Thursday, January 22, 2009


I hate replacing expensive things.

Take the television, for example. I have no idea how old it was. It's entirely possible that we bought it in Alaska which means we really did get pretty good service out of the darn thing. I could feel all smug as well since we have cheapy bundle-priced Dtv so we didn't have to make the HDTV upgrade (don't get me STARTED on government imposed consumerism... grrrrr...). The kid's friends might have made the odd comment about our less-than-enormous screen but I'll take that as a compliment, thanks. There was only one leeeetle problem: the leads, the ones that actually take the picturey thing (and sound) from whatever - the ether, the PS2 that stands in for a DVD player, the brainwashing machines of the circling aliens - and feed it into the actual TV box. Those were, to put it technically, a bit borked. They worked, see, but only the ones in front (meaning wires all over - go on, ask me how I feel about wires all over), and then only if you spent a minute or two coaxing them into juuuuust the right position. Also, you sort of had to wedge them in place with a frog [no, really, a frog. It's a quite lovely metal frog with a gapey mouth and glass eyes and between the bulgy eyes and the mouth there were exactly the right knobs and things at precisely the right height to hold the leads in... well... sort of]. So yes, it was a bit of a pain to have to swap them out between watching, say, Survivor Man* and deciding to put in this week's Netflix. However, Children 2 and 3 in particular seemed to have the touch and so although I had sort of thought a little vaguely about some time possibly replacing the television in the distant future I was definitely putting off the evil day.

Then I came home one day and, with no Children around, decided to man up and swap the leads myself. Normally it takes me twice as long as the smug gits I support, but with my tongue in just the right corner of my mouth I can, eventually, manage it. No dice, not that day. Worse, I couldn't even get the horrible burst of static that told me there was, however unlikely, just a little hope that some day it just might work. Nope, eventually I had to admit that Old Faithless had abandoned me entirely.

Now, the positive thing about waiting this long is that a) we got the television on super deep discount meaning that rather than buying the one we would need binoculars to view from 10 feet away we got the one we can actually see and b) we're all ridiculously delighted by the fact that we can switch from one feed to another by pressing a button which seems incredibly luxurious in comparison to the palaver of the last two years.

However, I'm not entirely recovered from this particular event which is why I'm particularly distressed to find that my laptop is, sadly to say, showing its age (in particularly irritating and, now, work-impacting ways) and it is probably in need of replacement.

Here are my difficulties:

I use my laptop for extensive graphic work, often running several memory-intensive programs at the same time (for example today I'm working on a project that will mean I have Illustrator, Photoshop and Flash open simultaneously. That means I need boatloads of RAM and the fastest processor I can get my hands on (and afford). I also need the best graphic card I can find, preferably one that will take me through the next several years which means I want to be looking at NVIDIA if possible. It needs to have enough screen area to make room for multiple windows but still be at least nominally portable for client presentations etc. A DVD/CD burner with a disk-writer/labeler (labeller? labler?) would be highly useful and of course the biggest, most impressive darn hard drive out there.

Also, my work computer was recently replaced which means that for the last several months I've been working on Vista. Now, I'm the first to admit that I have in the past compared Microsoft to the minions of Satan so perhaps I am a little biased, so I will say outright that there are things about Office 2007 that I like. There are also things about Vista that I don't hate. Maybe we should leave it there.

It's probably enough just to say that Vista/Office 2007 and a few other things such as the recent virus alert have made me think very, very hard about jumping ship for Apple. I've worked on Apples before, all my graphics friends mock me for not having made the move ages ago; I know them and like them.

Of course, I'd have to replace my software, which since that's the Adobe Master suite is a major thought. On the other hand, I was thinking about upgrading anyway thanks to the CS4 improvements... and iWorks is much less expensive than Microsoft Office suite... although I can't find anyone who uses it extensively so I don't know how well it compares...

... let's face it, basically it comes down to lovely, lovely money - right? I mean, the Mac I want (drool drool) is the Mac Pro, the new one, the gorgeous aluminium one that is so new they don't even have one at the Apple store to play with. And even with the educational discount it is very, very pricey. Very.

Only, I won't be going back to Dell (don't ask) and spent a happy half hour early this morning building the HP I would need to buy to fill my requirements and compare with the Pro and... yes, it's still less expensive - and by quite a bit - but not nearly so much as I thought.

So. Do I go to the Dark Side?

They have Apples.

*Note - the kids were trying to tell me that Survivor Man is superior to Man vs. Wild because SM goes out on his own while MvW has a crew. However I personally saw SM FAIL to catch a salmon - during the Run. I mean, really! We've had Children catch salmon with lines and hooks they found on the bank. They've caught them with Mickey Mouse rods, with a line tied to a stick, with a line tied to a ROCK for heaven's sake and baited with a bit of yarn found in a bush. You have to work NOT to catch a salmon during the Run. However, MvW is named Bear, and I hear that he just named his infant son Huckleberry. I'm not sure there's much to choose between the two of them.


Anonymous said...

I went with an HP because I couldn't afford the Apple. Between the software and peripherals, I just needed to trim costs where ever I could. So my work computer is an HP.

That said, I do have an older Mac at home. And yes, I love it.

Anonymous said...

Hello, I delurked as I have worked on Macs for the past few years (I work in IT support so work on Windows all day, and am very happy returning home to my Macbook :)) Iworks is very good, as long as you don't want to use all the features that Office has. I managed to write my dissertation, do my budgets and do presentations on IWorks, a lot easier than Office. I never do anything more complicated than that so if there's anything else you do, I'd check it out first. there's always Office for Mac but I've never liked it, too fiddly and feels like a half arsed attempt at Office to me, but that could be me being biased!
I'd go for the Apple every time, not having to deal with virus scans and antivirus/antispyware software will save you time and I find them a joy to use rather than having to persuade Windows to work every morning.
Also, a photographer friend of mine went from a PC with two screens to an IMac and found that he only needed the one screen as the resolution on the IMac was so good.
Hope some of that was useful to you,

emily said...

umm... i know nuh-thing about i allowed to say that i really want an apple because they are pretty?! lol

Megan said...

Anonymous 1 - yop, seriously considering a basic HP for the kid's homework machine. I'm hearing good things about them.

Becca - That helps enormously - thanks! I really don't use Office much for anything other than basic word-processing and simple-minded spreadsheets. I use InDesign for anything print-wise more complex than a letter or a rough draft, PhotoShop etc for basic presentations of the portfolio variety and Flash for stuff that needs to be more... well... flashy! I do use PowerPoint now and then to knock up a presentation for a faculty member, but it's so basic I'm pretty sure the iWork version would do just as well.

I'm really interested with the comment about the resolution. I went to the Apple store to have a play with the MacBook Pro (they don't have the new 17" yet which was disappointing... guess I'll have to go back!) and was very impressed with the screen - would take a bit of getting used to after dealing with this darn clunky monitor and my laptop, but it's a struggle I'm willing to make!

emily - Sadly, me too! I mean, the technical stuff and the usability and all the rest of it is totally justifiable, but oh my GOODNESS does Apple do loverly design work!