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Mac vs. PC: Who’s Winning The Productivity Race?

Mac vs. PC: Who’s Winning The Productivity Race?

No matter how far technology goes or how crucial integration across platforms becomes, you can still count on an eternal split between PCs and Macs. With fierce competition between the two crossing over into the realms of mobile computing, smartphones, and pretty much every other product, the choice between a PC and a Macintosh determines more than your home desktop’s OS. Historically, something as regular as a writing program would need completely different versions to run seamlessly on both.

The Basics of PC and Mac

PCs

First, let’s look at PCs — the vast majority of computers out there, including desktops and laptops. Windows computers are PCs, as are computers running Linux or any of the dozens of lesser-known operating systems that aren’t Mac OS. With most PCs, you have a great degree of control over your hardware. You can swap out CPUs, power supplies, connection hubs, motherboards, graphics cards — any and everything in your system. It may be more difficult with a laptop, but the option still exists.

Mac

On the other side of the equation, we have Apple computers running Mac OS. While the hardware on these isn’t quite as fixed as it once was, they’re still largely pre-built, unalterable systems. That means two things for the user: one, they’re built to perform well because the hardware reflects on Apple directly in a way PC parts don’t. Two, upgrading usually means a big expenditure, since you can’t upgrade piecemeal with the same ease.

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Of course, there are systems that blur the line once you get into custom builds, but presumably if you’re at that point, you already know your preference for productivity.

PC vs Mac: Power

It’s essentially impossible to say whether Mac or PC offers more power for productivity, because both come in so many variations. If you’re putting the time in to build your own PC, you’re probably going to get more bang for your buck. If you’re buying premade, Apple at the very least can be trusted to offer consistency in a way pre-built PC brands do not. Either way, you’ll want to do your homework on a particular system’s ability to run the apps you need for productivity rather than assuming any PC or Mac can do what you need.

PC vs Mac: Integrated applications

For years, Macs stood well above PCs regarding integrated applications, and for good reason — with the relative scarcity of third-party programs on their platform, Apple needed to offer tools worth using to remain competitive. This is essentially a large part of what lead to the Mac’s reputation as the system of choice for productivity. For media editing and a host of other tasks, Windows and other PC operating systems’ in-house solutions simply couldn’t keep up.

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The modern incarnations of Windows have greatly bridged the gap between the two, but most Windows users will still prefer third-party alternatives in most cases. What has notably improved on the PC side as a result of better in-house application development is the integration between platforms. It’s far easier to seamlessly manage productivity tools across your desktop, tablet, and smartphone than before, eroding one of the key strengths Mac traditionally offered. Mac still does it better, but the difference between the two is shrinking.

PC vs Mac: External applications

When we start looking at external applications developed by third parties, Mac begins to fall behind. While there’s certainly strength to be found in the unified, managed sandbox of the Apple ecosystem as a whole, individual solutions on PC tend to be more versatile and powerful. It’s simply a matter of reach: PCs, in particular PCs running Windows, still make up the bulk of the market, therefore you get more PC-savvy “devs” competing to produce the winning productivity tools.

That said, the trend of technology looks to return parity between the two, as much by coincidence as anything. Why? Because technology continues to move in the direction of web-based solutions operating remotely — so-called Software-as-a-Service solutions which operate largely agnostic to the system involved. While the intention behind these tools may be to make it easier to leverage applications across a variety of machines for mobility and ease of use, it also means Mac users will be less inhibited on third-party options moving forward.

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Cloud_applications

    Source: Wikimedia

    A few years back, one might struggle to find certain niche productivity applications like an online odds calculator that worked well on Mac. If one existed for your field, it might be of inferior quality due to a lack of competition. Today, one can run something as niche as a poker odds calculator directly from the web, regardless of their hardware.

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    Expert Opinions

    It should come as no surprise to hear that experts have largely moved past the question of whether one or the other wins the productivity race, because of the rapid rise of cloud-based solutions. Savvy users who want access to absolutely everything can use Mac computers equipped with workarounds to run their favorite Windows programs, but it’s increasingly unnecessary to go that far as more and more of the top developers move their programs into the cloud. Why make life complicated when a program can work perfectly on literally any computer?

    At the end of the day, the gaps between Mac and PC are shrinking with each successive generation of product. Windows 10 resembles the Mac OS more than ever, Macs continue to shrug off the worst constraints of the Apple sandbox, and popular languages like Python play nice whether you’re running a PC or Mac. So you’re going to be most productive, in most cases, by working with the tools you’re most familiar with — wherever those are to be found. If you have no preference or familiarity, you’ll want to experiment with both and see which camp you eventually side with.

    Featured photo credit: Wikimedia via upload.wikimedia.org

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    Last Updated on February 15, 2019

    7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

    7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

    Now that 2011 is well underway and most people have fallen off the bandwagon when it comes to their New Year’s resolutions (myself included), it’s a good time to step back and take an honest look at our habits and the goals that we want to achieve.

    Something that I have learned over the past few years is that if you track something, be it your eating habits, exercise, writing time, work time, etc. you become aware of the reality of the situation. This is why most diet gurus tell you to track what you eat for a week so you have an awareness of the of how you really eat before you start your diet and exercise regimen.

    Tracking daily habits and progress towards goals is another way to see reality and create a way for you clearly review what you have accomplished over a set period of time. Tracking helps motivate you too; if I can make a change in my life and do it once a day for a period of time it makes me more apt to keep doing it.

    So, if you have some goals and habits in mind that need tracked, all you need is a tracking tool. Today we’ll look at 7 different tools to help you keep track of your habits and goals.

    Joe’s Goals

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      Joe’s Goals is a web-based tool that allows users to track their habits and goals in an easy to use interface. Users can add as many goals/habits as they want and also check multiple times per day for those “extra productive days”. Something that is unique about Joe’s Goals is the way that you can keep track of negative habits such as eating out, smoking, etc. This can help you visualize the good things that you are doing as well as the negative things that you are doing in your life.

      Joe’s Goals is free with a subscription version giving you no ads and the “latest version” for $12 a year.

      Daytum

        Daytum

        is an in depth way of counting things that you do during the day and then presenting them to you in many different reports and groups. With Daytum you can add several different items to different custom categories such as work, school, home, etc. to keep track of your habits in each focus area of your life.

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        Daytum is extremely in depth and there are a ton of settings for users to tweak. There is a free version that is pretty standard, but if you want more features and unlimited items and categories you’ll need Daytum Plus which is $4 a month.

        Excel or Numbers

          If you are the spreadsheet number cruncher type and the thought of using someone else’s idea of how you should track your habits turns you off, then creating your own Excel/Numbers/Google spreadsheet is the way to go. Not only do you have pretty much limitless ways to view, enter, and manipulate your goal and habit data, but you have complete control over your stuff and can make it private.

          What’s nice about spreadsheets is you can create reports and can customize your views in any way you see fit. Also, by using Dropbox, you can keep your tracker sheets anywhere you have a connection.

          Evernote

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            I must admit, I am an Evernote junky, mostly because this tool is so ubiquitous. There are several ways you can implement habit/goal tracking with Evernote. You won’t be able to get nifty reports and graphs and such, but you will be able to access your goal tracking anywhere your are, be it iPhone, Android, Mac, PC, or web. With Evernote you pretty much have no excuse for not entering your daily habit and goal information as it is available anywhere.

            Evernote is free with a premium version available.

            Access or Bento

              If you like the idea of creating your own tracker via Excel or Numbers, you may be compelled to get even more creative with database tools like Access for Windows or Bento for Mac. These tools allow you to set up relational databases and even give you the option of setting up custom interfaces to interact with your data. Access is pretty powerful for personal database applications, and using it with other MS products, you can come up with some pretty awesome, in depth analysis and tracking of your habits and goals.

              Bento is extremely powerful and user friendly. Also with Bento you can get the iPhone and iPad app to keep your data anywhere you go.

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              You can check out Access and the Office Suite here and Bento here.

              Analog Bonus: Pen and Paper

              All these digital tools are pretty nifty and have all sorts of bells and whistles, but there are some people out there that still swear by a notebook and pen. Just like using spreadsheets or personal databases, pen and paper gives you ultimate freedom and control when it comes to your set up. It also doesn’t lock you into anyone else’s idea of just how you should track your habits.

              Conclusion

              I can’t necessarily recommend which tool is the best for tracking your personal habits and goals, as all of them have their quirks. What I can do however (yes, it’s a bit of a cop-out) is tell you that the tool to use is whatever works best for you. I personally keep track of my daily habits and personal goals with a combo Evernote for input and then a Google spreadsheet for long-term tracking.

              What this all comes down to is not how or what tool you use, but finding what you are comfortable with and then getting busy with creating lasting habits and accomplishing short- and long-term goals.

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