This is, quite possibly, one of the most difficult articles to write; for starters, it's not a review of hardware, and it's not actually a review of anything concrete - it is a review of an experience. We all go about using our computers knowing that if we don't like something about them, if they are too slow or too unreliable or don't do something we need them to do, then we can upgrade them, or we can swap out the faulty part and put in a new one. Now, it costs us money (sometimes lots of it), but it is possible. But much like the U.S. election system, although there may be the illusion of multiple options for your OS, in reality, there is really only one. If you want any sort of software compatibility, driver support and don't want to be made fun of, Windows is the way to go. There have been righteous attempts by smaller OSes to gain traction, and some of them have (e.g. Linux), but for the most part, we're dealing with a one-party OS system. Now that's not necessarily a bad thing; quite contrary, in fact. I believe that Windows XP is the best thing to ever come out of Redmond and I have very few issues with the OS. I actually liked the XP theme when it first came out and I've been happier with Windows XP than any previous Microsoft OS (except maybe the good ol' DOS days). When installed on the right hardware with the right drivers (and with an eye to be wary of poorly written apps), I found that Windows XP was just as stable as any other OS that I'd ever encountered. My personal machine would go months between reboots without a single problem. It's not that there is anything wrong with Windows; it's that if you want the option, if there's any particular thing that you don't like about the way Windows works, you're straight out of luck.

I think that a bit of me was feeling, after being a strictly Windows user ever since version 2.0 (with the requisite mix of DOS back then), that there were a couple of things that had started to annoy me about Windows, which I would rather do without.

For starters, heavy multi-tasking management under Windows had caused me a lot of grief. Maybe it's just because of the nature of my work, but I tend to have a lot of windows open at any given time. I like quick access to the information that I need when I'm working and much like a messy desk, there is a method to my window-madness that only I know. When writing an article (especially big NDA launches), I'd have around 20 IE windows open, Outlook with another 5 - 15 emails, Power Point with NDA presentations, Word with my article, maybe Dreamweaver if I was starting to put it into HTML, not to mention Acrobat, some sort of MP3 player, Trillian and a bunch of explorer windows as well. After a certain point, the cramped taskbar became difficult to use as a locator tool, and while I could ALT+TAB forever, I just felt like I was idle for too long. I knew what it was that I needed to get to, and I knew I had it open, but the process of getting to it was a pain.

The other issue was with the way Windows handled having so many windows opened; after a certain number of windows were opened, stability and performance both went down the drain. Sometimes applications could no longer spawn additional windows or dialog boxes, requiring me to close a handful before I could continue doing anything, and other times, applications would simply crash.

It's not that I was dissatisfied with Windows and the PC experience in general, but I thought it might be time for something new - to see what else was out there.

I've always been a fan of trying alternate Oses - I was even an OS/2 user (both 2.0 and Warp) for a little while in my early years. So, a while back, I conjured up this idea to try using a Mac for a month. At first, it started as just a personal experiment, but it later developed into the foundation for the article that you're reading now. After doing the necessary research to make sure that I could actually get work done on a Mac, I whipped out the trusty credit card and decided to give the experiment a try.

What you are about to read are my impressions, as a devout PC user, of the Apple way of life.

The Basics
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  • dmr9748 - Saturday, October 9, 2004 - link

    You again failed to provide proof. The first site is a bunch of pictures. I have been to that campus and have met some of the people in those pictures. This is how funding works, if someone gives you money and says that you can only spend it on x, are you going to give up that funding? NO

    Now, let's take a look at comparing 2 exact same items. They will never perform the same. Do you know why? There is about a billion reasons why. The mos striaght and to the point example is the movie "Timeline." Look at post #97.

    The only one that came close to proving me wrong was the linuxsinder.com post. Problem is, he doesnt tell me what vendor he is going to except for dell and the things is I just did a price comparison on both those items. I have given the direct links to the vendors.

    With some of the last links you posted, go back to post #112.
    Reply
  • rxmz - Saturday, October 9, 2004 - link

    Azkman has already answered #112 very well, but just a quick look at the Dell shows it only has 2 HD bays, neither front accessible nor hot swappable. It's not 64-bit, and doesn't have a 1GHz front-side bus. I'd guess there are other reasons it's not in the same comparison class as the Xserve G5, but I think that's plenty already. Reply
  • azkman - Saturday, October 9, 2004 - link

    Hard evidence for #112 (none from pro-apple sources):

    http://www.tcf.vt.edu/systemX.html
    http://www.colsa.com/cover_page/news_front/news_de...
    http://www.top500.org/list/2003/11/
    http://www.linuxinsider.com/story/36120.html
    http://www.linuxinsider.com/story/36964.html
    http://www.roanoke.com/news/roanoke%5C6133.html
    http://www.pcmag.com/review/0%2C2491%2Cs%3D1564&am...
    http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1759,1369037,00.as...

    Specs do not equal performance. I haven't heard of any Dell supercomputers being built at breakthrough prices. I'd believe the jugdement and results of VT and the US Army over an arbitrary price comparison any day.
    Reply
  • dmr9748 - Saturday, October 9, 2004 - link

    I just did a price comparison of my own between an xserve and a dell server.

    Here is the xserve for $2898.99

    http://www.ctistore.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Scr...

    I priced a rackmount server with the same specs on dell.com for $2021

    http://configure.us.dell.com/dellstore/config.aspx...

    #95 Don't post an article that explains one system and then say it is more cost effective for what you get compared to another system when the article doesn't even mention a price for the system they are describing. Do not attack my post unless you have some hard evidence.

    Reply
  • kmmatney - Saturday, October 9, 2004 - link

    reading all these comments from (most) the mac users that have posted makes me want a mac less and less.

    -- I second that one. $2500 for a computer with no monitor and a crap video card. That's the "uncomfortable" part to me.
    Reply
  • victorpanlilio - Saturday, October 9, 2004 - link

    #109 dextrous wrote: reading all these comments from (most) the mac users that have posted makes me want a mac less and less.

    Care to elaborate? Using this same sort of reasoning, then all of the positive comments a people might happen to make about their own country should dissuade foreign tourists from visiting. And of course, such people should not object if their country is portrayed in a bad light by foreigners who know little or nothing about the country. What's more, the foreigners are afraid that a learning experience might actually force them to rethink their prejudices. To bring this discussion back on topic, what Anand has done is the equivalent of visiting a foreign country, sampling its cuisine, experiencing something of its culture, and so on. His "travelogue" describes his impressions. The forum participants chime in with their own dispatches from the field -- and those who have visited and perhaps lived in the foreign country for some time are in a better position to comment knowledgeably.
    Reply
  • dextrous - Saturday, October 9, 2004 - link

    reading all these comments from (most) the mac users that have posted makes me want a mac less and less. Reply
  • victorpanlilio - Saturday, October 9, 2004 - link

    In #107 topcat903 wrote: "Basically, this article describes the "uncomfortable" feeling we get when we switch to something we are not used to."

    And if that's all it was, then the remedy is simple -- learn. But in the article, as well as in the comments, uncalled-for remarks about price etc. detract from the overall message that it is quite possible for a diehard but open-minded Windows PC user to discover genuinely superior things about MacOS X even without delving into applications that make best use of the platform.
    Reply
  • topcat903 - Saturday, October 9, 2004 - link

    I don't think this article was to compare which system (hardware or software wise) is better. It was written to describe the "experience" one would feel when switching to another OS (heck, the same thing could be said about switching girlfriends or boyfriends).

    I started my computing days using the Apple IIe, then the first Mac...eventually I switched to the Windows platform, and recently since my wife got an iBook, I had to switch back to OS X.

    Basically, this article describles the "uncomfortable" feeling we get when we switch to something we are not used to...A feeling I experienced many times over. All the speed, power, and storage of a system could mean nothing to me if I don't know all the ins and outs of what I'm using to get what I needed done.

    Overall, the article was a good and interesting read...just wish there was more on the audio/video apps (where Apple truly excel), however I assume it's not what the author's primary use of the G5...but hopefully a start towards many more articles.
    Reply
  • rxmz - Saturday, October 9, 2004 - link

    A quick FYI semi-related to Mac OS X scroll speed. Clicking in the empty area of a scroll bar jumps by a page, but clicking while holding down the "option" key jumps straight to that point (reversible via a system preference). This comes in very handy for long documents (or file listings), when you know about where you're trying to go.

    As an aside, the only app I have seen where this does NOT work is MS Word....
    Reply

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