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Switching BACK from a Mac to a PC: I know, I'm not cool. Help me anyway?
October 20, 2009 3:38 PM   Subscribe

About 5 years ago, I switched from PC to Mac. Now I'm most likely switching back. I have a couple of specific questions (about iTunes and viruses) and a few general questions.

I am hoping everyone will play nice in keeping this this from devolving into a grand Mac vs. PC debate. I have nothing against Macs or Mac users, and if I didn't use a PC at work every day I am guessing I would have had an easier time adapting to my Mac over the years. (a/k/a: It's not you, it's me.)

My iBook is dead, dead, dead (I've checked into replacing the hard drive, and it's more time and money than it's worth). I had originally thought I'd just get a new Mac Mini, but on further reflection I realized that the only thing I like better about Macs, besides their admittedly superior aesthetics, is the fact that I don't have to worry about viruses. Nothing else about the system ever felt fully intuitive for me (again, no doubt because I'm on a PC all day).

My primary daily needs are email, web, music, and word processing. My gaming, such as it is, consists of playing Farmville on Facebook. I don't watch movies or TV shows on the computer, though if I had a system that could support it, I probably would. I don't do any graphic design, video editing, or suchlike.

With that in mind...

1. If I get a PC, does it matter that all of my music (which is all on my external hard drive, not on my dead iBook) is in iTunes for Mac? In other words, is there some big conversion from iTunes for Mac --> iTunes for PC that I'll have to go through?

2. I am assuming that Norton still sucks for virus/malware/etc. protection (at least it did back when I had my PC). If so, what are the kids using these days to keep the nasty stuff at bay?

3. A netbook (e.g., Acer or Dell) seems perfectly sufficient for my needs in terms of capacity. CAVEAT: I anticipate disliking the small screen and keyboard of a netbook when I'm not on the go (which is about 95% of the time), so intend to plug in my nice shiny flatscreen monitor and a regular keyboard/mouse to use most of the time instead. With that in mind, are there any particularly good reasons I should consider one of the ultra-small desktop PCs instead? Or does a netbook still make the most sense?

4. Entire investment must be under $500.

5. Anything else I am missing/overlooking? (Please note that in terms of tech savvy, it may help to think of me as your sort-of-cool aunt: clever enough to use Firefox instead of IE, but not clever enough to have figured out how to use Greasemonkey.)

Thanks!
posted by scody to Computers & Internet (35 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
I can help you with the second question. You want Avast! or AVG, both of which suck less than Norton and, as an added bonus, are free. You'll want to navigate their websites carefully, though, because the link to download "free for personal use" is usually buried beneath a bunch of "WHY NOT DOWNLOAD THE PROFESSIONAL EDITION AND TRY IT OUT FOR 30 DAYS?!" links.
posted by infinitywaltz at 3:46 PM on October 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


1. Nope.

2. It does. Look into AVG, Ad-Aware and Malwarebytes and Avira Antivir. Someone else can probably recommend which one specifically and for what (I think some only do viruses, some spyware, etc)

3. Considering you're not on the go, I'd buy a cheap, normal sized (around 15inches) laptop. You'll get much more bang for your buck, something like this, though I'm sure you could find something cheaper elsewhere (try amazon.com and newegg.com).

Also, make sure your new laptop comes with Windows 7 installed.
posted by kylej at 4:02 PM on October 20, 2009


Without wishing in any way to contribute to an OS flame war, I do feel bound to suggest that before diving back into the Windows malware arms race, you take a modern Linux distro for a test drive.

I expect that you will find that the Gnome desktop environment feels far closer to what you're familiar with as a workplace Windows user than the Mac desktop does. You still get no malware, and email, web, music and word processing are all well covered by a multitude of Linux apps. You'll typically find a good selection of these already bundled with your distro of choice.

I like the Ubuntu family because it's actively maintained and well supported, and its software packaging system is competent, capable and fuss-free. It's an easy install, too, especially if you're doing it on a new computer and you don't have to fuss about preserving anything that's already on there. There's also a version available specifically designed for netbooks and if you get that preinstalled with a Dell it will save you some dollars that would otherwise be paying for a Windows licence.

If you do end up going with Windows, the free version of AVG will cause you much less grief than Norton. And yes - avoid Vista if possible. Windows XP and Windows 7 are both less trouble.
posted by flabdablet at 4:05 PM on October 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


1. No, should be no trouble at all.

2. Seconding AVG for virus protection. In general the virus threat on windows is overblown (I've run both win and mac since the 80's and I've never had a virus). The difference is that in order not to have problems on the winbox, you need to engage in certain daily rituals, which are not necessary on the mac. Namely, you have to regularly scan for adware and certain kinds of malware. Spybot Search and Destroy and Ad-Aware are free and you have to make sure to update them regularly (Microsoft's product is also pretty good). Scan your box once a day, and you should be good to go - your only penalty vs the mac is the hassle factor. Of course, I'm sure you're also pretty sensible about not clicking on links in stray emails etc., being aware of drive by downloads etc. - basic precautions.

3. A netbook might be a bit undepowered, though apparently the new ones coming out now are much better. YMMV.

4. $500 should be plenty.
posted by VikingSword at 4:10 PM on October 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Actually, the current version of Norton is great. Stays out of the way, barely uses any memory, and I haven't had a problem since I've had it installed. Which is not something I can say about any other security software I've ever used.
posted by sbrollins at 4:10 PM on October 20, 2009


Honestly, stick with Windows. I'm pretty tech savvy and I had some difficulties installing Ubuntu and getting everything workingwith it. You won't be able to use Word or iTunes on Linux, and if you buy a laptop that comes with Windows you'll already have to pay the windows licensing and then have to go through the trouble of downloading a distro, burning it to a dvd, and then installing it. In my opinion its more trouble than its worth.
posted by kylej at 4:12 PM on October 20, 2009


I don't think it's flame-y to also suggest at least trying a nice, easy Linux distro like Ubuntu.

It is more Windows-like (desktop management tasks are usually windows based instead of application based) with GUI things like menus in the title bar area and buttons on the top right of windows, and task bars AKA panels are set up like MS Windows for the most part. So you will feel at home.

At the same time it is much more virus resistant (like your Mac was), it is easy to use if your mind is at least a little flexible (as you have already shown yours to be), it meets your price requirement, it is free to try on any old junky PC, and it is infinitely theme-able.
posted by quarterframer at 4:50 PM on October 20, 2009


1. If the disc was formatted using a os/x file system you would have issues.
As long as its FAT32 you will be ok.

2. http://www.eset.com/ for anti virus is what I use and recommend (nod32).
Much better than Norton.

3. Ensure you get a netbook, or regular notebook with a regular sized keyboard.
Several models out there from Asus and Toshiba have a very decent keyboard
on them. Typing on the tiny ones gets annoying.


4. Lots of choices for your half K.
posted by digividal at 4:51 PM on October 20, 2009


Don't get linux unless you are a dev or just want to play with it. I've used it since ~'98 and still use it as my main system but I wouldn't recommend it for desktop use. It's still very uneven. Some things are great, others are a pain. The main issue is that there is a great number of rival libs/apps at every level, a lot of potential compatibility issues and nobody is doing serious, continuous testing work. Users are the one doing the testing, hence the 0.5% desktop market share. While a lot of great new applications were added and improved, in terms of general overall bugginess as an environment, Ubuntu is still in the same place where Debian was in '98. It's very sad and I would be very happy if someone like google would step in and put some real effort in testing/fixing cycle.
posted by rainy at 4:55 PM on October 20, 2009


All good advice. My caveat about netbooks isn't the keyboard or screen which you already know about. It's the itty bitty mouse pad that I find myself unable to adapt to for more than a minute.
posted by chairface at 4:56 PM on October 20, 2009


I don't think it's flame-y to also suggest at least trying a nice, easy Linux distro like Ubuntu.

But can I use both Word and iTunes? Switching to another word processing program is absolutely not an option (I'm a book editor and therefore can use Word and Word only, so I have to be able to work on Word files both at my office and at home), and I'm not interested in replacing my ipod.

Again, keep in mind: I am really, really not super-tech savvy. I had to look up "distro" and "GUI" to make sure I knew what these terms mean. I want something I can get at a store, take it home, plug it in, and be up and running that afternoon with little to no learning curve. For these reasons I am leaning toward Ubuntu being a Neat Thing that is probably out of my league.

1. If the disc was formatted using a os/x file system you would have issues.
As long as its FAT32 you will be ok.


By "the disc" I'm assuming you mean my external hard drive, and I'm assuming it was indeed formatted using OS/X. Could you clarify what issues I might have, and how to deal with them (or point me to a relevant article online)? Thanks.
posted by scody at 5:08 PM on October 20, 2009


Don't get linux unless you are a dev or just want to play with it. I've used it since ~'98 and still use it as my main system but I wouldn't recommend it for desktop use. It's still very uneven. Some things are great, others are a pain.

My 60-year-old mother uses Ubuntu without a problem, and it sounds like it meets OP's needs (word processing, web surfing, security, music programs) perfectly. I go from Windows to Ubuntu daily, without problems, and have fewer compatibility/driver issues than Mr. WanKenobi, who runs Windows. If you were my sort-of-cool-aunt, I'd recommend that you consider a System 76 desktop system or a Dell with Ubuntu pre-installed. If you decide to go with a linux system, and you have any questions about what applications to use (in short: openoffice, firefox, VLC, and banshee or amarok), feel free to memail me.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:09 PM on October 20, 2009


Get a ULV laptop - not a netbook. Something with a dual-core chip (or maybe Core2Solo). Single-core atom simply doesn't cut it in my opinion.

Many haven't noticed, but Microsoft now makes their own lightweight and free antivirus package.
posted by kickingtheground at 5:10 PM on October 20, 2009


But can I use both Word and iTunes? Switching to another word processing program is absolutely not an option (I'm a book editor and therefore can use Word and Word only, so I have to be able to work on Word files both at my office and at home), and I'm not interested in replacing my ipod.

Posted too soon: you can work on word files using openoffice.org on Linux, and can save in word format. If your editing is highly dependent on word styles, you might have a problem (but I also had problems with styles going between Mac and Windows versions of word when I was helping a friend with her thesis, so who knows?).

I don't use an ipod, but according to ubuntu documentation, they work fine with amarok and banshee, which are the two best music players available on ubuntu.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:13 PM on October 20, 2009


Since you got your external drive, have you ever gone into Disk Utility and chosen the Erase option? If so, the drive may well be in a Mac specific format, which PCs can't read. If you never did such a thing, then it'll likely be fine.

If it is in a Mac format, you can use a program called Macdrive (note: never personally tried it) to read a Mac disk on a PC.
posted by Magnakai at 5:17 PM on October 20, 2009


Another linux user here (Ubuntu on my file server, SUSE on my web server, formerly a FreeBSD user, etc) and I wouldn't recommend it. It's fine if you're a super low end user...ie, web browsing and opening (but not editing) word/excel files. It's AWESOME if you're a power user running any sort of server, etc. It's the worst system for the average joe, though.

Just get a PC if you can't swing a new Mac. OS X is the best (by a long shot) but Windows isn't the end of the world and you'll never have trouble getting help with problems.
posted by paanta at 5:19 PM on October 20, 2009


You cannot use Word or iTunes on linux. That is not debatable.
posted by kylej at 5:20 PM on October 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Get a ULV laptop - not a netbook. Something with a dual-core chip (or maybe Core2Solo). Single-core atom simply doesn't cut it in my opinion.

I'm honestly not trying to snark or to come off like an old lady, but I have no idea what most of these terms mean. If commenters would pretend I'm your mom (your friendly, well-meaning, smart mom with a cool record collection, but your mom nonetheless), that would be great.

Posted too soon: you can work on word files using openoffice.org on Linux, and can save in word format. If your editing is highly dependent on word styles, you might have a problem (but I also had problems with styles going between Mac and Windows versions of word when I was helping a friend with her thesis, so who knows?).

Yeah, this may be getting to the heart of it. My editing is indeed dependent on Word styles, and so I frequently faced little irritations every time I worked on something at home on my Mac that I'd also worked on at my office. (By themselves, each little irritation wasn't a big deal, but when dealing with a 100,000-word book in the middle of the night on a deadline, there were times I was honestly screaming in frustration.) When I'm editing at home, I don't want to have to rethink a single thing from the experience of editing at my office -- it has to be identical. From kylej's comments, it sounds as if this is impossible, in which case Ubuntu would be off the table.

Since you got your external drive, have you ever gone into Disk Utility and chosen the Erase option? If so, the drive may well be in a Mac specific format, which PCs can't read. If you never did such a thing, then it'll likely be fine.

If it is in a Mac format, you can use a program called Macdrive (note: never personally tried it) to read a Mac disk on a PC.


Thanks for this, Magnakai. I never went into Disk Utility to try to erase it. The Macdrive link looks like it would be helpful if I run into a problem.
posted by scody at 5:33 PM on October 20, 2009


I'm honestly not trying to snark or to come off like an old lady, but I have no idea what most of these terms mean. If commenters would pretend I'm your mom (your friendly, well-meaning, smart mom with a cool record collection, but your mom nonetheless), that would be great.

Don't feel bad about this. I had no idea what ulv was until I googled it. Next week you might want to consider posting a question just asking for links for a laptop to buy.
posted by kylej at 5:37 PM on October 20, 2009


I have had two different computer experiences that are germane to this discussion.

1: For about 4 months, I used an Acer Aspire 1 netbook. After the initial thrill of its size and portability wore off, I quickly grew to detest its tiny, cramped keyboard, cheap, oversensitive touch pad, flimsiness, lack of disk drive and instability (despite running XP, rather than Vista, it crashed frequently). Within just a few months, the battery also didn't last much longer than 45 minutes. To me, the lesson there was that you get what you pay for in the sub-$500 laptop realm. I replaced it with a regular-sized Dell Studio, for which I paid extra for XP, and couldn't be happier. Still have the Acer, have been meaning to craigslist it.

2: A couple years ago, I had an old Toshiba laptop on which I installed Ubuntu just to check out. I liked the look, and the rebellion of not using Microsoft appealed to me, but I was frustrated by the compatibility issues with work/school computers and our fleet of iPods. I kind of liked Open Office, and ran it on Windows computers for a while, but when my wife had to buy a copy of MS Office for her work, I was lured by the potential for saving files and reopening them on another computer in Word without weird formatting and other issues. I don't use Open Office anymore. This computer's wireless chip/thing eventually died, and I junked it.

Finally, with regard to viruses, I run the free versions of AVG and Ad Aware, as well as Spybot S&D, and between the three of them, have had pretty decent luck over the years preventing viruses on our home computers.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 5:41 PM on October 20, 2009


Open office is NOT a replacement for word. You are an editor. You need MS Word. Simply no other way around it. People that suggest otherwise clearly do not collaborate or share manuscripts.

That said, scody, go ahead and get a netbook that feels comfortable to you. First go to a store like bestbuy (yes, I cringe saying this) but get a feel for which one you feel comfortable using. You don't have to buy it there.
Then get one with plenty of RAM and a big enough harddrive. Install word and itunes and you will be set.

For music: No conversion needed. If you want all the music on the new laptop, set itunes to consolidate music from the preferences. Then drag all the files onto itunes are you'll be set.

For being protected against viruses: Install AVG, zone alarm, Spyware search and destroy (all free) and that's it. Use Firefox (at the very least install ad-block as an addon).

happy transition.
posted by special-k at 5:50 PM on October 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


For Question 2.. the answer is ESET NOD32.

Wikipedia says:

* NOD32 was certified by ICSA Labs.
* It has been tested 54 times by Virus Bulletin with a success rate of 96%, the highest pass rate of the tested anti-virus products.
* It was rated 5 stars out of 6 by PC Pro Magazine and received their "recommended" award.
* At CNet.com it has received a score of 4.5/5 by editors
* 94.4% Malware Detection and 94.7% spyware detection in the latest AV-Test comparative
* 93% Detection on Set A and 96.6% Detection on Set B with most aggressive settings in the latest AV-Comparatives Test

On top of all that.. its fairly light on system resources and downloads updates inconspicuously. It's not free (like AVG).. but then, you get what you pay for.
posted by jmnugent at 6:17 PM on October 20, 2009


Open office is NOT a replacement for word. You are an editor. You need MS Word. Simply no other way around it. People that suggest otherwise clearly do not collaborate or share manuscripts.

Just a note that I do, in fact, both collaborate and share manuscripts, which is why I wanted to tease out a distinction between being able to view, edit, and save .docx or .doc word documents (which is all that most users, even many who work collaboratively, need, and which openoffice.org handles fine) and actually needing MS Word2007 for Windows (almost always because of styles), which sounds like is the case for scody; ditto on being able to sync an iPod and listen to music vs. needing to use iTunes, the program, specifically. Anyway, M.C. Lo-Carb!'s experience on openoffice isn't the norm anymore--I move my novel from openoffice to Word all the time, and used to use openoffice to edit my student's poems (so weird formatting out the wazoo) and the only difference is the font.

Anyway.

scody, something that hasn't been covered regarding potentially getting a netbook is that you won't have an optical (dvd or cd) drive with most (all?) netbooks. While this isn't a major concern, it can be frustrating if it's going to be your only computer, and can make things difficult if you ever need to, say, reformat your hard drive. Because of that, and your size concerns, I'd probably look into a full-size notebook instead. They're cheap enough now that you should be able to get something okay within your price range.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:08 PM on October 20, 2009


Most of your questions have been answered, but I wanted to suggest Microsoft Security Essentials for your antivirus needs. I've been using it for a while, and it works well. Integrates nicely with Windows, for what that's worth.
posted by andrewcilento at 7:08 PM on October 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


When I'm editing at home, I don't want to have to rethink a single thing from the experience of editing at my office -- it has to be identical.

If using Word is indeed an absolute requirement, and Macs don't suit you, then you are indeed locked into using Windows at home.

If the absolute requirement is that work and home machines must behave the same way when working with any given document, your best bet is to make sure you're using identical versions of Microsoft Office on both.

Second-best bet would be to install the Go-oo build of OpenOffice.org on your work machine (it's available for Windows, Mac, Linux and Unix, and is the version that most of the Linux distributions ship by default) and use OpenOffice.org Writer at both ends, which gives you a choice of OS at home instead of locking you in to Windows.

If I were editing (as opposed to typesetting) books for a living, I'd actually prefer working with OOo Writer to Word, becauseBut I'm not doing that; what I do for a living is fix malware-infested Windows boxes, which has naturally given me a somewhat jaded view of the suitability of that product as a base for any kind of productivity :-)
posted by flabdablet at 7:54 PM on October 20, 2009


1. This has been pretty well answered. Shouldn't be a problem. If you have a lot of iTunes music store files with DRM, you're probably stuck using iTunes for Windows, but that's not the worst fate of all time.
2. There's no reason to pay for your home antivirus software. Avast! is good and mostly unobtrusive (though it will talk to you unless you tell it to stop). AVG is free, but increasingly nags you to try the pro version. Avira AntiVir is also free and is the current hip choice for free A/V; I only just started using it on my in-laws' computer (mine has Avast, FWIW), but have had a pretty positive experience so far. FWIW, AntiVir gets the best reviews in recent free AV comparison tests.
3. Unless we're talking about a very potent netbook here, for a primary computer, a netbook isn't powerful enough, IMHO. You'd be better served with larger notebook, especially once iTunes and Firefox start devouring your RAM in voracious gulps. If you're looking for something MacBook-sized or smaller, you're looking at 13" and 12" models (the MacBook is 13.3"). The catch is that those tend to cost more than 14" and 15" models, so it might be worth thinking about how much super portability is worth to you. Also, keyboard and mouse will be USB (unless wireless, then probably Bluetooth, in which case, make sure you have bluetooth on the new machine), so no problem. Monitor, on the other hand, can be a smidge tricky. Not all netbooks/notebooks will have a port for an external monitor, so make sure it's there. If you can afford a notebook with an Intel Core2Duo processor, I recommend doing so. Intel dual core would be the next in line, followed by Celeron, Athlon X2, et al. If you are absolutely sold on a netbook, get one with an Intel Atom processor with the largest number you can find (I believe 1.6 MHz is pretty common and pretty solid).
4. This will be a little time-consuming, but not impossible. Depending on how much time you have to get this done, I'd suggest popping into a BestBuy/Staples/OfficeMax/whatev and seeing which sizes and form factors appeal to you, have the things you need (monitor out, maybe bluetooth, CD/DVD reader/writer, etc.). Then, spend a week or so just following the RSS feeds of sites like Techbargains and keeping an eye on which computers meeting your requirements have coupons, rebates, etc. If you have time to wait for them, deals will come up that will allow you to get more computer for your budget.
5. You probably (by which I mean definitely) don't want Windows Vista; you want Windows 7 or--if we're talking netbook here, Windows XP. If you do decide on a netbook, an optical drive (CD/DVD) is an easy external (USB) addition, and not super expensive. You'll probably end up leaving it at home.

Good luck! Finding the right computer at the right price is frustrating. The big box stores all have store-specific model numbers, to thwart price comparison.
posted by willpie at 8:00 PM on October 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the link to MSE, andrew - will certainly be investigating that product. AVG 7 and 7.5 were both more than good enough, but 8.5 needs a lot of things turned off to reduce its in-your-face factor to an acceptable annoyance baseline.
posted by flabdablet at 8:13 PM on October 20, 2009


Your plan looks entirely reasonable to me. We have almost the same needs for our laptop and just recently bought a replacement for an older netbook.

2. A couple of months ago, I would have told you to look at AVG free. I'd used it for years without a problem. Now, I would seriously consider Microsoft Security Essentials---MSE. I've got it on our new netbook (below) and it's entirely painless. It's a combo of an anti-virus and an anti-malware (trojans, spyware, etc...) monitor. With the windows firewall enabled, it appears to be comprehensive, unobtrusive, easy to use and free. It appears to be an excellent solution to most of window's security problems.

If it works, and it appears to, MSE should replace almost all of the security products mentioned so far (AVG, Spybot search&destroy, hijackthis! etc...)

3. We just bought a Samsung NC10 to fit almost exactly the same set of needs you have. It's much, much better than the Del Mini9 that it replaced; faster, much better screen, much, much better keyboard. If you want a netbook, that's one I'd recommend. It will run a browser (Firefox), Office and such just fine. We don't use iTunes, so can't comment there.

All (almost all? 95%+ anyway) the netbooks out there are being offered with Windows XP (Home). I haven't seen any with windows 7 yet.

4. We spent $350 (CDN) on the Samsung. That should leave enough to buy a larger screen.

Do try the netbooks before you buy, if at all possible. The Samsung has one of the nicest keyboards of the lot, but there's no way I'd put it in the same category as my work-provided Thinkpad however. the prices of these things can't be beat, but be sure you can live with the compromises of the form factor. If you can't, Dell and others offer full-sized laptops just above your upper price limit new, and often under $500 on sale or refurbished.
posted by bonehead at 9:03 PM on October 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


One more thing to mention, the Samsung was quite impressive in that it came with only a minimum of extra software, and it seems to be all pretty useful!

You could have knocked me down with a feather. Low-end systems are notorious for being positively festooned with crapware, ad-ware, trial versions of this and that. With the Dell, I had to spend the better part of a day removing crap, rebooting all the while. On the Samsung, all I really had to do was remove McAfee. It was great!
posted by bonehead at 9:08 PM on October 20, 2009


Me, I'd go with linux, with KDE 3.5 as a desktop/window manager.

Some caveats: Firefox is slower under linux. Open Office is a fine replacement for Word for most normal word-processing. GTKPod replaces iTunes, and is probably faster (I have no idea about DRM'd music, all my music is both legally purchased and DRM free). KDE 3.5 is similar to MS-Windows in look and feel. Viruses are not a problem.
posted by orthogonality at 9:33 PM on October 20, 2009


Thanks for the feedback, everyone -- this has been extremely helpful! It's going to be tricky to figure out all the best answers as I sort through everything. (And by all means, if people have further comments, please continue the discussion.)

I apologize if my reference to word processing was too general; I probably should have made it clear that, as a book editor, I specifically need to use MS Word, thus perhaps sidestepping the Ubuntu question entirely. (Though I appreciate the information about it all the same; if having Linux at work was any sort of option, I'd likely pursue it at home as well, as I must admit I find the idea of leaving Windows behind entirely to be an interesting one, and flabdablet's description of Open Office Writer being closer to Word 2003 is extremely attractive, as I, too, loathe and detest Word 2007.)

Based on some other comments, I'm now leaning more toward a regular notebook rather than a netbook -- thanks very much for the thoughts on that score. The info on iTunes for PC and for virus/malware/etc. protection has also been great. If I run into any trouble on either of those scores once I've selected a notebook, I'll be sure to ask the hive mind for help.
posted by scody at 9:54 PM on October 20, 2009


I copy my OSX iTunes library to my Windows computer regularly - simply copy the entire Music folder from your Mac into your "My Music" (or whatever Win 7 calls it) folder. Done. First time you open iTunes it will "rebuild" your library, which will take a little while, but it will work fine.

You will probably have to reformat your iPod. If you first used it on a Mac, the iPod will be in a Mac format. Windows won't be able to read it. Plug it in, then run iTunes to format the iPod. After reformatting, re-sync it to get your music back on it. A Windows-formatted iPod can be read from both Mac and Windows, so it's more flexible that way anyway.
posted by caution live frogs at 10:35 PM on October 20, 2009


I work with PCs and live with macs.

1) Get a desktop, nice amount of power for the money but you can still get a nice laptop for less than $500 if portability is an issue, just factor in the external monitor or three;

2) I use MacDrive with a 1TB iTunes external library and it works fine on the PC. It is one of the few pieces of software actually worth the money for all the time it saves having to futz with the technical issues of a PC unable to read a FAT32 properly;

3) Other folks have already mentioned AVG and other freeware options but it is true that you need to get into the daily groove of making sure your machine is clean;

4) Word 2007 is better than Word 2008. I don't know what happened to the Mac Business unit at MS but the latest iteration on the mac blows. If you have a university email I suggest blowing the $60 to get the complete office suite here for the PC

5) If you are using multiple machines I would suggest a cloud synchronization like DropBox so you do not have to worry about flash drives and all that between various sites. It also helps with versioning.
posted by jadepearl at 2:19 AM on October 21, 2009


Just to be clear: you don't need to be running Ubuntu at work to try out OpenOffice.org Writer - you can run OOo Writer in Windows.

OpenOffice.org is cross-platform (that is, builds are available for Windows, Mac, Linux and Unix) and you will find an easy Windows installer available for download from the Go-oo site I linked to earlier. Unlike Microsoft Office, there is virtually no difference between the versions for the various platforms; if you were running the Windows build at work and the Ubuntu build at home, I doubt you'd notice any difference as long as you'd installed the Microsoft font package on the Ubuntu box.
posted by flabdablet at 2:29 AM on October 21, 2009


Keep in mind that you can always partition your hard disk and play around with Ubuntu, or any other Linux distro that will work with your hardware, all you want, and still boot into Windows for your work and iTunes.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:06 AM on October 21, 2009


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