Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Apple Mac: lessons learned (so far) and questions

We run Windows 10 on most of Miss D.'s and my computers, except for one creaky 11-year-old laptop on which I've just loaded Linux Mint, to see whether it can be kept going for a year or two longer (doubtful - it's very slow).  I'm about to buy Vellum, a program that offers very easy and attractive pre-publication formatting of books.  Unfortunately, it only runs on Apple's Mac computer series, so I've got to get my hands on one.  The software is good enough that I'm willing to make that outlay - but I can't afford a new, top-of-the line system.  My budget isn't that large.

Several friends advised me to look for a used Macbook or Macbook Pro laptop computer.  However, there are several catches.  The first is that in 2012, Apple changed their manufacturing methods to ensure that users could no longer upgrade things like RAM or hard disks.  You're stuck with what the factory installed when the computer was built.  Oh, there are work-arounds if you send it back to Apple, to be upgraded by their (expensive) technicians using their (expensive) components;  or, if you're handy with a soldering iron and know computer wiring and architecture well, you might even be able to do it yourself.  However, for most of us (including yours truly) these are not cost-effective options.  Therefore, buying an older Mac comes with built-in limitations, unless one buys a pre-2012 model - in which case one is buying hardware that's several generations out of date.

What's even worse, the prices on used Mac computers are ridiculous!  It's as if the sellers think they're made of solid gold.  I can buy a used PC of similar vintage, power and performance for well under half what most sellers of used Apple computers are asking for what they appear to regard as their "precious" systems - something like this:

(Apple's new prices aren't much better, of course.  I reckon I can buy a comparable PC for about 40% less than Apple's price, across their range.)

However, there's a silver lining to the computer cloud.  If one is willing to go with a desktop system, Apple's "miniaturized" Mac Mini is available brand-new in a basic configuration for $499, and in a more powerful, better-equipped form for $699 or $999.

The lower two of those prices are significantly better than a well-equipped, used Macbook of comparable performance would cost me.  The Mac Mini doesn't come with keyboard, mouse or monitor, but it has standard HDMI and USB 3.0 ports that will work with just about anything you can plug into them.  I have a spare monitor and keyboard, so that's not a problem.

Before I make a final decision, I thought I'd ask my readers - at least, those of you who are familiar with Apple Mac computers.  Does my reasoning make sense to you?  Do you think the Mac Mini is worth its price?  If you've used Vellum, do you think it would run well on the Mini platform?  Would it also serve for common everyday tasks such as word processing, writing a blog, and web surfing?  If so, I might use it for more than just Vellum.

Please add your comments to this post, so we can all learn from your experience.  Thanks.



Keyser Soze said...

If you have a nice monitor, then the mini is a best cost solution. Of course since it is a computer, it will do what you want wrt the internet and other applications. The latest version probably also has a solid state drive. Make sure of that.

Mark said...

I have run both Mac and Windows for years. Yes Macs are more expensive but they tend to remain viable much longer than any of my windows systems. Biggest catch with the current Mac mini is the systems was last refreshed 2014.


I would recommend something that has been refreshed in the last 12 months.

Alex said...

Check out macofalltrades.com They have the best prices I have found for used macs. My main computer at home is a 2008 Mac Pro bought from there 4 years ago. Does everything I need a home computer to do.

They have great prices on Mac Minis too.

Ed Skinner said...

I write on a MacBook Pro, the notebook I bought upon retirement three years ago. I gaven't looked back, either to work, nor to non-Apple platforms. Yeah, it really is that much better.

I write in Scrivener and upgraded to 3.0 immediately. Big win for big, novel length works. The rewrite with three embedded character arcs is comfortably architected, the research is at my fingertips, and the story re-telling is well underway.

Dunno about Vellum except that it seems to be the preferred solution for Scrivener authors who want more fine-tuning of the final look. (Check the two Facebook groups on Scrivener, Mac and generic. Very helpful!)

Matt Sorrell said...

I have a Mac Mini that I bought when my laptop died. I went with the low-end specs and while it works I'm somewhat regretting it. Buy as much RAM as you can afford when you buy the system. For something like Vellum, I imagine the CPU is not as important as RAM. Don't worry too much about disk. You can always plug an external USB3 hard drive into it for backups (that's what I've done).

I just wish I'd gone with more RAM, and possibly at least a step better on the CPU.

ZenDarb said...

I can only share my experience - Years ago a buddy of mine convinced me to move to the "Apple universe" when it was time for me to get a new computer. I never looked back.

I have found that over the years I have to upgrade my computer MUCH less frequently - my apple computers just lasted longer before succumbing to the inevitable advances in software. Another bonus is getting things to work.

Now, Windows may have changed (again, I never looked back) but it used to be when something didn't work on a Windows machine you had to dig into settings, sub-settings, and sub-sub-settings to find an option you forgot to click. The Apple software just seemed to work (I guess computers for dummies). When I do seem to get stumped on something, I just ask myself, 'how should it be?' and then viola! It just seems the options flow naturally - if that makes sense.

Anyway, good luck with the choice!

Anonymous said...

Buy thru the clearance and refurbished store at apple


Mac mini $419

Buy apple care $99 3 years parts labor and phone support (it's worth it).

$419 + 99 = $ 518 + tax. shipping is free and returns are free 30 days

If you don't like it return.

Anonymous said...

I am an original Mac user (from 1984). I also worked for a long time in computer IT support. I use older Macs at home that I can boot into Snow Leopard (Mac OS X.6). I have also stockpiled a number of those older Macs over the years (one of the advantages of working in IT), so I have a decent source for spare older hardware.

Why do I stick with the older Macs? For a number of reasons. For one, I DETEST any Mac OS newer than X.6. In X.7, Apple took away the scroll bar arrows, and that was a deal breaker for me. They also did away with the Save As command, and big no-no for me. And they have continuously made user interface changes, all for the worse. It seems they want us desktop computer users to use our computers as if they were an ipad or an iphone. I do a lot of speadsheet work, also edit sheet music. I can be very accurate with a mouse click, not so much with a "finger tap" on an "i" device.

And yes, Apple has made it impossible for users to fix their own computers. I will NEVER buy anything that I can't fix myself! I also won't buy any "i" devices where I have to pay Apple (or any other company) a huge labor charge just to change a battery! I originally bought an Apple II computer in 1982 because I could open the top of the computer and replace integrated circuits, add circuit cards, etc. I was about to buy a Radio Shack TRS-80 at the time, but Radio Shack wouldn't let me upgrade the memory in their computer without voiding the warranty. Instead, they wanted me to pay them $20 labor (at that time) so they could plug in some more memory chips. That was nonsense, especially as I was working as an electronics tech, and I worked with circuit boards all day long!

I also REFUSE to use Apple's AppStore, or to have to have an AppleID. Those things caused all sorts of problems trying to support computers in a business environment. We had to know which AppleID applied to each computer just to be able to apply updates.

And as far as running older Macs like I do, I have a number of ways to keep those older Macs secure online, even though Apple no longer publishes security updates for those old Macs.

Also, I believe it was around 2011 when Apple changed some hardware specs so that you had to buy a replacement hard drive from them. You couldn't just use a generic hard drive, or else the cooling fan would run at full blast. Did I mention that the hard drive you had to then buy from Apple cost way more than an equivalent PC (generic) hard drive? Yet another deal breaker.

I also supported Windows PCs and servers (and Linux servers, too). While Windows 7 was the best Windows for desktop PCs, Windows 10 sucks. We had to try very hard where I worked to keep Windows 10 off the PCs.

On last thing.... The best way to speed up an older Mac is to install an SSD in place of the spinning hard drive. Apple has made sure that if you install their newer OSes on older Macs, that those Macs will run as slow as molasses. (Naturally, they do this because they want you to buy a new computer!) But put in an SSD, and suddenly that Mac is very speedy again.


Antibubba said...

See if the Apple Store will throw in a Starbucks gift card for green tea soy lattes.

Uncle Lar said...

I ran a PC computer lab while in grad school, but have always used Macs at home starting with a Mac Plus around 1985.
Working at NASA Mission Operations Lab we were a Mac shop because we could generate the graphics the astronauts demanded for their ops checklists. I was heavily involved in the transition from a few dedicated machines to a computer issued to every employee.
I generally purchase a refurbished machine either from the Apple store or an outfit called Other World Computing. Apple refurbs from the store are a bit more pricey, but come with a full warranty.
About 2012 there was a fundamental architecture change and you will find that machines before that point can no longer accept the latest OS. Officially Apple only maintains security updates for current and last two major OS releases, so an older machine cannot help but age off.
I too have issues with the decision to incorporate ever more of the IOS device look and feel into Apple desktop and laptop machines, but I've found that there are generally work arounds for most of my complaints.
Always max your ram, of course storage can be added externally, the Mini is no power machine, but should do fine for browsing, text editing, and document processing with Vellum. I'd add the free app Calibre to your toolbox for editing document metadata and conversion to epub and mobi e-book formats.
Also, while not entirely bulletproof you will find that a Mac is very much less likely to catch a virus through internet connections.

jreader said...

Microcenter carries a good selection of refurbished Apple machines.
I'll leave it to the Apple users here to suggest if any of them are a good deal.
My experience is Winders and Linux.

Chas Clifton said...

I have had two Minis. They are a good value, especially if you already have keyboards, etc. lying around.

MadMcAl said...

There are a few alternatives to buying a Mac.

1. Install Mac Os on a PC.

You need to get Mac Os from somewhere, but that shouldn't be too hard (although less than legal probably).

2. Using Macincloud.com to rent a Mac, from $1/h up.

3. Hire a Macuser with Vellum to format your Books. According to https://www.kboards.com/index.php?topic=229921.0 that is still cheaper then to buy a refurbished Mac.

Bruce Edwards said...

Run away from Crapple, avoid it like the plague.
My wifes office had so much trouble with Apple gear on their network the IT dept no longer allows Apple gear to connect to the network. Networked or stand alone, my wife hates Apple computers. I haven't used Apple since the IIC and the original MAC.

Midknight said...

Peter - be glad to help answer any questions you've got. I've been doing computer consulting for small businesses for 15+ years now

That said, the minis are likely your best bet. You may need an adapter based on your video connections but so many desktops and laptops are going DP, miniDP, and HDMI these days that it's become the norm to have to mix and match to displays

They also can - at least through the 2014 but not later - upgrade the RAM, though if you can find a refurb on the apple store, or used via small dog electronics, with enough that's got a more current processor, go for it.

Insofar as price - until recently it came down to build quality, form factor engineering (though less of that) and the options that were standard. I've dealt with job lots of $600 - $800 i5 laptops for schools and the breakage rate on those has been much higher so that the "more expensive" mac laptops tended to have the same overall cost with fewer broken cases, screens, lost keys, etc., but if you're just looking at processor speed and screen size, sure.

FWIW - I damn near bought a windows laptop last year, but there was literally nothing on the market that a) wasn't a brick, b) had a high rez display, and had a high-power chip, RAM, SSD storage on the motherboard, etc.. I could get "all but one" but most, like the X1 Carbon I nearly chose, had standard 1080p screens and no graphics card, and if they had graphics cards, were bricks.

I literally could not get "a macbook pro 15" with discrete graphics but not provided by apple" from anyone for any amount of money. And I can tolerate that bloody touch bar but that's about it - one reason, along with wanting TB3 but still wanting to use older USB-C ports without adapters, that I was looking.

Since then I'm keeping an eye on the Razer line as they have discrete graphics in a reasonably slim format, but the $2000 model is still 1080p (hey, they expect you to hook it up to a TB3 dock for more graphics and bigger displays) due to it's gaming focus, and the one that's a step up with a high rez display is a 17" at $4000

And that's the point, you can get cheaper, but to do that you're sacrificing size, build quality, or some feature.

That said, for a lot of people, that's more than good enough. As I type this on my MBP downstairs, with my hand built desktop at my home office upstairs.

Will McKeon said...

You may also want to checkout either https://www.macincloud.com/ or https://www.macstadium.com/. Both of those companies seem to allow you to rent a mac os virtual machine in the cloud. I've never used them, but they may provide an alternative to buying a mac.

Ray said...

Windows 10 I have huge privacy concerns - the sending of keystrokes to ms is a deal breaker.

My daughter has a Mac, 7 years old, and still works nicely.

New macs don’t have a cd/dvd drive. And some only one connector. Amazing how thin the laptops are.

My family is in process of moving from a PC to a Mac.

Glen said...


Whatever hardware you select, take a least one week off from writing. Using that time to completely master the new machine and the Vellum software. Backups and document recovery should be easy and automatic for you. Working with printer and auxiliary equipment should be effortless before you return to writing.

Learn by heart the default settings on your writing programs, and learn how to adjust each setting.

Trying to learn on the fly is a sure plan for frustration. It is worth the money and time to take online classes for your software packages. Apple has some fair online tutorials, but they are not well set up to be a series of lessons. It may be wise to seek a formal online class in Macness as well.

best of luck,

Glen in Texas

Peter B said...

Yes, all the every day stuff is easy. MS Word/Office are fine on a Mac, OpenOffice is free and decent. If you want polyglot support (including right to left languages) in a word processor Mellel is terrific. A bit quirky, from a great company to deal with.

RE: Installing Mac OS on a PC:
Yes, it can be done. Some hardware configurations work better than others.

BUT, they don't call it "Hackintosh" for nothing. I like the mini, but as other commenters have mentioned, Apple hasn't refreshed the line in a while. So I got a good deal on an Intel NUC, an SSD, and some RAM.

About 40 hours later, it seems to be stable but I still can't boot it without the install stick, and sound is flakey.

It was an interesting project, and I will probably take another stab at refining it soon.

I've also been troubleshooting Mac OS for many years and while I don't speak fluent Unix (which is the DNA of Mac OS) I do use the Terminal and command line stuff on occasion.

To make a long story short: for what you want, don't go there.

A Mini with SSD and lots of RAM and AppleCare are your best bet if you don't decide to hire somebody to do it for you.

Don't forget your backup strategy, which may need modification for the new platform. Apple's built in Time Machine works, but you may like other approaches better.

I usually only buy AppleCare on laptops, but for a MacOS newbie, I think it would be worthwhile. I've been very pleased with Apple's product support, including support for the OS features (if you're using a machine they've built, of course.)

Midknight said...

Time machine is OK

That said

For offsite backups - I strongly prefer backblaze at this point

For onsite, Time Machine is great, but I strongly recommend a full up directly attached desktop drive with its own power supply.

Anonymous said...

Occam's Razor: avoid hacks/mods unless you are really and truly a geek. Legion are those who tinker and screw up, and then chase their tail for eternity.

Like the poster above said, buy a refurb Mac: https://www.apple.com/shop/browse/home/specialdeals/mac

I used PC's from the early 80's (286) up until 2006. Switched to Mac and never looked or went back.

Kentucky Packrat said...

I'm going to second the refurbished store for Apple. Apples (and most computers) have three basic drop-dead times: 0 to 30 days, 1 year, and 3 years. The people who make computer warranties are smart: they make most last a year and most extended warranties last 3 years because they match the numbers.

If you buy refurbished, then most parts are already at least 30 days old, and possibly over a year. Buy AppleCare, and you get past the 3 year "dead zone". You could make a decade on the system.

Normally, I'd agree with advising that you wouldn't want to buy a Mini. They are terribly underspeced right now compared to the new systems. That said, if you're not compiling or Photoshopping, you're not going to miss much of the power in the new chips.

Buy as much memory as you can afford. I'd sacrifice CPU for memory these days.

Reverend Ken said...

Do yourself a favor and format any windows crap and install any linux/unix system to replace the windows spyware

lee n. field said...

Re Mint Linux on old laptops, bump the RAM to 4GB if possible, install a small solid state drive, and install the version with the Mate desktop. You should be OK with that, if you processor is tolerable.

(The laptop in the bedroom herre is old enough to have a "Designed for Windows Vista" sticker, meaning ~2006-8 vintage. 2GHZ Core 2. Set up like this, it runs acceptably. IMHO & YMMV.)

MattK said...

I agree that the Mini is probably the most cost-effective way to go in your situation. But I also agree that you should get it with maximum RAM if possible. Although for your use case the 16GB option on the mid-tier and high end model might be overkill. My 2013 MacBook Air gets along just fine crunching Office docs, email, surfing the Internet, running music notation software, and playing the occasional game with the 8GB it's got. I would definitely consider spending to upgrade the default ATA hard drive with an SSD or a Fusion drive however. It will vastly improve your user experience.

My experience with Mac hardware also has been that it needs replaced/repaired far less often than Windows machines, which winds up making it worth the extra money. My MacBook Air is coming up on 5 years old, still works like a champ, and my only complaint about it is that the battery has now depleted from truly amazing 10-12 hour life to 4-5 hour "just like a regular Windows laptop" battery life.

Tregonsee said...

And on the Linux front try Ubuntu Mate (https://ubuntu-mate.org/blog/). It's an Ubuntu variant intentionally created for older lower performance machines. I have a 2005 Hp laptop with a cheesy 1.6 Ghz core duo chipset, 2Gb physical memory and a 100G hard drive. Pure Ubuntu was sluggish at best and ate 40% of the disk space. Mate runs fine (in fact down right snappy) uses probably 20-25% of the disk and has half a dozen UI variants including a Unity look alike(mutiny) a Windows look alike (Redmond) and a mac look alike (Cupertino). You'll want to load it up on USB Stick and test boot with that. Only issue I had was a little fiddling to get the wireless networking to work. Given you have Mint up sounds like that was a non issue on your machine (or you conquered it). Only real limitation is I had was that Core Duo is 32 bit so there are some applications I wanted (e.g. discord) that only have 64 bit implementations (and no source to build from...). Of course it's not Linux' fault that my ancient laptop is 32 bit :-).

Chris Nelson said...

If you really need a application for your livelihood, then get the operating system/hardware to run it. Listen to the advice of the people that know the Apple environment. Do the backups and have a spare machine availble if productivity is important. Having a working spare computer as saved the day for many people.

Richard said...

Lots of good comments here so I will be brief.

- total cost of ownership for macs is much lower than for PCs ( I have and have run apple, windows, and linux for years and this holds very true over time)

- current minis are old tech, rumor has new ones coming ‘someday’, buy a 2-3 year old used imac with lots of ram

- look into scrivener. good stuff for writers. devonthink for gathering and organizing research materials

Anonymous said...

As a life long Apple user, and an ex-eployee of theirs, here's some of my thoughts. The software you're interested in running requires at least macOS 10.11 (current version is 10.13). That puts a minimum bound on what you need to be a 2009 or better model system (technically for some you can go lower, but 2009 is the safe cutoff). The current version of macOS requires a late 2010 / early 2011 cutoff (again with some exceptions). Apple tends to release a new version of the OS once every year these days, and developers tend to continue support for the last 3-4 versions of an OS. So given that the current iteration of mac minis is from 2014, your software should run and you should be good for OS updates for a few more years.

That said, Apple's official policy is that hardware becomes "vintage" after 5 years, and obsolete after 7 years from the last date of manufacture. When a product becomes vintage, they discontinue spare parts manufacturing. It may be possible to get replacement parts from service providers, but there's no guarantee. If you buy a used device, you should consider if its been superseded with a new model and how long parts will be available if you need them.

If it were me, and I could afford it, I would go with the laptop or iMacs rather than the mac mini. They tended to put better hardware in the laptop, and bigger desktop machines. To establish a point of reference, I'm a professional software developer, I'm using and do work with a 2014 macbook pro, (one of the MGXA2LL/A models if you search macofalltrades.com). I bought it new, replacing a 2008 model which had met a physical rather than technological death, it's still my daily work computer, and I expect to get at least another 3 years out of it before it starts feeling too old to handle the work load I'm throwing at it. The large amount of RAM is a big contributor to that, as is the solid state drive, which you would need to choose as upgrade options to the mac mini. Considering a used "good condition" version of my laptop is available for $1300, I'd consider long and hard, especially if you're looking at either of the two higher end minis. The only sticking point is the relatively paltry 256GB solid state drive, which is upgradeable with some patience and a steady hand, but I've solved with a bigger off device storage system.

If portability isn't a concern, an used iMac might buy you better specs at the same price point as the mac mini.

No matter which you choose you'll be fine for day to day work, and having downloaded it (and with the caveat that I don't have a full manuscript to load into it) Vellum does not appear to be a particularly resource hungry program.

In short, if you're budget constrained, a mac mini will work, but you're using relatively dated hardware for something you're buying new. A used iMac can be had for about the same price with better hardware (if roughly the same vintage) if portability isn't a concern. If portability is a concern, the laptops, especially of the 2014 vintage (same model year as the mac minis) can be had for "relatively" cheap and have good longevity. Better prices still if you can deal with a 13 inch screen rather than a 15 inch.

Lastly don't discount craigslist as an option for a used mac. As long as you're allowed to check over the working system in person, you can get the serial number from the "About This Mac" options under the "Apple Menu" (apple icon in the upper right corner of the screen) and you can validate on Apple's website how much warranty is remaining as well as any potential recalls.

c-90 said...

Everyone who works with linux pc's knows about the WINE program that allows windows programs to *mostly* work inside a windows virtual machine. I wonder if there's a Apple OS version one?

C. G. R. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
C. G. R. said...

Up until 3 years ago I worked as a pen tester an I used a Mac Mini to carry all of my virtual lab environment wherever I had a job. However I used a VMware ESX and accessed all the vm's remotely which is definitely not your scenario. For your use case the Mac Mini is a better option than Air or Air Pro but way to expensive from my perspective. You could use a much more affordable PC with Ubuntu or even Mint and use Qemu to run Mac OS X for your application. It's really not that complicated and you could slowly switch to open source software letting all that expensive crapware (Win or Mac) behind...

Douglas2/Unknown said...

I'm using a couple of 2014 minis for video work, and they are fine machines. Certainly the cheapest way to get into the mac universe with a new/refurbished machine.

I concur with vendor names I've seen from the other commenters for good value on used/refurbished machines. I'd go for a refurbished with the Applecare service plan, rather than new. The Apple-store refurbished prices are great.

Like many of the others, I use both current windows and current Mac machines daily, find fewer frustrations with the Macs, and find the prices to be fully in line with the quality of the hardware you are getting.

I'd go with the middle model of the three processor speeds. For page layout, the advantages of the faster processor won't be noticed.

Kirkster said...

I had my last MacBook Pro since 2012 it was the first generation with a Retina display. I bought it new with the to order options of 16gigs of ram, ~700Gigs of SSD drive and the fastest processor in the custom build list. It was spendy but I uses it for work and literally everything else in my life (Video Editing, VMware emulation with 4 virtual machines running, Audio work, etc).

In all the years up to July of last year it was only down for repair once when I closed a sharp metal USB cap in the lid and cracked the screen, Used it that way for two weeks until I got back in country. I would probably just now be looking at replacing it instead of last July when it started acting a bit flakey after I ran it over with my truck coming home from a racing event at 2 AM.

I did that in May and was horrified, the little android tablet I use to run my racing data capture program was shattered. With much dread I opened the MacBook Pro and in 3 seconds I had the login screen up and logged in. The screen did not break, everything functioned just fine. Though when the screen was displaying a black image I could see the keyboard and track pad imprints on the screen in a pretty rainbow, and the Body of the computer had a distinct bow to it. Since it was racing season I really did not want to replace it just yet, and it was just fine for the next two months when it started to act a bit flakey for some unknown reason.

So in my experience with Macintosh computers going from 1985 - 1996 (4 years of windows and working on windows) then 2001 to today I have learned a few things. Generally your lifespan out of a Mac/MacBook Pro is going to be somewhere around 6 to 7 years. It will still work fine at the end of that time if you don't run it over with a truck, but the advances in technology will have finally caught up to it. I was really a bit surprised that my New MacBook Pro did not feel leaps and bounds better than my 2012 MBP but I do custom order mine with everything maxed out.

Yes MacBooks have a higher up front cost but the useful longevity of the machine pays for that upfront cost 3 or four times. In all those years of owning my last MBP the only down time was getting the screen replaced and upgrading the system to the latest OS version every year. I only shut the computer down a couple times a year and I can't recall a single technical problem that I had with the various versions of Mac OS. No Malware, No Adware, No Viruses, I run a virus scanner but don't really recall ever having it catch anything (except for the thumb drives from the locals in Jordan when I was there, it was funny that their virus detection software would not find the issue but the MBP was not effected and all of the local Jordanians would bring their thumb drives past for me to clean the virus off of them).

You are going to use this as a tool for your work so you need to decide if you want portability over a fixed location.

The Mini's are great (I have 2), though a bit behind in the upgrade cycle right now so expect a new one this year.

The MacBooks can be had used at a premium because they do last a lot longer than a PC. The new ones are not really that unreasonable when you look at the total package. It is also going to be a work expense if you deduct that kind of stuff off of your taxes.

MacMall generally has good prices on the whole line.

Personally I will never slog through the hell that is Windows again. I want to use my computer to do work, I don't want to work on my computer.

Linux is great but not really a productivity tool, and you really have to like working on your computer to run it productively.

Good luck, you won't ever look back...

Post Alley Crackpot said...

If you want to try out Mac stuff, why not try out one of the VirtualBox images that are available for MacOS X, just to see if you're actually going to like it?

You'll need to learn a little bit about VirtualBox so you can do the tweaks that'll make it work, but they're not nearly as horrible as the "Hackintosh" stuff that's required to make the OS run on bare metal. MacOS X Sierra runs OK with only 4 GB of RAM on a 64-bit system.

As for future-proofing, why not find a top-end laptop that you can load up with 32 to 64 GB of RAM and two different types of SSD storage? With that you can convert all of your old OS installs into virtual machines (with VirtualBox, or even VMWare) and continue to run them on the new laptop.

I learned a lot with my Mac VM experiment: I learned how much I don't like MacOS X, so I only use it for stuff where I have no other choices.

Dwan Seicheine said...

I bought a nook hd+ for $39. I rooted it, installed what I wanted and then plugged in aan active usb hug to it.

I can type, browse, connect to keyboards, mice, external hard drives, thumbdrives, read my ebooks....

I usually use it just to read ebooks, but I CAN use it as a computer on the go.

Beats the living shit out of the ipad or the ibook.
$39 dollars!
email me if you want to know how I did it and where I got it.

Fritz (aka leaperman)

Dwan Seicheine said...

Damn typos!

Kell said...

Couple of things:
I work in IT, and I've used and supported both Macs and PCs.

My first suggestion would be to determine if you really need Vellum, or if there's a suitable Windows-based software package that'll work for you. If that's $250, not spending the extra money on hardware it turns out you don't really need is probably a good way to go.

Second, definitely rent some time on a Mac VM as mentioned above. The leap from a Windows OS to a Mac OS can be maddening for a lot of people, especially if they aren't technically inclined. Spend $20 to check out the OS and functionality and figure out if it's going to drive you crazy before you go and spend hundreds or thousands on hardware of your own.

Third, it seems to me that Apple is trending down when it comes to OS design. Since the death of Jobs I've seen a lot of bloat in both OSX and iOS. They are hanging a lot more bells and whistles on things and damaging a lot of what made the platform attractive for people.

Finally, as a professional I find I prefer a desktop PC for power and a Surface Pro for portability. Windows 10 is a great OS for devices with touchscreens and the like. However, a lot of what I do probably requires more capability than what you need. Consider EVERYTHING you want to do and make sure you can do it on whatever platform you choose. The last thing you want to do is find out your favorite photo editing software doesn't work on your new computer...

Richard said...

very good price on a relatively current MacBook that will give a lot of service


jon spencer said...

Right now, I am using a 2008 MacBook (not a Pro) which I bought refurbished from the Apple store in late 2008.
Finally this year it will not be able to run the High Serria OS.
Before you buy, I highly recommend making a reservation at a Apple store's to talk to their "Geniuses" about what you want your next computer to do and how long you want it to last.
Then look at this site from Apple to shop.
If you do decide to buy, get the Apple Care too.

C. S. P. Schofield said...

I’m not a tech, but I did marry one, before she burned out. She loathed Windiws machines, feeling that they combined the tech problems of high powered workstations (like Sun systems) but lacked the power. For home use she favored Apple, from the Apple II on, except for a few miserable years whenshe was quilting for a hobby, and the design software wouldn’t run on a Mac. From what I observed, she coukd have save herself a great deal of grief if she’d written hersenf a Mac version from scratch.

My observations;

Apple products are hell to fiddle with if you are the kind of person who likes to get hands on with the guts. They are more like appliances than tools. This can be infuriating if you are the kind of person who builds his own electronics. For me, it’s a relief.

It used,to be said that 90% of all computer viruses were written for Windows and of the remaining 10%, almost all were written for Unix. Whether that is still true, with the IPhone being such a must-have fashion accessory, I don’t know. I DO know that I have messed around on the internet for twenty years, only used anti-virus software sporadically, and have never had a serious virus problem.

Macs last for,so long that my most frequent issue with them has been that cable and connection standards shift before the core stops running, so I replacemthe computer because some periferal has broken and I can’t get a replacment that plugs in. Amd that problem isn’t frequent.

Anonymous said...

I've been using both Macs and PCs since the start. Even had access to Mac Color a year before general release back in the mid-80's. Traveled Europe with a Columbia MPC Portable which ran both DOS and COM....

Consider my time too valuable to not have state of the art gear, mostly from reliability and performance aspects. So have a a monster custom-built i7 Win10 Pro machine and the biggest baddest iMac to use.

Little less fussy about disposables like smartphones, pads and laptops, though I prefer Apple except for a Panasonic ToughBook running Win7 that goes out for rough-n-ready use.

I switch either the main windows PC or the iMac every couple years, intending that no machine is older than 4-5 years old. Both have local hardened backup drives, and the usual consumer level TimeCapsule sort of incremental backups are running.

I wouldn't even screw with an older version of Windows or MacOS unless I had VERY security controls in place.

Now to be clear the latest have their issues for security as well, including my suspicions about certain issues that are perhaps too paranoid to go on about here.

But at least the latest is not open to every exploit any 12 year old kid can pull off.

Now behind the appropriate Hardware/Software protections I do run legacy gear. Even recently shut down my old OS2-Warp machine as the need for the specialized "abandonware software" it hosted finally ended.

I think that OS2-Warp box was down only once a year on schedule for its entire life.

I've got a MacMini somewhere in the "computer junkyard" along with about every iMac version. Never bothered to recycle them. Did heave out the Sun Workstation and a Lisa one of the family dragged home though.

I'd go for a good modern iMac and stop playing cheap-Charlie on the costs. If you actual buy the productivity software for a Windows machine the resulting costs for a usable setup is not very far apart.

YMMV but once you get acclimated to the iMac you will wonder why you screwed around with anything else.

I've seen you gun posts, and realize you do understand true value over other measures like costs.

You know it might be useful to see if you can borrow or rent an iMac for a couple weeks to give it a whirl.