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Hey, who wants to hear me bitch about iMacs! I don’t care, here I go:

Switching to a Mac has been great in every way except for like… the hardware. I should point out that I began this switch by buying a refurbished 27″ iMac from to save $300. I’m not made of money you guys. I’ve bought many things from there before and all the devices have been flawless. Except for iMacs I suppose. A rundown of the iMacs I have known:

iMac #1: Worked great! Then I went to install an additional 8gb of RAM. One of the RAM slots was so out of alignment I couldn’t get one of the sticks in there. I contacted Apple Support, they offered to let me buy another one and then refund my money for the first when I returned it. Fair enough.

iMac #2: Right away I noticed the hard drive was noisy (even when idle). I had iMac #1 and iMac #2 beside each other before I returned #1 and could easily tell the difference. Turns out it was a noisy Seagate drive. Since I’m recording with this thing, that’s kind of a big deal but bleh I didn’t want to return it yet again. Then I noticed the left internal speaker kept making annoying intermittent crackling/static noises even when the audio wasn’t in use.

I talked to Apple support and they suggested I unplug the power cord and plug it back in and see if that helps. The iMac didn’t immediately make the noise when I started it back up, so the friendly Apple guy said to call back if it did.

It did later, but it took me three days call back. I was out of my 30 day return window at that point and was told I’d have to take it in for repair + be without a computer indefinitely. I told them that made me so so sad so they talked to various managers and eventually agreed to replace it, plus gave me $150 credit back for my troubles. Nice!

iMac #3: This is the one I have on my desk as I type this. The RAM slots are fine. The internal speakers make no unwanted noise. But I’ve noticed the fans getting loud a lot whereas I realize now I never even heard the fans on the other ones. When I’m recording for instance or watch a few Youtube videos in a row, the fan turns on and is pretty loud in this small office. After an hour of mixing just now the top of the case is too hot to leave my hand on for more than a second or two. The others were pretty warm but not at all like that.

So. Do I have the energy to complain about this one? The fan noise is annoying and maybe not tolerable. The extreme heat worries me that it’ll be prone to failure over time. But I’m getting pretty tired of swapping these bastards out. Basically I want to give up on buying refurbished and go buy a brand new one, but what if they’re prone to the same issues?

So: ugh.

Update: well, that resolved itself. The display on iMac #3 died last night. So now I’m on hold with Apple support. Woo hoo hoo.

Update #2: Here is what the display looks like! (The lines move!)

broken imac











Update #3: Talked to four supervisors. They’re taking iMac #3 back and refunding my money. I’m gonna drive to the Ottawa Apple store and buy a new iMac that hopefully isn’t a piece of junk.

iMac #4: Seven hours later my Time Machine backup is restored and I’m back where I was almost 24 hours ago.

Posted on - January 27, 2011 [at] 4:25 pm by Brad
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Whooo the switch to the Mac has been time-consuming. Nothing like re-learning decades of software and keyboard shortcuts and… everything.

Stuff I love:

  • Unix. Yay. No more DOS or batch files or Cygwin or whatever.
  • The apps are generally better. Lots of creative, well-designed software out there.
  • Spaces is great. Virtual desktops were always clunky in Windows, but Spaces is slick and works.
  • I always hated it in Windows but iTunes is excellent on OS X. I feel happier with my music collection than I have in years.
  • I feel more in control of my software and OS. I always suspected Windows was betraying me in the background, OS X feels pretty locked down.
  • The audio is rock solid. I had gotten used to Windows audio crapping out if I launched two audio apps at the same time or various other factors. No more!
  • Time Machine is great and has simplified my backups.

Stuff I don’t love:

  • I hate the magic mouse and tiny keyboard. Holy god they’re awful. It took me a week of struggling to get used to them before I tossed them and figured out how to disable mouse acceleration. And I also felt ripped off getting a shitty little laptop keyboard with my big expensive desktop.
  • I miss Total Commander. I feel like a dummy in Finder, clicking and dragging around like a baby. I’m adjusting, but slowly.
  • I haven’t found a window manager I like yet. I was using Winsplit Revolution on Windows and it was nice.
  • Page Up/Page Down/Home/End. OS X hates these keys. I’ve remapped them but there are still a few apps that act weird when I hit page down and page up.
  • Every app seems to have a different keyboard shortcut to switch between its tabs. On Windows it’s always ctrl-tab. I’ve remapped them now (yay) but it was a dumb struggle.
  • Mac software is really expensive.

These complaints are pending my switch to the replacement Mac as they might be due to this busted unit (more on that shortly):

  • The internal speakers could be a lot better. It sounds like the bottom panel in the front needs some holes poked into it.
  • The hard drive is a huge bottleneck. Hopefully this will improve once I throw more RAM in, but I’m routinely listening to the hard drive grind and it annoys me.

Re: the busted unit. I bought a refurbished Mac to save $300 or so and three of the four RAM slots were dead. One was physically misaligned. Apple support was good and I’m moving everything over to the replacement Mac they sent me.

Also if this Time Machine restore on the new system works as advertised, I will be so impressed.

Posted on - December 14, 2010 [at] 8:09 am by Brad
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windows_iconHappy 25th birthday, Windows. I just had a birthday too, I’m 34 now. DOS & Windows have been a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember. We’ve had a good run, but I’m moving on. I just sprung for a quad core 27″ iMac and I’m as excited about getting it as can be.

When I was younger I really loved getting my hands dirty, building my own systems, getting under the hood of the OS, tweaking it, customizing it, learning its quirks and weaknesses and how to make it run smoothly. The flexibility of Windows and the control it allowed me was a huge part of its draw. Along with it being the most popular platform – where the action was happening.

But things have changed. The most popular platform is the web and the OS matters less now. And I’ve personally changed. My number one issue in my life these days is that I don’t have enough time to do the things I want. And every time Windows wastes my time, or is unhelpful or counter-intuitive, I resent it and that resentment has finally boiled over. While I have issues with their lack of openness, my iPad and iPhone nearly always feel like they’re on my side – they want to help me do what I want.

Here are some things I’m looking forward to:

  • Being on Unix. Basically every other machine I interact with on a regular basis is running some flavor of Unix. Going back to DOS and not having all the usual tools available has become intolerable. Write a batch file? Ugh, go die.
  • Worrying less about security. As on the ball and cautious as I generally am, even with better browser and OS security and multiple scanning apps, it’s still impossible to avoid getting spyware. That of course sucks for performance and security issues but it’s also just a huge waste of time.
  • Easier backups. I’m excited about Time Machine. My backup situation right now works but is crazy and scattered.
  • Higher quality applications. In my research looking around to see if there was any software I’d truly miss from Windows, nearly everything appeared to have a superior OSX counterpart. 
  • All my iStuff working better. iTunes on Windows is a slow piece of shit. MediaMonkey is nice (but ugly) and syncing breaks regularly. My iPad and iPhone would rather deal with OSX, I’m sure.

We’ll see though – after so long with DOS and Windows the transition will certainly be weird, but I’m looking forward to it.

Posted on - November 21, 2010 [at] 4:01 pm by Brad
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