Mac vs. PC

How I was ensnared by Apple

By David Holthausen

Apple Products

Let me begin this post by stating that I used to be an absolute Mac hater (Jeff can attest to my disdain towards all things Apple). Since I was a child, we only ever had PCs, usually Dells, in the house, all the way from Dos to Windows 95, ME and XP. When the iPod was all the rage in the early and mid-2000’s, I bought the Creative Zen instead, which were, in fact, awesome MP3 players:

[I thought the click wheel was the dumbest thing ever and was generally enraged by those Justin Long Mac vs. PC commercials.

Yes, PCs do pie charts, but that’s ONE PROGRAM, YOU CAN STILL LISTEN TO MUSIC AND WATCH MOVIES. Clearly, they still make me angry.

Throughout college, I was still vehemently anti-Apple. My trusty Dell laptop lasted solidly all 4 years and still is going strong as a backup computer my parents use, 7 years after I originally purchased it.

At the same time, though, I remember seeing all those shiny aluminum MacBook Pros. Even though I hated Apple, I couldn’t deny that they were very aesthetically pleasing machines–technological eye candy, if you will.

When I decided to enter the world of the smartphone around 2009, I went again against all things Apple and that swanky iPhone and got a Windows Phone with the LG Incite.

It had the worst touchscreen ever, had an awful stylus, and it completely turned me off from touch screen keyboards. When I was due for an upgrade, I went with the Blackberry Torch 9800 with the touch screen, but also the full physical QWERTY keyboard. I really liked that phone; it was a solid performer, and the only really big drawback was the lack of apps. Nonetheless, I really liked that experience.

A couple years later, I was entitled to another phone upgrade and I was excited to get the new Blackberry Bold 9900 on AT&T. However, when it got released on Verizon over the summer, but not on AT&T (and didn’t come out on AT&T until the end of November) I started getting fidgety: I had a “free” upgrade burning a hole in my pocket, and I was yearning for something new and shiny. I was thinking more and more of jumping from the sinking Blackberry boat when I went and had brunch with a buddy of mine. While we were waiting for a table, I decided to try out his iPhone 4.

The UI, the sleekness, the touch screen, all the cool apps–for an Apple basher, it was difficult to come around and see how good of a mobile experience the iPhone 4 provided, but the difference was undeniable. After watching the product unveiling for the 4S, I took a leap to the dark side and decided to see what this Apple thing was all about. I even got up at 3am and pre-ordered it so I would get it on launch day.

The iPhone 4S really washed away my stigma against Apple. It was just so sleek, quick, and easy to use, and I finally saw what people had been saying about the quality of Apple products. Believe it or not, fall 2011 with the iPhone 4S was the first time I had ever used iTunes on my computer. I made the switch and moved everything over from Windows Media Player, which was a worthwhile pain.

As I mentioned earlier, during my undergrad days I used a Dell laptop, with which I had never had any major issues (other than it not being as shiny as a MacBook). Moving from undergrad to grad school, it was time for a new computer, and I made the misstep of moving away from Dell and getting an up-scaled Sony Vaio EA series with Blu-ray drive.

To its credit, the Sony Vaio was a nice computer when I got it, but it just didn’t last (which I have noticed about a great deal of Sony products). The hard drive died within a year (luckily, there was still a week left on the warranty), and over the subsequent 6 months, the screen started getting a loose connection, and the headphone jack and one of the USB ports died as well. So, as my Vaio was slowly making the turn from work computer to being a glorified home backup desktop, I began saving up to invest in a new laptop, one that would hopefully last for more than 2 years without breaking. After having a disk hard drive die I decided I wanted to go solid state; I wanted something light; and since I loved my iPhone so much, I thought it would be wise to complete my turn towards the evil empire and have all of my electronic devices on the same platform and sync seamlessly. Thus, I bought a 2012 MacBook Air.

My biggest concern with going with the Air was the lack of a disc drive; however, thanks to Apple, I can wirelessly use my disc drive on my Vaio if I need to get anything from a disk onto the Mac. Additionally, I thought I would use Boot Camp so I could also run full windows on the Apple hardware, but a year into having this laptop, I haven’t even thought of using Boot Camp, and this laptop is still running as well as the day I got it. And this past Christmas, I completed the Apple trio (actually the quad–I bought an iPod Shuffle for the gym after I got the iPhone) when I received the iPad mini as a present from my parents. (You can read my review of the iPad Mini HERE.)

It may have taken me two years, but I am living proof that it’s possible to go from being an absolute Apple hater to basically running the gamut of Apple devices–and all because AT&T and what used to be RIM were slow in getting the Bold 9900 released.

Best App for Losing Weight

Review: Lose It! App (Android, iOS)

I came across this app after discussing weight loss and fitness goals with Alex. He showed me Lose It!, which he was using to gain weight through exercise and calorie tracking. I was looking for something basic that would keep me on track for losing weight. It had to be easy to use and not consume much time in my day in order for me to keep using it. The app I would also be happy if it could sync with my fitbit but I didn’t expect to find that for free. Lose It! seemed to meet all of my criteria in a weight loss/tracking program, so I decided to give it a try.


Price: Free (also has premium version for device syncing)
OS: Android, iOS
Maker: FitNow, Inc.


Pros:
1) Free – This is a free app
2) Previous Meal Feature – If you tend to eat the same meal often this app allows you to find it quickly and add the entire meal or parts of that meal into your current day’s tracker
3) Barcode Scanning – Allows you enter nutrition facts by scanning a food’s bar code
4) Portion Input Options – Many items allow you to choose to put in portions in ounces, cups, fractions of bags, and more. This is great when you have no idea how many ounces something is.
5) Speed – It takes me about 5 minutes a day to input 3 meals plus snacks. That’s fast!
6) Weight Goal Tracking – It calculates when you will reach your goal based on how you have been progressing

Cons:
1) Connecting fitness tracking devices costs money – In order to sync my Fitbit data with Lose It!, I have to upgrade to the paid version of the app.

Summary

This is an extremely useful app for weight loss. I find it to be very easy to use and it only takes about 5 minutes out of my day to input everything. The simplicity is really what makes this app so good. I have no excuses for not putting my daily food intake. Armed with some basic knowledge of calorie counts and weight loss programs, you can use this with great success. I lost 15lbs in the first month!

My iPad Experience

A Guest Post by Bridget Germain

iPadHi! I’m Bridget, a friend of Jeff’s. I just recently bought an iPad, and Jeff asked me to write a little post about my experiences with it so far. But first, some background on me: I’m a 23-year-old non-profit business professional (I work for Big Brothers Big Sisters doing corporate relations) and I love my gadgets, but know next to nothing about how they work. I’m also an unabashed Apple devotee, and have been lusting after the iPad for a while.

I bought it primarily to use as an e-reader after I discovered that I really liked using iBooks on my iPhone (except for the fact that it was tiny). Now, I know you’re probably going to say that I could have bought a Kindle for $99 instead of the $800 that I spent on the iPad, but I’ve used a Kindle before and didn’t love it (it doesn’t have page numbers! AGH!). Plus, I wanted to use the iPad for other things; namely, as a personal assistant.

No, I don’t use Siri. But when I started my new job, I really wanted something that I could use to schedule all my appointments, something that’s not always easy to do on the iPhone. Plus, I tend to forget to actually add things to my calendar when I just write them down in my notebook, so having the iPad with me at all times has been dandy.

While I have used it mostly for work so far, there are a few apps that have come in really handy for other things. One is the Mint.com app, into which you can import all of your bank accounts, investment accounts, and loans, and budget for just about anything under the sun. As someone who never wanted more than one bank account but somehow ended up with two bank accounts and three investment accounts (yes, really) plus student loans, it comes in pretty handy to see my total cash flow each month. You have to make an account online before using the app, and the website itself is somewhat easier to use than the app, but the app is great to just quickly check up on something. Plus, it uses lots of graphs and charts, and as a visual person, that helps me a lot.

I also blog on WordPress, so I use the WordPress app as well. I’ve never written a post from there, but it’s useful to check page stats and reply to comments when I’m at work and don’t want to log in on my work computer! It’s definitely a LOT better than it used to be, or at least better than the iPhone app used to be. Luckily, both have improved magnificently over the past few updates, so if you do blog using WordPress, I would definitely recommend the app.

Some of the other apps I use are Facebook (obviously), Goodreads (basically a social networking site where you can publicize and keep track of all the books you read), Slate (an online news magazine) and Kindle (because one reading app is obviously not enough).

I’ve been bad and haven’t really worked on keeping my iPad backed up, but I do use iCloud, so there’s that. I’m considering getting a Dropbox account for work, but I haven’t done it yet.

Something I’ve been having trouble with is finding a case. I originally bought a “Smart Case” from the Apple store, but I didn’t like it because it didn’t stand up the way it was supposed to. I’m looking now for a case that will fit in a folio, since I got a branded Big Brothers Big Sisters folio when I started working there. (If anyone has any recommendations, let me know!) So I’ve been pretty undecided so far, but for anyone out there who is also still undecided, just don’t buy a Smart Case.

Finally, I want to give you a quick breakdown of what I spent on the iPad. I had initially planned to get the wireless-only 32GB one ($599) but ended up going with the wireless+3G 16GB one, for $629. (I got it in black to match my iPhone.) I also got AppleCare for $99 (because I tend to be hard on equipment) and a dock for $29. I haven’t used the dock much yet, but plan to use it more once I buy my new iMac (which I imagine I will be writing about once I’ve spent some time with it!) and spend more time at my desk.

All in all, I would definitely recommend the iPad. I love mine, especially for reading using the iBooks and Kindle apps and for my calendar.