Blog:20130708 MacVsPCWoe

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Mac vs PC - a tale of woe[edit]

For the last 7-1/2 years our main computer has been an Apple Mac Powerbook G4 laptop. It's been slowing down for a while as programs become more complex (it's progress I suppose) but late this week it failed to boot to a login prompt. It's served me and my wife very well indeed, being (as near as dammit) 100% reliable. New Apple laptops though are ridiculously expensive. So...

For the last couple of days I've been trying heroically to clean up my wife's old PC (returned from a prolonged spell loaned to her dad) to a point it can be used without constant error messages. And, to a degree, I have succeeded. I use Windows 7 at work on a ridiculously high-end PC. I like its smoothness and the fact it doesn't get in the way of productivity. If the machine ran Windows XP I'd be happier.

Our 'new' home PC is running Windows Vista.

It won't readily upgrade to 7 without graphics hardware changes. I must have downloaded 500MB of OS updates in the couple of days since turning the bloomin' thing on. Enough said.

Browser: Prior to connecting to the internet, updating (if you like) from the expired eSet security suite to Microsoft's equivalent software I was given the option of installing Internet Explorer 9. What an utterly unmitigated disaster of a browser it is! It fails on this PC to even open a second tab... Looking around for a viable alternative I first tried Google's Chrome. And that, dear reader, is where I shall remain. It's fast, it integrates with my Google account really well, synchronises (via a third-party app) with my Android phone's bookmarks (where Firefox on the Mac failed,) and allows me to print from my phone.

iTunes: I tried installing it to re-download my music collection. I downloaded, installed and tried to run it. And failed. Looking through help on the web I followed advice to uninstall and re-install the program. Success! I've installed other stuff too, stuff which requires the installation of system software apparently necessary to the smooth-running of whatever. But why does it have to be like this?

On a Mac, a program install usually consists of downloading a .dmg file, dragging it to the Applications folder and then running that installed file. That's it. Uninstalling is essentially dragging the program icon to the Trash (sure there are files left but nothing which interferes with anything else.) There's none of this downloading what you think is a program, running it only to find out it's the installer which subsequently downloads more components, and which runs another routine then...

And then, to add insult to injury, the printer died.

A Canon Pixma MP600 which too has served us well. Its blacks are black, colours exactly as required, and its photos, on photo paper, are superb! Its resolute failure to turn on yesterday whilst connected to the PC, and then during its subsequent disconnected state, has depressed me. It was a fantastic printer. Our backup, my wife's dad's old Lexmark X3480 is adequate. Enough said.

Yes, I know we're lucky to have the option of a second, available, computer. But a PC running Windows Vista? Come *on*!

Oh, because I don't have a long-enough network cable and there's no wi-fi on-board and I really cannot be bothered to go out and buy a USB dongle, I've connected my old Android phone via USB and am 'tethered' to it to use our home internet connection via wi-fi.

Are you impressed?



Ok, so I'm sat here in the corner, away from everyone, and feeling crap about the prospect of configuring this PC to make it safe for the family to use.