Mac vs. PC – Part 3

I can’t sleep, so I’ll type!

OS X and it’s community do not have a standard install/uninstall system. Instead all applications come as bundles, and basically to install an application you just copy the one file to your Applications folder, or wherever you would like it.

This works fine.

What doesn’t work fine is when you install something that isn’t a bundle, such as a printer driver. That installs crap all over the hard drive that might later cause problems, doesn’t create a log and doesn’t offer a way to uninstall.
While I like the idea of being able to install something just by dragging it, Apple dropped the ball on this one. In Windows I would regularly go to the Add/Remove Programs control panel and clean house. Helps keep the hard drive clean, keep space free and keep the cruft out. Much harder to do in OS X.

Now for some more praises. OS X has a built in speech synthesis and recognition system that totally kicks ass. I noticed it last night while playing the Chess program that comes with it. An option was to use voice commands. I turned it on, said “Knight A3 to B4” and the damn thing moved! No training, or nothing.
Did a little reading and it turns out this system is fully exposed in the Carbon, and to a lesser extent the Cocoa Frameworks and I can program to it! I wrote a little sample application that took voice commands in about 4 lines of code. Very impressive!

I finally dove in tonight and really started learning Cocoa and Objective C. Cocoa is well designed, but I wish they had used C++. Objective C breaks most of the rules of common syntax that I have been using for the last… like, 15 years and it’s a big adjustment. I’m getting there, but I’m definitly not fluent yet.

Mac vs. PC – Part 2

A short one tonight.

Over the last few days I’ve completely replaced my main PC, which is where I used to do all my web browsing, AIMing, IRCing, Mailing and so on with my Powerbook. Tonight I only switched back to my PC to play some Painkiller.

I am starting to feel like OSX is the BeOS I always wanted. I has a lot of BeOS’s good points and adds additional good points like being successful and supported by a good size company. I don’t think Apple has embraced their developers as well as Be did, but they are pretty close and a hell of a lot better than Microsoft. XCode is a pretty good IDE, and it’s free.

That’s all for now. Consider me even more “switched”.

More Power!

For some reason I thought that my new Powerbook had 512MB of RAM. I thought wrong. I eventually took the blinders off and noticed it has 256. I wouldn’t try to run any modern OS with 256MB so I ran right down to Microcenter and picked up another 512MB. Big difference! Switching applications is much snappier now, as I would have expected.

Now, if anyone knows how to capture and possibly filter every keystroke from Cocoa I’d appreicate if you would tell me 🙂 I want to write a CueCat driver.

Too Fast

I got up at 8:00am, shaved my head around 8:15am and now it’s 11:00am. I can already feel the stubble growing back. That’s crazy!

Powerbook With KVM

One other thing. The Powerbook only has USB ports for external keyboard/mouse input. If you are a big geek like me you have several monitors, a few keyboards and a KVM on your desktop. The KVM is of course PS/2 based, because until now you have used only PCs. Well! Microcenter, and many other retailers I am sure, will sell you a PS/2 keyboard + mouse to USB adapter for $15. Mine is made by QVS and it works perfectly.

Mac vs. PC – Part 1

This is part one of a series, I’m sad to say. There should be no parts but now that I have a Mac I’ve definitly got some things to say. Let’s begin with some history.

History: I hate Macs.

There, that was easy. Now let’s really begin with a story.

A few weeks back I finally broke down and bought a 12″ 1GHz Powerbook. I’d been putting it off for a long time, but I just decided I really needed a laptop, and I wanted to learn OSX. I don’t intend to game or anything on the laptop, just really use it for mail, web and downloading pictures, so I figured there would be no harm in trying out a new platform. I had some initial problems with the Powerbook, which were all my fault and I can’t blame anyone else. It kept resetting or locking up when I picked it up and it turned out that I had not pushed the Airport (802.11b) card in far enough. I called Apple Support, they told me what I was doing wrong (instantly) and I have not had a single problem with the Powerbook since. Score one for Apple. For reference, I left Microcenter with about $1900 less in my pocket.

As it turns out I had the opportunity to buy a second laptop yesterday. I’ve been promising one to Kelly now for about 2 years and the time was finally right. She basically needs a laptop for the same reasons as me, so we didn’t intend to buy anything major, just a nice, cheap laptop. She is well versed in PC and Windows, and there is no good reason for her to learn a new operating system so we decided to buy a PC laptop.

We did plenty of shopping, from Best Buy to Microcenter to Best Buy to Comp USA where we finally purchased a HP Pavilion 4610US. It’s a AMD 2500+ based laptop with a 15″ screen, Combo DVD player and CD-RW, 512MB of RAM. After a mouse, bag, memory upgrade (from 256 to 512) and a few other sundry items we escaped the store for about $1100. An AMD 2500+ is about 1.8GHz, so right off the bat Kelly’s laptop is faster than mine, with a 3″ bigger screen for about $800 less money. Score one for PCs.

Having the unique opportunity to try out both a Mac and a PC laptop at the same time gives me some insight into the marketing you see behind these machines. The most important thing that I have to say is that the Mac and OSX just WORK. They really do. There’s nothing to configure, nothing to set up, no drivers to download, nothing weird to do. You do things that you would expect to result in certain results and they do. Albiet a little slowly. The marketing people are lying to you. A 1GHz Mac feels like a 1GHz computer. Not a 2GHz computer, or a 4GHz computer or whatever they are claiming these days. This laptop responds like the 1GHz AMD I threw away a few months ago. Let that be known.

Now, the real meat. Some comparisons.

Screen – The Mac screen and PC screen look to be of the same quality. There is definitly something to be said about the 15″ though. It’s a lot bigger. 3″ doesn’t seem like much till I hold my Powerbook up and see that the whole thing fits in her screen with some space left over. If I had it to do over again I would have saved my money a little longer and bought a 15″ Powerbook. I still love it though.

Speed – Her AMD 2500+ is definitly faster than my (much more expensive) Powerbook. No tricks or anything. Things just happen faster. That said, the 1GHz is “good enough”. I can do the things I want to do, I just wait a little longer for apps to open and such.

Ease of use – The Mac wins hands down. Everything works. Every. Single. Thing. Everything sorta works with the PC, after a little tweaking. In the short amount of time I had to mess with it I could not get DVDs to play smoothly on Kelly’s laptop when on battery power. It works fine on AC power, but on battery it “hitches” every other second. It’s unwatchable. Hopefully a driver update will fix this, but I didn’t have enough time to play with it before she had to leave. None of that on the (slower) Mac.

Aesthetics – Almost nothing to say. The Mac is gorgeous. The PC looks like a PC. Everything about the Mac is beautiful, from the power cable to the icons on the desktop.

Compatibility – The PC is Windows XP and works with everything, so not much to say there. The surprise, to me at least, is that OSX is pretty much just as good. There has been nothing so far that I couldn’t do. I was worried about the web browser sucking, but Safari seems just fine. I was worried about AIM, but iChat blows AIM away. Snak is a great IRC client and so on. Things are different but with a few minutes it’s very easy to become accustomed to them.
I’m dying without ATTray on OSX but that’s why I just downloaded XCode 🙂

Value – I’ve said it a million times and I’ll say it a million more. Macs are way too expensive. Everything about them is more expensive. Sure, Kelly’s DVD playback is a problem, but it’s one that will get fixed with a little work. I suppose Windows vs. OSX is like Linux vs. Windows there. If your time is worth nothing, Windows is better than OSX and Linux is better than Windows. For most consumers who just want to surf the web, check their email, download their pictures and maybe watch some porn I’d have to recommend they buy a Mac. There’s no weird driver incompatibilities or anything like that because Apple controls all the hardware, and they write the OS. If your Mom has a Mac there are no more calls about “How do I open a .zip file?” because Safari already did it for you.

This is getting pretty long winded, so let me summarize and then start writing ATTray for OSX.
I’m switched. I like my Mac. It was more expensive than a PC would have been and I got less actual product for my money but it’s better. It way better. You have to pay for nice things and it’s definitly worth it.
I used to think that recommending a Mac for Joe Average User was a bad idea because they would run into compatibility problems. I don’t think so any more. Aside from games, which the Mac is wayyyyyyy behind on everything else seems pretty good and at least as good as the Windows offerings.

Go ahead, buy your Mom a Mac. She’ll thank you for it by never calling you for support. There’s a hell of a lot of value in that.

On a side note, a friend of mine has been trying to get her Internet Explorer to work for a few weeks. She spent hours on the phone with Comcast, with Norton (because she had their firewall software installed) and anyone else that would listen to her. In all this time they never figured it out and multiple people told her to go buy a new computer. She called me and told me “I can send and receive e-mail, and Comcast says they can see the modem but when I open Internet Explorer it says ‘Server cannot be found'”.
Before she was done that statement I knew her proxy settings were screwed up, and so should you have. It took me about 30 seconds to guide her through getting it fixed up. What the HELL is wrong with tech support people that couldn’t find that? That’s a fucking embarrassment (along with my spelling). No wonder people get so frusterated with tech support, and hell, why not sent the support to India. They can’t be any worse than the rest of the stupid fucks who call themselves tech support in this country.


The Dark Side

I’m typing this from my new 12″ Powerbook.

What have I done?

What I have done is bought a defective computer. I’ll be returning it today assuming Microcenter doesn’t try to charge me a restocking fee, in which case I’ll be ending up in jail most likely.

I noticed when I got it home that there seemed to be some weirdness on the front right edge of the case. It’s seperated by the tiniest bit. I figured it was just shoddy craftmenship, which I don’t really expect from Apple, but whatever. All was well and good till I picked it up to carry it across the room. As soon as I picked it up the screen went grey and a white box popped up saying I needed to reboot. I did this a few more times to verify and then I Googled.

Seems that I have either a bad hard drive or a bad hard drive cable. That, on top of the case oddness makes me think someone before me has had this laptop and maybe dropped it on it’s head. I’m not happy.

Further Update:
I took it back, got another, it did the same thing. I killed the dog, shot the roommate, blew up the house and then called Apple support. Britney told me I was a weak girly man and to push the Airport card in further. I did and all is well. *Woops*


Oh, I forgot to mention the dreams. Whenever I am sick I have constant, repetative, stupid dreams whenever I try to sleep. It’s always some task I am trying to complete that either goes on forever or that I keep failing at. This time they are all tower related.

Last night and the night before I was trying to make this piece of a huge black tower that is all convoluted. The tower was made of pieces of randomly welded together steel and somehow represented TCP/IP. (Don’t ask). The problem was that I was responsible for this one hunk of the tower right in the middle and I had to build my piece in such a way that I could move it into place without disturbing any of the other pieces.

Tonight, in the few hours of sleep I actually got I was just climbing an endless staircase in a tower. Just climbing and climbing and climbing. Sometimes I would slip and then I got to start over.

So, it’s 6:40am I have to be up for work in about 1:20. I can’t sleep cause I am freezing and sweating at the same time. Man this sucks.

The End is Here

I have been sicker (more sick?) than I have been in years for the past two days. Fevers, delerium, headaches, body aches, ache aches. Doctor says it’s a virus and I just have to wait it out, which surprisingly, made me happy. The last time I went to the doctor for this kind of sick they were still in the “throw antibiotics at it!” frame of mind and that always bothered me. People knew for years that antibiotics did nothing for viruses and that the constant use of them was just making stronger bugs but you could pretty much be guaranteed that if you went to the doctor with a sniffle you were gonna get a bottle of nasty pink stuff.

So, score one for the medical trade which finally woke up a bit and also score a few dozen for the bastard virus that has me feeling like death.

All this is well and good except for one thing. I started a new job on Monday and now I have been away from it, sick, for two days. Not the best first impression I am sure. On Wednesday I could barely move, everything hurt so much but I was sure I would be able to get back on Thursday. Wednesday night came with a 103 degree fever and going from teeth chattering cold to cast in the pits of hell hot. Today the fever was mostly gone (except for a few minutes ago when I checked, it was back slightly) but I still have this terrible, dry, wracking cough and every muscle in my body hurts. Oh, and my eyes are bleeding for some reason.

On a happy note, the first few notes of a song that I had stuck in my head for 4 days but couldn’t figure out suddenly resolved themselves while listening to Groove Salad. It was Fragile State, if you’d like to know. That’s a relief. I thought I was going to lose my mind hearing the same two notes over and over again in my sleep.

That’s all for now. I’ll be back in work tomorrow no matter what, even if I have to have someone carry the individual pieces of my broken body in one at a time.

P.S. I was just kidding about the eyes.