February 23 - Keynote titled OSGi in the Enterprise: Agility, Modularity, and Architecture’s Paradox
March 22 - 25 - Tutorial on Modular Architecture
June 14 - 17 - Sessions titled Turtles and Architecture and Patterns of Modular Architecture
July 26 - 30 - Two sessions on rich mobile applications and one on agile development. Half day tutorial on software process improvement.
Right on. I just won a Best Buy drawing worth $1000. Either that or I won a shiny new virus by clicking the link. Hmm...what to do. 2012-08-29
The opinions expressed on this site are my own, and not necessarily those of my employer.
I’ve owned Macs for about four years now. I use them daily. One of the biggest complaints I hear surrounding Macs is that they’re more expensive than their PC counterparts. This recent article in CIO examining total cost of ownership (TCO) for businesses using Macs left me wondering. For personal use, are Macs really that much more expensive than PCs, especially when factoring in TCO? Unfortunately, it’s not so black and white. Let’s look at some numbers.
For this little exercise, I’ve decided to compare sample TCO over a period of time (ie. 2 years) for a Mac and a PC. This includes the initial purchase cost, ongoing support costs, and software purchases. It does not include any personal time that you would need to devote to maintaining and managing the device, such as reinstalling the operating system, cleaning up unused applications, dealing with anti-virus software and configuration, and general troubleshooting tasks.
I’ve made my most valiant effort to present an unbiased view and have arguably given favor to the PC. It would have been easy to close the price gap much more quickly if I were to toss in a few not-so-easy to measure items, such as the likelihood that you’ll have to take your PC to a professional to have it saved. But I’m sticking with hard numbers; the stuff that’s easy to measure. Let’s get started.
I picked two models, fairly equal in their capabilities - a Dell Inspiron 15 and a 15″ MacBook Pro. When purchasing the Dell, I had to configure it so it had specs equal to the Mac. Let’s look at purchasing and configuring the Mac first.
The MacBook Pro
The 15″ MacBook Pro we’re going to purchase comes already loaded, so we aren’t going to make many customizations to it. We’re going to go with the entry level model, which prices out at $1699. The general specs include a 2.53 GHz Intel Core 2 duo processor with 4 GB of RAM. All we’re going to do is increase the hard drive to 320 GB, which adds $50 to the price, and purchase iWork, which adds $49 (Pages, Numbers, and Keynote). For those not familiar with iWork, this is what we’ll use on the Mac instead of Microsoft Office.
Total price for the MacBook Pro: $1798.00.
The Dell Inspiron 15
Keep in mind that the Inspiron is under Dell’s “Home” category. What this generally means is that it comes pre-loaded with a whole bunch of useless trial software that expires in either 30, 60, or 90 days. After that initial trial period, you’ll have to purchase a license to continue using it. For a business, you’d probably purchase the Latitude to avoid all of this unnecessary garbage. To keep the price down, I’m going to go with the Inspiron 15. See…told you I was giving favor to the PC!
To get a somewhat even comparison, I’m going to have to customize this thing to bring it up to equal specs as that of the Mac we’re going to purchase. The initial cost of the base machine is $499. But without any further customizations, that machine doesn’t offer much horsepower. First, I’ve got to add a Core 2 duo processor clocking in at 2.53 GHz. This adds $225 to the price. We do need the wireless -N card, which adds $40. Why would this not be standard? Odd!
Next is Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007, which adds $119. We need this if we want to create spreadsheets, documents, or presentations. I recognize I could have gone with OpenOffice, but I find that most people choose Microsoft Office, so that’s what I’m doing here. Since we’re running Windows, we need anti-virus software. With the Dell model, there’s an option to purchase a 36 month license of McAfee. I’m going to jump on that because it only adds $40 to the price.
At this point, we’re finished with the Dell. There are a few things we could have done to even out the playing field a bit more. For an additional $45, we could have upgraded to the 9-cell battery that would have given us up to 8 hours of battery life. Keep in mind the Mac has a battery that gives us about 7 hours. Additionally, the version of Microsoft Office we purchased doesn’t come with Outlook, so we’ll still need to find an e-mail client once we get our laptop. But I just couldn’t see spending another $160 to purchase the Small Business edition that comes equipped with Outlook. The Mac will have Mail.app preinstalled for us, which is a nice e-mail client with Exchange integration. Already, the cost of software licensing is a sign of things to come that’s going to factor heavily into TCO.
Total price for the Dell: $883.
While these are each good machines, to get great things done requires software. Each of us have different needs surrounding the software we use, so I’ll offer up a few samples based on what I use. It won’t take long to get a clear understanding of the significant impact this has on TCO. Choose your own software stack, and see how it adds up. Then, let me know if you’re findings are consistent with mine.
First, I want to purchase software that allows me to create some nice drawings. For the Mac, I’m going to purchase OmniGraffle, which comes in two versions, standard ($99.95) and professional ($199.95). For Windows, Visio is a good option, which also comes in two different versions, standard ($259.95) and professional ($559.95). Let’s go the cheaper route on each. This brings the total price for the Mac to $1897.95 and the price of the Dell to $1082.95. Note: If I had purchased the professional version of each, the TCO at this point would be 1997.95 and 1382.95, respectively.
Next, I want some screen capture software so I can create some short training videos for online publication. For this, we’ll use Camtasia. The Mac edition of Camtasia prices out at $99.00, and the Windows version comes in at a rather lofty $299.00. TCO for the Mac is now at $1996.95 and the Dell is at $1381.95.
See a pattern developing here yet?
Keeping this post at a reasonable length, I’m only going to make one more purchase. At some point throughout my time as owner of one of these wonderful products, it’s likely that a new version of an operating system is going to arrive. And I’m going to want to upgrade. When Snow Leopard for Mac hit the market, the cost to upgrade was a paltry $9.95. Alternatively, the price to upgrade to Windows 7 Home Premium comes in around $119.95. In fact, a full license of Snow Leopard is only $29.95. A full license of Windows 7 Home Premium? $199.99! Again, the pattern is developing. TCO for the Mac is now $2006.90, while the Dell is at $1501.90.
At this point, the Mac is still slightly more expensive. But an initial price difference of $1200 was quickly dwindled down to just over $500 by the time we were finished. Clearly, the stark difference in the initial price is quite different from TCO. I could easily keep going, purchasing software that I want and need, and each time find that the Mac edition of the software comes in priced far below the Windows version. But I think I’ve illustrated the pattern here. The cost of software for Windows is more expensive than corresponding software for the Mac, and throughout the lifetime of ownership, TCO for Windows will approach, if not exceed, that of the Mac. For instance, Apple offers the option of purchasing a 5-license family pack of iWork for a mere $20 more than a single copy. A 5-license copy of Office is going to be quite expensive ($595).
Additionally, I have not broached the subject surrounding the time you’ll spend maintaining the Windows machine to keep it running smoothly. In four years on a Mac, I haven’t devoted any effort to tuning the machine for performance. It just works. After about six months on a Windows machine, I find that I’m always tinkering with it to maintain optimal performance. Since I can’t put an accurate price tag on this, I haven’t discussed it. But it is significant. Ok, I’m a little biased here, aren’t I?
Finally, I could have gone with the 13″ MacBook Pro with the exact same specs (just a smaller display) as the Inspiron 15 for an entry price of $1448.00. And the 13″ Mac is a great machine. After purchasing the software I want, the price for the 13″ Mac comes to 1656.90. That’s only $155.00 more for the Mac!
The winner…you decide! All too often we compare Mac and PCs based on initial cost, failing to factor in the longer term TCO. When comparing Apples-to-Apples (errr…I mean PCs) though, the difference isn’t as stark. If you want a low end machine with a short lifespan, Dell (and many other PC manufacturers using Windows) offer this, including their line of netbooks.
It is possible to purchase a Dell for under $500. But remember, you get what you pay for. And side-by-side, machines of equal horsepower and capability are going to result in similarly equal TCO. By the time you spec out the machines evenly, and factor in TCO, the price of a Mac is arguably equal too, if not less than, that of a Windows PC. Either way, I know what my choice is!
Yeah…check out that battery life. That’s not 7 minutes and 26 seconds, that’s 7 hours and 26 minutes. Last weekend, I migrated to a new MacBook Pro.
Before migrating, I had some questions on the migration options. I knew about the OS X Migration Assistant, but I also create daily backups to a Super Duper drive. From a reliable source, I found that I should be able to simply restore my new MBP from the backup of my old MBP. He’d done it and was up and running in about an hour. But I was still a tad skeptical, since the old MBP I was using was built atop older hardware and I’m assuming had to have different drivers. Specifically, it was a 2.0 GHz Core Duo with 2GB RAM, but without the multi-touch trackpad found on the new machine. For reference, the new MBP is 2.53 GHz Core 2 Duo with 4 GB of RAM. Both were of the 15″ variety. I just wasn’t confident about compatibility between these two machines with such different birth dates.
I started by setting up the new MBP, but chose not to run Migration Assistant. Instead, I figured I’d try booting my new MBP from the Super Duper drive. If that worked, I’d use the Super Duper drive to setup my new MBP. If not, I’d run the Migration Assistant. I’d booted my old MBP by simply holding down the option key upon startup, and then selecting the drive I wanted to boot from. Upon trying this with my new MBP, the only bootable disk presented to me was the MBP hard drive. This concerned me, and I couldn’t bring myself to try restoring from the Super Duper drive. If I couldn’t get it to boot from the Super Duper drive, would restoring cause similar issues when booting? I was concerned, so I opted (ie. chickend out) to use the Migration Assistant. Here’s that story.
As I mentioned, I chose to setup my new MBP while foregoing the option to run Migration Assistant at the same time as setup. This was a mistake. Once I setup the new user account on my new MBP, use of the Migration Assistant was problematic. It worked, just not the way I wanted it to. If I wanted all of my preferences, applications, settings, and data, I needed to copy the user account of my old MBP. Unfortunately, I couldn’t copy that on top of my new user account I had just setup on the new MBP. At least, I didn’t know how. Instead, the Migration Assistant created a new user that represented my old MBP account. That’s not what I wanted. I wasn’t really sure how to merge two user accounts, and since this was a new machine, I didn’t want a hack right out of the box. So I decided it was time to start from square one.
I pulled out the OS X install disk, and did an Erase and Install of OS X on my new MBP. This took about an hour and put me back into the factory default settings so that when I turned on the machine, it’d walk me through the setup again. Bingo. Worked like a charm. Now, when booting my new MBP, I selected that the option to transfer files while performing the first time setup. Because it asks to do this before setting up any user accounts on the new machine, I figured it would just clone my old MBP onto my new MBP. And it did.
During setup, the Migration Assistant prompted me to connect the two machines via Firewire. Because I was using an external drive connected via Firewire on my old machine (that was the Super Duper drive), I had a Firewire cable handy. I connected the two machines, opted for the default settings in migration assistant, and it started the copy. The copy took roughly two hours, and when I was done, I had a complete clone of my old MBP on my new MBP. It worked like a charm.
Everything appears the same on my new MBP as it did on the old MBP. Right down to the wallpaper on my desktop. All the applications (at least those I’ve tried to this point) were copied over, and all are accessible. I didn’t have to re-enter any license keys. Didn’t have to reinstall any FireFox plug-ins. Nothing! iTunes even worked, and my library was copied over perfectly. All I had to do upon starting iTunes was authorize my new MBP. While it’s possible restoring from the Super Duper drive would have also worked, the Migration Assistant worked very well for me. But I could have saved a bit of headache had I opted to run the Migration Assistant first time around.
Overall the migration took about 5 hours. But had I run the Migration Assistant the first time through, I estimate it would have taken about two hours. As interesting developments unfold, I’ll update the Miscellaneous Notes section below. Right now, I’m working on my new MBP.
Below is a table that shows some popular and emerging programming languages classified according to the following:
Is this a relevant classification scheme? Are languages classified correctly? Are certain qualified languages missing from the list? How would you modify this list?
I’ve always been obssessed with (or tormented by) portability and mobility. I want my information with me, accessible, all the time. This obsession began over 10 years ago.
The OLPC has instituted their “Give a laptop. Get a laptop.” program again this year. If you’re not familar with the XO laptop, it’s a cool little deviced in a pretty small package. The picture at left shows the XO sitting next to a Dell XPS with a 15″ display (click to enlarge).
The OLPC offered the same deal around the same time last year when I ordered mine, and their was quite a backlog. It took almost six months for them to ship, so if you’re interested in getting your hands on the XO, it might be wise to place the order soon.
You can order your XO through Amazon. For $399, you give a laptop to a child in need, and also get your own laptop.
I use WordPress as my blogging system, and a while back, I installed the Challenge Captcha. But recently the SpamBots broke it and have been able to find the correct answer to the math questions. As a result, they’ve been leaving their nasty comments. So, I’ve reconfigured the Challenge to ask the question in a more English style. I guess it’s pretty easy for the SpamBots to evaluate “3 x 4 + 2″. But now we’ll see how easy it is for them to evaluate “What is the sum of 2 and 4″.
I really don’t know who has the time or energy to waste on such things. And I don’t know what they are trying to accomplish other than being a nuisance.
About a month ago, I went out and purchased a Palm Treo 700p (yes, I purchased it even after the release of the iPhone). Prior to the Treo, I had a regular ole’ LG (model unknown) that I used as a phone, and a BlackBerry (model 7250) that I used for my data needs (browsing and e-mail). I decided to use the Treo to serve both my phone and data needs. So far, there’s been good, bad, and ugly.
First, the good.
Now, the bad.
And the ugly.
Overall, save for the few ergonomic and UI quirks, minor instability issues, and the dreaded boot loop, I’ve enjoyed the phone. Camcorder, tethering, and Mac integration were important features for me. My BlackBerry/LG setup had none of these (possibly newer BlackBerry models have some), Obviously, the iPhone fits the bill with great Mac integration. The iPhone appears to be an amazing device, and as it evolves, I’m sure my interest will increase. To this point, as a replacement for my LG and BlackBerry, the Treo 700p is working nicely.
If you’re reading this, you’ve found the location of my new blog. I’ve just recently switched from Nucleus to Wordpress, and so far couldn’t be happier. The URL for the blog has changed to http://techdistrict.kirkk.com, so be sure to update your bookmarks and rss feed (http://techdistrict.kirkk.com/feed/). Here’s why I like Wordpress:
In the past, I’ve used PmWiki for a lot of content management, which is the technology behind my home page. As of now, that site isn’t going anywhere, and is where you’ll continue to find JarAnalyzer, AssAnalyzer, and other non-opinionated information related to my work.
Because I find WordPress easier to use, I’m hopeful this blog will be a bit more active. The Blog by e-mail feature is very nice, especially since most of my ideas come to me at odd times, and it’ll be easy to shoot an e-mail to the account I’ve setup for new blog entries, meaning I can do it on plane, train, automobile or anywhere else I don’t have a connection and simply leave it in my outbox till I’m back online.