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Switching from the PC to a Mac: The Gotchas Part 2
There are several apps to help make the transition
By Robert Jensen

This is the second part of an article ( you can read part 1 here ) pointing out a few of the 'Gotchas' that can come along when switching from a Windows PC to an Apple Mac. It also applies to those who want to integrate a Mac into their home network.

One of the key things most people want to do when switching from a Windows PC to a Mac is being able to still access all their music, photos and video files as well as important text documents and spreadsheets produced via programs such as Microsoft Word, Corel Word Perfect, Microsoft Excel or other programs. But there are 'Gotchas', as we will see.

Our Third Gotcha! - Video
Our next Gotcha involves video. Video files come in a variety of flavors, avi, qt, mov, even more obscure formats like ogm, and mkv. Also thrown into the mix are compression algorithms used to compress the videos into the smallest package possible. How this is done is through things called codecs. Codec stands for compression/decompression and are used to encode/decode videos and audio tracks. There are dozens of video and audio codecs used in the PC world some of which you won't find built into the Mac OS or QuickTime. If you try to play a video with an unsupported codec on your Mac all you'll get is garbage.


To solve this Gotcha get the free codec package - Perian. (http://perian.org/) Install it (it will then be in your System Preferences folder) and for all but the most obscure codecs you are covered.

For playing video and music files on your Mac VLC is hard to beat

Another option is to use the free open source media player VLC, (http://www.videolan.org/). Versions of VLC are available to run on Windows, OS-X, Linux and other platforms. VLC has been able to handle just about every type of audio or video format I've thrown at it. Kudo's to all the hardworking people involved at Perian.org and VideoLan.org for offering such great software for free. Third Gotcha - solved!

Our Fourth Gotcha - Photos
If all you shoot with your digital camera are standard jpegs then there's no problem Apple's included iPhoto is all you need. Even if you have a little better camera that lets you shoot in a better RAW format iPhoto and Leopard can handle it. However, if you shoot RAW files of any type (and there are many types), then the 'No support for that version of RAW file' gotcha can pop up. This happens often if the camera you bought just hit the market. What happens all to often is that the manufacturer has 'updated' how their new camera stores raw data from the sensor. Existing software or operating systems can't decipher the new data until the camera manufacturer releases the information to the software companies (usually in the form of a Software Developers Kit (SDK)). Then the programmers have to scramble to integrate the new raw decoding into their products. 

Apple is very good on staying on top of things and issuing updates to Leopard with support for these new RAW formats but those updates may come later than you'd like and you're stuck for weeks without the ability to do anything with your new camera's raw format images. (Which is why its always good to shoot RAW+JPEG if your camera supports it. At least until your photo editing software supports the new RAW format).  

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