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Joining the Mac Cult – Getting a New Macbook

December 1st, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments
This entry is part 1 of 4 in the series Macintosh

For more than the last year I have used my own personal Dell Studio 17 laptop running Windows Vista ultimate as my primary work machine. I have lots of reasons for this, but it’s not the point of this post to lay them out. Rather, I want to post my thoughts as I trade in the Dell for my first Mac laptop in 16 years. Yes — I admit it, proudly in fact, I owned an original Macintosh PowerBook 140 that I bought new in 1991. In fact I wrote the paper for my senior project in college on that machine, and drew the graphs too. I still have it in my basement, though the disk drive is dead so it doesn’t do much anymore.

Anyway, I was encouraged to upgrade at work to a company machine, but I saw no advantage in getting a company Windows laptop — after all, I could configure my own laptop exactly the way I wanted it. But, when a slightly used Macbook 13″ became available, I decided it was time to try something new. At least this was I was getting to use something that I would never buy for myself; Macs are simply waaaaay too overpriced for normal people. I get that the hardware is well designed and everything, but come on — $999 for a bottom-of-the-Apple-line “starter” notebook? The low-end shouldn’t cost more than $750 tops. Anyway — here are my thoughts on the first day.

For the record, this machine is running OS X 10.5.8.

Interface

I’m really struck by how little the interface has changed in 16 years. Seriously. I’m tempted to go and get my PowerBook out of storage and fire up Word Perfect. Don’t get me wrong, the dock is nice and the “genie” ninimize and maximize animations are nice, but other than that not much has changed. One could argue that perhaps this is because Mac got the interface right in the first place, but I’m not so sure.

One thing that is grating on me right now is that one can only resize a window by dragging the lower-right corner. On a Windows machine one can drag any side of the window. Windows is much more convenient.

13″ Hardware

Making the leap from a full 17″ desktop replacement to a 13″ compact is a bit unsettling for me. A few things are already jumping out at me. For example, there is no different BACKSPACE vs. DELETE key. Only a DELETE key which actually works like a BACKSPACE key. That’s a pain. And there is no END key for returning to the end of a line after editing something. That’s a pain too. Perhaps there are some Command sequences which will help that I haven’t figured out yet, but I wish I had the keys.

I’m also learning the two-fingered scroll gestures on the Mac trackpad. Not sure I like them better than the dedicated scroll areas on my Dell, but I’m not sure I hate the gestures either. Time will tell.

One thing I know I am missing is some indication that the machine is working. Particularly a HDD Working LED. There are times when I think this thing is not responding and then the program I started will suddenly appear. I wish I could see the little drive light spinning to be sure it’s alive.

One thing I am loving is the video. My Dell had no problem driving the Acer 23″ monitor on my desk to full 1920 x 1080 resolution, but I was impressed that this little Mac could also. I scrounged the mini to VGA adapter I needed from a co-worker and in 30 seconds I had an extended desktop running on two monitors and beautiful 1920 x 1080 on the big screen. If you’ve never used a screen at this resolution, it’s life-changing. I can now clutter my virtual desktop nearly as much as my real one!

OS X Installation

When I received he machine, I wanted to ensure that the previous user’s information was deleted. So I reinstalled OS X from the original DVD and erased the previous information. I have to say that I like a Windows installation better. First, Apple could at least let the machine boot from a DVD without having to press and hold the C key. It took a bit of searching to find that little trick. And then the install was very poor at telling me what the heck it was doing. It took 15 minutes just to tell me that it estimated it would take another hour and a half to complete. I admit that Windows isn’t really speedier, but at least it tells you all the different stages. I was worried that OS X was stuck in a couple of places.

Connectivity

I will give Kudos to Apple – I haven’t touched a Mac in 16 years, but after completing the installation this afternoon I was able to both set up my work wireless connection (802.1X / WEP authentication) and get this thing tethered to my Windows Mobile phone via a Bluetooth PAN with a bare minimum of Googling for instructions. The wireless seems robust all around. In fact I’m writing this post on my train ride home while tethered to my Dash 3G phone. Take that Apple.

Overall

So my overall impression is positive. I’m sure I will grow to like the small form factor and so far the connectivity has been robust. Things are easy to configure with a minimum of fuss. So overall I’m impressed. Now — to get my VPN working!

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Series NavigationSwitching to a Mac – Week 2

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  1. December 1st, 2009 at 19:03 | #1

    [New Blog Post] My new Macbook! – via @twitoaster http://robsrants.havasy.net/2009/12/join

  1. December 1st, 2009 at 19:08 | #1
  2. February 23rd, 2013 at 10:29 | #2