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The Latest Addition to My Apple Family: MacBook Air 11″ of Pure Heaven

Published October 13, 2011 - 2 Comments

It’s no secret that I’ve slowly been replacing every piece of computer hardware I have with alternatives bearing the Apple logo.  It’s not that I’ve drunk the Cool-Aid so to speak… it’s just that they make damn fine products!  I still use Windows at work.  I still do my fair share of supporting Windows on machines that my kids own, and the occasional problem that a friend might run into.  And maybe some day I will buy another Windows machine… but not any time soon!

The Macbook Air is a thing of beauty!  (Like I’ve never said that about an Apple product before!)  Just look at the picture of it… I got the 11″ model, which is plenty powerful enough for what I want it for… and it weighs only 2.38 pounds!  It barely feels like anything.  And somehow, even though it’s so compact, it still sports a full keyboard!  That was the main selling point for me.  I have tried typing on netbooks, and it’s extremely painful.  I bought Acer netbooks for the kids 2 Christmases ago, and I hate working on them.  The keys are too close together, and there are too many keys that double, triple, or quadruple for different characters.  For some reason, even though I bought identical netbooks for the kids, I have to use a completely different key combination to make the ” @ ” on my son’s… and it usually takes me several minutes to figure out what it is!  My point is.. there’s none of that foolishness on the Macbook Air.  It’s beautiful.

My only problem is trying to connect to the wireless network at work.  For some reason I can not connect.  It gives a timeout error.  Thankfully it has no problems connecting at home.  But at work… it’s frustrating me.  I’ve done a bit of reading on the topic, and apparently I’m not the only one with this issue.  That’s encouraging, but most people say to log into the router and make changes there.  That’s not an option for me at work.  I don’t want to be playing with those settings.  I simply want to piggyback off the wireless for the nights when things are quiet.  I’ll continue to work at it.  I don’t really consider that a fault of the Air’s… and I could probably get the two of them talking if I was able to log into the router and look at the settings there.  Ah well…

But so far, so good!

Welcome to the Microsoft-Free Zone

Published November 23, 2010 - 9 Comments

Last week I wrote about buying my first iMac.  And here’s a quick update: I LOVE IT!   In fairness though, I might very well have been saying the exact same thing had I bought a 27″ all in one Windows machine too.  It might be less the fact that it’s Apple, and more the fact that it’s a beautiful machine.  The jury’s still out on that one.  But doesn’t matter.. I love it.

Today I want to talk a little about what I did to my Dell Inspiron laptop.  I’ve removed Windows 7 from it, and gone with Ubuntu Linux!  Exciting, isn’t it?  Yeah well, for me, it kinda is.  I’ve never installed Linux before.  I’m not really that type of geek.  (Whatever the hell that means)  But the current installations of Linux are a lot more user friendly, and a lot less geek factor required.

I have to say… my laptop runs noticeably faster under Ubuntu than it did under Windows 7.  I think that it shipped with Vista, but I had put a copy of Windows 7 on it last year.  Maybe it was the hardware.  Maybe it wasn’t high enough for Windows 7 to run as well as it probably should.  I don’t doubt that.  But still… doesn’t change the fact that Ubuntu runs beautifully on it.

I honestly don’t find that it looks as slick as Microsoft Windows does, but it’s not horrid.  I’m sure that there must be a version of Linux that is closer, but Ubuntu comes highly recommended, so that’s why I went with it.

As for software, as long as I have Firefox to start with, I’m fine.  After that, I installed VLC (movies and music) which is far better than Windows Media player (I also run this on the iMac), Tweetdeck (for Twitter), Open Office (a Microsoft Office clone) and Evolution (e-mail program).  I’ve been an Outlook user all my life (well, maybe not THAT long) and I was hesitant to install Evolution, but ya know what?  It’s pretty damn good!  Oh yes, and even Skype runs on Linux.  All these programs are free, and stable, and do 99% of what I need a computer to do.

Other than the XBox 360 (and my roomie’s Toshiba laptop) there are no Windows devices on the network any more.

And really… I can’t say as I miss them.

An Apple a Day… Keeps The Windows Away…

Published November 5, 2010 - 4 Comments

As many people already know, I finally took the plunge into the world of Apple for my computing needs!  I’ve been loving my iPhone so much that I felt I was ready to make the switch.  Originally I had been thinking about a new laptop, but after one trip to FutureShop, I immediately set my sights higher!  In all honesty, the Macbooks didn’t really grab my attention as much I thought they might.  They were fine… but I wasn’t looking for fine.  I was looking for amazing.  And then I saw the iMacs.

Quite simply, these things are beautiful.  Every computer should look like an iMac.  The idea of a single integrated unit does cause me some concern.  I’ll admit that.  If something breaks, the entire unit is useless.  But I’m willing to take a chance.

When it came to choosing the right one, it was a no brainer.  Bigger is better, I always say!  There is a 21″ monitor model and a 27″ monitor goliath.  Guess which one I had to have?  (Hey, I only buy a new computer every few years, and I usually go for a basement priced model… this is definitely a treat for me!) I’ll tell ya.. the 27″ monitor is absolutely gorgeous!  I’m sure that the 21″ model is also quite nice, but when you have the two of them side by side at the store… it makes the little guy look like the runt of the litter!

Setting it up is a joke.  It’s one piece!  Just plug it in!  I opted for the wireless keyboard and Magic Mouse, rather than the wired ones.  You might think that would be a no brainer as well, but not for me.  I actually did put consideration into that decision.  The wireless keyboard is smaller than a traditional keyboard.  The number pad on the side is gone.  I’ll admit that feels wrong to me, but I’m getting used to it.  The other difference is that the wired keyboard has 2 USB ports on it, while the wireless has none.  Why would I even care about that?  Well… in order for Apple to make everything look as pretty as possible, all the inputs are in the back.  This isn’t a big deal if you have something that you plug in once and leave it there, but it’s a bit of a pain for something that you’re going to plug in on the fly… like a USB memory stick.  It’s not the end of the world to move the computer to get access to the back, but I think it would have been nice had there been one USB slot on the front or side.

As for the Magic Mouse, that’s less of a debate.  I could have gone either way with that, but the lack of cords getting messed up on the desk is certainly nice.

As soon as you turn on the iMac, both your wireless keyboard and Magic Mouse are automatically paired with it, so there’s no configuring anything.  It just works!  Doesn’t get much simpler than that.

So what’s it like to actually use a Mac for the first time?  Well, it’s not without its little challenges.  There is a learning curve, but that’s to be expected.  Some of the things that I took for granted with my Windows machines are different in the Mac.  Again, that’s to be expected, but it still feels a little frustrating at times.  I actually had to look online to find out why I couldn’t right click with my Mac.  Once I got that straightened out, things improved dramatically.  (note: right click is disabled by default with the Magic Mouse!)

There’s also the issue of my keyboard shortcuts.  Instead of Control-X to cut and Control-V to paste, the Mac uses Command-X and Command-V.  Not a big deal, but considering that there IS a Control key on the keyboard, it’s what I keep trying to use.

As for software, I think the only thing that I’ve found that I couldn’t use on the Mac was RSS Bandit, which I use to keep track of the different blogs that I read.  There are plenty of Mac RSS readers available, so that’s not a problem.  As for everything else, the first thing I installed was Firefox.  Safari is a capable browser, but I’m more comfortable with Firefox.  After installing the Xmarks plugin for Firefox, I instantly had all my old bookmarks again.  After installing Dropbox, I had access to everything synched between my iMac, iPhone, and Windows laptop.  (This would eventually change a little, but more on that another day).  Add TweetDeck, Skype, uTorrent, and VLC media player and I was nearly 100% comfortable with everything that you could possibly throw at me.

I’m still a ways away from becoming an Apple fanboy.  I have far too many years of Windows background for me to completely walk away from it, but I have to be honest here… it’s been a long time since I’ve been as excited to open a new computer box as I was when the iMac showed up!

Looking More Into Apple’s iMac

Published September 15, 2010 - 0 Comments

Apple iMac

Take a look at it. How can you not fall in love with the iMac? It’s a thing of beauty. It’s sleek. It’s sexy. I want to take it home, and… ok.. better stop there…

I was in Future Shop yesterday. I wanted to take a look at the Apple MacBook and MacBook Pro. As I wrote earlier, I’ve been thinking about making the switch to Apple with my next computer purchase. There’s no rush, but I wanted to take a closer look at Apple’s latest offerings.

I have to say that the MacBooks are nice machines, but I was bothered somewhat by the 13″ display. The MacBook Pro has a 15″ display, which was much more reasonable, but the price is a little hefty. I stood there and used the MacBook Pro for a little while, and it was nice… but I just didn’t have the “wow” factor that I was hoping to get.

And then I looked over at the desktops. The iMac comes in a 21″ and a 27″ model. A 21″ display is a very respectable… until you set it next to a 27″ beast. Then it looks like a runt.

The 27″ iMac is gorgeous. I can easily see myself sitting in front of it, happily writing to my heart’s content. It has everything that I want in a new desktop. It’s fast. It’s powerful. It’s amazingly compact. I want one. I want one now.

Ah… but I have to be smart about this. I have a budget now, and it might be a little too soon to run out and bring this baby home.

Think.

Going in a New Direction? My First Mac?

Published September 10, 2010 - 3 Comments

Macbook Pro

I’ve been giving some serious consideration into purchasing a new laptop.  My Dell Inspiron actually works well enough, and I have nothing against it… but I feel like it’s more of a toy, and less of a workhorse.  I can play around on the net, download crap, break it, and reinstall Windows back to it without much thought.  It’s great for a time-waster… but what I want is a serious multimedia beast, so I can work on some serious projects.  Yes… what I’m saying is this…

I think it’s time to look at getting my first Mac.

There’s no doubt about it.  I’ve been extremely happy with every Apple product that I’ve bought.  (Except that I’m a little bewildered where my ringtones disappeared to after I upgraded my iPhone OS, and iTunes 10) They’re beautiful, and the user experience is generally far superior to the competition’s efforts. Granted, they’re also pricey… the Macbook Pro starts at $1250. I think that my Inspiron was around $600, and for the price of it, you couldn’t ask for better performance. I can buy one hell of a Windows laptop for $1250. But I don’t want another Windows laptop. I’m tired of Windows. I know Windows too well, and maybe that’s part of the problem for me. I’m looking for a new direction, and I’m growing a little tired of the technical side of things. I’m more interested in content creation at this point, and that includes audio and video.. two things that the Mac is supposed to excel at.

There’s no rush. I’ve been stashing a little money away every pay in the “iPad” account… but I don’t really think that I need an iPad at the moment. I’d much rather put that money toward an iMac or Macbook Pro.

Apple… One taste of the forbidden fruit and I want more… Isn’t that always the way?