A former community discussing the business of software, from the smallest shareware operation to Microsoft. A part of Joel on Software.
We're closed, folks!
Doug Nebeker ("Doug")
Once again I found my PC slowing down, becoming unresponsive (literally, keep seeing ".. is not responding") and worse, it mangled some vital Word files.
Also found out the hard way that Word's '.wbk' files are just the previously saved version, so completely useless if you've saved since it decided to mangle the thing in the background.
Once again I've bought a new PC, once again wasted the better part of a week setting it all back up, installing stuff, tweaking and fiddling etc etc etc.
Right now I have a great system using a macro so every time I click 'save' it saves normally but also a numbered copy of the document on Google Drive, which is shared with 2 other PCs - and my 'new' Mac.
Yes, a Mac.
Looking around I see I have 5 PCs kicking around, 3 of them repaired, set up and running, and realized I'd purchased 6 of the things in 9 years. That's ridiculous.
Yes, Acronis, system restore and all that. Tried em, sometimes they work but the fact is it's a HUGE pain in the rear, and very embarrassing to explain to a client that I'm way behind schedule.
So in a fit of pique I bought a 2nd hand MacBook Pro, circa 2006.
It's working fine, has Office 2011 on it, seems quite nice?
So my question is, have any of you been in similar situations, making the switch to Macs and if so, are they really as reliable and problem-free as the fan-boys make out?
And does the dislike of an overly simplified and dumbed-down operating system fade after awhile, or do you still get a desire to punch the thing?
Any Mac stories? Good or bad - is it worth a grumpy, impatient old goat like me learning a new OS, then finding and forking out for new software and learning that too?
Or just hype?
My software runs on Windows and Mac. So I need both both OSs to support my customers. I recently traded in my tired old Toshiba Windows laptop for a Macbook Pro. Overall it is very nice machine, but not without issues. See:
As for Windows 7 vs Mac OS X 10.8. I think they both have their strengths and weaknesses. It is nice to have access to both. I haven't tried Windows 8 yet.
Monday, March 18, 2013
After a long time on Mac OS X, I've recently switched to Linux for my main development machine. I develop web apps mostly, so I'm not very limited in regards to what platform I develop on, since all of my apps end up being deployed to some flavor of *nix (though windows would be a poor choice in my case).
The main reason I moved away from Apple, of course, was the hardware:
I still have a few macs (my wife refuses to switch) around the house for testing, and I have a Windows 8 VM running on my Linux box for testing my web apps in Internet Explorer.
Unless you're developing OSX/iOS apps, I'm not sure I'd bother with macs.
Monday, March 18, 2013
We have 1 windows 8 PC at my place of work out of about 10 in total.
Top dog got it, I had it briefly, bottom dog has it now.
People couldn't figure out how to do simple stuff like how to find, my computer' and programs. For example say you wanted to open MS Paint. People were resorting to finding an image file and right clicking and 'open with' and then 'file new'
Well I DID poke around at Windows 8 and figured 'Heck, if I'm gonna learn a new OS I might as well try a Mac' - so I did.
Windows 8 seems even more dumbed down and aimed at kiddies, plus everything I touched was asking for my 'Live' account. Very similar to Android wanting your Google account or Apple with iTunes, a general feeling of being hemmed in and corralled like a sheep.
At that point I thought "Why not a Mac then?"
I wouldn't go for the new laptops as they have no optical drive, a complete deal-breaker for me. I work from a very nice home office, so I'm considering either the 'mini' (which you connect to your own monitor etc) or the 27" all-in-one desktop, as a replacement for my PC.
For travelling I have a trusty little Asus 10" netbook which has actually been reliable, and so far it seems there's nothing wrong with my 2nd hand 15" MBP. It's the 64 bit model, running OX X 10.7, so quite usable.
Read your article :o) It's not just the keys that are confusing, took me awhile to realise the menus are at the top of the screen, not the open window...
James A, also an interesting read, thanks.
Must admit I played with a 27" desktop in the local Mac store and loved it, as it seems extremely slick and responsive, while the display is a lot bigger than my (3, count em..) 23" LCDs.
Also love the 'magic mouse' - which I presume would also work on the 'Mini'?
Your problems with the all-in-one remind me why I've never bought such a thing. On the other hand my brand-new barely 2 week old PC has already crashed/frozen 3 times and no resolution works perfectly with my monitor, despite upgrading the GPU driver. Well the maximum works but then its unreadable.
Perhaps I should just buy brand-name PCs, as all the machines I've bought in Malaysia are component bundles, not Dell or Toshiba or something.
I think the general quality has changed over the years. I have an old PC I built myself yonks ago back in the UK, running the nightmare-on-sticks Windows 95 - but it still works and my beloved mother uses it for web surfing and email. I can't even remember the processor in it, a Pentium of some sort.
Hard to imagine any of the POS machines I've had since lasting anywhere near that long.
I certainly need to change something though. Can't keep doing this. Crazy.
Personally I love the Mac hardware, I wouldn't have any other type of laptop but I can't get on board with OSX when I'm trying to be at peak productivity. Personally I think the windowing system is better in Win 7 & that matters a lot while multi-tasking. That for me is enough to keep me in Win 7 on my desktop and also not even consider Win 8.
Word of warning on the magic mouse, it's cool, sexy but imho really un-ergonomic, I wouldn't recommend using it permanently unless you want your hand to end up the shape of a crab claw.
Monday, March 18, 2013
Over the past few years, at MegaCorp we have run into problems getting Office for the Mac to work with Sharepoint, and we gave up trying to fit the Mac users into our corporate security policies. None of which is likely to be a problem for you. We don't have a big enough sample to say that Apple hardware is better or worse, and the cowboys that use them upgrade their hardware every two years by whining incessantly to their managers about how they would be more productive with new machines, so I have no valid datapoints to share.
I do have anecdotal evidence from UPS drivers who pick up Apple hardware like iPhones and iPads for warranty service, that the business of shipping failed Apple devices has never been better. Apple doesn't build anything themselves, they outsource everything to Asian manufacturers, who also build components for other brands, and market to DIY'ers under their own brand names.
For durable high-performance laptops, I can't recommend Lenovo enough, but the fact that Lenovo is headquartered in China is a problem in some departments. Right now our servers and replacement laptops come from HP, but I'm not a Palo Alto fan by any means.
I build 2-3 desktop PC's a year for myself or people I know, and the only hardware problems I have are from 10 year old NICs and video cards, or Dell PCs that someone has asked me to fix. I have used every brand of Taiwanese motherboard you can think of. Before Windows 7 I did waste some time getting drivers to work, but not any more. What I am still seeing as a volunteer Mr. Fix-it is anti-virus products and Chrome slowing down computers over time. And people who don't uncheck the malware that gets installed by default every time Java and Flash get updated. And I don't think software running in .NET is as fast or efficient either.
> "I wouldn't go for the new laptops as they have no optical drive, a
> complete deal-breaker for me. I work from a very nice home
> office, so I'm considering either the 'mini' ... "
I thought the new Mac Minis don't have optical drives ? In fact, only non-Retina MBP 13 and 15 inch come with superdrives.
My MBP has a superdrive but I'm not impressed with it. I've never burnt a disk that worked elsewhere and most disks are not recognised. If you search the forums, superdrives are not highly thought of.
Regarding the topic, should you switch to Mac: I have always preferred using alternative OS's to Windows. After many years as a Linux user I started using Mac in order to be more mainstream commercially.
Hardware in general is good; few problems apart from optical drives.
Most drivers are reasonably up to date, except OpenGL in MacOS X is way behind the latest release so GLSL is limited.
I haven't checked recently, but when I was last using them, CUDA dev tools were unstable. Mac has OpenCL but it's less attractive for commercial dev because of the way you deploy your code.
OSX is very much like Linux; as you should expect. I like the Finder and the use of Application Bundles is convenient. Objective C has a bit of a steep learning curve initially. Using gestures on the trackpad is actually better than using a mouse for most tasks, I prefer a mouse for pixel editing and drawing vector graphics though.
XCode and associated tools have various modes for debugging issues e.g. clang static analysis. Unfortunately most of them don't work with C++. The formerly excellent Shark optimisation tools has fallen by the way side too. And valgrind does not work properly since 10.5.
Right now I'm feeling that I really like Mac but until there is a working valgrind or I bite the bullet and switch to Objective C for everything then I'd also like to get a Linux machine for platform independent development and stable CUDA profiling.
My point of view for Windows 8 is that the tiled interface is well suited for single tasking on a tablet of phone but not good for a desktop and multitasking. I think Microsoft got their strategy wrong and W8 should have been the iOS to W7's OSX.
Mmm, interesting that so many heavy-user professionals are basically saying "Meh" to Macs.
My 2nd hand laptop is an experiment in progress, to see if I can get used to the operating system, also if I can find replacement software I'm happy with.
I'd say I'm around 60-65% leaning towards a Mac Mini, as they're pretty cheap and I already have plenty of monitors and stuff. No they don't have an optical drive but you can plug a USB one in.
Interesting point about Chrome though, as that is indeed what I use?
And again have tried IE10 and didn't like it or saw any reason for switching. Also found Roboform doesn't work in private mode with IE10 but does in 7, 8 and 9 - so I reverted back to 9 but use Chrome anyway. That's an example of how I felt Windows 8 and Microsoft are now trying to control me, instead of me controlling my own computer.
Basically all the reasons I'd normally avoid a Mac now seem to apply to Microsoft anyway and Macs have the better reputation for virus issues, reliability and all that.
One handy point is I often test out client's software, and that has always been Windows. At least now I can try on a Mac and get more familiar with the Mac market and mindset I guess.
OK thanks guys. I think I'll still get one later but as a companion machine rather than a Windows 7 replacement.
And if/when I get (another!) new PC it will be a brand-name.
Any brand recommendations for desktop PCs? :o)
I have to say, I am tempted by a Mac, as I only do web development work these days. The thing that holds me back is that I've been using Windows for over twenty years, so it'd likely be quite disorienting at first.
I kept thinking that Windows hasn't really changed since Windows 95 (overall UX, I mean), apart from the Ribbon, but then they created the bizarre Windows 8 UX and I have to say I'm underwhelmed.
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
> overly simplified and dumbed-down operating system
Not sure where you get that idea. Yes there's the default single button mouse thing, but you can resolve that with a single checkbox in system prefs.
Can you point to some aspects of OS X that are overly simplified or dumbed down compared to, say, Windows 7.
I recently had to use my sister's Mac to view some videos that I had on my iPhone. Talk about an ordeal! They had to be imported first into iTunes or iSomething (which means wait a while for the import to finish), and then they wouldn't even play, so I had to move them to the desktop and play them with iTunes there. She has a stock-standard Mac with default settings and hasn't tweaked anything, so who knows what went wrong.
Anyway, my point is: on my PC, I just double-click the iPhone icon and double-click each video to watch them with Media Player Classic. Couldn't be easier. My single experience with her Mac has not endeared me to it at all. First impressions and all that.
Right now 64 bit Windows 7 is my sweet spot.
I bought a Mac Mini about a year ago. It performs well but I didn't see anything vastly superior with it. My main complaint with it was there are multiple, incompatible install schemes for software. I haven't turned it on in the past several months. I thought I would use it for development in a Unix like environment because I wasn't very happy with the fonts and windowing in Ubuntu. When I want a Unix like environment I start a VM with Xubuntu.
I had an old Acer laptop circa 2008 with Vista on it. I swapped an SSD for the hard drive and updated it to Windows 7. It's now an extremely sweet little laptop. It takes under 25 seconds to boot and start Chrome. My Dropbox takes only a second or two to sync.
I recently bought a Windows 8 quad core desktop. Getting passed the desktop was basically a matter of launching Windows Explorer with the standard keyboard shortcut, and from there on, using "window key"-"tab" key combo to move back and forth between the tiles and the desktop. "Control Panel", "Computer" and such are best accessed through Windows Explorer. To launch a program like Paint, just start typing it's name on the tiled desktop and a search will automatically be launched.
What I find incredibly bad about Windows 8 is how much they screwed the developer who is not working on the latest version of .Net. I gave up trying to move the development of some websites from a Windows 7 machine to Windows 8. I had endless problems due to the changes in machine level config files. There are issues with .Net where the order of installations of various Microsoft products affects the setup of the machine. Development was done in VS 2012 on Windows 7 and Windows 8.
My solution for my Windows 8 problems was to install a second hard drive in the machine with Windows 7. The default bios boot is Windows 7. If I ever need Windows 8 I'll adjust the bios and boot there.
Yeah, Windows 7 is kind of the peak.
Windows 8 is "no thanks" for me, as is OS X Lion and Mountain Lion. All of these have just gotten to corporate, too invasive.
Now, Linux is a pain and looks like crap, and every distro has its own issues, and as soon as you need hardware support for anything that isn't a very small set of things you are basically screwed unless you want to throw time into a hole.
But, the situation with Windows and OS X has gotten pretty bad.
For grandma and the average public member who doesn't care if everything they do is tracked and they have no security, those are good, and well suited. Though those people seem to have all moved to phones and tablets.
Really no good solution here. Just got to do what you think is best and hope for a good outcome.
"Can you point to some aspects of OS X that are overly simplified or dumbed down compared to, say, Windows 7."
I'm not really interested in attacking or defending the thing, just deciding if it's worth switching to. I'll give one example - stuck my Android phone on there via USB - it thought it was a camera.
When I tried sniffing around Mac forums it turns out it's not that it didn't recognize an Android phone, apparently that's the default behavior anyway, treating phones as merely picture holders. Happily I was able to download some software from HTC which convinces the Mac that there really is a USB drive with other folders and files and stuff, not just the DCIM folder.
You put a CD in to listen to a track, it insists on copying over the entire album into 'iTunes' before you can play anything, silly things like that.
I can't be trusted to place some MP3 files where I want them, or to just play a darn track already?
I already had an iTunes account so for fun tried playing some music - and every time I play the thing downloads the track again, resulting in stopping and starting, like it's too stupid to use the file it already downloaded earlier?
Yes, there's probably some "Quit acting funny and behave like a normal computer" setting somewhere but I don't have time right now to hunt around for such things. My question is more about IF it's worth doing so?
I'm confused by the number of people on this board who are struggling with Windows 8. I've found it incredibly easy to switch from Windows 7.
The start screen is just like a full screen start menu. The old start menu closed when it lost focus anyway so I can see little point in being able to see other things on your desktop while you are working through the menu. Even in Windows 7 I never used the start menu with the mouse. I always pressed the Windows key and typed the few couple of letters of the application name and pressed enter. I do exactly the same in Windows 8, and it responds quicker. To the guy above who couldn't launch Paint. "Windows key" -> "pa" -> "Enter". I can do that quicker than just getting my mouse cursor to the start button on a large desktop, let alone finding Paint in a sub menu off another sub menu.
The first time you open a text file or a photo it asks you whether you want to open it with the metro app or the desktop app. I've always selected the desktop app every time. Apart from about 2 minutes at the start to see what they were like, I haven't been into a metro app since.
I now have Windows 8 running on my main desktop with twin 24" monitors and on my new Lenovo X1 Carbon (highly recommended by the way!).
I agree it's not perfect. There are a few little niggles but it's definitely an improvement on Windows 7.
iTunes is not a good piece of software so you shouldn't judge Macs by iTunes.
The argument about optical drives is moot if you're going to use an external drive anyway.
When I plug my Android phone into my Mac via USB the phone shows a screen asking what you want to do; e.g. mount as removable drive, charge only, etc.
I think switching to Mac from Windows is inherently difficult because most people learn (self train themselves) about all the quirks and shortcuts on Windows. When they are confronted with a different way to do things they get frustruated.
I get frustruated when I have to "help" people with their Windows boxes. Typically searching many minutes for the task manager to kill some errant task/suspected virus. Yeah, I'm sure you know the shortcut, but for those of us who don't know Windows it's a maze.
I recall when Windows 95 was released a friend said that she was going to get it as soon as possible in order to learn it. My reaction was that an OS should be transparent - you shouldn't have to learn it to get stuff done. A bit idealist but you get my point.
>Another Linux switcher here, it seems clear to me Windows and >OX/S are in a downward spiral to a completely locked down tablet >madness.
Yea, I noticed that too. The quality of OS X seemed to peak at about version 10.6. I don't like what Apple did with 10.7, and I haven't upgraded any of my family's macs to 10.8 yet (only when I absolutely have to).
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
"Any brand recommendations for desktop PCs?"
I'm assuming you know how to open Control Panel, create a user, and search for a file on your local device. If not have you considered a career in education or psychiatry?
Find a local hole in the wall that builds PC's, tell the proprietor you want a "business" desktop computer with only a genuine copy of Windows Professional installed, no other bundled software. If he asks for specifics, say you want a 3rd generation dual core Intel CPU and 4GB of RAM (8 if you want to run more than 1 VM at a time). The generic conglomeration of motherboard, RAM, power supply, hard drive and video card will perform just as well as any brand name PC from HP, Sony, Dell, etc., is easier to fix or modify and lasts longer. The most likely part to fail is the power supply, and you can swap that out yourself for less than the cost of shipping your brand name PC to an authorized service centre. Today, it's software that has quality control problems.
"iTunes is not a good piece of software so you shouldn't judge Macs by iTunes"
I don't agree, but if you are right, don't get a Mac. If it wasn't for iTunes driving the sale of more than 1.5 billion iPods, Apple wouldn't have a market cap of $425 billion. Seriously. iTunes took Macs out of a dead end market for creative professionals and into a much, much bigger market of users with above-average income and below-average computer literacy. Users who want stylish bling (mainly thin laptops) that they can use without having to ask strangers for help. The fact that modern Macs (and the software preloaded on it) coordinate so well with other Apple devices is not an accident.
Sometimes I'll have to use software and I can't recall what the heck it's called, especially if it's old or I only recently installed it. So running a search for it by name?
That's not an operating system, that's silly.
The optical drive thing IS an issue if considering a laptop, and because I've already decided I will NOT be buying an Apple laptop because of that then that does indeed put a dent in my enthusiasm for changing to Apple in general. I'm only considering it as I don't really need a laptop anyway.
I don't think it would be that terribly difficult to learn Windows 8, my view is simply that if forced into that position then it destroys my loyalty to Windows.
It's a mess of a thing that is trying to be a Mac, an Android tablet and still a bit like Windows - and failing at all of them. I just don't like it and see this as an ideal opportunity to try out the Mac ecosystem instead.
Besides, I've never forgiven Microsoft for the 'internet driving license' thing
and their licensing is generally hideous.
I have a lot of experience with Microsoft Windows (since a DX2 66Mhz PC with 4 MB RAM running Windows 3.11) but I don't have any loyalty to them, or Apple, or Android or anything else.
I'm just exploring options.
But no, not Linux. What am I, a programmer? ;o)
And yes, my phone also asks if I want to just charge it or use it as a USB mass storage drive, and even as a drive my Mac was only able to see the pictures folder.
After installing 'HTC Sync' it suddenly found folders everywhere...
Howard, what you describe is exactly what I've been doing - and exactly what has failed me so many times and why I'm thinking of moving to a brand name instead.
In my mispent youth when i was building my own rigs for gaming it was no biggie to change out graphic cards or add extra RAM or whatever. However for business use I can't afford an unstable machine that needs an afternoon or more of messing around. I know from experience how such afternoons can turn into a week or so but mainly I just need to concentrate on work, not worry about the hardware.
Talking of work...
"The fact that modern Macs (and the software preloaded on it) coordinate so well with other Apple devices is not an accident. "
KISS I think is the expression here. If you can tie down the hardware so strictly that the end user can't easily add aditional devices/memory/etc and can't open the device without breaking warranty, then you really have an easy ride.
Windows, on the other hand, caters for all devices and hardware configurations, or at least tries to.
Linux, while it tries it's best, isn't quite there yet.
"when i was building my own rigs for gaming"
I still recommend getting someone to do that for you (and install the OS and any drivers before delivering it to you), but go no-name instead of brand name. The big brand names are just procurers who grind their suppliers for cheaper, proprietary pieces and they install their own special crapware so the marks they sell to have to take advantage of free 90 day support in order to use the PCs they paid for. And their brand name support is contracted out to the cheapest call centres in the world who will only drive you insane before giving you an RGA number. And when you get your new free replacement PC it will have new problems to drive you completely off the deep end. Please support the guy across town who sells unlocked cell phones and custom built PCs. It's the only way to go.
Speaking as someone who was quite geek a few years ago and is now outside the developer community -
I see the platform and hardware choice to be almost irrelevant today. At least for users that restrict their activities to content creation via word processors, reading e-books and online stuff, web design, etc. File formats like PDF, e-readers like Kindle, and the wide availability of compatible word processors and other document tools that handle Word and other file formats ...
All of this means that it just really almost doesn't matter any more what you use - PC, laptop, tablet, Linux, Mac.
If you don't like to mess with complex fat client PCs or workstations, there is the thin client/cloud approach of the Google Notebook. Or there's Linux in several workstation incarnations. Mac used to intrigue me. Now that it's a rebadged Unix, it is really little different than Linux, just a different desktop.
Hardware and the choice of client device have become really, really... boring.
Well I'm certainly bored with setting up new PCs...
I've also realized how much software I've bought over the years that has either been lost or which I just can't be bothered with because of the breakdowns and unreliability.
For example I had a great mind-mapping program, produced this fantastic map with links to files and website and notes and "if this, then that" kind of diagramming. It was awesome - right up until the "Cannot locate partition" message.
I can't be bothered to keep setting things up again. And again.
And then a %^^^&%^ ing gain.
Just tired and yep, bored with it.
I'll happily pay more money for more quality, something that will last. That's the reputation of Macs, though it seems the hardcore users here are less than impressed?
Which is depressing because I'm not sure which route to take now.
Currently my plans are thus (if anyone cares):
1. Finish my current client's project, then change the graphic card in this new machine, as it seems to be the problem. It won't come out of sleep mode (have to reboot, 2 weeks old?) and sometimes gives me a black screen of death or just freezes completely. Sometimes the screen goes black and back to normal and Windows tells me the display something or other stopped responding and has recovered. Updating the driver made it worse, so going to change from AMD to something else.
2. Remove everything sensitive from my old PC, swap the primary hard drive for a new SSD, presuming one can be fitted (?) Or a new drive anyway. That particular machine has been my most reliable since moving to Asia, lasting around 3 years, so probably OK with a new drive.
3. Get used to and make more use of my MacBook Pro, including checking out replacement software and generally getting into the ecosystem.
4. If 4 continues OK, get a Mac Mini and gently transition over.
If it doesn't work out then at least I know I tried Mac, instead of forever wondering or wishing I had one when my Windows machine breaks down again.
You'll notice that nowhere in my plans does Windows 8 feature?
If using Windows I'll stick with 7 or wait for 9.
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
"I'm certainly bored with setting up new PCs"
I agree. Over the years I meticulously set up my PC with every little tweak and customization, but now I don't give a damn. I let everything stay at its default setting -- it's just easier.
What I do now, is I have a 1 TB external USB drive. I install all my apps on that, of which about 99% are portable apps. So when it comes time to switch PCs or reinstall Windows, it's just a quick install (or image restore) of Windows and then I can run all my apps INSTANTLY without installing them individually again. A massive time-saver. If you're not doing it this way, you're wasting time. Lots of it.
I have a Mac Air that I purchased last year to replace a mac mini for doing iOS apps. I would occasionally get an error and the MAC Air would stop charging. I looked this up and found it to be a common issue. People said to follow some steps and it would reset the SMB to allow the laptop to charge. I had to do that multiple times in the first year, but always got it to work. Then it happened again recently and I could not get it to charge at all. I had an appointment to take it t the Mac store and get it looked at, but a friend let me borrow an extra charging cable that he had and that worked. My cable would not charge but his did. This is on a piece of equipment that is about a year old.
That is my experience with the 'quality' of Apple laptops. I do think they are nice and enjoy using it for iOS development, but they are definately not perfect.
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
> "I'll happily pay more money for more quality, something that will last. That's the reputation of Macs, though it seems the hardcore users here are less than impressed?"
It's funny, it's like 30 years now of home computers, and there has never yet been the "Mercedes Benz" of computer companies and products. They've all kind of blown, in my experience. I used Mac G4s` in the earlier part of this century in a lab setting and they were big and shiny and impressive looking...and would just freeze up multiples times a *week* in the middle of experiments. Fast forward to 2013, and my iPad2's usability is really dodgy and frustrating. This is of course leaving out all the frustrations that Windows has brought us all, too.
I understand this computer OS stuff is hard, and I think on balance MS/Apple/others have done a tremendous service to computingkind and I don't disparage them, really.
But wouldn't it be nice if there were a $2,000 computer + OS + peripherals that just plain *worked*? (All the time, not just for some sizable % of Win7 or Lion users). History is going to look back on the turn of the millennium as a rather humorous time, when the average Joe and Jane were busily rebooting their BSOD'd computers (Did anyone see the MS Surface debut video where it locked up *during the presentation*?) , searching forums desperately for the secret rituals to restore their computer, paying thieves via CVS money orders because the "FBI" is going to bust them (a family member was that close to doing it!), having one's own webcam spy on you, etc, etc, etc, etc.
Now off to get a new USB flash drive to replace the one that suddenly claims to be unformatted after months of use...
My main dev PC is a maxed out MacBook Pro 15" with retina display. Windows 8 through bootcamp and occasionally OS X. Never had any problems or regrets - best dev environment ever. Dev stack - Java, Eclipse, Visual Studio, all major database servers.
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
I am a long-time Wintel user, but I might well switch the next time I have to get significant hardware. What I will switch to, I do not know, but I doubt it will be a Mac. They have their own issues. I would probably end up holding it wrong or something.
Microsoft has screwed up badly as far as I am concerned.
My main desktop box runs XP. I am generally happy with it.
I have another desktop system which runs 7-64. I was not not pleased that I had to jump through some hoops (XP Mode) to get my 16-bit utilities to run. Fortunately, I had gotten the professional version of Win7.
I also have a laptop with Windows 7 Home Premium. Unfortunately, XP Mode does not run on it. I had thought to do some development work with it, but not being able to run my utilities at a decent speed made it less than useful.
Then, there is the ugliness that is Win8.
Windows 8 = Wait, Windows 9 = Nein?
Well one thing I've discovered is the AMD 7700 video card in my new machine is known to crash during sleep mode - and was know to do that in early 2012, yet the drivers still don't really fix the problem.
It's good to know what the problem is, because now I can fix it (with a different card) I am however determined to move away from Windows, partly because of the previous problems and partly because Windows 8 is such a dog's dinner.
Mac software may not be the Mercedes Benz it pretends to be but it's hard to imagine they could be worse than the garbage I've been buying until now and their reputation says they're better.
Worth a try I think
Thursday, March 21, 2013
@AC I don't understand why you complain about reliability of Windows machines... I perform reliability tests of my software on several PC's and see that Windows boxes can run for months with no problems.
My dev machine is Windows 7 x64 and it's extremely rare case when it crashes, goes into blue screen or something...
It's the user who makes system unstable and slow. It's not a problem of Windows or PC hardware.
Saturday, March 23, 2013
Well this Win7 box, less than a month old, has frozen twice today.
Do tell me, learned one, what I did wrong while typing on a Word doc and browsing imgur, that caused this machine to freeze?
Was I typing too fast? Did I click the 'upvote' button too forcibly? Perhaps I wasn't staring intently enough at the screen, so it sulked?
Saturday, March 23, 2013
You probably got bad hardware, Alan. Either build the PC yourself or buy a trusted name-brand with a good warranty.
Saturday, March 23, 2013
Windows boxes are not supposed to hang twice a day. It's either hardware or software problem with your system.
It's hard to tell from here what it is.
Generally the key for system stability is:
* purchasing quality hardware pieces, like 1.5-2 times expensive than market average
* do not install unnecessary software: toolbars and other adware stuff; do not use antivirus. A word about antiviruses. These days AV's are too intrusive, they slow down your PC for about 20% and produce errors.
Sunday, March 24, 2013
Irony - I went to reply to this earlier and this machine froze.
Couldn't move the mouse or anything; had to hit the re-set button.
Already said, I'm pretty sure the problem with this one is the video card. When I get a spare afternoon I'll change it (possibly from one of the other dead or repaired PCs kicking around here...)
I know the first 2 I got here were probably victims of unstable power, as being Borneo the power supply can peak or dip sometimes. For a long time though I've been using beefy UPS backups so that shouldn't be an issue now.
As for virus programs, used to use AVG, last few years have used Avast.
Generally I don't have problems per se, the machines run OK - until they decide to screw up completely, not booting or booting into a BSOD. That's the kind of emergency situation where all too often I've ended up buying a new machine, just to complete a client's work or keep one of my own projects on track.
But SIX new machines, in less than 9 years?
I can repair the old ones, getting them running again but I cannot trust them after they've let me down like that.
As for user error or dodgy software, I've progressively moved more and more towards a clean-bones machine with less and less software on it - still get problems.
So yeah, brand names from now on - and the brand with a reputation for just working is Mac.
Sunday, March 24, 2013
There's less whining about Macs beacuse they are not popular compared to Windows machines.
Like if Company1 sold million units and 10 of them are defective, while Company2 sold 100 units with 1 defective - one could say "Company1 produces low quality stuff, it breaks 10 times more, I'd better go with Company2!".
Problems you're having with Windows PC's are not typical. I'd say it's an exception. And Mac is not a panacea. What would you feel when you paid 2 times more for Mac and it still freezes several times a day? :) Probability of this scenario is more than 0%.
Sunday, March 24, 2013
>> "But SIX new machines, in less than 9 years?"
Yep, you're being fleeced by your local scammers. They're selling you crap hardware and/or virus infested PCs.
Frankly, if there isn't a brand name on the box, or you don't personally know the person making the computer, then the box you bought it crap.
Sunday, March 24, 2013
Because my software is generally the only program my users during their work day, then whenever there's a problem for whatever reason, my software gets blamed.
So whether it's a cleaner has dislodged a cable, or there's a problem with a printer or some other piece of infrastructure or their new AV software starts causing problems, I get the call.
Sometimes the hardware people will come out, have a look, miss the fault and blame my software.
One time I got it in the ear bigtime and wasted a weekend remoting in for a problem that turned out to be conflicting ip addresses on 2 devices.
Similarly Windows gets the rap when it's installed on crappy hardware.
"They're selling you crap hardware and/or virus infested PCs."
Which is why I recommended specifying that no software other than a genuine copy of Windows Professional be pre-loaded. And that advice applies to brand-name boxes as well. For the past 10 years, quality control problems have been 100% software related (except for weak capacitors on motherboards built for Dell machines)
"But SIX new machines, in less than 9 years?"
Following up on the point about possible crap hardware: I bought a used Gateway laptop in 2008 that was new in 2004, and still have it, almost nine years later, and it still works fine. It went through an ugly period of BSODs that almost made me chuck it, but then I upgraded the wireless driver and that stopped entirely. (I've found certain wireless signals would BSOD it instantly; others wouldn't; after upgrade, none do).
It's still running WinXP and I'm typing on it now. It's a bit slow, but works. I'll eventually upgrade, but I can't say it wasn't pretty solid for the better part of a decade.
If the electric supply is an issue - have you thought about buying a UPS? A small one that will run a couple handful of PCs + VDUs for 15 mins isn't that expensive (but they are heavy, so shipping to Borneo might be an issue). As well as protecting you from sudden power loss it should also smooth any power fluctuations.
Monday, March 25, 2013
Andy, right after mentioning the electrical issue I wrote:
"For a long time though I've been using beefy UPS backups so that shouldn't be an issue now."
I did have a little 500 watts or milliamps or whatever but wasn't convinced by it, though it seemed to work. I now have an 800 for each machine.
They are good and do work. Sometimes you'll get a blast of lightning nearby and all the lights go out - PC keeps working, without missing a beat. So while I think that WAS an issue when I first came here, shouldn't be the problem now.
Monday, March 25, 2013
UPS' are great for productivity, both for avoiding the loss of edits since the last save (auto or otherwise) and to eliminate the time it takes for your computing device to do a full boot. Voltage drops and power line noise are hard on cheap power supplies, but the rest of your PC hardware doesn't mind it that much. I'll be a broken record player and say your problem is software over and over.
I don't know how you can be sure it is software. There could be all sorts of hardware issue that cause flaky behaviour. A loose or badly soldered connection perhaps. Or a dodgy component (I understand some Chinese factories are knocking out counterfeit capacitors by the million - they look just like the real components, but aren't as reliable).
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
>Andy, right after mentioning the electrical issue I wrote
I lost track. It's a long thread! ;0)
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
"I don't know how you can be sure it is software"
Three main reasons. One, the factories that supply the PCB assemblers that supply Apple (and every other hardware vendor in the world) can't afford to run two manufacturing lines (although if Dell wants a better profit margin it can specify lower quality parts like capacitors with a higher defect rate), so the quality of connections and assembly is the same for everyone. Low-volume local PC assemblers can't specify lower quality parts, so they have no choice but to buy better quality pieces from Asus, Foxconn, MSI, etc. that come with a manufacturer's warranty. Big brand names can play the odds by offering free replacements once the consumer gets it home, in return for lower prices from suppliers.
Two, the actual chipsets themselves are very high quality, tested before assembly in a component, and engineered to adjust themselves to variations in supply voltage by adjusting speed. But all the chip does is perform a very basic instruction set on a very large scale. As you go from chipset driver to device driver to operating system to user application, defects in software fail to implement those instructions in a way that produces the desired result. As soon as non-automated processes (like writing program code) enter the picture, things go wrong.
Three, a desktop PC is operated in close to ideal conditions, especially compared to laptops, and even worse, handheld devices. Unlike the woman who stuffs her iPhone in her bra, strikes it with hard objects in the bottom of her purse and drops it from 1.5 meters on rough concrete surfaces, desktop PC's don't have to worry about moisture, high G forces or sudden temperature changes.
I am working towards perfecting a clean OS install on desktop and laptop PC's every six months. That means that users will lose all traces of personalization at the same time. The Bring Your Own Device craze is making this more and more impossible to implement, however. Maybe dumbed down Macs are the way to go, after all.
" desktop PC's don't have to worry about moisture, high G forces or sudden temperature changes."
No G forces to speak of but in 93-98% humidity and 32 C ambient average, while my air-con is at 25 C and 40% humidity..
Having said that the PC and air-con are either both on or both off, and I've always maintained a 'no sudden change' policy. For example in the past if we were going out my wife might go to open some windows for 'fresh air' and I'll slam them shut again and explain about hot moist air reaching the chilly innards of my PC and condensation...
One symptom on this current machine is it keeps failing at 4 updates. Every time, tells me there's 4 updates, I tell it to go ahead, it tells me they failed.
"Code 800B0100 Windows Update encountered an unknown error"
I'm currently downloading some tool that's meant to help with that from MS...
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
> Any Mac stories?
I've worked with Linux since 2008. It was my primary OS. But in 2012 I've tried Mac OS X Lion. It was only one reason: I need Mac version for my app. And after three weeks (!!) of using I've decided to make OS X my primary OS. And this is after five years of Linux daily usage!
Nobody can say that such decision was based on "glamorous icons" or on "fashion trends", because I'm a software developer, and computer is a professional tool for me. And that is why I made OS X my primary OS: it's convenient, simple and powerful professional tool.
Saturday, April 13, 2013
P.S. I still deeply respect Linux, and I think that this OS has great prospects.
Saturday, April 13, 2013
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