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Mac vs. PC For Astronomy

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#101 Rob Willett

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Posted 20 January 2007 - 02:23 AM

Unix is case sensitive, so RM would be a different command to rm (if RM existed). Your passwords are also case sensitive. Microsoft is NOT case sensitive, so CD and cd are identical. I have a feeling but can't remember that passwords are case sensitive though. They should be otherwise breaking them would be easier than it is.

#102 Rob Willett

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Posted 20 January 2007 - 02:29 AM

This may the link you were thinking of?

Another major annoyance is when windows pop up for no reason as you're typing, perhaps a background Window needs confirmation of something. This new Window takes the focus over, but you're still typing, this triggers either the OK or Cancel, and the pop-up window disappears. Now what, did you cancel the action or did you OK it? What is going on? Have you just decided to wipe out your hard disk? Bad, bad design.

#103 ClownFish

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Posted 20 January 2007 - 02:49 AM

That's a fun article! I love this:

For Mac OS X, it's the classic English butler. This OS is designed to make the times you have to interact with it as quick and efficient as possible. It expects that things will work correctly, and therefore sees no reason to bother you with correct operation confirmations. If you plug in a mouse, there's not going to be any messages to tell you "that mouse you plugged in is now working." It's assumed you'll know that because you'll be able to instantly use the mouse. Plug in a USB or FireWire hard drive and the disk showing up on your desktop is all the information you need to see that the drive has correctly mounted. It is normally only when things are not working right that you see messages from Mac OS X.

Windows is...well, Windows is very eager to tell you what's going on. Constantly. Plug something in, and you get a message. Unplug something and you get a message. If you're on a network that's having problems staying up, you'll get tons of messages telling you this. It's rather like dealing with an overexcited Boy Scout...who has a lifetime supply of chocolate-covered espresso beans. This gets particularly bad when you factor in things like the user-level implementation of Microsoft's new security features.

To put it simply, you can work on a Mac for hours, days even, and only minimally need to directly use the OS. With Vista? The OS demands your attention, constantly.


Good find!

CF

#104 Patrick

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Posted 20 January 2007 - 08:54 AM

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.

CF




Command-tilde moves through windows in an application, e.g. if I have two Firefox windows and a Mail windows I have to use command tab to move through to the application, and then use command-tilde to get through to the right window.

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.




How about CTRL-F4
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.

CF



I'm not a big fan of 'command' or 'CTRL' buttons or any hot keys, although I've learned a few thru repetition and because any alternate method of activating a command was too cumbersome. I think the main reason I don't like using hotkeys or shortcuts like these is because they force me to look down at the keyboard and make sure that I'm hitting the right key. A lot of times I'll work in a darkened room and can't see the keyboard very well which makes the problem harder. My main interface with computer commands is generally with the mouse and I prefer having easy access to those commands on the screen.

Is there a difference between Mac's and PCs regarding the use of the command and control function buttons? One of the problems on a PC is that different apps use the same F Keys for different things. F1 might be 'save' in one app, and delete in another, for example. I never use the F-keys.

Patrick

#105 Patrick

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Posted 20 January 2007 - 09:49 AM

This may the link you were thinking of?



Thanks Rob! That article presents a lot of good reasons for going with a Mac vs a PC. It sounds like I'm going to have to learn a new OS anyway, so maybe now's a good time to go to OSX.

Patrick

#106 rboe

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Posted 20 January 2007 - 10:16 AM

Rob; great job! That was the one indeed. :bow:

Patrick; I'm not crazy about alt, ctrl etc, keys myself. One big reason I can't stand EMACS (UNIX editor, you are either a vi fan or an EMACS fan in the UNIX world - why is that? always two schools for doing tasks) was all the dang keystrokes you had to do just to type. ARG! It was before the mouse and it was all command line and it was well written - just not a friendly UI.

Oddly enough, I don't mind using the F keys. :shrug:

#107 Rob Willett

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Posted 20 January 2007 - 10:24 AM

I'm happy and comfortable in both emacs and vi. I subscribe to the view that the keyboard is fastest and the mouse slows you down. I can do almost everything from the command line very quickly. The command line has more options, easily more versatile, far more flexible than a gui interface.

Both Windows and Mac suffer from this approach, shove everything into a GUI and lose the flexibility. GUI impose a model of working that forces users down a certain way of working. If what you want to do falls outside of this model you're stuffed. A command line system allows far more power but at the overhead of a steeper learning curve. The difference is between knowing a couple of set phrases in a foreign language and understanding the grammer. The latter is more complex and far more difficult but ultimately more rewarding.

#108 rboe

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Posted 20 January 2007 - 10:57 AM

:bow: I always evied the guys that could do both. Had to learn emacs when using VMS and I was one happy customer when we went back to UNIX. Not that I was all that great with vi either. :p

You make a good point, GUI's, while nice are not all they're cracked up to be and the keyboard can be much much faster. Still, they have their mooments.

It's down right amazing that folks will give up speed just for eye candy on the computer. :ohmy: (thinking "modern" databases vs something like Informix that is text based).

But we see to have digresses a bit from topic. My bad.

#109 ClownFish

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Posted 20 January 2007 - 12:10 PM

Patrick, take a look at the newest version of OSX, called Leopard coming out soon.

Be sure to check out Time Machine and all the other new features.

CF

#110 Patrick

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Posted 22 January 2007 - 10:10 AM

I sat down with my son and his Mac this weekend and spent quite a bit of time looking at OSX. I have to agree that it does look better than Windows. If I have to relearn an operating system such as Vista and if the computer I buy is going to cost about the same as a Mac (which it will in order to run Vista), I might as well buy a Mac.

Patrick

#111 Rob Willett

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Posted 22 January 2007 - 10:24 AM

Patrick,

I would be careful of going to Vista now. Microsoft operating systems have a habit of being released before all the security and bugs are sorted out. MS normally follow an initial release with a mega service pack to fix many of these problems about six months later. I have to be honest and say that MS isn't the only company guilty of this.

My recommendation, and it would also be the same when Apple releases Leopard, is to use a tried and trusted OS unless you absolutely, positively, have no other option, bet the house, your children, your pets and your vital major organs, need some functionality only present in that OS. Note how virtually no major company has moved their PC base from XP to Vista. Why is that I wonder?

I also note Microsofts tendency to "phone home" to check that you're not really a pirate. Guilty til proven innocent. Mmm...interesting philosophical view in the land of the free.

Your OS needs to be bug free and secure. MS does not have a good record here :ooo:

Think carefully about what you really need. What applications do you want to run, will they run on an existing application, what's the upgrade path, how much will it cost? All of these need to be thought through.

I don't think you'll go much wrong with Mac OS X. Most software seems available. Also if you go Intel mac you can always use VMWare for the few occasions you need Windows.

#112 ClownFish

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Posted 22 January 2007 - 11:15 AM

"VMWare" ?

Just boot directly into Windows if you have to, and skip the virtual part. Using virtual systems (parallels) is nice when it works, but when all else fails, your new Intel Mac can boot directly into a PC with no emulation.

CF

#113 Rob Willett

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Posted 22 January 2007 - 12:04 PM

Because "just booting" to Windows takes time and effort. I have to:
  • save my applications
  • logout all my users
  • shut down my Mac
  • start up Windows
  • do the work
  • shut down Windows
  • restart the Mac
  • then I find the data I'm after is still on the Mac, so I
  • shut-down Windows,
  • start-up OS X
  • copy the data onto a USB disk
  • shut-down OS X
  • restart Windows
  • do the work
  • shut-down Windows
  • start up the Mac
  • discover that the data was left on Windows
  • so shut-down OS X,
  • start up Windows
  • copy the data to the key
  • shut-down Windows
  • start-up Mac OS X and then copy the data back to the Mac
  • carry on as before.
or I could use VMWare or Parallels, start up Windows, do the work and then carry on as before. I can even cut and paste between the two systems.

I could even start-up Windows in Parallels/VMWware and then simply save a snapshot of the image so I start back where I was before, so if I constantly went to the same app, I could carry on as before, no booting, no starting up applications. I could also do a backup by simply copying the files created by Parallels/VMWare secure in the knowledge it would work on just about any VMWare machine.

In all seriousness, the Intel Macs are powerful enough to handle a virtual layer as well as running Mac OS. My bottom of the range Intel Mac Mini is fine. I wouldn't run anything serious like a 1GB Photoshop session or massive digital media but for many apps, it's easily good enough.

Virtualisation works pretty well, there is only a thin layer of emulation on either Parallels or VMWare. These are the low level device drivers. Performance of Parallels running Windows 2000 is about that of a 900-1Ghz machine on my 1.6Ghz Intel Mac Mini. Is the fastest machine out there, no, but it's very usable and works.

My mail server runs Postfix under VMWare, my Postgres server runs under VMWare, my development Unix server runs under VMWare, all at the same time, a lot of people use virtualisation to great affect and save on multiple machines and multiple bootings (is that a verb?)

#114 ClownFish

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Posted 22 January 2007 - 01:03 PM

So true so true... Thats why I said "if it works" use it. As you stated, most of the time a virtual PC will be fine. But if the virtual way is no good, you can always go native with an Intel Mac.

CF

#115 D_talley

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Posted 24 January 2007 - 02:22 PM

One thing I noticed is most people think that the Mac mouse can only be a single button one. Not true. I use a three button wheel mouse on my G4. The same mouse functions I use on a PC can be done on a Mac. So moving from a PC to a Mac won't be as strange.

#116 ClownFish

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Posted 24 January 2007 - 02:55 PM

I now LOVE Apple's new wireless Mighty Mouse, with the multi-buttons and mini 360 degree scroll-wheel. http://www.apple.com/mightymouse/

CF

#117 hfoster

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Posted 24 January 2007 - 04:44 PM

One thing I noticed is most people think that the Mac mouse can only be a single button one. Not true. I use a three button wheel mouse on my G4. The same mouse functions I use on a PC can be done on a Mac. So moving from a PC to a Mac won't be as strange.


Not only that, it doesn't even have to be an Apple mouse. I've used my Mighty Mouse on my Dell laptop, and my Dell mouse on my Powerbook, with no problems.

As much as I always liked the elegance of the old single button mouse, I must say that the additional functionality of the right-click menus is handy.

Henrietta

#118 Patrick

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Posted 24 January 2007 - 10:37 PM

As much as I always liked the elegance of the old single button mouse, I must say that the additional functionality of the right-click menus is handy.



The single button mouse was the one thing I never understood about Macs. Going from a PC to a Mac with one button felt like I'd lost an arm. I'm glad they finally added the other buttons.

Patrick

#119 rboe

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Posted 24 January 2007 - 10:40 PM

I use a Logitech led with scroll wheel with my laptop quite a bit - it's the way to go. So odd to have the functunality but not the hardware; till now.

#120 Joe Bergeron

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Posted 24 January 2007 - 11:16 PM

I assist a number of technically challenged, even memory challenged, older people in the use of their Macs. If they were confronted with two-button mice, they would very likely be at a loss as to which one to use in any given situation. Multi-button mice are fine for people who really understand computers. For the others, simplicity rules.

#121 llanitedave

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Posted 24 January 2007 - 11:31 PM

The single button mouse was the one thing I never understood about Macs. Going from a PC to a Mac with one button felt like I'd lost an arm. I'm glad they finally added the other buttons.

Patrick


It's not exactly "finally." They've supported multi-button mice for years, even when they didn't supply them as standard equipment. I agree, though, that they held themselves back for a long time by sticking with that anachronism.

#122 bicparker

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Posted 25 January 2007 - 01:47 AM

The Mighty Mouse is a neat answer to the multi-button/single-button problem... one button, but it can be pressed more than one way.... I feel like I have gone back in time when I try to use my bluetooth Logitech (it now just sits on the far corner of my desk these days).

Bic

#123 ClownFish

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Posted 25 January 2007 - 02:35 AM

People look at my Mighty Mouse and ask... "Where's your button"?

Might be my twisted mind... but that sounds a bit personal.

CF

#124 Rob Willett

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Posted 25 January 2007 - 03:57 AM

And if you want to be really, really geeky , you can use your Bluetooth enabled phone to control your Mac, the phone becomes your keyboard and mouse. Clicking buttons on your mobile to control presentations is kinda cool (in a nerdy sort of way).

#125 ClownFish

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Posted 25 January 2007 - 04:10 AM

wo.... let's talk about that some more! I give slide shows and do not want to buy a clicker for my Keynote presentations. How do you set up the cell-phone to do that? Too cool...

By the way.. has anyone else used Keynote? This is an amazing program.. I have dropped PowerPoint like a rock since I "discovered" Keynote.

This thread has strayed a "bit".

CF


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