Ooer I’ve got a Mac

I never thought I’d do it but I went ahead and did it anyhow.  Yup, I bought  Mac (those that know me don’t judge me THAT way just yet!)

The history

First-most, I’ve always been a PC person due to Apple having a pretty ropey past as far as gaming and its always dictated what I’ve bought with computer kit.  Why spend oodles of money on a system that can’t game yet does pretty much the same as a PC?

Over the past few years my attitude toward PC gaming has changed quite a bit and I’ve found myself using more of the Xbox than my own computer.  Whilst yes it can be argued with that PC games look so much better than their console counter parts, it still doesn’t disguise the fact that PC gaming is getting more and more frustrating with every release.  The amount of issues with compatibilities, driver updates, graphic latency, DRM, memory leaks and patches I’ve dealt with for friends over the years, still hasn’t improved a great deal back from the old days with DOS, and honestly, I’m tired of buying a game only to have to wrestle with these issues before I can even attempt to play the game.  Thus this leaves me to using my computer for day to day tasks – email, internet, web design, coding, photo editing and music; the Xbox can do the gaming from now on.

Why the change?

Quite a few reasons really…

As my PC is now primarily used for day to day tasks I’ve been juggling a few operating systems, along side my Windows 7 OS, trying to find one that I can use for day to day tasks along with the speed of Linux and the GUI and stability of Apple.  Ubuntu was pretty close but the power management and oddities with multi monitors was a problem;  Windows 7 looks good but the User Access Control is a pain in the ass and seems to spend more time patching thus slowing down the system.  I then tried setting up a Hackintosh (just to see if I could) and thought “hey, this is pretty cool”.  Unfortunately, those that have tried to set up a Hackintosh know its like a ticking bomb when it comes to updates, taking itself out and that put me off using it as a live system.

With energy prices going up and up, I started to wonder how much my computer was costing me to keep running 24/7 (I use it as a media streaming, FTP and Web server).  It turned out quite a bit at the system running at an average 300 watts.  Not good.  I tried migrating to my netbook due to the lower power consumption, but the speed just isn’t there to do anything more than surf and email.  Editing photos, video and code was more than a bit frustrating on a 10″ screen and hosting the servers was a big no no with quite a bit of a delay.

At the same time as this, a good friend of mine invested in a Mac Mini and was trying his best to adapt to the interface after using Windows for the past 10 years. After much frustration he gave in and returned back to Windows.  He offered his Apple setup at a discount to me and voila I now have a Mac.

Lion Operating System

Apple's Lion Operating system

Pro’s

– Lower power consumption means I can leave it on all day, every day without worrying about my electric bill

– Its silent and I mean silent.  My Sky box is louder.

– The magic mouse and “gestures” that can be used to perform tasks is extremely useful.

– Its fast.  Even though the processor is the same as my PC, Chrome, mail, Trillian and applications load and respond pretty much instantly.

– It just works.  No applications freezing unexpectedly, no more random blue screens.

– No real need to worry about viruses (I’ll probably have shot myself in the for saying that).

– Design is slick – the keyboard, mouse and even the unit itself are extremely well built and look pretty cool (no I’m not feminine honest!)

– Backups work – Time machine is possibly the best backup for personal computers I have used.  Whilst Windows 7 backup was good its instability of being potentially unable to restore after a complete system wipe made it more like russian roulette of the backup world.

Con’s

– Getting used to the keyboard shortcuts and position of keys takes some getting used to (especially the ” and @ keys).

– Not as quick browsing the network initially as it should be – takes its time finding my NAS.

– Application availability – Some programs that I used on Windows don’t appear to have an alternative for Apple (at least that I haven’t found yet – but thats me being picky!)

– Finder windows appear to have a mind of their own – still haven’t learnt why sometimes a Finder (explorer) window gets “overwritten” with another folder I want open instead of opening a fresh window.

– Permissions – not really a con per-say, but migrating my Windows documents to the Mac was a bit of a ball-ache due to it setting everything to ‘read only’ AFTER migration.  Odd! (apparently a bug with Lion).

– File systems – reading and writing to NTFS permissions (namely my USB hard disk) was a big no-no.  Snow Leopard allowed it but oddly support doesn’t appear to be there in Lion from what I’ve read (have used Tuxera now to allow this).

Overall

In all fairness its still early days as I’m still kinda biassed towards Apple, but overall I’m impressed with the performance and stability of the system.  Lion does have its quirks and a few issues to sort out but nothing I would say that was a major problem for day to day use.

Do I think that its worth the money?  For what I paid a definite yes, but from my perspective, full price I’d have to say no as its a good 50% more than a computer of the same specification.  The operating system though is extremely straight forward, slick and smooth, and I can understand why some prefer it over Windows.  The selling point of Apple from my point of view always has been that it just works out of the box and I’m inclined to agree for the most part (a few issues for me migrating across).

If anyone has any tips to share with me I’d love to hear them as the Apple world is still kinda new to me.

Update : 12/01/2012

Lion as an operating system has a lot of issues.  NAS boxes fail to work correctly; Thunderbolt graphics adapters refuse to come out of standby if the USB drain is more than 30%; failure to work with USB hard drives with a JMicron adapter, and not being able to set the Mac Mini to sleep without 3rd party support – come on now Apple, this isn’t ‘working out of the box’ by any means and if I’d paid the full price for it I would have been livid that it doesn’t do as its designed.  From my perspective Lion is Apple’s Vista and I wouldn’t recommend anyone upgrade or get an Apple product with Lion on it.  Poor!

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