Please contact E. B. Davis at for information on guest blogs and interviews. Interviews for May: (5/4) Linda Norlander, (5/11) Connie Berry, (5/18) Mary Keliikoa, (5/22) Annette Dashofy, and (5/25) Rosalie Spielman.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Mac vs. PC

I loved my dual-core Sony Vaio, the laptop I purchased in 2007, operating under Windows Vista, the go between from XP and 7. A year ago I noticed that it slowed down. My computer guru neighbor said I needed more RAM. The Vaio had 2 GBs of RAM so we added another 2 gigs. I later was told that a 32-bit system could only use 3 gigs, but my guru assured me that the extra RAM would be used in other ways. As a nontechnical computer user, I fairly good at picking up the logic, but that one still eludes me.

Five years later, the Vaio’s hard drive memory, at 225 GBs, wasn’t yet half full. At 2.00 GHz, my system seemed fast enough on the Internet, but then our neighborhood got FIOS. Its speed may have impacted my perception. When Microsoft developed Windows 7, new programs didn’t work well on Vista. The Vaio hesitated and sputtered. The computer world seemed to have doubled from 2007 to 2012. 2.6 GHz became the standard speed. 32 bit systems were replaced with 64 bits, and 500 GBs hard drive memory became the standard with 4GBs of RAM.   

A few months later, I tried to upgrade Vista to Windows 7 and failed. Even my guru neighbor failed. We had no idea why, but when he successfully installed Windows 7 in my daughter’s one-year-newer Sony Vaio, I decided that I didn’t like Windows 7 anyway. Microsoft has always made assumptions about its market, trying to make its products appeal to the most buyers, no doubt logical. The problem—I rarely fitted into the “most buyers” category.

For example, with Windows 2000 through Windows 7, multiple user accounts became standard enabling several people to use one PC and have their own desktops and settings. The first contradiction was multiple users of a personal computer. Personal computers were no longer “personal” if used by multiple users. My kids were at an age when this was a good idea, but they passed through that stage quickly. Before I knew it, they had their own computers, and I was stuck with multiple user accounts—a standard that may have fit to consumers with young families or companies whose employees shared computers. To the rest of us—not so much. I tried to delete their accounts, but doing so was harder than it looked because remnants of their accounts remain.  Renaming accounts wasn’t an option because the old name persisted on the file level.

In Windows 7, I found that all of my documents went into a “library” that was made “public” to other user accounts or to those on the network if sharing was enabled. Even with only one user account, my documents went into the shared folder, I suppose for those who share over a network. I never found a way to prevent my documents from going into this shared library. This aspect turned me off. Not everything I write should be put in the “public” domain. I found this assumption unnerving. I looked to alternatives and found myself swayed toward buying a Mac.

My college age daughter had switched three years prior. A long-time friend always had been a Mac user, and then my computer guru expounded on their virtues. I bought a Mac.

But I had invested in a lot of expensive Windows programs that weren’t old enough to update to Mac versions. My guru added an overlay to run Windows on the Mac to that I could still use my Windows programs. With 8 gigs of RAM and 750 GB of memory, he assured me this was no problem. So far, Windows froze up once, but he showed me how to restart that operating system so, should that happen again, I know how to deal with the problem.  

What I suspect—I bought a Caddie, with double the RAM and a bigger hard drive so I’m ahead of the curve. Perhaps I’ll get seven years out of this laptop, but I know that eventually the computer world will catch up to me making this one out-of-date too.  

In the next few months, I’ll periodically report on my transition. My initial take on Word, the program writers use the most, is that I like the Windows version better. But, I was used to Windows Word 2007, and my Mac version is 2011 so I’m not sure if I would have liked the updated Windows 2010 version any better.   

I’m not totally frustrated with the Mac, but the two-fingered right click maddens me because after using up two fingers, you then have to use a third finger to chose an option, and my ring finger doesn’t manipulate as well as my index finger. Perhaps other people possess more dexterity than me.

Do you have a Mac? Why? Can you assess the differences?


Jim Jackson said...

My first PC was and Apple IIe. I bought it in late 1983 or early 1984 and doubled the memory from 64k to 128k. It had seven expansion slots, and I had them filled.

The disk drives were the big floppies that almost never had problems. I had a spreadsheet called VisiCalc, and word processing program that did everything I needed except for a search and replace function. There were a ton of great (if simple) games.

Attached was my Epson dot-matrix printer (legal sized). The DOS was small, simple and for the geeks out there I could peek and poke to my heart's content.

I'm still nostalgic for the good old days when I could actually figure out what was going on inside my computer and fix stuff when there were problems.

That computer got me through my MBA program; I wrote a ton of programs we used at work to do complex actuarial calculations using plain old BASIC.

Relatively speaking it was slower than evolutionary change, but because things took time, everyone was patient (well, mostly patient.)

And then the work world changed to PCs because Apple screwed up and allowed the corporate world to switch to PCs -- and I had to switch as well.

And I never went back. We are a "mixed marriage;" Jan has her second MacPro now.

There are some things her Apple product does much better than my PC (internet access and Skype equivalent video phoning are two examples) however, I find my Windows-based Microsoft Office programs uniformly run better on my PC. Perhaps that can be solved with the Mac's PC emulation program.

I haven't gotten used to the two fingered right click and I prefer a mouse to a touchpad.

What I've discovered since my Apple IIe days is that for my writing needs, I could still happily be using an 18 year-old computer (with the addition of search and replace). It's all the other things I do with a computer that require the extra memory, storage space, etc.

As for Apple vs. PC? I see no reason to learn one more operating system than I have to, so I'm sticking with PCs and still missing the good old days. But I'm not about to challenge a bunch of Apple fanatics to a duel -- afterall, I used to be one.

~ Jim

PS in Windows 7 you can indeed determine which files to make "public" and which to keep private.

Linda Rodriguez said...

I have a history quite similar to yours, Jim. Started with Apple IIe and was happy, even did some simple programming, then had to make that switch to PC. I've also never gone back. I have friends and one son who swear by the Mac, but they seem to always be taking their computers in for expensive repairs. My other son is an IT professional and can fix just about anything with my PC.

I'm not a fan of Windows and the assumptions it makes about its users, either, but I can live with it.

Warren Bull said...

I am waiting for the day you can buy a computer, take it home, plug in in and use it. I have used an IBM clone at work and some version of Apple or Mac at home. The help you get by calling Mac people on the phone is excellent. Mac seems for intuitive to me. When I become lord high muckety muck of the universe I will decree that all new whizbangs will have to work on computers already sold.

Gloria Alden said...

I started with an Apple desktop, and loved it. It worked well for over 7 years with no problems before it quit. The repair person said it was time to get a new one. Since Apples are quite expensive, I went with a Hewett-Packard with windows. It, too, worked well for me, but not quite as many years. I replaced it last year for a newer model and again have Windows 2010, which I do not like. I have both a desk top and a laptop and prefer working at my desktop. If I ever have the money, I may go back to an Apple. My nieces and nephew and a cousin all swear by them.

E. B. Davis said...

It's interesting to hear all of your experiences. I started out with a Windows 396? I think it was. I remember working in DOS more and thought a 1 gig hard drive was like humongous. Have to laugh about that now. I never had any problems with PCs, but I'm surrounded by Mac people who swear by them. So far, I don't see that many differences, other that really stupid things like you close the program in Windows on the right and on Mac it's the left (sounds like two egomaniacs just arbitrally wanted their products to be different without regard for the consumer).

I will periodically check back to report differences and performance as I find out.

Norma Huss said...

I started out with an Atari. The big advance was that the basic stuff was already on the hard drive. However, I had to load the word processer every time I turned the thing on. The dictionary was on another floppy (1-sided), and when I loaded that to, the maximum pages I could then spell-check was ten. Hence, ten-page chapters. I got a second Atari with twice the memory, then went to PCs.

E. B. Davis said...

Sounds like a drag, Norma. Glad you went to a PC. I liked them. Now, I'm trying the Mac. I think the difference will be more in the applications that Mac develops through iTunes that will be the biggest change. For example, I got an Apple TV box that links through my iTunes account. My family loves it. You could still have it with a PC, but it's the Apple app that makes it work.