Setting off on a journey

So, what the hell is this weblog?

I have been a windows user since Windows 3.0, before that mainly MS-DOS and before that, well before that was a mixture of Acorn, Sinclair and Commodore machines (but lets not go that far back).

I also work with Microsoft technologies at work, mainly the Microsoft web platform (Windows Server, SQL Server, IIS, ASP.NET, etc…) and in fact during the development of our latest application we were launch partners with Microsoft for Visual Studio 2005.

So, a Microsoft guy… Right?

I guess it has been because Microsoft has been a good choice for me and the company I work for (and still is IMO) however I have always been interested in other technologies and with the security blanket that is the fact that I can always flatten it and install Windows XP on it if I don't get along with Mac OS/X I bought myself an Intel MacBook Pro and I decided to blog about the experience of trying to switch my primary home machine to an Apple.

There is one more thing you should know… I don't really like Apple as a company. I think the iPod sucks, not because it is a bad music player because it isn't but instead because of how closed the technology is, proprietary formats and hiding the music files away from the user were my main problems with it but there were many other things as well, for example iTunes is a nasty bloater of a piece of software on Windows. However, don't think that this blog will be another place for someone to say that Apple or Mac sucks, I may be dumb but I am not so dumb that I would spend £thousands on a machine to say it sucks! This will be as unbiased a look at Mac OS/X as is possible given my history.

Anyway that should do for an introduction, enjoy.

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17 responses to “Setting off on a journey

  1. re: iPod
    Turn off the anti-Apple attitude and think beyond the mp3 box.

    Until Apple’s iPod every mp3 player was a standalone box from companies that had no aspirations beyond the standalone box. Apple was thinking beyond the box to providing an all encompassing Mac-like experience. That included bringing the music labels on board – who already were horribly anti-mp3 for logical reasons.

    To get the labels onboard Apple had to make design decisions to placate them. (And had they not been placated do you think ANYONE would have a decent mp3 player for sale today?) Now those decisions could have been totally in-line with what the labels wanted. To see what we could have wound up with look at the PlaysForUnCertain experience from Microsoft. Each label makes its own decisions about the cost of each song, how many times it can be burned, and if it is available for subscription. In other words, chaotic and consumer unfriendly. Instead Apple chose to create a friendlier system.

    You call it proprietary? Well all DRM is and I don’t expect a single source DRM will come about without government intervention. Don’t like DRM? Neither do I. So I use an anti-proprietary system that Apple fully supports – mp3. Hidden files? Child’s play but obfuscation enough that the labels accept it as an anti-copy system.

  2. For what it’s worth, iTunes on the Mac is a lot nicer than iTunes for Windows—nothing specific about it, besides seeming a whole lot more responsive and far less crash-prone.

    As far as the proprietry formats are concerned, the DRMd AAC files (.m4p) are only an issue if you buy from the online music store—and to be honest, dodgy DRM applies with most music stores. Besides that the only non-open format used (and that’s only if you choose to) is ‘Apple Lossless’, Apple’s own alternative to FLAC (why they didn’t just roll out FLAC support, I guess we’ll never know). AAC itself is entirely standard (MPEG 4 audio), and if I’m not mistaken the default mode for iTunes when ripping CDs is to rip to MP3 anyway.

    That said, not being able to get the files directly off the iPod sucks (though there are utilities to help you do it), but I’ve never really found it to be much of a problem, as my iPod just has a copy of my music library (in fact, a subset) rather than being the primary location of it.

  3. “…because of how closed the technology is, proprietary formats…”

    This always makes me laugh when I hear a *Windows* user complain about Apple using Microsftian techniques. But is that fair of me? What is the other point of view?

  4. Welcome to the world of Mac. I switched a few months before the Intel machines made their debut but am lovin my Mac Mini PPC just the same. A friend of mine remarked just last night after I did some red-eye reduction and cropping for her in iPhoto Wow you have a really nice computer what OS is that? I of course had a big Mac infused smile on my face. I have an iPod as well, had it on my PC before the switch and have to say that I like it better on my Mac post-switch. I don’t have much problems getting my music off my iPod/ computer either :-)
    So how are you coming with Mac OS X?

  5. like the blog you’ve got here. Please give me a shout at techandother at gmail dot com, I’d like to give you an opportunity for a broader audience.

  6. I loved switching to my iMac G5 20″. However, there’s just 1 application I have to use my “kids” computer for now. That application is Microsoft (irk) PictureIt. It’s not a do everything application, but it lets me “lasoo” heads or people out of pictures, and create cards or images. Try as I can, I cannot find anything like this for Mac OS X. There is card making software, but I don’t believe they allow for edge following cutout creation. Looking for any help here I can if you come across something of the sort.

  7. I’m another recent switcher (well, having switched a year ago).

    Keep posting, its interesting too see someone else going through the same joy (and very little pain) in switching.

  8. I just switched yesterday… got my Macbook Pro last night.
    I’m curious to read more about your experiences, since it seems that you are at the same “power-user” level of expertise as I am. So, I think I’ll definitely benefit from your experiences.
    Keep up the good work.

  9. Great to see another switcher!

    I’ve mentioned you in my own “journey” at Switchblog:
    http://www.suplido.com/joel

  10. The proprietary format of the DRM’ed music isn’t my main issue, although don’t get me started on DRM in general, but thats for another time :)

    My issue is more with the technology and how stepping outside exactly what Apple intended you to do with the device is made much harder than it needs to be. Luckily, Mac OS X doesnt seem to suffer from this issue and has a fantastic and very open community and development model.

    What they did with the end-to-end process from device to store has absolutely changed the music industry, no question about it. I am just not quite sure it has changed it for the better.

  11. As someone who was an Apple user from the first Apple II through 1994 and then bailed in frusteration and returned back in 2002, I’m looking forward to reading your account.

  12. > This always makes me laugh when I hear a *Windows*
    > user complain about Apple using Microsftian techniques.
    > But is that fair of me? What is the other point of view?

    I didn’t like closed formats or DRM on Windows either :) But I did like that the mp3 hardware that interfaced with WMP would let me have access to my files, and that I had a choice of stores to buy DRM’ed music from.

    But, this isn’t an iPod blog :)

  13. Agree about the closed formats, but totally disagree about iTunes. It is one of the least bloated and easiest to use of the mass-market/”popular” music players out there – there are better lesser-known players, but compared to Media Player, MusicMatch, RealPlayer and such, iTunes is very simple and elegant in doing what it does.

  14. Since you’ve been working with the MS stack for a while, I’m curious if you’ve thought about, or used Mono, and if you’ve used it on Mac OS X? I come from the other side of the tracks (Java/Eclipse) and the APIs are pretty complete, tools and scripting support is there (although not yet through the VM – coming in version 6).

    I used ASP, and Visual C++ for a while but switched to Eclipse, VC++ sucked too much. No refactoring support, class navigation, profiling, code lookup and debugging support was bad, and it was hard to make it compile consistently on Linux/Solaris using GCC. Switching to Eclipse addressed most of those problems, although it’s still lacking remote debugging support.

    I’m also curious about the level of compatibility between the MS flavor of C# and Mono, since Mono seems to lag MS by a year or so.

  15. Congratulation on the switch. You have a lot more technical background than most of us Mac users. Of course we don’t need to know all that stuff. I do have to learn some Windows stuff mainly how to keep the computer running.
    I’ve been a Mac user from before there was a Mac. Bought a Lisa 2.
    great to have all the ‘switchers’ coming over from the ‘dark’ side.

  16. Your comments on the iPod are worth talking about. I’d say that the iPod itself shouldn’t be a target for you. Sure you have to use iTunes to sync up music, but you don’t have to buy DRM’d songs from the music store. You can rip your CDs to MP3 and it works just as well.

    Also, I agree that closed technology is crap, but why focus only on the iTunes Music Store? There isn’t a single system out there that doesn’t have closed DRM to manage purchased music except for allofmp3.com which is questionably legal. Microsoft does the same thing with music DRM and video.

    Just thought I’d mention that.

  17. Interesting point

    ipods are quite ok in my books … but i will have to admint that itunes on pc is very resource demanding especially if it’s downloading anything