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Graphic and Web Design...Mac or PC?

by wolrabnodrogl / January 25, 2006 2:24 AM PST

I'm in the market for a new laptop and want to make the best decision possible in choosing the right platform.

I'm pretty proficient with a PC and know there are various ''Multimedia'' options to go with if I choose a PC...however, like most people, I'm absolutely fried with all the headaches that accompany owning a PC (networking configurations, 3rd party software bundled into Windows applications, worms/viruses/hackers, holes in service packs & web browsers, etc.).

Over the years, most of the environments I've worked in have been PC-based, so it's been a while since I've really worked with Macs.

I know Macintosh has come a long way over the years to integrate better with Windows-based programs; and I've heard many designers swear by Macintosh's ''superior'' design elements (video card, screen resolution, etc.).

If I purchase a Mac for web/graphic design, it's going to be more expensive than buying a PC...but maybe well worth it? I've heard the costs of servicing are generally more expensive (but maybe it will be a rare occasion unlike a PC), and I'll have to purchase all new software that I already own (for a PC)...gulp.

I'm also concerned that I will not be able to open some of my older documents on the Mac that I created using Windows-based programs (Freehand, Corel, PageMaker, etc.). Does anyone know if this is true?

I know there are a gazillion pros and cons to be discussed here, but I guess I'm trying to gauge 1.whether buying a Mac will be well worth the extra expense; 2.whether all my peripherals/older documents will work with it (I will go postal if I have to deal with anymore configuration issues); and 3.whether there will be just as many configuration/security issues with Mac as with PC (which I don't believe to be true, but I thought I'd still make sure).

Thank you!!!

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Addressing some of the questions
by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / January 25, 2006 7:16 AM PST

All of the programs that you mentioned, except Corel(which apparently is no great loss for the Mac world), has a Mac equivalent. To be absolutely accurate, they actually have a Windows equivalent as they were Mac first.
You will be able to open already created files with the Mac versions.
You may even be able to convince the software manufacturers to give you the Mac version at the upgrade price as you are swapping to a new platform for their product. It's worth a try.
You might want to wait for the laptop until more of your favorite programs become available for the Intel processor machines. Most of the majors have plans to release at least a Universal Binary version of their stuff.
Purchase cost, if you take a real look at the specs, will be around the same for a good PC or Mac.
Check out the specs at the Apple Store. Apple.com
Servicing costs around the same for both platforms. Most of the places around here charge $60 an hour for PC's. At the last Apple Reseller in this area, we charge the same. You will, of course, get the AppleCare and take the warranty out to three years. It is well worth it on a laptop. One screen cracked and you have all your money back!
For web design you will not find Front Page for the Mac, Adobe makes a suite of stuff for web design. Don't forget to use W3 compliant code for your sites so that we can all view them correctly. None of this MS proprietary stuff. Pretty please Happy

Let us know which way you go.

P

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CorelDraw
by codeman38 / January 25, 2006 10:58 PM PST

Actually, although development has officially stopped on it, and although it has quite a few bugs (just like the Windows version) there *is* a Macintosh version of CorelDraw 11; it's available in Allume's Creative Essentials package, which is available for under $150. And it opens the files from my Windows machine with no difficulty.

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Mac vs. PC
by skirklan / January 25, 2006 12:55 PM PST

I've used Macs since the late 80's and during that entire time, I have never had my computer in for repair. I mean, it's not the same computer, but no matter what Mac I buy, it's reliable and always up and running. I'm a designer and I always have a hard time shifting from the right side of my brain to the logic side of my brain--so the Mac interface is delightful. Also, it takes fewer keystrokes to accomplish things on a Mac. It was only recently that I discovered the real difference between the two types of computers, and quite by accident. The extra expense is well worth it--especially if you need dependability and want to work on your computer instead of spending time getting your computer to work.

After I learned about the inside difference regarding typography, I wrote this article for other designers. You may enjoy it since it's from a designer's point of view. Good luck.

http://www.associatedcontent.com/content.cfm?content_type=article&content_type_id=10403&page=1

SDKirkland
author of Start and Run a Creative Services Business
read excerpts from the book (click on the book icon) at http://www.sdkirkland.com
Get 2 free POD cartoons just for giggles.
Blogging with my friends: http://blogs.graphicdesignforums.com

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Baloney
by Violetw / January 26, 2006 9:44 PM PST
In reply to: Mac vs. PC

Hi I've been working with computers since I graduated from high school at 13 and went to work as a programmer for IBM -- 44 years ago. I've been a graphic design and typeface designer almost as long. Also, I worked on the ViewTech project for XParc and have been an SGML writer since before there were templates for it.

The Mac is not better then the PC, it's just a different tool, that's all. I've owned Macs since the beginning, but I have also owned PCs since they were CP/M based. If you don't bother to learn your tool, you might thing the Mac is 'better' (there are a LOT of lazy people in this world, after all). However, given that all the great graphic design software tools reversed their position and started coming out FIRST on the PC platform then, as an afterthought, on the Mac platform (back in the early 90s), there's really no argument to justify saying 'mac is better' for graphics or anything. It's 'better' if you don't understand the underpinnings, the OS, the Kernel, etc. (Same argument is true for Windows vs linux, hello people! UNIX has been around longer and the mainframe also is still a leading force in the 'big boy' enterprise world, yes it still is true.)

As for typography, I don't let any graphics program do the kerning or linebreaking for anything I do that is typography-related. The best wysiwyg is STILL the ViewTech. It was way before its time and still is.

The company I work for now actually spec'd Arial or Verdana for body text! That is lamebrain and if I have to explain why, and you are calling yourself a graphic designer, than all I can say 'LEARN YOUR CRAFT'. Mac vs PC: just tools, folks, not the craft. But I pick PC over Mac any day because I can tweak the PC how I want, and with Mac, well, you are treated like a welfare recipient (aka 'lamebrain'). Who wants that? Not me! I also won't hire anyone who 'brags' about be a 'mac person'. Repeat after me: just a tool, NOT the craft. nuff said.

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I see your point...
by grimgraphix / January 27, 2006 3:08 AM PST
In reply to: Baloney

but just one thing. Just because I'm a fairly decent carpenter and enjoy doing my own construction does not mean I want to make my own hammer and saw (although I can since I also have a portable forge and anvil as well).

I concede everything you say about the PC being more configurable than the Mac... I've even raised that point in several other threads. I do have to say that PCs are more work though for exactly the same reasons you state. I'm no Ludite but computers are a tool. Why should I have to spend an hour every week repairing what is now a basic everyday appliance?

You have an opinion and preference and I respect that. I was with you up until you said "I also won't hire anyone who 'brags' about be a 'mac person'." Sorry but that just makes you sound like you've got an ax to grind.

My opinion? I like both but I enjoy using Apple more. Microsoft does too... else wise why would MS come out with last years Mac OS every couple of years?

grim

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It's NOT the box ...
by jrhmobile / January 26, 2006 10:12 PM PST

I'm a professional graphic designer and trainer/consultant in graphic applications. In the course of my work I deal with clients ranging from single-designer shops to daily newspaper operations. By necessity, I have both PCs and Macs in my studio, running state-of-the-art software.

I'm going to tick off a lot of people here by saying it doesn't really matter whether you use a Mac or PC to do print and/or web graphics work.

1) For print work, the common currency in trafficking graphics files is the Acrobat PDF format. Its seamless cross-platform capabilities make the issue of running a Mac or PC system a moot point.

2) For the better part of a decade, market leader Adobe Systems has been developing its software for PCs and ''porting'' those apps to the Mac. So while many programs may have been first been developed for the Mac, today they are now ''first developed'' for the PC -- not that it matters, because the programs run equally well on either platform.

3) With the exception of using QuarkXPress, which frankly does run much better on the Mac platform and begs its old monicker ''QuirkXPress'' on the PC, just about every graphics application either has counterparts on both platforms or file formats that are compatible with other apps on both platforms.

In general terms, Mac or PC is a non-issue. Picking the right software to do the job is important. The box you run that software on doesn't really matter. So let's look at this in terms of your personal sistuation:

1) Is the Mac worth the extra expense? In your case, probably not. Not only will you have to spend more for a PC box, but you will also have to buy current software for the new platform, and fonts, and utilities, etc. Spending more for a Mac laptop is just the ante, it'll cost you a lot more than the computer to get into the game on another platform.

2) Will all your older documents/peripherals make the trip if you go to Mac? Let's break this question in half.

Frankly your documents will likely be a problem if you upgrade on either platform. PageMaker docs can be opened and saved in InDesign (or with third-party utilities, in QuarkXPress) if they are later versions of PageMaker files -- PM6 or above. If they're earlier, you've got problems. FreeHand EPS files open cleanly in Illustrator, less so for older native FreeHand files. CorelDRAW files have never played well in other applications, though rendering fonts to outlines and saving EPS files makes it more likely you can translate them into Illustrator terms. In all these cases, extra attention is necessary to make these files work at all in new applications, and in some cases, they might now work well at all. And from your comments, I'm assuming (maybe wrongly, maybe not) that you need to upgrade your graphics applications with either platform.

In the case of peripherals, you're likely in trouble. And the older those peripherals are, the worse that trouble is going to be. It's far more likely that you will be able to attach those add-on boxes to a new PC on WinXP than it is that they will work on a new Mac with OSX 10.4.x. And certainly, if you have worked out configuration issues on your current Windows box(es), it will be a lot less aggravation for you to stay on the PC platform. Which leads to ...

3) Configuration/security issues? Again, let's break this in half.

Count on having more configuration issues going to the Mac. Mac OSX a great interface, but it's different and it does require attention and effort to configure for your use. And the more legacy files/peripherals you plan to keep, the more aggravation you'll have configuring your new Mac laptop to deal with them.

As far as security goes, OSX is intrinsically more secure than Windows. And since most malware (and malcontent intruders) target the vast majority of Windows operators, Mac OSX is safer by default. But vulnerabilities do exist on both platforms, and unfortunately third-party solutions are needed to protect yourself on the PC platform. But those solutions exist and work well on Windows systems. For the most part they don't on the Mac OSX platform, and some of the few that do exist can cause problems themselves. In my experienced opinion, the assertion that Macs are ''more secure'' is more wishful thinking than actual fact.

Mac evangelists have their biases. I don't. I like what Mac OSX and Windows XP have to offer. From what you've shared with us, I would stronly recommend that you stay with the Windows XP platform.

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thanks for this info!
by lorrwill-2067025164692309 / January 27, 2006 12:51 AM PST
In reply to: It's NOT the box ...

One of my bosses and I are both learning graphics - she is learning on Mac and I am learning on PC and we both raised the question "which is better?"

Since my company is PC based, it is good to know that we really aren't short-changing ourselved by remaining so while we expand our graphic's department.

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Thanks Sooooooooooooo much...
by vikiann1 / January 27, 2006 4:34 AM PST
In reply to: It's NOT the box ...

I am just entering school for visual communications and I will be attending online. I have a desktop pc at home but I'd like to get a new laptop so that I can travel and not miss class. I've been contemplating getting a Mac but they are costly but the laptop pc that I believe I should purchase will be costly as well. Can you give me advice on what I should look for in a laptop for my visual communications classes?

Victoria

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Best advice is...
by grimgraphix / January 27, 2006 7:51 AM PST

Contact the department at school that teaches the classes and ask for their recommendations. This is especially important if they have an online teaching resource that class lessons are posted to. The college I am taking classes at uses a program called WebCT Vista that works better with a MS interface such as internet explorer rather than Apples' Safari browser. I simply use the explorer or firefox with my iBook but your school may be different.

Also a consideration is what software you will need for school, what software you have already, and what you may need to buy. Don't forget to add $50 to $100 just for security software when buying a PC. It always amazes me when people say a mac is so much more expensive when the reality is the PC needs so many extras after you buy it. I've never regretted going with apple and the iLife suite that comes free with a Mac is pretty darn expensive to reproduce when buying PC duplicates with the same performance.

grim

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Dubious claim
by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / January 27, 2006 4:52 AM PST
In reply to: It's NOT the box ...

You mention some very good points. However, without going the evangelist route, your statement "In my experienced opinion, the assertion that Macs are ''more secure'' is more wishful thinking than actual fact." is a little misleading. Your statement would indicate that you have evidence, perhaps first hand, of successful virus attacks on your OS X machine. Please share.
6 years and Zero virus's for OS X would certainly indicate a much higher level of security for that system. Sounds a lot more secure than Windows. Security via Obscurity is not an argument worthy of pursuit and has been disproved many times. With a small percentage user base, I would at least expect a small percentage of successful virus attacks. Imagine the glory that could be gained by being the writer of the first successful, self-propagating virus for OS X. You think they are not trying?

JMO

P

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I wish ...
by jrhmobile / January 27, 2006 6:41 AM PST
In reply to: Dubious claim

No. Fortunately, I haven't had ANY personal experience with a Mac OSX virus. But that doesn't mean that there haven't been ANY virus vulnerabilities in OSX:

http://www.zdnet.com.au/news/security/0,2000061744,39164062,00.htm

Or, for that matter that viruses are the only vulnerability that can befall Mac OSX systems:

http://news.com.com/Mac+users+face+rare+virus/2100-7349_3-5424883.html

http://macmentor.org/switch/article.php?story=20050223041856938

And just because there hasn't been a plethora of Mac OSX viruses, it doesn't mean that there cannot be:

http://wilshipley.com/blog/2005/09/mac-os-x-viruses-put-up-or-shut-up.html

Please don't take this as picking at you. But I do maintain that the idea of Mac OSX being ''secure'' is more assertion than actual fact, and unfortunately, there is a fair amount of documentation around supporting that point of view.

I agree that trusting in Security through Obscurity is flirting with disaster. And I truly believe that maintaining OSX is ''more secure'' because widespread computer carnage hasn't already occurred is little more than whistling past the graveyard.

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interesting articles
by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / January 27, 2006 8:22 AM PST
In reply to: I wish ...

all of which have an axe to grind.
Sophos, Symantec and Macaffee all trying to sell something to protect the Mac user from something that does not, currently, exist in the wild. They roll out these warnings every month or so and we still never see one of these dangerous things.
Only this week there was an article, again on ZDNET Australia, that warned that now that OS X could run on Intel Processors, the way was open for doom and gloom and a whole host of virus infections. I wonder why he only picked OS X as being vulnerable. Why not Unix, Linux and all those other OS's that run under Intel Processors. So far it has all been FUD with nobody being able to produce documented evidence of an OS X infection.
None of these companies have been able to demonstrate a virus under OS X. A script that requires the Admin user to put in their password is hardly a virus. Malware probably, but not a virus.
I did not go so far as to say there would never be a virus for OS X, just that there are NONE now and have not been since OS X was released.
You have not shown any documentation showing that OS X is less secure than Windows, only that some AV companies would like to sell me stuff to prevent their "rare virus's".
So the score card must speak for itself, zero for OS X - thousands for Windows and it cannot be by accident.

Have a good weekend Happy

P

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FUD, indeed
by Moagw / January 31, 2006 12:35 AM PST
In reply to: interesting articles

It is so common for those who apparently get infected daily/weekly/monthly with virus'/malware on Windows to chant how horrendous it must be.

They do exist, yes.

However, as you gave in, they also exist (you used a cop-out saying that anti-vir SW companies want to sell you something, just because they do doesn't mean that they are not being straightforward) for Macs.

My father, a mac user for some time now, has not gotten a virus. However, none of the 7 computers I administer have ever been infected with anything either. Don't gasp, they are all XP. So should I bury my head in the sand, and assume that just because I have never gotten a virus, that they don't exist? Be prepared to be attacked, your POV is yours, and no one would take it from you. BUT it is a recipe for disaster to propagate a theory like "it hasn't happened yet" as a "good idea".

I have read the articles on Macs rule, admittedly they are more "pretty".

As for the lead post, Go PC, and never regret getting a comparable computer without the big bucks you will lose getting a mac to equal a low level PC. Windows is a terrible thing, to me at least, but it is all we have at the moment that can do EVERYTHING you need it to do.

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It's only a tool that some make way too much fuss over.
by GeezerJim25 / January 27, 2006 3:03 PM PST

Macs are the industry tradition for print work. However, with PDFs becoming the delivery vehicle of choice to printers/ service bureaus, Macs aren't as key as they once were.

It is said that a hard drive is a hard drive is a hard drive, but the same can't be said of peripherals. The Apple mini-mac can use your existing Windows monitor and peripherals. However, the mini-mack isn't powerful enouigh to run Adobe CS2 properly.

Macs handle fonts and render screen colors differently than Windows does. QuirkXpress likes Macs better; some employers demand proficiency with Macs, so it can pay to become proficient with it as well as Windows.

Windows machines generally can be upgraded in a more cost-effective manner than Macs if bought/built with care and planning. Security is not a problem as long as you keep up with things and run proper protections. No OS is safe from outside troublemakers anymore. You know the drill.

The choice really dependends on what your boss-client-instructor wants. If you are more comfortable with Windows and you do not have--nor anticipate--someone demanding that you use Macs, stick with what you know best and spend your valuable time being creative instead of trudging through learning a new Operating System.

I'm in college. I just bought a kick-butt fast new desktop running Windows with a dual-core CPU, 1GB of RAM, 2 DVD drives and 250 GB of storage for under $1000. I do my Mac homework at the school labs because a loaded Mac G5 is way, way too expensive--for anyone to suggest that a comparable Windows box costs as much as a Mac G5 loaded for graphics work is ludicrous.

Good luck with whatever route you choose. They're just tools. Being creative and of service with your art is more important than being a tech geek.

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Geezer...
by grimgraphix / January 28, 2006 3:41 AM PST

Mac OS 10 or at least 10.3 and above has native support for saving files in PDF format... Nice little feature that helps Mac stay a bit more current than you give it credit for.

as for the tool aspect... they are all tools and yes people get a little too excited about it on both sides.

Security wise? PCs are more work and more money to keep secure than are Macs.

grim

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Web Design and Some Other Laptop Issues
by GeezerJim25 / January 27, 2006 6:26 PM PST

It's generally better to design and test web pages on a Windows machine since the majority of target audiences will be using Windows PCs to view your web pages. (A cheap mac for testing the odd Apple target market web site would be helpful in those rare occasions.)

Regarding laptops, are there any that can multitask Adobe CS2 and not cost an arm and a leg? After watcing my classmates' new laptops crash while running InDesign, I opted for a new dual core desktop with boucoup RAM instead, for <$1000. Run Photoshop and Indesign while streaming audio, and see if the laptop can keep up.

Also, LCD screens lack resolution and the ability to render black like a CRT monitor can. Something to consider in a graphics computer.

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How short sighted.
by innocent_bystander / January 27, 2006 11:02 PM PST

"It's generally better to design and test web pages on a Windows machine since the majority of target audiences will be using Windows PCs to view your web pages"

Surely that statement should say: it's generally better to design and build web pages using W3C web standards and then everyone will be able to look at your pages, even those that are using Windows PCs but NOT Internet Explorer?

"(A cheap mac for testing the odd Apple target market web site would be helpful in those rare occasions.)"

Ahh, the dumbing down of Web Designers continues. No wonder there are so many web sites out there that do not work with any browser that does not have Microsoft's name on it and some that don't work well with different versions of IE. I don't just mean Safari but Firefox, Mozilla, Opera, Netscape all have problems where IE doesn't. If Web Designers actually knew what they were doing, and a lot do, all sites would be coded using Web Standards, W3C, and not some code that is only supported by the company pushing it.
Publishing a Web Site makes it instantly available to every computer owning person in the world with an Internet connection. How do you decide that Apple computer users are not part of your demographic. Surely not because they run the Apple OS or do not use IE, what about all those flavors of Linux? Are you disregarding them too? If your Web SIte is advertising something, trying to sell something or just passing along stuff that you consider important, you have absolutely NO idea what platform or browser the viewer will be using and to deliberately bar at least 12 million viewers is a little short sighted. Of course you can assume that everyone will be using Windows and IE, but that is not always the case. I hit this site using Windows/IE and OS X/Safari and it still works. Should the designer of this forum assume that because it is a Mac forum, everyone will be using a Mac?
A good web designer will test their site on ALL the browsers they can get their hands on to make sure that the viewer sees what they intend them to. Otherwise, this "Web Designer" is saying to the world, "I don't know how to do this correctly, I don't have the work ethic to code correctly, so this will have to do"

I_B

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Huh?
by jrhmobile / January 27, 2006 11:17 PM PST
In reply to: How short sighted.

Just one question: If you design a bleeding-edge website and it crashes your viewer's system, do they ever see what you have to say?

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(NT) (NT) Exactly
by innocent_bystander / January 28, 2006 4:13 AM PST
In reply to: Huh?
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W3C Standards have null to do with what I was talking about
by GeezerJim25 / January 29, 2006 10:42 AM PST
In reply to: How short sighted.

Hey I_B,
Man, you got it bad, don't ya? Lighten up or you're going to have a stroke. Guess what: they use Windows at the Pearly Gates. Wink

XHTML is XHTML, and everyone here hopefully knows about W3C compliance. However, W3C compliance has little to nothing to do with the points as addressed prior to your interruption.

You should be ashamed of yourself. You do realize that, don't you? Your post did nothing to address the ladies' needs--and in having not done so you appeared to be primarily self-serving--or rather selfishly serving your angst with Mr. Gates.

In the names of clarification, public service, and good humor, let us redirect back to topic for those seeking legitimate information--and if I am self-serving in humor now at your expense, I am now sorta-kinda maybe providing an advance warning as I kick the sticky crap off of my boots at the exit of your evangeli-digical revival tent. Happy

------------------------------
As we continue:

FACT: No matter how one writes XHTML code, a Mac is going to render colors and fonts differently than the OTHER hardware configs. Shocked (By the way, did you know that?)
That was my point, and it is something that a designer needs to be aware of.
------------------------------

FACT: You can use Dreamweaver, GoLive! or write the thing on Notepad for that matter, but how the page is rendered will depend on what the site's audience is using--and many site visitors may not be using a Mac unless they are predisposed for whatever personal or professional reasons. In all fairness, the numbers may change in the future, but how significant those changes will be remains to be seen.

(Bear in mind that those changes won't have ANYTHING to do with your spreading of your uber-geek attitude or your lack of manners. In fact, If NOT using Windows causes bad manners, then perhaps we're better off paying double for MS products. I'm being facetious here because you asked for it. FYI.)
------------------------------
Which leads us to something that obviously gripes your hind quarters:

FACT: the vast majority of people are using a Windows/IBM clone -based hardware setups to view web pages. OUCH! eh?

Whether they use IE or Forefox or Opera or old Netscape 3 or whatever, the vast majority of people aren't using a Mac/Safari setup. Sooooo, if the site's target audience does not use a Mac, then the professional thing to do is to design for the other config/s--and test on the appropriate browsers--including older versions if those are what the target audience is using. You can split hairs over this if you want and I wish you well on your splitting. Happy To be clear, I didn't say a danged thing about IE or any other browser in my previous post, so you assumed WRONG.
------------------------------
I'm may be short-sighted, but you don't know me well enough to make that judgment call. I've made enough fun at your expense to not have to call you names.
------------------------------

I'm pragmatic and professional and I don't have a problem with MS nor Apple--other than the high cost of the latter. If a better, more cost/time efficient product comes along, sure I'll consider it.

I use a Mac quite a bit, and I may buy one in the future--along with some new Windows boxes. So what? I've got better things to do than get hung up about OSs or playing digital underdog games. Guess what bud: it's just a tool. Hard-on for MS? Jeez. Get over it already. Put that thing down and go get a date!

Geezer25

On second thought, the more I read your post, the more of self-assuming knowledge-deprived jerk you really are. You probably learned all this stuff on your own without any formal education about it. Go play with Linux and your [pirated] graphics software. I'll finish my college degree. 'Bye.

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(NT) (NT) Gotcha!
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Having read both posts,
by saywhatnow / January 29, 2006 10:53 PM PST

I would say that you were the one with the problem.

How quickly you resorted to name calling and then, ultimately, calling the poster a thief.

Informing the poster that they didn't know you well enough to make a particular judgement call, did not seem to stop you from making a number judgement calls on them. I guess attending college, even later in life, makes you that much better and more able to pass judgement on someone.

By the way, your last paragraph sounds very defensive.

Good Luck

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Good point -- I shoulda talked more about specs ...
by jrhmobile / January 27, 2006 11:13 PM PST

You're definitely right about the cost of adequate performance in a laptop. As computer makers have scaled back on processor speed to lenghten battery life, a lot of the latest graphics apps do choke down the system. With the exceptions of video processing/animation, I can't think of any app that claims more resources than Photoshop.

More RAM is better. My next laptop will run 2GB or RAM, with a 2GHz or better processor and the most onboard graphics processor I can buy. The price point I'm looking at with HP is about $1250 -- a lot more than a desktop, to be sure, but it's necessary if I'm going to do road demos.

Another thing: a laptop is a lot more useful if you set it up like a desktop at home base. I use my Mac laptop with a full-sized external keyboard and mouse, and a 19'' external monitor. It keeps me from crippling myself by doing graphics work with my laptop.

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Great point...thank you!
by wolrabnodrogl / February 11, 2006 6:22 AM PST

Thank you for all the submissions to my posting. I know it's a heated debate, therefore I truly kept an open mind about the various points people made.

Each person has a different situation, preference, and past experience...so not everyone will agree with the decision I make. I think there are two points that have pretty much made my desicion clear. They are:

#1: GeezerJim25's first sentence below. He's right--if the target audience I'm trying to reach uses Windows OS, then I should be designing/testing on one too.

#2: The majority of designers no longer work solely at "design firms"--they work in a variety of environments, most of which are PC based. There are tons of large companies with talented "in-house Creative Departments"...which are also primarily PC based (makes financial sense b/c they purchase software/hardware at bulk rates, can switch periperhals around, refurbish/repair computers using interchangable parts, etc.).

My point is, the majority of jobs I'm going to look at will be in PC based environments--I'm not limited to working only in small design studios that run Mac.

Thanks again, everyone!

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If you want to do it for work...
by fsonline / January 27, 2006 11:26 PM PST

One opinion, although it may not be all that pertinent. I am a retired graphic designer/A.D. One of the things I could easily do is design. But... I am completely Mac stupid. I've been using PC's since Kaypro and Osborne were cool. But, I've never used a Mac, except in an Internet Cafe in europe to check my POP mail.

I've noticed ads... lots of ads... for jobs locally, where it's specified Quark, Photoshop, and more all required...ON A MAC!

Beats me why those industries still stick to that platform, but the bottom line is this, if you want to get work out of your skills someday it seems you had better be Mac-Literate. As far as I'm concerned that bites the big one, but, that's life. I'm still in a 3 PC house, and I'm single and childless.

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"fried with all the headaches?"
by mikebutler / January 28, 2006 5:16 AM PST

If I understand the original question correctly, I'd say the short answer is to pony up the additional purchase dollars and get the Mac. If productivity is important, it'll pay for itself. Hobbyists who love tinkering with a machine will hotly disagree, and expert IT systems engineers may downplay it, but I've lived it. You can take that Mac right out of the box and get to work.

Like Dale Earnhardt Jr. or Jeff Gordon, I get paid only to "drive the car," not to rummage around under the hood, and time spent dealing with configuration issues is nothing but wasted (and costly).

Having said that, there is no reason why a properly configured and maintained Wintel PC won't do a great job running Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, etc. but that's presupposing you have robust support from your IT department to relieve you from playing engineer.

Here's a story that demonstrates my position. I was working in a corporate environment with a G4 tower and an IBM NetVista side-by-side. It took the IT department almost three years to figure out that there was no way they could make the separately-purchased FireWire card in the IBM work correctly with the Avid Express DV software which had cost $1700 at the time, to enable me to capture and then edit video. Meanwhile, in that period of time, I completed countless video projects in Final Cut Pro on the Mac which came with FireWire right out of the box and was engineered from the get-go to run FCP. All the while I was getting very experienced using FCP while Avid was languishing uselessly on the PC (which was actually a good-running machine other than that). So now I'll use nothing but FCP for editing video, forget about Avid, nevermind Premiere, and guess what's the only brand of computer that it runs on!

I currently run Adobe CS2 on an aluminum PowerBook with no glitches to date. I don't know what kind of computer is "better" but at least with this I don't need a PhD. in IT from M.I.T., and I can concentrate on doing what I'm getting paid to do. This investment has more than paid for itself.

I guess I could have avoided the config nightmares by purchasing the PC from a turn-key integrator who could assure successful results, but this would have violated company IT procurement policy (Doh!).

As for web design, Dreamweaver properly used on either platform should yield good W3C-compliant websites that look good on any browser, any computer.

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Dreamweaver?
by Moagw / January 31, 2006 3:10 AM PST

Aside from your story regarding your IT departments ineptitude, which you use to grade cheaper and more productive machines (PC's).

You should be corrected on at least one point.

Dreamweaver does not = W3C code on its own. Please see previous posts about Web designers not doing what they should.. If you think it does, you have no real knowledge of development from standards perspective, and should therefore not make assumptions about a coding tool. You, however, CAN make compliant code, but merely using Dreamweaver does not make your code W3C compliant, even on a more expensive Mac.

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"More productive?" "More expensive?" Cheaper?" reality check
by mikebutler / January 31, 2006 7:58 AM PST
In reply to: Dreamweaver?

None of that invalidates the fact that the Mac works first time right out of the box.

If I have no real knowledge of develpment standards, it is because I am not a web developer, but I do know that Dreamweaver is a very popular tool among professional web designers with much more experience at it than me. I am not assuming this; they have told me. There is indeed a difference between having a good tool and having the skills to use it. Otherwise, I'd simply buy the same model Fender Stratocaster that Eric Clapton uses and proceed to become a world-renowned guitarist. I do have other computers here, so anything that gets posted on the Web under my name can be scrutinized on both platforms using every browser I can think of.

It is illogical to call anything ''more productive'' than a machine that works perfectly right out of the box without requiring expert IT support to minister to its configuration requirements that might be outside the user's technical knowledge.

And believe me, there is nothing ''more expensive'' than a machine that sits uselessly while waiting for said IT experts to fix said config issues.

In my present life as an independent professional, it is important to me to have a machine that does not make me dependent on the aptitude of an IT department; in fact I neither have nor need said department. The fact that my machine came standard with FireWire, Bluetooth and WiFi made things more efficient for me. ''Plug-and-pray'' just doesn't cut it in my world.

''Cheaper'' is meaningless without analyzing total cost of ownership using valid comparisons.

Hobbyists who love to while away their leisure time taking apart and modifying and reconfiguring computers should definitely avoid buying a Mac. And IT engineers (who are qualified to handle configuration issues and other technical arcana) may find a Mac not preferable because it is not germane to their work experience. I am neither of the two, and I made my selection based on the facts of my real-world experience and real-life requirements.

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I live in the real world..
by Moagw / February 1, 2006 3:26 AM PST

Dreamweaver is used my many people, yes.. Professional and non. And if the grade is not on the accessibility but on ease of use and produce-ability its great.

My PC came with wireless (b/g), as well as firewire, USB 2.0 and worked.. out of the box. As has all the PC's I am aware of. So that is no real "advantage" a higher priced Mac would have over a more powerful AND cheaper PC.

Your argument for Macs seems pretty insulting to a Mac owner however. So basically if you can't figure out how to run a PC, get a Mac? I wouldn't go that far. I am no fan of macs, but I wouldn't call someone with one not smart enough to use a PC. Lazy might be a better word if you search for one, but most people use BUSY in its place. Maybe, I hear much of this fear of virus/crashes if you DON'T get antivirus.. and if you DO open emails and attachments without thinking. Maybe that is what you meant? Not doing those, I have never been infected/crashed on my computer.

But the "out of the box" chant won't cut it. And unproductive is what I call a computer that can only run 3% of the software in existance. Did I mention they cost more?

Bottom line your tool works for you, the conversation seems to be more of a different strokes for different folks situation.. Mine works for me.. I dare say there are more PC's that "work" than Macs (just by sales volume alone, thats gotta be HUGE!) My comparison at its heart is that Macs cost more for the same performance, period. Are they "pretty".. I don't think so but I tend to be in the minority there.

Better, no.. They both DO the same thing. They both CAN do it with relative ease and lack of an IT department or in most cases common sense (both windows and Mac os are automated out the wazoo).

So whats left to compare? $$ cha ching

And really, if you haven't enough sense not to open virus.exe on your Windows PC, don't buy one. There are plenty (a vast number) of people who do that and thats why virus security is such a must. If you can't remember to get your virus protection (BTW AVG is free, so I don't include that into the price of owning). I know of few Mac virus, but some things are inevitable, so that should be considered necessary for PC buyers, something to think about for Mac buyers. Regardless of the hype, eventually there will be a virus on Mac OS that is bad, if for no other reason than people being sick of hearing the Mac-heads chant "we don't get virus'!".

(Ps.. I don't use firewire, as I have USB 2.0, but realize that is a huge deal for Mac people)

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Ok, live in your world and let me live in mine
by mikebutler / February 2, 2006 11:04 AM PST

I never said "if you can't figure out how to run a PC, get a Mac" or that Mac owners are "not smart enough to use a PC" ...since I own and operate both platforms, that would be ridiculous. Try actually reading my posts. Bottom line: I own one machine that is basically maintenance-free and one that I wouldn't even dare to try fixing myself. I think everybody is intelligent enough to guess which is which.

So I have "a computer that can only run 3% of the software in existance [sic]"? Lucky me! I must have the only 3% that matters in my business, and I guess I'm fortunate not to need that other supposed 97% (whatever that is). What a disingenuous argument. Most commercially available software of any popularity is sold in both versions. The vast majority of work my clients hire me to do is as a Q-I-P specialist (that's Quark-Illustrator-Photoshop to those not in the graphic design world--or nowadays it's Quark-InDesign-Illustrator-Photoshop) and PowerPoint...plus Final Cut Pro; will somebody please let me know when they come out with a Wintel box that'll run that one (and spare me the sales pitch for Premiere or whatever; I didn't spend the last five years building my expertise and a nice portfolio in FCP only to throw it out the window just because somebody thinks mac hardware is a tad bit pricey).

"Did I mention they cost more?" More than enough times; that's the monotonous "chant" of the anti-Mac contingent. Well, it's my money. I spend it with the vendors that I have the most confidence in (and have had the best results with). And for reasons I have already pointed out, this has cost me less in the long run and made me more money. In any case, people get way too hung up on initial acquisition price of CPU hardware, which is the tip of the iceberg in my equipment inventory.

I agree with the concept of different strokes. A properly configured PC will run Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, etc. and so by that measure they are interchangeable. However, in the graphic communications world, when receiving files from other agencies, the vast majority of them were created on the Mac platform, which brings the nightmarish issue of procuring the Windows version of the same fonts as the original designer used on his Mac (and of course, being so creative, they have a knack for picking the most obscure, unknown fonts), which is a practical issue that everyone (who hasn't worked in prepress) tends to forget about. So, rather than paddle upstream, it's more practical to stay on the same platform that my brethren in graphics use. (An exception is made for PowerPoint, where it makes not a hill of beans what kind of machine you use, and you never dare use any fonts outside the factory-installed set. Sometimes I actually prefer using the PC for this in order to keep my Mac freed up for projects that only it can do.) It is undeniable that in general PCs outsell Macs by about 9-to-1, although Macs still dominate in my particular line of work. So, different strokes.

And yes, FireWire is a "huge deal" for those of us who need to capture video from a DV camcorder that has FireWire and not USB interfaces, and then edit it in Final Cut Pro. Oh yeah, don't forget, let me know when another machine comes out that can "DO the same thing."

I am not going to kid myself that I can cure people of their biases, and as an owner of both OS X and Windows XP machines, I am quite familiar with what each one's respective pluses and minuses are. Since everything I say will get twisted around anyway, I guess I am just too "lazy" or too "busy" or just "not smart enough" to continue this discussion.

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