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Friday, October 17, 2008

The Mac/PC Quandary

I'm still planning to write about my Berkeley trip. As my brother Zac and I walked around the city and the University campus, and as we attended the Free Culture Conference, I kept making little mental notes about things I wanted to talk about in my blog. I contemplated sketching out some posts on my legal pad, but I felt that method of pre-writing kind of cramps my blogging style. I'm an organic blogger, and very stream of consciousness in my writing. I have quite a bit of difficulty writing about my thoughts after having thought them rather than as they occur. And if I write little notes on my thoughts, I tend to lose the meat when I go to flesh them out later.

The obvious problem is that I don't have a laptop. I should have had a laptop with me so I could blog about my day before going to bed. But I've never had much of a need for a laptop before. I'm happy using my desktop at home, and while in school, I found the computer labs sufficient for any work I needed to do on campus. Still, law school will be a different story, and I do plan on investing in a laptop before I go (but preferably after I'm accepted so I can get a sweet student discount).

So here's the thing: I've always been a PC user, and as irritating as Windows can be sometimes, I at least know how to maneuver the Windows system. The only thing about Windows that really bothers me is that you basically have to reformat your hard drive and reinstall the system every year or two to keep things running smoothly. Annoying, but manageable.

But now Apple has become a rather well-liked company, thanks to the iPod and iPhone, and the Macintosh has had a resurgence of popularity that has me eyeing the other side. I don't know a damn thing about Macs, but I plan to investigate them before deciding what I'm going to do about a laptop.

So I'm asking for your opinion on the Mac/PC debate. Which do you like better and why? What are the positives and negatives about your Mac or PC? If you use both, what is the compatibility between the two? Can you open Word/WP/Adobe files on Mac?

Some of the more computer savvy of you might suggest that I get a PC with Linux. But I feel like Linux is for people who really know what they're doing, and I'm just a casual user who doesn't plan to become a computer expert, so I don't think Linux would be for me. But feel free to defend the virtues of Linux if you are so inclined.



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21 comments:

Karen said...

MAC, hands down.

Reliability, User Friendliness, Amazing graphics capabilities.

B.R. said...

For some reason I already thought you were a Mac-er. I don't know, you seem to be the type. Having said that, yes, there is such a thing as Mac people and the larger Mac culture.
Now, pragamtically speaking, why go for a Mac?
The machine seems to presuppose that the user is indeed intelligent. And that's good.
The hierarchy of operations is logic-based, (funny that!), you will rarely have to worry about viruses or the system shutting down for no reason at all, easy communication with your other gadgets, i.e., iPod, iPhone, et al., amazing for graphics, Mac Word does the job well, great for music, esp. if you're interested in playing with your own sound, programs like 'garage band' are quite good.
And, aesthetically they're, well, superior. Steve Jobs definitely has a monopoly on form. And content, per me, at least.
Every time I find myself on a PC, I can't really do much with it. Once you go Mac, ....
If you worry about adaptability, you will be able to get a handle on things Mac in a matter of hours. And you will love the machine. I cannot be endorsing enough. My computing experience as a Mac-er is a happy one.
Good luck picking a good laptop for Law School. Either a MacBook or MacPro would make you happy, I think. Spend a bit of time at the Apple store playing around on one and see how you feel....
At the risk of sounding too substance-divorced, Apple products are some of the few examples out there where both form and content are superior thus creating an appealing thing. No, Apple's not paying me to be this laudatory. Viel Glueck!

Trovan said...

Whether you should use a Mac or a PC really depends on what you will use it for.

PC: Great for gaming, WAY more programs are available. Infinitely upgradable and customizable.

Mac: You browse the internet and listen to music. Maybe watch a DVD. But that's about it.

People still tout the 'superior graphics' capability of Macs, but that's all propaganda now. Going off benchmarks (side-by-side tests under same conditions) they are sixes.

The stability differences come from Windows using a kernel system, which sucks. Mac wisely chose a better option. However, Macs are just as susceptible to viruses (or nearly so).

So, it just boils down to what you will use it for.

sovknight said...

There are many pluses and minuses to both systems, but in the end, they're essentially the same. Having used both, I can honestly say there is no advantage of having one over the other, except...

Witness, a PC laptop and a Mac laptop, both sitting on the table in front of you. Spec-wise, they are nearly identical. Both have Intel processors of the same speed, same size hard drive, DVD player/burner (you can get a PC with Blu-Ray, but NOT a Mac) same vieo capabilities, battery life, etc. The only difference is that THE MAC WILL COST YOU TWICE AS MUCH.

PC all the way.

Ben Sloan said...

A Mac is like a pre-frayed visor that says HOLLISTER across the front. Sure, a normal hat would work just as well, if not better, and could even be modified to be a visor, but with the HOLLISTER pre-frayed stylishness you're a part of the Cool Crowd.

I don't play any games, and do some video stuff, but still, there's never been a compelling reason to switch to a Mac aside from wanting to be in the In Crowd.

Scottrbarnes said...

I second what sov said. PC and Mac can have the same specs, but the Mac will always cost more. Why? Because there are many PC brands but only one Mac, and they know it's gone trendy so they can charge whatever they want.

Since you're already familiar with windows, and you don't strike me as someone who does something just to fit the fashion, I'd go with the PC.

Claire said...

Gaah! I had a giant reply to this, and then I hit the "back" button on my mouse. Stupid PC! No wonder the Mac only has one button!

OK, seriously, I DID have a reply all written out, and I DID hit the "back" button by mistake. Grr. But get a PC, lady. You're already familiar with its features (and, ahem, challenges), and since you're not out to conquer Planet Graphic Design (besides, Trov's right...the specs are neck and neck these days) and are not keen on converting yourself into a white-headphoned, wildly gyrating silhouette bent on Hipsterdom (or so I assume), then you're good to go.

Really, the differences between the two are cultural and based on personal preference. Are you a minimalist? Do you primarily use your computer for entertainment, media or creative endeavors? Do you want everyone in Starbucks who might not've seen your American Spirit cigarettes and distressed jeans to know you're much cooler than they are? Get a Mac.

On the other hand, do you enjoy tearing the covers off of things and poking about with extractors and a magnifying lamp? Do you want everything to work fairly well right up until it absolutely doesn't (usually during a critical paper/report/business plan explaining why you need to upgrade your PC)? Are you primarily interested in what used to be called "productivity software" before marketing people realized that "You may be cool, but I'm productive!" wasn't exactly advertising gold?
Get a PC.

And, if you enjoy A) Penguins, B)Smugness, and C) Defending your OS while deriding others who choose a functionally identical but cosmetically different flavor of that exact same OS, get a PC and slap Linux on there.

As a gigantic IT nerd and an artist, I feel compelled to point out that both Macs AND Intel/AMD machines are technically "Personal Computers." And, since Macs now run Intel processors as well, I guess we'll just have to find some new way of separating the wheat from the chaff (wheat and chaff being relative to the side on which one finds oneself in this discussion, naturalmente).

Sra said...

Ah, I knew I was going to get some rather strong opposing opinions on this one. Thus, I am still confused, but I will make a point of trying out the Macs in the Apple store. Then I guess I'll decide if I'm wooed by form, or sobered by price. I do admit to being one of those people who is swayed by aesthetics, but seeing as how I'm about to buy myself a mortgage worth of student loans, I just may be sobered by price as well.

jess said...

i can't really argue with what's already been said above.

what kind of a lawyer are you going to be? that might help - government law offices typically use Windows-based platforms and software like MS Office - and i think they have that for the Mac, too, now - but i'm not sure.

viruses and other PC problems can be avoided by NOT using Internet Explorer. i only use IE when i am forced to, otherwise i use firefox.

macs are super $$$ and seem to be targeted at the younger generation (what am i? 55? hardly!)

that said, i have some dear friends who adore their macs and won't use anything else.

but in the business world, unless you are a graphic designer (or similar), we use the PC.

sovknight said...

I'm a graphic artist, photographer, writer, and I use Photoshop on a daily basis, as well as a couple of 3d applications, and Dreamweaver to design web pages. I use PCs exclusively, because I can build a PC that is more powerful than ANY Mac for half the cost.

I know that a lot of graphic design places use Macs, but there's no advantage to it. Plus, I like having buttons on my mouse.

Sra said...

Ha ha, I like having buttons on my mouse too. I remember my first experience with a buttonless Mac mouse at university and I couldn't understand it. Plus, I had a way of always clicking the mouse when I didn't mean to just by putting the normal weight of my hand on it.

It is my understanding that the business world, including law firms, is more PC oriented, but I think that is changing, so it is less of a concern.

I'll still play around with Macs, but probably the bottom line is going to be what I can get for my money.

Sterkworks said...

I keep wanting to switch to Apple, but am caught up on the "all the software I have purchased is PC." I'm sure there is a way around that and I am just not informed. I hate Windows Vista. Yuck.

Sra said...

I'm a little worried about that too, Sterk. I understand that there's a way of running Windows within the Mac OS, but really, what would be the point of that? If you want to run Windows so much, you might as well just use a PC.

I've never heard anyone say a good thing about Vista, and even those Windows Mojave commercials are uncompelling. I mean, couldn't they get someone who could say something more intelligent than "Cool!" to play with Vista on hidden camera?

I've never had a serious complaint about XP, though. It's a little annoying that I HAVE to install updates without being able to see what exactly is being updated and why. And like I've mentioned, I don't so much enjoy having to reinstall my system every year or two to keep things running smoothly, and like your experience with Dell, I was also not provided with an install disc of my Windows XP Media Edition that I'm currently running when I bought my desktop. Although I do have an install disc for regular XP.

sovknight said...

You don't run Windows within the Mac OS, you partition and set up a dual-boot system. The reason that Macs will run Windows is because they use Intel processors, which means that if you buy a Mac, you've essentially paid double price for an art deco PC with an Apple logo on the front and no buttons on the mouse.

:)

A Mac is essentially a status symbol. People buy them for ego reasons. It's the same as paying $100 for a shirt at a fancy store, or paying $15 for a shirt at Target.

It's still just a shirt.

The only thing you get is bragging rights, and a shirt saying that you somehow feel superior to other people because you paid more than they did. That's the Mac culture. It's nothing more than a misplaced superiority complex.

Are Macs good machines? Why yes, of course they are. I like Macs, truth be told. But I'll not spend $2000 on a laptop when I can get one for $1000 that's every bit as good.

Claire said...

Hi, this is Nicole Burns, your company's computer girl, weighing in with:

You actually CAN run Windows inside of the Mac OS. There's a wonderful little piece of software called Parallels Desktop that I used for the one lonely little Mac on our network. It basically creates a Virtual Machine on the Mac, and manages to allow access to both OSes simultaneously (so you can send all your Outlook crap to your precious iPhone before you head to Urban Outfitters). It's actually pretty handy, although it is a resource-eating monster.

In addition to Parallels, I also set up the Mac as a dual-boot machine, and for most purposes, the user boots directly into OS X and just goes about her business...but if she needs something on the PC, she can just double-click and "Presto!" there's a PC on her desktop.

This solution probably isn't for everyone, but it sure saved me a ton of aggravation when I was networking her system and setting up her Active Directory nonsense.

Just my $0.02. Feel free to dismiss me as nerdish and unnecessary, like the rest of society.

Sra said...

I love unnecessary nerds.

Thanks for confirming that you can run Windows within OSX, I thought that was the case. I'm no computer guru like I was in the early 2000's, but I do know a thing or two about what's going on these days.

Sra said...

Oh, and I should say that you guys have been cracking me up with your comparisons of Mac culture to Hollister visors, expensive shirts, and Urban Outfitters. Too funny.

Sra said...

Oh, and I should say that you guys have been cracking me up with your comparisons of Mac culture to Hollister visors, expensive shirts, and Urban Outfitters. Too funny.

Claire said...

Hi, this is Nicole Burns, your company's computer girl, weighing in with:

You actually CAN run Windows inside of the Mac OS. There's a wonderful little piece of software called Parallels Desktop that I used for the one lonely little Mac on our network. It basically creates a Virtual Machine on the Mac, and manages to allow access to both OSes simultaneously (so you can send all your Outlook crap to your precious iPhone before you head to Urban Outfitters). It's actually pretty handy, although it is a resource-eating monster.

In addition to Parallels, I also set up the Mac as a dual-boot machine, and for most purposes, the user boots directly into OS X and just goes about her business...but if she needs something on the PC, she can just double-click and "Presto!" there's a PC on her desktop.

This solution probably isn't for everyone, but it sure saved me a ton of aggravation when I was networking her system and setting up her Active Directory nonsense.

Just my $0.02. Feel free to dismiss me as nerdish and unnecessary, like the rest of society.

Sra said...

I'm a little worried about that too, Sterk. I understand that there's a way of running Windows within the Mac OS, but really, what would be the point of that? If you want to run Windows so much, you might as well just use a PC.

I've never heard anyone say a good thing about Vista, and even those Windows Mojave commercials are uncompelling. I mean, couldn't they get someone who could say something more intelligent than "Cool!" to play with Vista on hidden camera?

I've never had a serious complaint about XP, though. It's a little annoying that I HAVE to install updates without being able to see what exactly is being updated and why. And like I've mentioned, I don't so much enjoy having to reinstall my system every year or two to keep things running smoothly, and like your experience with Dell, I was also not provided with an install disc of my Windows XP Media Edition that I'm currently running when I bought my desktop. Although I do have an install disc for regular XP.

Sra said...

Ha ha, I like having buttons on my mouse too. I remember my first experience with a buttonless Mac mouse at university and I couldn't understand it. Plus, I had a way of always clicking the mouse when I didn't mean to just by putting the normal weight of my hand on it.

It is my understanding that the business world, including law firms, is more PC oriented, but I think that is changing, so it is less of a concern.

I'll still play around with Macs, but probably the bottom line is going to be what I can get for my money.

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