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John Sciacca Writes...

Features, Reviews and a Blog by John Sciacca

Random Thoughts (Blog)

Random Thoughts (Blog)

One woman's journey from Mac to PC and back again

Posted on November 3, 2011 at 9:00 AM

A couple of months ago I went through a bit of a tech upgrade dilemma; it had become time for me to buy a new laptop. My old HP had served me well for about 3 years, but after a running faceplant, sliding down the street tumble in Atlanta and a scalding coffee bath had taken their toll, I decided that with CEDIA mere days away it was time to splurge and get a new computador.

Computers are not something I really know, however, so before buying I reached out to those in the Twitterverse and asked them what they thought I should buy when looking for something thin, light and with mega battery life. To a man – I say that because A) *literally* everyone that replied said the same thing and B) they were ALL men – everyone said that I should abandon PC planet and  sail off into the cool, refreshing, sweet-sweet waters of Mac land.

While I appreciated the advice and weighed the suggestions heavily, I ultimately decided that I wasn’t ready to make the switch and that, “Hi, my name is John, and I’m a PC” for a little while longer. (Then my stupid VAIO battery decided to make me look like a total punk by dying after like 3 hours and Sony tech support proved to be the antithesis of the promised Apple Care.)

But the other day I saw that someone on Twitter, Olivia Dumanovsky, claimed that she was considering purchasing a new laptop for personal and business use and asked what she should get. This was eerily reminiscent of my experience with one big exception: a few hours later I saw that she was proclaiming giddiness from her new Mac purchase.

Since she was coming from the PC world, I thought this would be the perfect time to hear from someone who decided to go the other way; who decided to make the switch from PC to Mac. Was it worth it? Was the PC-to-Mac learning curve as steep as it seemed to me? Was Mac truly the lusher, greener, fertile crescent promised land of tech wonderment that all of us PC-users had been led to believe that it is?

So I reached out to Olivia and asked if she would share her thoughts and grace us with a guest blog relating her experiences on making the big switch. I have interspersed some comments throughout, set off in parenthesis and italics. Take it away, Olivia!

It was an ordinary day; I was sitting on my campus floor perusing my favorite websites on my faithful PC when I received a text message on my iPhone and had a task alert go off on my iPad. As I was grabbing my i-stuff, it suddenly dawned on me: I needed a MacBook to complete my Apple family! I must admit my Gateway PC was getting slow and glitchy. It would randomly freeze, the sound would work one day, and then would refuse to work the next. Oh, and did I mention the screws that held the laptop together just started popping out? It was still getting the job done, (JS: But the o’le grey mare just ain’t what she used to be, ain’t what she used to be...) and it gave me an excuse to venture into the wonderful world of Apple. (JS: So white and shiny and full of glass and cool, hip, T-shirt wearing people!)

I decided to send out a quick tweet looking for some Mac vs. PC advice. John and several others chimed in (JS: I had recently just gone through EXACTLY the same thing and thought I could offer the lone, dissenting, “consider a PC!” voice in an otherwise pro-Mac Twitter-verse) and provided all the wisdom and guidance I needed to help make the right decision and the more I heard back from others, the more excited I got about purchasing my own Mac beauty! I wandered over to the Apple store to take a look and then walked up and down the aisle checking out all of the different options. I considered the MacBook Air, (JS: Oh, soooo verrrrry sexxxxxxy! Wants you, my precious!) but just didn’t like the fact that it didn’t have a CD drive (JS: Yeah, me too. And a small hard drive. And a big price tag. But it has that KILLER manila folder carrying case!) so I kept looking.

Honestly, I was a bit surprised by how expensive the different devices were; (JS: No doubt. It was like my wallet took an unplanned Houdini gut punch. And then when it was doubled-over, a karate chop to the back and a Vulcan neck pinch. My wallet is not used to such abuse.) I’m not sure what I was thinking but I was not ready to drop 2-3 thousand on a laptop, especially when I had one that still worked, however as soon as I laid eyes on the fabulous 13-inch MacBook Pro, every bit of caution went out the window! I didn’t care how much money I had to spend (JS: Words that I have NEVER uttered. True story.) or how I didn’t really *need* a new laptop, I just knew that I WANTED one. This model was perfect; it wasn’t too big, and it wasn’t too small, it was just right. (JS: Much like the porridge and the bed, Olivia found her perfect, Goldilocks Mac.) Seriously though, the real reason I chose that was the cheapest. Shortly after, I left the Apple Store, the excited owner of a brand new MacBook Pro!

With that said, the purpose of my rambling is to compare the differences – user friendliness, lustfulness, etc. – between Mac and PC, so here we go. My very first laptop was a Mac. (JS: Clearly "Dumanovsky" means "she who decends from line of wealthy Russian czars" where children are all given ponies, full-scale doll houses and high-priced laptops shortly after they learn to walk.) A couple years after the initial Mac purchase, the hard drive fried. I took it into the Genius bar, but they told me there was no way to fix it. (JS: Take THAT all you “Oh, Apple Care is the best! Apple Care is like if Jesus ran a tech support department and his motto was, 'Love all, help all,'"people. Stuff breaks. Mac, PC, Vizio. All that. But mainly Vizio.) At the time I couldn’t afford a new Apple laptop, so I was forced to switch over to a less expensive PC. (JS: Probably more likely as part of Glastnost and Perestroika and a move to understand the brutish, capitalist ways of the West.

Before the recent switch BACK to Mac, I had been using a PC for roughly the past five years and had been running Windows 7 on my Gateway. (JS: Olivia has elected not to run PC through the whole Vista mire. Though, to be honest, my last laptop had Vista and I didn’t have any issues with it. So maybe she was on the Happy Vista team.) I found Win7 to be simple and easy to work with. But now that I’m all grown up with a steady job, I could finally switch back over to my much adored Mac! (JS: Clearly this makes me "I'm never gonna grow up!" Peter Pan living with the Wild Boys and crowing in Never-PC-Land and flying off to Wendy's window to watch her playing with her iPhone4S and Siri.)

Now I’ll share some thoughts and likes and dislikes on making this transition...


Mac to PC easy; PC to Mac not-so-much...

Although I am completely in love with my Mac, and would choose it over a PC any day, I must admit it is way easier to go from Mac to PC then it is from PC to Mac, at least in my opinion. Navigating PC menus and choices and “windows” is a lot easier; it is intuitive and offered easy access to whatever it was I was looking for. With my Mac, I spend much more time searching for things. For example, I didn’t just know where to find the settings menu; it took a little extra effort to locate. (JS: Testify! I find that whenever I use a Mac, it is a total exercise in hunting around for stuff, wandering the mouse around to and fro and whatnot, clicking this open and then trying to figure out how to get them closed all of which makes me feel like I am some old person that is just experiencing a computer for the first time. It makes me want to yell things like, “You kids quiet down!” and “Stay off my lawn!”)

I got 2 fingers, and I wants a Right-Click!

Another big pet peeve of mine was having to break the habit of the “right click.”  It’s possible that there is a “Mac” version or replacement for the mouse right click, but I haven’t found it yet. So until then I am stuck maximizing the window of the program I want to close and then quitting it. That’s a hassle and obstructs the other programs I’m working with. The keyboard shortcuts are pretty much still the same except control is now called command, but thank goodness those stayed the same. (JS: I can’t get any of the command shortcuts to work on my iPad Pages program with the Bluetooth Apple keyboard. And this makes me unhappy.)

Not is all perfect in Mac-topia

I did have some problems with my laptop freezing, which frustrated me. I’m sure it wasn’t a “Mac” issue (JS: Oh, no, of course not! One must NEVER blame it on Mac! Rule number one of Mac Club: Don’t talk about Mac issues!) it was just a freak malfunction, but considering I was new to this whole mac world, it threw me off.  I had been using it then put it to sleep. About 30 minutes later, I woke it up to use it, but it was frozen on the login screen. I tried all the force quit shortcuts I knew, but nothing seemed to work, I finally had to hold down the power button until the machine turned off. I HATE forcing my computer to shut off, (JS: Especially a brand new, freshly unwrapped, precious baby Mac! So young and helpless, lying there all white and gleaming!) it stresses me out, and makes me feel like I’ve ruined the darn thing! Luckily after that I didn’t face any other “malfunctions.”

So very sexy!

Now for the much more abundant likes! I love, love, LOVE the MacBook Pro design! It is WAY more aesthetically pleasing than any other laptop that I have seen. It’s sleek and sexy! (Yes, I said sexy! Take that, Gizmodo!) The backlit keyboard totally caught me off guard in the best of ways. It’s helpful when using your laptop in a room with little or no lights. (JS: Yeah, the backlit keyboard on my new Sony PC is pretty slick too! Wonder if that is what is suckling my battery dry like a hungry iPhone4S...?)

It’s an app, app, app world!

Next, I am enamored with being able to download apps directly onto my laptop. Apps were always just something for my iPhone or iPad, but now I can download different applications straight to my computer to make my life a bit easier. I use a budget app that I love; it helps me keep track of my money and what I am spending it on!  (JS: Budget apps first warning – You spent too much money on your new computer! I kid, because I love!) I also use a bible application. I am involved in ministry, and sometimes it’s hard to pull out the bible, this way I can quickly access the verse or passage I need when writing a sermon. I just discovered Evernote as well. My life is full of so many different things; it’s hard for me to remember it all. Plus I’m a huge dreamer, always coming up with new ideas, seeing things that spark my creativity, and with Evernote I now have a place to keep track of it all! (JS: At the risk of handing out a Darryl Wilkinson recommendation, you should check out the MindMap app as well. Great for creative outlining, like “Darryl Wilkinson’s Plan for World Domination” after say your 4th shot glass of absinthe.) The integrated calendar feature is another application that I greatly benefit from. I can update my schedule and tasks on one of my Apple devices and it appears on all of them. It saves me time and effort, and I’m guaranteed to never miss an event or appointment.

Look, ma! Five fingers!

I also totally love the cool “finger tricks” (aka “multi-touch gestures"). The five finger swoop – you know when you use all five fingers and pull them in over the track pad – is the best! (I just made that term up so let’s roll with it. I expect to see you hash-tagging that soon, Twitter people! That means you, Johnny Mota!) It opens up your whole mission control (JS: Launches the remaining shuttles into space, and empties the urinals on the International space station...) with all of the resources you may need to access. This feature makes it quick and requires less effort than having to click show desk top or going to the start button on a PC.  Then there is the five finger push out to make that screen disappear. It’s like magic! Oh, and how cool is the two finger scroll?! Never again will I have to click and drag the sidebar to scroll down, I just whip out my two fingers and make that magic happen!  I hear that some PCs have this capability as well, (JS: Raises hand. But, it seems kind of sketchy in operation and often depends where my cursor is pointing on the screen so I rarely use it. Puts hand back down...) but for the sake of this blog, my PCs never did. So I associate this nifty feature with my Mac! Never again will I have to click and drag the sidebar to scroll down, I just whip out my two fingers and make that magic happen! The track on the Mac also seems to be extremely responsive and doesn’t get that stickiness that I would on my PC. Previously, I would try and click on certain things, or move my mouse, but the track pad would be unresponsive. On my Mac I can glide with ease!  

Faster: significantly, extremely and more awesomely

The MacBook Pro is also significantly faster when browsing the Internet, downloading software, saving documents, etc. The shut down and reboot time on a Mac seems to be extremely faster than on my PC as well. For example, when I would update my software and need to restart, I would find myself waiting around for at least 10 minutes, sometimes up to 30. (JS: Testify. My old PC was taking like 5 minutes to turn on AND then another 5 to turn off. There were plane flights where I would seriously just get the thing out, booted up, open Word, think of what I wanted to type and then be told that I needed to put it away. Not cool, PC! On means ON!) I’m sure part of it had to do with my laptop being a bit older, but still that was ridiculous! Now with my Mac, I can update my software, shut down and restart in a matter of moments! Oh and one of my favorite parts: there is no longer a need for expensive virus protection software, or at least that’s what they tell me!

Overall, the MacBook Pro has proven itself much more efficient and helpful for every area of my life. I needed a laptop that would help me be effective in my education, career and ministry, and it’s safe to say the MacBook Pro does everything I need and more!

Olivia is a full-time Communications Studies major at San Francisco State University and will be graduating in the spring. She is also a full-time Marketing Associate at Pakedge Device and Software, a manufacturer of high performance network devices and a youth pastor. She is passionate about everything she does and wants to use her abilities to change the world!  (And I know she put a ton of work into this, and for that I say a giant, "Thanks!") You can follwer her on Twitter @Olivia_Lyn (where she is surprisingly suddenly one of the Klout-iest people around since the little “more accurate scoring metric” redo) and you can read her recently started blog at http: //

Thanks again, Olivia! Maybe in a couple of years I'll be ready to joiin you in the switch!

Categories: November 2011, Guest Blog, Computers

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Reply Chris Heinonen
11:24 AM on November 3, 2011 
As a recent PC to Mac convert, who couldn't convince John to make the switch, here's a couple notes:

- To right click, just use two fingers when you click on the trackpad, or Magic Mouse. Presto, right click! I'm not sure when you need to maximize and then quit with right click, but that's how you can right click.
- I use Spotlight for everything. Command-Space (together or very quickly apart) brings it up and I can find anything I need. That spreadsheet I'm using to design my home theater? Start typing and it appears. My Samsung Blu-ray review? Start typing Samsung and all the files, directories, and images show up in a nice list for me. If you can't find something, Spotlight usually helps you get there, and it means not leaving the keyboard, ever.

Now I need to find a way to get myself a 27" iMac for my hard core work and use the Air for lighter writing and such.
Reply Ken Borg
11:38 AM on November 3, 2011 
Right click can be invoked by either holding ctrl and left clicking, or, if you are using a touchpad, I have mine setup to do a right click if I tap with both fingers. Works a treat. :)
Reply Matt D. Scott
7:18 PM on November 5, 2011 
I must first of all, Olivia, I must congratulate you again on a great purchase. Now to address some comments about, but before I do.... John, One day you really need to find something that allows you to say/think "I'll buy that no matter what it costs!" It'll change your life! Now on to the comments!

If the hard drive on your first Mac fried, yes the apple tech most likely would have been right. A fried hard drive is a fried hard drive. With out seeing the machine, i can't be certain but it probably could have been repaired with a new hard drive. If the Mac tech didn't mention that, he should have. But there's always a bad tech somewhere.

About finding stuff on a Mac, Yes.... use spotlight its amazing. But to the root of the problem. Yes it's different. What did you expect, to find everything just like you find it on a pc. It's not a PC, it's a Mac. It's different. Get over it! Yes, you will have to learn your way around it. But once you do, it's just as easy if not better!

The apps are amazing, and the budget apps would never disrespect the Mac they are installed on!

On does mean On! And one of the most underrated aspects of a Mac is the fact that you can leave it on for a massive amount of time! I leave my mac on for weeks at a time, I just close the lid and she goes to sleep. When I pull it out of my backpack, I just lift the lid and presto, she's back to life!

Just Saying!

John, I await your rebuttal!
Reply Richard Fregosa
8:13 PM on November 5, 2011 

1) Welcome back to the clan, missy... The improvements in OSX especially the past 4 years make the experience *world's* different than prior iterations. As a devout PC user until 2008 (My Macbook Pro was my 15th laptop) I was skeptical and after I used it for a month, I totally understood what the zealotry was/is about. Coupled now with iOS5, the simplicity of keeping things within the Apple Ecosystem sync'ed is ka-razy.

2) Don't let Sciacca fool you, if the Macbook Air was offerred in LadyPhone -s "chartreuse" or "magenta" he'd have been all over it like a wombat on... er whatever it is wombats get all jiggy with...

3) GREAT guest blog by the way, I thoroughly enjoyed it as well as getting a sense of your personality and "voice" coming through your piece.

Reply Michelle Patterson
2:33 AM on January 24, 2013 
Hello There,

My name is Michelle and I'm a professional blogger.

I have over three years of experience writing for the web and have covered plenty of topics about Technology.

I noticed that you have a blog and was wondering if you would be interested in allow me to write relevant, useful topics about Technology related on your blog at no cost.

At this point in my writing career, I simply want to get more visibility for your writing and I will write for free as long as you are okay with me adding a small author bio section next to each blog post about myself.

Please let me know if you're interested and if you'd like for me to submit a sample blog post for your approval.

Thanks a bunch,

Reply Michelle patterson
2:35 AM on January 24, 2013 
Hello There,

My name is Michelle and I'm a professional blogger.

I have over three years of experience writing for the web and have covered plenty of topics about Technology.

I noticed that you have a blog and was wondering if you would be interested in allow me to write relevant, useful topics about Technology related on your blog at no cost.

At this point in my writing career, I simply want to get more visibility for your writing and I will write for free as long as you are okay with me adding a small author bio section next to each blog post about myself.

Please let me know if you're interested and if you'd like for me to submit a sample blog post for your approval.

Thanks a bunch,