Aug 2010

Why a Mac? Attention to detail - that's why.

Just one little example, reported on MacNN:

Apple MacBook sleep indicator set to human breathing rhythm
Dell misses mark, times LSD to strenuous activity

In a nod to Apple's attention to detail and human engineering, Flood Light describes how Apple got its sleep status indicator right, while Dell got it wrong. A July 2002 patent for a Breathing Status LED Indicator describes how the blink rate of a sleep status LED would be timed to a slow breathing rhythm. The blink rate of current Mac notebooks falls within the average respiratory rate of an adult -- between 12-20 breaths per minute. For example, the blink rate of the  MacBook Pro 15in late 2008 is exactly 12 cycles per minute.

Dell laptops have a sleep indicator as well, but fail to get the timing to a calm breathing rate. Dell instead uses 40 cycles per minute, which is close to the average respiratory rate of an adult during strenuous exercise. Dell's sleep light is more indicative of a race, missing the human engineering mark that Apple precisely hits.

PC or Mac? What would you advice

Over the last three years I accompanied about 40 people from Win to Mac - mostly friends and family, mainly because at some point I refused to do the free support for them. My argument: "You save a few bucks, and I pay for it with my time. You want my help in the future - then get a Mac. Only thing is - if you get a Mac then you won't need much help anymore."

The experience is always the same. For 4-6 weeks they complain and wonder if they should have stuck with Win, afterwards they say "Windows? Never again."

With Macs I have practically nothing in support to do. What little support is needed can easily be done via iChat (video conferencing build into Macs, quality is miles better than Skype, and with the other's permission you can simply take over the other computer and show how something should be done).

Hardest support case in the last three years: my father (at 76) on his old iMac G4 managed to drag his complete iPhoto library - all 32,000 pictures - to the desktop. There was 0k left in hard disk space, the desktop was completely frozen - but for two weeks (until I could come round to fix it) everything else just continued to work. He browsed the internet, did his emails, video-chatted with the rest of the family - and I still have no idea how the Mac managed that (for example where were the emails saved? There was no space!?). I have to admit I was impressed - and computers do not impress me lightly.

Some install Win via Bootcamp, just in case. In all cases I'm asked after a few months to take the Bootcamp partition off as they "don't use Win anymore"

Basically it is easier to get a Mac if you have not used Win before, as you have to unlearn the crooked way of thinking that Win employs.

As for programming and testing: I recommend VMware Fusion or Parallels Desktop which manage about 80% of the speed of running Win natively on a Mac via Bootcamp, though you might be okay with the free VirtualBox. You can install several separate guest systems (like WinXP, Vista, Win7, Ubuntu, RedHat, etc) which is great for testing.

Otherwise - enjoy it. The difference comes down to something very simple. People use their PCs, but they love their Macs. So unless you are a hardcore gamer - get a Mac.