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January 28, 2009

iRotten Apples

Once upon a time, not so long ago, I was all gung-ho about switching from a PC to a Mac. Well, the honeymoon is over... after 4 years of using the Mac Mini, I once again feel that Mac is the BOSE of the computer world -- a lot of marketing and slick features, but you really don't get much for the price.

The Mini was great at first, but I soon found that it had its own glitches, just like any other computer. I had numerous episodes of programs crashing -- Safari, Mail, Word, Excel, etc. -- but never had the whole system crash on me. I will give Mac kudos for that -- zero operating system crashes in 4 years of use is impressive.

My main gripe about the Mini is that Apple did not provide the RAM necessary to run its own bulky operating system. I initially felt that 512MB of RAM was adequate (256MB was stock) for my needs, but soon found simple functions taking longer and longer to perform. As it is now, opening a basic Excel spreadsheet takes close to 30 seconds. The browsers are slow, Mail is painfully slow (and glitchy), and iPhoto is beyond slow. Why Apple didn't make at least 1GB RAM standard is unfathomable.

The final straw came Christmas of 2007, when I got Steph an iPod Nano. I had seen all the Mac vs. PC commercials, and firmly believed that I would be able to hook the iPod up to my Mini and experience some sort of Mac bliss. WRONG! The operating system that came with my Mini (named after some large cat) was not compatible with the iPod -- I would need to spend $150+, and risk the possibility of an even more bogged-down computer. What's the deal Apple? It ends up JD has a family pack of the newer 'big cat' OS, but I wasn't sure I wanted to risk making the Mini slower than it already was.

I took the iPod to work, since I run iTunes on the PC in my office, with slim hopes that I could make it work. I hooked the iPod up to my PC, and everything worked seamlessly, just like the Mac vs. PC commercials suggested would happen with a Mac. I don't care what excuses the Mac die-hards give for this incompatibility, it is inexcusable in my book -- enough so that I am pretty much done purchasing Apple computer products.

This past July, I decided to get a new laptop so that I could run the Box Factory's quote program from home -- since emailed quote requests are becoming the norm. After a few weeks of searching around, I found a 15.4" Gateway with an Intel 2 GHz Core 2 Duo processor, 160 GB HD, and 3 GB of RAM. I was leery of using Vista at first, but once I configured everything the way I wanted it, have found it to be a very stable operating system -- and I love the speed that comes from an Intel processor, and from all that memory.

This brings up another point... I used to think my internet at work was faster than my internet at home, because the work PC opened webpages so much faster than the Mini... then I did an online speed test. My connection at home was 7 times faster than my connection at work. Needless to say, the laptop on my home connection (even wireless) makes the Mini seem like it's running dial-up.

The only hitch with the laptop was that Garnet Red was the only color available, but for $599, I wasn't going to complain about the color. It ends up matching the color of my pickup, and Steph and the kids think it's cool. Incidentally, at the time I purchased this laptop, a comparable Mac product would have been $2499. No thank you... I'll stick with PC's from now on.

Edit: OK, now that I've vented my frustrations, here are some more level-headed thoughts...

After some discussion on the MacMentor forum, I have decided that I unfairly dismissed Apple's computer products, and that it was the less-than-robust performance of the mini that I was disappointed with, and not the operating system. I have since decided to max out the RAM and upgrade to Leopard, with the hopes of improving my performance, or at least making it so I can use my iPod with the mini.

I tried my best to go cold turkey with Mac products, but the fact is I really like the way OS X runs (when I'm not getting beach balls), and I really like the appearance, design, and simplicity of Mac products. But I like a lot about PC based systems, too (including Vista), so I will do my best to operate in both worlds -- utilizing the best that each system has to offer, rather than focusing on the negatives.

Incidentally, I used a friend's iPod Touch for a little while yesterday... I want one. :-)

January 14, 2009


Streamline Diesel by Noah [Click to enlarge]

On days when Steph works, Noah and Emily go to our friend Ericka's house for daycare. Ericka always has a craft project for the kids to work on, which Noah in particular loves. Today I picked him up for the school run, and I asked him what they did for crafts today. He replied, "My most favorite craft of all -- watercolors!"

Thank you Ericka, for helping bring out Noah's natural artistic talents. :-)

January 6, 2009

A Few Photos

Christmas and New Years have passed, so I suppose it's time to put up a new entry. When I can't come up with a creative entry, I usually resort to kid pictures... and this time is no different. The following photos were taken by Ruth Swartzendruber during our Fall photo shoot... click on images to enlarge.

Noah, clinging to a log.

Emily, striking a pose amongst the leaves.