TEKTRUTHS: MACS

TekSavvy Insider - - Contents -

Com­puter folk can be quite opin­ion­ated at times, to say the least, and there are few top­ics that cause as much dis­cus­sion and con­tro­versy as the age old Mac vs. PC de­bate. No mat­ter who you speak to, it seems like ev­ery­one has an opin­ion on one side or other of the ar­gu­ment, and dis­cus­sion of­ten gets quite heated, with sev­eral “old favourites” trot­ted out by par­tic­i­pants about why Macs are, or aren’t, su­pe­rior to their com­peti­tors. Even here in the TekSavvy In­sider of­fices, opin­ions are po­lar­ized, but we’ve put our pref­er­ences aside to try to cut through some of the myths sur­round­ing Macs and sep­a­rate fact from fic­tion...

MACS DON’T CRASH This is right up there with the most com­mon lines trot­ted out about Macs, but it’s also one of the least ac­cu­rate. The truth of the mat­ter is that Macs, like just about any­thing else with an op­er­at­ing sys­tem of any flavour, can and do crash. It’s not a sleight on Ap­ple to put this par­tic­u­lar claim to the sword by any stretch, but given how wide­spread the idea is, it’s some­thing that def­i­nitely needs to be ad­dressed. The truth is that a Mac will, on av­er­age, crash about as of­ten as a well main­tained PC - which is to say not all that fre­quently. There are many rea­sons for this, not least of which is the fact that Ap­ple so strin­gently con­trols the com­po­nents that are used within their sys­tems, com­pared with the free- for- all that ex­ists in the PC mar­ket. Driver is­sues are rel­a­tively rare, things tend to func­tion how they should, and the OSX plat­form doesn’t face the wealth of com­pat­i­bil­ity is­sues that Win­dows or Linux do. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t fa­mil­iar­ize your­self with the “save” short­cut on your most used soft­ware, how­ever, as is­sues can still arise, and the last thing any­one wants is to lose hours of work be­cause a rare glitch man­aged to raise its head at just the wrong time. MACS DON’T REP­RE­SENT VALUE FOR MONEY When you com­pare the prices of a top of the range iMac or Mac­Book Pro with a sim­i­larly specced PC, the chances are you’ll feel a lit­tle queasy. Ap­ple cer­tainly does charge a pre­mium for its prod­ucts on pa­per, but when you delve a lit­tle deeper you’ll see that things aren’t quite as straight­for­ward as they might seem ini­tially. In terms of raw num­bers, you can get a lot more bang for your buck by cus­tom build­ing your own PC - how­ever un­less you re­ally know what you’re do­ing ( and it’s a lot more com­pli­cated than just find­ing the fastest com­po­nents for the best price), that dream ma­chine can quickly be­come a night­mare due to driver or hard­ware is­sues. There are no such is­sues with a Mac, and that’s es­sen­tially what you’re pay­ing the pre­mium for. Each com­po­nent has been rigourously tested by Ap­ple, en­sur­ing max­i­mum com­pat­i­bil­ity with its op­er­at­ing sys­tem and min­i­miz­ing the risk of po­ten­tial prob­lems down the line, and while there are def­i­nitely cheaper op­tions avail­able, not

ev­ery­one has the time or tech­ni­cal ex­per­tise to build their own com­puter - and high- end off- theshelf PCs or lap­tops are just as ex­pen­sive, if not more so, than Ap­ple’s of­fer­ings.

MACS CAN’T GET VIRUSES This is a much trick­ier state­ment to tackle than ei­ther of the pre­vi­ous ones, mainly be­cause of the word gym­nas­tics that some par­take in when the sub­ject arises. At the most base level, Macs ab­so­lutely, 100% can get viruses. This has been proven on sev­eral oc­ca­sions by de­vel­op­ers and coders who wanted to test the claim in con­trolled sit­u­a­tions, and who wrote Mac spe­cific vi­ral code, which worked. How­ever, as of right now, there are no Mac viruses in the wild that are of any ma­jor con­cern to any­one. Things like macro viruses for Word or Excel are very real, and af­fect Mac users as well as PC users, but they’re not ex­actly

sys­tem de­stroy­ers - more mi­nor in­con­ve­niences than any­thing else - and they’re be­com­ing rare enough th­ese days. The con­fu­sion, on both sides, comes from the def­i­ni­tion of the word virus in com­puter terms. By the book, a virus is a piece of ma­li­cious code that can in­stall it­self with­out user in­ter­ac­tion and in­fect other ma­chines over net­works. Viruses are not the same thing as mal­ware, tro­jans or ma­li­cious browser plug- ins, but in re­cent times the word has be­come a catchall for any­thing on your com­puter that af­fects per­for­mance, hi­jacks your re­sources or fid­dles with set­tings with­out your knowl­edge. Go­ing by the “mod­ern” def­i­ni­tion of viruses, there are plenty of them out there that can af­fect Mac users, but if we go by the tra­di­tional def­i­ni­tion, there’s noth­ing to worry about… at the mo­ment. It’s very pos­si­ble that we’ll see some ma­jor Mac viruses in the fu­ture, but since the bulk of the world’s com­put­ing is done on Win­dows- based ma­chines, there’s not nec­es­sar­ily the same draw for ma­li­cious coders to put time and ef­fort into Mac viruses - think of it as per­verse twist on sup­ply and de­mand that, so far, has kept Mac users rel­a­tively safe. MACS ARE “IN­DUS­TRY STAN­DARD” FOR A REA­SON You’ll reg­u­larly hear graphic de­sign­ers or au­dio/ video pro­fes­sion­als trot­ting out the line that Macs are in­dus­try stan­dard in their fields, and there­fore must be learned by any­one plan­ning on work­ing in cer­tain in­dus­tries. This is most def­i­nitely true, with Macs tak­ing pride of place in de­sign stu­dios across the world, but the rea­sons for this aren’t quite what some might think. When in­dus­try stan­dards were be­ing es­tab­lished, fol­low­ing the com­puter revo­lu­tion, PCs were in a dark place. They were fid­dly, un­re­li­able and any­thing but user friendly - cer­tainly not the kind of plat­form you wanted to use for im­por­tant projects that needed sta­bil­ity above all else. Macs of­fered that sta­bil­ity, and as those in­dus­tries be­came in­creas­ingly re­liant on com­put­er­based work, Macs were es­tab­lished as the go- to de­vices. Things have changed con­sid­er­ably th­ese days, though, and although an off- the- shelf PC might still face is­sues, a cus­tom- built de­vice should have no prob­lem per­form­ing just as well as any Mac, and with the most com­mon soft­ware suites avail­able on both plat­forms, there should be lit­tle fear for ex­pe­ri­enced users to opt for PC over Mac. There’s def­i­nitely a lot to be said for the abil­ity to buy a Mac off the shelf and know that it’ll do ex­actly what you need it to, though, and that suits a LOT of peo­ple. The truth is that there’s not all that much dif­fer­ence ( price aside) be­tween a high- end Mac and a PC built by some­one who knows what they’re do­ing. Win­dows is far more vul­ner­a­ble to viruses and re­quires a lot more main­te­nance to keep things run­ning smoothly, but in the right hands sig­nif­i­cant sav­ings can be made over the price of a sim­i­larly per­form­ing Mac. Those who like to un­box a de­vice, turn it on and get right to work are al­ways go­ing to pre­fer the sim­plic­ity of Ap­ple’s hard­ware how­ever, and it’s hard to ar­gue with the re­sults.

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