due either to their architecture or because there's fewer people with Macs...), but what anti-virus and firewall do you recommend?

    Increased security is not really a function of the number of people that use Macs, (which continues to grow at a fairly high rate), but of the architecture and environment of the Mac OS. It is fundamentally a multi user type platform with inherent administrator access and permissions built in. You can set your Mac to require a password from you every time that you make changes to critical apps or add programs. This way, you have control of what applications are downloaded and executed on your machine, minimizing the risk of automatically running a malicious code. And the OS has it's own built in firewall.

    c) I run a program called CCleaner -- is a similar application necessary for Macs?

    There are several applications that you can use on a Mac, though the processes are somewhat different than a Windows based machine. Mac OS X automatically optimizes your hard drive, so a defrag program is really not needed, and the maintenance routines built into Mac OS X do the rest of the cleaning, reorganizing, and repairing. These routines usually run automatically during non peak hours when your machine is essentially inactive. But you can download free applications such as Maintenance 3.8 to run the routines yourself at your discretion.

    d) Would I need specia codec packs to run, say, DivX? (I use "Cole 2K media" on my current machine)

    Not sure about this.

    e) Does Mac come with its own CD-burning program? (I'm using Easy CD creator)

    It does, it is part of iTunes in the iLife package that comes with your machine. You also have iDVD for DVD editing and burning. The are consumer level applications, not so much prosumer level.

    f) I use Foxit Reader to open pdfs. I know Preview does it, but are there any advantages to using Preview? I can annotate in Foxit and love it because it's insanely light and fast.

    I believe that Preview is read only, but I could be mistaking.

    g) I take a lot of photos and want to start using Google Photos to display them (rather than Facebook). Does iPhoto interface with Google? Or would I still need Picasa?

    Though heavily tilted toward .Mac, I believe that you can use iPhoto to export to other web based applications such as Google.

    And I think that's it. I apologize for this hugely-long message. If there are two specific questions I have, they'd be:

    1) Given my performance needs and desires, is it worth it to wait for Montevina?

    Not really, IMO. You will have an increase in performance, but based on your need description, it would be performance that you will probably not need.

    2) Given my familiarity with Windows and my desire to have as streamline an OS as possible, is there any reason for me to switch OS?

    Well, let me put it in another way... my first computer was a Commodore 64. I was keypunching Fortran programs into Hollerith cards back in the late 1970s when the accepted format to code was called a hierarchical structured programming language. I've seen the rise of Microsoft from it's DOS days all the way to what they currently market, which is, IMO, mostly a rehash of older programs with additional bloat and a new name. To me, an operating system and the applications that run on an operating system need to be streamlined, highly efficient, and structurally stable. Otherwise you are simply filling your machine with pieces of coding with excessively large footprints that you don't need and may actually prove harmful to your machine, not to mention coding that occupies a large portion of your random access memory that you will probably never use... resources that you could probably use elsewhere. Does Windows offer this OS platform at this point in time? I'm hard pressed to compare Vista (in all their diverse incarnations) to XP SP2 or Winservers to Win NT4, thats just my opinion. When I took a look at Vista and saw what it was about, the decision was pretty much made for me that it was time to look elsewhere.

    Hope Springs Eternal
    Welcome... to the house of Rock and Jazz!

  12. #12


    Member Since
    Mar 01, 2008
    Location
    Illinois
    Posts
    45
    Awesome replies, everyone -- I meant to write back, but all of last week and the beginning parts of this week have been hectic.

    Ultimately... I pulled the trigger and switched, officially, to the Mac family. I'm pleased with the change thus far for the most part. To date, my biggest frustration has been trying to get everything out of Outlook (more that than trying to get it in Mail/Address Book).

    If any of you have suggestions on how to merge Outlook.pst (Office 2003) into Mail, that'd be sweet... I've tried a few things already:

    http://tantannoodles.com/2007/02/12/...ok-into-a-mac/ (doesn't seem to work with Outlook 2003)

    http://www.macosxhints.com/article.p...40609231712503 (doesn't pull all my emails into Mail, even with the cleanup of the mailboxes).

    Any other ideas would be appreciated -- and perhaps impossibility is an answer here, as the .pst file simply isn't fun to work with, period.

    Thanks again for all your encouragement.

  13. #13


    Member Since
    Mar 14, 2008
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    UK Staffordshire
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    Specs:
    17" MBP, 2.5ghz, 4 gig Ram, 250 hard drive, 512 nvidia
    Hey man just switch and enjoy. You will never enjoy anything if you are undecided. Ive switched and I have had to purchase lots of software I didnt have to I just wanted to and the only software im still using in windows are a few dedicated bsuiness apps and quicken. Just go for it and you will enjoy the change.

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