Mac vs. PC For Astronomy
Posted 11 January 2007 - 06:41 PM
Posted 11 January 2007 - 07:34 PM
Posted 11 January 2007 - 07:42 PM
Posted 11 January 2007 - 07:54 PM
Posted 11 January 2007 - 08:48 PM
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?
Well, I can tell you what I use and love. AstroPlanner was written on the Mac first then ported or otherwise developed for the PC. I believe that there still may not be some features implemented on the PC version. This is an absolutely _awesome_ program, in case there is anyone out there who hasn't seen it. Equinox is a planetarium program that integrates with AstroPlanner and that runs only on Mac; you can use that or AstroPlanner to print sky charts. If you're interested in outdoor activities such as backpacking or geocaching, there's an excellent software package for mapping called MacGPS Pro which is only available for Mac.
The Mac apps that come with OSX are pretty nice - out of the box you get iPhoto, iCal, iDVD, iSync (syncs your palm pilot and cell phone with your calendar and contacts) GarageBand, iMovie, iWeb, Spotlight (lets you find things on your mac) etc. The models aimed at students come with AppleWorks, which is a fully-featured Office-compatible package (not expensive to buy if you want it). For those who like to write software, Apple includes Xcode with every OSX distribution; this is a fully-featured integrated software development environment. (Microsoft charges extra for their IDE.) And of course the Safari browser.
Can't speak to open source office software; I believe it's out there and will let someone who uses it say what they use.
Posted 11 January 2007 - 08:53 PM
Oh, and about viruses. The PC press often claims that the Mac's lack of viruses is due solely to its small market share. I wonder. Apple's advertising often flaunts the Mac's virus-free state. To be that seems like waving a red cape in front of a bull. I can't believe there aren't virus writers out there who would like to be the first to crack OS X's veneer of invincibility. Considering the disproportionate media attention Apple gets, I bet a serious Mac virus would make the national news. What more do virus writers want, anyway?
I'm sure there are vulnerabilities - every so often I get a Software Update notice for a security patch to fix a vulnerability in something or other. Maybe once or twice a month.
Posted 11 January 2007 - 08:59 PM
Posted 11 January 2007 - 09:01 PM
Oh yes, there are vulnerabilities. So far, nobody has done much of anything with them. I suppose somebody will eventually. Who knows? It could happen any second. All I know for sure is esdkldnfoeo8904094389-3483848-38u44j....&&()&(^%)*%$&^^$&^R&›‡‡°›°‡‡·????
Posted 19 January 2007 - 05:09 PM
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?
Sorry, I haven't been following this thread lately. The reason I'm even looking at a Mac is because I have a son and daughter who are both in graphic design and are true blooded "MAC SNOBS". Well, that's what I call them anyway. They've been harassing me to move over into the light, so I thought I'd explore it.
My interest stems from seeing so many Mac users who drool and slobber and go on endlessly about how wonderful their computers are. Is it a real or an imagined love affair? I can't figure it out, particularly when no one can explain the phenomena. The best answer I can get is 'well it just is better' or something to that effect, to which I reply 'why'? The conversation usually ends up there and I've never really gotten a definite answer except "you just have to try it...use it for a while and you'll see." It sounds more like "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" to me.
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.
The other thing I can't understand is why an app like Office would run better in OSX versus Windows. An app is an app isn't it?
So, to answer your question Tom, I guess the only way I'll understand it, at least as explained by nearly EVERY Mac user I've talked to, is to actually buy a Mac and use it until I'm assimilated. Resistence is futile.
Posted 19 January 2007 - 05:39 PM
An app is an app (most of the time). However MS Office is not that good on a Mac (it's not that good on a PC but thats another story :o).
The last time I looked MS Office was a PowerPC binary (i.e. doesn't run that well on the new Intel Macs though it does run OK), it was older as well. I personally run NeoOffice as it's just as good as MS Office and free. MS is not the greatest supporter of the Mac system.
The other reason why the Macs are better for some people are the way things integrate. e.g. Searchlight is a desktop search function, it 'knows' about the contents of your files, and in some respects is like Google Desktop. Rather than being a bolt-on like Google Desktop, it just works.
Other stuff just works, you connect a Bluetooth headset, it just works. On my laptop it's a real pain. No idea why, just is.
Most of the time things just work, and you spend more time doing things and less time fiddling with properties or the registry or adding and removing software.
Not everything in the MacOS camp is rosy, the use of multiple windows in a single app is complex and you can't alt-tab them the way you do in Windows. The wireless stuff (at least on Intel) is flaky for me, the Macs are more expensive but you do get more (and better) software bundled. Apple still think that the single button mouse is 'the right thing'. I know they do a dual button mouse, but deep down they still seem to want to force people down the single button route. There is not as much software on a Mac as on a PC. Check any PC store and it's 95-98% PC and the rest Mac. There are security holes, but far less than Windows. I don't run a virus checker on either of my Macs. The actual hardware whilst nice, is over priced for what it is.Mind you Apple doesn't tie you in like the MS Genuine Advantage anti-piracy rubbish. That was the straw that broke the camels back for me.
Hardware for the Mac is more expensive, try buying a AGP card for the Mac and see how much the vendors bang up the price compared to more or less the same PC card. Same for keyboards.
At the end of the day, you pays your money and you take your choice. I have two Macs (a mac Mini, a G4), a nice IBM T41 Windows laptop, several Unix boxes. All of them get used in varying degrees depending on what job is needed. For day to day use at work, my T41, for heavy duty programming, my Unix box, for my desktop terminal at the weekends my G4.
When people ask me for advice, I say buy the computer for the apps you want to run. If you need heavy duty web servers, go Unix, if you want corporate stuff, you tend to have to go Windows as the enterprise management software is Windows based (Tivoli), if you want it for home, Mac or PC is normally fine. if you get a PC, expect to do lots of patching and downloading MS updates as well as checking your anti-virus stuff, but you will spend less buying it but more bucks running it. I feel the admin on my Macs is far less than the PC, my partner loves the Mini, she just gets on and uses it and never thinks about it. Never shown her anything, she just did it.
Anyway, the advice is, look what apps you need and want and buy the best computer to run them.
Posted 19 January 2007 - 05:49 PM
I think PCs are great workhorses (I have built five systems over the years), but what strikes you pretty quickly with a Mac environment is the elegenance of the design. Everything seems to work more smoothly than a PC. There are some genuine advantages over PCs with features like 'Spotlight'. This unlike Google desktop, is an instant search system which can track down any file on your system through a keyword. We are talking here about words buried in documents, emails, etc and the search really is instant. There are some very sensible aspects when it comes to security such as asking for a password when you install new software. Just what virus writers don't want you to do.
For years I was put off buying a Mac by the zealots who kept going on about them. I was a die-hard PC fan. But once you try a Mac, work with it, it really is a very nice and elegant system to work with and generally so much faster than a PC.
If you have multiple programs open on a PC things start to crawl. The Mac is much more sensible in its memory usage and only uses it for the application you are currently using. Running out of memory consequently is a rare event (mind you I have a 2 gig iMac)!
Try one of your kid's systems for a bit, these machines really do get under your skin.
Nick (trying not to be a zealot with a gleam in his eye)!
Posted 19 January 2007 - 05:59 PM
My interest stems from seeing so many Mac users who drool and slobber and go on endlessly about how wonderful their computers are. Is it a real or an imagined love affair? I can't figure it out, particularly when no one can explain the phenomena.
It is imagined period. The PC is cheaper does more and macs being better for design is just so 80's. I am a photographer and I teach photoshop. I also do a lot of graphic design and web design. The tools I use on the PC is the same as the tools I would use if I had a Mac and the process is carbon copy. The difference is I only paid $800 for my computer a year ago. It is amd dual core 3800, 2 gigs ram ati xt 800 gto 256 meg graphics card, sound blaster audigy 2 sound card, 420 gigs of hard drive space and 2 count them 2 internal dvd burners. A year ago there was no Mac that could come close to my computer for $800 and now there is no Mac that can come close to my computer for $800.
Not only do I get to use carbon copy photoshop and dreamweaver I also can run Skytools, Guide many many groovy games all in Windows without the inconvenience and waist of hd space dual booting with boot camp. $800 and I can do it all. You simply can't beat that. Oh and like all Mac users I have never gotten a virus either and my computer is far more stable then my electric company.
Posted 19 January 2007 - 06:01 PM
Posted 19 January 2007 - 06:20 PM
Not everything in the MacOS camp is rosy, the use of multiple windows in a single app is complex and you can't alt-tab them the way you do in Windows
Not true. Use Command ~ (Command Key plus the "`" or "~" key located above the tab key). You can also use expose (F9) to show all the windows to find one that may be hidden - or to see the desktop.
Posted 19 January 2007 - 06:27 PM
Patrick, when I mention that the same application (MS Word for example) works better on my MAC than on my PC at work, it is all about reliability
I've found that if I can keep my son off of my home computer (an HP PC) I rarely have any trouble with it (he likes to fiddle with my interface settings thinking he's 'helping' me). My computer at work (another HP PC) works flawlessly also....knock on wood.
I also frequently run mutliple applications, some of which are quite intensive, such as Unigraphics (a 3D CADD program) and photoshop with no problems.
Okay, maybe I'm reacting a little negatively due to the kids looking down their noses as my poor little PC. I really am curious as to what every Mac user I've ever known loves about their Mac. Oh well, maybe some day I'll reach computer Nirvana too.
Posted 19 January 2007 - 06:35 PM
This means I have two sets of things to do not one. The aim of the interface is to simplify my access to information, why do I have to do command-tab and command-tilde? I know I can use the function keys (f9) but command-tab should move through all windows not just applications.
It's counter intuitive to my mind. We use the metaphor of the desktop for most GUI's, why would I have two different access methods to pick up a piece of paper?
There are lots of little gotchas like this on both Macs and PC's, I just find this one annoying.
Posted 19 January 2007 - 06:44 PM
That cycles through all windows, of all apps.
You can also re-map it to another key if you want, or assign it to a voice command if you use that much.
Posted 19 January 2007 - 07:46 PM
Click "cancel" and very likely it'll ask "are you sure?".
For real serious stuff it does not even ask for an Admin password to see if you - the idgit in front of the keyboard - has enough juice to OK whatever you are being prompted for.
OS X just does things for you and is quiet about it. Things get done and if something needs to be installed it'll ask for an admin password. A mere click (that a trained chicken could do) is not good enough.
Vista is supposed to be even worse in this regard.
In UNIX you can do all sorts of ungodly damage with nary a question from the OS. It assumes that you know what the heck you are doing and if rm * is good enough for you then by god it's good enough for it.
Don't even get me going on reboots.
Now the Mac can be annoying too, but Windows elevates it to a fine art.
Posted 19 January 2007 - 07:51 PM
Posted 19 January 2007 - 08:03 PM
Posted 19 January 2007 - 08:06 PM
Wish I had the link to an article some online wag in the computer industry wrote recently comparing Vista to OS X. His main point - and it turns out it bugs me even more now that I'm keenly aware of it - Windows is constantly popping up messages as "warnings" or "Hey! I'm doing this for you!" like some over egar intern. 99% of the time you click OK (100% for my users) to confirm that you see the message - and you can't do a *Gosh, dang dibbity dag nabbit* thing until you click OK. Everything comes to a screeching halt until you click OK.
Click "cancel" and very likely it'll ask "are you sure?".
Now the Mac can be annoying too, but Windows elevates it to a fine art.
That annoyance and I agree it is an annoyance is very easy to turn off and that is what I have done to my Vista system.
Posted 19 January 2007 - 08:12 PM
I do know how to turn off the annoying little message that says "You have unused icons on your tool bar.". Who cares? It annoys me to no end that I have to shut it up - and even then it only works for that account (I have to image many machines so what was cute at first now has me reaching for heavy dense objects to hurl). The default behaviour should be off.
Guess I'm looking for a grown up OS for grown up users.
Posted 20 January 2007 - 02:19 AM
Why isn't that the default behaviour. Now to map that to command-tab.