Wednesday, February 3, 2010


I Want to Quit, But I Need a Support Group

OK so after ordering a new battery for my Toshiba laptop (which has never really worked properly), I'm sitting on my couch with the indicator saying I've got about 65% or so left, when BAM the whole computer shuts down. No warning about low battery or anything.

I'm tempted to be mad at the battery, but it might not be the manufacturer's fault. Even when this thing was about two weeks old, the computer would just randomly shut off for no reason. Good thing I don't run traffic light control programs from it.

Oh since I'm complaining, the power cord is new too because the original one literally started shooting out sparks one time.

Anyway, my wife switched to Mac a few years ago and has no regrets. The one thing holding me back is that I actually know my way around Microsoft Office fairly well, at least Word and Excel. When I've tried to use the Mac versions, they make me go cross-eyed.

Do I just need to adjust, or are Word and Excel really inferior on Macs? If it matters, I'm just getting a laptop.

Office on Macs is indeed vastly inferior. You can't even run standard macros in Mac Excel (you could in old version, not in latest one). Hopefully 2010 or whenever version will fix everything. But: the nice thing about Macs, if you have an extra license for XP and Office, is you can buy and install Parallels for Mac and have Windows running side-by-side coherently with Mac programs. If you really want to overpay for a Mac that is...
First of all, new batteries for laptops are usually not conditioned. What needs to be done is you need to fully charge the battery, let it die completely before charging it again. Then repeat this about 50 times (not kidding)...or for a few weeks at least. You'll notice a difference :)

Also, try It's not great, but it gets the job done for Word and Excel, and it works on just about any operating system.
do you do macro programming? do you use tons of advanced functions or do you usually just need to use basic functions? is it the interface that you are are worried about or are you such a power excel user that you may find functionality that you need unavailable?

i worked as a data mining analyst and needed all of the functionality of excel and more. a mac version would not have cut it. period. but at home, i am a mac user and proud of it. the mac version of excel (and word) are decent enough for any reasonably avid user. and actually pages and numbers (in the iwork suite) are perfectly acceptable (and in many ways superior) for all but the most extreme spreadsheet users.
I can't do Macs either, but I have switched to Linux. In a lot of ways, MS Office runs better in Linux (using the WINE emulator) than it does in Windows. If you're just doing basic stuff without charting, OpenOffice is good, as is Gnumeric (which also has a free Windows version). I have a Dell Mini running Ubuntu Linux as adapted by them, and really like the lightweight netbook format. I also bought an Acer with Windows 7, just because of the price, and that's fine, but I keep going back to my various Linux computers. I'm still running MSOffice 2003 because the new format of 2007 was a real pain. What makes it less so is a free add-in that gives you the old dropdown menus again,
Change to Linux. I did 5 years ago and have not looked back.

I recomend you try Ubuntu: You can download into a cd, try it from the cd without touching the hd at all, and then if you like it install it.
Mac is the way to go. Pretty much every college student has a mac, because they are just so much easier to operate and hardly ever break down.
I saw a comparison of all major laptop makers recently, but can't remember where I saw it. Toshiba had fewer problems than Mac laptops, but not by much. You may have just got a bad one.
I have Macs at home (two; an iMac and a PowerBook) and PCs at work, and have decided that my next machine will be ... a PC. What is good about Macs is their dependability, but what makes them dependable is their superior hardware, which is superior to the home edition PCs that most people buy. If you splurge a little and get a business class PC, with hardware similar in quality to the Mac, then you'll find these problems will go away.

They don't sell those machines at Best Buy or Wal-Mart. But dollar for dollar, you get a better deal than with the Mac because you get Mac quality hardware for a much lower price. Right now, you are using a Ford Fiesta in that Toshiba. Going to a business class machine would be like moving up to a Avalon. You'd get the dependability of the Mac without having to give up the MS programs which I agree are superior.
I just made the transition from a PC to Macs, after using PCs since the original Compaq portable computer. I resisted for years because I dreaded the learning experience, but I am now happy I made the change. Mac OS X is a serious operating system that just works pretty much all the time.

I had to give up a large Excel application that used thousands of lines of Visual Basic code. I rewrote the applications using a more appropriate (for me) tool: FileMaker Pro. As other posters have said, the Office question depends on the features you are using.

Anyway, the transition is complete. I have both an iMac and a MacBook Pro and love them. My 6 GB Dell, Vista OS, sits idle on the other side of the office now.
If you only need the basics, try It's free, so you can try it out on whatever version of Windows you're using now and decide if it will work for you on the Mac.

Otherwise, you might want to wait a few months until Office 2010 comes out. Of course, there's a good chance Microsoft will completely revamp the user interface yet again, causing even more confusion.
I'm no mac fan, but I agree with the comment about getting a bad one, it happens. Sounds like there's a connection problem, do you move your laptop around when it goes out? Does it get shifted at all? I'd even imagine it's not the battery, but potentially a connector in the PC. Anyways, I have to recommend not to cross over. PC laptop manufacturers are generally the same as Mac and often better since there are more of them. Not to mention the huge cost of a mac for gear that isn't quite up to par. I like Toshiba.
I think this is a failure of the free market, and we need some strict government regulation in this sector. Also, a new law mandating that we all receive laptops (we could just print the money, so they would be free). Think of the stimulating effects on the economy that would provide.
I've helped several people move to Mac and I've not had anyone want to go back to PCs. I love my MacBookPro 17" (have 4 Macs, one from 2002, in my house). It isn't like the Chinese factories can't kick out a bad item from time to time, but the Apple Stores are aggressive about fixing them, in my experience.
Think of it like a toolbox. You don't use a hammer to screw in a screw. The question is, what are you planning on doing?

If you're working on print graphics, motion graphics, high end audio editing, or composite video, then a Mac is good.

If you're working on relational databases, object programming, 3D modeling and rendering, or high end accounting software then a Mac isn't that good.

If you are only interested in doing basics (internet, email, word processing, non-macro spreadsheet work, no relational database work, etc.) then a Mac is great.

Hope this helps.

J Cortez
Forget Mac's, If you had to buy your gas and tires from GM would you buy their cars ? If you can forget Microsoft.

Unless you have extreme needs Open Office works well. Linux is easier to get used to than OS X. It also works better on crappier systems than either OS X or Windows.
Unless you have some very specific needs that can only be met under Windows chose Linux. Linux runs better on a PC, better on a Mac. It does everything OS X does, and almost everything windows does. And if you manage to switch you will never move back - linux does many many things that neither Windows or OS X do,

My buddy has a Toshiba and experienced the same issues. He ended up pulling the battery out and running from the power cord only. That solved the intermittent power downs. He also has a way to put the PC into sleep mode under power cord only mode so that when unplugging to go somewhere, you can plug back in and start from the same point. I'll forward when he gets that to me...
I have used macs at home and pcs at work for years. It just takes a couple of weeks to get used to the newness of mac. Yes, office for mac is a little inferior but very decent nonetheless. If you install parallels on the mac, you can run windows and the real office. Yes, macs are more expensive than pcs but i dont know a lot of people that go back to pcs. Go for it.
"If you're working on relational databases, object programming, 3D modeling and rendering, or high end accounting software then a Mac isn't that good."

Working on a relational database on your laptop? Won't the database be on some server, and your laptopo just a client?

"object programming"? Object-oriented programming? Why would a Mac be inadequate for that?

"3D modeling and rendering"

Isn't that something people do especially on a mac? I see dozens of programs available for it.

"high end accounting software"

OK, that one I believe.
yeah, i was a little confused by the 3d modeling remark as well. my wife studied 3d animation and all the university used was macs.
"If you're working on relational databases, object programming, 3D modeling and rendering, or high end accounting software then a Mac isn't that good."

Any OS can do anything provided it has software for it.

You can do all of these things on the Mac (I'm guessing there is accounting software available, but perhaps most of the market for that is on another platform...). I use my Mac to program all the time. You can install databases locally (like MySQL) and also unix packages (since OS X is built off of unix).

Bob, I don't use Office programs at all, so I don't know how they compare between platforms. But Apple makes its own suite of office-like software which may (or may not) suite your needs.

I like Linux, but it's more akin to building your own car than buying a new one off the lot. It's fun if you like to build cars, but if you don't know what you are doing, it could be frustrating.
get a mac. support the fat guy.
Bob, by a Sony Vaio. My wife has one, and it works great. You also get to use Windows 7, which is gorgeous. Mac is for graphic artists, musicians, and fan boys who try to be cool and different and don't notice that they are just victims of marketing.

Macintosh is closed computing. too little choice of alternative software. Too high initial investment cost, almost no ability to fix things yourself.

For amateurs, pc is better. And it runs Microsoft Office.
anon: ha! just the reason I needed most CERTAINLY not to buy a Mac.
"Too high initial investment cost, almost no ability to fix things yourself."

Well, James, I was a programmer and a Windows (and Solaris and Linux and OS/2) user for many years. I found with each of my Windows boxes, there was a lot I could do to fix things myself -- which was a good thing, because I was constantly having to fix things. Finally, after spending months with a Windows machine on which I could get any 6 of 7 but not all 7 peripherals to work, I gave up and got a Mac.

It's true I can't open them up and fix things myself. I also never have need to!
If you decide to use a Mac while running Windows through Parallels (as someone suggested) make sure you have a minimum of 4GB of RAM. I have the same setup on my iMac and 2GB of RAM just couldn't cut it.
"Mac is for graphic artists, musicians, and fan boys who try to be cool and different and don't notice that they are just victims of marketing."

It's a common stereotype, but it's wrong. There are quite a few people who don't fit into this category and still use Macs—for work even.

"Macintosh is closed computing. too little choice of alternative software. Too high initial investment cost, almost no ability to fix things yourself."

There is actually plenty of really great software available for the Mac. If I had to switch to Linux or Windows, I would really miss Mac software.

I'm not sure what James means by "closed computing". He might be talking about the fact that Apple doesn't license its OS to other manufacturers. If you really want to buy non-Apple hardware, you can still run OS X on it (google "Hackintosh").

If by "closed computing" James means "open source", well... neither is Windows. Linux is great, but might not be the best if you don't have the time to get comfortable with it.

I also don't know what James means by "no ability to fix things yourself". If something in the hardware breaks, you can have Apple fix it for you if its under warranty, just like every other computer manufacturer. But you can still open up the case and poke around yourself, if you wish.

If James is talking about software issues, there's nothing preventing you from trying to fix those either, as long as you have some idea of what's going on. The same is true for Windows or Linux, or any OS.

Ahh, skip it. You should just buy an Atari.
Get the Mac. It's pricey, but the iWork suite is fantastic, you don't have to use any antivirus software, memory management is light years better (your computer doesn't go catatonic when you have 30 windows open), it's more secure both on the filesystem and with blocking remote attacks and (if it matters) is "prettier."

I'm not a Mac fan boy. The company I work for gives their employees the option of using Windows or Mac machines and, being one of the IT guys, I had to have a Mac since you can run Windows in a virtual machine (Parallels, Virtual Box, vmware, et al.).

Just my .02c
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