The following is a Plus Edition article, written by and copyright by Dick Eastman. Please do not forward to others without the author's permission.
NOTE: This article is written primarily for Macintosh owners. It probably will not be of interest to Windows users unless perhaps you are contemplating switching operating systems.
I have owned and used Windows and Macintosh and Linux systems for years. For a long time, I could never decide which was my favorite operating system. I really like the design philosophy of Linux and probably would use that as my primary operating system if there were more applications available. However, Windows and Macintosh both seem to be more practical. I went through a fair amount of experimentation to reach my solution, but I now use any program I want regardless of its operating system requirement on a single computer – and all with no real loss of speed. Life is good!
For those who may be headed down my path of experiments, I’ll start with a brief recap of my misadventures. Thinking that Windows had the most applications available, I used Windows as my primary operating system for years. I usually also had both a Linux system and a Macintosh system available so that I could test software products for those systems and write about them in this newsletter. For several years, I didn't own my own Mac. Instead, I used a Mac at my place of employment after hours. Eventually, I purchased a used Mac from a store near me that sells refurbished computers. It wasn't close to state-of-the-art, but it met my simple needs. For Linux, I typically recycled an old Windows PC by reformatting the hard drive and loading whatever was the latest version of Linux. For a while, I had a dual-boot PC: I could select either Windows or Linux at boot time.
On January 30, 2007, I purchased a brand-new, state-of-the-art computer with the fastest available processor at that time and the maximum amount of memory that Hewlett-Packard offered. That was the day that Windows Vista was released to the general public, and I purchased the computer with Vista pre-installed. I started using the new Vista system as my primary computer, moved all my data to it, and installed all the programs that I need to use on a regular basis.
On January 31, 2007 (the following day), the Vista system locked up twice. The next day, it locked up several more times. Each day I used it, the system would lock up two or more times while using it. Two weeks later, I turned the system on and it wouldn't boot. It was dead.
After a one-hour conversation with Hewlett-Packard Tech Support in India, my fears were confirmed: Vista was hopelessly scrambled. A fresh installation of Vista was required, which would delete all the data I had copied or installed over the previous two weeks.
NOTE: In hindsight, I doubt if this was a problem with Vista. I suspect it was simply a hard drive failure, which can happen on any operating system. However, I was not so sure of that at the time.
I hung up the phone with Tech Support, turned the power off in the Vista system, put on my jacket, and drove to the Apple store. I purchased a new Mac Mini and drove home with it. The Mini is the cheapest Macintosh produced by Apple and cost about half of what I had paid for the Hewlett-Packard system two weeks earlier.
I installed the Mac Mini and then repeated what I had done in the previous two weeks: I copied my data (luckily, I had plenty of backups available). I installed new programs to replace the programs I had been using. I purchased Microsoft Office for Macintosh and a bunch of other programs.
NOTE: I no longer use Microsoft Office for Macintosh. That was a waste of money!
After a few days of adjustment, I found that the inexpensive Mac Mini ran faster than did the more expensive Hewlett-Packard system I had been using with Vista. The Mac Mini ran faster and it was much easier to use. In the nearly three years that I used the Mac Mini, it never locked up once. I had various applications lock up from time to time, but never the operating system.
Some months later, I purchased a new MacBook laptop. A few weeks ago, I replaced the now aging Mac Mini with a new 27-inch iMac. All three systems have performed reliably.
While I am pleased with the Macintosh operation, I am not as pleased with the selection of genealogy software.
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