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Define the "Apple" experience

By cezarg in Technology
Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 10:47:00 AM EST
Tags: Hardware (all tags)

Here comes this time again. We all know when it happens. It happens when new software releases quote our system spec as the "absolute minimum". Our kernel compiles overnight and our desktop environment of choice seems to run a tad slower with each login session. At that point we can honestly say that our hardware has once again got obsolete.

So I'm shopping around for a new machine. Naturally my first thought was to check out the latest Athlon Thunderbird pricing to see what I can get for my hard-earned cash. On the second thought however, I realised how tired I was of owning IBM PC clones. Buying an "ultrafast" Athlon only to see it lose all its steam in twelve months owing to all the bloat that new PC software will undoubtedly receive gives me a feel of being part of a silly rat race that I'm destined to lose.

So I decided to look into Apple computers for (at least a partial) answer. Macs seem to be released less frequently, so the treadmill (hopefully) runs a little slower. Also, the homogenity of Apple hardware means that software could be better optimised than equivalent PC software that has to support that huge array of hardware mixtures we have out there.

The first thing I noticed was how very expensive Apple hardware was. I set my eyes on the G4 Cube and after considering all the available configurations I came to conclusion that getting an Apple will mean parting with at least $3000 (US). This is very expensive considering that I always bought mid-range PCs. I could justify spending such a sum if I knew exactly that a Mac is what I wanted. However, having no access to Macs, I'd like ask all those that own them to say why they chose their hardware over the cheaper Intel alternatives. Is it just that Apple computers are more hassle free to set up or is there something even more attractive about their hardware? Is it really so much more solid compared to PC clones?

Apple always emphasise the quality of their hardware. This is an important issue for me as I have generally been rather unhappy with the quality of PC components. PC software also leaves quite a lot to be desired. Apple's new MacOS X seems like a nice blend of a great windowing toolkit with a solid system under the hood. Being a programmer by trade, I find Apple appealing as a new development platform to toy with. Writing software for "exotic" platforms is something I've always enjoyed a lot in the past.

All in all the Cube has quite a lot going for it but its hefty price could make me stay with Intel/AMD powered hardware. What I'd like to hear then is why you chose Apple, especially if you happen to develop Mac software. Since I spent most of my life to date in Europe where Macs are much less popular (compared to North America) I haven't got to know the Apple community at all. So if you're a part of it or just had a chance to work with Macs for some time, what is (if anything) so special about computers made by Apple Inc?


Voxel dot net
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Preferred Apple hardware:
o iMac 2%
o iBook 2%
o PowerMac G4 23%
o G4 Cube 9%
o Titanium PowerBook 39%
o Dell Dimension 22%

Votes: 84
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Also by cezarg

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Define the "Apple" experience | 80 comments (78 topical, 2 editorial, 0 hidden)
Well, I started on a Mac (2.66 / 9) (#2)
by Arkady on Sat Feb 03, 2001 at 10:40:55 PM EST

Other than brief use of a TI994A and a Commodore 64 way back in Junior High, my first computing experience was with a Mac+ in College.

Since then, I've had 5 other Mac desktop machines and 2 PowerBooks and, though annoyance at Apple's screwed up OSX caused me to switch to BeOS over a year ago (which I ran on a PoerMac 8500 for a while and now run on an Athlon), I still like their system. MacOS (pre-X) is quite the good single-user desktop system and I heartily recommend it for the apps that are available.

As a programmer also, I very much prefer developing on the Mac to any other OS, but that's mostly because Be has pretty lousy GUI construction tools. If I never have to look at X-Windows or MS Windows source again I'll consider myself extremely lucky.

Personally, I'd say to get the Atlon and a copy of BeOS instead, since Apple's OS X beta was pretty much DOA in my book, since the backwards compatibility to MacOS just sucked. Download a copy of the free version of BeOS and try it on your current machine; it runs fine on my Pentium laptop.


Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere Anarchy is loosed upon the world.

Is BeOS still viable? (3.66 / 3) (#7)
by cezarg on Sat Feb 03, 2001 at 11:33:18 PM EST

I have been following the Benews.com site for a while and it seems to me that BeOS (not BeIA) is slowly losing momentum. BeOS is quite nice (although I'd still choose QNX's RTP both as a user and as a developer) but it seems that it's community is resigned to the idea that Be Inc. doesn't really care much about its desktop OS anymore and it seems to have disappointed a number of developers. I'm not saying that that's the case. it just seems that way to me.

[ Parent ]
maybe (3.33 / 3) (#11)
by Arkady on Sat Feb 03, 2001 at 11:58:06 PM EST

It's certainly quite usable right now. It has a good "office" suite from Gobe, it has the major network protocols (from the old stuff like FTP to ssh and scp), it runs Perl, and it's got a pretty good development setup. I only boot my PC into Windows for UT and Lemmings, and it's been about four months since I've done that.

I am, however concerned abut the future of the OS. Be certainly seems to be abandoning BeOS to the ravages of time, since the last update came out in August and there hasn't been a peep from them since. That may very well be the best thing that could happen to it, really.

Consider, for example, that if BeOS were Open Source Linux would stand no chance as a desktop OS. BeOS is pretty clearly the best foundation for a desktop OS available, though it should still be considered just a foundation till it gets some more development, since some major bits seem to be underdeveloped.

What I'm hoping is that Be will release more of the OS to open development the way they did with their GUI last spring. It's a very solid OS, but it needs work and Be's not doing it; I hope they'll let us do it instead.


Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere Anarchy is loosed upon the world.

[ Parent ]
It's the only way (4.00 / 1) (#38)
by itsbruce on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 10:48:46 AM EST

Going Open Source, I mean. Things have developed to the point where you have to be a Microsoft or an Apple to compete with Open Source.

I don't know what would happen between BeOS and Linux if BeOS went open source now. It might claim the consumer desktop space and shut Linux out but I doubt it would have much effect on the current user base, since most people with Linux on their desktop are developers or sysadmins.

I do think it's the only hope for BeOS, though. Last time I looked at the various BeOS weblogs I was struck by the tone of impotence, frustration and sadness coming from many users. That's why I will never let myself be reliant on a commercial, closed OS.


It is impolite to tell a man who is carrying you on his shoulders that his head smells.
[ Parent ]
BeOS (4.00 / 1) (#57)
by jck2000 on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 05:58:42 PM EST

I have only been using BeOS for a relatively short time, but I love it. I am a programmer/hobbiest who usually uses Linux, but I have probably devoted the majority of my fiddling time to BeOS over the past month or so (of course, the novelty is a big factor). I strongly encourage people to check it out -- one can download a 50MB "Personal Edition" version of BeOS for free that doesn't even require a partition (it looks like a folder under Win or Linux) or one can purchase the "Pro" CD for about $50 from http://www.gobe.com. I have found it incredibly easy to set up and use, it boots in 15 seconds and its C++ GUI API is very straight-forward. There isn't tons of software, but its getting there. If you haven't seen BeOS before, I think you will be stunned that a product of this quality could be stuck in obscurity.

It does seem, however, that Be is backing off on the BeOS itself in favor of its work on BeIA (the Information Appliance) -- check out the Be home page (http://www.be.com). Frankly, I am not too optimistic on continued development of the BeOS and I wouldn't hold my breath on it being open sourced.

Be does reportedly have a version 6 of the BeOS in the works (the current version is version 5), but its resources are limited -- I believe its gross revenues for fiscal year 2000 were only $480,000. I think that continued development of the BeOS is dependent on its necessity for the BeIA project -- I do not know much about the issue, but I fear that the BeIA project could cause the specialization of the BeOS in a way that makes it less attractive as a general-purpose OS or that causes the BeOS to stop being developed as a product separate from the BeIA.

As far as open sourcing is concerned, I think it is asking a lot of a company to give away its crown jewel. Additionally, (i) the BeIA project, if viable, would make it less likely that Be would want to open IP that overlaps with the BeIA IP and (ii) I have no idea how much third-party IP BeOS has (which would pose obstacles to open-sourcing).

The BeNews web site (http://www.benews.com) had a story the other day regarding rumors that Sony (a development partner in the BeIA) may be interested in Be. I think the story is pure speculation, but it would not surprise me if Be/BeOS was eventually picked up by someone with greater resources.

[ Parent ]

I would have been impressed by BeOS... (3.00 / 1) (#64)
by cezarg on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 07:24:37 PM EST

if I had not tried QNX Rtp first. It's by far the fastest and leanest x86 desktop out there. It's a real pity that QNX aren't interested in pursuing RTP as a desktop OS. You can download it for free from QNX. Additionally Posix compliance means a short learning curve (for me anyway). Check it out, you'll be stunned.

[ Parent ]
BeOS was never viable. (2.80 / 5) (#14)
by chuqui on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 12:13:16 AM EST

Here's a hint: BeOS was never viable. Jean-Louis Gassee new that Rhapsody was going to be an absolute failure, and set up a company specifically so that when it fell apart, Apple would have to buy it and he'd be proven the genius he always felt he was.

he also felt Apple had no choice, so when the negotiations happened, he got greedy and tried to get Apple to pay way too much. Apple balked, went off and bought NeXT instead, leaving J-L with a company and nobody to buy it, and giving Apple Steve Jobs back. Great for Apple, horrible for Be.

Be has had a following among some of the hacker folks, but it was never generally viable -- it was set up from the start to be sold off to a company that could make it viable and sell it, but Gassee botched that deal, and he's been looking for a reason for Be to exist ever since.

-- Chuq Von Rospach, Internet Gnome <http://www.chuqui.com> <kuro@chuqui.com> "The first rule of holes: If you are in one, stop digging"
[ Parent ]
Words from one who started with x86 (and still is) (4.33 / 3) (#17)
by kcarnold on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 12:38:42 AM EST

I apologize in advance for my heavy use of parentheses in the following comment; it's late and I'm too lazy to fix up my English. To put it bluntly, Apple did not "screw up" OSX (well it was kinda late, but now its release date is fast approaching and the public beta is quite usable anyway). I first saw and worked with OSX PB just today, and will say that I'm decently impressed. You argue that backwards compatibility "sucked" -- then what the heck is Classic mode? Nothing short of amazing. It ran everything from MacOS9 with very, very few hitches, many that will be resolved in the final release. Even something as complex and graphics-intensive as Photoshop worked, and looked exactly like it was running natively (granted it didn't have the Aqua look or filebrowser or any of that sort of stuff, but that is to be expected). It's VMWare / mac-on-linux, but with full integration. Nice... Note that at the moment no other operating system (technically just a program in all cases) is capable of running apps with such integration (VMWare / mac-on-linux approach it by allowing you to display the virtualized guest OS in full-screen video). If software backward compatibility is your only argument, I think that dispells it quite readily. If not you can always dual-boot to OS9. If your concern is hardware backward-compatibility, buying an Athlon to replace it is defeating the whole point; you now have not only a different set of peripherals and architecture, all of your "old" programs from the Mac must run emulated, and the only good ones I've seen (BasiliskII is only 68k emulation) are commercial and cost extra money.

There are some good (if what I hear is true, quite good) apps for BeOS -- but at the same time there are plenty of quite-good apps for Linux. Both operating systems share the problem of the availability of mainstream apps. Most of the applications that "everyone else" uses are written for MacOS (9 until recently; X apps "coming soon") or, more likely, Windows. BeOS, until BeWine is finished, cannot run Windows applications (and there are some fundamental issues that must be resolved first; Windows apps need to map into lower (< 1 GB) memory segments, and this is reserved for the kernel in BeOS if I understand correctly). Bochs may be ported already (anyone?), but it seems pointless emulate x86 on x86, but that's the only option for now, as VMWare doesn't run on Be (yet... maybe never), and plex86 is still quite limited even though it can run on BeOS. So that leaves BeOS users with only one option: install Windows and dual-boot. MacOSX has solved almost all of these problems in one stroke: Classic. Dual-boot is still an option, but not needed in most cases other than games (some will work in the final release, and many do not work in any emulation environment well because of the intricate mesh of hardware and software used to get maximum or even bearable performance; plex86 may solve this by allowing a game to use a second video card all to itself). And Virtual PC, which will be released for native OSX soon after the final, is an excellent x86 emulator for the Macintosh platform, from what I have seen of it. You still need a copy of Windows to run Windows-based programs (or emulate Linux/x86 and run Wine if it's a simple app, or wait for Wine to get CPU emulation and a port to OSX), but to run old Mac programs, a copy of MacOS 9.1 will be included with OSX. Smart moves in the backward-compatibility sector for Apple.

With OSX, you as a programmer have the choice of developing for the old OS9 interface (Classic or Carbon) or the new Cocoa API, neither of which I have used so I cannot reasonably comment here.

For the original poster, I would recommend that you go with the Mac. You obviously have a higher-than average experience with hardware, and have done your homework in the matter. Macs are generally well-built computers; I only have one, the PowerMac 6500, and am quite impressed with its hardware even though I have personally built all of my x86 machines (3 currently active here). I also like the PowerMac G4's design; lacking a fan keeps it nice and quiet, and indeed it does stay suprisingly cool. The Cube as you mention seems to be worth the money only if you are into design and aesthetics; otherwise it's just a harder-to-mess-with PowerMac G4 with no dual-processor option (I don't know if Apple offers the dual-500 G4's anymore though, though I predict that they will release a dual-processor 733 or higher when OSX is released). With it you get a good deal of cool Mac software, like iDVD (if you get a newer G4 with the DVD option; though iDVD does have content restriction it's better than what you can do in any other OS and any other tool so far in the home-user market), iMovie (video editing with a simple GUI yet powerful enough to do a good portion of what a home user would want), and others (i* -- yes, that gets annoying). All newer Macs run Linux nicely, even the sweet (but expensive) Titanium PowerBook G4, and I've found the PowerPC Debian port to be very nice.

Finally, on the parent's comment on the free BeOS download, remember that Be is gratis (free) but not liber (Free). Though OSX is not open either, Apple has taken a big step by opening Darwin. Really, OS cost only matters for upgrading anyway, because you're getting a free (basically), preinstalled copy when you buy a new packaged computer. (That's one reason why I have custom-built all my x86's -- avoiding the Microsoft 'tax'.) If you're buying a packaged Apple computer next month (and a half... but the poster doesn't seem that urgent), you're getting Mac OS X and Mac OS 9.1 free and even partially Free. If you buy a packaged x86 (which I assume the poster does not), you're getting a "free" copy of Microsoft Windows in all but still very special cases. Apple doesn't charge any extra for Mac OS with its computers, of course, for obvious reasons. That point was pretty well moot anyway.

If you still have a problem with the Mac, you're welcome to say so. Just remember that no computer hardware, operating system, or application is or ever will be perfect, unless the definition of "perfect" changes.

[ Parent ]

Oops... (3.50 / 2) (#18)
by kcarnold on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 12:43:39 AM EST

Forgot two things I was going to mention:

I'm writing this from my P3/450 homebuilt x86, and my next computer upgrade is more than likely to an AMD chip (as yet undetermined). I simply don't have the kind of money to upgrade to a Mac, and I already have most all the hardware I need. If I don't upgrade for another 5 years and need something newer and faster, given a similar situation as today I'd go with a Mac though. (Let's hope Apple stays alive till then, but remember that Apple has been dying actively for the last oh maybe 5-7 years?)

[ Parent ]

I'm surprised (4.00 / 2) (#27)
by Arkady on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 01:59:59 AM EST

It seems your experience ith the X beta was significantly different from mine. I was using the developer beta (allegedly identical to the public release beta) and the damn thing couldn't even run SimpleText without the "Classic" environment crashing.

It was pretty much the most useless thing I'd ever tried.

Who knows, though. Maybe they found some teensy bug and fixed it for public release, though they said the CDs were identical; maybe it just doesn't like the Cube.

Whatever it was, obviously, your experience was quite different from mine.


Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere Anarchy is loosed upon the world.

[ Parent ]
Yup, very different (4.00 / 3) (#50)
by kcarnold on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 03:48:20 PM EST

I don't recall Apple ever saying that the CDs were identical; obviously they are not since the public beta did not include any of the developer tools (they are downloadable separately). And since Apple makes all the hardware that its software runs on, it's very unlikely that it doesn't "like" the cube, because it's a recent product and it certainly is easy enough for Apple to just stick the CD in all of its combinations of hardware (there aren't that many) and make sure things work. So in all likelihood, the Classic problem you were having was probably a bug fixed in the public beta (and definately gone by the final), or you did something really weird to your computer.

So two fundamental responses here: first, don't judge a product by a pre-beta release, and don't complain about something that is obviously a feature (Classic mode) and use that to support something else (BeOS, or Windows or Linux without VMWare or plex86) that doesn't have anything like that feature. You have a very valid point that Classic is worthless if it doesn't work, but in my experience and that of many others, it works with remarkable reliability, and no other operating system thus far can claim that sort of interoperability right out of the box.

I'll say again: I'm quite impressed with what Apple has done with OSX: Unix with a Mac front-end. I can gripe about little things like it not having killall(1), but overall it's a very nicely done OS, with backwards-compatibility to boot. Too bad my Mac-in-the-basement can't run it (OSX is G3/G4 only and requires hordes of RAM, but it's Unix so it's smart with swap and process management, so you really don't see the bloat). So it runs Linux -- Debian. And now I apt-get as readily on my Pentium 3 workstation as on my 603ev (PowerMac 6500) server.

[ Parent ]

screwed up MacOS X? (4.00 / 3) (#21)
by chuqui on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 12:54:57 AM EST

How can you say Apple screwed up MacOS X? Version 1.0 isn't shipping yet. Are you tossing out MacOS X because a beta release had bugs in it? Beta releases are to find adn fix bugs. If you have a problem with that -- it's not Apple's problem, and you shouldn't run beta software.

-- Chuq Von Rospach, Internet Gnome <http://www.chuqui.com> <kuro@chuqui.com> "The first rule of holes: If you are in one, stop digging"
[ Parent ]
Me too (3.28 / 7) (#3)
by rusty on Sat Feb 03, 2001 at 10:42:51 PM EST

I'm going to be in the market for a new laptop in the relatively near future, and I've been having a lot of these thoughts too. I'm wavering, at this point, between one of those Sony Picturebooks (teeny, portable, runs linux) and the new Apple Titanium G4 (*really* sexy, but a little bigger, runs DVD stuff I can't use in Linux). I'm in the same place w/r/t Apple stuff though. I've never really used it. Would I hate it? I know you can't tell me that, really, but Mac-lovers (especially those who also run Linux) a compare and contrast would be most helpful.

Not the real rusty
My 1st advice: try them out yourself (3.66 / 3) (#13)
by Phaser777 on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 12:10:53 AM EST

I have an old iBook and a newer Toshiba for laptops, so I have some idea about both sides.

One great thing about the Apple laptops is that they have a really long battery life compared to PCs. My iBook got on average 5.5 hours, and my PC gets a little less than hours (both times are without using the CD and with the backlight brightness set low on the Mac, the Toshiba doesn't seem to have a brightness control).

As for whether or not you'd like using the Mac OS, I'd recommend trying to borrow one or spend some time playing with one at a store (if you can, get a 2+ button USB mouse to use. 1 button's fine for newbies, but a hindrance if you use the contextual menus a lot or play games. I don't need to use the c-menus much so I have them set to the wheel button and the right button set to double click). I like the Mac OS a bit more than Windows, but I know there's a lot of people who hate it. Personal opinion, I guess. Could always install linux on it if you don't like Mac OS.

I've actually had better luck installing linux on my Macs than my PCs. They both install fine, but linux can't seem to find the offbrand NIC in my desktop PC. I'm a complete newbie at linux though, so I'm probably missing something (what's the shutdown command? rm-something?). ;)

Given the choice between a Powerbook G4 and a Sony Picturebook, I would get the Picturebook. I carry a laptop around almost everywhere I go, and a 1-foot-square 6-7 pound computer gets heavy pretty quick (yeah, the Powerbook is only 5.3 pounds, but it's still pretty bulky space-wise). I don't need that much CPU power when I'm on the road, so a 600Mhz Transmeta is plenty.
My business plan:
Obtain the patents for something (the more obvious and general the better)
Wait until someone else adopts the idea and becomes rich off it.
Sue them.
[ Parent ]
Cost of Macs... (4.66 / 3) (#20)
by chuqui on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 12:52:39 AM EST

>One great thing about the Apple laptops is that they have a really long battery life compared to PCs.

This is something that really drives me crazy about the Mac vs. PC wars, and why I stay out of them for the most part.

"Macs are so damned expensive" -- well, not really, not any more. And when you go pricing machines, price comparable ones. Doesn't make sense to buy a $700 PC because it's cheaper, but then have to add a USB port to hook up your digital camera, and a firewire card for your digital video camera, or a set of speakers for audio, or -- the list goes on and on. And let's not even think about how much fun it is buying all those third party things on a PC and getting Windows or (horrors) NT to actually get them all working reliably. On the Mac -- they just work.

A lot of these "it's cheaper to buy a PC" arguments are like someone looking at a Lexus and a Kia that has no wheels, and deciding to buy the Kia because it's cheaper.

too many people on BOTH sides of these religious wars already know the answer, and simply find only facts that reinforce what they want to believe, or rewrite facts to fit if the facts don't back them up.

Mac hardware can be more expensive -- but Mac hardware also has more functionality and less integration hassle (how much is your time worth making it all run?), so by the time you finish buying the OTHER stuff you need to make the PC do what you need it to do, it's not cheaper. On the other hand, if you're not going to use stuff the Mac bundles in, there's cost there you don't need. that's one big reason why Apple stopped plugging floppies in every machine. Nobody used them any more. So why make everyone pay for one?

-- Chuq Von Rospach, Internet Gnome <http://www.chuqui.com> <kuro@chuqui.com> "The first rule of holes: If you are in one, stop digging"
[ Parent ]
Re:Cost of Macs... (4.00 / 1) (#23)
by Phaser777 on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 01:05:26 AM EST

You have a good point, but I'm a bit confused as to how my comparison of battery lives relates to it. Care to enlighten me?

And about the floppy drive thing, the same could be said of the Firewire ports for most people. Though they contribute a bit more to the expandability than an ancient floppy drive would, I thought I should point out the potential argument.
My business plan:
Obtain the patents for something (the more obvious and general the better)
Wait until someone else adopts the idea and becomes rich off it.
Sue them.
[ Parent ]
linux for ppc is generally pretty good (3.75 / 4) (#19)
by joeyo on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 12:52:12 AM EST

First off, I'm an old school Mac Bigot (tm) that now mainly uses x86 windows and *nix. Why? Because right now I can't afford Mac hardware (I built my own x86 box for ~$500. Woo!), because I wanted to have the experience of building my own box, and because I can tool around on linux just as well on x86...

With that said, I plan on making my next computer a Mac. Liet willing, a Titanium even.

I'm not sure if it's even worth comparing the current MacOS to windows or *nix. So I'll recomend this: If you don't need a computer RIGHT NOW, wait until OS X ships (March 24, I'm counting the days) and then make your decision. A lot of techies really seem to really dislike the current MacOS, both for its overt new-user-friendly-ness and lack of power tools, and for its serious lack of modern-OS features; OS X should help in both areas. See if you can test-drive it when it ships. It's been said before, but I think that OS X is going to give linux a run for its money (at least on Apple hardware...)

Now as far as running Linux on a mac, in my limited experience, this is a pretty painless experience as there is not such a great variety in hardware out there. So the install is generally easier than it is on a lot of PC hardware. This is especially true if you have a more recent mac. USB is working nicely but firewire is (as far as I know) still not there.

"Give me enough variables to work with, and I can probably do away with the notion of human free will." -- demi
[ Parent ]

Mac OSX (3.75 / 4) (#28)
by harb on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 02:44:19 AM EST

We had this discussion earlier today in #k5, but I'll reiterate some of my points regarding why not to run Linux on a TiG4.

First off, Mac OS X. Aqua is prettier than XWindows. It's faster. It doesn't crash nearly as much (I've used Gnome/KDE/WM/bb all extensively. I like Gnome). Oh. And you can kill -9 IE, which is the only app, in five months of running the Public Beta on my iMac at work, has ever died on me. Figures, right?

Speaking of "kill -9", Mac OS X is a dual system. On the front-end, you have Quartz/Aqua. Quartz is the actual GUI, and Aqua is sort of the "theme" for it. Under the hood, you have a complete BSD system. Darwin is based on fBSD (I'm praying they do a ports-type system for OS X, please please please). It's a full UNIX-system.

You can run XWindows under Darwin, and switch between Aqua and X with a keystroke.

Anyway. It'll run Linux PPC stuff. It does all sorts of Cool Shit. I dunno why'd you actually want to run Linux on the thing.

Anyway. I'm tired from ranting about this earlier. boop. :)


[ Parent ]

Slight misunderstanding... (4.00 / 1) (#53)
by rusty on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 04:37:27 PM EST

I actually wasn't intending to run linux on it if I got the powerbook. The main reason it's in the running is because it's *not* Linux, and would allow me to, for example, play DVD's and watch Quicktime stuff. Basically, I might find some use for a non-linux OS once in a while. :-)

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Sony Picturebooks... (4.00 / 1) (#35)
by Morn on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 08:34:18 AM EST

...are excellent. Buy one. Really. You won't be disappointed.

I bought one a couple of weeks ago and I'm extremely happy with it. I can't really think of a rational reason why, given that the screen is smaller, but I often prefer using it to my desktop, even sitting at my desk (Actually, I think it might be because I can move it around and change my viewing position much more easily than I can with my 17" monitor :-)

Don't let the Crusoe naysayers put you off either. It's easily to see why it doesn't do well in benchmarks, but after you've been using a program for around a couple of seconds, it really can hold its own in speed terms. To give an example everyone can compare, with its ATI Mobility graphics chipset I can run Quake III in full-screen mode (Ultra-Wide 1024X480) with high geometry perfectly playably. [At least, it's playable after a couple of seconds once the morphed code is cached - it's so weird watching the frame rate speed up :-]

Another example - I'm working on GCC for a University project, and it's speedy enough to compile that in the time it's taken to write this comment.

Besides, there's something cool about having a full-powered PC that you can easily carry around in one hand, or even fit in an over-sized pocket.

[ Parent ]

Apples are cheap! (2.66 / 6) (#4)
by Smirks on Sat Feb 03, 2001 at 11:26:47 PM EST

Well, cheap now compared to what they used to be. I remember when my dad brought home a brand new Macintosh Plus with a full meg of ram and 2 800k floppy drives. How much did he pay for it? $4,000 USD. That's A LOT of dough, especially for 1986.

[ Music Rules ]
Why a Mac? (3.85 / 7) (#6)
by Electric Angst on Sat Feb 03, 2001 at 11:31:36 PM EST

The first thing I did once I got a full time job that would give me a sufficient credit line was get a loan to purchase an iMac. Why? Because I knew, from working around the University of Texas (which, at one point, was said to have a greater concentration of Apple computers than anywhere else in the world, including Apple HQ) that I could spend $2000 and get an iMac (and printer, zip drive, scanner) that would last me for at least five years, or I could buy a top-of-the-line PC and it would be uncomfortably slow in three years.

I also shared some of the vision put forth by Apple, about the idea of a computer becoming part of your aesthetic, and the purpose of the machine itself. I want to be able to shape the look and feel of the enviornment in which I inhabit, and that look and feel doesn't include a beige box with three whirring fans. Also, when I use my computer, I am either communicating, getting information, writing (fiction and nonfiction), or creating images and video. I need a computer that will assist me in doing those things, and doing them well. Anything else is superfluous.

My iMac fits the bill perfectly. In fact, now that I've become assustomed to it, I'd say that a Mac is the only computer that I would let into my home. I know that it will be a tool in which I can do the things I need to, and it will conform to my aesthetic instead of intruding on it. It won't give me trouble or fall too fast to the ravages of obsolescence. In short, I think I spent my $2000 wisely.

"Hell, at least [Mailbox Pipebombing suspect Lucas Helder's] argument makes sense, which is more than I can say for the vast majority of people." - trhurler
Mac compared to Linux... (4.00 / 4) (#10)
by Electric Angst on Sat Feb 03, 2001 at 11:49:56 PM EST

I just realized that my post didn't get to another important point, and that's the compare and contrast with Linux, which I also use. (My work machine: Mandrake 7.2, with a 2.4.0 kernal using KDE 2.0.1 as my window manager on a Dell 500mhz P3 with 384 megs of RAM)

I would have to say that a Linux user would probably enjoy a Macintosh more than a Windows user would. Besides the fact that you'll get a cleaner user interface (and suddenly every single website you hit renders correctly), there are some neat tricks you can pull off with Linux and a Mac, like enabling 'Services for Macintosh' in your Kernel, then running something like Netatalk and being able to connect to your other machine and its files through Appleshare.

Also, a Mac gives a pretty refreshing prespective about what a computer is and what you're do with it. When I sit down on my iMac, I maybe spend an average of thirty minutes a month doing work that relates to the machine itself (usually software upgrades). Of course, obviously if you're running Linux you're probably spending quite a bit more of your time at the computer working on the computer itself, weather tweaking, fixing, or just plain playing. I find that when I'm at my iMac, my productivity with what I actually want to do skyrockets over my productivity with my Linux machine. Of course, make no mistake, working on the machine can be a pursuit in and of itself. Still, it is refreshing to know that when I get home and I want to write a paper, or download a media clip, or view a website, I'll use my iMac and it will just work.

So, there's a little compare and contrast. I hope that this is helpful.

"Hell, at least [Mailbox Pipebombing suspect Lucas Helder's] argument makes sense, which is more than I can say for the vast majority of people." - trhurler
[ Parent ]
Does that comparison hold up? (4.00 / 1) (#34)
by itsbruce on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 06:35:22 AM EST

You're comparing a computer (hardware and OS) to an operating system. An operating system which can also run on much Mac hardware, don't forget.


It is impolite to tell a man who is carrying you on his shoulders that his head smells.
[ Parent ]
Apple hardware. (4.85 / 14) (#8)
by chuqui on Sat Feb 03, 2001 at 11:37:52 PM EST

The Cube is overpriced. Apple realizes this, and the price has been trending downward -- but for the most part, if you buy the first generation of ANYTHING, you're going to buy it at the most expensive. Future cubes will be cheaper, if Apple does them. I bet they will.

If you absolutely want a separate monitor, look at the g4 minitower. A great box. But consider instead an iMac. When I bought my latest Mac, I looked at the Cube, and bought an iMac DV+ in Sage instead -- and with the money I saved, I bought a Canon VR10 digicam as well.

The tradeoff on the iMac is (a) slightly smaller screen, but the screen is a high quality one, (b) it's a G3, not a G4, and (c) you don't have slots to load stuff in.

If you can live with the smaller screen (I can't judge that. Find one and use it for a while), then here's why the other two don't matter:

(b) G3 vs. G4. Unless you're screaming for every CPU cycle you can get, you won't notice the difference. Hard-core, constant compile cycles or lots of 3D graphic work, and it might not be a good box for you. For most people? faster CPUs is ego, not common sense.

(b) the only thing you *have* to have a slot *in* the machine for now is video, and the iMac's video is pretty good. With USB and Firewire, the busses are now external to the machine. You don't wire a disk into the box, you plug in a firewire drive. You don't need a SCSI card, either (I have a firewire drive and a Travan tape on my firewire (the latter through a firewire<->scsi convertor. I have my Palm, my CD-R, my graphics tablet, and my davis weather station (through a USB<->serial) attached to my USB. I attach my videocam through the firewire, also. Anyone who tells you these things aren't expandable hasn't figured it out yet, and probably still copies files to floppies.

And the iMac, with a DVD drive, ran me under $1200. The only compromise I made was giving up about 1" of screen. IMHO, "whoo-pie".

My first Mac was a 512K. I've used them ever since. A few months ago, I started counting up the number of Macs I've owned, and stopped when I scared myself. I am platform agnostic, however, since I do Unix for a living (and have done Unix for a living since before the Mac existed). My home webserver is a G3 minitower running Yellowdog linux. My powerbook is a dual-boot 9.1/Yellowdog. My iMac is set up so I can load MacOS X on it when I get around to it. I use the Mac for what it's good for, I use Unix for what it's good at, and I use Apple hardware for both, and am quite happy with it.

And you don't have to spend $3000, either. The most I've ever spent on a computer is $2400. And I've done that muiltiple times: my first Apple II, my Mac II, and my Duo laptop. Every other box has been much cheaper, and kicks butt.

One thing you have to get out of your head -- don't assume you have to have the latest and greatest. You can get great deals in january buying last year's Macs, since the new ones were announced in January. Being one generation back isn't going to kill you. I liked the iMac DV+ enough, and it fit my needs enough, that I actually bought it when it was the current model.

And don't get into the mindset of having to upgrade just because someone's issued a new computer. Waste of time and energy. My laptop is a Wallstreet G3. That's about 3 generations back -- and going strong. Although that titanium is really tempting....

-- Chuq Von Rospach, Internet Gnome <http://www.chuqui.com> <kuro@chuqui.com> "The first rule of holes: If you are in one, stop digging"
Very true (4.00 / 2) (#25)
by Phaser777 on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 01:18:13 AM EST

And don't get into the mindset of having to upgrade just because someone's issued a new computer. Waste of time and energy.

And money. You don't know how many times I've gotten a new computer, only to sell it and replace it a few months later with a newer model, spending a few hundred dollars more for the new one than I got for the old one. And I never really needed the extra power, either. I guess I just like getting new things. :)
My business plan:
Obtain the patents for something (the more obvious and general the better)
Wait until someone else adopts the idea and becomes rich off it.
Sue them.
[ Parent ]
iMac screen size (3.00 / 1) (#49)
by Scott A. Wood on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 03:05:06 PM EST

And the iMac, with a DVD drive, ran me under $1200. The only compromise I made was giving up about 1" of screen. IMHO, "whoo-pie".

Spend some time in front of a nice 21" monitor. You'll never want to touch an iMac again. :-)

[ Parent ]
did I tell you what my work machines are yet? (3.00 / 1) (#58)
by chuqui on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 05:59:02 PM EST

>Spend some time in front of a nice 21" monitor. You'll never want to touch an iMac again. :-)

don't be so sure. You haven't heard what all of my machines are...


-- Chuq Von Rospach, Internet Gnome <http://www.chuqui.com> <kuro@chuqui.com> "The first rule of holes: If you are in one, stop digging"
[ Parent ]
iMac G3: (i) Screen, (ii) OSX (4.00 / 1) (#60)
by jck2000 on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 06:15:37 PM EST

I was fiddling with an iMac at the store the other day and, in addition to the screen being 15", it appeared that the top screen resolution was 1024x768 -- is this correct?

Additionally, what is the story on the ability of the G3 to use OSX? I have heard conflicting things.

[ Parent ]

G3 iMacs and OSX (3.00 / 1) (#66)
by jck2000 on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 10:56:08 PM EST

Looks like running OSX on G3 iMacs shouldn't be a problem, but one should get at least 128 MB of memory. See <a href=http://www.apple.com/macosx/requirements/>Apple's site for details.

[ Parent ]
MacOS X (3.00 / 1) (#69)
by chuqui on Mon Feb 05, 2001 at 12:25:43 AM EST

Any mac sold today will work fine with MacOS X. Any Apple G3 300MHz or faster should be fine as well.

-- Chuq Von Rospach, Internet Gnome <http://www.chuqui.com> <kuro@chuqui.com> "The first rule of holes: If you are in one, stop digging"
[ Parent ]
Hey, now... (2.61 / 13) (#9)
by pb on Sat Feb 03, 2001 at 11:40:19 PM EST

I'm pretty happy with my Ultra-fast Athlon. For my part, I think Macs are ridiculously overpriced for what you (don't) get, and would be happy to go to store.apple.com and prove it to any pissed-off Mac lovers. :)

I haven't seen that much bloat on the horizon yet either, so I think I'll upgrade to kernel 2.4.1. Whatever bloat I do get, you can too, since Linux runs on multiple hardware platforms...
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall
Question. (3.00 / 2) (#12)
by Electric Angst on Sat Feb 03, 2001 at 11:59:30 PM EST

I think Macs are ridiculously overpriced for what you (don't) get.[...]

So, what don't you get? What items would you need on a Mac before you would purchase one at the current price?

"Hell, at least [Mailbox Pipebombing suspect Lucas Helder's] argument makes sense, which is more than I can say for the vast majority of people." - trhurler
[ Parent ]
Let's see... (3.20 / 5) (#15)
by pb on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 12:18:23 AM EST

Probably about $700 back would be a good start.

First, let me tell you what I have: I've got an 800Mhz Athlon Thunderbird with 128MB RAM, two 20GB hard drives, a Matrox G400 Max Dualhead with 32MB RAM, 12X DVD Drive, an SB Live Value!, etc., etc. I bought it a few months ago. Since then, RAM has gotten massively cheaper, along with everything else. I paid like $1350, and that's including tax. I didn't buy an Operating System.

To get something roughly equivalent (I picked a G4 Cube because it was the closest thing to a low-end machine on there) with 128MB RAM, a 40GB HD, a 32MB ATI card, and a copy of MAC OS that I can't get rid of, it would cost me about $2,000; even the base system with about half the specs would still cost more now than my computer did back then!

...when I bought my computer, I looked into getting a Mac first. It wasn't worth it then, and it isn't now. The Macs should be about equivalent to my machine now in about a year, maybe. I was heartened about the prospects for a cheaper Mac when the clone vendors stepped in, but then Apple killed them.
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall
[ Parent ]
Yeah, Macs are a bit expensive. (3.75 / 4) (#22)
by Phaser777 on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 12:57:34 AM EST

Did you make the PC yourself, or buy if premade from a vendor? PC's will always be cheaper when you can assemble the parts yourself. Usually cheaper anyways, though. Just for fun, I configured a similar Dell PC, it was $1500, and a similar HP was $1300 (the HP only had the on-board video though, so add on another ~$200 for a vid card).
And don't upgrade the RAM or hard drives from Apple. They really overprice those things (the other vendors probably do too, though). Even if you get the RAM and HD from a cheaper place, the Mac's are still roughly $400 higher. $320 cheaper, if you want to make it really even and give the PCs the relatively useless Firewire ports that the Mac's come with. Firewire's nice, but I don't have any FW disks and DV cameras are too expensive, so why do I have to pay for something I won't use?

I like Apple's computers, and will likely still buy them cuz I like the OS, but they'll never get anyone to switch from PC to Mac unless they make the midrange Macs a lot cheaper.
My business plan:
Obtain the patents for something (the more obvious and general the better)
Wait until someone else adopts the idea and becomes rich off it.
Sue them.
[ Parent ]
Thanks; I've been getting some Mac Zealot Mods. :) (4.00 / 2) (#24)
by pb on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 01:13:03 AM EST

Yeah, I made it myself. Because I can. But $200 isn't as much as, say, $700...

"We have better hardware" only buys so much. And I might have believed that if they still used SCSI for everything. Heck, who would know if the hardware was better, if they still have MacOS on it? :)

Basically, if they offered a similar system competitively priced at around $1200, I'd buy it. I'd do some benchmarking first, though. And I'd still run Linux on it, although I might try out MacOS X too. (on x86, we've got BeOS, if we want to feel like marginalized Mac users... ;)
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall
[ Parent ]
My bad (4.00 / 1) (#26)
by Phaser777 on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 01:31:04 AM EST

still roughly $400 higher. $320 cheaper

Oops, that should have been $320 more expensive. Stupid me. Firewire cards aren't $720...
My business plan:
Obtain the patents for something (the more obvious and general the better)
Wait until someone else adopts the idea and becomes rich off it.
Sue them.
[ Parent ]
nice machine, but.. (3.66 / 3) (#31)
by chuqui on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 03:46:41 AM EST

for $1350 at outpost.com (free shipping, and you don't have to figure out how to put it together or get it running), you can get an iMac DV special in graphite or snow, which comes with 128megs of RAM, 30 gigs of disk, USB, FireWire, MacOS 9.1, a DVD drive, and a monitor. That's a 500MHz G3
machine, has ethernet and a 56K modem built in, built in speakers with good sound, and comes with a keyboard and mouse.

too bad you didn't look at the iMac. you missed a really good bargain compared to your machine.

-- Chuq Von Rospach, Internet Gnome <http://www.chuqui.com> <kuro@chuqui.com> "The first rule of holes: If you are in one, stop digging"
[ Parent ]
But I did! (3.75 / 4) (#32)
by pb on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 04:06:39 AM EST

Actually, I did look at the iMac, but...

First, I really I don't want an embedded 15" monitor; I already have a 17" monitor!

Also, I guess I could deal with the one 30GB HD, but I definitely don't want MacOS 9.1, and I probably don't want extra embedded hardware.

Even so, not counting tax, that's a lot closer; I'm somewhat impressed. If we still had, like, PowerTowers, (or competition) maybe I'd have some more choice. But that's better than I expected. This is new, I take it?
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall
[ Parent ]
Low-end Cube? (4.00 / 1) (#41)
by Ludwig on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 12:59:19 PM EST

The Cube wasn't ever meant to be anything more than a nice-looking object to sit on a CEO's desk or make appearances on TV shows. I wish everyone would forget about the damn Cube already.

The "closest thing to a low-end machine" at the Apple Store is a $799 iMac.

Oh yeah, is your box still under warranty?

[ Parent ]

For the cost of a mac.. (2.36 / 11) (#16)
by DeadBaby on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 12:24:11 AM EST

You can build a tbird machine and upgrade it probably 2 or 3 times over the next 1-2 years for the same price as ONE mac. I think that spaeaks for itself.
"Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity -- in all this vastness -- there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us." - Carl Sagan
How much is your time worth? (4.25 / 4) (#30)
by chuqui on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 03:39:28 AM EST

>You can build a tbird machine and upgrade it probably 2 or 3 times over the next 1-2 years for the same price as ONE mac.

How much is your time worth? $50 an hour? $25 an hour? How long does it take you to spec out a machine? Go shopping for the parts? Put the parts together? Debug it? Get everything installed? And working right?

Unless you think your time is worth nothing -- the time spent putting that box together and keeping it running costs you, too. It doesn't take very long for the time costs to outweigh whatever dollar savings you might get, if in fact you have equivalent machines.

And the low end iMac is a wonderfully useful machine. You don't need an expensive Mac to get work done -- right now, you can order an Indigo iMac at outpost.com for $800, free shipping, be in your house by mid-week, you take it out, plug it in and be running that night.

Could you, starting right now, have your box running by mid-week for $800? Even ignoring how many hours it took you to get the machine bought, built and stable?

I've seen lots of friends save money by building machines. And four weeks later, they're still building them, too, if things start going wrong. When you build it yourself, you have no tech support to fall back on....

-- Chuq Von Rospach, Internet Gnome <http://www.chuqui.com> <kuro@chuqui.com> "The first rule of holes: If you are in one, stop digging"
[ Parent ]
Cost of time (2.66 / 3) (#36)
by Mawbid on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 10:04:59 AM EST

I don't know anyone who takes time off work to tinker with their machine or values their free time at 50 bucks an hour. You go to the movies and see Magnolia. Did that just cost you $150? If you skip Magnolia, what are you going to do with all the money you save?

[ Parent ]
tinkering with machines... (4.33 / 3) (#42)
by chuqui on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 01:34:39 PM EST

>I don't know anyone who takes time off work to tinker with their machine or values their free time at 50 bucks an hour.

You do now, although to be honest, my billable rate starts closer to $150 an hour these days.

Tinkering has value to you, too -- let's not pretend it doesn't. You can get exactly what you want, and it's fun. But the point I was trying to make was that if you spend two weeks of your spare time building a machine -- adn you claim it was worth it because you saved $200 or $300, you need to take a close look at your priorities. Because that's a lot of your life you gave up to save that money (that's the old Costco argument: see, we spent $400, but look at all the money we saved!)

When you make these arguments, you have to remember time IS money. And frankly, for most of us, it's harder to find a few free evenings than it is another $200. No company in the universe is ever going to offer me a contract stating I can have an 8th day in the week to do whatever I want with...

The people who are comparing Macs to home built machines miss the point: most people won't do that. They can't, are scared to death at the concept, and wouldn't attempt it, any more than they'd attempt tuning their own car or changing their own oil. If you're a hard-core do-it-yourselfer, you can change the economics of the picture. But that puts you in a teeny minority of people about the size of a group that has a 68 Mustang in the garage half-rebuilt.

Home built machines also are missing some very useful things -- like warranties and support. You build it yourself, you're your own support crew. Again, most folks in the universe are scared to death of that concept. And support's expensive to do.

So if you like crawling under the hood every weekend, great. So do I. But -- I don't tell my mom that when she wants to buy a new car, she ought to go find a 72 Malibu and pull out the engine jack...

-- Chuq Von Rospach, Internet Gnome <http://www.chuqui.com> <kuro@chuqui.com> "The first rule of holes: If you are in one, stop digging"
[ Parent ]
My feelings exactly (4.00 / 2) (#44)
by cezarg on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 01:57:21 PM EST

I never bought a PC. I always built them. Ever since I traded my venerable Amiga 500 for a 286 motherboard + cpu I always put together my PCs. Some of them were really nice and stable but occasionally I would make a bad decision and end up with a machine that was less than perfect or didn't perform as well as I hoped.

Now I'm at the stage where I'm sick and tired of tinkering with my hardware. I sorely miss the early eighties when home computers were one piece packages and I could write in assembly and be confident that it would work on my friend's Speccy too. Currently I'm involved in writing a streaming media app for Windows (hey, I have bills to pay :)) and all the compatibility issues involved between the five MS operating systems currently in use and the infinite array of dubious quality hardware really gets on my nerves. I'm ripe to part with the PC world now. I'm just not sure if Macs will be the redemption I'm looking for.

[ Parent ]

Building PC's.... (3.33 / 3) (#67)
by chuqui on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 11:38:09 PM EST

>I never bought a PC. I always built them.

I've built them, also. In fact, I built my first computer. you might have heard of it -- it was called an IMSAI. Soldered the memory boards, programmed the EEPROMs.

That was back when getting computers running was what I was doing. Today -- I use computers to do other things. The computer is the tool, not the reason. So the more time I spend ON the computer the less time I can spend on the task.

I'd rather be building web sites or editing video than building computers and editing startup files....

-- Chuq Von Rospach, Internet Gnome <http://www.chuqui.com> <kuro@chuqui.com> "The first rule of holes: If you are in one, stop digging"
[ Parent ]
Point, but (3.33 / 3) (#37)
by itsbruce on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 10:35:20 AM EST

If you can't do what you want on a Mac then it's time well spent. Macintosh doesn't offer the flexible range of hardware that I need and the traditional MacOS doesn't do any of the things I want to do. OSX is a different story.

Besides, I can custom build my own PC and have Linux set up exactly the way I want in a couple of hours. The result will be something that does exactly what I want in ways that I intimately understand. That's a far better return for my invested time than any Mac can offer - so far.

Macs don't suit my needs or skills. YMMV;)


It is impolite to tell a man who is carrying you on his shoulders that his head smells.
[ Parent ]
time well spent? (3.50 / 2) (#46)
by delmoi on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 02:03:27 PM EST

How much is your time worth? $50 an hour? $25 an hour? How long does it take you to spec out a machine? Go shopping for the parts? Put the parts together? Debug it? Get everything installed? And working right?

Did it ever occur to you that doing that stuff might actualy be enjoyable to some people? Anyway, if you don't want to do that crap you an order a whole system by mail order, after that, simple upgrades won't take much time.
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
What do you want to use your computer for? (3.83 / 6) (#29)
by yuri on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 03:21:08 AM EST

Reading your story/question, all I could glean is that you are a programmer by trade and you like to code for oddball development environments.

It sounds to me like you would really enjoy a mac especially with OS X coming out. You could spend some time mastering Cocoa and write a couple of simple apps that millions of Mac users would become your adoring fans for (the way we often do for authors of with good share/freeware). Of course if you are a java freak, that works too for the new aqua gui. If you like porting unix apps and would be interesting in writing powerful new GUI front ends for them, there is a huge opportunity here. Of course macs will still run linux and have BSD under the hood in OS X. Also all the major essential productivity software is available for macs now (Office, Apache, photoshop, etc.)

Some cons: yes macs are more expensive/less options than wintel or windamd (sounds like "win-damned") boxes. If you are a gamer...macs suck. If you need access to obscure windows programs macs are not good here but virtual PC on OS 9 works well for most things.

As far as the hardware is concerned, it is high quality. These machines do not break down often. I would recommend that you get a dual 450 or 500 minitower from the last round of hardware at a discount and you will have a really fast and very upgradeable box for cheap. I don't trust the cube yet....perhaps thats just a subliminal Star Trek holdover.

Finally, two more reason to by a mac....women love them and you are not giving more of your money to bill gates et. al.



Mac-only network over here (4.70 / 10) (#33)
by Kyrrin on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 06:09:03 AM EST

My roommate and I have a five-Mac network in our apartment, and we couldn't be happier. Neither of us are hardcore coders; she's a pretty intense end-user, while I'm more of a graphics designer/webmonkey. Here's my experiences; your mileage may vary.

I'm running a 350MHz Sawtooth G4 (insomniac), heavily upgraded; she's got one of the recent Indigo low-end iMacs (hydro), both running OS 9.0.4. We've also got vishnu, a Performa 6115 running OS 8.5 that's the file server and the guest internet connection; kami, a Performa 6112 running OS 8.5 which is on loan to a friend who likes the Mac environment more for web design; and doorstop, the "computer of last resort", a Performa 550 running System 7 that is ~ten years old and needs to be gracefully retired.

Why I Like The Mac:

  • Ease of use: Take it out of the box. Plug it in. You're done. I bought my roommate the iMac in September and had it up and running, talking to the network and using the internet connection, in under 20 minutes.

  • Ease of upgrade: I purchased a new 80GB hard drive three weeks ago. I took it out of the box and opened up the machine. While I was doing the install, I got a phone call; the hard drive install took the length of the phone call, getting maybe 10% of my attention (and an occasional swear word when I banged my finger). Hung up the phone, plugged everything back in, turned it on, and the OS was ready to use the new drive as soon as I formatted it. Compare that to the exact same install on a friend's PC running Windows 95; it took me three hours and I STILL couldn't get it to work right. (Partially, that is because I don't know Windows as well, I will admit, but.)

  • Ease of administration: The damn things practically run themselves. The OS is fairly stable (more stable than I've ever been able to get a Windows box, though again that could be due to less experience). It's been my experience that just about anyone can be taught what to do if the OS hangs. I used to regularly get 4-week uptimes from insomniac (see below), and my roommate hasn't had to reboot hydro in nearly two months.

  • User interface: I like the Mac OS user interface. Again, this might be because it's what I started using, but I find that it's logical and sensible, and works exactly how I expect it to. The visual cues are simple and distinct, the menus make sense, and with a little bit of tweaking I can get to anything I want within a few seconds. The only thing I dislike about the Mac UI is the fact that it's heavily mouse-intensive; however, some third-party plugins exist to remedy that fact.

  • Speed: I'm running a G4 350MHz processor. It feels to me roughly the same speed as the 700MHz Athlon I've got at work. Again, that's mostly application-based, and it depends on if the app supports the G4 processor or not, but the G4 is a great chip.

  • Environment: For what I do with a computer, the Mac is perfect. I find that the Mac version of Photoshop runs faster and "feels" cleaner. For me, though, the "killer app" combination is BBEdit and ICab. BBEdit is a word processor/text editor that does everything but take the garbage out for you while still managing to be light and fast; it's a great HTML/code editor (offering contextual highlighting, intelligent global find/replace, HTML and coding tools at the touch of a mouse, etc, etc). ICab is the best goddamn web browser I've ever used, and getting better with every release (it's still in beta); again, it's light and fast (and stable, which is more than Netscape can say) and it offers such wonderful features as contextual ad blocking, individual cookie accept/reject, and -- the one thing that makes it a must-have for me -- a built-in HTML validator that will let you, with one click, see whether or not the page you're on validates to w3c specs. I cannot begin to say enough good things about these two programs. I would gladly run the Mac just for those.

  • The slow upgrade treadmill: Up until last March, I was running on vishnu, the 7-year-old Performa. The thing was a 66MHz machine with 500MB of hard drive and 64MB of RAM. The only thing that irritated me about it was that web pages rendered slowly. I expect to be running this G4 for at least the next six years.

  • The appearance: Okay, I'll admit it. I think that the Mac hardware is sexy. It's plastic! It's interesting colors! It's cute! The iMac is the damn neatest piece of computer equipment I've ever seen! Damn, I'm so shallow.

    What I Don't Like About The Mac:

  • Availability of applications. This is getting better; nowadays, you can find a Mac version of most essential utilities, and a lot of games are making their way onto Mac eventually. I was a Mac enthusiast during the Dark Years, though, when you couldn't find anything for the Mac. Those of us who lived through those years are used to either doing without, or finding a shareware equivalent. (The upside is that there's some really, really good shareware out there.)

  • The OS: I have a love/hate relationship with the Mac OS. Most of this will be fixed with OSX, I hope, but the one thing that kills me is that every OS up until now hasn't had protected memory space. One badly behaved application -- and there are a LOT of badly behaved applications -- can take down the entire damn computer. I'm having a problem like that now, and having difficulty tracking it down; something shareware that I'm running is conflicting heavily and hard with Photoshop, lately causing crashes sometimes up to five or six times a night. I've honestly given thought to throwing the whole damn thing out the window once or twice; I lost a piece of graphics work that I haven't been able to reproduce, last week, when ICQ crashed. Rrrrr. This would not happen on a machine running an OS with protected memory space. The TCP/IP stack also leads to a lot of frustration; though networking with a Mac is as easy as breathing, I have to reboot every now and then to clear the stack when my DSL connection drops down to 56K modem speeds. (On the plus side, though, getting the DSL to work took all of five minutes.)

  • The price: It's getting better, admittedly; my roommate's iMac was cheaper in both effort and price than an equivalent PC. It is almost always cheaper, as another poster commented, to buy peripherals and upgrades from another vendor than from Apple. A quick look at store.apple.com blew my mind when I realized that they wanted to add $200 for 128MB of RAM -- I just put in 256MB for under $100. Buy low-end and upgrade.

  • The lack of command-line: Again, this is going to be solved in OSX, but there are times that I just don't WANT a GUI, no matter how good it is.

    My recommendation to you:

    Find someone who has a Mac, and play with it for a little while. See if you like the GUI, and see if you'd miss some of the Windows features that the Mac doesn't have or doesn't have very well. If you decide that the Mac is right for you, get one of the G4 desktops; the Cubes are neat, but the towers have more room to play with. Grab the low-end model; you don't need all that processor speed, trust me; the Mac feels like it runs a LOT faster. Upgrade the RAM and disk space yourself, if and when you need to. (You'd be surprised how far 128MB of RAM will take you on the Mac.) If price really is a factor, go with the iMac; for what they are, they really ARE decent little computers.

    Once you've got it, pick up a good book on Mac customization and move things around until you've got it working exactly how you want it. The configuration they ship with irritates the hell out of me; it's designed for Grandma, not geeks. (Nothing wrong with that, but it drives me up the wall.) The first thing I do with a new Mac or a new MacOS install is go through and toss out half the stuff that's installed, turn off unnecessary extensions, install my favorite apps, set up defaults, change around the GUI, etc, etc. If you're not touchy about getting down to the bare bones, pick up a copy of ResEdit (you'll want it anyway, for coding) and re-bind your keyboard shortcuts until they agree with what your fingers are used to. (And always, always work with a copy of the applications you're modifying, not the original application; I screwed things up BADLY once by not following that rule.)

    For the first few weeks, try to crash it, so that you know how to recover from crashes and other problems. It's better to know right off, before you've got crucial data on the machine. Best book I've ever seen on Mac administration is Ted Landau's "Sad Macs, Bombs, and Other Disasters", ISBN 020169963X, from PeachPit Press. I'd consider that book a must-have, especially for someone new to the Mac OS.

    Feel free to email me if you've got questions, and if you do decide to go with the Mac, welcome to the family. ^_^

    "I'm the screen, the blinding light; I'm the screen, I work at night. I see today with a newsprint fray, my night is colored headache grey, don't wake me with so much..." -- REM
  • PC ease of use (3.00 / 2) (#45)
    by delmoi on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 02:00:23 PM EST

    Again, another thing that bugs me about Mac-Advocates, is that they seem to have this mythical believe that PCs are amazingly hard to use. Most of the 'ease of use' experiences you've had with the MacOS, I've had with the PC. For instance, every windows machine I've ever tried to network, just, has. Its no more complicated then plugging in the Ethernet cable. The same with hard drives, most of the ones you buy in stores nowadays come preformatted, so once you plug in it's good to go. If it isn't, win2k will get most of that stuff done for you.

    You mentioned that you liked the UI, but you also mentioned that you had to apply a lot of shareware, etc, to modify it. I'll admit that there isn't really that much out there to change the windows-ui then the Mac one, but if you have to find all these util's etc it's not really an 'easy' thing.

    You also mentioned the speed issue. The Mac 'feels' faster. And you might be right, MacOS is a pretty nimble OS, but my guess is it won't feel so quick when you install OSX. At work I setup an original win95 install on a 100mhz Pentium 1, with 16 megs of ram (for testing software installs in a clean environment). That thing fucking burned. It felt way, way faster then my work machine, which is some speed of pentium3 with 128 megs of ram running 98. Why? because it was running software built for that speed grade, and without M$s annoying bloat. I'm sure 3.1 would have seemed a whole hell of a lot faster. PC hardware nowadays really is faster, but I suppose that doesn't matter unless you're doing some hardcore number crunching (Like, for instance, playing a 3d game)

    "'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
    [ Parent ]
    Fit the solution to the need (4.00 / 1) (#68)
    by Kyrrin on Mon Feb 05, 2001 at 12:19:30 AM EST

    I try not to be a gung-ho OS bigot; I'll freely admit that there are times when a Windows solution (or a *nix solution) makes more sense. For the reasons I gave above -- mostly the "killer app" combinations, as neither BBEdit or iCab are available under Windows -- I use the Mac. That's why I was counseling spending some time with a Mac first to see if the original poster liked it.

    Windows is not at all amazingly hard to use. It is, however, incredibly annoying (not hard, just annoying) to administer. I support a 200-PC network running Windows NT at work (and have been using NT for about four years now). Though I have not used 2000, which (from what I've heard) solves a lot of the problems with the previous Windows architecture, I will give the ease-of-use points to the Mac OS in a heartbeat.

    My recommendation to people on what to buy is all based, in the end, on what you're going to do with the machine. Web design/graphics design/video editing/etc = Mac, hands down. Games = Windows-based PC. Coding? That's where it gets tricky, and where I don't know enough to have a real opinion on things. The original poster asked, basically, "why Mac?" and I responded with why I use a Mac. Hence the "your mileage may vary".

    Pardon me, I just get a little niffy when I'm called a Mac zealot. I'll grant good points and bad points to any OS that's out there; the Mac just has more good points than bad points, for me.

    "I'm the screen, the blinding light; I'm the screen, I work at night. I see today with a newsprint fray, my night is colored headache grey, don't wake me with so much..." -- REM
    [ Parent ]
    Tasty kool-aid (3.71 / 7) (#39)
    by slaytanic killer on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 12:17:59 PM EST

    I'm speaking as someone who went through a bit of Apple indoctrination, and I've worked a little on a post-beta build of OSX. (The release date is March 24.)

    Apple thinks of computers holistically. The whole package, not just specific parts. A person might be able to create a better PC, but that's because they're spending the time for gathering information. So a Mac is a single unit you can configure a little. And you're not enraged when Win2k doesn't work with your FUCKING PCI Soundblaster card.

    For programmers, there are some nice tools. Application coding (I believe) is generally done in Objective-C and Java. Nice graphical tools are developed inhouse by Apple to make developing GUIs faster and more conforming to the look&feel. If you like Borland's Builder-type products, you'll like this. You'll want to sign up with the ADC, if you haven't yet... Their newsletter keeps one informed pretty well.

    I hear they have some DVD of a dev conference available that you might be interested in, don't know how useful it is... Looks like they charge a couple hundred bucks for the DVD which has 80 hours of quicktime lectures. Looks like it's kind of high-level, so you might not want to plunk down 200$. Apple's all about evangelism...

    The FreeBSD/Darwin part is really nice; when I was working on the beta, it worked when the GUI part of the OS didn't.

    The design of the Dock (their version of a start bar) was pretty bad for serious work when I used it, but they may be changing that, and I'm sure third-party addons can offer a better replacement.

    So... I don't like the lock-in of Apple products (Jobs is too clingy), so I would not buy it as my primary platform. And the selection of games isn't great. But there are advantages that may outweigh things. Just keep in mind that early adopters may face problems.

    0.02 from a confessed Mac Weenie (3.66 / 6) (#40)
    by iGrrrl on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 12:57:06 PM EST

    My lab is mostly Mac, including a still-working Apple II on the rapid superfusion setup.

    All the electrophysiology rigs connect to Macs. The first thing we do with any rig-destined Mac is to open it up and put in the A-D board. This used to be a hassle of small screws and re-aligning everything properly. All that changed with our G4 towers.

    I'm a sucker for this kind of thing, but I did the happy dance when I saw how easy it was: Pop open the side and snap the board in, then close the door. Someone Was Thinking. I never want to see a putty-colored box again -- not for the style, but for the lack of thought that went into the design. Apple didn't just put colors on their boxes, they thought about the kinds of things people actually do with computers, and made it easier. The Cube is like nerd cheesecake, but the tower is an all-round Thing of Beauty.

    My mother loved her iMac. I love my iBook. I adore the G4 snuggled down next to my Faraday cage, connected to the monitor in the shielded rolling rack. When I'm trying to measure picoamps of current, the last thing I want to worry about is my hardware/software. There have been exceptions (Quadra 900, in my experience), but usually Mac hardware is rock solid.

    I admit my use in the lab is specialized (and PC set-ups can do the same thing, but IMnvHO not as well), so the software availability question isn't such a problem for me. I don't game, for example. Still, with OSX, I suspect a Mac may be worth the price. The iBook SE plus additional memory was worth every cent.

    There have been some very good comments in this thread, and even the negative ones I can pretty much second. My impression, after 10 years of Mac use (data gathering and analysis, word processing, graphics), remains generally positive.

    You cannot have a reasonable conversation with someone who regards other people as toys to be played with. localroger
    remove apostrophe for email.

    Ease of Case use... (2.50 / 2) (#43)
    by delmoi on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 01:39:52 PM EST

    It really bugs me when I see people proclaming the macs 'easy-to-open' case as revolutionary. I mean, my PC case slid off without any screws in 1995! I really don't understand what's so revolutionary....
    "'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
    [ Parent ]
    I didn't say... (3.50 / 2) (#47)
    by iGrrrl on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 02:16:18 PM EST

    ...that it was revolutionary, but opening a door is different from sliding a case off. I've had plenty of computers where I never bothered to re-screw the case if I didn't have to. It's not the same thing. When you open that door on the side of the G4 tower, the slots for boards are right there on the inside of the panel. It was a new world of convenience for me. No bashed knuckles, for one thing, and no worries I'd screw up something else in the process. Then again, you may be less of a klutz than I am.

    You cannot have a reasonable conversation with someone who regards other people as toys to be played with. localroger
    remove apostrophe for email.
    [ Parent ]

    I've seen this too... (4.00 / 4) (#54)
    by rusty on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 04:58:31 PM EST

    ...and "easy to open" doesn't quite get at the nub of the thing. It's not that it's easy to open, it's that the damn thing *unfolds* for you, and all the parts are right there, in easy klutzy-finger-distance. No unplugging this to get at the connector for that, no shoving all those ribbon cables out the way. I have to say, I was pretty impressed the first time I saw someone open one of those towers myself.

    Not the real rusty
    [ Parent ]
    What kind of hardware user are you? (3.75 / 4) (#48)
    by flieghund on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 02:42:44 PM EST

    Do you like to tinker with your hardware? That is, do you like to open up the case and see where everything goes and figure out how it all works? Then I would avoid both the Cube and the iMac in favor of one of the G4 towers. I worked at a place for a couple of summers that was a thoroughly Macintosh office, and the G3 tower I had was a beautiful example of well-thought engineering (except for one tiny detail*). I remember how my eyes lit up when I saw the first "screwless" PC case; Apple, as usual, improves the design by turning the concept into a door (with a convenient pull handle) that folds out the components and lays them flat on your desk. Brilliant. Just brilliant. The best part is that the expansion cards in the back of the case fold out with the motherboard, taking their cables with them -- so you don't need to unplug everything to open your case. And once the case is open, you have plenty of room all around the motherboard (with the exception of one side, where the rest of the case is still attached) to work -- no more need for needle-nosed pliers, flashlights and mirrors to change hardware.

    If you like to tinker with hardware, go with a G4 tower. Much broader expandability (you never really know when you'll need to add another card for something =), and a case design that practically encourages you to open it up and look around.

    As for the user experience itself... I grew up with hand-me-down wintel machines at home, but Apple computers (specifically, the IIc/e variety) at school. Of course, at the time the only Macintoshes were mounted to mobile carts that teachers checked out to give multimedia presentations; those of us who used the old Apple II's will recall an eerie similarity to old DOS boxes, complete with command-line... I guess my point is that I'm a CLI kind of guy by nature, and I was exposed to the GUI on both PC and Mac platforms more-or-less at the same time.

    My impression between the two has always been that the MacOS GUI seems "softer." It's a hard thing to describe. Windows always seemed a bit more hacked-together, like they were behind in the fourth quarter and pulling out all the stops to catch up. Up until 2000 and Me, that is; I use Win2k at work, and I have to admit that Microsoft is finally getting something right. My boss uses WinMe on a laptop and ISYN it boots in 15 seconds (about as fast as BeOS boots on my machine at home). But I still have a soft spot for the MacOS -- the only complaint I have is the distance the OS keeps you from its inner workings. From what I've heard, that will change with OS X.

    * The one detail I was thoroughly annoyed with was with the CD-ROM: the blue plastic face-plate that folded down for the tray to slide out blocked the headphone jack on the front of the CD-ROM. Granted, this was a first-generation G3 tower; I haven't had a chance to look at the new G4's up close, but really hope that Apple figured this fumble out and corrected it.

    Using a Macintosh is like picking your nose: everyone likes to do it, but no one will admit to it.
    Still not fixed (4.00 / 1) (#72)
    by Phaser777 on Mon Feb 05, 2001 at 02:02:05 PM EST

    I don't think Apple's fixed the CD-ROM door yet. The last G4 I had still worked that way, and I don't think Apple's changed it any since. Kind of a cheap way to cover up a beige drive, isn't it?
    I'd like to see Apple make a slot loading version of their DVDR drive and put that in their towers.
    My business plan:
    Obtain the patents for something (the more obvious and general the better)
    Wait until someone else adopts the idea and becomes rich off it.
    Sue them.
    [ Parent ]
    Newer G4's (3.00 / 1) (#78)
    by questionlp on Thu Feb 08, 2001 at 09:43:24 PM EST

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think there is a groove in the bar used to open the CD/DVD drive so that a headphone cable can be plugged into the drive. I don't know if it actually allows you to do so, but it might work.

    Personally, it would be nice to have a digital audio connection between the drive and the motherboard and have headphone jack either in front or use the one in the back, but to make sure that the sound is still clean that it is shielded and have the power cleaned a bit.
    -- http://closedsrc.org
    [ Parent ]
    Headphones (none / 0) (#81)
    by Phaser777 on Wed Feb 14, 2001 at 09:56:00 AM EST

    I haven't noticed any groove in the drive door. I haven't used one of the newer G4s, so Apple might have added that since the last time I used one. I think they'd have to redesign the door a little to be able to plug in a headphone cable. IIRC, the door partially blocked the headphone jack on my old G4.
    My business plan:
    Obtain the patents for something (the more obvious and general the better)
    Wait until someone else adopts the idea and becomes rich off it.
    Sue them.
    [ Parent ]
    Experiences of a PC user on Mac (4.50 / 4) (#51)
    by Pink Daisy on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 04:28:28 PM EST

    I'm a PC (NT4/ 2000 and Linux mostly) user for several years, and all the other MS stuff before that as well, but I recently had to use Macintoshes for my job. I'll give you my impressions.

    First impressions were the GUI. It looks very nice, and is prety much equivalent to Windows. There are small differences in functionality, and each has its own pluses. It took about two weeks before I was really familiar with it, as opposed to wondering how to do something that was really easy (after years of experience) with Windows. If you're coming from a UNIX background, the modern desktops look nicer, but the Mac has much more integration with applications, and is a much better experience. I didn't play with OS X much. Some of the features are cool, and it is definitely the best looking GUI I've seen, but at times it is really obvious how beta it currently is.

    Hardware wise, you don't really notice that the Mac is running at half the clock speed of your PC. Some applications run slower, but others run faster. This is partly because the Power architecture is nicer than x86, and partly because the only applications I cared about were Codewarrior and Photoshop. Codewarrior benefits a lot from the architecture, and Photoshop is very heavily optimized for the PowerPC; very much more so than it is for Pentiums. One thing I noticed is that adding hardware to a Mac is harder than adding it to a PC. Windows 2000 in particular does a much better job of handling new hardware like hard disks, DVD's and new monitors. I've also heard (although no personal experience) that Apple sometimes changes connector interfaces without changing the physical connector, so if you add hardware, make sure it is compatible with your model of Mac, and not some other model with an identical connector.

    The most disappointing thing about the Mac is the operating system. It lacks features that have been in every competitor since, oh, 1995. To the user, the resulting behaviour is that they crash constantly. As a developer, you can also kiss goodbye memory protection and multithreading. OS X should solve all these problems. It cannot come soon enough!

    Since I was using the Mac as a development platform, I will comment a bit on that. The OS problems are particularly annoying if you use a PC. The main development platform is Metrowerks Codewarrior. It is pretty good. I found it to be better than MSVC, although the debugging features are not so nice. It's project management and editing features give it the edge. The compiler is also happier. You do have to relearn the platform, though. Metrowerks has its own set of quirks compared to MSVC and gcc.

    All in all, I'd say the Mac is worth the high price tag, but because of my needs, I probably wouldn't get one for personal use until there is a gold release of Mac OS X.

    Macs, mac stuff, Linux, etc. (4.66 / 3) (#55)
    by driph on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 05:30:14 PM EST

    While the Cube is a great looking piece of hardware, if you are into tinkering with your machine at all and want a longer lifespan out of it, I'd say go with a G4 tower (unless you want to do this kind of tinkering, that is).

    My primary box is still a beige G3 300 (it spent a season as a 333, but as the 300 was the highend chip when the series came out, it didn't take to overclocking too well, and the Vegas summer ended that experiment). I've spent maybe a few hundred dollars on it since I purchased it, stuffing the box full of ram, adding a USB card, an ATI 128 to drive the second monitor, and a faster/larger hard drive, and I've only recently begun to feel the age of the machine while working in graphics applications with multiple documents open. I just love the longevity of these machines, and the new G4s are no different. Manage your system well, and you'll continue to have a capable machine years down the road.

    In fact, if you really want to keep your costs low, you might even want to consider picking up a used machine. Most everything in the post-PowerPC boxes can be upgraded, including the processor, and the only thing you'll be missing out on are faster bus speeds and similar recent improvements. I'm considering going with an earlier series G4 myself, and then eventually picking up a Titanium powerbook.

    My only real gripe is the lack of a multiple button mouse as an Apple option. The new optical mouse is very comfortable to use, too bad they havent released a multiple button version. While that isn't much of an issue if you buy a tower(you can use most any USB mouse nowadays), you are unfortunately stuck with a single button on the Powerbooks unless you lug your own mouse around with you. However, that isn't as bad as it sounds. I tend to be heavier on the keyboard when using a laptop anyway, and hitting Ctrl for contextual menus, etc isn't really that much of a chore. And contrary to what we all hear, you really can make your way around the machine with minimal mousing, once you've got yer keyboard commands down pat. There are also shareware apps that extend that even further.

    On the tinkering/customization front(pre OSX), nothing beats Res-Edit and AppleScript. You can tweak the hell out of your machine using both of those, adding your own menus, customizing applications, writing your own launch scripts, and so on. Look into them if you are considering buying a Macintosh.

    Finally, re Linux(to partially answer Rusty's questions below), you've got several commercial distros to choose from, including LinuxPPC, SuSE, Yellow Dog Linux, and a Slackware side project. If that isn't enough for you, don't forget that you can run just about any other flavor of Linux using the very capable Connectix Virtual PC.

    Vegas isn't a liberal stronghold. It's the place where the rich and powerful gamble away their company's pension fund and strangle call girls in their hotel rooms. - Psycho Dave

    Apple doesn't have to do everything.. (4.00 / 1) (#59)
    by chuqui on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 06:08:39 PM EST

    >My only real gripe is the lack of a multiple button mouse as an Apple option.

    Apple doesn't have to do everything. When they do, they get yelled at for hosing the third parties, so either way, they lose.

    FWIW, the studies show that multiple button mouses confuse the hell out of most users. Power users -- great stuff. Everyone else? makes it harder.

    Me -- I replace my mice with the Kensington turboring trackball. three buttons, no waiting, good software support for the buttons. Of course, I only use one button myself on MacOS -- I do it because I have to deal with tendonitis in the wrist, and I need a trackball that locks down movement of the hand during use. The turboring is good for that. And the ring is a nice tool for scrolling.

    Personally, I long ago gave up ALL mice for trackballs, but the tendonitis (I'm not 20 any more...) iced that one. But even before that, I preferred them.

    -- Chuq Von Rospach, Internet Gnome <http://www.chuqui.com> <kuro@chuqui.com> "The first rule of holes: If you are in one, stop digging"
    [ Parent ]
    An apple 2button mouse (3.50 / 2) (#63)
    by driph on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 07:08:43 PM EST

    Apple doesn't have to do everything. When they do, they get yelled at for hosing the third parties, so either way, they lose.

    FWIW, the studies show that multiple button mouses confuse the hell out of most users. Power users -- great stuff. Everyone else? makes it harder.

    I agree with you. I believe the single button mouse should definately continue to be the standard mouse shipped with all new machines. However, I'd love to see an Apple branded dual button mouse simply because they've done so well with the new single button optical. It's damn comfortable.

    Vegas isn't a liberal stronghold. It's the place where the rich and powerful gamble away their company's pension fund and strangle call girls in their hotel rooms. - Psycho Dave
    [ Parent ]
    I love that optical mouse from Apple (3.50 / 2) (#61)
    by cezarg on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 06:53:38 PM EST

    I suffer from the carpal tunnel syndrome and I discovered that using that latest optical mouse from Apple is perfect for me. The reason for that is that it doesn't have a button per se so I can click with the base of my palm which is a lot less painful than clicking with a finger.

    [ Parent ]
    Angled rocking.. (4.00 / 2) (#62)
    by driph on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 07:01:49 PM EST

    The reason for that is that it doesn't have a button per se so I can click with the base of my palm which is a lot less painful than clicking with a finger.
    They could probably do the same thing with a multiple button version.. instead of a straight-forward rocking motion that clicks a single switch, you could angle the mechanism so rocking the mouse towards a general 10 o'clock position left clicks while rocking it in the direction of 2 o'clock right clicks.. Be interesting to see how that would feel..

    Vegas isn't a liberal stronghold. It's the place where the rich and powerful gamble away their company's pension fund and strangle call girls in their hotel rooms. - Psycho Dave
    [ Parent ]
    Cube mods (none / 0) (#77)
    by questionlp on Thu Feb 08, 2001 at 09:39:00 PM EST

    While on the topic of the Cube... has anyone `hacked' the G4 Cube to include a fan or something? I know the point of the Cube (as well as the iMac) is to have a quiet and relatively powerful machine... but doesn't the heat generated from the G4, the video card and the hard drive kind of get a little hot? I wouldn't want to even try building a fanless AMD Athlon machine myself ;-)
    -- http://closedsrc.org
    [ Parent ]
    Apple's target audience (4.25 / 4) (#56)
    by madams on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 05:38:58 PM EST

    Apple's target audience is people who care about the design and quality of their computer experience. Most computer users care little about beauty, and see computers as a utility rather than an experience. This was the push that the original Macintosh made away from personal computing, and the thing that they still excell at (particularly since the return of Steve Jobs). This is also why Apple is the only computer hardware company that matters (heck, even the George Forman Grill is now copying the iMac's colored shell).

    This does not mean that Macintoshes are the best computers from a technical standpoint. But some people (like me) care about quality!

    FYI, Apple computers are the only ones I've ever seen on display in a museum (as part of a design exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art).

    Mark Adams
    "But pay no attention to anonymous charges, for they are a bad precedent and are not worthy of our age." - Trajan's reply to Pliny the Younger, 112 A.D.

    Huh, strange idea! (1.25 / 4) (#65)
    by ubu on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 08:53:39 PM EST

    Apple's target audience is people who care about the design and quality of their computer experience.

    In other words, people who choose computers on criteria that might be more appropriate for curtains, furnishings, and fine china. Anybody seen that "Buddy Lee" robot on Battlebots, the one that doesn't do anything but features stuffed animals and a bright red paint job? I like to think of that as a Battlebot designed after the Macintosh tradition.

    Most computer users care little about beauty, and see computers as a utility rather than an experience.

    Accident? When I think of "experience" I think of marijuana. Settling for an "experience" on a piece of computer equipment would be weird and funny if it weren't for all the Macintosh users ruining the joke.

    As good old software hats say - "You are in very safe hands, if you are using CVS !!!"
    [ Parent ]
    On art... (3.00 / 1) (#70)
    by Sundiata on Mon Feb 05, 2001 at 09:04:08 AM EST

    FYI, Apple computers are the only ones I've ever seen on display in a museum (as part of a design exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art).

    They have one on display at the Pompidou Center, too (a Bondi blue iMac, part of the permanent collection.) There really isn't a single computer manufacturer out there that can hold a candle to Apple's design aesthetic.

    information wants to be expensive...nothing is so valuable as the right information at the right time.
    [ Parent ]

    Your looking at a mac for the right reasons. (4.60 / 5) (#71)
    by selkirk on Mon Feb 05, 2001 at 12:00:26 PM EST

    Regarding the upgrade treadmill for macs: I've owned three macs since 1987. I had an SE from 87 to 94 (7 years!), a centris fom 94 to 99 (6 years), and I bought a G3 in 99. Even though it is 2 years old, It compares favorably with the brand new 733 Mhz pentium III that I use at work.
    Some advise:
    Unless you have to have the cube, get one of the new G4 towers. They have an updated motherboard, which will really be worth it in terms of performance and longevity.
    Do not skimp on memory. I have 384M, my buddy has 640M. Get at least 256M.
    Here is the configuration I recommend from the apple store:
    466Mhz G4 processor
    128 MB SDRAM
    30 GB Hard drive
    Zip 250 drive ($100 option)
    CD-RW drive
    NVIDIA GeForce2 MX -32 MB SDRAM ( ATI cards are being discontinued by apple.)
    56K modem
    NONE on the rest of the options, including display
    PRICE: $1,899
    Go to Best Buy or MacConnection.Com to get a Sony 19" Multiscan G400 Trinitron Monitor for about $525.
    Bring your RAM total up to 384MB, Get a 256MB PC-133 SDRAM from Best Buy or valueram.com for about $150. (With the case on the mac, installing RAM is so easy, its fun.)
    Total system price: $2575.

    a mac by any other name.... (4.00 / 1) (#73)
    by illitrate on Tue Feb 06, 2001 at 10:01:52 AM EST

    i'd say go for it - a mac that is. the cube is the single sexiest consumerable product on any market today, combined with a 22" cinema display, its more desirable than a porn actress.... but it is a little limited. the G4 tower is your better bet. but you've gotta decide if you're a mac person. pc's are widely used, software is easily available and probably cheap, or very easily found on warez sitez, whichever is your preference. mac software is slightly harder to find, not all the same stuff is on there, but from experience of seeing first-time computer users try and use both machines, is a lot easier to get to grips with and it crashes 1/100th as often. but then, i've been an apple user since i was 4 yrs old. i try to unbiased, but its hard. i love my macs, and these pcs at work just don't work well enough to be recommendable
    -- --- one day we're all gonna die - and then we'll see who is laughing!!
    Not any more! (4.00 / 1) (#74)
    by HypoLuxa on Tue Feb 06, 2001 at 04:13:07 PM EST

    the cube is the single sexiest consumerable product on any market today

    I'd have to say that is has just been surpassed by the PowerBook G4.

    I'm guided by the beauty of our weapons.
    - Leonard Cohen
    [ Parent ]

    Consider a discontined G4 tower (4.33 / 3) (#75)
    by logiceight on Tue Feb 06, 2001 at 09:29:27 PM EST

    First thing I will say is to not buy RAM from apple it is overpriced.

    Second is I think you should consider one of the discontined G4 towers

    You can get 400 MHz G4, 64MB SDRAM, 20GB HD and DVD for about $1299

    Some mail order companies are still selling this computer and you can find a list on cnet

    Agreed... (none / 0) (#76)
    by questionlp on Thu Feb 08, 2001 at 09:22:05 PM EST

    I rarely buy add-on components straight from the computer manufacturers, mostly Sun or Compaq. They are pathetically overpriced and aren't always in stock. At least you can buy those perdy 22" widescreen LCDs from other vendors now :)~ But for now, I'll stick with my nice stealth black 18" IBM LCD monitor... drool...
    -- http://closedsrc.org
    [ Parent ]
    PowerPC + LinuxPPC (none / 0) (#79)
    by neillm on Thu Feb 08, 2001 at 09:49:29 PM EST

    I recently bought a G3 Powerbook 2000 (Pismo) and I run LinuxPPC on it. I'm a big fan of the PPC over the Intel chip - and LinuxPPC is an incredible suite of software. I also use a Dual PIII 500Mhz Intel desktop - and in many regards, the PPC performs side by side with it. (Naturally, the second Intel processor helps for running Setiathome in parallel) ;-)

    I haven't had a single regret with this machine - and while it was costly, I believe it was the best fit. Good luck in your shopping - but don't forget about LinuxPPC. It's a very viable desktop or server distribution.

    A technophile's perspective (none / 0) (#80)
    by NNland on Mon Feb 12, 2001 at 12:22:40 AM EST

    Yes, I'm a technophile.

    If I could afford it, my dorm would be filled with completely useless technology. But I lack the money, and thusly I am cornered.

    With that said.

    I agree that you should be looking for something that will last as long as possible, regardless of what you decide to get. I noticed a posting earlier about buying an old style G4, and agree that would be an excellent idea, bang for the buck is always good.

    I was searching for a new computer two summers ago myself...finally having some money to drop on a machine, I was gonna buy one.
    After taking a look at the prices, shopping around for the parts I wanted, I've been happy ever since. My only three upgrades have been ram, hard drives, and a PCI ethernet card.

    What did I get?
    At the time, dual celerons were the rage, a dual machine...yes, I went for the BP6 w/dual celerons. Yes an x86 compatible. It's all I've ever really used to the fullest. I've had Be, linux, windows, a few different BSD's and even QNX on the machine. All have worked great.

    Price, performance, was what I was looking for.
    If you're looking for something that will last you a while, and you're looking at the Mac...from a serious hardware geek's perspective, get a dual G4. I don't know what they cost, but hardware wise...it would be hard to find much better hardware (short of an alpha...but no one's got money for that). As well, LinuxPPC and OSX both have support for the dual machines. Trust me, once you use a dual for all it's worth, you will never want to go back.

    On top of it all, I've been hard pressed to find a machine, 1 ghz or not, that pleased me nearly as much as my dual celeron 400 (I breifly delved into overclocking them, but multipliers and such...long story).

    I don't really know what you are looking for...but my machine is 1 year 8 months old. The only thing I'm looking forward to upgrading is maybe getting a cd burner (I've been lazy and broke). Can anyone else say that about their single processor machine? My dual eats win2k for dinner, OpenBSD for dessert, and 20 web browser windows at the same time.

    My vote is for a dual machine.
    But then again, I'm biased.

    Define the "Apple" experience | 80 comments (78 topical, 2 editorial, 0 hidden)
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