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"Have you switched over to Mac yet?"
Old 05-08-2006, 01:06 PM   #1
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"Have you switched over to Mac yet?"

A long-time friend of mine is retiring and rediscovering all of the interests that he's never had time for. (Among them are laser engravers and archival photo inks. For separate projects.) After all the things that he's taught me over the years, it's been fun teaching him a thing or two about ER.

Today he asked me the Mac question and made me go "Hmmmm..."

Let me digress a little. We've lived in this house for over five years and we're on our third computer. I've blown five power supplies during that time, but always for what seemed to be good reasons-- like running three hard drives in one box. And let's just say that I haven't been surprised to encounter low-quality computer hardware.

But last week, after the kid finished the RAM & graphics card installation, she turned on her TV/VCR and kicked back for an afternoon of "Texas Ranch House". I'd been transferring files from an old hard drive over to the newly-upgraded PC, I'd pulled the old hard drive out, and I was putting the PC back together. When I plugged the power cord from the (switched off) surge protector into the (turned off) PC, the TV went off. Prolonged troubleshooting (amongst teenage frustration) determined that the GFCI breaker in the garage panel was very unhappy about that PC being plugged in if any current was flowing on the circuit. I realized that this is probably the first time I've ever worked on a PC while someone else was using a load on that circuit. I'm not an expert on GFCI breakers or PC power supplies but I suspect that the GFCI was tripping when it sensed a power supply that's grounded to the PC's case.

Now I have a 25-foot extension cord to a non-GFCI outlet in another room (a hassle since the cord also has to be bunny-proofed) and this week I'm replacing that GFCI breaker with a conventional 20-amp breaker. ("Allus wanted to work on wun'a thayem!") It's been a huge hassle but I bet this is why I've been blowing up so many PC power supplies, so it'll be nice to have solved a nasty little technical problem.

But back to the Mac. After yesterday's troubleshooting & GFCI research I was in a receptive frame of mind for the Mac question. When I learned to use PCs & Macs in the '80s at the Naval Postgraduate School, everyone hated Macs because they were so expensive and you had to have special tools to work on them. No one really understood their architecture and it was hard to get software/accessories. We went PC and we never looked back.

When I inherited a Mac at a command in the '90s, things had not improved. I couldn't easily read other people's PC word-processing files and we never really cared about the advanced graphics programs or features. When the IT department refused to support Macs any more, it was gone.

Today... hmmm... we made a lot of money off Apple Computer stock when OS-X came out. I almost never hear any whining anymore about software or conversion issues. Safari seems to do just as well as IE or Firefox while our PC can't run IE (or WinXP) for more than two days without a reboot. I wouldn't use Bootcamp yet but it's an indicator of where Apple compatibility is headed. As I sit here watching my virus scanner & spyware agents running their weekly scans, I'm reminded that hardly any script kiddies bother with Mac virii. Upgrading hardware is probably no big deal, although lately I haven't heard of anyone who actually cracks their Macs. Our DSL line probably doesn't care whether it's talking to a Mac or a PC. With computers so cheap overall the money's not an issue anymore, and with Intel chips the Macs just going to get cheaper.

I guess my best answer is that I've never cared enough to make the switch. It's certainly been easier to stick with PCs while spouse is in the Reserves, but that situation won't last forever. (She has to log on to military websites with her ID card in a card reader. I don't remember whether that ID software comes in a Mac version.) I could've just bought a Mac with all the RAM & graphics features that I wanted instead of going cheap (to see if the PC would last longer than the GFCI breaker). I've grown to despise making weekly backups but I bet there's an easy automated Mac system for burning a DVD, too. While my friend probably gravitated to Macs for their graphics & photo processing, we've been mostly text, e-mail, & websites-- we've never done more than adjust a JPEG's brightness. And as Cut-Throat has patiently pointed out over many months now, I'm not saving the extra money for anything.

As entertaining as it'd be to recreate the Mac/PC debate, let me focus on a different subject: How's the compatibility these days? If I decided to switch to a Mac, what issues would I confront?
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Re: "Have you switched over to Mac yet?"
Old 05-08-2006, 01:19 PM   #2
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Re: "Have you switched over to Mac yet?"

Re: As entertaining as it'd be to recreate the Mac/PC debate, let me focus on a different subject: How's the compatibility these days?

Never better, but never have there been so few reasons to use Windoze once you have a Mac. In fact, you can now run Win XP natively on the new intel-based Macs.

Frankly, having used both extensively, I do everything I possibly can on the Mac since it is easier, more intuitive, more reliable, and just feels better. And they don't break often.

If I decided to switch to a Mac, what issues would I confront?

Uhh... can't think of any off hand. It is a bit more expensive but with the high reliability and included software I am not sure the difference is signficant.
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Re: "Have you switched over to Mac yet?"
Old 05-08-2006, 01:24 PM   #3
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Re: "Have you switched over to Mac yet?"

The biggest compatibiiity problems we run into at work with the Mac versus the PC is Excel files that are inserted into Powerpoint presentations. But that probably has more to do with what version of Powerpoint we're running than anything else. When our Macs got upgraded to Powerpoint version X a while back, that's when we started running into the compatibility issues. They just put my MAC on version 11.2.3, and it's gotten even worse, where sometimes if you double-click on an inserted Excel object, it won't always open it up. Sometimes you have to just hope you have the original Excel file somewhere, and re-paste it in.

But still, I think these are more MicroSoft problems than MAC/PC problems.

Another problem we have on our Macs now, which I think happened when we "upgraded" to OS-X is that it takes much longer to transfer files from the Mac to the server, which is a PC. And OS-X will only let you put 31 characters in a file name. I'm not sure how many the PC will let you do, but it's a helluva lot more than that!
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Re: "Have you switched over to Mac yet?"
Old 05-08-2006, 01:33 PM   #4
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Re: "Have you switched over to Mac yet?"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords
If I decided to switch to a Mac, what issues would I confront?
Other than IT jihad, not many...


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Re: "Have you switched over to Mac yet?"
Old 05-08-2006, 01:47 PM   #5
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Re: "Have you switched over to Mac yet?"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords
I've blown five power supplies during that time
Wow.* I can't remember ever blowing a power supply in 20+ years, and my machines are almost always loaded to the gills.* *(My current machine has a workstation-class 650W power supply, for example.)

Dumb question, but rather than switching over to a different proprietary OS and a whole new collection of software, have you considered getting a higher quality PC?* * Or at least a higher quality power supply?

I've had good luck with Dell's higher-end machines, and there are several third-party PS makers that have a good rep.* * And, of course, there's nothing quite as nerdly satsifying as having a system with redundant hot-swappable power supplies (check out the Dell PowerEdge 1800, for example).
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Re: "Have you switched over to Mac yet?"
Old 05-08-2006, 02:02 PM   #6
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Re: "Have you switched over to Mac yet?"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andre1969
Excel files that are inserted into Powerpoint presentations.
Try Keynote, the Apple presentation software, the few times I used it it seemed much better than Powerpoint.

I started on PCs (8086) all these years and still use Windows at work but since 1993 had Macs at home and in my wife's classroom. For me the Macs are clearly superior. The hardware is not too expensive if you compare it to top quality PC systems (like Sony) the software works pretty well, the integration is *much* better (& it should be with the hardware & OS from the same company) and I have found mine to be virus free all teses years despite the theroitical existance of viruses). At work we employ full time sys admin people to keep the PCs running and every virus I get is from HQ, when I get an email from them I have to open it. There goes computing for a couple days. There are some software programs that only run on PCs or for advanced gaming you may really want a PC.

Now with the dual boot capability I think the Mac is even more compelling. I plan to get some GPS software/hardware and in this area Macs trail PCs but now I don't have to wait for the Mac version.
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Re: "Have you switched over to Mac yet?"
Old 05-08-2006, 02:18 PM   #7
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Re: "Have you switched over to Mac yet?"

If you're only dealing with pictures, email and word processing then there should be very few if no compatibility problems. My whole company is Mac, I am the IT team, if we went PC based I'd have to hire several people to help me deal with the issues that are so prevalent with PCs. I've worked in both environments and this is clearly the easier of the two from teaching computer illiterate employees how to use the Mac to not worrying about virus attacks. They are not perfect and I have my moments of wanting to throw the machine out the window but those are far and few between.

Talking about compatibility, that was my biggest gripe from everyone here, but since I've done the upgrade to OS X I very seldom hear a peep from the previous whiners.
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Re: "Have you switched over to Mac yet?"
Old 05-08-2006, 03:42 PM   #8
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Re: "Have you switched over to Mac yet?"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords
How's the compatibility these days?* If I decided to switch to a Mac, what issues would I confront?
I primarily use a PC, and my girlfriend uses a mac. Watch out for file system incompatibilities. If you want to share disks they need to be formatted using FAT32, not NTFS (which is preferable on WindowsXP. We recently hit this one). She complains that Safari isn't very good and uses FireFox instead.

I like to listen to NPR on my PC. They offer streaming audio in windows and realaudio formats -- both have historically had poor Mac support.

If you download movies many of the popular internet formats have poor mac support.

Does quicken run well on the Mac?

In my view the platforms are becoming more and more similar. They both offer a modern OS and are making regular improvements. The Mac has great audio/video/photo tools, but they try to lock you into their 'platform'. Windows has a much wider application support.

I'd try OS-X in a heatbeat if I could run in on my commodity PC hardware. I'm just not willing to pay extra for the same parts.

Cheap power supplies are often the achillies heal of inexpensive PCs. I had one go last year and payed around $40 for a high quality unit.
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Re: "Have you switched over to Mac yet?"
Old 05-08-2006, 03:46 PM   #9
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Re: "Have you switched over to Mac yet?"

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Originally Posted by wab
Dumb question, but rather than switching over to a different proprietary OS and a whole new collection of software, have you considered getting a higher quality PC?* * Or at least a higher quality power supply?
Nah-- until last weekend, five power supplies over five years was barely above my recognition threshold. Everything seemed to fail for a reason-- exploding capacitor, bad motherboard (MB or P/S? chicken or egg?), operator error during troubleshooting, etc.* I've never had a high opinion of power supplies (must be my Navy background of dealing with lowest-bidding contractors) so I didn't have any expectations.* I wouldn't even have noticed it if it hadn't been for the coincidence of swapping computer parts while the kid was using another load on the same circuit.

Our familyroom is a walled-in conversion of a bigger back lanai. The lanai was originally wired with GFCPs for code and the conversion was done in a very shoddy manner. Upgrading to a regular breaker would have never been considered by the previous owners. Putting a regular breaker in the box and a GFCI receptacle on the one remaining exterior outlet will also keep me from annoying everyone else in the house when I cut the cord with the hedgetrimmers... so I'm going to start with a single-pole 20-amp breaker before I go chasing a higher-end machine! But I'm writing that reason down for our next "upgrade".

Quote:
Originally Posted by JB
I primarily use a PC, and my girlfriend uses a mac. Watch out for file system incompatibilities. If you want to share disks they need to be formatted using FAT32, not NTFS (which is preferable on WindowsXP. We recently hit this one). She complains that Safari isn't very good and uses FireFox instead.
Does quicken run well on the Mac?
Never thought about the diskettes. Thanks, I'll look into that.

Quicken would be a show-stopper. Another research project. I don't even know if they still make a Mac version.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JB
Cheap power supplies are often the achillies heal of inexpensive PCs. I had one go last year and payed around $40 for a high quality unit.
I've never shopped around... I'm usually screaming into the CompUSA parking lot and running into the store waving my credit card while the rest of my family stands tapping their feet and asking helpfully "Is it fixed yet?!?" I pay about $40 for whatever 300-watt ATX is on the shelf. I can't tell if that's high quality or not...
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Re: "Have you switched over to Mac yet?"
Old 05-08-2006, 04:36 PM   #10
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Re: "Have you switched over to Mac yet?"

I picked up a mac mini with the intention of switching over - as far as Quicken goes, there is a version for Mac, but I was unable to import any of the data I had from the Windows version (even though it was trimmed back to only a single years worth of data, it was still too much for the program to handle). I'm pretty unimpressed with Quicken on windows and the Mac version is a step down from that.

The biggest pain was in printing - trying to print to a shared windows printer didn't work (the point of getting a mac mini was to have a small kitchen computer, so the printer needed to be in a different room). None of the printers I had was fully supported, so I ended up having to buy a more mac-friendly networked printer.


My wife has pretty much taken over the mac for her iPod/iTunes, so I've gone back to windows.
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Re: "Have you switched over to Mac yet?"
Old 05-08-2006, 04:49 PM   #11
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Re: "Have you switched over to Mac yet?"

We ran both for a while, a couple of years ago.

I was unimpressed with the supposed "high quality" hardware. While definitely a cut above what I know YOU buy (those e-machines are full of pretty bad hardware), I paid something like a grand for the imac and I could have gotten a PC with equal quality components for a lot less. In fact, most of the components would have been identical.

OSX at the time had some "issues". I'm sure its a lot better now.

We had so many compatability issues that eventually I was ordered to sell the mac and replace it with another PC. While the mac was surely easy to use, especially for someone new to computing, it has its own little arcane level of stuff that has to be learned. As Jerry Pournelle - another pretty smart computer guy thats been around since apple and the "pc people" started selling stuff - once said "stuff either works right away on a mac, or you're lucky to ever get it working".

If you're going to go ALL mac, and are willing to put up with some application substitution, some apps available for windows and not osx and a couple of hair pulling weeks getting there...thats probably workable.

If you're going to try to run a mixed bag of pc's and macs...wow I wouldnt do that.

Wab had it right. The problem is the cheap crap you're buying...and it sounds like some kind of wiring problem. Only time I've ever blown a GFCI is when I overloaded the circuit with too many amps or wired it wrong. Maybe the wire from the gfci to the outlet is too thin or has a problem. I've only had one power supply fail on me in my entire life, and it was old, old, old.

It doesnt mean you have to spend a hundred bucks on a power supply either. I've gotten a lot of very high quality products in the 30-50 range. Heck, you can buy a whole antec BOX with a pretty decent supply in it for around that price.

Assuredly, the new intel based macs are a decent mid to high mid grade piece of hardware and you'll be able to run both windows and osx on them. For about the same price you can buy a higher end dell or ibm piece of gear. And if you wait a year or two you might even be able to run osx on that box too!
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Re: "Have you switched over to Mac yet?"
Old 05-08-2006, 05:30 PM   #12
 
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Re: "Have you switched over to Mac yet?"

There may be better Languages than English, but it's the one used here most frequently.

When Mac has 51% of Market Share, I'm switching! - But not until then! 8)
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Re: "Have you switched over to Mac yet?"
Old 05-08-2006, 06:33 PM   #13
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Re: "Have you switched over to Mac yet?"

<wondering what Lexus' market share is...>

EDIT: I've long wanted a Mac, but whenever I get serious about it I can't justify spending the money over upgrading my PC. But I build my own Frankenstein PCs which you basically can't do with Mac.

As far as compatibility, I'm keeping an eye on whether OpenDocument format will emerge as a standard archival document format. That could damage MS Office's stranglehold on the office document market and make such compatibility problems as small as web page incompatibilities. But MS won't let that happen without doing a lot to prevent it, and for now MS Word .doc files are the de facto standard in most applications. (Law being a notable exception.)
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Re: "Have you switched over to Mac yet?"
Old 05-08-2006, 06:40 PM   #14
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Re: "Have you switched over to Mac yet?"

Quote:
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My car doesn't need to talk to other cars! 8)
Yeah, I guess the horn and finger are fairly ubiquitous and intuitive protocols for that purpose.
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Re: "Have you switched over to Mac yet?"
Old 05-09-2006, 12:53 AM   #15
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Re: "Have you switched over to Mac yet?"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rich_in_Tampa
Re: As entertaining as it'd be to recreate the Mac/PC debate, let me focus on a different subject:* How's the compatibility these days?

Never better, but never have there been so few reasons to use Windoze once you have a Mac. In fact, you can now run Win XP natively on the new intel-based Macs.

Frankly, having used both extensively, I do everything I possibly can on the Mac since it is easier, more intuitive, more reliable, and just feels better. And they don't break often.
I have used both extensively since inception, and I agree with Tampa's statement. In fact, I have multiple computers running Linux, Windoze XP and Macs - it's because the Linux and Windoze are for learning, and experimenting with, but the Macs are to get real work done.

Re: compatability, the only serious program that I have found an issue with was Visio (an engineering drawing program) and Access (a database program from MS). There is no direct conversions for those from PC to Mac but there are comparable programs without the compatability, but perform the same functions. All other MS and other serious programs are no problem under the latest OSX versions. (can't speak to games as I don't do games). Besides, most programs are moving to a html front end interface anyway, that let's you use your web browser for accessing and entering data.
The issue of disk formatting is real, however, no one that I know uses floppy disks anymore - it's all about flash memory sticks, or CDs, if you are not using networks or email to transfer files. Last couple of generations of Mac hardware don't even offer a floppy disk option - you have to go third party for that. Most of the dell PC laptops have a single slot that you put in a floppy, or Cd, and where those options exist, most people that I know, don't even remember where they put their floppy drive, as there is so little call for it anymore.
I'm sure that many fine folks here will offer their continued use of floppy disks, with a need to access data that is over 10 years old, while I am offering my experiences.
I would strongly recommend it, and as you said earlier, you made a lot of money from the Apple stock when OSX came out - There is a reason that so many current users pay money to upgrade t the latest OS from Apple, with all of the bundled goodies that you get
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Re: "Have you switched over to Mac yet?"
Old 05-09-2006, 07:27 AM   #16
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Re: "Have you switched over to Mac yet?"

We run both at home, windows and macs, networked together and printing to the same printers. We haven't encountered major problems and we use the macs for freelancing, graphic design (print) and web design. The windows machines are mostly for checking web design (trying to get real work done on them is well "a lot of work").

About the macs costing more, we finally replaced both of ours with an imac and a mini. Our old macs were from 1995 and 1996 and we were still using them for business. I guess when you breakdown the cost of them over the 10-11 years we used them, they didn't cost as much as a windows machine that seems to be obsolete every few years. In that time we've had to replace the windows computers and have spent much more time troubleshooting them, re-installing operating systems, and wondering why they worked yesterday but don't work today and we didn't do anything new on them. Ever wonder why IT departments have 10+ people for windows support for 300 users while there will be one mac support person for 300 mac users?

We don't have any problems running Quicken on the macs, microsoft applications, or encountering cross-platform issues. The new macs come with so much bundled software that can handle most of what you neeed and open existing windows files.

When I worked in megacorp's IT dept most of our compatibility issues were with big software developers (microsoft) creating their own versions/variations of standards so that their own software would work better. An example would be using Frontpage to create webpages that would display correctly in IE but would not look as good in Netscape because the coding didn't conform to html standards. You do this enough and people assume that it must be the different OS or the software is incompatible.

When you upgrade, go for the mac, it will be a pleasure (and as someone mentioned you'll still be able to run your windows software).
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Re: "Have you switched over to Mac yet?"
Old 05-09-2006, 07:34 AM   #17
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Re: "Have you switched over to Mac yet?"

At home I switched to iBook a little over a year ago. We have a home network with 2 macs and 2-3 PCs running at a time. We have no issues with sharing files or printing to networked printers (I think there are 3). I use Foxfire instead of Safari (I never even gave Safari a chance since I really liked Foxfire). I run Office on my iBook so the files are compatible on our PCs. I log into my PC at work remotely from my mac all the time.

Apparently, there is even a way to burn (back up) large dual layer dvds on my mac without extra software -- I'm just waiting for my friend to send me the directions.
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Re: "Have you switched over to Mac yet?"
Old 05-09-2006, 08:54 AM   #18
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Re: "Have you switched over to Mac yet?"

A somewhat unrelated note on floppies and flash drives. I say this due to recent and ongoing flabbergasting experiences at work.

If you have important documents, you should have them backed up somewhere. This does *not* mean keep your only copy on a floppy, CD-RW or flash drive. If you need a working copy on portable media, fine, but *frequently* copy it to a backup location. If your office, say, has a server that the local admin backs up daily to tape, freakin use it! If you have a USB hard drive for backup, that would be a good place.

Floppies: I can't believe people still use these for important documents, but I swear somebody asked me for help with a floppy drive last week. And in the past 5 years I've had 4 instances of people coming to me in a panic that their only copy of a critical document is on this floppy and quit working. (They had been updating the file on the floppy for years.) Floppies *will* physically wear out, especially if you're updating an Excel or Word file and re-saving it frequently.

CD-RWs: Sometimes these just quit working. I won't explain how or why, just understand that there are slight incompatibilities with these things, and one day they'll quit working in one of your PCs. They may or may not continue to work in other PCs. Be aware of this if you keep a working copy on CD-RW, make frequent backups and be prepared to start another CD-RW or reformat the existing one and restore from backup...it will be necessary sooner or later.

Flash: I haven't had a problem with these yet, but I'm sure I eventually will. I don't think most people realize that flash drives can physically wear out...theoretically after a few hundred thousand writes. Modern flash devices have tricks to balance writes and wear and tear across their memory range rather than "burning a groove" in one spot. The point is they're not infallible. If you have a working copy on flash, keep it backed up elsewhere. As I say, I haven't had a problem yet, but I see a bunch of users carrying around flash drives, and I have no reason to think they're treating them differently than the floppies or CD-RWs.
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More or less back on topic: Floppies really are obsolete. I've been using them for the past few years, but only for special boot disks for installing different OS'es or imaging programs, but now I have most of those options available through boot CDs, too. I haven't used a floppy for a data file for a long, long time. As far as formatting for compatibility...well, they come preformatted as PC-DOS. If not, format them on a PC or as IBM copatible on a Mac. Then slap yourself for considering using a floppy. (NTFS and Fat32 aren't really valid formats for a floppy; Fat12 is the PC format.)

CDs: Avoid Mac's HFS format, and you should be fine w/interoperability. (UDF and CDFS/ISO9660)

Flash drives and external hard drives: Fat32 so I can read/write them from anything--Windows, Mac, DOS, Linux, etc..
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Re: "Have you switched over to Mac yet?"
Old 05-09-2006, 11:21 AM   #19
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Posts: 269
Re: "Have you switched over to Mac yet?"

I thought I would have to stand up for Mac but I see it has a lot of supporters. So I'll just add a few notes on my experience on living in a MicroSoft world.

keep my Macs (3 networked together) MicroSoft free and have very little problems with compatibility I have never owned a Windows PC. When I was still chained to the desk at work I used a Mac in a PC world with very little problem and used PCs as little as possible, I did have MS Office on my work Mac. There were 10+ Macs in a sea of 200+ Windows PCs and 100+ Linux/UNIX boxes. Both Windows had Linux/UNIX had full time support people, 10+ for PCs, 1 for Linux/UNIX. The Macs were self supported, we helped each other when needed, which was not very often. I had to hang a sign on my door that basically said don't waste my time complaining and ask PC questions, I use a Mac so I don't have to waste time on PCs.

I use several browsers, my current favorites are Camino and Sea Monkey(Mozilla replacement), but I also use FireFox and sometimes Safari. I use NeoOffice (a free OpenOffice variant) for MicroSoft compatibility, works for Word, Excel, don't do PowerPoint anymore but it is suppose to work. Quicken works fine for me since I never used in on a PC, I'm not sure if I'm missing anything. The Apple Mail program works great and is all I need. PhotoShop CS2, and GraphicCoverter (cheap shareware image editor and plenty for most people's needs) take care of my photo needs. NVu is a great free open source web tool that actually creates standard HTML. Toast is the CD/DVD burner software of choice but the built in burner software is all most people need. GarageSale is a good eBay package (cheap shareware). Then there is iTunes, iChat, and iMovie.

When people ask if they should buy a PC or a Mac I ask who is going to support them. If they list of one or two friends/relatives, I tell them to buy what every they tell them to. If they list a paid support service, don't know, or say me, I tell them to buy a Mac.

Jeb
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Re: "Have you switched over to Mac yet?"
Old 05-09-2006, 04:47 PM   #20
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Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Rio Grande Valley
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Re: "Have you switched over to Mac yet?"

When you switch to a Mac, some things might be a lot simpler than expected, and that might get frustrating!

We have used Macs for years. We travel with a couple of 17inch powerbook G4 notebooks.

All my video editing and DVD authoring software is Apple written (Final Cut), so for me Apple is a preferred video workstation.

iLife applications like iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD are incredibly powerful and intuitive to use. I use iPhoto a lot for cataloging and sorting through photos, even though I use Photoshop for more serious work. You can even create picture books in iPhoto and send out for hard-bound printed copies! Pretty sweet.

I run all the graphics tools from Adobe - Photoshop, InDesign, etc.

We take advantage of the extensive color management capability of Mac OS. This helps us create art quality prints that are true to what was originally captured by our camera.

Things like internet sharing from our cell aircard are super easy. An aircard is a cellphone PC card that provides medium speed to broadband internet access and is very mobile (just like a cellphone). Whichever computer is dialed in can share the connection with the other via Airport (WiFi).

We don't run any of the Microsoft applications on our Macs.

We also have a cheap HP laptop that we broke down and bought because it was the only thing that would run our Garmin StreetPilot GPS software. This issue will probably go away once we upgrade to the newer Intel-based macs.

Audrey
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