Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Mac or PC Part 3b: Operating System - Perks

Welcome to Part 3b of the Mac or PC mini-series. Today's topic is all about the perks of Leopard. I will also conclude Part 3 with my take on the situation. So here we go with some of the perks of Leopard.

Spaces: This is a terrific feature that outdoes the window flip features of Vista. In a very simple way, spaces allows you to switch between multiple desktops so that you can keep your work area clean and organized. Think of it as having a large desk that allows you to place papers, a computer, food, your cell phone, etc. all in their own area. Its the same with Spaces. You simply assign a program to a space and it will open only in that space. For pictures and screenshots click here.

Time Machine: This is probably one of the coolest features on Leopard. This is the way Mac backs itself up. You need an external drive of some sort that has been Mac formatted. You set up your Mac to back itself up every specified interval of time. It does one major backup, then, from that point on, makes a backup of only the changes to documents and files. That way, you gets quick backups whenever you want. I would back mine up every hour or so if I was always connected to an external. But wait! That isn't even the best part. The best part is when you need to go back and look for a document or whatever. So lets say you accidentally deleted a file that you were working on for work. The boss really needs the file today and you have no idea where it went. Well, you know that you made the document last Friday so you go into the Time Machine (a wide open space appears on the screen filled with windows going back as far as the eye can see) and go back in time to Friday. When I say you go back in time I mean it. A window opens up that allows you to scroll through your system backups. Each system backup looks exactly like the system looks normally so it is extremely easy to use. Check out the screenshot from the Apple website. In Time Machine you can even preview deleted documents.

HotSpots: HotSpots are a cool little feature that allow you to perform simple tasks by running the cursor to the corners of the desktop. For example, lets say you have a few windows open on the desktop and need to move them all so you can look at a file on the desktop. Easy. Simply set up your hotspot so that by running the cursor to one of your corners will move all the windows on the desktop. Even better, assume that you want to select a window that is buried under a bunch of other windows. Set up hotspots to spread out your windows. Below, the left picture shows the windows buried, the right picture shows them spread out:

Beyond that, Hot Corners allows you to select between difference spaces, bring down the dashboard, start the screen saver, and sleep the display.

iPhoto: iPhoto is not a totally unique feature, although it is noteworthy. The reason I include it here is because it comes with Leopard as a part of the package whereas with Vista, to get an application as good as this one, you would need to purchase one or use Picasa. The reason I love iPhoto so much is that it makes photo managements extremely easy. Importing and organizing pictures can be a truly daunting task without a photo management app like this one. You can also edit your photos using this application (although not to the extent that a program like Photoshop allows).

iSite Camera: The camera that comes built in to all Macs is awesome. For such a simple device, it is truly awesome. Have you ever been video chatting with a friend and your camera is really laggy and sucky. Well, that might be a bandwidth problem but it could also be a camera problem. The iSite camera on the Mac makes the chatting experience more smooth and the image more clear. You can even have fun with your images like the picture you see to the left.

Boot Camp: I will talk about BootCamp which I have used extensively and point you to information about the far superior (and costly) VMware Fusion, which I use far more extensively. BootCamp comes free on all Leopard distributions. It allows you to actively partition your hard drive to add a Windows partition. I say "actively" because you can do this at your leisure - partition the drive or unpartition the drive without formatting. You can install any version of Windows and it works like a charm. You can then switch between the operating systems when you boot. You can even default boot to Windows if you want. It is important to note that I use virtualization more as it is more convenient, however, BootCamp works better with Vista as it allows you to run the Aero GUI. Anyway... BootCamp is really great and it points to how unthreatened Apple feels by Microsoft. In fact, how they embrace the differences between them and capitalize off them. Amazing.

GarageBand: Last but not least, every musicians power toy, GarageBand. This also comes standard with Leopard (as do all of the highlighted perks) and is equally cool. This application allows you to edit and mix your own music. I don't do this. I am sure there are superior applications out there that you can buy but this one is free. I do use this for its ability to make ringtones for my phone, which I just bluetooth over to my phone... No purchasing, no e-mailing the file, exactly the song and part I want, awesome. So thats cool. Beyond that, I have tried mixing some random stuff I found online and I found the application easy to use.

My Take on the Whole Situation: I have found that the biggest difference between what Microsoft is doing with Vista and what Mac is doing with Leopard is all a matter of user experience. Vista seems to focus on appearance while Leopard seems to focus on the applications that users want. If you look at the two posts on the various perks, the main difference is one is all applications the other is all interface stuff. So, why is this important. Microsoft sits on a high horse. There are thousands of people that program applications that are compatible with it. I imagine they figure they can focus on other things besides deliverable applications because those thousands of applications fill the gap - for free! The problem with this view is that it ignores a few critical facts: 1) people don't like to go out and get a bunch of applications or they simply don't know how, 2) all those other apps may not run as smoothly with the OS as could other apps that are native - i.e. made by Microsoft - in fact, you will notice that a lot of problems with Windows on all platforms are the "other" applications that bug it up, and 3) native software development can lead to innovations that simply are not occuring at Microsoft. Apple, however, is trying to deliver as innovative a product as they possibly can. They don't have 3rd party programmers to rely on, they don't have the luxury of a high horse. Rather, they are fighting for a market share. This conflict is producing results for Apple and it will continue to do so as long as they maintain the mentality of innovation=market share.

So, what are the takeaways? Both Vista and Leopard offer unique features that are good for different people. Which perks do you prefer? Which ones will make your experience with your computer better? Figuring this out for yourself will help you make a selection between the two. My take of everything might be a little slanted but I hope I have demonstrated why.


Ty & Masha said...

I prefer my lap top to go down the toilet right now.

88% converted in to the MACaizm!


Derek and Tara said...

Awesome post dude!

rblaz said...

I don't think a laptop will fit down the toilet... although you could try.