Searching for alternatives….

For once this is something not (entirely) photography related! If you’re not interested in computers…. sorry, not for you. I’ll be back with photography stuff very soon.

It all began for me in 2006, when I bought my first iMac (the 17″ white plastic one. Apple calls it Polycarbonate, sounds noble. I have been an ardent defender of Macdom ever since! Call me a fanboy, I’m guilty of that, but I have my reasons.

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My current setup: MacMini 2012 with 500 and 250Gb SSD and 16 Gb RAM, Apple 20″ Cinema Display, Teufel Concept B200 Speakers, Apple wireless Keyboard and 9€ Logitech wireless mouse. Added an external WiFi antenna and vertical stand for good measure. Note how the aluminium look matches my Spotmatic!

I sold that iMac late last year, after 10 years of loyal services. And as far as I know it still works. Sure it’s usefulness had decreased by then. Older OS only, slow with newer software…. but it still worked for standard stuff.

In the intervening years I had a lot of Macs in the household, Macbooks, MacBook Pros, Mac Minis and another iMac and they did their jobs great. After years of building my own PCs, of constantly updating and upgrading stuff; after years of hunting bugs and trying to make drivers behave in Windows I had computers that just worked. As advertised. No kidding!

I have never used any antivirus on any of the machines we have at home. Never any infection. Just a bit of sound reasoning and MacOS does the rest. Seems dangerous but I swear there was never any threat.

Sure, a Mac is not cheap! But only if you compare it to low end or mid tier PCs. Any high end Laptop is in the same price range. Or not far from it. When you then consider that an iMac can easily serve you for 5 to 6 years, that a MacBook from 2012 is still capable of running current software at good speed, I was very happy with Apple once the pill of the acquisition was swallowed.

As for software, MacOS has everything I need built in. From light ‘Office Suite’ to image processing, all inclusive. And any OS updates are free, even the newest versions (looking at you, Microsoft)!

I never felt compelled to return to PCs and Windows… until this year!

Is it the regretted absence of Steve Jobs or what, but I think Apple has left the path of wisdom.

2011-10-06 at 13-15-49

Thinner is better, and we give no damn for the needs of professionnals seems to be the new credo at Apple.

The new MacBook Pros have a TOUCHBAR! Wow, marvelous…. but utterly useless eye candy! On the other hand they are in no way upgradable any more. My MacBook Pro from 2007 could be upgraded with new hard drives or SSDs, with more RAM. Easy! Not any more with the new Macs.

You better stuff them with the goodies Apple offers from the start if you don’t want to be stuck in time. And at the exorbitant prices Apple asks for RAM upgrades or bigger disk drives that’s really hard!

The Mac Pro released in 2013, the so called Trashintosh was a blatant failure. Aimed at pros it simply was only a beautiful design study with severe thermal limitations and no real upgradeability. Apple even recognized this some time ago, something unheard before. They promised to make amends and release a REAL Mac Pro next year. Something modular, upgradeable. But still, the prices will be astronomical if you consider the new iMac Pro which starts at 5.300€ and reaches 14.800€ in full gear. Sure, it’s a real Pro computer. But so was the old Cheesegrater Mac Pro…. at a considerably lesser price point.Cheese-Grater-Mac-Pro

Cheapest Mac is the Mac Mini, but the baseline model is very limited with slow processor and only 4Gb of RAM. As soon as you begin adding memory and drive space the price quickly exceeds that of a similar PC. Same for the higher models. You easily get into the 1400 Euro range. Without a screen, keyboard or mouse.

So some weeks ago I transferred my trusty 2015 iMac to my son for his music work and got a used 2012 Mac Mini, the last one that could be upgraded! The processor is a bit on the slow side but I made that up with a couple SSDs and 16Gb of Ram. Now I have a killer machine that will serve me for one or two more years…. and it’s utterly silent, something VERY important for me.

But then, in a year or two I’ll have to make a decision… Mac or PC like in the old funny ads! What always held me back from PCs was Windows. Unstable, convoluted, at least the versions I knew and still have to use at work.

So last month I decided to take a new look at Windows 10 and I was positively surprised at first. Setup in Boot Camp on the Mac Mini was painless, fast, faster than setting up MacOS! So I decided to go along and try it out exclusively for a time.

Conclusion: It’s doable! It needs some loops to jump through but it’s possible to live with it. For one thing, you have to find add-ons for EVERYTHING you want to do. Open a PDF, download Adobe Reader. Want to edit documents, download some office suite. Edit photos… there’s Lightroom etc, nothing built in! Even a simple file preview needs an add-on. Something MacOS’s Preview does out of the box.

That is something I could get over. But then there’s other stuff that bothers me more. Windows 10 has backup solutions built in, two of them in fact. But they are extremely obscure, options for one are hidden in the configuration of the second. You don’t know what they are exactly doing and when they do it and they slow my computer down extremely. An third-party solution I tried does the same. The computer becomes unbearably slow. With Apple’s Time Machine I never experience any slowdowns, the operation is automatic and completely transparent and it saved me several times. It just works!

Updates are another bore. MacOS does them in the background and asks politely if it may install them. Windows downloads them and next time you want to quickly shut down your machine for any reason…. you don’t. You wait for Windows to finish updating.

Then there’s the constant nagging reminders to use Office 365 or OneDrive! OK if I went over to PC I’d probably do it but for Bill Gate’s sake, stop nagging me all the time!

Ah yes, one more thing I noticed. Even if Windows 10 does not run much faster than MacOS for any common tasks, the computer runs much hotter! CPU temperature is constantly at about 70° Celsius in Windows and only about 45° in Mac OS. Why??

Over all, working with Windows seems clumsy to my MacOS taste. It works, but for me it works only just so. Is it just a question of adjusting to it? Perhaps.

Then there’s the Hackintosh solution. For those who don’t know it’s a PC with just the right hardware so that, with the help of some trafficked software, you can install MacOS. In fact it’s a PC capable of running MacOS and Windows…. not particularly legal in fact!

But cheaper than a real Mac. But will it last as long? Will I like it as much?

Let me use it a bit more and make up my mind about it.

Thanks for reading this irrelevant stuff!

18 thoughts on “Searching for alternatives….

  1. Thought about Linux Frank? My pc is 11 years old, slow with Windows but seems to be usable with Fedora design suite. Granted I don’t do much (read any(so far) ) image editing (it’s used for storage along with cloud and an external drive.). Hardware is modest: AMD Athlon 64 3200. 3 Gb RAM 512Mb X1500 graphics card 2 x 160Gb HDD but it works!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As ronian42 wrote, Linux is the way to go. In fact, and I say that as someone who has been using FOSS for decades, it wouldn’t hurt to run both Linux and Windows on the same machine. It is not difficult!

    If the hardware is a little older, you could also try FreeBSD. It requires more work to get it how you like it but it is rock stable and my servers run for months without ever a need for a reboot. At work one system ran uninterrupted for over a year.

    There are enough desktop posibilities that have the look and feel of MACs, too. And just imagine: you don’t have to pay a penny (in your case a cent) for it either!

    As to how long the hardware lasts: That depends on whether you want a laptop or a desktop and also whether you are prepared to pick and choose the components. It is also not difficult.

    If you want to start cheaply and experiment, I’d suggest you buy yourself a little Odroid-2, it is more powerful than a Raspberry PI 3, an enclosure and a 32GB micro SDHC card. You will need a decent 2,5V power supply but they are easy enough to come by. Install Archlinux ARM or Ubuntu on it – that consists of copying an OS onto the sdhc card and away you go. I have the former on my Odroid and I have built the system exactly the way I like it. BTW, the documentation is excellent. The little computer is tiny yet powerful enough for many day-to-day tasks. It would be good enought to test any ideas you might have and to expirement with various desktop environments.

    Sorry, you will have to tax your brain cells a little but you will be more than happy with the results.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My first (new) Mac was the ‘anglepoise’ iMac and since then I’ve had a few but my 2009 Mac Pro may be my last desktop machine… One the years I’ve upgraded the RAM, the DVD writer, the hard drives (plural… there’s room for four in there!) and added extra ports via PCI cards but it officially became obsolete in September 2016 when macOS Sierra was released. It’s still a very capable machine though and I’ll keep it going as long as possible… For me, there’s just no suitable alternative at the moment, certainly not a new Mac Pro or iMac Pro and not the Windows ecosystem either…

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  4. I’ve been using Hackintoshes for around 8yrs & they’ve been great. My current config cost around 2.5k an equivilant Mac would be around 8k. I’ve also gone through many different linux distro’s & most windows variants all the way back to 3.1 but as far as operating systems go its OSX for me & my Mrs who’s now on her third macbook, currently the Air. You should google tonymac, very good site with all the help & info you’ll ever need.

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    • Looked into hackintosh already but not yet made up my mind.

      Ah yes, Windows 3.1 was a blast 😁 but I preferred GeoWorks Ensemble back then…. do you know that one?

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  5. Ha ha no you got me there we went from DOS based systems to 3.1 it was quite a revelation at the time, although I still remember them DOS commands but I wouldn’t want to go back there!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Frank

    At present I have 3 options at hand… a 2015 HP windows 7 laptop, a Acer Chromebook, and a Samsung galaxy tab 2 tablet…. whilst I use the tablet for browsing and general stuff, I mainly use the Acer for everything photos wise, as for a few reasons really, one being the ability to keep everything via the “cloud”, the other is that apart from the fast start and mega fast linking from program to program, it also has for me being especially good as the Chromebook seems to be a machine that viruses “miss”possibly due to it not having a real memory as such, I really rate the Chromebook…. and if and when the Acer dies…. it will be replaced with another Chromebook for sure…. as you can see…. the windows laptop isn’t mentioned…. why… it’s slow, packed full of bloated junk, takes ages to start… I only keep it as a standby… maybe a look at a Chromebook is worth a punt….

    BR Lynd

    Liked by 1 person

  7. My MacBook Air died a couple of months ago. I still have a 2014 27” iMac but the only room for it is in an inconvenient and unheated part of our little house. As an experiment, I have been using my iPhone for all of my non-photo related computer work. It has worked out so well that I am no longer interested in a computer for anything but my photo work.

    At the same time, my 35mm B&W hybrid photo workflow is becoming simpler and simpler. Since I ditched Adobe I have been using Photos as my DAM and Affinity Photo as my principal photo editor. The most recent change was to switch from RAW to JPG for the digital camera scans of my negatives.

    In light of the above, I am seriously considering shutting off the iMac and buying a 12.9” iPad Pro. Everything I have heard about Affinity Photo for the iPad is encouraging.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thought about an iPad too. In fact it does all I need as I rely on Photos and…. no, not Affinity but Luminar since I said bye to Lightroom.

      Only problem is I need to run my scanner and it’s software. So a computer is necessary!

      And I know that the Windows Surface has USB…. but it’s Windows.

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  8. I no longer scan negatives or slides with my V700. I find a digital camera a lot faster and the results are at least as good. (That would probably not be the case if I was scanning color negatives.)

    I have been looking at Epson small-in-one printers that work with IOS devices. At least some of them can scan at 4800 dpi which is more than enough for scanning prints.

    The missing piece of the puzzle for me is that I am very attached to Epson’s ABW for B&W prints and I’ve found no way it will work with IOS. The best alternative I’ve come up with is to treat the scans of B&W negatives as color images and process and print them accordingly.

    Liked by 1 person

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