IS Department

The Switch – Part 2 – Initial Thoughts and Judgments

Posted in Mac by Brian Russell on April 23, 2007

It has been 4 days now that I have had my MacBook Pro, so I thought it has been long enough to give some initial thoughts and judgments about my experience. A little side note first…I hate FedEx Ground. They put my Mac on the truck to be delivered, but they never delivered it to me. The website (after not being updated during the whole process of shipping…what good is a tracking number if you can’t do any tracking) showed that the driver didn’t even make an attempt to deliver. No explanation given. I ended up calling the next day and actually meeting the driver in town because he wasn’t sure he would have been able to deliver it to me the next day either. Just crazy.

I started this series of posts with part 1 which included some useful links. I suggest you take a look at them if you are thinking about switching yourself.

The Wow Starts Now

As soon as I started up the MacBook, I was wowed. I found the Dashboard right away. When I compare the Dashboard on the Mac to Vista’s Sidebar, there is no comparison; Mac wins. It is tons more useful to have them hidden unless needed. Of course, this is just my personal preference, and maybe others don’t feel the same.

I found the Expose feature on the Mac to be very useful compared to the Flip 3D feature in Vista (both are visually stunning, but Expose is more user friendly). Switching between my running applications has never been so good.

Spell checking is enabled everywhere…enough said about that.

Another thing that makes a PC user like me happy he switched is the ‘hot’ corners (or Active Screen Corners if you want to be technical about it). I set up each corner of the desktop as a hot corner that once I move my mouse to it an action occurs. It is so easy to move your mouse to a corner that it becomes part of your workflow within minutes. I trigger Expose when my mouse moves to the bottom right. I trigger the Dashboard when it goes to the bottom left. If you get a Mac, set this up immediately.

Getting Windows Up and Running on the Mac

After playing around on my Mac and the initial ohhs and ahhs, I started looking into how to get a dual boot setup working. The first thing I did after ordering my Mac was to order Parallels as well. Since I am coming from a Windows development background, I knew it would be hard to leave behind Windows cold turkey. I knew that Boot Camp would allow me to dual boot the Mac to Windows if needed, and Parallels lets you point to your Windows partition to run as a virtual image inside the Mac OS. Plus, I want to be able to play with Linux as well (haven’t you heard about the new Unbuntu being released), and Parallels will let me.

I went and downloaded the latest Boot Camp install, and started working. The instructions were easy to follow, and partitioning my drive was easy. There was a point when I inserted my Windows disk but Boot Camp didn’t recognize it. This didn’t matter because I restarted the Mac like I was supposed to and held down the Command key to boot to the Windows CD like normal. Finishing the install was like normal. I installed the drivers supplied by Apple to get the MacBook hardware recognized in Windows, and everything was working. I finished installing software like Office 2007 and Visual Studio. The great thing with Boot Camp is that when I boot into Windows, I have a Windows laptop. This isn’t virtualized or anything, it is a Windows OS running on the Mac hardware. The only thing funny is the keyboard is a little different than a normal PC (but aren’t all laptop keyboards different in the PC world).

PC vs Mac

Now that I got Windows installed, updated, protected (don’t forget to install anti-virus software), and running, I started spending my time inside the Mac environment. I did the normal things like getting connected to the internet, setting up mailboxes, and started re-arranging my applications folder to suit my needs. This is where I realized that the latest Apple commercial really was spot on. There wasn’t any crapware loaded up on my Mac. It looked clean as a whistle. The only thing that I consider to be crapware that was on the drive is a ‘Office 2004 for the Mac test drive’ folder. Considering most people need a Office product installed, this is acceptable and hands down beats Dell, Gateway, and the other PC manufacturers.

Another great thing was there were no stickers installed on my laptop by Apple. I don’t know why, but every PC laptop that I have ever seen always comes with a Windows sticker, Intel/AMD sticker, and if the vendor really sucks, a sticker of their own. Why? I should know what I bought. I don’t need stickers to remind me. One of my co-workers argued with me when I brought this point up saying that “the Apple logo on the lid of the laptop was just the same, and that they could remove the stickers but I can’t remove the Apple.” Forget the fact that every other laptop on the table at the time also had a manufacturers logo on the lid, I just think he was getting jealous. I also think he is a closet Mac lover, but since we gave him so much crap in the past for owning a iPod, he will never let it out.

Yes, I find it ironic that I used to make fun of Apple, now I have a Mac. I can only shrug my shoulders at that, I can’t explain it either. I figure I have some bad karma coming my way for that, which probably explains why I now have the nickname of iBrian at work.

Going Terminal

It didn’t take me long before I was at the terminal window learning to use Bash for the first time. I am not a Linux geek at all, so the command line is a unfriendly place for me to be at. I told myself with this new Mac that I would take the opportunity to learn the stuff I have been neglecting for a long time. This includes getting good with Bash.  Why was I at the terminal so quick?  Well, I wanted to get setup and start working with Ruby on Rails to develop a site I have been working on lately. I followed a pretty good tutorial for getting set up with everything I needed to do Rails development.

Other Applications

Of course, no OS is perfect out of the box with everything a person needs (unless you just browse the internet). So during the last few days I had to find some software to use. Besides getting Ruby, Rails, and MySQL set up, I installed Xcode so I could compile the previous stated software, Firefox for the developer extensions (and more compatibility since Safari isn’t always 100% compatible with all web sites), TextMate since I heard it was the best for Rails development on the Mac, svnX because I needed a Subversion client, and FileWrangler to mass rename photo files I had. I think that is enough for 4 days. I am sure I will get more, and I will post about them when I do. If you are looking for more Mac software, you should probably stop at the Apple Downloads page first.

Some Disappointments

This is the section where the Mac haters can point to for counter arguments if they like. First up, there is no “delete” key. Let me explain. There is a “delete” key on the keyboard, but it functions as the backspace key does on the PC. There is no key that does front delete like the delete key on a PC does. You can hold down the fn key and press the delete key to get this functionality. I sure like the normal delete key on the PC, but give me enough time and I can retrain myself on this one.

Cut/copy/paste combinations are different than the PC. On the Mac you use the Command + X, Command, + C, and Command + V for these operations whereas on the PC you use the ctrl + X, ctrl + C, and ctrl + V to do the same. This is tricky for my fingers to get used to. I keep trying to use the ctrl key like I did on the PC. Again, the functionality is there, just a little different. I have to train myself. I figure in a couple weeks everything will be adjusted in my head.

This disappointment may just be my lack of experience and knowledge, but I want iTunes and iPhoto to look at external drives and not copy over the music or photos locally. When I disconnect the drives (my iRiver or my USB keychain), I don’t want the music or photos to stay on the Mac. Maybe someone reading this can help me with this.

That is it. Pretty minor if you ask me. I am really very happy with it so far. I don’t regret my decision to get a MacBook Pro.

Continuing to Explore

I think that is enough for this post. I will check in with another post in a week or two to tell you about me development experiences on the Mac.

6 Responses to 'The Switch – Part 2 – Initial Thoughts and Judgments'

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  1. Greg said,

    I have all my .mp3’s on an external drive. With iTunes open, go to preferences, select advanced, and change iTunes music folder location. It’s as simple as that!!

  2. Paul said,

    For iPhoto, copy the iPhoto folder in your Pictures folder to the external drive. Then hold down the option key as you start iPhoto. iPhoto will give you the option to choose another library which is now located on the external drive.

    Don’t forget to delete the iPhoto folder on your local drive.

  3. This is an excelent post and leaves me wondering why Mac is such a low demand (or desire) object in Europe.
    I know one of the reasons is the initial cost of the machines, even though they are accepted as being superior. It was interesting that you wanted Windows as well as the Mac OS – as you say, going cold turkey is difficult – but what happens if you decide that Windows is overshaddowed by Mac – will you dump it or keeo it for sentimental

  4. Mac vs PC said,

    Looks like you got all your answers to your questions. You are not alone, many people are Switching to Mac and loving it! If you are looking for some more answers then checkout my site, it’s called Switching to Mac… We have a Forum link at the top, the Forum has some really loyal Switchers who just love to help other new Switchers.

  5. Greg and Paul – Thanks, I will try your solutions when I get home today.

    Arthur – I haven’t used Windows on the Mac yet. I don’t see a future without a little Windows in it. There will be that site I am sure that will only work in IE that I absolutely need to go to. Plus, I am heavily invested in .NET technologies. The best place to write .NET code is inside Visual Studio…unless I find a replacement for it on the Mac.

    Mac vs PC – Thanks for the link, I will go see whats up.

  6. […] who ironically is a MVP with Microsoft, says he is Free At Last, Free At Last.  I understand what he means, do […]

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