Apple Quest

A once hard-core PC user contemplates the exciting world of the Mac

Friday, July 21, 2006

When Viruses Attack

I've found another thing I'd enjoy about owning a Mac. No Viruses. I've spent almost the entire day running anti-virus, spyware, adware, and a whole host of other utilities in order to rid my computer of something that is attacking my computer. Strangely enough, this virus keeps sending out pop up ads and "warnings" disguised as Microsoft announcements that come up from the taskbar that all want me to download antivirus software. I'm pretty sure these places aren't legit, so it's probably just another way to distribute the virus, but it's REALLY REALLY ANNOYING, and I still haven't been able to get it off my computer. I don't even know where this stuff came from.

I need a Mac soon. The non-existant threat of viruses on a Mac is looking pretty appealing right about now.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Daily Show 7/19/06 - Net Neutrality

Here's an excerpt from a recent Daily Show episode featuring John Hodgeman (the "PC" from the new Apple ads). He's reporting on Congress's upcoming Internet Neutrality bill. If you're familiar with the new Apple commercials, you'll love this clip.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Built it, but they didn't come...

Well things haven't taken off as quickly as I'd hoped they might. We're still at $0 for donations, and readership has gone down. Those that do visit are made up a few stragglers from MacRumors and a couple people that were randomly directed here from the blogspot bar at the top of the screen. (Hello Random People! You can still donate even if you're random. Read some of the earlier posts for an idea of what this campaign is about.)

Basically, if I want to get more donations, I'm going to have to get more people visiting my site. And I do want more donations. So, if you have any ideas about how to get people to this site or get donations, leave a suggestion!


Wednesday, July 12, 2006


Hello all! I just wanted to say thanks for visiting my site, and that I hope you'd consider donating. I feel that once we get the ball rolling with this thing, we can really get somewhere. If you have a spare buck or two, toss it my way! If you're looking for ways to come up with a little extra money, I've come up with a few suggestions:

  1. Buy a Grande instead of a Venti the next time you stop at Starbucks. If you're feeling really generous, get a Tall.
  2. Deposit that pile of returnable cans and bottles that's been sitting in your garage since Independence Day. At 5 cents a piece, a package or two of cans will earn you a couple bucks.
  3. Check under couch cushions, at the bottom of dresser drawers, and in the pockets of pants you haven't worn in a while. There's usually something good hanging around there.
  4. If you're looking to buy new car soon, don't go for an SUV or a pickup truck. Instead, go for a smaller, more fuel-efficient car. With gas prices the way they are, you could end up saving hundreds to thousands of dollars a year, which you could put toward whatever you wish.

I hope these ideas have inspired you. Anything, and I mean anything, will help me with my quest. Thanks Again!

Monday, July 10, 2006

Computer Updates

Following the advice of the folks over at the Macrumors Forum, I think I've finally pieced together my ideal computer. As I stated in an earlier article, I'm drawn towards the Macbook Pro, not only for their beauty but also for their brawn. As an student entering an undergraduate engineering program, I'm going to need the extra graphics card power and Pro features to run the applications I'll need for class. These are the specs I've decided on:

Macbook Pro 15.4"
2 GHz Intel Core Duo
512 MB RAM (I'll upgrade this with non-Apple RAM, it's cheaper)
80 GB Hard Drive
ATI Mobility Radeon X1600 with 128 MB GDDR3 Memory

TOTAL: $1799 (With student discount. I knew college was good for something!)

I didn't want to ask for something ridiculous, because there's no sense upping the price by a couple hundred dollars for menial upgrades in processor speed, RAM, HD space, and video card RAM. And with a lower price, I could theoretically get a mac sooner! So stay tuned for updates, donate if you wish (and I hope you do!), and have a nice day!

The Crux of the Matter

I have finally discovered why I want an Apple computer so much. It all comes down to change. I've been using Windows XP for about 4 years (or however long it's been out), and I can truthfully say that I'm sick of it. I've been staring at the same icons , the same taskbar, the same programs for years now. I really need something else to look at. I've done all I can with Windows; I've explored all the cracks and crevices, and now I'm looking for someting else to explore.

That leaves two options: OS X and Windows Vista. The latter of these doesn't look appealing to me at all. I don't know what Microsoft was thinking. I've downloaded some of the betas for Internet Explorer, Windows Media Player, and Office 2007. Office 2007 does have some really interesting features, but it's rather ugly. The default scheme is black and orange; it's like Halloween all over again. As for the other two programs, I'd rather stick with Firefox and iTunes. Not only do they look completely awful, but they are really hard to use and again, their color scheme is not pleasing to the eye. This "Aero" theme or whatever Microsoft is calling it looks garish and is not something I'd like to look at. Additionally, the Vista release has been pushed back until who knows when, adding further to the instability of the whole thing.

That leaves me with my other option, OS X. This operating system is A) beautiful, B) well-crafted to provide optimal usability, and C) is something new for me. There's new software to explore, new hardware capabilities, and many other freedoms over the PC of which mac aficionados are surely aware. So that's essentially the driving force for me to switch. I hope the day will come soon when I can get a mac!

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Walt Mossberg's Perspective

I've just been reading a bit of the writings of Walt Mossberg, a pesonal technology analyst at the Wall Street Journal. (You may remember his name from one of the new Apple commercials.) One of his articles talks about how he believes that the era of the Microsoft model of computers is diminishing, and the Apple model is taking it's place. Here's a bit of what he wrote. I think it's worth a good read-though:

In Our Post-PC Era, Apple's Device Model Beats the PC Way

By: Walter S. Mossberg

In the component model, many companies make hardware and software that run on a standard platform, creating inexpensive commodity devices that don't always work perfectly together, but get the job done. In the end-to-end model, one company designs both the hardware and software, which work smoothly together, but the products cost more and limit choice.

In the first war between these models, the war for dominance of the personal-computer market, Microsoft's approach won decisively. Aided by efficient assemblers like Dell, and by corporate IT departments employed to integrate the components, Microsoft's component-based Windows platform crushed Apple's end-to-end Macintosh platform.

But in the post-PC era we're in today, where the focus is on things like music players, game consoles and cellphones, the end-to-end model is the early winner. Tightly linking hardware, software and Web services propelled Apple to a huge success with its iPod. Microsoft, meanwhile, has struggled to make its component model work on these devices and, in a telling sign, is using the Apple end-to-end model itself in its Xbox game-console business. Now, Apple is working on other projects built on the same end-to-end model as the iPod: a media-playing cellphone and a home-media hub.

The rest of the article can be found here

I'm going to add the link to his website over in the side panel of permenant links. There's a lot of good computing knowledge in there.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

New Realizations

After a couple of weeks of pouring over Apple fan pages, blogs, and forums, I've become permanently hooked. Unfortunately, while I became enamored of these amazing computers, I also came to the realization that it is almost impossible for me to own one anywhere in the near future. With college right around the corner, anything and everything finances-wise will go towards supporting tuition, room and board, books, etc. That leaves precious little for any personal items, let alone a $2000 computer. Once I'm out of college and working for my own at a non-minimum-wage job, I'm sure I'll be able to set aside my own funds for a computer, but that could be four, six, eight years in the future. I really don't want to wait that long to get my first real Mac experience. I feel that NOW is the time to jump on the Apple bandwagon. Apple's transition from PowerPC to Intel chips signifies an major sift in the direction of the company, and I want to be there from the start of this new era. (And I also want to jump in before Microsoft releases Windows Vista, and I forget all about Apple and OS X. Hopefully not though.) So here's my solution. I've taking a page out of Stefan's book over at Make Me Switch, and setup a PayPal account where you can help me make a dent in the price tag of a new Apple computer. You might say it's corny/cheap/unethical/sneaky/despicable, but I say it's worth a shot. It worked for him, it may work for me. So, if you feel inclined to help out, please do! There's a PayPal donate button on the left column, and you can pay with any major credit card or a PayPal account. If you don't feel like donating, that's ok by me too. Please DO spread the word to friends/family/others in the Mac community if you think they'd be interested in donating!

This is all in the initial stages, so I'll be sure to update soon with more information on goals, the computer itself, etc. Thanks!

Monday, June 26, 2006

A Quick Thanks

I just wanted to take the time to thank all those at who have taken the time to read and comment on my posts. Your advice has been very helpful to me. That is exactly the thing I was thinking about when I spoke of the "Mac Community" in an earlier post: a well-connected group of Apple lovers who are willing to reach out and help others with anything and everything Mac-related. Thanks again, guys!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Follow Up: Apple Ads

Recently, I've been watching a lot of the World Cup, and in nearly every game I see, there's been one of the new Apple ads during the halftime break. I have seen them on other channels during other programs, but the other channels don't feature them as often as ESPN, ESPN2, and ABC have during their World Cup coverage. Great ads + great marketing campaign should = good news for Apple. I know I certainly enjoy the commercials, and they've had their effect on me. (I especially like the one with the boxes and the one with the pie chart :P)

Monday, June 19, 2006

At the Apple Store

So this past weekend, I took a trip down to the local Apple Store to play around with some of their computers for a while. All my blogging about Macs has got me itching to get my hands on a computer and to start playing around with it. So, I made my way around the store, checking out the different models and playing with Photobooth, surfing the web with Safari, and checking out FrontRow. Anyway, I learned a great deal on this little trip. First and foremost, I think I've decided which model of Mac I'll get, when and if I ever do. Let me run through the different models I test drove, and tell you what I thought of them.

Mac Mini:
This little computer really intrigued me. I'm amazed that Apple fit everything they did into that little box; it must be packed all the way to the aluminum case. The price also caught my eye. The Mini is significantly cheaper than any of its Mac counterparts. True, this is due to the lack of keyboard, mouse, and display that normally come with a computer, but it's still a fairly reasonable price for a nice system. One of the drawbacks I saw with this model is that it doesn't offer the same specifications as some of the more expensive models. The fastest processor is a 1.66 GHz Intel Core Duo, with a cheaper 1.5GHz Intel Core Solo model as well. These low performance specs seem to agree with the concept that the Mini is a "stripped-down" version of the iMac. I wouldn't be using this computer recreationally, but rather as an essential tool for college, so I think I'd need the computing power. Also, I think that I'd rather have a laptop than a desktop.

I didn't get to play with the G5 much; there was only 1 in the store and I wanted to check out some of the newer computers. In contrast to the Mini, this system seems to be aimed at the professional computer user who needs a lot of extra computing power and expandability options. This did appeal to me, but I don't think I'll need ALL that much in my next computer. It's also still using a PowerPC chip, and I really want to make the switch using an Intel machine. And again, I don't think I'm looking for a desktop.

Intel iMac:
This is, without a doubt, the most unique desktop computer on the market. I liked the all-in-one design, and the way the screen just floats in the air is gorgeous. I think I also have a thing for slot-loading CD/DVD drives. I did see the all-in-one design as a possible problem spot though, seeing that future expansion might be severely limited and that a part failure might cause headaches on my part, trying to access and repair that part. But that's what Apple's amazing tech support is for, right? :) This model seemed to strike a nice balance between the Mini and the G5, as a computer that can handle nearly everything you throw at it, but doesn't yet approach unnecessarily fast speed. One thing I didn’t like in particular was the keyboard. In all of the Apple desktops I’ve used over the years, the keyboard has been their most limiting factor. Either they’re too sticky or the make my hands hurt after typing something. Luckily, that’s easily swap-out-able. Something that’s not so easily swap-out-able is the screen. To tell you the truth, it didn’t really impress me. Maybe I was standing too close or something, but I felt like my 2 year old LCD at home looked much better than that. I also didn’t like the thick bezel around the screen itself, even though it is a necessary part of the computer. And just to repeat, I’m not really focusing on shopping for desktops. On to the next model.

This is where I started to get excited. I’m really looking for a computer that will perform in the college environment, and I feel like a laptop would be the best choice for me. I also hadn’t had any playtime with a Macbook since they were released, so this session was very informative. The first thing I noticed was the lack of some sort of clasp to secure the lid down. The magnet idea is innovative and all, but I’d still like the security of something mechanical to make sure everything stays where it’s supposed to when it’s supposed to. I can just envision a pencil wedging itself in there in my backpack and wreaking havoc on everything. There’s also no express card slot in this laptop like there is in the Macbook Pro, which I found kind of odd, since there aren’t many ports on the computer to begin with. Some of the sacrifices Apple is making for the sake of simplicity are starting to get on my nerves a little bit, but I guess that’s why they develop several different models. Before I actually started playing around with the Macbook, I had seen pictures of it on Apple’s website, and I was a little hesitant on how well the keyboard would function. It looked a little strange to me, but once I got in and actually started typing some things, it didn’t really seem to be much different than any other keyboard I’ve used (and certainly much better than the stand-alone keyboards Apple produces for its desktops.) The clincher for the Macbook was its case. I just didn’t like it. It rubbed me the wrong way or something. The ultra-glossy outer coating reminds me of some cheap children’s toy, and the inner surface around the keys looks too milky or moldable or something. The edge where the inner meets the outer felt a little sharp for my tastes, and the thick display bezel didn’t impress me either. So all-in-all, a Macbook would probably be usable, but it’s definitely not my first choice.

So what is my first choice? Well, I’ve done a pretty nice job of narrowing it all down for you, so by now, I’m sure you know I liked the Macbook Pro the best. Everything about this computer just seemed to meet my wants. Maybe I’m attracted to the beauty of the sleek metallic exterior, who knows. The Macbook Pro includes all the bells and whistles: everything that comes with the Macbook plus an express card slot, a mechanical screen clasp, more visible stereo speakers, and additional ports and such. The 15” model looked like the perfect size for the computer I had envisioned; the Macbook’s 13” was just a little too small for me. The display bezel is also much smaller than on the Macbook, and the edges are rounder, less harsh, and generally more aesthetically pleasing. The keyboard on the Pro is also less foreign looking than the Macbook’s, and includes a backlight sensor that illuminates the keys when the surroundings get dark. Unfortunately for me, the price tags on these systems are more than double the cost of the lower-end Macbooks. But, the Pro’s pack much more punch in terms of processor speed and the amount of RAM that comes installed. The extra money might be worth it to buy a computer that doesn’t make me cringe when I look at it, has more expansion possibilities, has a larger screen, and can handle more than the Macbook. Ideally, I’d get a Macbook Pro; practically, I’d get a Macbook; realistically, I might get neither, but it’s always nice to dream.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

And now, the bad side...

So with all these great features, why don't I have a Mac yet? Well, there are still some large obstacles I have to overcome before I actually buy my first Mac. I'll try to explain more here:

I know that Apple has championed OS X as being the easiest-to-use operating system, but after 6 or so years, I have become rather comfortable with the Windows operating system and its inner workings. Since much of the difference between OS X and Windows XP (as I see it) is interface-related, I think that it may be a little difficult to switch to a whole new way of thinking about computers. I'm a little hesitant to switch because I worry about the significant changes in use and how that might affect my productivity.

More Choices:
As I said in an earlier post, although the Windows community has a wider range of products (generally), the Mac community is of a higher quality (generally). But maybe the decreased availability of software and hardware for the Mac would be a hindrance to a former Windows user. Now I know the Mac prides itself on being very Plug-and-Play friendly, and accepting all hardware devices and the like, but some things were just designed to run on Windows. I plan to study engineering next year, and one of the largest debates I've been having with myself is whether or not a Mac would be suitable for all the engineering-specific software I plan to be running on my computer. I'm sure there is a Mac counterpart for almost anything in the Windows world, but if there isn't will I be left high and dry, without a software solution? These issues may become meaningless with the switch over to Intel processors, but this still remains one of my biggest considerations.

This is probably the single greatest deterrent in my purchase of an Apple machine. Dollar for dollar, Macs are more (usually much more) expensive than their Windows counterparts, and it's easy to see why. There are umpteen companies that manufacture and sell machines that run Windows; Dell, HP, Gateway, Toshiba just to name a few. To my knowledge, there is only one company that makes and sells Apple computers: Apple. Competition between Windows companies drives down the prices, while the "monopoly" Apple has on selling Macs means that they can charge a premium for their product. And maybe this is rightfully so. They do pack their computers with all sorts of hardware and software advances, such as the iSight camera, MagSafe power connector, iLife suite, etc. With all these features added for free, maybe the higher price is justified. We'll see. Either way, I'm on a fixed income (currently little to nothing), and any large investment in a computer system will be significant for me.