Jump to content

  •  

CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.

Photo

Mac vs. PC For Astronomy

This topic has been archived. This means that you cannot reply to this topic.
145 replies to this topic

#51 azsrr

azsrr

    Messenger

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 435
  • Joined: 06 Nov 2005

Posted 09 January 2007 - 04:46 PM


Well, some cool stuff announced today but no new Powerbook. Off to buy one I guess.

#52 rboe

rboe

    ISS

  • *****
  • Posts: 69,610
  • Joined: 16 Mar 2002

Posted 09 January 2007 - 07:19 PM

Test for a dial tone before you buy.... :wron:

#53 azsrr

azsrr

    Messenger

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 435
  • Joined: 06 Nov 2005

Posted 09 January 2007 - 08:54 PM

Don't tease me. :stooges:

#54 pollux

pollux

    artiste

  • *****
  • Posts: 7,404
  • Joined: 01 Apr 2004

Posted 09 January 2007 - 10:16 PM

Steve, whatever you do, get a MacBook Pro :grin:

#55 Tom L

Tom L

    ISS

  • *****
  • Posts: 31,061
  • Joined: 07 Jan 2004

Posted 09 January 2007 - 10:20 PM

Why?

#56 Rob Willett

Rob Willett

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 728
  • Joined: 07 Feb 2005

Posted 10 January 2007 - 06:05 AM

Let me throw my 2p in Macs and PC's

I have a Intel Dual Core 1.6Mhz Mac Mini, I also have a Windows XP desktop on my company supplied laptop as well as 5 or 6 Linux boxes (Postfix, LDAP, PostgreSQL, MythTV).

I brought my Mac last August as I wanted a computer for downstairs so my other half could use the computer whilst looking after our new daughter. We wanted a small, ultra-quiet (nee silent), reasonably quick computer that I didn't have to worry too much about. The Mac Mini fills that spec pretty well. The software supplied is very good and is significantly better than the bundled software with XP. We don't use MS Office, just Neo-Office (a Mac OS X gui'ed version of OpenOffice). Yet to have any problems with OpenOffice/NeoOffice and can recommend it.

Points that are important to me (your mileage may vary):
  • The wireless is less than reliable. It does drop out, it sometimes just stops for a while. My wireless on my IBM T41 has been flawless in the same timescale and on the same system.
  • Most of the astronomy software is more up to date on the PC. I have TheSky 6 on my laptop. Last time I looked the Mac only had V5. Can't comment on Starry Note Pro. Stellarium is nice, though seems to consume a lot of resources.
  • Parallels Desktop has a number of issues, certainly on dual core Intels, it is not clear whether this is due to Apple firmware or Parallels desktop, but it sometimes can't work out whether or not it has a dual core. Parallels Desktop does not work that well with Linux, certainly Fedora Core 6. I had a number of crashes from the system, and gave up. Using Windows 2000 under Parallels Desktop seemed OK though. I ended up getting my money back from the UK distributor as it was so unreliable. I use VMWare extensively on my Linux boxes and that has proven very reliable. I note that there is now a beta of VMWare for Mac OS X but have not got around to trying it out.
  • Some applications on the Intel Mac are far slower than the PC. I use Sketchup Pro a lot and have a copy on my 1.6Mhz XP laptop as well as my 1.6Mhz Dual Core Mac. The laptop is quicker, difficult to say by how much, but complex models rotate far more smoothly on my laptop. The Mac should be significantly quicker and isn't.
  • The Mac update system seems to be robust, though I am very nervous running it. That said I am terrified of doing MS updates, but since they are distributed by my company (IBM) and are tested before use, I am slightly more relaxed than doing them myself.
  • Viruses are not an issue on the Mac. To be honest that makes up for a lot of other problems I have.
  • NFS configuration on the Mac is quite possibly the most stupid, insane, rubbish, piece of junk software I have ever seen. This is probably not an issue to most people, but since NFS is standard way of exporting disks on Unix/Linux boxes it's a big deal to me. I can't believe that Apple went out of their way to screw NFS up like they did. I ended up having to buy a tool to make it work the way it should do on every other Unix box in the world.
  • Bluetooth works very well on a Mac, far better than on my laptop, I use Skype and a standard Bluetooth headset from my mobile. Turn on, connect and use. Simple and easy.
  • You need 1GB of memory on a Mac and a PC these days whatever they tell you in the shop. 2GB is even better.
Overall I am happy with the Mac Mini. Performance is OK, but not outstanding, but since I'm not a big graphics hog, it hasn't hit us. My biggest gripe is connectivity, both Wireless and NFS. Both need work to make them better. Would I buy a Mac again? yes, but I'd probably go for a more powerful hardware version. I can't say that the Dual Core has filled me with enthusiasm, it seems slower than my laptop and doesn't work with all applications. Not sure what else to say about it.

I suppose the ideal machine would be a real dual Intel 3Ghz Xeon processor Mac with 4GB, running silently on a box the same size as the Mini, with a 20" flat panel display, dedicated 1GB Ethernet and the same cost as my existing Mini. If anybody has one for that price, I'll buy it. :)

#57 hfoster

hfoster

    Ranger 4

  • *****
  • Posts: 328
  • Joined: 16 Oct 2006

Posted 10 January 2007 - 07:26 AM

[*] The Mac update system seems to be robust, though I am very nervous running it.


This post made some excellent observations. I'd like to address the issue of software updates. We have 3 macs in the house (iMac, Mac mini, and PowerBook) with my PowerBook being the oldest at about 4.5 years. We have always used the Software Update function to keep all these devices up to date, and have had a problem only once, when our old wireless router was on the fritz. My son has run Software Update on his own Mac Mini since he was 10, no problems.

On the other hand I work at a company where the IT department "pushes" patches out (to another OS which shall go un-named) then staffs the phones to deal with ensuing user problems. (My husband works in the IT dept so I get to hear about problems at work _and_ at home.)

Henrietta

#58 ClownFish

ClownFish

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 6,748
  • Joined: 26 Apr 2005

Posted 10 January 2007 - 07:31 AM

The Duel-Cores have been having some issues with wireles. Too bad you hadn't got your first experience on the Mac with a G5. The duel cores are just too new, and there are certainly bugs to work out. As far as speed tests, were you using the Mac OSX version of Sketchshop, or the PC version under Parallels?

CF

#59 Rob Willett

Rob Willett

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 728
  • Joined: 07 Feb 2005

Posted 10 January 2007 - 07:45 AM

My first experience with a Mac was actually an Apple Lisa in 1984 :) This was when you could throw the calculator in the waste bin and crash the system. Oh the fun we had!

I have used and brought many Macs over the years, all the way up to the G3's. I was the IT manager for a UK national newspaper so had lots of them for the design dept. I changed career tack about 10 years ago and moved out of this area, so lost touch with what was going on. I kept a mental eye out for the Macs and was quiet excited about OS X. I think they've done a great job of the interface. I really, really wish it was X based so I could run it across the network in the house, but understand why they didn't.

I still can't work out how they could do what they did to NFS though. Somebody, somewhere decided to take a global de-facto standard and change it. They should be taken off to a quiet corner and given a good talking to.

Wasn't aware of the Wireless issues with Intel cores. Somewhat surprised as my view is that 54G should be pretty robust these days. My laptop is excellent with wireless. I don't say that just because I work for IBM, but it's my honest opinion. Do you have any specific links on the problems so I can see if there is anything I can do? It might be that a different wireless router might help etc etc.

I use the Mac OS X version of Sketchup Pro. I tried Parallels and sent it back to the distributor and got my money back. It's getting there, but is still not as good as VMWare on Linux/Windows.

#60 bicparker

bicparker

    Vanguard

  • *****
  • Posts: 2,374
  • Joined: 07 Feb 2005

Posted 10 January 2007 - 11:37 AM

Rob,
Have you tried using NFS Manager for OS X? That may help, depending upon what problems you are having with NFS.

I haven't had any problems talking with my Linux boxes at home from my MacBook Pro, insofar as mounting an NFS share. But I agree, there are some standard UNIX things I found missing when I move to a Terminal.app session in OS X. Most of them are little things like how TOPS has all of its control features stripped... well, that isn't really that little to me.

My wireless connectivity on my MacBook Pro is actually better than on my other laptops here at the house. So there may be a wireless design issue with the Mini or it could be something else altogether.

It was good to hear your comments.

David M.

#61 Rob Willett

Rob Willett

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 728
  • Joined: 07 Feb 2005

Posted 10 January 2007 - 12:08 PM

Dave,

NFS Manager was the only way I could get NFS to work. I've been using NFS for at least 15 years (and it might be longer) and never had the issues I had with the Mac implementation. I edit /etc/exports, I check the no_root stuff, I export the filesystem, I mount them, I forget about them until the box dies and I need a new one. I was pulling my hair out and my other half learnt some new words as I battled to try and get simple filesystems mounted. They would come, they would go, I needed to reboot every so often. Reboot a UNIX box to remount or reload a conf file, has Apple gone mad? I'm just thinking what I would tell my customers if I had to reboot one of our AIX boxes to reload a file!

The more I read about NFS on OS X, the more I shake my head in disbelief. I still can't work out how to make mounts stay mounted, it seems to dismount them after so long. I still can't get them mounted in a sensible location. I'm not at my Mac so can't remember the gory details, but I seem to remember I had to mount them in a specific location and the create either a symlink or a hard link to the root directory. Now it might be I've missed a trick, but the very fact NFS Manager exists kind of tells me there is a problem here.

The rest of the Unix stuff isn't too bad, ssh works fine., the terminal emulation works OK. To be honest, don't use top on the Mac so not aware of whats been stripped out. I think the X stuff is a bit cludgy, it's not integrated at all. I need X for my VMWare Console.

I'm slowly working around the issues, but I still feel that mac connectivity is not up to scratch. It seems as if we've gone back in time to when Macs couldn't talk to PC's as all Mac's understood was AppleTalk and PC's talked rubbish.

Wireless is still a problem, checked through my router, tried different locations but sometimes it just stops working for 30 secs, the performance indicator says it can;t see my router, my laptop see's it fine and just carrys on working. I suspect the answer is a long piece of Cat 5 under the floorboards :shocked:

#62 llanitedave

llanitedave

    Humble Megalomaniac

  • *****
  • Posts: 30,955
  • Joined: 25 Sep 2005

Posted 10 January 2007 - 12:30 PM

I agree about NFS on the Mac. I've never gotten it right. Your problems with wireless are a bit more surprizing though. My G4 iBook has always had fantastic wireless connections, better than I ever would have expected.

#63 Rob Willett

Rob Willett

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 728
  • Joined: 07 Feb 2005

Posted 10 January 2007 - 01:16 PM

Comments from other people seem to indicate that Intels and Wireless is still buggy. The easiest solution will be a long patch cable and pull the floor boards up.

#64 Rob Willett

Rob Willett

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 728
  • Joined: 07 Feb 2005

Posted 11 January 2007 - 01:51 PM

I've discovered the reason for the slowness of Sketchup Pro on Mac, it's a PowerPC app not a Universal Binary. Misread the doc. The latest version appears to be Intel. (I Hope).

#65 Tom T

Tom T

    A Father, A Teacher, A Pioneer

  • *****
  • In Memoriam
  • Posts: 36,397
  • Joined: 26 Feb 2002

Posted 11 January 2007 - 02:19 PM

Running anything under emulation will always be slower and have a higher overhead than running natively.



I talked to the Mac people at CompUSA and found out that using Parallel Desktop does not run an emulation but is running native Windows. The cost of Parallel Desktop is $50 right now (normally $80). The cost of Windows is about $200 for home edition, $300 for XP Pro. That's in addition to the cost of the MakBook.

So I guess I'll have to decide if it's worth it or not. The cost of the MacBook itself with the 2.0Gz processer, 120GB hard drive, and 1GB of memory is $1500, plus another $125 for the 2nd GB of memory for a total of $1875. Add to that a USB hub ($30) and a wireless Mighty Mouse ($70) for a total of $1975. Anything else I forgot?

Patrick


I've gotta ask, if nothing you run currently requires mac, but it does require XP, why in the world would you buy a mac, just so you can spend an extra $250 or $350 bucks to add another layer of complexity and get those required apps to run? I realize how this might come across, but I want to assure folks I'm not being sarcastic - far from it.

I've thought about buying a mac many times, but I just don't see what I would gain.

Especially now that I'm doing less IT, I could care less about the OS. The computer is simply a tool. I do care about the software I run, and the money I have to pay.

Mac hardware is beautiful, but I hate sticking money into computer hardware - it devalues so dang quickly.... I also don't like the fact that I can't pick up software locally. I *like* to be able to walk into wal-mart and pay $15 for a kids game.

That said, I'm *still* tempted by the Mini, and may pick one up just to play with. (I will say I'm not fond of the prospect of having to spend 1/3 again of it's cost to run my astro software tho...)

Attempts to convince me would be welcome!

T

#66 ClownFish

ClownFish

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 6,748
  • Joined: 26 Apr 2005

Posted 11 January 2007 - 02:28 PM

T - you are 100% on track. If you ONLY want Windows stuff, then stick with a lower cost hardware platform. The Mac's MAIN joy is OSX and it's seamless integration of software. I (and most Mac users) use a PC at work all day, and the difference between using even the same apps (Office, Photoshop etc..) at home as I do at work is enough to keep me a Mac user for years to come. If my PC's at work ran software as smoothly as my Mac I would stay with a PC, but it doesn't even come close.

CF

#67 hfoster

hfoster

    Ranger 4

  • *****
  • Posts: 328
  • Joined: 16 Oct 2006

Posted 11 January 2007 - 04:29 PM

I think it really comes down to the fact that there are people who are predisposed to using Macs and people who are not. One is not "better" than the other; they're just motivated by different things.

In my case, I like that I can take a Mac out of the box, stick it on my network, and have it just work. No drivers, no .dlls, no viruses, no hassles. And I really like the fact that Apple products are aesthetically beautiful. I'm willing to pay extra for those things, just like I'm willing to pay more for a nice dinner out rather than eating my own cooking, even though the latter is cheaper.

We all just have different priorities! Vive la difference! If we all thought the same we wouldn't have anything to discuss here!

Henrietta

#68 ClownFish

ClownFish

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 6,748
  • Joined: 26 Apr 2005

Posted 11 January 2007 - 04:45 PM

On a side note.. two of the three IT guys at work (all PC guys of course), including the senior IT manager have decided to buy Intel Macs this week for their HOME use. They are not able to use them at work, but claim they are tired of coming home just to keep solving IT problems at home as well as at work.

But I still say that if you have no intention of ever using OSX, and OSX software, then there is no reason to by an Apple PC vs any other brand.

CF

#69 hfoster

hfoster

    Ranger 4

  • *****
  • Posts: 328
  • Joined: 16 Oct 2006

Posted 11 January 2007 - 04:49 PM

t I still say that if you have no intention of ever using OSX, and OSX software, then there is no reason to by an Apple PC vs any other brand.

CF


The one reason I can think of is Apple's reputation for excellent customer service (hardware and software). Check Consumer Reports.

H.

#70 ClownFish

ClownFish

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 6,748
  • Joined: 26 Apr 2005

Posted 11 January 2007 - 04:59 PM

I didn't want to get into another useless Mac vs PC debate but T asked "Attempts to convince me would be welcome!"...

As a Mac user since 1989, and owning 8 different Mac models, I have only called Apple twice. Once for bad RAM on a new machine, and once for a dead iPod. Additionaly I have never had to reformat any of my hard drives, and I have never had a virus or other malicious logic. Compared to my PC's at work, and those of my co-workers it is night and day as far as reliability is concerned. Your milage may vary.

CF

#71 Rob Willett

Rob Willett

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 728
  • Joined: 07 Feb 2005

Posted 11 January 2007 - 05:06 PM

Clearly Apple in the US are wholly different to Apple UK service people. Try getting your iPod battery replaced as it's died early, try contacting Apple to ask why something isn't working, try taking some software back that doesn't do what it's supposed to to a Apple Store.

I'm not saying Windows support is great, it's not, but Apple Service is not fantastic, better than the opposition but still could do better.

#72 Tom T

Tom T

    A Father, A Teacher, A Pioneer

  • *****
  • In Memoriam
  • Posts: 36,397
  • Joined: 26 Feb 2002

Posted 11 January 2007 - 05:48 PM

On a side note.. two of the three IT guys at work (all PC guys of course), including the senior IT manager have decided to buy Intel Macs this week for their HOME use. They are not able to use them at work, but claim they are tired of coming home just to keep solving IT problems at home as well as at work.

But I still say that if you have no intention of ever using OSX, and OSX software, then there is no reason to by an Apple PC vs any other brand.

CF


See, now this I just don't get.

I worked in IT for twenty years plus, was the Tech Director for several schools, worked with/for several companies, libraries, and even the rare individual. I (and techs and companies who have worked for me) have supported large numbers of Mac's and PC's, and while the hardware reliability was perhaps a little better on the macs, we could also get three PC's to two macs. Frankly, speaking from an administrative standpoint, the only way to keep either running well is to get em the way you want em, then lock em in a closet where no user can ever touch them again. :grin: Unfortunately, that tends not to go over really well with the users.

But I've seen my share of Macs (estimated a couple hundred over the years). And I simply have never seen the "I've never had a problem with a Mac" side (in fact, although they may have been a little more reliable, often the problems we've had with Macs have involved more time and expense to fix and it pretty much came out in the wash). Granted, I've not used OS/X much, but it seriously does not appear to be much different.

As per viruses - well, part of that is due to installed user base. I also suspect this accounts for at least some of the greater amount of complaints people percieve for (against?) MS. Anyway, if positions were reversed, you'd have em, and MS users wouldn't. FWIW, to me, this is a non-issue as well. AV software is easy to load, updates itself, and once installed can generally be ignored. I've never had a problem with viruses at home.

OS/X looks attractive, but it's just an OS. What are the killer apps for Mac nowdays? I use Office (although with my next computers I'm probably moving to openoffice), Thunderbird, Firefox, a handful of astro programs, FrontPage, some photo work (less since I picked up a new stand alone photo printer) run a few games and basically that's it. What programs / apps would I look at on the Mac to take the place of these?

T

FWIW - I've had my share of nightmares with Apple service too, so I have no illusions there.

#73 Tom T

Tom T

    A Father, A Teacher, A Pioneer

  • *****
  • In Memoriam
  • Posts: 36,397
  • Joined: 26 Feb 2002

Posted 11 January 2007 - 05:52 PM

I didn't want to get into another useless Mac vs PC debate but T asked "Attempts to convince me would be welcome!"...

As a Mac user since 1989, and owning 8 different Mac models, I have only called Apple twice. Once for bad RAM on a new machine, and once for a dead iPod. Additionaly I have never had to reformat any of my hard drives, and I have never had a virus or other malicious logic. Compared to my PC's at work, and those of my co-workers it is night and day as far as reliability is concerned. Your milage may vary.

CF


As per my personal machines (different story at work) I've never called MS, and while I've had I don't know how many PC's in the last two decades, I sincerely doubt I would need more than one hand to count the times I've called the hardware manufacturers.

I don't want to get into a hardware discussion tho. I'm really more intersted in the applications. What can the Mac offer in terms of applications that the PC can't? Is astroplanner on the Mac? What about a good sky charting program? Is openoffice available for the mac? Or another quality (and free) office compatible suite?

T

#74 ClownFish

ClownFish

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 6,748
  • Joined: 26 Apr 2005

Posted 11 January 2007 - 06:19 PM

I'm impressed that the question is even asked. After YEARS of everyone telling that the Mac has no software, to hear you ask this is refreshing!

http://www.apple.com/macosx/leopard/
http://www.apple.com/aperture/
http://porting.openoffice.org/mac/
http://www.ilangainc.com/ASTROPLANNER/
http://www.mozilla.org/download.html
http://www.adobe.com...ts/dreamweaver/
http://www.microsoft...orld2006PR.mspx
http://www.apple.com/ilife/garageband/
http://www.apple.com/ilife/idvd/

or visit: http://guide.apple.com/index.lasso for a list of 23,000 OSX apps.

CF

PS: Goodnight! (it's 12:30AM)

#75 Tom T

Tom T

    A Father, A Teacher, A Pioneer

  • *****
  • In Memoriam
  • Posts: 36,397
  • Joined: 26 Feb 2002

Posted 11 January 2007 - 06:31 PM

Excellent. That would cover much of my basic needs.

Thank you.

(since this is CN... :) ) How about sky charting and other observing tools? I have astroplanner for the PC (along with Sky tools and deep sky) and find I still resort to SkyMap Pro to generate charts.... I'm not all that impressed with the Sky 5 (unless it's different for the mac), and frankly, Starry Night isn't all that useful compared to other apps....


CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.


Recent Topics






Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics