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Vanity: Should I buy a MacBook Pro?
4-25-2011 | Self

Posted on 04/25/2011 9:49:28 PM PDT by balch3

So, an older relative wants a laptop so he can surf the web from his recliner. His computer skills consist of being able to turn the computer on, open his browser, and do simple word processing/printing. He's tired of viruses and malware. I've been talking up the Macbook. He's decided on the Macbook pro with 17 inch monitor, Way more computer than he needs, but he likes the big monitor because it will be easier on his eyes.

All sounds good, right? That is, until I go online and look at the price. Yikes! Nearly $2500. He can afford it and doesn't seem phased by it, but...still, Yikes! My worst case scenario fantasy is he isn't satisfied and I'll feel guilty for giving him a bum steer. Or, something goes wrong and we have to send it back. Or, I have trouble setting up the wireless LAN--Seems simple enough, but I've never done it before. Or...well, you get the picture.

Somebody talk me into (or out of) this, please?

TOPICS: Chit/Chat; Computers/Internet
KEYWORDS: computers; mac; macbook
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To: dangus

The transition you talk of is actually far easier than you make it sound.

For starters, the Mac GUI has been ferociously consistent from version to version since... well, since I first laid hands on a Mac in 1986. The Mac doesn’t go through a gratuitous change in GUI every new software release that comes out. If there’s one thing that infuriates me about Windows, it is the new GUI on ever major release. I set all of the GUI’s, regardless of Windows version, back to the “classic Windows” UI on every release. I have no need of all the CPU and memory sucking effects of the newer Windows UI’s.

Second, you can remap the keyboard’s command, control, option, caps lock etc keys to where you’d like them if you wish. Simply configure it thus in the System Preferences. If you want to get deeper into hacking your keyboard, you re-map the entire keyboard if you want something like a Dvorak layout.

The truth is, the PC was the one who did something “different” with the keyboard. The PC keyboard didn’t follow the conventions set on IBM mainframe terminals or the conventions set on minicomputers and ASCII terminals at the time. The PC keyboard did stupid things like put the control off to the lower left of the keyboard. #1 gripe I have against the PeeCee keyboard was the relocation of the Control (CTRL) key. For an Emacs user, this key simply cannot be relocated away from the left of the “A” key. With the Mac, I can put the control key back where it belongs - to the left of the “A” key.

I never have the problem with Apps you describe. I’ve seen Apps fail or terminate, and I get a dialog box telling me that they’ve hoarked up a furball and would I like to look at the problem, send an error report or just ignore the situation?

As for applications: You can download OpenOffice or NeoOffice. Free. Works as well or better than MS Office in all aspects but the most complicated macros for Excel. OpenOffice or NeoOffice are free. There’s even AutoCAD on OS X again, after more than a decade, and the UI is the best of both the PeeCee version of AutoCAD and the Mac GUI. Very, very slick.

As for video games: Nope, never been into video games. When I touch a computer, it isn’t for entertainment. Never ran video games when I used a PeeCee. Never run them now. Don’t have a gaming console, never will. The last game I played on computers was “ADVENT” in high school on a PDP-11/03 under RT-11 on a DECwriter II terminal.

101 posted on 04/26/2011 1:03:21 PM PDT by NVDave
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To: dangus

“To save money, you can get Open Office, but surprisingly it works better on Windows.”

NeoOffice is the way to go. The internal code is from OpenOffice, but the user interface has been ported to MacOS (Cocoa). It works well.

For a very nominal amount you can also go with iWorks, which is great for most uses.

102 posted on 04/26/2011 1:04:00 PM PDT by PreciousLiberty
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To: dangus; balch3
It’s very difficult for someone used to a Windows computer to acclimate to a Mac.

It was quite easy for me. The interface is quite intuitive, of course it was designed that way from the beginning. My biggest problem was learning new keyboard shortcuts. People report quite good results handing the elderly a Mac and having them up and running with minimal instruction.

The only reason Macs don’t get viruses is that virus-makers want to do the most damage they can for the least effort

Well, there is the hardened UNIX architecture. There are 50 million Macs on the market, most without any protection. That's a big, juicy target, especially considering that the demographic tends twoards people with more money to steal from. So far the most we've seen in the wild is the rare trojan that requires an admin password to install. Almost everything else has been in the lab, usually by created by those trying to sell antivirus products.

Windows Vista bombed because its hardware requirements pushed the limits of what was available.

Vista bombed because it sucked. The development effort was plagued by mismanagement and changing scope so much that it had to be suspended and eventually restarted from scratch near the end. The bloated hardware requirements were just an effect of the core problem, and exacerbated by pressure from Intel and poor advertising strategy. Another was trying to tack on Mac-style security to a very poorly designed and factored security system, which resulted in UAC popping up every other time you clicked on something. One example going back before XP, if you want to prevent someone from changing the clock, you also prevent him from opening the clock at all, because the entire thing was under one privilege set. Mark Russinovich's complete refactoring of the whole security system is one of the reasons Windows 7 is so much less annoying, almost Mac-like.

. Windows 7 is more scalable, and stopped the trend of continually upping the ante of the hardware needed to run it.

As an example of how bad Vista was, Windows 7 will run well on hardware that would have had Vista crawling. When people with a Vista machine ask what they can buy to make their computer faster, my first suggestion is usually to wipe it and install Windows 7.

103 posted on 04/26/2011 1:09:42 PM PDT by antiRepublicrat
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To: GladesGuru
The computer world has had the term Apple Tax around for years for a reason.

The reason being there are a lot of idiots out there who don't know what they're talking about. At least the term "Microsoft tax" actually had some factual merit a while back.

104 posted on 04/26/2011 1:11:38 PM PDT by antiRepublicrat
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To: antiRepublicrat

Apple is going to miss Vista.

105 posted on 04/26/2011 1:14:50 PM PDT by tacticalogic
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To: balch3; Pikachu_Dad; pgyanke
I had a thought... if he doesn’t need mobility and mainly wants to use it in his lazy boy... get a Mac Mini and hook it up to the TV. Use a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse and save about $2,000. As an added bonus, he’ll be able to stream Internet video content directly to his TV. That’s what I’d do in this scenario.

36 posted on April 26, 2011 1:45:14 AM EDT by pgyanke

No, he should not get a Macbook pro. Not just for web surfing. Instead, get him an iPAD2 . . . Only $500
Apple sells a wire to connect an iPad2 to a TV, so that would make the iPad option viable from the viewability POV.
That would leave the question of the need for a keyboard, in the unlikely event that he wants to do enough text input to matter. But there's an add-on for that, to.

Advantage over the MacBook pro, obviously, of almost $2K, plus less concern over heat on the lap.

Plus, of course, when he isn't on the couch he can take his iPad with him. Throw in an extra few bucks for iLife and iWork for completeness.

The other side of that ledger, he doesn't have as much storage capacity for photos - but the photos he does have, he has.

But hey, he pays his money and he takes his choice. I wouldn't worry too much about buyer's remorse in any event. If he's willing to spring for $2500, Apple will definitely provide the user experience he expects - most esp. if he lives in shouting distance of an Apple Store.

106 posted on 04/26/2011 1:16:49 PM PDT by conservatism_IS_compassion (DRAFT PALIN)
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To: antiRepublicrat

The only reason “Microsoft Tax” is not still valid is competition. Apple has managed to stile any valid competition. Apple users therefore still pay the Apple Tax.

107 posted on 04/26/2011 1:19:43 PM PDT by GladesGuru (In a society predicated upon freedom, it is essential to examine principles,)
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To: allmost
Unix theft IMO.

Show me where Apple does not comply with the BSD software license for its use in OS X.

108 posted on 04/26/2011 1:21:55 PM PDT by antiRepublicrat
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To: antiRepublicrat

I’d prefer to leave this thread alone. Look at the entire history of Apple software development to answer your question.

109 posted on 04/26/2011 1:26:25 PM PDT by allmost
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To: balch3
Google engineer Aaron Boodman gives talk on HTML 5 ...

From Google engineer Ian Hickson's talk on HTML 5 (note title bar):

Google engineer Brad Neuberg gives talk on the future of the Web (note eye candy along screen bottom):

Why is it that those who know computing best do not use Microsoft products?

110 posted on 04/26/2011 1:33:18 PM PDT by cynwoody
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To: NVDave
I have no need to open a terminal window except when I want to play Unix hacker again.

Actually, I have found a need to do that. The OS X GUI has very simple and effective power management, in fact I loved the UPS automatically being a part of it when I plugged it in, instead of having to install drivers and programs. But what's underneath is much more configurable. I wanted to do some power management a bit more fine-grained, so I had to drop to Terminal and use pmset.

111 posted on 04/26/2011 1:35:09 PM PDT by antiRepublicrat
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To: Swordmaker

If you go here:

You’ll find several apple refurb macbook pro 17” models for a good deal less than $2500. They come with a 1 year warranty (or used to) and you can get an Applecare extended warranty on them.

I’d get the cheapest one of them listed, and then max out its memory.

112 posted on 04/26/2011 1:36:54 PM PDT by Yet_Again
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To: antiRepublicrat

That’s true, but you didn’t NEED to drop into terminal. There are configuration options I set via command lines, but you don’t NEED to do them.

There’s plenty of times you NEED to go mess with regedit on Windows (eg, getting rid of viruses). The first time I have to help someone over the phone get into regedit to recover their machine... you can always hear the fear in their voice when they open that puppy up.

“Am I going to hurt my computer doing this?”

“Yes, unless you do EXACTLY as I tell you...”

“Oh....” (and the whimpering begins...)

113 posted on 04/26/2011 1:38:49 PM PDT by NVDave
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To: cynwoody
Why is it that those who know computing best do not use Microsoft products?

Because to use Microsoft products well, you have to invest a significant amount of time being a computer janitor. Despite the fact that my undergrad degree is in computer science, I choose Apple products because I have better things to do with my time than be a computer janitor.
114 posted on 04/26/2011 1:39:43 PM PDT by Yet_Again
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To: cynwoody

For a professional in large-scale computing like Google, OS X is the best of all possible worlds.

I can run a Windows installation as a guest VM. I can run Linux as another guest VM.

OS X is solid as the host OS.

And then when I need the GNU/FSF Unix-based sw development tools, I can install them onto OS X as if it were any other Unix machine.

The only thing that Macbook Pro’s lack (IMO) is a good old fashioned serial port and built-in modem. The USB dongle solution works, but it isn’t as good as having a built-in port. The Firewire ports are rather cool, especially when there’s problems with your mac or another Mac and you fire up the problem machine in Target Disk Mode. Oh, that’s a clever feature...

115 posted on 04/26/2011 1:44:37 PM PDT by NVDave
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To: dangus
There’s no start menu; instead you use a program called which works sorta like Explorer. There’s a row of icons along the bottom for commonly used applications, called a “dock,” but I still have programs decide to just remove themselves from the dock when I close them, no matter how many times I click, “always show in dock;” there is no desktop icon in the dock to get to a blank icon.

I almost never use the dock. I keep it hidden below the bottom of the laptop screen.

The easiest way to start apps on the Mac is to type Cmd-Space, then start typing the app's name. Watch the Spotlight window in the upper right. Hit Enter when your app appears. Spotlight learns what you look for, so, after a few times looking up an app, the right one will appear after a keystroke or two or three, and you won't even need to look at the list.

Much easier than the dock or keeping the dock stocked with the right set of apps or searching through the Applications folder with Finder!

116 posted on 04/26/2011 1:47:12 PM PDT by cynwoody
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To: dangus; balch3
Lots of true stuff, but some comments for educational purposes:

Each application doesn’t have it’s own menu bar in its own window; there’s one menu bar across the top, and it corresponds to whichever application has “focus.”

That saves screen real estate, promotes the use of motor memory (menu is always in the same place) and leverages Fitts' law, where stuff at the top of the screen is faster to click, even faster than other stuff that might be closer (like an individual app's menu).

there is no desktop icon in the dock to get to a blank icon.

If you meant like Windows' "show desktop," that's pretty much unnecessary once you get used to Expose. What I do miss is the right-click option to create a document of a certain type at that location. I'm sure an AppleScript or something could do it, but I do miss it by default on OS X.

Apple no print screen; no MS Draw; no Notepad (you can download Text Wrangler).

Print Screen on a Mac, saves resultant graphic as a file on the desktop:

No more print screen, bring up paint, paste, and save the file. But if you want it in the clipboard for pasting, add the Control key to the above combos. BTW, you also have video screen recording standard. OS X comes with an almost obscene number of keyboard shortcuts compared to Windows.

Instead of Notepad, you have Text Edit, which is like Word Pad. And Paint? Does anybody use that for anything but pasting screen caps into to save?

And I was totally surprised by the lack of software.

I was surprised by the abundance of software. That is especially true now since you can now use the App Store to safely and securely install free and paid apps. Find an app, click, wait for download and automatic install, click to run. Brain-dead easy, and a lot safer and easier than searching various Internet sites. I quickly got my kids a ton of free kids games that way.

117 posted on 04/26/2011 1:56:09 PM PDT by antiRepublicrat
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To: dangus

Do you really think it’s that difficult for someone used to Windows to get used to a Mac? I’ve only ever had PCs until I got my Mac last fall. I’m older (that’s ALL I’m sayin’ about that!) and it took me about 3 days and I was pretty comfortable. Occasionally I still have problems (mostly little things like with photoshop, but it’s not anything that’s a big problem—mostly because I have a few coordination problems which are peculiar to me).

118 posted on 04/26/2011 1:56:37 PM PDT by brytlea (A tick stole my tagline....)
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To: balch3
I'm on my 3-yr-old 17" MacBookPro ("MBP") -- in my recliner-- right now. I have it on a simple "lap desk" -- a plank laid across the arms of the recliner, with a small pad of "non-skid" rubberized cloth under the MBP to keep it still.

CAVEAT: If he has vision problems, don't waste money on a maximum-resolution screen. The higher the resolution (pixels/inch), the smaller the fonts appear.

Of course, Mac even has a "Increase/Decrease font size" tool you can drag up into the Safari toolbar. Also, you can control font size with "Pinch in/out" gestures on the multi-touch trackpad, too... My eyes are failing, so I use those features all the time.

FWIW, I haven't used a mouse in years, The Mac trackpads are so good that I even use mine for drawing complex graphics -- including creating super-detailed maps.

The 17" is extra-nice for browsing/FReeping. I keep a pair of windows open side-by-side -- and with FR's "slave window" option, I have the forum in the left window and the current thread in the right Window.

Of course, I have nine "desktops" running simultaneously in Spaces. Right now, I'm toggling between FR. designing a presentation in Canvas, and monitoring a desktop with several weather radar screens running. (NE TX is under Tornado Watch -- and has 90 - 125 MPH straight-line winds predicted for this evening!)


If it is what he has his heart/head set on, I don't see how you could go wrong with a 17" MacBook Pro... (For one thing, he'll never "outgrow" it... '-)

119 posted on 04/26/2011 2:02:12 PM PDT by TXnMA ("Allah": Satan's current alias...)
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To: Pikachu_Dad

I have to admit, after years of mostly (not all, but mostly) bad customer service for my many PCs I am blown away by what I get when I walk into the Apple store. They actually know their products and they actually appear to be glad I’m there and want to help me. After my last experience with the Geek Squad at Best Buy I have to say, it’s like bliss... I did joke with my husband that they must spray a pheromone into the air that makes you feel happy, but the truth of the matter is they just give the customer what they want. Good service.

120 posted on 04/26/2011 2:18:54 PM PDT by brytlea (A tick stole my tagline....)
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