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Buying a Mac, Pictionary

stoolpigeon (454276) writes | about 7 months ago

User Journal 9

I've mentioned it in conversation. I've been going back and forth in my mind on what I would do. I need a new laptop. My old travelling laptop, an Acer, still runs fine but it is incredibly slow and takes forever to start. At the time I purchased it, this was not a big deal. There were a few primary concerns back then. One was battery life and the other was size. I was on long flights a lot and I wanted something that would let me make better use of that time. The Acer was perfect and the fac

I've mentioned it in conversation. I've been going back and forth in my mind on what I would do. I need a new laptop. My old travelling laptop, an Acer, still runs fine but it is incredibly slow and takes forever to start. At the time I purchased it, this was not a big deal. There were a few primary concerns back then. One was battery life and the other was size. I was on long flights a lot and I wanted something that would let me make better use of that time. The Acer was perfect and the fact that it was very inexpensive was a huge bonus. I knew it would be slow but that really didn't matter. Most of those trips were to conferences that I was putting on. I'd boot up every morning and be plugged in and running all day. I ran presentations from it and handled email, google docs, etc.
 
Now my work style has changed a bit. When I'm home I don't really use my laptop much at all. It takes too long to start when I'm doing something quickly and now my phone and tablet handle most things I want to do briefly anyway. I stream a lot more video now but the little Acer can't do that well at all. When I am traveling I'm not at conferences. I'm working in national or team offices in our various countries. I'm checking networks, assisting in admin stuff for software, all kinds of things and I'm usually moving about - working with different people. The Acer just doesn't handle all that too well and my last trips to Albania and Russia I got really tired of telling people, "Just give me a few more minutes. I'm still getting my machine started."
 
I have had the Acer for over 4 years now so I think I got a great return on what I spent for it. And it still works, it just doesn't fit my current needs. I will probably set it up for one of my kids. It will be fine for them to use in doing homework and stuff. But what will I get to replace it? Well here is where I'm a little torn. At the same time I need a Mac. I want to be able to do some mobile development and our staff use a mix of Android and iOS phones. I can develop for Android on Linux or Windows but the iOS stuff requires an Apple machine. In my perfect world we'd just use Android but that's not reality. The reality is we have a lot of people that use a lot of Apple products.
 
I don't know why. I do - but I mean personally I don't get it. I don't like Apple products for the most part. My admittedly limited experiences with OSX have been unpleasant. I think it is not easy to use and the interface is rather poor and limiting. I'd much rather be using Linux. So it has not made me happy to see more and more of our staff move to Mac. As a nonprofit I hate to see us paying a premium to use what I don't think is a superior platform. And once many of our high level leaders made the jump I saw more and more people follow. So this long explanation is so that I can say - in a lot of ways it makes sense for me to get a Mac laptop. I can do the iOS work on it, I'll learn more about the Apple ecosystem so I can support others, and I'll have a machine that fits my current work better once I learn how to use it. The one thing holding me back is that I'll become another leader that leans people toward Apple.
 
I guess I just need to get over it. But I got wound up about it again today when I read this HN post. What this guy went through to fix his power button behavior - all the software and fixes people recommend in the HN comments to fix functionality- and yet people give me crap about Linux being too difficult. Unreal.
 
On an unrelated note, we had friends over for a little get together last week. One couple is Hungarian and the other Albanian. We decided to play a game. Someone (not us) suggested Pictionary. We got it out and started playing. It was horrible. We quit pretty quickly. As the only native English speakers my wife and I had a huge advantage. I've played that game many times and until this time never realized how much culture fits into it. Both other couple speak English very well but there were so many phrases and other things that made it hard for them. We switched to ticket to ride - the European version. It was a lot of fun. And now we were the ones with a very slight disadvantage. We played with each couple as a team. The other couples could each speak openly in their native languages about what they wanted to do but my wife and I could not. It was a lot of fun.
 
So it seems so stinking obvious but it is wild to really see it right in front of you - how much language and culture are all tied together. It would have been really interesting if we'd had someone from the UK.

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9 comments

On the subject of Mac... (1)

MonTemplar (174120) | about 7 months ago | (#45844265)

I've been using Macs for work since the early 2000s, and have been the owner of an iMac since 2012.

The move to Intel processors has definitely improved the Mac in some ways - not only is it possible to run Windows on it, either as a separate OS using Boot Camp or in a virtual machine like Parallels Desktop, but the Mac now works and plays much better in a Windows environment. Sadly, this was not true of earlier versions of OSX or the PowerPC-based Macs. Of course, the flip-side of this is that OSX appears to have gained some of the bad habits of Windows, particularly with regard to security vulnerabilities. Contrary to what a lot of Mac users may claim, I think installing anti-virus software is a must, even if it's just to spare the embarrassment of passing on Windows malware.

I will agree with you about the price premium - it would be great if Apple could bring back something along the lines of the old plastic Macbooks and luggable iMacs. The main reason I went with an iMac was because I'd been burned by two different PCs failing on me in the space of just over a year, plus a desire to investigate iOS development. In my case, it helped that most of the software I use is cross-platform, so transitioning was pretty painless. I was very happy to get one of the 2011 iMacs - I can still use CDs and DVDs, plus I can easily upgrade the memory myself. Sadly, the subsequent redesigns have traded features for elegance. Also, I'm still on Mountain Lion for the moment, as there have been problems reported with Mavericks and some of the software that I rely on.

Ecosystem advantage (1)

The Fun Guy (21791) | about 7 months ago | (#45845323)

I've run into this before, too. Eventually, the performance advantages I gained as an individual by having a much better setup (software, hardware or both) got completely offset by the lack of interoperability with everyone else.

Apple? Well, if you want... (1)

jawtheshark (198669) | about 7 months ago | (#45848317)

Last "begin-of-school" period, plenty of machines were on sale. Personally, I have ranted before about the Ultrabooks being a waste of money, because all OEMs seem to think their machines are worth as much as the MacBook Airs (Hint: they aren't. One of the appeals is them being Apple and running OS X instead of the crappy OS from Redmond). Still, this time around I found an Ultrabook that is decently priced *and* decently specced. The only sad thing is the low resolution, but good resolution laptops are hard to find and usually at a premium.

So, what did I get myself? An Acer Aspire S3-391 (Google+ Post [google.com] ). It was just 649€ and I found that an acceptable deal for something portable and relatively powerful. Specs are: Intel Core i5 3317U 1.7GHz [cpu-world.com] , Intel HD4000 graphics, 4GB RAM, 500GB HDD + 20GB SSD (normally used for caching under Windows, but fully usable as disk under Linux). It runs Ubuntu 12.04 LTS wonderfully and everything is supported out of the box without proprietary drivers.

On the SSD: You can't really boot from the SSD, but you can install Linux on it, and install GRUB in the MBR of the 500GB HDD, which works perfectly fine. Me? I chose to put Linux on the SDD; and put LVM on the HDD for flexibility. For the moment, I have 100GB for the /home and 100GB for the /opt where my Steam games reside.

This machine can be had for much less online, but I rather have either a US keyboard or a fr_CH/de_CH keyboard and those are very hard to get in my part of Europe.

If I were you, I'd consider such a machine. Especially, you have connections to good old US, where you can probably get this at USD = EUR parity, which would make it even a better deal. Hey, look at Amazon: Not exactly the same, but as close as it gets and it even got Win7 [amazon.com] . That's a ridiculous 524$, or better known as 383,66€. Really? An Apple? You don't even like OS X?

Hell, you do what you want. I can only say what I'd do in your situation.

Re:Apple? Well, if you want... (1)

gmhowell (26755) | about 7 months ago | (#45876245)

Hell, you do what you want. I can only say what I'd do in your situation.

But did you? I thought one of the requirements was iOS development. I assume there are some aspects of it that you can do in a Linux or Windows environment, but the entirety, especially emulation and pushes to dev devices, isn't possible, IIRC.

BTW, what exactly does the 'ultrabook' nomenclature refer to? I've been looking at prices for laptops for other family members, and this keeps cropping up.

Yeah, I know, lmgtfy...

Re:Apple? Well, if you want... (1)

jawtheshark (198669) | about 7 months ago | (#45876869)

Yeah, if it's iOS development, he will have to bite the bullet. You can, however, bit the bullet twice: get a Mini for iOS dev and a Linux Ultrabook for everything else that needs to be portable.

The Ultrabook nomenclature has been significantly watered down. Basically it means "Apple MacBook Air clone", where the manufacturers don't understand that going over the pricing of an Air while offering not much more is pure insanity. So, an Ultrabook over 1000€ is a no-no, as the cheapest Air can be had for that. So, what exactly is it? We could ask Intel of course, who coined the term [wikipedia.org] . In my book, it's a very thin, optical-less, 14" or smaller notebook that has quite a long time on battery. Basically, a netbook with a good CPU, and thin... thin... thin... They're the size-0 of the computing world. Oh, they generally also lack RJ-45 and come with mostly two USB ports.

The AMD equivalent is called "Sleekbook".

You get the point. Think long and hard before getting one. Working on it isn't really as comfortable. My iBook from back in the day was significantly better. However, if you want portability and a bit of power, they're the correct choice.

See, I didn't even make you Google it. Ain't I nice?

Re:Apple? Well, if you want... (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | about 7 months ago | (#45880965)

Yeah- I'm leaning towards getting an Air. Then I can do dev on the road. And if I ever get to a point where I can drop iOS development I'll just install Linux on it.

The Samsung I got for my wife falls into the ultrabook category. It has a higher res screen than the Air, good battery life, weighs in under a kilo and still has decent processor and memory. Unfortunately Samsung and Microsoft is a rather awful combination. Windows 8.1 has some real issues and Samsungs support is horrific. It's too bad too. If they put just a little effort into it I'd be a repeat customer. As it is I'm done buying hardware from Samsung - phone or pc.

Re:Apple? Well, if you want... (1)

jawtheshark (198669) | about 7 months ago | (#45885673)

I ain't no Apple fanboi, but in the 1000€++ price range couple with Ultrabook class of machines, the only reasonable option is the Air.

I like Samsung for parts. They used to make very good hard disks. Their TVs are nice too, I heard. Never even crossed my mind getting a Samsung laptop.

Re:Apple? Well, if you want... (1)

gmhowell (26755) | about 7 months ago | (#45885413)

I appreciate the effort :) I had actually Googled it, but you've verified that it's some Intel marketing crap. And reminded me of what I recall from when they first introduced them: generally more expensive than a MBA but without OSX. WTF?

And that AMD name is way to close to "Sleestak" for me to take seriously.

Re:Apple? Well, if you want... (1)

jawtheshark (198669) | about 7 months ago | (#45885693)

I'm pretty sure I've ranted about the insanity that is the non-Apple Ultrabook class of machines. The OEMs are starting to see their error and are starting to make halfway decent "Ultrabooks" for halfway acceptable prices. You have to look for them though. It's as if they don't understand the PC market. The only brand that can ask premium is Apple... and back in the days IBM. IBM was worth it, but IBM doesn't do PC any more.

The AMD one sounds to me like "Sleazebag", but that's probably just me. (I'm actually quite happy with the AMD APUs. They're nothing to spit on, and definitely underrated)

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