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Decline & Fall of the iMac?

by Alberto Enriquez / June 18, 2009 11:53 AM PDT

This is a cautionary tale for anyone looking at a new iMac. Trust not?and make sure you're getting exactly what you need. Then consider the alternatives.

Walk around my house and you'll see why for years I was an unpaid Apple evangelist. From the earliest Mac, to the first turquoise iMac, to the indigo, plus three laptops along the way, I was one happy customer. All of these machines are still up and running at least occasionally in some big or small capacity. Everything wasn't perfect?and sometimes at work I suffered from not being in the Wintel camp?but by and large, things were right in the world of Mac. The machines were well made. The software promised easy out-of-the-box functionality and delivered.

Then came the machine?the iMac 5.1?that would try my Mac-faith and show it to be a bit too blind and trusting. Apple didn't just let me down?it sucker-punched me. The first problems were software, and I adapted. But now, after less than three years?and just off warranty?my screen is failing with three vertical lines and counting. I've checked around online and this is all too common.

The problem according to the local service department is either the cable or the 1440 x 900 LCD screen. The cable is manufactured only by Apple. The screen itself would cost more to remove and replace $400 than substituting a new LCD TV screen. So I possibly shell out $80 to buy a cable that has been shown to be inadequate. Or I shell out for an entirely new monitor?definitely not Apple!

We loyal Apple customers used to brag that we didn't mind paying filet mignon prices because we didn't want to settle for the same MacD's hamburger everyone else was getting. It's way past time to stop taking those glowing reviews at face value every time Apple launches a product?and start raising hard questions about Apple's tactics and quality control.

Two years ago, it already seemed to me that Apple's tactics had gotten pretty damn rude. It never dawned on me for instance that any major computer company, let alone Apple, would ship a machine without a word processor. Pretty basic function, right? I mean, are wheels optional on a car? Yet, that's what happened with this much trumpeted iMac model?just "trial" versions of two different processors that lasted for 30 days. When I called to complain, the nice lady said, sure you can have the software permanently?just send us another $70. For this kind of nickel-and-diming, I paid over a grand more than for the competing products? Fortunately, work had a home license available for Microsoft Office, and helped us out. So, gradually my old files moved out of the Apple universe.

I also didn't expect that the "helpful" iTunes software would lock down the Audion mp3s that I'd encoded from my own CD collection. I re-ripped those files with Audion and took care to play them only on Audion, so I could move them around as I pleased. I'm not even a file trader, but apparently, I can't be trusted with my own CDs? Sure, they've fixed their obsession with playing mother, but it was an annoyance while it lasted.

Today, open source software from Google and others provides a no-cost alternative to both Microsoft or Apple. If you're not heavily committed to Apple software, and don't spend your time making movies, you may be just as well off with a much cheaper and more reliable hardware from someone else. That's the bottom-line. You wouldn't settle for a TV that had to be replaced every three years. So why PAY MORE for lower quality and bad attitude?

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I kind of disagree
by Dan Filice / June 19, 2009 7:57 AM PDT

Had a few problems with a Mac and all of a sudden it's a no good, useless platform, and Apple is the evil empire sucking everyone dry of their hard-earned money? In the small circle of friends who are active PC users, many of them have had horrible problems (incompatible programs, constant error messages, freeze-ups, no way to ingest video, useless Windows Media Player, etc), while my iMac is still running rock solid after 4 years. No word processor? Every Mac comes with AppleWorks. Yes, it's not a replacement for Microsoft Office, but it's free. Do PC's come with a full-blown MS Office installed? And if you are having problems with music files from Audion. ever wonder why? I just looked at their website and it says "The program is retired. It is not being developed any longer." Another company trying to reinvent the mouse trap, and with dismal results? My suggestion, regardless of the computer you purchase, is to buy an Extended Warranty. For some reason I don't think you are the type of person to buy one.

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You're entitled to your opinion?but not your own facts.
by Alberto Enriquez / June 19, 2009 9:22 AM PDT
In reply to: I kind of disagree

The fact is that these iMacs shipped WITHOUT a word processor. Here I had all these Appleworks and ClarisWorks files from years of being a faithful customer?and 30 days to find an alternative or cough up another $70 to make a machine that already cost twice as much as the competition. That's a fact.

Later machines may have shipped with iWorks '06 included, but they've never shipped me a copy. To this day, if I click on an old .cwk file without dragging it to the Microsoft Office icon, I'll get a "friendly" reminder that my 30-day trial period for iWorks is through??and fork over the dough. This machine also shipped with an MS Works trial, but that was also 30-days expiration. Like I said, but for a generous boss who'd paid for MS-Office home licenses, I would have had to kowtow to Apple and hand over the money.

Appleworks was a great program?for the 1990s. I had the version that ran on the unstable 9.0 OS. The Unix platform is undoubtedly better, but pre OS X stuff is useless on this machine. So, with no backwards compatibility, and no permanent WP program, Apple KNEW every customer would be out an additional $70 from the start. It was dishonest. Like re-marking the price tags while ringing up the customer's sale and hoping he won't notice.

And yet.... I still wanted to go on believing Apple was the same old Apple. My experience hasn't born that out. Yours may differ.

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And don't go knocking Audion.

Audion's STILL a great program and I've never had a problem with it. Steve Jobs (heard of him?) said the coders who made it "rock." The problem, as I stated, was with the iTunes getting possessive about locking down mp3s that ran on it. I'm hardly the only one who complained about that. But then again, you're willing to judge Audion?and reach a negative conclusion?based on a few seconds' visit to a website? How fair is that.

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Oh dear,
by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / June 19, 2009 11:23 AM PDT

If I were you, I would put that machine up on eBay and sell it for whatever you can get for it.

No need for you to be annoyed all the time when the most simple solution would be for you to remove the source of your annoyance.

Appleworks was good in its time but its time ran out.

MS Works was never on your machine as a 30 day trial package.
MS Office may have been but then again, MS Office is usually installed as a 30 day trial on a bunch of PC's too.

Not sure what your problem with Audion. iTunes does not rule the roost here with my MP3's. It lets me play them in Audion without a problem.

Same with my old .cwk files. Double clicking on one does not bring up any friendly warning, it brings up the application that I has designated as the default app to open them. Know what that app is? It's Appleworks. Yes, there was an OS X version and it was free. I just installed it on my iMac and away we went.

So, I disagree with your rant, but we each have our own opinions.


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Oh dear 2
by oobe2u / June 19, 2009 11:49 AM PDT
In reply to: Oh dear,

I didn't share the same grief, too. I use TextEdit (came free with my iMac) for a whole lot of my word processing stuff - although I've added a great program called WriteRoom - full page view writing with no distractions. I opted to no purchase the iWorks suite, even though it seems like really good value. I've been using NeoOffice for a while - when I need to do a little more sophisticated formatting and I've had no compatibility issues with Word on Windows, or Excel. The Presentation app is on par with Powerpoint, but both lag behind Keynote -
None of the same issues with iTunes, either. Maybe your prefs aren't set correctly?
My iMac, a 24 inch 2.4 Core 2 Duo machine, is gorgeous and has been rock solid - looking forward to seeing what Snow Leopard does, when it arrives this fall. I use XP and Office at work, and while I get along fine, there's no question that my experience at home is vastly superior.
I second the motion to get rid of the machine if it's an irritant, but I'd look at some of these alternatives before I abandoned OS X. I have Windows 7 on my Windows partition and it's a big improvement, but still lags behind the Apple product, IMHO.

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Nice rant but not accurate in most regards
by grtgrfx / June 19, 2009 12:40 PM PDT

Let's start with the basics.

1) hardware problem in less than three years but "just off warranty". That's a non-starter. AppleCare lasts three years if you bought it. IF it's under warranty, your repair is free. OR you never bought an extended warranty and you're outa luck after almost three years. That happens. Plenty of people have 3-year old iMacs that are fine; the others bought new computers to keep up with tech. But if your computer breaks, you have to live with it. I don't complain (much) when my 8-year old Ford has a mechanical problem that would have been covered by its six-year warranty; I still own it, it's parts have a limited lifespan, and if I want to save money by not buying a newer one, I'll have to get it repaired. Owning stuff is a crap-shoot, if you don't want the risk, don't buy anything. But as far as it goes, Apple equipment (as a whole) is at least as reliable, if not more so, than anything else in the market. That is why, despite their low numbers, Apple has the highest customer satisfaction rating of any computer maker in the world.

2) Major computer companies ship without "expected" software. You know, the world is a lot more cut-throat these days than in the innocent '90s, when you got free stuff to encourage you to buy. Now, your ice cream 1/2 gallon tub is down to 1-1/2 quarts for the same price, you get 350 sheets of paper towel instead of 500 in the same package, and Apple doesn't serve up free AppleWorks anymore. That's life in the new Century. On the other hand, your current-issue Mac is 25% less expensive than one you may have bought three years ago and twice as fast to boot. And the final nail in this coffin, Apples only real competitor in the bundled app department, Microsoft, does not and has never included a "real" word processor in their offerings, much less an entire suite of apps to make your purchase seem valuable.

3) iTunes "fixes" files so they don't play in Audion? If you can't play a music file in another player after ripping it in iTunes, you did not create an MP3. Maybe you didn't notice that you created an AAC file, whose merits can be be debated elsewhere, but it's plain that if you create an MP3 from a CD in iTunes, it will play on any device or software product on the planet. If you re-rip a track in Audion and play it only in Audion, where's the improvement from using iTunes? You're still locking yourself into one app for no reason. And nothing has changed in iTunes as far as converting YOUR OWN music since iTunes was released all these years ago, so no "mother obsession" has been fixed. You are confusing locked PURCHASED tracks from un-lockable homemade tracks. If not all players can digest AAC files YOU make, it's not their fault. You want to be universal, it's up to you to do so.

So I believe you're a good Apple fan who doesn't read the manuals and has blind trust in the creator, and you've been burned by your own mistakes in the last few years because you're getting older and perhaps paying less attention to details than you used to. Hey, I sympathize, I'm going there too. But that's no excuse for a rant, and you need to have facts behind you to rant in a forum where there are people who can rebut you. Apple has not caused you to become disillusioned, your inaction (for warranty periods and iTunes management) and inattention to details (lack of free software in an industry increasingly reluctant to give product away) has caused you to dray inaccurate conclusions from the facts at hand.

I hope you feel better about your Macs at some point and begin to relate to them again, because, believe me, you won't be particularly happy to trade in your comfortable Mac habits and start to use Windows as your daily beast. Aside from having to unlearn 10 years worth of mac operations, you'll have to lock up your computer in reality because of viruses, phishing and spam attacks. The amount of work it takes to keep a PC operational is substantial compared to the ease of Mac maintenance.

Good luck!

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Nice inaccuracies but who's ranting now?
by Alberto Enriquez / June 19, 2009 2:49 PM PDT

Interesting that you think you know better than me what came on this machine. LOL. Believe me, I was pretty surprised when I found out there was NO word processor that lasted more than 30 days. Your argument that I should have known better is interesting?especially in light of the millions that Apple spends advertising that their machines have what you need right out of the box. And, oh yeah, making fun of that Microsoft dweeb whose machine didn't come with what he needed.

But the general tenor of your remarks is familiar. You're an Apple zealot, and while I wasn't quite so obnoxious about it, I was once one too. It made me slow to realize obvious things. Like the day the computer tech came up to our floor and told me the machine would have to go. And I was the only one asking, "Why?" We were going all PC because OS 9.0 was so unstable that the machines kept crashing at far higher rate than the PCs. She had the data to back it up too. But I'd suffered all my Apple crashes gladly, secure in my unsupported belief that the PCs would be even worse. But by the late 90s that was no longer so. OS X has been a great improvement, no doubt.

Like I said, I had been willing to overlook the minor stuff. Then I think: I spent DOUBLE what my PC friends did. Shouldn't the stuff at least hold up? I think it should. You apparently think that's the customer's lookout. OK by me if you do. But I'm just guessing most people, who are shopping for a computer think the basic components should hold up more than three years. That many people's screens are failing so quickly is a fact. Not a rant. Have a nice day!

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Sorry if I sound like other "zealots"...
by grtgrfx / June 19, 2009 4:33 PM PDT

It happens I have Vista Ultimate running in my Mac Pro, which I sometimes use up to six hours a day. I also built and maintain a PC at home with XP Pro, that's used to help run my partner's tech support consulting business (mostly Windows tech support, I may add). I personally get tired of Vista's daily mandatory security downloads, virus update announcements and game crashes back to the desktop, but, hey, it's Windows.

In fact, OS 9 was not so famously unstable, that would be Windows 98 and ME. But the first two versions of OS-X, 10.0 and 10.1, were famously prone to blowups. Your PC guru was mistaken, however, as many I.T. people were and still are. If your company's Macs were having problems as a whole, then the tech staff were just not figuring out how to resolve them. Historically, though, Mac offices have such low problem rates that there's no need for dedicated support staff. There's plenty of documentation online to support this.

I did not state anywhere in my post what you may or may not have received on your Mac, that was from other posters. I merely said that if you use a program like iTunes you should set your preferences for conversions before ripping your CDs, and that you don't get any free word processors better than a basic text editor with most other computers either, unless you pay for them as an upgrade. Dell doesn't include anything free, nor does HP, Sony, or the others.

And of course as an informed consumer you should be aware of what you're buying. How do you think the U.S. economy got flushed into the toilet? Consumers not knowing what they were buying (result: foreclosures) and big business cutting back on consumer benefits to reward their senior management (result: bank bailouts). But that's neither here nor there, is it? Specs and included features for any Mac model are available everywhere, from the corporate web site to ads to the outside of the box you bring home.

Nothing is built the way it was ten years ago, and that extends to computers. With shortened product testing cycles and intensified marketing programs, electronics are pushed out the door half-baked (Microsoft Vista, anyone?). And perhaps you're aware that buying expensive is no assurance of long-lasting quality. Think Viking stoves (terrible reputation for reliability), Jaguar cars (famous for sucking money from owner wallets in the shop), Sony's exploding laptop batteries (speaks for itself), etc. These are all premium products as well. Why do you think there is an industry selling "refurbished", i.e. broken, fixed, and resold, products today? Because so much is not made that well anymore. It is expected, taken for granted, in fact, by the entire industry.

You're buying a feature set and promise of performance, not a guarantee of life. It IS a shame that things don't last as long today and a higher percentage of defective products get through quality control uncaught. I send back electronic components regularly, from automatic watches to GPS units, because they are buggy or fail. In a way, it's my fault for being a sucker and buying stuff, but it's also the fault of the corporate world we live in, where it's more important to show profit in the next quarter than it is to build a product that works properly and lasts a long time.

But I can't take YOUR individual tech experience and decide that's the norm rather than the exception. Apple sells around a million Macs a year. You think 10% of iMac owners have your issue? How about 1%? .001%, perhaps? I don't hear of 1,000s of iMac buyers having these problems. That's no consolation for you, rare sufferer, but it happens. And THAT'S why you buy extended warranties, because it could happen to you!

While you may have spent double what your PC friends spent (did they really spend half what you did, all of them?), did they get all the computer you did? Probably not. And is the industry NOT geared towards annual (if possible) purchases to keep manufacturing humming? Of course it is. Look at the iPhone/iPhone 3g/iPhone about induced madness and instant obsolescence!

For me, it's lame to spend $500 or more every year to buy new CPUs, motherboards, faster RAM, bigger drives, etc., and keep rebuilding a PC when my Macs can stay viable for 3-4 years. That's why I will pay more, UP FRONT, for a faster, full-featured machine that I don't need to upgrade to keep going. People who buy a $600 PC get a low-end, obsolete on the showroom floor, can't do anything much except word processing and web-surfing $600 PC. THAT'S what you want to compare your iMac to? Have you been watching those ludicrous Windows TV ads from Microsoft? A mid-level PC that will last three years without replacing all its parts will cost over $1,000 and probably more like $1,500. A fast machine with high-end video...over $5,000. So don't get started on the value of a PC that costs half of your iMac.

Not a peep from you about the warranty period issue, or why you couldn't get MP3s from iTunes, so I guess I was correct about those things. Fact is, I'm not a zealot, exactly, but I don't have a lot of sympathy for people who don't think for themselves or make assumptions based on faulty logic. Sometimes I just have to speak my mind to correct, so other readers who don't know better can at least get their facts straight before making their own decisions. I'm not down on you, just your conclusions.

OK< I obviously went overboard here. I apologize for rubbing your nose in my rhetoric. I hope you can see some of the overarching points I am making about the state of the consumer and manufacturing world today and how we sometimes get abused by it. If any of this makes you think about your next computer purchase or how you go about relating to the equipment you use, then I won't have completely wasted your time.

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A little overboard
by Alberto Enriquez / June 19, 2009 10:46 PM PDT

1. Google "lines" "Mac" and "screen," and you'll see that I'm not entirely alone in this. Apparently this was a manufacturing error, and Apple has agreed to fix the lemons?free. I'll give them that. They didn't make me that offer yet.
2. I was sent away by my only local Apple outlet with the message that I was on my own: Fix the cable. Or fix the screen. I asked if there was an upgrade after-market part that would last, they said the cable was an Apple-only cable. If and when Apple makes good, I'd give them that too. But when I first had the problem, the online discussions didn't include this fix. Only the angst.
3. No, I did not buy the extended warranty. That's not a sin.
4. My not answering every item of a several page long reply on a thread that began with you telling me that I'm ranting does not constitute your being right.
5. My Audion mp3s, legally ripped from my own CDs, work great in any mp3 player made. But if they were played on iTunes?they got turned into iTunes?I didn't ask Apple to do that. Software should ask?or at least tell in advance. More recently, iTunes doesn't do this. That's more like it.
6. Calling TextEdit a word processor is like saying I should run a life-time supply of .cwk files through the original MacWrite program. Maybe I could figure that out if I had endless time and a computer degree. You seem to have both. Not everybody does. I'm still thanking the boss for Office!
7. Read the manual? What manual? I got a picture book. I think I do a better-than-the-average-bear job of muddling through on my own using the online resources, but again, an Apple retailer more than 30 years in the biz told me I was on my own. Silly me, I believed him.
8. As to the fellow who said Appleworks day had come and gone. I never said anything bad about Appleworks. And never will. I would have been happy to have even that on this machine when I first got it. Instead, I got 30-day versions.
9. All the above said, you managed to do some good?in that going back to Google made me aware of the fix which I'd not been offered. If Apple comes through, I'll certainly say so. Till then, I'm taking a break from this thread, which will no doubt make you infinitely right about infinitely everything. Enjoy.

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<sigh> You are so abused by superior intellects...
by grtgrfx / June 20, 2009 2:29 AM PDT
In reply to: A little overboard

Um, I never say ANYTHING about TextEdit. This is the second time you mentioned it. Get your posts straight when you respond. And if you want a third-party solution, try another (non-Apple) store. There are dozens in my area. They fix Macs too. If Apple has an extended period lemon replacement plan, call them (1-800-APPL) to get it done. They aren't gonna call you first and say "Hi, how's your iMac screen which we seem to be having a lot of problems with?"

The fact that you know Office but don't know TextEdit (or MacWrite, from your example) is not much of an excuse to complain that you can't use your existing data. Even if Apple DID give you their iWork Suite word processor, Pages, for free, you'd STILL have to learn its all-new command structure, because it isn't MS Office. So? Text edit is a word processor, albeit a minimal one, and the fact that you don't know how to make it work doesn't mean you haven't been given software to work with.

As for Googling "Mac Screen," there were no links to screen problems you describe in the first 4 pages of listings, so it's not a highly ranked problem according to Google. I did find a few links in these 100 listings for hardware repair companies that fix defective screens. I guess you ignored those.

And for iTunes, it's pretty well-known that Apple rips to AAC as a default, since they have proclaimed it's superior sound since it came out. If you can't read the manual (I don't either), you could at least have the curiosity to look at iTunes' settings in case you could change it after the first time you saw the problem. Or hey, there's a Help menu item on all Apple software menu bars which can be very informative. Apple's help, while still skimpy at times, is far easier to get to than help in Windows. Simply put, playing a song in iTunes won't "grab its file type" and make it iTunes-only.

You're just whining, "aww, poor me, I have been abused." You clearly hold some rather old-fashioned views about how the computer market works and what manufacturers owe you for your loyalty. But reading your posts, it's more likely that you just aren't proactive enough to help yourself. Unfortunately in this self-service age we live in, you gotta grow a pair and fix your own problems, just like everybody else. That's why these forums exist. But next time, ask questions here (and on the Apple or MacFixIt boards, for example) and get some answers first, rather than rant about how wronged you are and wait for the rebuttals.

I sincerely hope you call Apple tech support and don't let them go until they agree to fix your problem, at least if they are offering this service for your model. Ask for the support team leader if your initial customer service rep can't help you, until they clearly explain all your options. Good luck.

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Sorry you are upset
by jennywren1420 / June 21, 2009 5:31 AM PDT

I can't really address some parts of your messages, but I do know that whatever the situation with your iMac and its (missing?) word processing software, you could get NeoOffice for free. My daughter has it and is very pleased, and it has a fine reputation, from what I can gather from many posts I've read. I do believe, though that most or all fairly recent Macs have come with a basic suite of Mac apps for word processing and other functions. Is it possible that yours got erased, somehow? Did you check with Apple, when you got your iMac to make sure that something wasn't missing that should have been there?

As for OS 9 crashing a lot, that is completely contrary to my experience (when I still was using it), and my mother's computer still has it and hasn't crashed at all, either. Did you go all the way to 9.2.2, or was yours an earlier version?

It's always sad to hear that someone is having a hard time, but I hope, too, that when you are feeling better, you'll come back to Mac. I worked with both PCs and Macs, years ago, and resisted like crazy the switch to an all-Mac office applied by my then-boss, but I haven't looked back since. Still, we all are different. I hope that you find what works well for you.


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RE: Nice inaccuracies but who's ranting now?
by AbbyNormal21 / November 15, 2010 8:23 PM PST

"We were going all PC because OS 9.0 was so unstable that the machines kept crashing at far higher rate than the PCs"

HAHA. Your precious Macs "just working!" I love it!

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Sounds like you have Grown Up !
by TheSalemCat / June 19, 2009 12:48 PM PDT

Apples for for High Schoolers and College Students that need to impress their friends with their Pretty Box that Glows and Beeps.

Sounds like you're ready for Prime Time now.

Congratulations !

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by grtgrfx / June 19, 2009 12:53 PM PDT

Dude, I'm over 50, so shut yer yap, you young whippersnapper!

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Prime time? Really? For me?
by oobe2u / June 19, 2009 12:57 PM PDT

I'm 59. Is there any hope for me? Should I go all Linux on you?

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Ok, so I finally got a MacBook...
by billygard / June 19, 2009 2:33 PM PDT

and so my Windows computer with a sick disk has been going unused for long periods of time. So far I find my mac to work smoothly. I do see glitches but they haven't gotten to the point of chronic system shutdowns. I hope reading your warning doesn't jinx my experience.

I find TextEdit to work great as a word processor, as I can put rich text in it. I can open pdf's in preview and even more quickly in quicklook (mac's equivalent of quickview). I can also "print" any document to a PDF file for printing later.

The only practical problem I have now is finding a trueblue MIDI sequencer that is made for the mac. Previously I was having a problem finding a mac equivalent for Paint. But I found a host of freeware graphic programs that have let me port my graphic projects over to my mac. Among them are Pixen and Seashore which support alpha transparency, something I haven't found in a Windows version.

Other complaints I have are largely minute technicalities such as being able to save gif images in a specified color depth. But that hasn't been much of a bother now that I'm working more with png files.

Yes I had to recode some webpages to work with Safari, but this has forced me to stick more closely with the W3 specifications for good HTML and javascript.

For the time being, let me basque in my ignorance. By the time apple runs around and bites me on the butt I'll probably have my WinXP computer debugged.


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Happy 4 U
by Alberto Enriquez / June 19, 2009 3:05 PM PDT

Hi Billy?In no way do I intend to jinx you. If you're happy with what you've got, I'm not even trying to convert you. I'm done evangelizing. I'm not boomeranging from Apple is god?to PC is god. I'm simply stating.... people should shop around.

I think, for my needs, TextEdit is a long way from being a word processor, but if it meets YOUR needs that's all that matters. Yes, it handles RTF just fine. That's what it's designed to do. Perhaps some musician will read your comment and chime in with the best MIDI sequencer for someone in the Mac universe. This machine came with GarageBand?but I don't use it?so can't comment on whether it would do what you want.

Warm regards?

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Everybody pays for word processing....
by jboroman / June 19, 2009 10:12 PM PDT
In reply to: Happy 4 U

"....It never dawned on me for instance that any major computer company, let alone Apple, would ship a machine without a word processor..." Why'd you think that? Most of the Windoz PC people I know have had to buy Office after their trial period. The ones that didn't had to pay for it up front; on more expensive PC's. Any PC costing half as much as your iMac will come only with a trial period Office. You can just download the free OpenOffice or NeoOffice if TextEdit isn't up to par for you. I know several Windoz users who use OpenOffice. Point is, for the most part, Macs do come bundled with some pretty nifty software; the software is integrated, EG "built for Mac"; and generally trouble-free. Buying a computer and complaining that one has to pay for software seems naive at best.

However, it IS disconcerting that your monitor has crapped out. I know of a couple other iMac people who've had power supply problems after 3-4 years. And, I've seen posts at Apple Discussions about those problems also. On the other hand, I have no idea what percentage have problems with their iMac hardware. Hopefully a low percentage. So, I do feel for you there; yes it sucks. Of course, Apple doesn't manufacture monitors and it could be that LCD's don't last as long as the old CRT's. But, that's a discussion relevant to any computer maker.

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Garage Band
by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / June 19, 2009 11:29 PM PDT

As already mentioned, you might want to take a look at this application.

It could be what you are looking for


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by billygard / June 21, 2009 9:01 AM PDT
In reply to: Garage Band

I currently am doing things in Garageband, but also note that this is not a MIDI sequencer.

You can import a MIDI file into Garageband, but once it is inside, you aren't dealing with MIDI anymore. It walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, but it's really a goose. Garageband uses its own format that resembles MIDI in its operation. And there is no provision for exporting it back out to MIDI format.

Also MIDI is really taylored for the techrock artist. If you try to inport a General MIDI file with an orchestra score into GB, expect a rude surprise. Most of the GM instruments aren't included. No clarinets, oboe, single violin, or marimba, all of which are standard in GM.


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by Alberto Enriquez / June 21, 2009 9:26 AM PDT
In reply to: garageband

Hi Billy,

I'm surprised no one has chimed in with a better suggestion for you by now, but it is Father's Day weekend. Maybe on Monday or Tuesday something will pop up. I suppose you've dug down through Google searches and other obvious resources, but I did find a list of programs as part of the Wikipedia entry. You'll find it at

I don't use GarageBand myself, as I said, but you've clarified for me what it does and doesn't do. It takes MIDI in, but it doesn't put MIDI out. Maybe one of the programs on the MIDI sequencer list will be compatible with your equipment and do what you want it to do. I see they list both commercial and free programs. If these don't work out, maybe it will be worth starting a separate thread on MIDI sequencers that might attract more attention than here.

Good luck!

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Thanks for the link.
by billygard / June 22, 2009 11:13 AM PDT
In reply to: garageband

I may have seen some of those, but I'll look again in case I missed something. I've been looking at some commercial things already like Intuem and Metro SE. But I may check for some more free ones to make sure I don't buy something only to find myself marinated in free ones the very next day. Too many of the ones I do find turn out to be really bizarre things like "pattern" sequencers (whatever that is), or software specialized for drum sets or guitar. I won't be surprised if by the time I can find the perfect program I figure out how to program in Java and write my own MIDI sequencer for Mac. If a MIDI topic appears soon on CNET, it will probably be mine.

This will be one of the biggest humps to get over in making my Mac function like a good Windows.


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by billygard / June 22, 2009 11:01 AM PDT
In reply to: garageband

I meant to say that GARAGEBAND was taylored for the techrocker, not that MIDI was.

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"a TV that had to be replaced every three years"
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / June 20, 2009 2:34 AM PDT

How do you feel about FIVE years?

For example a few key components in today's common TV's, displays and almost every PC and Apple made has a five year "rated life." I see that the site I used to share this bit of trivia is now gone so I'll just say that the complaints are only going to get worse.

Apple has no exclusive on this issue.

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Those are some harsh words for Apple.
by BeatleMegaFan / June 20, 2009 3:28 PM PDT

I'm not going to say you are completely wrong, because you do have some valid points, but I do think some of this has been taken out of proportion.

You complain about your iMac failing after just a few years. I can see why that would be upsetting. It doesn't happen often, but as you mentioned somewhere above, other Mac users have experienced similar things as well. It just happens. And I agree that older equipment did seem to have higher standards of quality. An old iMac G4 that I purchased from a friend of friend was manufactured in 2002. I was able to run Leopard on it and add more memory to it, and only some months ago did it ever show its age; the DVD drive jammed. But other than that, it has worked very well for an old G4. A couple of years ago, I could also enter an Apple Store, ask any employee a question, and immediately get the answer I was looking for or the assistance that I required. Now today, in a world where Apple has enormous business, a much larger user and customer base, and more products and services to offer, they need more employees to cater to every person's needs in each store. If I go to the store and try to get some help for whatever reason it is, many of the employees try to redirect me to someone else. Some of them simply do not know. Most of them just aren't as knowledgeable about the products they are selling as their predecessors were. That is bothersome, but understandable. At least the Geniuses know what they're doing. Even with the increase in faculty numbers, it's still hard to find an employee available in the stores I've seen, whether I want to buy something or ask a question.

It's been a very long time since I've seen any computer come with real versions of any true word processor for "free". Most operating systems have a simple text editor akin to Text Edit or Notepad, and Apple is most likely trying to cut costs and increase revenue by not adding in iWork for free these days. Apple does not develop Office for Mac, so they sell that at full cost much like any other computer manufacturer would do. I can understand if you would prefer not to pay for this kind of software, but that's just how it is. There are free alternatives to Office and/or iWork: NeoOffice, OpenOffice, etc., and they work very well. There's nothing wrong with them. Just saying.

Apple's not perfect. I've certainly had my share of problems with some of their products over the past three to four years that I've been a regular customer. The truth is, Apple's focus is currently on the iPod and the iPhone platforms. The Mac is still the core of their business, but not the forefront of it anymore. This concept affects all of their business, and some consumers like you and me may notice this more often as time passes. With that said... well, I've never had a problem with iTunes, and all of my MP3s work with anything I need them to. iTunes is definitely not perfect, but it works for me here. Doesn't make sense why your iMac would pit it against the other program, unless of course you haven't gone in and investigated some preferences.

If your local Apple dealer is giving you a hard time, call up Apple phone support or find a new retailer, if possible. Doesn't sound right if they're going to just leave you with the options you speak of. My friend told me of a guy he knew with an iMac G5. When he had trouble with it a couple of years ago, he called AppleCare and instead of sending it in for repairs, they sent him the parts so he could do it himself. No voided warranty or any problems after that, if I understood his situation correctly. That's great service. When I got around to calling HP tech support many months ago (my desktop had a bad graphics card), they forced me to send it in and wouldn't let me replace it myself. At least they changed the BIOS and fixed some fan speeds... My point is, times change and the consumer must adapt. But, one instance doesn't seem to justify a whole lot of anger towards a company. My first MacBook Pro was of poor quality and didn't work very well at all. When I realized that, I was able to convince Apple to replace it with a newer model for me, and I've been working along ever since. No problems with Apple hardware since then.

Hope you have better experiences.


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Decline & Fall Of The iMac? I don't think so.
by duke1247 / June 21, 2009 2:13 AM PDT

I had a refurbished eMac for 9 years.( I think it was manufactured around 1999/2000.) I still have it. It's still working fine but I needed a new machine to do everything I'm doing with the Mac now such as movies, burning DVD's, photo apps, etc. Six weeks ago I bought a refurbished iMac from the Apple store. (They even threw in a wireless printer/scanner.) I had a problem with the screen right out of the box. I took it to the Apple store at the Florida Mall in Orlando and two days later I had a new screen. I purchased two additional years of Applecare. I had all my old software backed up on an external HD so I moved Appleworks6 over to the new machine. No problem with a word processor and no additional costs. I also use Text Edit and Text Wrangler also at no cost. All I can say is the new iMac is awesome especially in the speed department. I recently bought a 350GB ext hard drive for $40.00 and use it with Time Machine. (Another awesome app.) All I know is that my experience with Apple since 1994 (68040 processor) has been A+. I like to think of all the money I saved over the years on service, virus protection, malware apps, registry cleaners and all the other apps needed to keep a PC running. Never had a problem with iTunes either. Over 6000 songs in the MP3 format. I have friends with PC's who swear by them and others who curse them. Most cannot do what I do with my Mac and its contained software. If I'm still around in nine years I might need to upgrade to another refurbished Mac. I wish you good luck or better luck next time.

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But everything on your Mac wasn't free
by Dan Filice / June 21, 2009 2:58 AM PDT


You shouldn't be praising the Mac too much because you actually had to spend a few bucks to configure it the way you wanted and everything wasn't free, like I think the original posted wanted. Happy

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Don't think so.
by Alberto Enriquez / June 21, 2009 3:26 AM PDT

Hey Dan, I'm happy for you! Sounds like you've had great experiences. Customers should always stick where they're happy. That's the way the system works. Some would suggest that it's my duty as the customer to be happy with whatever Apple makes, but rather the reverse, Apple should be making the customers happy.

I also appreciate the hospitable way that you can disagree unlike some self-styled "superior intellects" who hide behind screens to talk tougher on the web than they'd ever dare in real life. That's never impressed me much.

My experience has been different with this machine. At the time, I bought it, my PC friends could get machines with at least a Works versions of MS, and did. Apple's decision not to bundle any real word processor actually propelled me into full-fledged Office because, as I said, the good boss provides!

However, I think even Apple realized that was a HUGE marketing blunder because I keep hearing from all the happy Apple customers later got iWorks bundled. Do you think I wouldn't have paid another $70 for this machine at the point-of-purchase? In for a penny, in for a pound. What galled me to was the sneaky way that they promoted a machine as bundling all the basics?then leaving me with just a rich-text-file editor as a "word processor." I've made maybe a handful of movies with this machine, and I'm no musician, BUT I've composed many many reams of copy. It shouldn't have taken a "superior intellect" to foresee the results.

Apple actually prepped me to go out the door! Every time I've pulled up an old Claris or Apple file, I've saved it as a .doc, which is instantly more compatible with 90 percent of the people with whom I correspond. I no longer get e-mails saying, "could you send that in some other format?" Even after Apple began bundling iWorks with later machines at no extra cost, it never went back and retrieved those early-adopter customers it chose to orphan or double-charge, by giving only "30-day" versions. I'm not complaining about that, per se, I just see it as a marketing error. I suspect MOST Apple customers don't become Steven Spielberg or Kurt Cobain on buying an iMac. I suspect MOST actually use their machine mostly for web browsing and word processing. So marketing a machine without real wp was definitely their choice, but not a very good one, or they would have stuck with it.

In fact, some above have criticized me by saying it's a cold-cruel-competitive world now, and I should have known what I was buying, blah, blah, and that I would have gotten no better bundling with a PC. They actually made my point. I never said PCs are always better for everybody. Far from it. I said don't trust Apple will give you what you want. Check it out. Compare. Look up reliability ratings that sort of thing. Maybe a PC with a really good Samsung monitor, and an aftermarket back-up drive, would really suit some people's needs best. I realize that's heresy for some of the Apple fanatics, but there it is.

That said, my problem now is with an acknowledged manufacturing defect not some random unpredictable event. When I called Apple and later went to my Apple dealer?I was told I was on my own. They knew they'd made a lemon. But I was off warranty and would have to eat it. How's that for a corporate value? As I've since found out, they made good for other complainers. I guess they've realized not owning up to their mistakes isn't exactly a good marketing decision?or they would have stuck with that one too. A proper recall doesn't just take care of just the squeakiest wheels?it takes care of all the affected customers.

Also, to the young man who suggested I should have put this machine on e-Bay, I suppose you're rich? Or maybe your parents buy all your stuff? My situation is somewhat different. When I save to buy a quality product, I expect it to LAST. If it doesn't, I walk. Apple first showed me the door and I didn't walk through it because it made economic sense to make do?and the boss came through. But when it comes to replacing the machine? That's a WAY different story. Don't just trust, folks. Shop around.

Happy Trails to All!

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Apple Works stinks
by Dan Filice / June 21, 2009 8:08 AM PDT
In reply to: Don't think so.

I found Apple Works to be sub-par. When I bought my iMac, I knew from past Apple Works experiece, that my first goal was to buy MS Office. Anyone expecting great things from Apple Works was going to be disappointed. Thankfully it comes free with new Macs. I've never used Apple Works to create a document or file and expected it to be compatible. Funny thing is, there are PC programs that are just as useless.

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I don't recall iWorks ever being bundled
by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / June 21, 2009 8:11 AM PDT
In reply to: Don't think so.

with a new Mac. It came/comes as a 30 day trial.

Oh yes, thanks for calling me young, that really made my Father's Day complete.

Sad to say though, my parents have not purchased anything for me since I was 11 years old. Seems you can't always make assumptions.


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