Archive for December, 2007

Switched to the Mac

Posted in Mac OS X, Technology and Software on December 29, 2007 by Mike Procario

It has been a long time since my last post. I have been very busy with work, but that is a story for another time. I bought a MacBook Pro with a bonus that I received this fall. It is my first Mac since I had a Performa 6200 in the 90’s. That computer turned me off Macs for years. It is rated as the worst of the all Macs by lowendmac.com.

I have been a heavy user of both Linux and Windows since then. I have tended to buy lower end hardware, but above the very bottom rung. I always try to get more the minimum amount of memory. My computer before the MacBook Pro was a Dell Inspiron for which I paid about $800. The MacBook Pro is clearly fairly high end hardware by my standards. It has 2.2 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo and 2 GB of ram. I am hoping it will last me at least three years if not more.

I bought the Mac due to several considerations. While I have never had a serious virus or other malware problem, I have have cleaned up the mess that my family and friends have gotten into. In order to try to keep them safe, I have set them up to use limited accounts. This prevents them from simply being fooled into accepting some malware. However, due the limitations of windows it also prevents them from updating their software. Flaws in web browsers, quicktime, and other software that connects to the internet can be exploited to get admin access, so the limited account is not protection enough. I also did not hear much about Vista that made me want to buy a new computer with Vista on it, and at that time it seemed hard to find a consumer PC with XP on it.

I have been a long time user of open source software. I can remember downloading the source code to emacs and waiting for hours as it compiled. Today I am a heavy user of linux and on windows of Firefox, Thunderbird, OpenOffice, and the cygwin tools. I expected to continue to do so on the Mac. Since Mac OS X is Unix under the pretty face, I was able to get to a terminal emulator and use very powerful tools like rsync with no effort. I installed Firefox, Thunderbird, and NeoOffice, an OpenOffice derivative with a more Mac like appearance. However, I have found myself moving to some native Mac programs like Safari and Mail.app. I of course use iTunes as I did on Windows. iPhoto does what I need for my photos, so I do not miss Picasa. iPhoto has a very good redeye tool. It can even handle the redeye of our pet rabbits, which Picasa could not.

I have installed parallels to allow me to run a couple of important windows apps. I run Windows XP in 512 MB of memory. It works very well, although I am never pushing it very hard. I use it mostly to connect to the vpn at work.

There seems to be less free software for the Mac than for windows, it maybe that I do not yet know where to look. I have found Handbrake and Mac the Ripper which look very good. Since OS X is unix, there are ports of many Linux programs. I am using the Macports system. I got it download and successfully compile the Gimp 2.4.2, and it works fine. I tried to compile gnucash. It has a reputation of being high on the software food chain since it has a very large number of dependencies. It does not yet compile for me. I am running the windows version in parallels at the moment.

I have purchased more software for the Mac than I had for windows. In addition to parallels, I have purchased DEVONthink Personal. It is a note taking and document management program. So far I am pleased with it. I am trying out MarsEdit a blog editor. I haven’t decided to buy yet. I tried SuperDuper, but the trial version did not let me try out incremental backups, so I gave up on it. I am trying out CarbonCopyCloner now. It appears to be shareware. I can use as long as I like and pay for it when I am happy.

I bought my MacBook Pro right after Leopard was announced, so I was entitled to a free upgrade. I have gotten the disk, but I have not yet installed it. I heard of the various problem that cropped up through the blogs and podcasts. Since I am new to the Mac I decided to put it off for a bit.