Tools of the Trade: PC or Mac or WHAT?

Real Estate Agent with Real Estate One - Saline, Michigan

(Day 17 of the 30 in 30 challenge!)

While I concentrate what's going on in real estate, now we take a left turn and talk about TOOLS we use, such as desktop computer, laptops, netbooks, smartphones, and other things like the iPad.  But first we'll specifically talk about the first "half", namely computers.  I may get to smartphones and other devices in a later post.Mac

First of all, a little bit of a disclaimer, I was a computer technician in a recent former lifetime.  I have computer biases and some of my favorite types of operating systems.  That, and I'm certified to work on PC's and have a Certified Computer Examiner certification, which means I can find deleted files and search your computer for kiddie porn.  In my own home, I have at my disposal:

- Three WindowsXP PC's.

- One Windows7 PC.

- One Mac Mini with OS/X Snow Leopard.

- And one DEAD PC of which no longer has an operating system, perhaps the hard drive has bitten the dust.  But more on that one later.

I'm not going to get TERRIBLY geeky on you all, but I don't intend to start a flame war, either.  However, I AM interested in what you folks reading here think about the various platforms and what works best for you.

Windows?Windows:  Love it or hate it, it IS the predominant operating system and platform for desktop computer and laptops.   Or rather, it used to be described as an "IBM PC" or "IBM PC clone" (something LIKE a PC, but not made by IBM).  I had worked on these systems since the first IBM PC.  Yes, people complain they are buggy or they crash, or they're prone to viruses, spyware, malware, and all that.  It's true,   But indeed many folks will maintain that if you're careful, they can be just as reliable or as safe or SAFER than a Mac.  Currently, my two newest systems are on Windows, but that's only because one of them is my wife's PC (she really only wants the same machine as she uses at work) and the other is a netbook that I use that can run my local Board of Realtor's website that DEMANDS you run Internet Explorer and use ActiveX controls.  Or in short, you basically HAVE to use Windows.  Okay, my netbook is cheap and one of the reasons it IS cheap is because it has Windows installed.  A decent MacBook would be more than double the price of my little netbook.

Mac:  Yes, it's a CULT.  But yes, it's not a prone to crashing, or getting viruses, or being very buggy in general compared to Windows PC's.  But part of that reason is what one I.T. professional calls "security through obscurity".  Most of the viruses out there are for Windows PC's, as they're a BIGGER target.  But indeed I prefer Mac's myself because I have fewer issues with them.  But that's me.  Since the release of the last "family" of Mac operating systems, or OS/X, the actually underlying computer code in it has proven vary stable, plus variants of OS/X are what also run the iPhone and the iPad.  (Not exactly, but it's basically all BSD Unix under the covers).  But in short, it's fairly stable because it's Unix-based underneath, but also it not as popular so therefore it's a bit safer to run than a WindowsPC.

Tux the PenguinLinux: Lin-WHAT?  Linux.  I mention this because actually, Linux runs on many servers operating websites all over the world.   (Actually, a special version of Linux also operates the entertainment systems on Delta Airlines passenger video displays!)  Linux was developed in the 1990's by Linus Torvalds, a programmer that wanted to just sit down and write a good, simple operating system that worked like Unix, but was to be shared and easily modifiable.   But back to our story, Linux has the attractions of being FREE and being able to run on almost any OLD PC, or even on recent Macs with Intel processor chips.  If you have an old PC sitting around that you don't use and it's about 10 years old, you can probably wipe the hard disk (remove Windows) and bring the computer back to life and running fast again with Linux.  It can be just as crash-proof as Macs (seem to be), but you run into the problem of support, because there's no ONE Linux, there are over 600 flavors, or "distributions" of Linux.  They're not controlled by one company, it's "open source", or that is, people all over the world contribute to writing Linux and making their own "custom" versions for various uses.  As wonderful as everything sounds, Linux is solid, but getting help or support is not as easy as Windows PC's or Macs.

I would prefer to use Linux, if I were to use it for just general browsing and if I could get to some sites that don't care about what browser you're using.  But since I can't, I'm using a Windows PC right now to check listings through my local MLS and local board website.

I can go over more details of all 3 operating systems in future posts, BUT for now, I'm just scratching the surface to perhaps discuss pros and cons from you all reading this.


Posted by

Mark Druckmiller

Real Estate One - Saline

601 E. Michigan Avenue

Saline, MI 48176

734.944.7900 (office)
734.369.7419 (cell)

Short Sales and Foreclosure Resource (SFR,




Comments (10)

Emily Medvec
eXp Realty LLC - Santa Fe, NM
Realtor | Serving Santa Fe & Northern NM

Thank you for your details on the computers and their operating systems. For me, what is important is do they work when I need them. My focus today is how I use them to buy and sell real estate. Now I am waiting for me smart car!

Sep 10, 2010 03:16 PM
Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc. - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector

Personally I have never used a mac, only a PC

Sep 10, 2010 03:18 PM
Robert Hammerstein
Christie's International Real Estate - Hillsdale, NJ
Bergen County NJ Real Estate

Mark - I too am a computer APlus certified guy.... And I just got a new desktop PC with Win 7 Pro on it and love it so far. My only problem has been that my puter has an AMD Phenom processor in it and it's not compatible with McAfee that came preinstalled on it and crashed it giving me the blue screen of death. See my post about that...Still waiting for Microsoft to come out with a new patch for this months windows update for 64 bit operating systems.... I digresssssssss

One of these days if I can get enough closings under my belt this year or next, I will dive into Mac world.

Financially I have not been able to do so yet.. I am dying to get in there though... As far as Linux goes the problem is for me at least the usability in everyday life. It's just not supported like you said even though the "security through obscurity"  saying means a lot. Love that saying btw.

A thought provoking post and will be interested to see if anybody else has more comments on this post.

Best of luck with blogging.. Good Post!

Sep 10, 2010 03:23 PM
Andy Chaudoir
Professional Inspection Services - Georgetown, Texas - Georgetown, TX
Your Home Inspection Connection in Central Texas

Hello Mark - Thanks for the great information.  I've always been a PC person but have been coinsidering a Mac for some time.  I'm looking right now for my next computer and I may take that leap.

Sep 10, 2010 03:30 PM
Mark Druckmiller
Real Estate One - Saline, Michigan - Saline, MI
Customer Care coordinator - Real Estate One headqu

Thanks, Robert!

I was going to try and keep the topic centered on what everyone ELSE uses and why.  But I'll be the first to admit my preferences or bias on computing platforms.  

For those who just wish to TRY Linux for the heck of it, you can get (or make) a bootable Linux that doesn't install or take over your PC, you can just run it temporarily to see how it looks and feels.  I just promote it a lot because of the stability and security.

I was able to test Knoppix, made a bootable CD, and ran Knoppix Linux on my Mac Mini for fun.  It worked, to my surprise.

Bsck to the others, Windows7 feels safe, but in time, it is probably going to get dependent on anti-virus and other third-party tools to keep them running smoothly.

My other reason for promoting Linux is because I had to RELOAD the kids' PC four times over the past five years, due to being able to go to websites that defeat my anti-virus software, no matter what flavor I get.  Haven't had that problem with four years on the Mac, nor ten years off and on with Linux (RedHat, Mandrake, Ubuntu, Knoppix, and OpenSUSE).

Sep 10, 2010 03:34 PM
Mark Druckmiller
Real Estate One - Saline, Michigan - Saline, MI
Customer Care coordinator - Real Estate One headqu

Andy, before you leap to the Mac, look to see if you can use or get access to any and all applications you want to use before buying.  Although you can make Windows run on a Mac (in multiple modes), you have to buy Windows in addition to what you paid for already on the Mac with OS/X.

In my case, I had used OpenOffice for years, which satisfies most of my needs to replace Microsoft Word, Excel, and even PowerPoint.  OpenOffice, Star Office, and there are a few more "open source" replacements for MS Office that you can use.  Another reason I went with a WindowsXP netbook is because I also use VisualTour heavily, but it requires a Windows PC (or again, running Windows on the Mac with extra effort and resources).

If you want to play with Macs or even Linux machines, you can probably also use Google Docs to replace some MS Office functionality.


Sep 10, 2010 03:41 PM
Marc Swartz
Mortgage Finders Canada Inc., Mortgage Brokerage, Lic# 11118 - Toronto, ON
Principal Broker / Mortgage Broker, AMP

Mark - I am thinking of switching to OpenOffice for Windows.  Do you find that it has the latest features that Publisher 2007 and PowerPoint 2007 would have (or the 2010 version would have)?

Sep 10, 2010 04:18 PM
Rita Norman
Walnut Creek, CA
Your Agent in Walnut Creek CA

Mark: I am a Mac user and I agree, Linux is a path to freedom but it's just not that well known. Talk to most people about Linux and they look at you like you are talking Greek. So for now, I discovered Google Docs and all the tools it offers and I am happy. I'm waiting for Google's version of the iPad and saving to switch to the 4G Droid by Sprint. Thanks for the insights. ~Rita

Sep 10, 2010 04:29 PM
Mark Druckmiller
Real Estate One - Saline, Michigan - Saline, MI
Customer Care coordinator - Real Estate One headqu

MortgageFinders: If you're a real heavy user of PowerPoint or Publisher, stick with those.  Impress in OpenOffice is close in much of PowerPoint's functionality, but not 100%.   OpenOffice's Draw has features similar to Publisher, but it's not anything close to Publisher.

I really only suggest OpenOffice if you use what about 90% of the public users for the main features of each. But if you use the "obscure 10%" functions, you probably won't be happy.

I mostly use Writer and Calc in OpenOffice and again, that's using most of the major functions only.


Rita: I may have a post soon on my opinions of iPhones, iPads, Android smartphones and the like, but I'll state right away that my biases lean towards the Apple products just due to my satisfaction with my current Apple products (Mac Mini and 3 iPods).  I'm waiting more for if/when Apple operates with providers other than AT&T, and when some of the billing gets more common and simple, similar to my Boost plan Blackberry ($60/month unlimited everything).  I've had three Blackberry's before, but my latest one has more bugs than the Watergate Hotel.

Sep 10, 2010 04:54 PM
Rita Norman
Walnut Creek, CA
Your Agent in Walnut Creek CA

Mark: I look forward to reading your commentary on iPhones, iPads and Android smartphones. Like you, my bias leans towards Apple products too, but I don't like AT&T, so again, like you, I wait. ~Rita

Sep 10, 2010 05:09 PM