Thursday, December 13, 2007

Adobe Uninstall Issues

I had a problem recently with an Adobe CS3 application not fulling installing and then causing a problem later as I tried to uninstall it so it could be reinstalled. The program specifically was Adobe Acrobat 8 and it would error out every time I tried to uninstall it.

The solution is a program Adobe has as a free download called CS3 Clean. It's available for Windows or Mac and is an automated tool to completely clean Adobe products off of your hard drive if things get jammed up. Here is a link to download the tool:

Status Report

As you can see, I haven't typed up a formal declaration of how the experiment went due to my lack of time and too many projects going so I will give you the brief version: Mac rocks.

I am still running my iMac as my primary machine and it has replaced my Windows machines. I've only had to dual boot into Windows a few times and that is to work on old MS Access database files. That is the only application that I have found to not have a solution on OS X. 

I have upgraded to Leopard (OS X 10.5) and enjoy the new features. I have found that it broke my networking with PC machines so I am hoping for an upgrade soon to fix that problem. Overall though I am officially a Mac convert. I recommend OS X to my friends and co-workers and I am definitely more productive due to things just working right and me not having to spend time tinkering on things.

I am going to continue using this blog to post my random Mac/OS X tips and tricks and problems and solutions as I come across them in hopes that maybe this will be a good resource to other Mac converts.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Video on the Mac

I have had a little time to work on some minor video projects on the Mac and I have been happy with the process so far. Everything has been simple and straight forward and the iVideo/iDVD software has worked as expected. The first thing that I did was create a DVD slideshow out of 100+ pictures for my wife's birthday party. I selected all of the photos that I wanted to use in iPhoto and then sent them to a DVD project in iDVD and was able to create a very professional looking project with only 20 minutes worth of work.

The next thing I did was play around with iMovie a little bit using the integrated camera that has really good quality! Using iMovie I recorded a segment, chopped it up into the little piece that I wanted and was able to quickly share it with my video iPod via iTunes or even send it to YouTube with one click.

The video quality of YouTube videos is not that great but here's an example of a quick movie project I did. The iPod version looks much nicer.

Ok, once you finish laughing you can resume reading this blog! The sharing features built into iMovie really do make it simple to get the movie projects in the format that you want.

DVD Ripping/Burning

Another video project I've had to do was burning a few DVD movies where I only had the the .vob files from a VIDEO_TS folder that were copied off of a DVD recorded by a DVR that can burn TV shows to DVD. This procecss is similiar to if you were going to make a copy of a commercial DVD movie however you would have to use some extra software to bypass the movie encryption.

I found  a freeware software program called DVD Imager ( that lets you drag the VIDEO_TS folder onto it and then it will burn a finalized DVD playable in a movie DVD player. A friend had burned a few TV shows on the Dallas Cowboys for me and I copied the video files from the DVD onto my hard drive and dragged those onto DVD Imager to have my own copy of the DVDs.

If you are wanting to copy a commercial DVD for backup reasons give this program a try, Mac the Ripper:  I haven't actually tried it yet but I ran across it while researching how to burn my DVD.

Monday, October 8, 2007

I'm still alive...

I haven't updated in a while due to the real world time constraints but the Mac experiment is still definitely ongoing! I will be posting some new updates today or tomorrow. Next up will be a look at some video editing that I have done.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


I've had some time recently to start getting iPhoto populated with my photo collection. I've had to make some adjustments to how I sort photos though and I am not sure exactly how I feel about that yet.

On my Windows machine I had a folder based structure that was organized by years. Inside each of those folders was a folder for different events such as birthdays, parties, etc. iPhoto 08 introduces a new feature called "Events" that attempts to automatically find groups of events in your photos and put them together. It eliminates and sorts of folder based organization and stores everything on its own behind the scenes. I've found that the Events structure works out nicely along with some manual configuration but there isn't a good way to just have a Misc section to throw junk pictures in.

It does make it pretty quick to find pictures and look at different events. I would like to know how to set tags and labels for pictures in order to find them by searching for related information. Does anyone know how to do this in iPhoto?

Monday, September 10, 2007

It Just Works

It's been a little over a week since I first powered on the iMac and I'm not ready to officially declare Mac OS X the champion but I have to say I am very pleased! I have not had any instances where I have had to boot into Windows and I have not be able to do anything that I used to in Vista. That says a lot for OS X!

Boot Camp installed without any problems and I was very pleased with that. I installed it on a 32gb partition and I think that is overkill now since I'm not having much use for it yet. That might be helpful in the long run. Booting into Windows is as simple as restarting and holding down the option button and a menu comes up allowing you to select which partition you want to boot into. Running Vista was faster than on my older Dell machine and the ability to run the Windows OS natively on the iMac really is impressive. After installing all of the hardware drivers from the CD that boot camp made everything worked automatically.

The funny thing to note though was another difference in how easy things are to setup in OS X as opposed to Vista. It took a bajillion button clicks to get the bluetooth mouse paired up to Vista.

Next up, I installed the trial for the latest version of Parallels. The updated version allows you to connect to the Bootcamp partition you already have installed and prevents you from having to install a second instance of Vista. Parallels is software that runs a virtual computer inside OS X and allows you to be booted into OS X and then have a window that is running Vista at the same time. The benefits of this are being able to get something done in Vista without having to reboot the whole computer. I did notice that there is a performance hit running Vista this way because you aren't able to dedicate the full system resources to VIsta and you are having to run Vista with emulation.

Some Gripes

Ok, so everything isn't just absolutely prefect...I do have some gripes. First up is Finder. While I have learned the nuts and bolts of how OS X installs programs and manages files I was a little flustered by previewing media in it. That is one thing I think Vista does very well. You can see all of the thumbnails of images in a directory and if you open an image you can keep browsing the rest of the images in that folder. 

I did find out how to enable the thumbnail view in finder and adjust the icon sizes but when you click on an image it opens it in software called Preview.  To view a new image, you have to close Preview and click on the next image. I guess maybe they are thinking you should only be viewing photos through iPhoto which works very well but I found this to be extremely clunky.

I did find a clever alternative though: Xee  It is a light-weight and fast image browser that is completely free to download. I set it up to be the default image viewer and you can scroll through images in a folder by flicking the mouse wheel around. It is VERY fast too. I highly recommend it. 

I have been following the updates for Leopard and it looks like Finder is getting the cover flow view that iTunes has that lets you flick through previews of your documents. This will be a nice feature and be fix some of my problems.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

First Impressions / Printing / Transferring Files

Ok, so I got the Mac out of the box and all setup on the desk. That doesn't take very much since all you need to do is plug in a power cord. NICE!

I've left my other monitor connected to my original PC as I work to transfer everything to the iMac and make it my primary machine. From the very first press of the power button I noticed how simple everything is. Unlike how in Windows the setup process is long and drawn out and always needing you to click on something, OS X just gets you going with the most basic information needed.

I was caught off guard at exactly how simple all the actions were. Wireless networking was extremely simple to setup and continues the trend of requiring very few selections as opposed to accomplishing the same task in Windows. Next up was the printer. I have an HP Photosmart 3310 all-in-one printer that has caused me nothing but problems in Vista. The printer is wi-fi enabled and I don't connect any cords to it except for the power cord. In Windows the software would repeatedly crash and I would have to reinstall the drivers and installation software on a weekly basis.

So, lets give printing a try on the Mac. I was expecting complications due to it being a newer printer with the wi-fi features. I opened up the "Printer & Fax" menu in OS X and then clicked to add a new printer. It immediately found the HP on the network and added it as my main printer. No other clicking or configuring was needed. 3 clicks total to add a new printer and it be ready to print? I was amazed. It's approximately 20 in Vista. In Vista you have to first tell it if you are looking for a wired or a network printer, blah blah blah. OS X just said "'s the only printer I found. Wanna use it?"

The next thing that I wanted to do was copy over all of my music/pictures/video/documents from my Vista desktop. I was getting ready to start digging for some serious How-to articles since I assumed connected to file sharing on a Vista box would not be easy. Well, I was wrong! It just works...

I just opened up Finder and went to "Networks". It then saw my Vista workgroup and my PCs on that network. I typed in a username/password for my Vista machine and there it shared files. Heck, my Mac could browse Windows shares better then a Windows machine can! I dragged and drop the files to my new machines and I was in business.

Keep in mind, I am not a Mac fanboy. This is completely new territory for me and I am amazed at how simple the initial basics have just worked. If basic PC users can get past the myths surrounding Macs that they think are still true, I think they will find a much more enjoyable computing experience with less configuration and maintaining to do.

I will post tomorrow on some of the frustrations I have had and my experiences with Boot Camp / Parallels.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Opening the box

Here are some teaser pictures. I am still spending time diving into the Mac OSX and I am really enjoying it. Stay tuned for more detailed information soon!

Friday, August 31, 2007

Testing, Testing 1..2..3 - It's here!

Testing, Testing this thing on?

It has arrived! The iMac showed up today and this post is brought to you courtesy of Mac OS X! Stand by for pictures and feedback on my out of the box experience.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Shipping Delay

Bummer. My Fedex tracking shows that the package shipped on Aug 29 and has an estimated delivery of Sept 5. That isn't exactly the two days shipping I paid for! A little further research reveals that the package missed the Fedex cutoff time in Shanghai so it didn't actually go out until today. Well, my two day shipping is two business days and then you have to factor in Monday as a holiday. What bad luck for me! Darn.

The good news is that the Apple customer support rep was extremely knowledgable and eager to please and immediately offered to refund my shipping costs. +1 for the customer service!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

It Shipped! / Apple Store Experience

I finally got the email I have been waiting for! My iMac shipped out from China this morning. The Fedex tracking for it doesn't list any delivery date but I paid for 2-day shipping so I am hoping it gets here on Friday.

I also wanted to post about some of the experiences I had inside an Apple Store recently. The store is located in Plano, Tx inside the Willowbend Mall. I've spent a lot of time gazing at products inside (iPhone, monitors, iMacs, etc) but I've never spent anytime actually dealing with any of the sales reps. Well, my initial opinion was that I expected them to be on the ball and above your regular sales rep at Best Buy but I don't think that is the case. I was pretty dissappointed. There is no shortage of reps to assist but the one who wanted to help me was not familiar with the latest chip speeds (wasn't aware of the 2.8ghz option) nor was he familiar with what he had in the store or what had to be ordered.

After finally figuring out what specs I was looking for he advised they had it here in store but they didn't have the wireless mouse. While waiting I was standing next to display full of.....wireless mice! I'm not sure how he missed those but he also struck out on trying to find me a unit in the store and let me know I would have to order it online. I was dissappointed about not getting an iMac right away but I was more annoyed by the 30 minutes I spent in the store dealing with someone not prepared to make a sale.

My thinking was the Apple Stores are few and far between so they would have the cream of the crop stop and would really be a step above the rest. Maybe I just got lucky and got stuck with the guy who just quit Best Buy and is now working at the Apple Store.

Has anyone else had similiar experiences or have things been mainly positive in the stores?

Monday, August 27, 2007

Misc. Reading

While I am waiting on my iMac to arrive here are some helpful articles I have been reading that you might enjoy as well.

First, some reviews of the new iMac hardware:


Also, here is an article talking about the new iWork vs Mac MS Office:

I was previously unaware of the support in iWork for opening MS Office formats. I will definately be giving that a try before installing MS Office on the Mac.

Thanks to one of my visitors who provided the following articles to read:
A Month with a Mac
A Month with a Mac - Part II

Does anyone have any other resources of Windows users diving off into Mac OS X?

The order is placed!

I've done my research and I am ready to take the plunge! An order was made for a 24" iMac and I am hoping it shows up sometime later this week.

Here are the tech specs:

24" screen (1920 x 1200 pixel resolution)
2.8ghz Intel Core 2 Duo Extreme
2gb Ram
500gb Hard Drive
ATI Radeon HD 2600 PRO graphics processor w/ 256mb ram
Slot loading CD/DVD burner
Wireless networking built-in (802.11n)
Bluetooth support built-in
Gigabit ethernet
Built-in iSight camera
Built-in stereo speakers + microphone
One Firewire 400 and one firewire 800 port
Wireless Mighty Mouse
Wired Keyboard (I chose the wired one since it has 2 usb ports built-in)

Friday, August 24, 2007

What do I use your my computer for?

This is more of a checklist for me to follow to make sure I have everything researched as to how it will work on a Mac but it might be interesting for readers as well who do similiar tasks.

My fundamentals are web surfing, email, office applications, calendar/contact/task management and chatting. Outside of those I use web development tools, games and application development.

Here's a look at some of the details:

Web Surfing
Internet Explorer 7 -> Mac: Safari

Outlook 2007 -> Mac: Tige rMail 2 or Outlook 2004 for Mac?

Office Applications
Office 2007 -> Mac: MS Office 2004; What about Access? I guess this may be the one thing I would be forced to boot into Windows for?

Trillian Astra -> Mac: Adium?

Web Development
Macromedia DreamWeaver 8 (compatible for Mac OS X)

iTunes (duh, it's compatible)

Photo Management
Picasa 2 -> Mac: iPhoto looks like it will have all the features I need, plus there is a Picasa plug-in for iPhoto that will let me upload my pictures to my Picasa Web Albums that I use frequently.

Photo Editing
Adobe Photoshop Elements 5.0 (compatible for Mac OS X)

Video Editing
Adobe Premier Elements 3.0 -> Mac: iMovie; It looks like Apple has some pretty decent movie editing/creation software out of the box. I am anxious to test this out.

Remote Desktop
I use Windows Remote Desktop client frequently to control a remote server. Microsoft has a beta version of the client out now for the Mac which will allow me to accomplish the same tasks.

PDA/Phone Sync
Now called Windows Mobile Device Center in Vista, I need some software for Mac that will sync my MS Mobile Windows 5.0 phone/pda to my computer. I am going to try this one out first: The Missing Sync for Windows Mobile

Financial Management
MS Money 2007 -> Mac: Quicken? I'm not excited about having to change.

My Current Hardware

Here is the hardware I currently have running at home:

Main Desktop
Dell Dimension 4700
Pentium 4 3.2ghz
3 gigs of ram
300gb hard drive
Nvidia 6800 video card
Dual 19" Sony Superbrite monitors
Windows Vista Ultimate

Wife/Media Computer
Dell Dimension XPS 200
Pentium 4
1gb ram
160gb hard drive
Dell 26" widescreen monitor/HDTV
Windows Vista w/ Media Center

Sony Vaio TR2A
Pentium M 1ghz
512mb ram
10.6" SuperBrite screen

Sprint PPC-6700
Windows Mobile 5.0

External HD
Western Digital 250gb

HP Photosmart 3310
All in One Printer/scanner/copier/fax
WiFi built-in

Thursday, August 23, 2007

My Previous Apple Experiences

I've never owned an Apple computer and I haven't had to use one on a consistent basis at any jobs. Many years ago I did technical support for a local ISP and had to configure internet connections for Mac clients but that is about it.

In general, I found there to be too many compatibility issues with Mac computers and a lack of support for main stream applications. I've also found that gaming on the Mac was significantly behind PC gaming.

The first Apple hardware I have owned was an Ipod Nano. It's hard to ignore the simplicity and ease of use in a small form factor with the Ipods. My wife mainly uses the Ipod though and I don't carry it around with me on a regular basis.

I carry around a cellphone and am more interested in carrying around one device to do everything instead of multiple devices for different tasks. The Nano is great though in the car on long trips and I use it in my living room home theater to play music as well as pumping songs out to my backyard.
Along with the Nano, I've adopted the use of iTunes for my music collection management. Not only is it easy to buy songs and TV shows it is easy to browse and categorize existing songs. Windows Media Player fails horribly at this through all of its different versions.
Last, my wireless network is powered by an Apple Airport Extreme Base Station. I've gone through several years of using Linksys wireless routers and was plagued by constant lock-ups and having to power cycle the devices as well as poor range. After learning that Apple has a new router supporting the 802.11n draft standard and reading several positive reviews on it I decided to pick one up. It is on the higher end of the price range but after six months of use it has been solid as a rock. I've literally configured it the first day and haven't touched it since (besides installing firmware updates that it notifies me about). I have been extremely happy with this hardware. The signal strength reaches significantly farther than my Linksys and I have no problems getting a wireless connection in the backyard.

Other then those two hardware items and the iTunes software I don't have any experience or knowledge with Mac OSX. My research has showed though that Apple might have overcome many of the early problems keeping people from using a Mac such as software compatibility and performance with the adoption of the Intel chipset.
Next current computer hardware and how my home office is setup.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

About Me

Before we begin the experiment, let me share a little about my background and experience with computers to qualify my research. I've been using Microsoft products for 20 years starting in MS-DOS days and all the way through all the versions of Windows including Vista.

Besides being an end-user I have spent a lot of time doing development including applicaton design in Visual C++ and Visual Basic as well as website design in ASP and SQL. I am also an MCSE trained network engineer and have worked for various professional companies utlizing these skills.

Five years ago however I left the technology sector and completely changed gears and got into law enforcement. I still use my technology skills heavily in my work and stay very active in development with side projects. On a regular basis I assist friends and family with technical questions and basic computer operations from "Help my hard drive is crashing and I've lost all my pictures" and "How do I setup my new internet connection and add wireless?".

This might be one of the reasons my fascination with an alternative to Windows exists. I'm able to handle any configuration, setup and tweaking that needs to occur to get running but the average user does not know how to negotiate a warning dialog box displayed in Vista. This will be another area of where my examination of the Mac myth will include. Not only do I want to know what a typical Windows power user is going to experience but how is Mac OS going to be received by an average end-user.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Does it really just work?

Hello, my name is Aaron and I'm a Windows user. I've been a Microsoft user for 20 years across several different types of hardware devices. I'm pretty proficient with all things Microsoft and I just simply understand Windows.

So what's going on?

I'm tired. I'm tired of error messages, compatibility problems, upgrades and supporting computers in general. Why? I don't know. Is it because the Windows platform specifically requires constant tinkering and configuring to operate smoothly? That is the question and in order to answer it I am going to take a serious look at the competition and find out if the Mac slogan of "It just works better" is a myth or not.

Welcome to my journey and I look forward to feedback from the community as I go through the gates of the Apple community. Will I stay or will I go? Does Apple truely offer a better solution or is my frustration just with the current state of electronics and computers in general?