Okay, after my first three days as a Mac user, I think I’m ready to
start commenting on my experience so far. General impression: the Mac
doesn’t have nearly as many sharp edges. I mean that literally, BTW;
almost every native Apple control has rounded corners, the fonts and
graphics all look like they’re anti-aliased, and stacks of windows on
the desktop have successively deeper layers of shadow. Everything just
feels smoother, including the animations. It’s a very polished, hip,
craftsy kind of feel. Jumping back to a Windows box already causes a
few seconds of cognitive dissonance with a small part of my brain
wailing, “Why’s it so ugly?”, which is not at all fair because XP actually does a lot of the same things (2003, on the other hand…is chunky).
I’ll break my detailed list into cool stuff and annoyances.
- Exposé. Oh, my. I think this feature alone is
worth switching. If you’re like me and have a ton of windows open at
the same time (and the way the Mac works, I think more average Mac
users work this way than the average Windows user, who in my experience
has maybe one or two windows open at a time), this lets you press a
function key (or move your mouse to a specified corner of the screen)
and have the Mac show you thumbnails of all the windows. Click one, and
boom, that window is now active.
- This gift from Trent Reznor. GarageBand is a kick-ass app for creating music and it came with my Mac.
- Having a decent version of Unix underneath a
nice-looking, stable GUI. BSD rocks, and the OS X GUI so completely
kicks CDE, GNOME, and KDE all hollow. They even manage to do some
really complicated stuff in a relatively clean and simple fashion, like
X.509 certificates (used for SSL and digital certificates).
- The Dock. It’s a combination Quick
Launch/application switcher; you drag programs to it so you have it
available for a one-click launch, but it will add currently active
programs. Made even better once I figured out the equivalent of the
Windows Alt-Tab combo, so I can switch between apps with a keyclick.
- Having files that are smart enough to associate themselves with particular apps without requiring specific filename extensions! What a concept!
- Microsoft Entourage rocks. I want Outlook to grow up and become Entourage. WebDAV rules, MAPI sucks. ‘Nuff said.
Annoyances (yes, there are a few):
- The Mac mini requires a USB keyboard and mouse.
Unfortuantely, the only ones I have handy are a Microsoft Office
keyboard and a Microsoft mouse. I like some of the extra
features (the rollers, the back/forward buttons, etc.) and even with
the Mac OS X drivers from Microsoft, they flat-out don’t work right.
Worse yet, keys like Home and End
don’t work (except in Microsoft applications). I’ve lost access to all
of my keyboard shortcut skills, ones that I’ve nurtured through Windows
and every version of UNIX I’ve tried.
- Speaking of keyboard skills, why the aitch
can’t Macs use the same damn Control-key shortcuts everyone else does
instead of Command and Option? Having to retrain my fingers for
Command-C and Command-V for copy and paste is pissing me right off.
- And another strike against Microsoft — why
does Entourage have to use the same separate certificate store that the
Mac version of IE (which sucks!) does? And then, why doesn’t it get it
right? After figuring out the right combo of tools to run to import the
intermediate CA certificate, IE will open the given HTTPS site without
issues. Why the hell won’t Entourage?
- The Dock is nice, but I really want a
simple way of seeing just the programs that are open. That’s all.
Command-Tab switches between them, but sometimes I just want to see
everything running without having to upset the status quo.
- Why the heck do I need to have every new
remote-mounted volume added as a new icon to my desktop? I can open the
Finder window and select it there. Can’t I shut that annoying behavior
I’m sure there’s more, but this is just a start. Paul doesn’t need to worry about me losing my Windows skills anytime soon, but I’m definitely grateful to him for helping me start down the path.
Most famous Switch ever: Anakin Skywalker.