Sunday, January 03, 2010

Mac vs. PC - for Writers & Poets


As I mentioned early, I recently replaced my Vaio laptop with a new MacBook Pro last month.

I have always wanted a Mac, but have never purchased one for three reasons:
1) they are expensive (more than PCs)
2) I was afraid I wouldn't know how to use one once I got it
3) I was afraid editors wouldn't be able to open my documents or they'd come across scrambled.

I finally decided that I was so sick of replacing my laptops every 3-4 years and after talking to various Mac users and visiting our local Mac Store to suck it up and buy a Mac. I chose the MacBook Pro which starts at $1600. Yowza. To me, that's a lot. I know years ago, this was about the normal price for laptops, but now they are under $1000, so in my mind, this felt expensive and well, to me it was expensive, especially when I added on MS Word ($150) and MobileMe ($60).

But as my husband put it, "This is your business. This is your life. Your writing revolves around your laptop, it's not an area where you should be cheap." So, I bought a Mac.

Now, don't get me wrong, I've been a fan of Microsoft as they are a local company in my eyes. Bill Gates went to the school my mum used to jog to each morning. Paul Allen has done a lot for Seattle as far as the arts. So I'm definitely not anti-Microsoft. In 1988, I found an article about Bill Gates in our family Bible my dad had cut out. My dad was into technology and so I grew up not seeing technology as bad, but the future. I know Jeannine's family also were one of the first to have a computer, a Tandy, I believe. Us too.

My father always told me that if I wanted a good high paying job, to get into computers and the tech field. My response, "I like writing stories and poems." So I don't want this post to be anti-Microsoft, because it's not. They keep a lot of my friends employed and I appreciate that. They also donate to the literary journal I edit and in fact, are the ONLY corporation that donates to it. And I think the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is doing some terrific work in the world. So full disclosure: I do not believe Microsoft is the devil (like a few old-time Mac users I know), but I have been having some issues and complaints with my PC over the years and decided to try something new.


When I purchased my Mac, it took me about one full day to "get it" and feel comfortable on it. There are some things that take a PC use by surprise- like there is no right/left click buttons on the actual laptop, only if you buy a mouse that has it. I'm embarrassed to say my husband and I couldn't figure out how to click on things at first and I was doing a lot of moving through pages by the Tab button. Let's just say, we just weren't pressing the pad correctly, total user error.

Once I got out of old habits, the Mac has been a breeze to use. I watched a few "how to" videos on the Mac website, the best being the one for PC users switching to Macs. And I have been honestly impressed with everything it comes with and not having to worry about viruses.

So here's my quick list of Pros and Cons with moving to a Mac--

Pros--

Much faster than a PC (though it is new, but it doesn't take forever to load Windows)

Dragging what you need to where you need it- love that.

Finder- if ever I'm lost or need something, I just pull this feature up

Photos, iMovie, Photobooth - all came with the Mac and are easy to use and no "you get to use this for 30 days then you have pay" features like on the Vaio

MS Word on the Mac is better (graphically, for sure!) than on my old Vaio

It doesn't come with all the garbage programs that were always loaded on my PCs. Or with things you only got to use for 30 days, but then you had to pay for it. This is a huge pro for me because as you know from my previous posts, I dislike clutter.

The Calendar syncs with my Google calendar and that right there, is awesome.

Downloads are easier and if you download a photo or image, it's much easier to find

Being able to find documents by "today, yesterday, or last week" is a great feature! Especially for writers who can never remember what they are working on.

Durable! - You might remember, one the third day I had this it slid off my bed onto the hardwood floors and it was absolutely fine.

It's smarter than I am - when I was at Hedgebrook they had a printer set up wirelessly and my Mac found the network and printer & was able to print my poems when I had only had the computer a week and had not much of an idea of what I was doing.

Not having to worry about viruses. Love that.

So far, seems to be able to do more than PC was ever able to do. And everything about it slick, in that positive way. Beautiful screen and graphics (and I didn't get the no-glare screen and I'm glad).


Cons--

Does not have an "Insert Key" on the keyboard (I'm sure there's way to do this, but I haven't yet figured it out. I have use the command/delete key, but I haven't been able to figure out how if your cursor is in front of a word, how to make that word to the right of it delete (back up to the cursor) if that makes sense.

Finding Documents- While I love being able to pull up documents by Today, Yesterday, etc. I haven't quite figured out documents as it feels very messy to me (some are in black, some are grayed out). On my Vaio, I could pull documents by only Word documents and by date so I can see everything I added to my folder "New Work." I understand how to sort by date, but it just sometimes feels I'm missing something, but this is probably more of a user error than the Mac as I'm still learning. I should probably watch a video on this.

The metal laptop is cold.-- While I love that I was able to drop my laptop off my bed (though I do not recommend this), my laptop is made of metal and is cold and sharp on my arms. I keep a pair of fingerless gloves to type in until my laptop warms up in the morning. I must be sensitive, but the edge is sharp on my arms and it's too cold for me when I begin.

Doesn't always remember my passwords online-- While it does remember some and there is this feature called "Keychain" it doesn't always show up for me. For example, it remembers my Gmail acct but not my eBay acct. I tried to add both this morning to it, but no luck. Again, this could be user error.

In Mail, I can't go down my address book and add people like I could do in Outlook, I just have to type part of their names, which is fine except when I'm sending out something I don't know who to add I like to go down my contact list to see who I might want to send some info too. Because this seems like such a simple thing, I'm wondering if maybe it can do this, but I haven't figured it out yet.
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Things I need to learn about:

Stacks: I don't get what these are for
Keychain: I'm definitely not getting my full function of this.
Documents: the best way to organize my work
iPhoto: if there's a way to cut and paste another image and add it to a photo (like I really wanted a Santa hat on that Whitman photo a few days ago, but couldn't figure out how to do it), or if I need to purchase Photoshop or something like that to have more control.
Email: how to pull up my address book and add names from that list

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If any of you Mac users want to offer up any tips or feedback for me, I am listening!

But mostly, if you are a writer and haven't switched to a Mac because you were worried that editors wouldn't be able to open your work, read your work, etc. You can totally make the switch without a worry. Just get the MS Word for the Mac and you are set. I haven't had any issues in sending out my manuscript, poems, etc.

In the end, I think I have found a laptop that fits my needs more than my old PCs (I was a Microsoft gal since 1993 or '94). I'm not planning on going back. I had a very bad time with Vista and that stupid DocX (which MS Word still has, seriously, what was the point of this, so people can't read your documents?)

Anyway, so far I think my Mac was completely worth the money and the day it took to move my files over (which was ridiculously easy and took less time than moving it from PC to PC!) and learning the basic flow of things. I'm glad I made the switch and like most people who have moved to a Mac, my only wish is that I had done it earlier.


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