My PC vs. Mac Battle

DOS Drives Disks and Programs
I was cleaning out the old cabinet. There’s a couple of old DOS hard drives in that pile. 128MB, 268MB and 576MB.

Back in the day – no, this isn’t going to be a story about walking through knee-high snow on my way to school in the ‘60s. It could be, but it’s about a different day. The day when I had one PC and it ran DOS. Email and the Internet weren’t things – that day! Getting a new PC was easier back then. In that day, you could back up your stuff (your files and your programs) and you could restore it to a new machine and use it. Yep, use all your stuff. Just like that. Along the way to making everything easier, we threw the concept of easy migration out the Windows – pun intended. Of course, there was less that we could do, but we didn’t know that yet.

Three weeks ago, I sent the manager of my department a link to a larger capacity hard drive for my Windows laptop under the subject line:

Can I have one of these?

Several years ago, I would have just ordered the drive, but succession planning has convinced me to give him control over my budget. Now, I have to ask. In any case, I had been running out of room. I was constantly moving files back and forth between our servers at work, Box, DropBox, ShareFile and One Drive. Actually, One Drive is so confusing, I haven’t really used it much, even though I have access to 1 TB of space.

I remember when a terabyte was an unimaginable amount of storage. Then my daughter bought me a 1 TB USB backup drive. Instantly, I had a terabyte of storage just laying on my desk. Then Flickr gave me 1 TB of storage for photos. Then I bought a 3 TB MyCloud device from Western Digital. Three Ter-a-bytes! Three! All of a sudden, a terabyte was “one terabyte? Just one?” 1 TB lost its mojo. DropBox wants to sell me 1 TB of cloud-based storage for $99 a year. $99? Are you crazy DropBox? That’s like paying $99 for air. I digress.

This isn’t about cloud-based storage.

While my laptop was undergoing its hard drive transplant, I decided that I would use my MacBook at work and my old laptop at home. I have a MacBook because I write Apps for our employees to use on their iPhones and iPads. I could use the MacBook for everything, I suppose, but I’m too much a PC kind of guy for that. Still, I figured that I could do it for a few days. You can do anything for a few days.


I have a new MacBook, too. I’ve had it for a while, but I hadn’t set it up.

It was time to bite the bullet as it were, and upgrade everything. I’ll spare you the gory techie details and the logic behind my situation but I had to upgrade to Apple’s latest operating system and development environment, apply nine million Windows updates and install Office-365 on both my laptop and my Mac. Then, I had to install a new password manager and log back into everything, everywhere.

I spent a lot of time over several days last week and weekend upgrading, downloading, installing and configuring. Again, I’ll try to be brief (stop laughing). I’ll give you the high points of my frustration in its two main categories:

ThinkPad vs. ThinkPad – Check out the two photos of the ThinkPad keyboards. Those are the keyboards on my old (home) and new (work) laptop. There are two changes that are driving me bats. First, they moved the Delete key (along with the PgUp/PgDn/Insert/Home/End keys. In moving between these two machines, I am constantly hitting the wrong key and when one of the wrong keys that you hit is ‘Delete’ your day isn’t great.

Second but less obvious is the way the keyboard light is activated. ThinkPads have this very cool little LED at the top of the screen that shines on the keyboard. I use that a lot. On my old laptop, I turn that on by pressing Fn and PgUp. On the new one, I press Fn and the space bar. Pressing Fn-Delete (the key where PgUp used to be) on the new laptop, does nothing, but pressing Fn-Space on the old one changes the screen resolution. No, I don’t know why it does that but it’s annoying.

Mac vs. PC – Some of my ‘Apple’ friends will be laughing soon, but there are just some things about the whole Mac experience that I – don’t – get.

Why do the Min-Max-Close “buttons” have to be on the opposite side of an application’s window? Couldn’t Apple and Microsoft agree on a consistent approach? Upper right or upper left guys, it really isn’t that hard, and why can I close a window on the Mac but still have to ‘Quit’ the program? Also, I am sure that there is a protocol for when to use the Shift-Control-Option-Command keys, but I – just – don’t – get – it.

I realize that I do this stuff for a living. You’re probably saying “suck it up Dan, they pay you to do this, we have to do it for free.” I look forward to a day when I won’t be working with multiple machines, but in some ways, having them this past week was a blessing. I’m not sure that I could set up a new computer today without an old computer nearby.

59 thoughts on “My PC vs. Mac Battle

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  1. Don’t get me started. OOPS, you did. I think most programmers dropped out of the sky and have never worked what they design. They think we WANT to re-learn everything every day, like this is a scavenger hunt!

    I’m with you on the ooooold pc’s, which were made for intelligent people. I loved my Mac when I finally got sick of the new Windows, and now I swear, Apple has hired windows programmers since Jobs died. The whole system, which used to be a joy, highly intuitive, now is as tedious as any PC. And I tried the PC/mac interface and finally decided to quit it and commit to PC. If I have a government job I use the dang pc because they are all using very old computers.

    And yes, let’s have a common language for all this stuff and be done with it.

    I now put programmers in there with lawyers and insurance people . . . .

    My newest crazy peeve is WordPress changed its admin bar at the top. You might not have noticed yet, but here are edited versions of the dialogue I am having with WP:
    WP was fine, don’t change what we use — just add what you want to the top bar! I like changes that are good changes, but I hate the new bar — hate is strong but now every time I interact with it is irritates me. . . . (new response) I’d rather you ADDED to the top bar rather than changing the top bar. Besides, “my sites” can be reached on the right — and that is where I think it ought to be. WP used to be intuitive — now it needs to be memorized. Right was for other items — help and other blogs — and left was for the blog we were working in. . . . Now the right looks like FB — as if I want to find friends? Go to my trophy case? (another round a day later) Okay, now they went one step further. IF you were on the post page (not the site page) the drop down menu still contained edit. They’ve gotten rid of the edit. So I go to WP Admin (instead of dashboard — wow that was necessary to change the name so I could hunt for what might be there), then click on ALL posts, then find the post I want to edit. Really? AT LEAST PUT THE EDIT BUTTON FOR A POST BACK UP. And whomever did this one was really thinking there — I am on MY site, and yet you give me the option of knowing what theme I chose (like I care), or the ability to like myself (I do), OR — get ready — the ability to report my own content. Was WP bought by the guys who create Microsoft? (and so on.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow Kate, I guess I touched a nerve :) I have noticed the changes to WP and some have me scratching my head. I have been involved in developing software for over 35 years and I often wonder about my industry. Sometimes it doesn’t seem that we ever think about the fact that people have to use the systems we develop. Microsoft still gets my vote for having the least concern for their customers.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, you touched a nerve. A year ago I upgraded my mac on the advice of Apple people who were looking at my records and said this was THE thing to do. It has screwed up my large mac. I learned from friends with mac never ever update the operating system. (normal updates to minor programs are fine.) I used to have a love affair with my mac that made my husband jealous ;) ; now I curse it several times a day!


  2. Dan, I’m not all that computer savvy and didn’t even start using them until I was older than you are now, but I had computers other than Mac first and now I have a Mac, and I will NEVER, EVER have anything but a Mac ever again! Maybe it’s my lack of knowledge about how these things work and such, but I have never worked on a computer as easy to manage and navigate as my Mac. And the photo editing program is superb. Just thought I throw this out there! :)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Natalie. I have to admit that I like working on my Mac. I know that I could install Mac versions of most of the software that I use, but it seems like a lot of work. Still, when I’m only working on one (when I retire) it may be a Mac.


  3. Being of a similar age to you I can well sympathise with the difficulties of embracing new technologies and in particular the multiple methods of storage (bearing in mind my own occupation is poles apart from I.T. and technology) – I well remember having loads of pics and files stored safely away on floppies, and then CDs, and then the mega leap forward 20GB H/drives – the array of cloud based storage now available is something I’m slowly getting used to but unlike the previous advances, I certainly haven’t embraced them. And as time progressed I then had to adapt to the migration between a succession of Windows operating systems (though I did briefly flirt with Linux Redhat). At that time,Apple was very much the poor relation but as we’ve all seen, Apple has raced ahead in leaps and bounds, and I’m sure there are many advantages to be enjoyed there but for me, even if such advantages were relevant to my work would I suspect they would be just too much for me take on board. At least for now, familiarity and a modicom of understanding forces me to stick with what I know, namely my trusted PC and windows (with all its faults…lol)… Great post though Dan, despite bringing back several PC and loss of data nightmares for me…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. When I switched to Mac the business technician told me not to overthink it, coming from MS. He said to assume it was the most obvious straightforward way and try that — and this was the truth and a godsend. Even with my current irritation at my operating system I go through NONE of the hassles my husband does on his PC.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Thanks Paul. Sorry for waking those lost memories. I have always loved computers and I still enjoy writing programs to make them do interesting things, but the upgrade process is just getting harder and harder. Even the stuff I have in the Cloud isn’t painless. I still had to download Apps again, sign back in and, in Apple’s case, deal with all those “blah blah device is now using your Apple Id…” messages.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I will give you my firstborn child (or a million bucks) if you can convince WP to restore the prior notifications page. I do believe the ‘developers’ (aka social media rugrats) are taking us to the dark side, and they are converting WP to a buggier version of Facebook.

    Don’t worry; I’m channeling most of my … constructive criticism … to the ‘notifications’ forums, but since you brought up computers and throwing things out the window, and Katie already threw a tantrum, I thought I’d throw in the towel.

    Now where’s that corkscrew?

    And FYI I’m no longer (again) receiving your responses in WP’s new notification debacle. 😹

    Oh, but good post 💥 😍🎶

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Unfortunately, Microsoft, Apple, Delta Airlines and WordPress all have one thing in common – they don’t care what I think. I do have to acknowledge that ever since I moved my blog to WP, the platform has become harder to use, less stable and less intuitive. I do appreciate you guys brewing up this storm on this, it’s making me think.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. My previous attempts at blogging were on Blogger. I liked it, but the WP community is more active and I follow way more bloggers here than there. For the record, I’d let you be queen for a while. For life if you could fix this mess.


      1. That is the bottom line. Blogging began primarily as a writing platform. WordPress – the very name speaks of writing! – might have been started ‘for writers’ but in the year I’ve been here, I see that ‘writing’ is falling prey to the competition to be a supercharged social media platform. The buggier and more cumbersome the drafting of posts – Beep Beep Boop is awful on my desktop – the less time we put into writing because it’s such a hassle to get it published through all the bug snafus. The more time it takes to maneuver through a click-heavy comment/response system, the less time we spend Thinking and Communicating on a deeper kevel.

        I don’t think WP cares – they are driven by numbers, not quality of content or quality of our interactions. And they are driven by capturing potentially new (youthful) members, not Boomer dinosaurs and perhaps not even writing dinosaurs. I don’t think Blogger is any different ( or at least that grass isn’t any greener).

        I truly value the people I’ve met here and how our interactions have positively affected my daily life. Right now I feel very disappointed in WP, but as Dan said, they don’t care what I think. I need to wait out my emotional reaction to all this, then get back to appreciating what you all give me. Even if it means I have to keep re-visiting Dan to communicate because WP can’t seem to bring me his responses !! 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Geez, you take me back. I started using a computer on a Mac, and was getting the hang of it and bought one for home, then the company switched to PC. OH MY GOSH! I’m not savvy at this stuff and it really threw me.

    So to be able to work at home we switched to a PC for home use. Every upgrade is nightmare to someone like me. I just want to push the Power button ON and have every document, file, and camera compatible, and ready to go. You know like a light switch…flip it up it’s on, flip it down it’s off. Simple! Blond proof. Computing should as easy. Keep it simple stupid! Where did the new guys go wrong? It’s so awfully painful to upgrade now.

    I’m really dread every upgrade.

    My laptop’s delete button is in a different spot than the PC’s, and it’s smaller. I HATE IT! REALLY HATE IT! I’ve had this laptop a few years and can’t get used to it. Truth be told it’s only a travel laptop so it’s not used that much so it’s taking a long time to get used to.

    I hope you’ve got all your issues all sorted out by now.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Deborah. I do think we forgot “simple” along the way. We (techies & developers) are so easily enamored with the latest features that we often assume everybody else will share our enthusiasm. I guess I’m getting old because I’m at the point where, for a lot of solutions, I’m thinking “this is good enough.” There are some things that I think should be consistent. Like Fire Alarms, and the Delete key is one of those. Nobody should be deleting stuff because the key is where the backspace key used to be (or is) on there other machine.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Normally, when I hear the word computer (or any related words), I zone out, but I kept up during this post. Must be your unrivaled ability to make computer speak understandable. Sorry for all the headaches. Yesterday my greatest achievement involving a computer was uninstalling a program and reinstalling it (old version kept crashing. New version doesn’t crash…yet.) I was very pleased with myself, especially since I did not have to involve my husband, who always yells at me saying I should know how to do this by now. Hope your headaches/adaption is hassle-free from now on.


    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Elizabeth. I try not to yell at my wife when she asks for help. I try to remind myself that this all really should be easier. I still have to get used to some changes. I have Adobe software on my work laptop. Now that I am not using it for personal stuff, I have to get used to some free alternatives for photo editing. I’m trying to learn Gimp at the moment. Thanks for the comment. I used to have this blog and a technical one. I’ve pretty much given up the technical one, but sometimes I need an outlet.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Dan. I am a PC guy and my wife is a MAC person (graduated WVU so no wonder). I don’t know why your blogs got lost in my system so I followed you again with an e-mail notification. Need to stay in touch to see if the Heinz 50-7 analysis comes true.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I hear your pain. I have a PC at home and a Mac at work. The simplest explanation for the “craziness” between the two systems is Microsoft doesn’t play well with others. They like their “own way of doing things” and don’t want to share their toys, so to avoid copyright infringements (yes, even on key placement and closing windows) Mac had to do something else. Sigh. I miss the simpler world of high tech. Time to create a new operating system that’s user — not big corporation– friendly.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m a bit younger than you, and I’m constantly finding this kind of problems. But somehow I’m affraid this is something we are set to find amplified all across our digital lifes. For a number of reasons,beyond the obvious point of owning a windows phone when many around me have an iphone or an android, I’m consistently finding that sometimes a way out is the knowledge of what to many are “dead languages”. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not meaning latin, but some things that probably due to your age are some sort of vernacular for you… One of the most annoying things in newer versions of microsoft office (which even so is great software for what I use) is the way they have discontinued support for .dbf, which is basically an 80’s format but is still widely in use in fields as GIS, as a companion to formats that are not as sexy as geodatabases but still make up most of what we have to use. Thank God, openoffice still provides a good coverage for that. But the knowledge of the “old day” basics is essential, even if it just to know that somehow you can use a CSV as a substitute, and it can be written on field with almost any device that lets you save a file. I’ve recently had to adress a problem that demanded the use of a substantial database (over 5 million records), out of the ms access range, and having to learn to use in a basic way (I’m no data scientist) postgresql has shown me the relevance of the humble plain text file….I’m still puzzled to see people that think that scanning a document at 1.200 dpi is the thing to do when the original is bad beyond repair, or a simple typewriter text from the 1980s; and then they save a 5 mb file for something that could just a 100 k usable file. Or, to take something common in my field, still having to explain to someone the difference between vector and raster images. But I’m affraid you have incidentally touched a neighboring nerve, not the one you mention…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the comment, yours is a common nerve. I first began programming (in FORTRAN) in 1967 when I was in junior high school. I used FORTRAN again in college to simulate a chemical separation process. Almost 10 years later, an electric utility (a client of the consulting firm I was working for) thought they were being over charged by the operator of the New England grid They secured a copy of the billing program and asked our firm to “audit” the code. It was written in FORTRAN. 15 years after that, one of the engineers at the insurance company I work for wanted to do some analysis on the aging affects on nuclear reactors (what we insure). He negotiated access to a complex program written by a scientist at a government funded lab for performing comparative analysis of large data sets. The program was designed to analyze 40 data sets. We had over 100. The program was written in FORTRAN. The guy that wrote it pointed me to all the code I would have to visit to make the changes. So, a language I learned when I was 13, had a 30-year run in my experience, assuming that I’ve seen my last FORTRAN program.

      I also worked with dBASE and Clipper back in the ’80s and early ’90s. We still have some systems that use dbf file to store their data although we long ago introduced SQL databases.

      What you said about “old day basics” rings true to me. There are concepts that I used in those first FORTRAN programs that are still valid. In fact, there are some things that I had to do, that programmers today don’t have to worry about, that help me understand some things better. I don’t want to go back to punch cards, but the cumulative value from learning lasts a lot longer than the retail product stream.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I believe everybody has its own choice and people prefer to work on programs that they find it easy. I remember back in 2002 when I was a Technical Chat Representative for MSN Explorer. In a year, my total chat count climbed up to 22,000 plus of which many would claim that Apple was better and some complaining that Internet Explorer is easier to use than MSN Explorer when in reality, MSN Explorer was nothing more than a front-face of Internet Explorer. I have tons and tons of stories of how we handled chats related to Windows XP SP2 Patch, I also was with AOL and RoadRunner for a while..later I moved to FranklinCovey that sold palm tops and planners and finally I ended my call center streak with Hewlett Packard. I sometimes believe I must have talked to at least 25% of American population that way….

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I have a Thinkpad Edge and I hear ya about the key placement. While my keyboard layout isn’t quite the same as either of yours, I remember transitioning from my desktop to the laptop and it was that darn delete key that was in a different place. I don’t know what designers are thinking when they switch up the keys like that. Especially the ever important delete key. Took me months to stop pressing the wrong thing!

    And backlighting??? I didn’t even know there was such a thing! I tried it to see if my machine had this — of course it does not. But the laptop WAS nice enough to show me the appropriate backlight icon when I pressed Fn+Space. It just refused to turn on something it apparently did not have.

    That Fn key drives me nuts, btw. I mean, there’s plenty of space on this keyboard. They could have easily given the F-keys their own single-use row. And my laptop also has that fancy little red button/pointer thingy. Do you use that? I NEVER use it. It was hard enough for me to get the hang of using the track pad! :P

    I have a friend who swears up and down that Mac is the way to go. But I don’t see myself ever making the switch. Heck, I still can’t even give up Internet Explorer…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was a 17-year PC user when Microsoft finally drove me to Mac. It was so dang easy, and I don’t miss 99% of the PC issues. MOST of the annoying time consuming frustrating things you do on a PC a mac user never even thinks about.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, Microsoft is beyond frustrating, I know! Is it true that Macs can’t get viruses? I’ve heard that a number of times but was never sure if it was true or not. If it is, well, heck yeah, talk about a step up!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I think they can get viruses but they aren’t the large target that Windows represents so there probably aren’t as many sources out there. If you have a credit card you don’t care much about, you can buy a Windows virus or a starter kit of malware for windows. You probably don’t even need to know how to program.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Yes — they can get them but I think that it is all a matter of karma. MS has given us so many headaches that karma has given them viruses! hee-hee.

            And where does one go for these viruses, what street corner? My imagination runs wild.

            Liked by 1 person

    2. My new laptop, Actually has multiple lights. Fn-Space 1 tap = a bright backlight of the keyboard (MacBook Style) 2 tap = a dimmer backlight and 3 taps turns on the LED at the top of the screen (the one I like to use). So, on my old one, the one where Fn-space changes the resolution, I actually hold down the Fn key and smack the space bar three times. Of course this results in my screen doing loopdy-loops and my icons getting thrown around like popcorn.

      I did give up Internet Explorer in favor of Firefox. For the record, I still use IE and I use Chrome (for twitter) – Thanks for stopping by Wendy.


  12. And then there’s me, who intentionally bought an Android tablet to complement my Apple phone and Windows laptop, just to see what all the ruckus is about. (Note to self: next time, Run, Forrest, Run!)

    BTW, I love my Thinkpad x220i, especially now that I’ve loaded all kinds of third-party software to replace Windows’ “functionality” …

    Liked by 2 people

    1. If they changed the rules and let us walk back in and hand the PCs BACK after we found we hated them Microsoft would be a better company. Apple has to deal with its customers because 90% of what we run on it is Apple. But PCs can point the finger at the other guy. It is another thing I like about having a mac . . .

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I feel your pain Dan. Just when I finally managed to navigate my way through our Electronic Medical Records system without losing my mind, they have implemented an upgrade which is tantamount to rearranging the furniture in a blind woman’s house as far as I am concerned. Ugggg. This happens tomorrow. May not see me for awhile. Unless you see a nuclear cloud rising over the southern east coast. That could be me….

    Liked by 2 people

        1. NEVER, I mean, NEVER, upgrade your operating system to a new one on a MAC. I did it at the advice of apple techs and it ruined my mac experience. It was a fix that upgraded only an older system, but it caused havoc where there wasn’t any and did not make things faster. (I need a new puter and can’t afford it yet.) As this is my first mac I had no idea — and long-time apple users said later, “NEVA EVA EVA . . . “

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I don’t have a choice. To use the new features in the Apps I build, I have to have the latest development environment. To get that, I have to have the latest OS. It’s scary and it’s why I don’t use my Mac for anything else.

            Liked by 1 person

  14. What a lively conversation you started! I have a macair only cos my DIL (who is in the techy biz) was embarrassed to see me working on a PC. Wouldn’t want to cause friction there, ya know? So I hated it at first, then I loved it, and loved how superior it made me feel to belong to the APPLE club. And especially when I went to the Apple store one day and met Al Gore (true story), which I blogged about. My hub has an old PC he carts all over the world with him, figuring he’d rather lose/break/have stolen something that didn’t cost so much even tho it weighs about as much as a Buick. I was transferring pics and files onto a flash drive from an old Lenovo last week and the whole x/-/minimize thing just about drove me crazy cos my mind kept trying to do it the MAC way. Geez. What I really want to know is if someone out there can get me my Facebook profile back without sharing personal info. Anyone?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I take a lot of grief from the Mac lovers in my world, but about 95% of my job is conducted on a Windows laptop. I usually get some cred when I mention that “I do use a Mac when developing apps for iPhone and iPad” of course, I try to be appropriately smug when I say that :)

      I worked for about 6 months with the trolls in the dungeon of Facebook to recover our company page from someone who had created it without permission and then left. We didn’t have to give them the keys to our kingdom but we had to prove that we had them.

      Thanks for the comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. I tried my stepdaughter’s Mac laptop several years ago. After using a PC for… well… forever, I had problems even though I’m a lefty gal. I know zero about computers really. I know my way around software programs that have good instructions though. We have a tablet somewhere in this house, which tells you how often we use it. I’d be happy if they’d just create a keyboard in which the labels on each key didn’t disappear with wear and age. I had a terrific one that really stopped me from ruining my wrists. I can’t read the labels anymore so I had to buy a new one.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have to switch between a Windows laptop and a Mac at work at about an 80/20 split and it’s driving me nuts. I hate it when you get used to something like that keyboard of yours and then you have to replace it and they don’t make that one any longer. Thanks for adding to this story.

      Liked by 1 person

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