Category Archives: Pre-Switch

Cold Feet. Will I Miss Mac OS?

Well, it just happened. I just got nervous. I’ll probably have my new computer all set up and ready for use by Wednesday. So far I’ve been hurling myself at this decision with nothing but excitement. But I just got scared.

I was just sitting there – well, let’s be honest – I was dancing to this song:

That’s what I was doing and I suddenly thought: What if this is a mistake? Not the dancing. That is never a mistake. What if this PC is a mistake? What if all of my researching and planning is going to turn out wrong in the end? What if I am a Mac person? What if this? What if that? What if.

I opened my computer and suddenly thought about how much I love being able to hide my dock. How much I love being able to sit on the couch when I type instead of on my hard desk chair. How much I love the ease of changing the language on my keyboard. How much I love the top toolbar with my Gmail, Evernote, volume, language, wifi, and music player one click away. How much I love the familiarity of all my applications, especially the expensive ones like Final Cut. How much I love the little stickers on my keyboard. How much I love all the things I’ve gotten used to about this little ol’ Macbook.

Will it be the same? Am I going to love this new computer as much as I loved this one for so long? Will we get along? Will it make sense to me? Am I about to have a lot of regrets?

I can’t answer these questions. So instead I’ll just try to ignore them and get some sleep. Mistake or not, this is happening. And I’m pretty sure it’s not a mistake. But what if?

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Rookie Mistakes and A Stupid Question

Sometimes things just go wrong.

The case I bought came dented and uneven. It didn’t happen in the shipping process, because the biggest dent was on a part that was covered by thick styrofoam and the smallest dent was coming out of the case. It was uneven. We even whipped out a leveling app and yeah, it was uneven. Luckily it was a manufacture problem and not shipping damage or I wouldn’t get a new one for free. I sent it back and luckily the new one has already shipped. It should be here no later than next Tuesday! Perhaps even on Monday. So, that was anti-climactic, but not a big problem. I just get to be patient now.

I live in an old house that has one ethernet plug, but managed to forget about a wireless card. In fact, I didn’t even remember that was a thing until my computer wizard asked me if there was a ethernet plug near my desk earlier this week. He sent me a link for one and I promptly bought it. Luckily it was on Amazon Prime so it came already. Holler atcha, Amazon. I just remembered that when I was a kid my Dad a laptop that he had to plug a card into to get the internet. Of course wireless cards are a thing! I remember now! Also, good save, computer wizard. Good save.

The big problem and mistake I made was the stupid monitor I bought. That was a bad move. I bought the cheapest, good quality monitor I could find on Amazon around 20 inches. It was refurbished and made by Dell, a good brand. It was late at night and I was being impulsive. I had to force myself to be impulsive to finally click buy on all of the good decisions I’d made and maybe I was on a high from that. Well, it came and I excitedly pulled it out of the box only to be greeted by this sight.

My first thought was, “Oh, hell no!” My smile died immediately. It’s square! I had been careless in my excitement for a computer. I hadn’t made lists about what I wanted from a monitor. I hadn’t thought about it at all. I’d only been thinking that I needed one and that I didn’t want to spend a lot of money. Turns out, I did want to spend a lot of money. So, I put it for sale on several web sites. Let’s hope it sells. I’ll probably use it in the mean time, while I look for a nicer monitor. I just can’t imagine watching my two blu-rays over and over on this square old guy. John Carter and The Tree of Life deserve better.

What do I want from a monitor? Widescreen. HD resolution. Internal webcam, if possible. Less than $150. Any suggestions? Even just good brands, would be helpful. Is my price point even realistic? – Let me know in the comments below.

Oh and I’m still missing speakers. Another forgotten thing. My plan is to get something at Target or another store that I can drive to. I’m sick of shopping online for now. My plan is also to not make the same mistake I made with the monitor and buy some crappy ones that I won’t be happy with. Spending a little bit more makes a big difference, especially with sound quality.

Sometimes trying to save money just ends with you getting something you don’t want.

Clearly I’m learning. Some of you who have built computers before might think I’m an idiot. Perhaps I am, but really I’m just a rookie. I’ve never done this before so I ask stupid questions. Better to ask them and look foolish than to not ask them and regret it later. Someone recently mentioned sound cards to me. So I said, “Computer Wizard! Do I need a sound card?” And Computer Wizard said, “No.” And I said, “Oh.” And Computer Wizard said, “People haven’t needed sound cards for a long time. It’s integrated into your motherboard.” And I said, “That’s what I thought! They must just be for people who love amazing sound.” And Computer Wizard said, “Your motherboard supports 7.1 sound.” And I said nothing, my jaw just dropped, because that – that is awesome.

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Laptop to Desktop. Plus the Hardware

I had a hard and fast plan to get a laptop a few weeks ago. I was looking at 14-15in laptops for about $700. The more I looked at laptops the harder it was for me to pick one. They all seemed fine, but there were so many choices it was paralyzing. My brain was like, “This seems good for me. Oh, but so does this one. And this one looks nicer. Oh, but it’s more expensive. But looks are important to me. But should it be? Well, it is. Even if it shouldn’t be. But what about this other laptop? It also seems good for me. I guess I should also look at this other brand. Oh, they have a lot of different laptops!” It was like that. Endlessly. So I came to the conclusion that I would wait until my computer died to get a new one. Putting off the inevitable seemed like a good plan.

I commenced conversations with plenty of computer-savvy people while continuing to search the internet for the best laptop. Ya know, so I’d be ready when the time came. Everyone I talked to had built several computers, had just built their first computer, were currently building a computer, or knew stuff about building computers. Could I build a desktop from scratch?

But, wait. I wanted a laptop. Wait again! Did I need a laptop? What an idea! What did I do remotely on my computer? Honestly, nothing. I’d gotten used to not being able to use my laptop anywhere because of the terrible battery life. Maybe I should build a desktop…

I decided. I would build a desktop and later get a tablet (probably a Surface) for when I did want to use a machine remotely. This opened up a whole new world of possibilities… and choices. Choices that were terrifying and paralyzing. I decided again to wait until my computer died.

But every day as I used my computer I would be mad that it couldn’t do things that a PC could do. I was mad that my version of Word was so bad. But mostly and always I was mad that computer didn’t have the snapping feature from Windows 7. You know, this:

So, I decided to make a leap. I watched a great tutorial from Newegg about how to build a computer. If you have any interest in  knowing what parts are inside your machine, check this video out.

From there I tried to look around, but got confused, lost, and frustrated. I asked several people for help and eventually came to a final decision. Here’s how my build is going to look. Click on the pictures to be directed to Newegg where you can look at the full specs if you like.

First, it’s going to be in this pretty case. It’s a Rosewill Redbone mid-size case. Isn’t it purdy?

I decided to go with an Intel processor. I wanted an AMD at first because it was cheaper, but I was soon informed that Intel is much better for media while AMD is better for gaming. I plan on watching a lot of movies, using Adobe Creative Suite programs like a crazy person, and pretty much never gaming, so the extra $20-30 is worth it. I got a duo core i3 chip. It should do the trick for now and I can always upgrade later.

For my motherboard, I went with this Biostar TZ77B. It has the same specs and plugs as an ASRock one that was recommended to me and is quite a bit cheaper. So, here’s hoping it performs the same. It’s got two USB 3.0 ports, four USB 2.0 ports, one HDMI port, along with some other great stuff I’m looking forward to using. It supports up to 32GB of RAM, which sounds like a freaking heck of a lot to me!

I bought two 4GB sticks of RAM made by Crucial. My favorite part about these is that they’re called Ballistix Sport. I laughed when I saw that. I guess sticks of RAM have a “sport” category. I may not have a sports car, but I have sport RAM!

I’m getting this EVGA GTX550 Ti graphics card for free from my friend who is a video editor/gamer/nerd. He assures me it’s a good one, though a bit old. I believe him because it costs a considerable amount more than the one I was planning on getting. Yay for friends and spending less money!

For a hard drive I got this 1 terabyte drive made by Hitachi. It rotates at 7200 rpm, so that means I’ll get good performance from it, even if it’ll get a little hot.

I’m also getting an LG Blu-ray disc player/burner. That I am super pumped about. I only own two Blu-rays, but you best believe I will watch The Tree of Life and John Carter until the laser on the Blu-ray player doesn’t work anymore. Yes, I know, lasers don’t work like that. It was hyperbole.

I bought a 19in monitor on Amazon.

So that’s what my computer will look like. All in all I spent less than $600 including shipping. Ka-boom. Take that $700 laptops I was looking at before! Take it!

Get excited for some sad stories about getting damaged equipment, ordering something I don’t want, and forgetting something important!

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Why not get another Mac?

July of this year my 2008 Macbook was getting slow and irritating. The battery had been equating 1% with 1min for about a year. I’d had Apple Techs operate on it, bought a new battery, and bought a new charger, but to no avail. And now it was acting up in strange ways. Sometimes thinking it was asleep when it was open and awake when it was closed. Crashing applications unexpectedly. Loading every internet page very slowly. It was just dying the way computers die. Of old age and overuse.

I wanted a new computer. Naturally I went to the Apple website and saw that the cheapest laptop they have is $1200. I considered waiting to save up money so that it wouldn’t be as much of a hit on my finances. Then I thought I’d make a list.

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What about that warrants me spending $1200 on a computer? Not really anything. You could point at video editing, but I do that so rarely nowadays that it hardly counts.

Well, now I was at a crossroads. Dare I go back to “the dark side,” as Mac users call it?

My brother had always been adamantly pro-PC and I recalled conversations with him. He maintains that what people really want with a computer is customizability. Microsoft provides users the tools to customize their machines in any number of ways, Apple really doesn’t allow much of that. My Brother talked up the free support community that’s available for PCs. You can find all kinds of tutorials about applications or mechanical fixes online for PCs. That was an important draw for me.

I had also recently gotten my first smartphone, an Android (HTC One S). I love that phone. I spent a lot of time deciding if I wanted to go iPhone or Android and I know I made the right choice with Android.

I went online to find articles, videos, blogs, or anything where people had recorded their impressions when switching from Mac to PC. There was not much out there. The least helpful article was one from the early 2000’s that listed personality traits that defined the users of each operating system. All of the fun traits like “artistic, creative, free spirited” were listed for Mac users and all of the less fun traits like “organized and businessy” were listed for PC users. What a load of BS. People are not defined by the products they use. So, I started watching videos by Microsoft. Various press releases and conference presentations about Windows 8, Windows 7, and the Surface. I was very impressed. Don’t worry, I also watched videos posted by people who didn’t like Windows 8 at all.

Soon I was telling everyone how excited I was for Windows 8 to be released and how cool it was going to be. Luckily a friend had the beta version on one of his laptops and let me try it out. It was awesome. Definitely optimized for a tablet and thus a little strange to use with a mouse at times, but nothing that couldn’t be gotten used to. I wanted it. A lot.

I’d noticed by this time that a PC can be bought for half (or less than half) of the price of the equivalent Mac. I mean, what?! Why would anybody buy a Mac? You’re really paying for the aesthetics, the brand, and the customer service. Their customer service is great, but also stringent. With a PC I can open up my own computer and have at it. If I did that to my Macbook it would disqualify me from ever having an Apple Tech look at my machine again. Once my friend used compressed air on the inside of my laptop when the fan was being wonky. When I told the Apple Genius that he raised his eyebrows in shock and told me not to let people do that. Really? I can’t unscrew the bottom of my computer and blow on it?

So, it came down to freedom and customizability. I’d noticed that my Android was better at this than the iPhone. I remembered how I had used my family’s PCs and yeah, I felt like I did more real computer use with those than I ever had with my Macbook. I used to be good at fixing computer problems, but there’s no real way for a user to do that on Macs. That’s all closed off. They don’t want you tinkering. Being able to make my computer all mine was a big draw for me.

But what it really came down to was value. I could get something twenty times better than my current machine for half of what the new version cost. Now, that’s bang for your buck. And I like having my bucks. I also like explosions. Win-win!

 

Next! I’ll reveal my indecisiveness. Find out how I ended up deciding on a desktop.

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A New Operating System

Soon I will get all of the parts for my brand new PC in the mail. A friend will help me put it together and Windows 7 will be installed on it. And I never ever thought this would happen.

Like most kids who grew up in the 90’s, my family always had PCs. The first computer I ever used ran Windows 95. My dad works with computers so of course we updated to Windows 98, 2000, and XP.

In fact I wasn’t even aware of Apple’s existence until 2002 when my sixth grade Social Studies classroom suddenly had two old Power Macs. These computers were extremely confusing. I mean, why didn’t the disc drive have an eject button? You mean I have to press eject on the computer screen? How does that make sense? I didn’t understand why there wasn’t a start button and how you were supposed to find programs without that. I tried using these machines once or twice then gave up entirely. I only went by the classroom computers one other time, when a friend and I doodled on the bottom of the table the computers were on.

All of my family’s computers would get extremely slow after a few years of use and they seemed to crash a lot. Several years of pictures are completely gone thanks to one of these crashes. I dare you to try to find pictures of me from ages 13-15. I dare you. So finally in 2007 my family gave up on Windows.

By this time I was the only one still living at home, my two sisters were in college with Macbooks and my brother didn’t own a computer. My parents and I got a Macbook Pro and I loved it. I could listen to music on iTunes with headphones anywhere I wanted. I could type papers late at night in my bedroom. I could edit videos with Final Cut Express. It ran so much faster than our old computer. It was shiny. It was pretty. It was new!

When I graduated in 2008 I got my own Macbook for college. There was no discussion about prices or what I intended to use it for. I wanted one because that’s what we had and I hadn’t had any of the traumatic experiences with it that I’d had as a child with slow PCs. My sisters had them. I had been told they were better and I believed it. I didn’t think of asking for evidence. I really believed Macs were better. Of course I’ve looked down at PC users since then. Almost every Mac user does, even if they don’t want to admit it. But the tables are turning again. I’m headed back to using a PC. And, boy, am I excited!

Stay tuned to find out why I’m so excited to make the switch!

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