After 20 years, a PC user tries a Mac-only life for 7 days

Hardcore PC user highlights his 7-day journey with a Mac for work and play

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Then came another one of those annoying quirks. I had installed some software and found it even more difficult to remove than anything on Windows. First up was Little Snitch, which monitored traffic in and out of the Mac to keep an eye out for malicious software. Well, Little Snitch became such a pain in the butt I wanted it gone. Uninstall from the apps? Nope. Turns out I had to run the installer because that was where the uninstaller was found. Except I'd deleted the installer and had to redownload it. Far more annoying came when I installed NTFS-3G so the Mac could read NTFS drives, then realizing I didn't need it. To remove this old software required running a bunch of Unix commands at the terminal command line. As it turns out, I had some bad luck. In most cases, to remove an app you basically delete the folder from the Applications folder, and that's it. Oh, and as it turned out, if you want a drive that can be easily read and written by both the Mac and PC, you need to use the exFAT format, not NTFS. MacOS can read NTFS but can't write to it. Once I formatted my spare drive and thumb drives with exFAT, things went smoothly. Day 5: Starting to miss Windows apps I'm starting to miss Windows apps that I use regularly, like Quicken and Photoshop. I could splurge hundreds of dollars for Mac versions or $70 for Parallels at Micro Center, which lets you run a Windows instance on your Mac. I'll take the latter. The Parallels box was almost empty. There was no DVD, which made me suspect it had been stolen. Turns out you go to the developer's site and download it, thus insuring the latest version. The only thing in the box, as it turns out, were instructions and the license key. The Parallels installation was a huge surprise. I expected a basic install, but no. It presented me with a multitude of operating systems to be installed, including Ubuntu and Chrome OS. There was also one for a Windows 8.1 Preview, which I chose. After a 10 minute wait, I had a working version of Windows 8.1 on my computer. It was a preview, so it restarted every two hours to pester me to buy a license, which I would not do. The point was made: Parallels works great. The Parallels Security Center manages security between the virtual Windows environment and the Mac, and prompted me to download an antivirus program. After that, apps installed fine and without lag. And I have to say, despite its excellence on the PC, Kaspersky for the Mac is a dog. It takes 10 minutes, easily, to do an update. You don't want to know how long it takes to do a scan.

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Parallels set-up, step 1
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Parallels set-up, step 2
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Parallels set-up, complete

Day 6: Starting to miss a second screen Ever with a 24" monitor, I was starting to miss a second screen. My PC uses two 24" screens, with the second containing my email client and Rainmeter skins that provide weather, an RSS feed and process monitoring. I knew there were utilities to turn your iPad into a second screen, so I gave it a shot. I bought Avatron's Air Display and after a few frustrating tweaks and checking through the FAQ, got it working as I wanted. That's ideal because Air Display doesn't use the iPad cable, it uses an Ethernet connection, so the refresh rate is slow as molasses in winter. Eventually I had Outlook running on the iPad, which was functioning as a second screen, so I could see email as it came in, rather than having to Control-Tab to it, since it was buried under other apps. Not bad for a $4.99 app. On my PC, it's easy. I have a Nvidia GTX 670 video card with two DVI ports. Just hook up two monitors and it works automatically. Day 7: Productive and nearing finish line My final day went without incident. Work went smoothly as I acclimated to the commands and differences of the Mac over my Windows machine, which sat unused except for some gaming this whole week. My final thoughts: I approached this not from an air of dissatisfaction. Most of the people I see switching to Macs from PCs were using Windows 8, and that will drive anyone away. Oftentimes they cite crashes and hangs. As I said in a recent blog post, hardware can often be the culprit. So you can say the Mac "just works," but so does my PC. And I find it easier to navigate. Then again, I am using Windows 7 and average a week of uptime before rebooting, and that's usually because of a software upgrade. There are aggravations with the Mac just like there are with the PC. The Control-Tab example, where the window does not come up when you tab between apps. The lack of a right button on the laptop even though there are right-click menus (I later learned to hold down Control and click to bring up the right-click menu). And the lack of commonality between apps is just dumb. There's no reason F5 can't refresh a screen on Mac Chrome, or F9 do a send/receive in Mac Outlook like their PC counterparts. The MacBook is fine hardware. It shreds my Dell and HP laptops, but then again, I did buy cheap when I bought those. I love the display and the lit keyboard, but it could stand to add a few more ports. Compared to high-end PC laptops, the MacBook is not very expandable. All in all, I am neither won over nor turned off. At least now I can easily move between both worlds. Like I said, I came to this point not out of passion, but experiment. This MacBook will be my learning instrument to see if I can still program after 30 years. So the experiment continues.

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