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I made the switch!

That’s right, I drank the kool-aid, I MADE THE SWITCH!

Usually when you hear “I MADE THE SWITCH” in the tech circle, it no doubt means you moved away from Microsoft Windows to something else like Mac OS/X or Ubuntu.

Well I did both. I got me an Apple iMac and I scrubbed my old Dell D810 laptop and put Ubuntu Linux on it. Unfortunately for my Media Center computer, I had to stick with Windows 7. I plan to blog about the complete media center setup later on, and tell you why I had to stick with Windows on that one.

At work as a IT Specialists, I have no choice but to use Microsoft Windows for the most part, but at home I had definitely had enough!

Why did I change? What was the final straw? For the most part I was sick and tired of having to bend over backwards making windows secure enough to use on a daily basis and not get attacked by malware.

What is malware you ask? Malware, short for malicious software, is software designed to secretly access a computer system without the owner’s informed consent. It usually takes the shape of fake anti-virus software pretending to show you that your system is infected when in fact it is not, and trying to nag you into visiting a site where you can purchase their software and rid your computer of the virus that it pretends to find.

My wife had gotten infected with malware and I had to get it off, then 30 days later it happened again, then again. It also happened to me on my computer and I was using Firefox with lots of precautions in place and yet malware still got through to me. Then it happened on my laptop! Enough is Enough!

For years I had played with Linux and dabbled with many Apple operating systems before and this time I decided to just go ahead and dive head first into the world of Apple.

Let me first describe some of the pains that I have endured over the years with Windows.

1. Internet Explorer
With Internet Explorer, the default web browser that comes with windows. On first launch it asks questions like do you want to keep your current search provider, do you want to turn on this and speed up that, its like a million questions, just give me the damn internet will ya!

I do not recommend anyone on Windows to use Internet Explorer. It has so many security exploits, I believe it is 80% of the problem with Windows and getting spyware and malware on your system.

In order to browse the web and have your computer somewhat secure from the threats that exist out there, I suggest a different browser all together like OPERA or FIREFOX. Even then when you install these, you have to add some add-ons to make the browser secure. Firefox for example, you will need to install AdBlockPlus and even then I have had some stuff get through to me. The best luck I have had was using Opera and using URLFILTER.INI … google it, its a little file for Opera web browser, that blocks most of the ads out there on the net and that’s how most of the crap infects your system. Through Ads!

Advertisements on sites is how most of the malware and spyware get on your system since Windows is so weak in security. Microsoft has often applied band aid fixes, but the real fix would be to rewrite the entire operating system to me more like Unix and they are just NOT GOING TO DO THAT!

How does this happen? Well it starts when as site like foxnews.com sells advertising spots on their websites to outside companies in order to generate revenue. Sometimes the ad blocks are hosted on servers that are not under foxnews.com’s control. Sometimes these said third party companies that are advertising on foxnews.com’s site get hacked and injected with code to exploit the vulnerabilities of Microsoft Windows users, usually through Internet Explorer or other browsers the user may be using, placing items in its temporary internet files, or through the use of java to run elevated code, and other means, this infecting you on reboot or in real time.

What is the upside to all this on a Mac? When it comes to browsing the web on a Mac,  Safari, when launched, goes straight to the internet, no gazillion questions, no need in worrying about spyware, just internet and no BS! With virtually no effort on your part, Mac OS X protects itself–and you–from viruses, malicious applications, and other threats.
From their own website its says… Mac OS X doesn’t get PC viruses. It was built for the Internet in the Internet age, offering a variety of sophisticated technologies that help keep you safe from online threats. Because every Mac ships with a secure configuration, you don’t have to worry about understanding complex settings. Even better, it won’t slow you down with constant security alerts and sweeps. And Apple responds quickly to online threats and automatically delivers security updates directly to your Mac.

2. Running as an Administrator
Most often with all installs of Windows it puts the user as a complete Administrator. This is terrible! When you visit sites that are sitting there just waiting to infect your PC with malware, when they do, they have all the correct permissions allowed to install to all the directories that it shouldn’t be allow into, simply because its like you are doing it, you are running the system as Administrator with full control. I can run my computer with a user account in the Administrators group cause I know what I am doing, but most of you don’t even know how to make a new folder on your computer so you shouldn’t be running a user with Admin rights. Microsoft should know that, yet they still do this.

Why is it like this? Microsoft knows that you would be bitching a lot at them if they didn’t allow you to run as Administrator right out of the gate and this is why. Lets say you get a shinny new printer, you take it home, you connect it, and now its time to install the software. If you were NOT running the system as Administrator, it would say you need elevated privileges to install the software and you would be thoroughly confused. It might even prompt for an Administrator password for which you have no clue because you whizzed through the setup so fast when setting up your computer, that you forgot about it or left it blank. They decided to try an be more like Unix/Linux with UAC or User Access Control. This little invention made many Vista users want to find the nearest window to throw their computer out of. It always popped up all the time! It was ridiculous almost to the point that if you opened notepad, you had to click a pop up that said it was OK to run notepad. This got better with Windows 7, a little less annoying, but I always turned it off all together because it still annoyed me. This is sad too as that’s what most users do. You see what happened here was Microsoft implemented “something” and this is how they can say its “more secure than ever”, but sadly its annoying and most people turn it off.

Whats the upside to the this on a Mac? When an application needs to have elevated privileges to run or install, it will prompt you with a simple password box and you have use your log in password to go further, its very simple, secure and intuitive. The best part is that its NOT ALL THE TIME, the operating system is smart enough to know when it needs to be elevated. Read more on that here http://www.apple.com/macosx/security/

3. Media Player for DVD’s and other downloaded media
Oh My God, Windows Media Player on windows absolutely sucks! Find me a DVD that it will play. You cant! It is always wanting some kind of codecs and tries to search and find them on the Microsoft site and cant. This is of course after you launch it and answer a bazillion questions first.

Whats the upside to the this on a Mac? Well first off quick-time that comes on a mac can practically open anything in the world by default. I installed VLC player though and used it as my default. You too can do this on windows and I highly suggest it.

4. SVCHOST
I know you have opened task manager and have seen about a dozen of these running before, you might have even seen one spiked out of control and eating up memory too haven’t you? According to Microsoft: “svchost.exe is a generic host process name for services that run from dynamic-link libraries”. Could we have that in english please? Some time ago, Microsoft started moving all of the functionality from internal Windows services into .dll files instead of .exe files. From a programming perspective this makes more sense for re-usability… but the problem is that you can’t launch a .dll file directly from Windows, it has to be loaded up from a running executable (.exe). Thus the svchost.exe process was born. This is what happens with Closed Source software like Windows. Since its closed source, you have to make band-aid work arounds to get a job done and in this case the svchost was born. Now viruses and malware and hide behind this executable and do stuff that we don’t know about. Yippie!! This is why I love open source software. Nothing is hidden. People are less likely to commit murder in a glass house.

Whats the upside to the this on a Mac? It doesnt exist!

5. Printing
Printing in windows is ok when it works, but if you ever get a stuck printer queue, good luck! You would think by now that windows would have at least have the printer side of thing down to a science, but I think that they have been happy with the way its been working since Windows 3.1 so they have left it alone. Some gripes I have are when a job needs to be cancelled, you can bring up the printer queue and stop the job and delete it and then you play the starring game with the print queue. What will happen first? Will your eyes go dry after 5 minutes or will the job actually delete? You realize that you will not win and drip down to a command line and enter net stop spooler then net start spooler only to find that it is still there. Ok so you reboot and after 13 minutes you boot back into windows and wonder why you rebooted in the first place and then realize oh yeah it was the printer issue, and you double click on the printer tray icon only to find that its still in the print queue. God forbid this be a network printer and other users are pushing print jobs to it and they wont print unless this stalled print job leaves the queue.
This really sums it all up right here. http://theoatmeal.com/comics/printers

Whats the upside to the this on a Mac? On a Mac, or even Linux, printing is much better. Print jobs actually can be stopped and deleted instantly. Nothing more needs to be said. Like a lot of things on a Mac, it just works!



Some people might wanna say, Ah you’re just an Apple fan-boy, Macs are too expensive. Well I disagree. First off, if you really wanted one, didn’t waste your money on crap, and save a little, you can get any thing you want. Sure you might can make a “Hackintosh” for less money but you have to worry about the updates and such and I am not one to be bothered with all of that. I crunched the numbers and some are making hackintoshed computer for around $800 without a keyboard, mouse or monitor. I happened to get a22 inch iMac with wireless magic mouse and wireless keyboard all for $1200.
So you can see its really not worth it to skimp. With a Mac you are really not paying for software either, you are paying for hardware, and right here the truth in that could not be more clear.

Windows 7 Starter Bundled with Computers to force you to upgrade.
Windows 7 Home Basic $113.99
Windows 7 Home Premium $199.99
Windows 7 Professional $299.99
Windows 7 Enterprise Corporate License
Windows 7 Ultimate $319.99
What a rip!

Mac OSX Snow Leopard is only $29 and does all of the above combined and more! Even Cheaper on Amazon.com

What about the Apps on windows? Well alot of them work on the Mac. I also have VMware Fusion installed which lets me run a windows virtual machine and even windows apps right on the Mac. You can discover all there is to know about that and more here. http://www.apple.com/why-mac/

I could go on and on about bashing Windows, believe me I could do this all day, but I just wanted to write a quick post on why I made the switch.

My suggestion to you… Get a Mac!





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