29 Jul Mac Vs. PC?

About a month ago, I switched from PC to Mac. I’d been wanting to do this for years, but the expense and hassle of changing over prevented me. Mac users have told me that the switch would change my life. I wanted to believe them. Hearing Mac users describe Apple’s completely “intuitive” OS platform is like hearing born-agains rapsodize about finding God. I’m not saying Mac users are wrong, I’m only saying that they are sometimes too starry-eyed. The OS platform is hardly more intuitive than the PC platform. It just comes down to what you’re used to. I’m not used to Mac. I’ve been using PCs for 20 years. So, even now, after a month of using my amazing I-Mac, I’m not completely comfortable.

Is Mac better than PC? The answer isn’t a slam dunk “yes.”

PCs are cheap — about a third the cost of a Mac. But Macs last a long time. PCs break easily. PCs get tons of viruses; Macs don’t. And PC software — especially Microsoft products — are notoriously buggy.

Also, Macs have incredibly good design, which means 1) they come with sealed keyboards — no more crumbs and cat hair and dust under your keys. 2) Mac integrates everything in a single unit — the desktop screen. Which means no more heavy tower and no more tangle of cords under the desk. This is a major convenience.

The big difference in quality between the Mac and the PC is that Mac thoroughly develops its hardware and software before putting it on the market. Microsoft (which owns the lion’s share of the PC market) doesn’t test its products well. If you tried Microsoft’s Vista, you know what I mean. Vista was a set of sloppy programming that consumers had to trouble shoot and test out and document all of the flaws until Microsoft could develop a better program, which it did eventually, calling it Windows 7. I don’t appreciate playing the guinea pig when I have serious computing to do. Microsoft should give away half the crap it makes.

In short, Macs computers are made of iron, while PCs are made of cardboard. But you gotta pay for that.

Still, I love how a double click in a PC opens just about anything. Macs make you click into a menu for “open.”

The biggest usability problem with Macs? The type fonts are universally too small. Icons and text on a Mac make me squint. There’s no easy way to enlarge them. No, you can’t go into “preferences” and make your screen read these larger. The only thing you can do in a Mac is scroll for a close up. But, when you do that, you lose your menu bars. It sucks. And Apple refuses to make changes because it says THIS is how the screen is supposed to look. Ever-sloppy PCs distort the view, but in this case PCs get it right.

The main reason I moved to Mac is that the Mac is wicked fast and consistently reliable, especially for heavy use programs, like video editing. I can’t tell you how many times I crashed my PC trying to edit video. Macs i-Movie is an excellent, flexible program.

And Microsoft products? Don’t make me laugh. Microsoft’s internet browser, Explorer, is — hands-down — the worst browser on the market. If you build websites like I do, you find this out the hard way because your newly constructed website will look great in Firefox, Chrome, Netscape, and everything else EXCEPT Explorer. One way or another, Explorer will mess up your formatting or make images disappear or in a hundred other ways make your life miserable. Then you have to go back and find out how to format your website so that it can accommodate Explorer’s numerous quirks. It’s maddening.

The hardest thing to get used to on a Mac is that it “floats” its programs. That means you have multiple windows open at once and you can see them all, stacked like a messy deck of cards. PCs, on the other hand, fill the screen with one program at a time. You can’t fill a Mac screen with any single program; you actually have to work hard to get an approximation of this. This means that, in a Mac, your menu bar for any particular program is ALWAYS at the top of the screen, not at the top of the page/window you’re working in. If you’re not careful and click off the window, you’ve floated some other program’s menu bar to the top of the screen. I like the PC way of putting the menu bar on the page/window you’re working with — you have less distance to travel to get your menu and you know exactly where it is.

As you have heard, there are no viruses or spyware or malware on Macs. Why? It’s simply not worth the cyberpunk’s time to fiddle with Macs because the number of Mac users is miniscule compared to the number of PC users. Also, Apple’s OS system is bult like a tank, apparently. So, when you move to a Mac, it’s like throwing away your condoms. No more worries of that sort.

There are LOTS of great PC programs that you can NOT get on Mac. I’ve lost two of my favorites in the switch and I’m still grieving about it. Mac wants you to use its well-developed suite of software but sometimes I’m not a team player like that. Sometimes I want to use a quirky litle program that does a limited set of things really well. I don’t want to fire up Apple’s “Garage Band” when all I want to do is shorten an Mp3. I don’t want to import my photos into i-Photo, which will vet them for other i-functions but will make you go through various, time-consuming steps to do so. I just want to dump my photos into a folder and deal with them later.

One of PC’s many weaknesses is that its file structure is like the catacombs of a Byzantine cathedral. Have you ever tried to retrieve a missing download from “temp” files in a PC? Oh my god! You might as well apply for a secret password, strap on a miner’s helmet, and take week’s supply of food before you go spelunking into that PC void. Did you know that PC makes some files “invisible” to protect you from yourself? Big Brother PC thinks you might erase or move vital files so it just makes them disappear. That’s why you can’t find your “temp” folder.

Fascistic thinking like that has made the PC platform a pain, sometimes on a daily basis. Mac is transparent. To find any missing file, Mac gives you a search box at the top of your screen. It’s amazing how fast it locates every file or folder associated with the data you’re seeking. Ever try to search missing file on a PC? You might as well go mow the lawn and paint the house while you wait for the search to end. Apple first pointed up Microsoft’s dictorial, overly-convoluted PC world back in 1984 with the ground-breaking Big Brother ad campaign. It’s beautifully done. If you’ve never seen it, see it now: Apple’s Big Brother Ad

In recent years Apple has been going after Microsoft by showing a hip, wise-cracking Apple kid making fun of a frumpy actor who looks like Bill Gates. Here are some examples: Mac disses PC. The choice is clear: you want to be young, quick, and smart like Apple or unimaginative, rigid, and old like Microsoft? Microsoft has been fighting back of late with its Windows 7, which shows young pretty people living a hip life made hipper, apparently, by the PC. In one ad Microsoft says, “We’re just getting started” as if it’s trying to make good on a long un-met promise — which, really, is the truth. Microsoft has used its consumers poorly. Consumers have put put up with it because the PC products and hardware were cheap and easy to replace.

I have one issue to take up with my fellow Mac users: you’ve got to be more honest about Macs! They are not the be-all and end-all of computers. They’re great but not perfect. I have never, ever, heard a long-time Mac user say anything negative about a Mac. They simply refuse, kind of the way the early Christians chose to facethe lions instead of giving any quarter on the question of their one true God. I appreciate loyalty but not at the expensive of a clear-eyed view of the world.

A friend asked me just this week if he should move from PC to Mac. The move isn’t fast and easy. It might not be worth the hassle for him. That said, I’m not going back to PC. It’d be like going back to an abusive relationship. Mac seems to respect me as a computer user. And I like how, sometimes when I least expect it, Mac brings me flowers.