What to Buy: Part Three

By Adrian Lane

Finally took the plunge last week- I went out and bought a Mac. Actually, I bought a couple of them. That was not what I originally intended, as my plan was to get a top-of-the-line MacBook Pro and a high-end monitor to go with it. But every time I sat down in front of my wife’s iMac, I was really impressed with the quality of the display and the simplicity of the machine itself. When I learned the 24-inch version had the Core 2 Duo at 3GHz, I was sold. Given the amount of travel I do I needed a laptop, so I picked up an entry-level MacBook as well. It worked out about even money as far as hardware costs, and it will only cost me a little more for software, so I kind of feel like I got two for one.

For the last week I have not been blogging all that much as I have spent every waking hour moving files, downloading software, installing, configuring, and learning a bunch of new applications. I don’t think I have bought this much personal software before. And with Rich and myself reworking the Securosis infrastructure at the same time, it has been a hectic week.

For those who do not know me; I started my career with UNIX; moved to CTOS; then a mixture of Windows, UNIX, and Linux for about 5 years; but over the last 8 years it has been almost all Windows PCs. So learning a new OS is no big deal, and the UI design on the Mac is pretty darn easy, which has helped smooth the transition. But I must say I am glad that there is a UNIX-based OS sitting underneath … makes me feel a little more comfortable and made the learning process faster.

I wanted to share the experience as I was wondering if some people had come to the same conclusions that I have about the Apple products. First the MacBook:

The MacBook is nice-looking, but nothing all that spectacular IMO. While the 2.4GHz Intel processor is fast and I like the OS, the keyboard is decidedly ordinary and the display is really not all that great. Contrast, color saturation and accuracy are all pretty poor. Tried to calibrate as best I could without tools, but I only think I am going to get so far with this effort. My real concern at the moment has been stability. I have only been running the machine for a couple of days and Mail has hung twice, and the machine would not respond to shutdown requests. I installed all of the patches I could and hopefully that will help. I also upgraded the machine to 4gb, and when I did, I found an interesting white residue caked on the pins of the DIMMs. I am wondering if the installers are putting talc or something on the pins to make insertion easier, but there was so much I have to wonder if there were memory errors. Seems to be more stable now and I am hoping for the best.

The iMac- in a word, WOW! It is the nicest machine I have ever owned. Fast. Put 4 gig of memory in it. The aluminum keyboard has a great feel to it. Keep looking for the right mouse button, but that’s OK, I am retraining myself. But the most amazing thing about this box is the monitor. 24 inches of real estate. The color, depth and detail is stunning. It’s fun just to look at the pre-supplied backgrounds. And everything has worked without a hitch. Software installed in a fraction of the time of other platforms. The one time I messed up I simply drug the application to the trash, started from scratch, and was done in two minutes. The only anomaly I found is the machine is spec’ed for DDR2 800, but came with DDR2 667. Other than that, perfect. The MacBook is nice, but the iMac is why I am beyond happy.

Hard for me to imagine that this is true, given the long line that I had to wait in when I went to the Apple store. Plus I know 5-6 people who just switched to Macs, and half the people I know are saving up to get iPhones. With a product that is this solid, I don’t think that they have a lot to worry about.

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If you’‘re worried about the MacBook’s memory, I’‘d recommend trying memtest (  I’‘ve had it detect memory errors that other tools (even Apple’s service provider test) missed.  It does have some limitations, though: it runs as a normal process (thus is at the mercy of VM, and can’‘t test RAM in use by kernel/other apps—run in single-user mode to minimize this; and can’‘t allocate more than 2G—so run 2 instances at once).  It’s commercial, but only $1.39 and comes with source.

By Gordon Davisson

@Adrian: Virtual Box is an option as well—I use vmware fusion 2.0 however, mostly because I run VM workstation on windows workstation and ESXi on other platforms locally.

By David Bergert

@Chris - Yes, Grandpa has finally upgraded.  I cannot say enough good things about the iMac 24.  It’s amazing. 

Now I have to decide if I go Parallels or VMware Fusion.  Liked VMWare Workstation interface better on the PC, and it looks like Fusion is an attempt to mimic Parallels looks and feel.  Or perhaps it was the other way around, I really don’‘t know.  Parallels feels a little slicker, so I am probably going that way. 

Anyone want to make comments on 1Password vs. Password Wallet?

By Adrian Lane

‘‘bout time, grandpa! ;)

Welcome to the fold.

I bought my wife and 12 yr old a set of matching Macbooks.  The other 2 kids have Mac Mini’‘s.  I have my MBPro.  I want to get an iMac 24 and an Air and ditch the 17" MBP.

We loves our Macs ‘‘round here!


By Christofer Hoff

The MacBook is meant to be a low end machine and feels that way in many ways and I am not overly impressed by them myself.  However the people I know who have them love them.  But they are not computer people.  My boyfriend has a low end Dell notebook (<$1000).  Its been an exercise in misery every time a change is made to the thing.  When christmas hits - I’‘m moving him to a MacBook just to save my sanity.  My father - a guy who has owned Windows PCs for the last 10 years - bought my mother a MacBook for the same reason.

I have a 1.5 year old MacBook Pro and a 3 month old Dell Latitude.  The Latitude collects dust even though its a faster machine hardware wise.

By tim

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