: iMac: Not what it is blown up to be....

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2008-02-22, 12:36 PM
Finally I had to admit it. The iMac (with Leopard OS X) is not what it is blown up to be. Sold on the idea of a care-free/user-friendly/sleek concept of a computer system, I had high expectations. As a matter of fact for the last couple of months I have been trying to be patient and trying hard to uphold the now-debatable notion that "It was a great purchase!"

The 24" display looks great and the applications are sleek when they work. However, over the month-and-a-half that I had it, there have been several lock-ups where you cannot do anything. There have also been surprises and frustration working with applications, such as iPhoto and iMovie, that have closed unexpectedly for more times than even I might have expected of applications running on a PC with MS XP. The most annoying incident was when I renamed a precious photo which subsequently half-disappeared into limbo; you can see a thumbnail of it but when you click on it to view it in full-size mode there is that annoying blurred Exclamation Mark symbol mocking at you (mocking because you trusted the system so much that you opted to delete the originals when you imported the photos from your camera into iPhoto). There was no undo button for renaming it. Of course, I tried to see what Time-Machine could do to retrieve it...but user-friendly as the system I thought it to be...I belatedly found out that I had to set it up and activate it before it would work. Why the icon for the Time-Machine appears in the dock at the bottom of the screen (suggesting to me that it is doing its work all the time) at all is bewildering; it was there ever since I got the system and this indicates that it is not good human engineering. This leads me to write that, despite Apple's reputation for good designs, it might be over-blown. There are many non-intuitive mode of operations. Little things that you can easily do to find the menu and do simple operations on a file or folder on a PC with MS XP requires much bungling around on the iMac; if it is user-friendly I would have thought that the learning curve from PC to Mac should be easy. Even just trying to delete an object can be a search for help instead, because many times you cannot just drag and drop it into the Trash bin on the dock; at times you need to drag it to an application-specific trash (so it seems).

After rambling about all these, the worst part was what happened yesterday. I got truly frustrated when I was working in iMovie and trying to "share" it with iDVD. The update that I made on iMovie was recognized but the new animation title that I had edited did not work when I previewed it on iDVD. I closed both applications and opened Safari (Web browser) to search whether anyone had a similar problem. Then, all hell (er...I mean "paint") went loose. The screen went crazy with every movement of the cursor. With every move there was a new canvas enlivened with a cacophony of bright colours. It was as if Picasso was at work on the iMac. I've never liked Picasso's work...not on the Mac either...

2008-02-22, 01:17 PM
I'm not going to comment on most of your issues as I cannot say whats happening, but your comment about time machine was a little out to lunch...

Of course, I tried to see what Time-Machine could do to retrieve it...but user-friendly as the system I thought it to be...I belatedly found out that I had to set it up and activate it before it would work. Why the icon for the Time-Machine appears in the dock at the bottom of the screen (suggesting to me that it is doing its work all the time) at all is bewildering; it was there ever since I got the system and this indicates that it is not good human engineering.

I don't know why you would think Time Machine works without setting it up being that you have to hook up a seperate hard drive. Why would you think that it would "magically" just work? As for the icon in the dock, since ALL the iLife applications appear in the dock and are not ALWAYS running, why would this be the case with Time Machine. Its just a quick launch button. Did you think all these applications were all running all the time? Thats not bad human engineering, thats just someone not taking the time to read up on what the icons mean ahead of time...

2008-02-22, 01:25 PM
Leopard or even OSX is a whole new platform for someone coming from Windows to learn. When I made the switch I did it with patience and understanding that i was entering a whole new world. I think this is the key and something that every switcher needs to embrace.

I run leopard on multiple systems at home with no troubles. When I say no troubles I mean very infrequent system or application lock ups. Have you contacted Apple about these issues? It sounds like it could be a RAM problem if you have frequent lockups.

iMovie and iDVD are very different beasts and can take a while to get used to. I find the video tutorials on Apples site quite good for learning the basics but there is nothing better than asking questions in forums (such as this) or doing simple google searches to find other users that are trying to do the same thing.

iPhoto is not one of my favorite applications and I tend to be able to do alot more with standard editing programs form 3rd parties (on both windows and Mac) than in iPhoto. Once again you need to do some research to fully understand how iPhoto keeps your images cataloged and stored.

If I had that system i would load Firefox on there immediately as I find it much better than Safari.

Just my 2 cents

2008-02-22, 01:55 PM
I have a long and deep history with the PC platform but have been the IT person at a Macintosh shop for the last 3 years. Although I have gained plenty of respect for the Mac platform, it is not easier, faster or more stable than Windows. It's just DIFFERENT. I would prefer the Mac for some things, and Windows for others.

2008-02-22, 02:22 PM
Jaazman, you might be right that I might have been a bit out to lunch. However, try to look at it from another perspective. I bought into the idea that the iMac was plug-and-use system. For example, there was no need to set up wireless connectivity...magically the iMac did it all by itself. And, as you indicated, those icons in the dock are for launching applications. They just work when you launch them, e..g, iMovie justs open up the interface to let you do what you wanted to do. You need not do any setup. As with the other applications why would one think that there is need for setup...with another hard drive? This is seldom, if ever, mentioned when the virtues of the Time-Machine are advertised? Also, would it not be user-friendly to store saved states on the internal drive as a default and to allow the option to set it up so that the saved states are logged onto an external drive? [I am aware of the advantage of saving to an external drive.] Is that out to lunch?

Look also from this perspective. How is the Time-Machine advertised? It supposedly allows you to go back to your previous state so that there is no fear of losing stuff. This to me is what it is supposed to do. To me it also means that it should be taking snapshots of the current state of the system all the time (intermittently). Given this, when one clicks on the icon for the Time-Machine what might one expect? To me clicking on the icon would launch an interface that allows you select which of the previous state that you would like to retrieve.
This is not too far-fetched given that the functionality of the Time-Machine is to keep taking snapshots of the state of the system (that's my understanding).

Probably you have put the finger on the critical issue...that of "expectation." You expected me to know that I have to set it up. I expected that it would do its job automatically. What does Apple expects of its user? To go and read a "non-existing" manual? ;)

2008-02-22, 02:26 PM
QuickSilver and JohnnyG,
Thanks for your comments. I agree wholeheartedly! :)
And, thanks for the positive suggestions.

2008-02-22, 02:36 PM
Time Machine is much different in that it requires setup. I do not know many Windows Backup software that is setup by default. Even Windows Backup that comes with the OS needs to be setup to tell it what, where and when to back things up.

I understand your frustration but it is best to do some research first. As always we are here to answer any questions you may have.

2008-02-22, 02:46 PM
I'm a Windows power user and my wife is more of a typical "use it because I have to" Windows user. She's also the creative type, so she was enticed by what she hears about Macs.

Last year we bought 2 Mac Minis so that we could both experience the wonder of the Mac. One was to be my wife's main machine and the other our media/HTPC.

Long story short, both are now running XP in bootcamp mode 99% of the time.

I've used all kinds of OS's... mainframe, mini, PDA, Unix / Linux, etc and a huge variety of programs with all kinds of user interfaces. I can adjust to anything. The Mac experience was just not all that satisfying. I was actually hoping to be won over by it, but in the end it wasn't all that different from Windows.

Don't get me wrong, I don't like Windows. But I won't make the switch until the alternative is good enough to give me reason to switch. And the Mac didn't do it for me.

As for my wife, she thought she'd enjoy using the Mac apps much more than she did. They weren't really superior to what she had already... just different.

If you aren't already comfortable with Windows then yes, consider a Mac. I would say it is no worse than Windows (other than having less software available) and might be slightly easier for a novice to pick up than Windows. But if you are already a regular Windows user and reasonably comfortable with using it, I don't think there is any good reason to switch to a Mac other than perhaps as a personal statement of some sort (eg. I'm cooler than you... or, I hate Microsoft).

2008-02-22, 02:52 PM
Ultimately what it comes down to is, if you're moving from one platform to another, you can't just ASSUME that something is going to work the way you think it does or the way you think it should. As far as the "non existing" manual, the help feature on all the iLife programs as well as the apple.com site are great sources of information.

As for Time Machine marketing, all the marketing for this feature state very clearly that an external drive is required.


"Set it, then forget it.
To start using Time Machine, all you have to do is connect an external drive (sold separately) to your Mac. You’re asked if you want it to be your backup drive, and if you say yes, Time Machine takes care of everything else. Automatically. In the background. You’ll never have to worry about backing up again."

It's still plug n play

2008-02-22, 04:07 PM
OK! Thanks!

2008-02-22, 04:46 PM
Did some reading on the Web and found that lock-ups and applications quitting unexpectedly are not unusual with some machines:
e.g., http://www.pcworld.com/article/id,139216-c,macs/article.html.

However, the question I have for those who are more attuned to the situation, should I update my OS X? [I do not have the specific version number at hand.] I bought my iMac in January and have not done any update yet.

A second question is, how can I determine whether my RAM is a problem? I'm wondering whether I have a machine-specific problem, after reading http://pencildreams.blogspot.com/2008/02/imac-update.html.

2008-02-22, 05:03 PM
Absolutely update! Usually though, the computer tells you that updates are available. Has this not happened to you?

If you have not updated at all, you could be running version 10.5 while the current version is 10.5.2. Just go to the Apple menu and select Software Update.... Naturally, you need to be connected to the internet for this.

2008-02-22, 05:39 PM
Yes, I have received notices asking whether I wanted an update and I have so far always say no because somehow I got a notion that updates can exacerbate lock-ups. That was why I indicated "whether someone in the know" have updated news of the whole situation...In particular, the more I read (in the last hour or so), the more I find that there might actually be a serious problem with the 24" iMac (Leopard OS X) and that Apple at the moment does not have a solution: http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?threadID=1107864&tstart=0 (dated up to Nov.07). So far I have not come across more recent news on the situation.

2008-02-22, 08:35 PM
Updates do sometimes cause more problems, but the latest 10.5 update has fixed some issues and caused no obvious problems so far.

2008-02-22, 09:31 PM
Before you update, you should make a backup and repair permissions. A lot of sites recommend this procedure. I have always used this procedure and have had no problems. (this is me knocking on wood).

Good luck

2008-02-22, 10:18 PM
Certainly good advice, but I have never done this procedure and have never had problems (and this is in a shop with 15 or so Macs)

2008-02-23, 01:33 AM
Last week, I was working on a 65-page document in MS Word 2008 for the Mac, and it would crash literally within one to five minutes of starting to work with it. I gave up and did the editing in Word2007 in Bootcamp WinXP. No problems there.

My biggest beef with the Mac OS, though, is the file manager (FINDER) - it simply is not as versatile and easy to move around in as the WinXp one (apart from being able to put whatever you want in the "sources" pane on the left side).

2008-02-23, 02:02 AM
I switched to Mac at home after using Macs for work for years and years and just love it. I'm still on Tiger but now that Leopard is past the point 0 release I'll likely bite. Also planning on an Apple TV and an iPhone in the next month (both shall be hacked, mind). I don't think I've drank the proverbial kool-aid or anything, I know Linux and XP in a power user level as well...

The thing about Macs to me is that 90% of it is so smooth, fast and intuitive...you can generally do what you want and it's laid out to do that for you much quicker (other than Word, but iWork's suite is awesome)...but 10% of the Mac experience is a brick wall to me. You'll be like "what? Why can't I just click that and this happens?" because you get used to the other 90% that's a smooth ride. Like in iPhoto, you can't just select an area and hit 'crop' on a photo, you have to select what to cut out...whaa? Confusing.

I got so sick of registry hacks and virus/spyware dealings on PCs just to get them to work (I'm a video editor/compositor/graphics/audio type so maybe I'm particular) that I can't ever see going back.

2008-02-23, 11:29 PM
JT, if you haven't been applying any software updates, then you're likely missing a graphics firmware update for iMacs from November that fixed the kind of freeze-up issues you described.

Here is a story about it... Apple Gazette: iMac graphics update/ (http://www.applegazette.com/imac/apple-fixes-imac-freeze-issue-with-graphics-firmware-update/)

2008-02-24, 11:47 AM
Thanks JohnnyG and Mach2billy. I've updated the OS software. I hope that will make a significant difference for the better, with respect to the instabilities that I had. Thank you to all for your helpful comments.