Friday, November 16, 2007

Mossberg's Mac FAQ

After a long personal hiatus...

In today's Wall Street Journal, personal technology expert Walter Mossberg lists reasons for buying a Mac or sticking to a PC.

Q. Who should consider a Mac?

A. Pretty much every average consumer using a computer should at least look at the Mac. It combines gorgeous hardware with an operating system I consider superior to Windows, with better built-in software. It can even run Windows programs if you buy and install a copy of Windows. And unless you do that, you won't be vulnerable to the vast array of viruses and spyware that threaten Windows users. Only a handful, so far, have been written to run on the Mac operating system, OS X.

Q. Who shouldn't consider the Mac?

A. People who spend much of their time playing cutting-edge games should stick to Windows computers, because there are far fewer games written for OS X. Apple doesn't offer hardware tuned for serious gaming. People looking for the lowest-price PCs should also avoid the Mac, because Apple's cheapest model, the Mac Mini, costs $599.

Another group that should shun Apple's computers are people who depend for support on corporate IT departments that are either ignorant about, or hostile to, the Mac. Finally, if you know and like Windows, and expect mainly to use Windows programs, stick with a Windows PC.

Q. Can I run Microsoft Office on a Mac?

A. Yes. Microsoft makes a Mac version of Office, which uses the same file formats that Word, Excel and PowerPoint for Windows have used for years. A new version of Office for the Mac is due in January and it will handle the new file formats Microsoft introduced this year. But the Mac version of Office omits Outlook. It has a similar program called Entourage, but Entourage can't use Outlook data files. If you want a Mac but must have Outlook, you will have to install Windows.

Q. Can I use all my Windows files on a Mac?

A. Out of the box, Macs can handle all the common file types Windows machines create, including text files, pictures, songs and Adobe PDF files. The Mac even comes with a simple word processor that can open Microsoft Word files.

However, some specialized Windows programs create files that the Mac can't handle out of the box. And the Mac version of Quicken has a difficult time properly handling Windows Quicken files. If you are a Quicken fan, install Windows and run the Windows version.

Q. Can I mix Macs and Windows on the same home network?

A. Macs can plug and play with most brand-name wired and wireless routers, and can share Internet connections with Windows PCs.

Q. How are Macs at Web surfing?

A. Fine. Apple's built-in Safari browser is very good and the Mac version of Firefox is essentially identical to the Windows version. However, Macs lack an up-to-date version of Microsoft's Internet Explorer, so you will have to install Windows if you need IE.

Q. Can Macs run standard peripheral hardware?

A. Macs can run nearly all keyboards, mice and printers that use USB connections, even ones that don't explicitly say they run on Macs.

Q. What desktops does Apple offer for consumers?

A. Apple's main consumer desktop is the one-piece iMac, which I regard as the best consumer desktop on the market. It comes in four models, with built-in 20-inch or 24-inch, flat-panel screens at starting prices ranging from $1,199 to $2,299.

Q. How about Mac laptops?

A. There are two. The entry-level MacBook has a 13-inch screen and a starting price of $1,099. The high-end MacBook Pro comes with either a 15-inch or 17-inch screen and starts at $1,999. Apple currently doesn't offer a smaller laptop for road warriors, but there are persistent rumors that it will do so soon.

Q. What minimum specs should I look for on a Mac?

A. All Macs come with at least one gigabyte of memory -- twice the minimum required for the new version of OS X, called Leopard. If you can, get two gigabytes. Apple charges a lot for extra memory, but you can buy it for less at stores and online providers.

Macs use the same dual-core Intel processors and graphics systems as many mainstream Windows computers; and, as with Windows, I wouldn't pay extra for greater processor speed.

The iMac comes with at least a 250-gigabyte hard disk, and Mac laptop hard disks start at 80 gigabytes. Mainstream Windows desktops typically start with larger hard disks. But Apple offers much larger disks as options, which you should consider if you store a lot of photos, music and video files.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Apple Shares in Correction, Down 21% from Peak

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) lost 2.38% today to close at $117.05. It reached an intra-day peak of $148.92 on July 27. Its record closing high is $146 on the 26th of July. Apple is off by 21.4% from the intra-day high and by 20% from its closing high. Time to buy???

In this market, it is anybody's guess. What I have seen is the argument being made that nothing fundamentally has changed, especially about tech stocks.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Apple, Mac Blogs List

I'm putting together a list of Apple, Mac blogs. I've been meaning to do so for some time. I actually haven't come across a good list of Apple, Mac blogs or even one that ranks them in terms of popularity. Please leave any suggestions in the comments. Thanks!

The Unofficial Apple Weblog

The Apple Blog

Byte of the Apple

CNET News Blog "Apple"

ZDNet Blog -- The Apple Core



iTodd Central

and of course -->

Hello Mac, Bye PC

I had to throw the last one in there...

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Control-Alt-Delete on a Mac = Command-Option-Escape

Interestingly, my iBook runs stable enough that I have not yet needed to reboot the system due to a system freeze or any errors. That's impressive. Even my considerably newer Microsoft Windows-based PCs require what feels like frequent use of Control-Alt-Delete (Ctrl-Alt-Del), if not for a reboot, then at least to close some programs or processes that hang the system.

So if you were wondering, like I have been, the secret keyboard shortcut is Command-Option-Escape for Mac OS X.

This is similar to the old quest to find the Mac equivalent of Alt-Tab, which as I posted earlier, is Command-`. The Command key being the Apple character key. The "`" being right next to #1.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Apple Announces The New iMac: "You can't be too thin. Or too powerful."

According to Apple's website:

The all-new, all-in-one iMac packs a complete, high-performance computer into a beautifully thin design. Available in 20- and 24-inch widescreen models, it includes built-in wireless, Mac OS X, and the new iLife ’08. So within minutes of opening the box, you’ll be doing everything from sharing photos to creating movies to building websites. And it starts at just $1199.

More details here at iMac All-in-Wonderful.

Apple's stock lost about 0.2%, closing at $135.03, but is up 0.64% at $135.90 in the After Hours. Apple was pretty volatile, hitting an intra-day high of $137.24 and trading as low as $132.63.

Monday, August 6, 2007

New iMac Announcement Coming?

Larry Dignan of ZDNet (courtesy of Seeking Alpha) says AppleInsider and Gizmodo "noted last week that Apple had been calling analysts and media members to give them a heads up on the shindig at the company’s Cupertino headquarters. Folks were told that the event is Mac related."

His article on Seeking Alpha goes on to say, "Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster notes that the iMac hasn’t been updated in 334 days compared to the product average of 168 days. In other words, the iMac is overdue for a refresh."

Another article on Seeking Alpha by Notable Calls discusses Munster's research note. He maintained his Outperform and $211 target according to the article.

Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) is up 1.1%, $133 at 1:06p eastern.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Solved: Windows Alt-Tab = Mac OS X Cmd-`

This one had me stumped for a while. Alt-tab is a neat trick that years ago few Windows users at most offices knew about. Teach someone alt-tab and it was like showing them magic. However, since I've been spending time on my Mac more these days (having just began using a Mac for the first time two weeks ago), the alt-tab that I'm used to with Microsoft Windows, only let me toggle through each open application, not the separate windows of each application.

Well, MS Windows' alt-tab is cmd-` (the key next to #1). That won't take long getting used to. And as a bonus, cmd-tab, actually toggles only through the open applications, not the individual windows themselves. This is great, especially when you have a lot going on. Granted, my iBook doesn't allow me to do as much as I like, but when I eventually buy a Mac Book or whatever I get, I'm sure I'll be taking full advantage of it.

Have a great weekend everyone!