Switching from Mac to Windows: The transition (From a blind perspective)

I know, I know. I’m again defying my own odds and I suppose the odds of others. Just a week ago I was enthused about System access, and now, what’s this? The mac?

It turns out that my attempts at installing iPhone OS 4.0 really made me start to enjoy the mac operating system. This is because I could only restore from within a mac, and, I also got wireless Internet up and running on it.

Before I begin my conquest at talking in length about the Mac, I wish to discuss with you� Apple licensing. Licensing has always been, and will always be, one of those ” controversy subject areas of discussion anywhere.
The apple license agreement states that you can run the software on Apple-branded hardware. It does not specifically state that this has to be a Macintosh computer, which for me, is the upside of the mac.

I have never been at one with Apple’s pricing schemes. The $1100 macbook which customers can purchase could cost $900-800 in another laptop computer hardware. I suppose quality will also be one of those key differing areas among users, but any laptop with the hardware Apple gives in it’s laptops and desktops is bound to have a more quality feel to it.
With that said, Apple Macs are probably one of the best designed laptops, but also one of the most breakable ones. They are glossy which makes them shiny at times. Generally, of course, this is to attract consumer’s attention. Somehow the smooth feel of my mother’s macbook, though, has always lead me to feel a bit more careful about the delicacy of those machines.

So at the moment, I have Mac OSX 10.6.3 running on two out of the three machines I own-one of which, a 2006 IBM Thinkpad, was purchased by my family. It works well on that computer and also my Intel Atom Toshiba netvook.

I won’t go into detail as to how you can get it up and running on your own computer, but will say that having a retail copy of Snow leopard will always be a handy help. I used something called iPortable Snow OSX as well as the retail DVD to restore the MBR onto my machines. So regardless, you will have to buy Snow Leopard for $30 from your nearest Apple Store. The cost offset of running Snow Leopard on your PC, however, is a lot less than if you were to go out and buy an actual mac.

The closer the hardware, the better you’ll be able to run the Operating System. For example, my AMD machine, at this moment, cannot run the Mac at all, and will probably only be able to do so within a Virtual Machine because of the non-Intel hardware.

I did also use three Apple stickers to brand my computers as Apple branded. I suppose this helps, though again licensing will always be up in the air and be questionable in any of these situations.

I also wish to note that I won’t provide support or answer questions for any of those who wish to venture out and do this themselves. I don’t think you need a lot of technical knowledge, but rather will have to be able to follow directions well and enter commands or procedures in order. The only two resources I give you are insanelyMac and Hackint0sh. And that is it-no more.

Mac OS: Why do this?

I often ask myself this question. I mean, I just got System Access, and really in this case what’s the point of using a Mac now?

I have three thoughts to say on the matter.

First, is that while using my iPod touch, I’ve actually come to love the simplistic designs Apple puts in their product. I guess I’m no average Joe, but I do like when my work is able to be done in an efficient manner-without issues or problems or hard to find keyboard shortcuts. As most of you probably already know, my switch to Linux didn’t go to well but was nearly there. (I’ll revisit that OS in about a month’s time).
Mac OSX is based off Linux. While it’s not open source, it’s half open, half closed. The underpinnings of the system, called Darwin, is actually released by Apple as an open kernel. Darwin is based off of free BSD and the Mach kernel, and this is why the terminal application uses Linux commands.
What isn’t open source, however, deals mainly with the user interface of the Mac, commonly called Coco. Coco and Carbon are also frameworks Apple created and encourages developers to use them in their applications in order to provide a more streamlined interface across applications.
While I certainly don’t know if any personal information is submitted to Steve and his company, I could, with some effort, at least examine the base of the Mac-Darwin. I have faith, though, that perhaps some of the Linux geeks out there have done this already and would of alerted the community if any code was found that compromises privacy.

I certainly think it’s a lot better than Windows-at least I’m not running an OS which is totally in closed code!

But let us go back to the system Access issue.
While I might use the mac as often as I can, the sad truth is that I will still need Windows, especially at first during this time. You have to admit, most computer hardware to date is built around Windows, which means that 99.9% of computers will be Windows compatible. Not that there’s a chance of me buying a new computer any time soon, it’s nice to know that unlike with the Mac, Windows updates don’t have a chance of completely breaking the operability of my computer.

System Access will also be useful in situations where I have to use the computer lab. With a $100 upgrade price I could easily take it on the go on my flash disk. Even now, having Satogo there to use in any lab situation is comforting enough. I’m thrilled that I’ve finally moved away from JAWS and am no longer in hold by their SMA requirements. I have faith in Serotek and that their products will improve over time, and maybe in a year might even match JAWS as far as those features which I lacked are concerned. So no, at this point in time, I do not regret my purchase.

What it takes to Switch: A quick rundown

When I tried switching from Windows to Linux
, I immediately
bumped into the issue of lack of supported apps. Those programs-such as AIM or Yahoo Messenger- had to managed by an entirely different application, requiring a new learning curve. Most Windows applications are also available for the Mac. Yahoo! messenger, for example, looks and behaves almost identically to it’s Windows counterpart. About the same goes for AIM. I’m not sure if Net Transport, the download manager I use, has a Mac-equal, but I’ll find this out probably tomorrow.

Voiceover support for applications also generally are good, mainly because of Apple’s encouragements to use Coco, as well as the interaction which the screen reader allows within various applications. While Orca does have a flat review cursor, I have often found that screen items weren’t able to be interacted with too often. The lack of a unified interface also meant that programs like the Ubuntu Software Center were completely inaccessible.

The mac faces it’s own challenges too. I find that I miss the keyboard navigation I used within Windows. I can see the advantage of the rotter, but you have to cycle between the choices in order to find the right one and this can sometimes make web browsing take more time. I can’t just jump to the next form, I have to cycle through tables, headers, links, visited links� To get to it.

At this point, I’m also looking for an accessible Twitter client. I’ve tried Syrinx, and wasn’t too impressed, though it’s certainly a nice improvement over some of the other clients I’ve used on Macs. And broadcasting on a Mac? That’s out of the question, for now-not only because of the software costs, but also because I’m not sure if my microphone output s supported.


The mac isn’t perfect. In some aspects, it’s more efficient-such as the ability to use the dock not just to access frequently used programs but to also find options on the bottom of application screens. (While the dock doesn’t hold application options, most apps do have a dock-like interface, where options are located in rows of buttons at the screen’s bottom or top.)
I’ve also found, during testing, that the Mac does load websites faster on my Netbook than Windows. This is nice, because in Windows Internet Explorer does take a drain on the processor when rendering. I suppose that because it’s Linux based, the OS does not utilize as many resources as would Windows.

I’ve always loved Apple’s software. It’s their hardware and policies that I don’t meet eye to eye with. They restrict their developers, in particular on the iPhone, and dictate a closed-source platform which is not only prevalent in that device but also the lockdown which Mac OSX is placed into. While this certainly makes the corporation more efficient and prevents fragmenting, it also attracts them less customers. Apple made one of the biggest mistakes when, in 1997, they shut down the Macintosh cloning project. And had Jobs taken IBM and Microsoft upon their offers, we would have seen a completely different market situation among computer manufacturers and consumer choices.

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