Monthly Archives: June 2011

Lion set to maul PowerPC apps

If you want to get a new Mac that is capable of running PowerPC applications, ACT NOW. It won’t be much longer before all new Macs come with “Lion” preinstalled, meaning those PowerPC applications WILL NOT RUN. This is, in my opinion, a mistake on Apple’s part. They should have waited at least another couple of years to do this, but I suspect their rationale is that some large developers are dragging their feet and the only way to get them to fall in line was to force the issue. Unfortunately, this means that anyone who NEEDS an older, PowerPC-only application that is now out of development is out of luck. Got some cool old game or toy that’s fallen by hard times and hasn’t been updated in the last six years? Too bad. MAYBE someone will write an emulator. Frankly, I think Apple should just start including emulators as part of the system, maybe for an extra charge. I’d seriously consider paying extra for a set of Mac emulators that would allow me to run old 68000 and PowerPC applications.

Just taking a look at applications on my system that would be broken if I upgraded to Lion today:

iCab 3
Filemaker Pro 7.0
Creatures 1.1.1 (a neat artifical life simulator that I go nuts over from time to time)
AppleWorks 6
Quicken 2004
Ptah (a neat little image viewer that I really like)
Graphic Converter 5.9

I’m sure some of these would be upgradeable. Some I wouldn’t care about. But a couple I would really miss if I lost them. Nothing Apple has come up with in recent years compares to AppleWorks 6, for instance. I’ve tried iWork, and found the spreadsheet module, which is the part I use the most, to be so tedious and frustrating that I’ve taken to setting up tables in TextEdit using tabs instead of enduring the hell of “Numbers”! Creatures, I’m pretty sure, would be lost entirely. That would suck, as it’s fun to play around with on rainy November Saturdays. According to it’s website, it’s gone open source, but that was over five years ago, so who knows what the status of it is now. Ptah is one of the two most elegant JPG image viewers I’ve ever encountered (the other being JPEGView, a nifty little program released back in the Macintosh LC days). It operates on a very simple principle, and that is, if you press a single key on the keyboard, it will replace whatever image is currently being displayed with the NEXT ONE. You and double-click on the first pic in a folder, then just keep hitting the “n” key to view every single image in that folder, one by one, all conveniently resized to fit on the screen (another keystroke will zoom it up to 1:1 size), and with minimal distractions cluttering up the screen. Does Preview do this? Maybe–I actually couldn’t tell you. Preview, to my way of thinking, is a pain in the ass. Essentially, Preview is to Ptah as iWork is to AppleWorks: buried up to the neck in design, and generally insufficient in functional elegance. In any case, Ptah was $5 shareware that I paid for in 2002. It hasn’t been available for years, from what I know.

I have discovered some good news today, though. My all-time favorite Usenet news reader, Thoth, has received an upgrade making it Lion-compatible, provided I re-register it (meaning pay an additional shareware fee). Since this is one of the finest applications I’ve ever used, and since I’ve been using it for quite a long time now and have never had to pay for an upgrade at all, I consider an additional $25 to be well worth the money. Quite frankly, Thoth has never been equaled by any other newsreader I’ve ever tried. I was starting to resign myself to eventually switching to Unison, which is an ok program (and definitely improved over earlier versions), but frankly, I just like Thoth better. It’s a good app for control-freak power users like myself. ;)

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iMac or Mac Pro?

Out of curiousity, I was looking at specs on Apple’s website recently and noticed something interesting. When comparing features and prices between their current top of the line iMac and bottom of the line Mac Pro (default configurations for both), a person is better off buying the iMac, unless they already have a high-end monitor available for the Mac Pro, or (perhaps) have a specific need for some key feature that’s only available on the Mac Pro.

Why?

It’s actually pretty simple: The iMac is spec’d higher, it’s $500 cheaper, it includes a high-end monitor for no extra cost, and it’s power consumption is substantially less. This is just a ballpark figure, but I generally allow my Mac to run 24/7, idle most of the time with the screen dimmed, and, comparing the wattage figures for that usage between the two models, I estimate I’d burn through about 75 kilowatt-hours more per month with the Mac Pro.

Is a 3.1GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i5 (iMac) better or worse than a 2.8GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon “Nehalem” processor (Mac Pro)? Many people will simply not care–either one will be fast enough. The question is actually somewhat important to me, though, given my ownership of a Nikon D7000, which produces some rather large and slow-to-process RAW image files. Some extra speed would be helpful with that. I am too lazy to bother looking up the answer to the question right now, however (am I the world’s lamest blogger, or what?!?!).

Graphics cards: I admit I neither know, nor care, about the difference (if any) between them. (I suck at video games, and what else do you need that kind of hardware for, anyway? Generating Bitcoins? LOL Good luck with that.)

Firewire: The Mac Pro has two FW800 ports. The iMac only has one, but also has the new “Thunderbolt” ports. These are useless at this point, but will be quite nice once Thunderbolt peripherals are available. Those who, like me, have a lot of external hard drives, will perhaps be ambivalent about the prospect of upgrading lots of enclosures. I am also a bit concerned that I may actually have more drives than are allowable on a Thunderbolt bus. When you figure a 3 terabyte limit on drive size, multiplied by the small number of Thunderbolt devices allowed on one system, you end up with a limit on total system storage that’s substantially lower than you’d get using Firewire devices. It also gets more complicated when you realize, from a practical standpoint, that if you max out the drive size on all of the devices, you are going to run into backup issues, so the practical limit is even lower. Obviously it will be more than enough for all but the most dedicated hoarders (heheheh), but some of us may get a little cramped, especially once those 1080p video files start to pile up! (This is actually an interesting theoretical question. Let’s say, for instance, that for some crazy, insane reason I needed a petabyte of storage space on my iMac system, and, through some miracle, had the money to pay for it. Is that amount of storage even possible on an iMac system, and, if so, how could it be accomplished? Food for thought. Heheheh.)

On the whole, with the noted reservations, I suspect the specs are a win for the iMac, at least for now. Apple will get around to updating their Mac Pro line sooner or later, and at that point, the situation will presumably change.

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