Mac vs. PC

04/14/2012

The Mac vs. PC debate is much like beating a dead horse… a VERY dead horse. There will NEVER be any glimmering examples that prove either system tops the other, so it’s both funny and irritating to read the comments on the Yahoo.com article “How to know if your Mac is infected with the Flashback virus (and how to fix it),” which can be read here:

http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/technology-blog/know-mac-infected-flashback-virus-fix-181632690.html

Look, I grew up using Windows systems at home and, thinking back, I spent a lot of time in a lot of weird places. One such place was my buddy, Brady’s, grandma’s basement. I don’t remember how we ended up hanging out there, but what I do recall is starting up the record player and booting up her Windows NT computer. Oddly, at the time it really didn’t feel odd at all. Even before computers were the norm, they felt like the norm, and some of us just naturally gravitated toward them.

Anyway, I spent A LOT of time on Windows systems, growing up. But I started using Macs more and more as time progressed. In middle school, my friends and I obediently took turns playing “Oregon Trail” on “free days” in our Ohio History class. That was seventh grade. In eighth grade, we learned proper typing skills on old Macintosh Classic IIs, which had only black and white screens. Then, in high school, the “bondi blue,” “tangerine,” and “ruby” iMac G3s became all the rage, when our high school installed them.

Fast-forward a decade later, and I own both a Windows computer and an Apple computer. They both serve a purpose but, when it comes to processor-intense applications, I have no choice but to use the Apple system. The same logic is in place in the office. We have one Windows system that’s dedicated to data transfer. All of our video editing, though, takes place on Macs… most editors prefer them… so do audio engineers… and graphic designers… not all, but most, and there is a key reason: stability.

Windows enthusiasts sometimes rave about how they can build a system that is just as good, at a fraction of the cost. Well, “just as good” is a rather subjective observation, unless they are perform actual bench tests.

Although many people like Apple computers for their ease-of-use, I have found Windows operating systems to be super customizable. People can spec them out and, for those that have such an interest, games made for Windows are quite abundant. On the other hand, they historically start to become less and less reliable as they get bogged down with heavy processing. I can’t have that with some of the work I do.

I originally bought my Mac to transfer video footage for a TV show. It was flawless in that capacity and has served me well with audio editing. Freeware and expandability gives Windows an upper-hand in those categories, however. So basically, with all this said, each operating system has its uses… its pros and cons. So, if you haven’t done so already, check out and compare both. It could open up a whole new world…

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Spending the day troubleshooting…. I recently upgraded my primary audio software from Pro Tools 8 to PT 10. Unfortunately, I have long been stuck in this cycle of writing, editing, and mixing music on an archaic setup, which is centered around an old Dell XPS computer running Windows XP. Growing up using both Windows AND Apple computers, I can tell ya that they both work great for simple tasks… but once you get down to business, Windows systems are completely inefficient while Macs take the gold medal.

With Pro Tools, a lot of things are happening at once. You have things moving and scrolling in the mix and edit windows, plugins are doing some processing, and information is being consolidated and sent to the sound and video cards. Windows XP has just never been able to handle those tasks well while running Pro Tools 8. The output emitting from the speakers randomly becomes completely distorted and is only solved by either 1)stopping and restarting the playback 5, 6, 7 times, sometimes more or 2)getting into my settings and changing how much information the computer buffers before it’s translated into an audible signal.

Being a little behind the times here computer-wise, Pro Tools 10 isn’t supported on my old XP system, so I just have it installed on a Macbook Pro… well, the MBP doesn’t have two, big fancy displays to show what’s going on in both the edit and mix windows, so I keep going back to Pro Tools 8 to work with. Well, today I just had enough, as I kept running into that distorted signal roadblock over and over and over again, while mixing a song called “Don’t Look Down.”

I moved the project over the Mac, and the process of setting up an audio interface just isn’t as easy as it seemed it would be. If there is a weakness I have when it comes to all this techno-nerd audio world stuff, it’s dealing with signal routing, bussing, and optimizing auxiliary channels. Mixing boards are complex creatures, and I impressed many-a concert goer when I was standing behind a 40 channel sound board, fresh out of high school nearly about a decade ago. It kind of looks like the cockpit of the space shuttle, but you learn… and then technology changes.

What really trips me up is digital routing. I never had to deal with MIDI addressing, syncing a dozen synthesizers to do different tasks all at once. Only once did I program a light show via DMX addressing, and I just typed in the codes the lighting director relayed to me. And only a handful of times have I had to route a digital audio console. I have a feeling more of that will be coming soon, though, as some plans are in the works.

But as for now, it’s time to play around with PT 10 a little more. I will update if I make any breakthroughs.