Friday, May 06, 2005

Apple shatters Windows with Tiger

Apple shatters Windows with Tiger:
"Apple shatters Windows with Tiger"

A great read from columnist Andy Ihnatko of the Chicago Sun Times.

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How to Switch to a Mac - Part 6 - Will I have the time to invest and learn a new system?

Note: I’ll capture screen shots from my system and either upload the pictures or provide links of the different components and views that are discussed below. Check back in a few days.

Learning to use Mac OS X will take time but Mac OS X is so easy to use, you’ll be productive in a short amount of time. When I switched to a Mac, I felt uncomfortable but over time I’ve found the OS X environment to be more intuitive and easier to use than Windows. In today’s post, I’ll highlight the major components of the OS X environment.

The inviting, beautiful graphical user interface (GUI) to Mac OS X is called Aqua. One of Apple’s slogans is to "Think different", a slogan that sure does apply to Aqua. When one sees the Aqua interface for the first time, they’ll notice the vibrant colors and icons. Although Windows switchers will have to devote time to learning Mac OS X, the process will be streamlined because the OS X environment will be relatively familiar. You’ll find a desktop, windows, folders, menus, navigation, and keyboard shortcuts. In fact, most switchers will appreciate the ease of use and simplicity of OS X, I know I did. Aqua includes a Desktop, Finder, Dock, and Menu bar that work together to help you navigate and organize your Mac environment. The Dock is used to allow you to access your most frequently used applications, folders, and minimized windows.

Most of your work in OS X starts from the Desktop. The first and probably most important icon that you’ll see in the upper right corner of the Desktop is the Macintosh HD. In fact, when you launch OS X for the first time on your new Mac, the Macintosh HD is the only icon you’ll see on the Desktop. You can view the files and applications on your hard drive by simply double-clicking it. When you access the hard drive, the Finder application launches, the Finder will be described in a bit. You can store documents, folders, files, pictures, and almost anything on the Desktop. When you insert a CD or a DVD into your Super Drive or Combo Drive, OS X intelligently identifies it and creates an icon and shows it on the Desktop. You can double-click it and easily access the files, music, or movie that is on that disk. When you connect an external device to your Mac, OS X immediately knows what kind of device it is and performs a process known as mounting. An icon is shown on the Desktop that corresponds to the type of device that is connected. There is no need to load or install drivers, what a relief for you Windows switchers!

The Finder is what Macintosh users use to navigate around the system. It allows one to access almost anything on your Mac such as hard drives, folders, files, CD/DVD drives, and applications. You’re able to view and access just about anything on your Mac. You can move things around, copy files and folders, perform searches, and delete things you don’t want anymore. Windows users often perform these tasks with Windows Explorer. Finder is more intuitive, flexible, and easier to use than it’s Windows counterpart. There are three ways to view things in Finder, by icon, by list, and by path. Now, let’s talk about the Dock.

You can use the Dock to launch applications. By default, the Dock is the strip of icons located at the bottom of the screen. The dock gives you quick/easy access to your most commonly used applications, files, destinations, and whatever you want to access with a simple click. If you’re not comfortable with the dock on the bottom, you can move it to the left or right side of the screen. You launch an item from the Dock by simply clicking on its icon, the icon pops up out of the Dock to initiate … a really cool effect!. Apple provides you with a pre-configured Dock that has icons for the most commonly used applications that Apple installed with the system such as Finder, Safari, Mail, Address Book, Calendar, and iTunes.

You can customize the Dock to meet your needs. You can add or remove any icon by simply dragging the icon into or out of the Dock. A small black triangle below an application’s icon indicates that it is currently running. Multiple applications can run at the same time on a Mac, thus you’ll see several black triangles. You can view the contents of a folder in the Dock by holding down the mouse button over the folder. You can further define the behavior of the dock via the Apple Menu or in the System Preferences screen. You can control the size of the Dock, its scrolling behavior, its position on the screen, its minimizing behavior, allow it to auto hide, and add or remove icons. The Dock is divided into two unequal halves, partitioned by a vertical bar. The left side is for application icons whereas the right side is for documents, folders, and the Trash icon. You can easily rearrange the position of items in the Dock. All you do is click and drag the icon to the desired location. Note however that applications must stay on the left.

The Trash is used as a temporary folder for deleted items. The Trash is located on the right hand side of Dock. The Windows counterpart is the Recycle Bin. There are several ways to send items to the Trash. You can drag and drop files or folders into the Trash, you can use keyboard shortcuts, or you can use the Menu Bar. To view the items in the Trash, you click once on the Trash icon. You can permanently delete items from the Trash by selecting Empty Trash or Secure Empty Trash from the Finder Menu Bar. Once you delete items from the Trash, they’re gone and can’t be recovered.

Menu Bar
You’ll find the OS X menu bar at the top of the screen. The Menu Bar is where one interacts with an application. It’s also the location where preferences and settings can be viewed/adjusted; users can log in and out, and a restart or shutdown sequence can be initiated. The menu bar changes with the current in-use application. When you switch between running applications, you’ll notice that the Menu Bar changes to reflect that running application and it’s associated menu items. What you’ll notice about the Menu Bar is that some applications have different menu items. The Menu Bar changes to reflect the capabilities and options of the application.

One of the most important Menu’s is known as the Blue Apple Menu, it’s located on the far left and has the famous Apple icon. Some of the most important items are:

About this Mac - Lists information about the installed OS version, memory and processor.
System Preferences - Takes you to a special system configuration and settings window
Dock Menu - allows you to customize the Dock
Recent Items - Lists the applications and documents that were recently opened or used
Force Quit - Allows you to quit programs that are unresponsive.
Sleep, Restart, Shutdown - Self explanatory
Log Out - Shuts down all running programs and documents and returns you to the login screen.

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Install Oracle 10g on Mac OS X - Great Link

For all you Oracle DBA's, here's a great link on how to install Oracle 10g Database on Mac OS X. Screenshots are included.

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Wednesday, May 04, 2005

PC Mag gives OS X Tiger 4.5 out of 5 stars

Apple OS X 10.4 review from PC Magazine:

A nice read and evaluation from the Windows centric site and magazine. Overall, their review is highly positive and worth reading. Items reviewed includes but is not limited to the following:

- Spotlight
- Dashboard
- Safari (good comments about private browsing and security)
- iChat AV
- Mail
- Automator

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How to Switch to a Mac - Part 5 - The Misconception: Macs are too expensive

The Misconception – Mac’s are too expensive

Mac’s have always been perceived as too expensive. The phrase “you get what you pay for” truly applies to a Macintosh. As I described in my previous post Which Model to buy ( you are paying for seamless integration, stability, ease of use, and quality engineering. In January 2005 Apple recognized that the price barrier has always made it diffucult for people to Switch To A Mac and addressed the problem by introducing the Mac mini.

The Mac mini is the most affordable Mac available on the market, with a starting price under $500. The Mac mini is an attractive system for switchers. Please refer to this page and look for the post titled "Macworld: Editors' Notes: The Mac mini: Comparing Apples and Oranges" for a comparison between a Mac mini and a Dell Dimension, an interesting read for those of you who are thinking about switching, you might be surprised! Macs have become more affordable in recent months as Apple has rolled out new systems at lower price points. Apple recently release new Powerbooks, and iMac at lower prices.

In reality, Mac’s are not more expensive than their Windows bases counterparts. In fact, one can make the argument that Mac’s may be more cost effective and a better value in the long run. When one takes the seamless integration, stability, ease of use, quality engineering, and low cost of maintenance, into account one can easily conclude that a Mac is not necessarily a more expensive proposition. A Mac doesn’t run the risk of infection from viruses or spyware. These reasons alone will save the Mac user from headaches, frustraction, lost data, compromsed personal information, time, and money. What you get is ease of use and a secure and stable computing experience. As a result, the argument that Mac’s are too expensive no longer applies. Although you can spend between $500 and several thousand for a Mac, stay within your means and get a system that you can grow with.

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Monday, May 02, 2005

How to Switch to a Mac - Part 4 - Mac Hardware & Which Model to Buy

Deciding to purchase a new computer is a much easier task than deciding which model to take home. The task can be so daunting in the Windows world because there are so many different processors (Intel vs. AMD), speeds, RAM types and speeds, video cards, manufacturers, configurations, features, and security problems. If your Windows computer doesn’t come pre-installed with some sort of Anti-Virus or security software, you’re better off not even getting on the Internet. It will only take a few minutes before your system is compromised. There is an emerging trend towards the exploitation of new and unprotected computers connected to the Internet. This is caused by numerous issues:

  • Windows default configurations are insecure
  • By the time you get your Windows system, new security vulnerabilities, viruses, worms, Trojans, and Spyware will likely have emerged since the computer was manufactured. Your system will be vulnerable even if it came with an anti-virus program.
  • Attackers and hackers regularly scan the common broadband and dial-up IP address ranges looking for vulnerable systems.
  • The Internet is circulating with worms that are continuously scanning for vulnerable and new computers to exploit.

The time to exploit an unprotected Windows computer connected to the Internet is often measured in minutes. This is especially true for broadband users. It is entirely possible for Windows users to get exploited through a vulnerability when they are downloading a software patch/fix/update for that vulnerability. Mac’s don’t have this problem. There are no known viruses or Spyware that are able to infect a Mac. Furthermore, all you need to do is enable the built-in UNIX based firewall in Mac OS X before you get on the internet. Once you do that, you know your system is safe. You can then feel safe downloading any OS X updates, including OS X security updates.

When you buy a Windows system, you’re essentially getting a PC kit with components from several different 3rd party vendors. When something goes wrong with the system, you’re likely to have to engage those 3rd party component vendors, especially if your manufacturer’s warranty has expired. Often you’ll be faced with a situation where those vendors will deflect blame to another vendor. You’re often left in the dark and will have to figure out the solution on your own.

Mac’s don’t have this dilemma because the operating system and hardware are designed, built, and engineered by Apple. The advantage is that you get seamless integration with Apple. Apple designed OS X to work with their hardware, whereas Microsoft has to write their OS to work in a “generic” fashion that various 3rd party vendors use. Buying and using an Apple is a great experience. Take it out-of-the-box, plug it in, run your setup, enable the built-in firewall in OS X, and start enjoying. With Apple, everything works together with ease. Consequently, Apple stands behind their products. When something doesn't work, you only have to work with Apple, not numerous 3rd party vendors.

Apple’s vision and hardware have made choosing a Macintosh computer a relatively easy task when compared to a Windows based system. Of course, Apple’s have historically been more expensive than Windows systems but you’re paying for that seamless integration, stability, ease of use, and quality engineering. The introduction of the Mac mini in January 2005 has lowered the cost barrier and is geared towards first time Mac users and switchers.

Apple systems are relatively easy to purchase and configure for your needs. Based on the type of user you are (Read my previous post on What kind of user are you?) you’ll be able to zero in on the type of Mac that will suit your needs. This makes the process simple, you choose the system based on the type of user you are and how you'll use your Mac.

Once you've identified the type of system you want, you either pick a pre-configured system or customize it for your needs. Think about purchasing a Windows based system. You have to compare the systems from numerous vendors. This is a difficult task because there is no way to really conduct an effective comparison. Vendor A may have a faster processor but less and slower RAM, whereas Vendor B may have a somewhat slower processor but more and faster RAM, as well as a larger hard drive. This is where Macs have an advantage, identify the type of user you are then choose your Mac.

Check back for the next update - What to do with your new Mac

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