Mac Notes – 4 months in…

It’s been about 2 months since my last mac update. Here are my thoughts.

OmFg STeVe JoBS iS A gOd!1! mAc Is tEh AwEsoMe sEx!1!1!

Well, ok, not really. I wanted to throw all y’all off.

I’m using my Macbook as my only machine, except when I’m at work. Here at the house, it gets used in workstation mode like I have mentioned before, with a printer, 20″ lcd and a host of other goodies attached. I’m actually using every port on the left side of the machine except for the line in.

all

When I’m at work (or, when I was at MINI United), I don’t have anything attached.

Still don’t likes

  • Still not a fan of the trackpad. Using it makes me mental, but as I have mentioned in the past, I really don’t like any trackpad. I always have a mouse with me, so it’s not that big of a deal.
  • Having to ‘quit’ programs after they are closed doesn’t bother me as bad as it used to. Although, it would be really nice if there was some consistency. Some programs stay running when I close them and need to be quit when I’m done. Some programs quit when I close them. I am of the belief that clicking the ‘X’ should do the same thing in every program.
  • While programs are running, they have a tendency to get lost behind other programs without any way to quickly look to see what’s running. There have been many times I’ve clicked an icon on the dock, only to have the app pop right up because it was buried under 5 windows. I’m sure this is just me not being used to the dock. Also, if I click a programs icon on the dock, I should see the main program window, not the current one that is open (ichat for example). That’s annoying.
  • Why is it such a chore to get a program to run in full screen mode? Shouldn’t the ‘+’ do that, instead of making it the maximum width a developer said it should be? That doesn’t make sense.
  • I’m on my third mouse, and it’s already malfunctioning. I find that to be a little on the weird side. Do the USB ports put out an abnormal amount of power?
  • Not having IE. While I always thought it would be a good thing, it’s amazing how crippling it can be not having it. Of course, if webdevs would stick to standards and drm didn’t exist…But, really, it would be nice to be able to use the new Netflix features (I get 17 hours of watch time on my account now), but they are IE only. I know bootcamp or parallels will fix this.
  • Forward delete key. fn-del is very un-natural for me. As are many of the keyboard commands that require a Command key press with my left hand. Not as bad on the external keyboard tho, since there is space for all of the keys to be replicated on both sides.
  • Saving docs. I really should be able to navigate to any folder I want for saving something. I don’t like to go back and reorganize my docs folder daily. And yes, this still bothers me.
  • Making shortcuts on the desktop should be easier. Also, it would be nice if I could make on for my docs directory. So far, I haven’t been able to figure that one out.
  • To expensive/not enough configuration options. I’m a full geek. I like to be able to open a box and replace any component inside if need or want be. Of course, I know I can’t on a laptop, but I would really like to have a mac desktop that I could. Don’t want to spend $2500+ for a MacPro either. An iMac might be ok, but that’s a lot of white. And a MINI is too small and doesn’t have the power I need.

The likes – hardware

  • The trackpad. As much as I don’t like it, the 2 finger functions are great and make using it not quite so bad.
  • The keyboard. This has to be one of the best keyboards I have ever used, laptop or not. The old IBM Think Pads and Dell Inspirons are the only ones that come close.
  • The glossy screen is great. I only wish I could figure out how to make some of the fonts larger for viewing.
  • Solid hardware. No rattles and nothing feels loose, and this machine goes with me everywhere. It’s by far the most solid laptop I have ever had. The build quality is outstanding.

the likes – OSX

  • Spotlight. I’ve been using this more and more lately and it pretty much rocks. Faster and better than searching in Windows (98 – XP).
  • iPhoto. Windows XP does a good job displaying, printing and organizing photos, but iPhoto goes one step better by providing an easier way to get photos off of your device and onto the computer. Albums are great too, much better than folders. I can’t wait for cover flow in Leopard too, which should make it that much better.
  • Preview and Textedit. No 2 handier apps have ever been created. I’m surprised there isn’t a one-app-opens-anything on Windows. That sure would have been handy. So far, I’ve not found a file that doesn’t open in preview, including psd’s.
  • The dock. It was very confusing at first, mostly because I missed the functionality of the taskbar. I’ve gotten used to it and find it to be more useful than the taskbar most of the time.
  • Expose. Hot corners are great and I use it all the time. I like F11 for displaying the desktop, but wish it worked more like windows and actually minimize all running apps, instead of hiding them until you click or bring them back.

When I work in Windows, I now…

  • I find myself moving the mouse to the top right corner and wonder why I don’t see all of my running apps.
  • Pressing Alt-R and expecting quicksilver to start (I needed a replacement for the windows run shell, remember?).
  • Always click in the top left corner to close a program.

Overall it’s a great machine so far. I know the dislikes out number the likes, but most of that stuff is just things that Apple does that the Windows computers makers don’t and there isn’t anything I can do about that.

But I’m still not going to be an fan boy. Nor, will I get one of those damned phones! But, let me know when the widescreen iPod goes on sale and I’ll be all over that like stink on sock!

Published by Don

Lead bottle washer at donburnside.com, host at whiteroofradio.com and tech guru for the MotoringFile family of sites.

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11 Comments

  1. “Having to ‘quit’ programs after they are closed doesn’t bother me as bad as it used to.”

    I think of this as a feature instead of a bug. When I’m in Windows, I’m forever accidently quitting applications when I close some window I’m not using.

    “While programs are running, they have a tendency to get lost behind other programs without any way to quickly look to see what’s running” For me, Expose is a good solution for this issue. Also, clicking on the dock to bring whatever app I’m currently interested in to the “front”.

    ” Preview and Textedit. No 2 handier apps have ever been created.”

    Oh yeah. I like Preview (usually) more than Adobe Acrobat. Launches faster; less “bloat”.

    Have you discovered 1) “save as PDF” from any printing dialog yet? 2) “services”? I can highlight, eg “2+3” in any native OS X application and get “5” using the free Devon Calcservice plug in. There are other cool “service” plug-ins out there that do a variety of things– English to Chinese text, etc.

  2. Could you please elaborate on the “saving docs” problem? There is nothing at all special about the Documents folder, and you can save documents to any folder you like.

    Also, I just added a “Make Desktop Alias” item to Finder’s contextual menu. Here’s how: Right/ctrl-click on a finder file. Under “Automator” select “Create Workflow”. Click the “x” to delete the “Get Specified Finder Items” action. Click on “Finder” and double-click “Get Selected Finder Items”. Click “Automator” and double-click “Run Applescript”. Replace the “Your script goes here” line with:

    –Make Alias
    tell application “Finder”
    set theFile to input
    set theAlias to make new alias file at desktop to theFile
    end tell

    Click the little hammer to compile. Save, and give it the name “Make Desktop Alias”. You should now have a new choice under the Automator item in the Finder’s contextual menu. (Automator as well as AppleScript are very powerful, and most applications are very scriptable.)

    Hope this helps!

    — Mark

  3. Could you please elaborate on the “saving docs” problem? There is nothing at all special about the Documents folder, and you can save documents to any folder you like.

    In my documents dir, I have a folder called text files. I open text edit, make a file and want to save it to that directory. it’s not possible to drill down to that directory to save the file. I have the same problem with preview and NeoOffice.

  4. “In my documents dir, I have a folder called text files. I open text edit, make a file and want to save it to that directory. it’s not possible to drill down to that directory to save the file. I have the same problem with preview and NeoOffice.”

    Umm, in the “Save As” dialog box there should be a triangle to the right of the dialog box.
    Click it and you can specify literally any directory to save your file in.

  5. I just saw that. I kept looking in the ‘Where’ dialog box, in which you can’t drill down at all.

    Sweet! Thanks!

  6. > Having to ‘quit’ programs after they are closed doesn’t bother me as bad as it used to.

    In Mac OS X, windows are “document-centric” whereas in MSWindows, windows are “application-centric”. This is a fundamental difference in philosophy between the two systems whose outward clues are so subtle that it is not immediately obvious. The most obvious clue is on a Mac, the application’s main menu is separate from its windows. This allows you to close a document’s window (because you are finished with that document), but still allows you to open a new document (File->New or File->Open) without relaunching the application. MSWindows apps, with their Main Menu attached to the key window, loose any mechanism to interact with the user once you close the last window, so they typically shut down. (There are exceptions, like IE).

    Interestingly, the two systems are moving closer together. Mac OS X apps that are single-window (like System Preferences) tend to quit when their single window is closed. MSWindows apps are moving more toward a multi-document semantics, although they are hamstrung by some early UI design decisions.

    Since I came to Mac OS X from the NeXTStep world (which takes the same document-centric window philosophy to even further lengths), I was never confused by the Mac OS X window semantics. In fact, I am annoyed by the poor behaviour of MSWindows apps in this regard – especially those that have been ported to the Mac. I’m pointing my finger directly at Microsoft’s own Remote Desktop Connection application.

    I don’t find it inconvenient in the least to type Cmd-Q when I really want to quit an app.

    > While programs are running, they have a tendency to get lost behind other programs without any way to quickly look to see what’s running.

    Three solutions to this:
    – Command-Tab shows you which apps are running and allows you to quickly switch apps.
    – My Dock Icons have little black triangles indicating applications that are currently running. I can’t remember if this is the default behaviour. It may be a feature I enabled years ago using a tool like TinkerTool.
    РExpos̩ Рwhereas Command-Tab shows all running apps, Expos̩ shows you all windows opened in an app (or all apps).

    I also used TinkerTool to turn on a feature that dims the Dock icons of hidden apps.

    > Why is it such a chore to get a program to run in full screen mode?

    I would agree with Apple’s “intelligent grow window” philosophy, if it actually worked. Many apps, especially Safari, screw up so badly they shouldn’t even try. Unfortunately, I also want different mechanisms depending upon my environment. On my 12″ iBook, I almost always want the “full-screen” approach. On my 30″ Cinema display, I almost never want that behaviour.

    Luckily, most Cocoa apps remember their last window size, so you can make them as big as you want, close the window, and open a new one of the same size.

    > I’m on my third mouse, and it’s already malfunctioning.

    Can’t help you on this one. My mice seem to last forever. Coworkers laugh because I’m still using an old macally mechanical (ball) mouse. I did once have to hack a NeXT mouse, adding strain-relief where the cable exited the mouse, as that was a frequent failure point. I clean my mice every few months to get the gunge out. I also don’t eat over my keyboard and keep my beverages at arm’s length. On the flip side, my wife is certain death to any hardware she touches.

    > Forward delete key. fn-del is very un-natural for me.

    Try Control-d. [Control-h is backspace]. Any app that uses the Cocoa Text object supports emacs-style key bindings. This is another leftover from the NeXT era. Unfortunately, no Microsoft or Adobe apps use Cocoa, but I rarely use Microsoft or Adobe apps. Actually fn-del is very un-natural for me as well, I never remember to try it.

    > Saving docs. I really should be able to navigate to any folder I want for saving something.

    I don’t know what crappy apps you are using. Anything that uses the Mac OS X system save panel supports navigating to the target directory. Choose SaveAs, toggle the button to the right of the filename field to expand the panel to include a file system browser.

    You can also hit Command-Shift-G on the Save panel, which drops down a “Go to folder: ” sheet.

    In the old days (NeXT and early Mac OS X), you could type full pathnames in the filename field. Apple “fixed” this around 10.2 or 10.3, giving you a filename with embedded slashes instead – never what I want.

    > The dock.

    I still consider the Dock broken. In NeXTStep, the Dock [vertical and on the right] only contained application Icons. Minimized application windows lined up along the bottom, even going multi-row if necessary (like the taskbar). The Mac OS X Dock tries to marry the two features, unsuccessfully in my mind. Perhaps “Stacks” in Leopard will be an improvement.

  7. …without any way to quickly look to see what’s running

    If you look at the Dock, there is a small black triangle under the icon for each application running.

    > Not having IE.

    IE 5.2.3 for the Mac might work for you. It runs in OSX 10.4.10 (not sure if it works on Intel Macs) Also there is something in the Safari debug menu, which is off by default, called user agent, which can make Safari appear as IE to sites that need it.

    > Forward delete

    On a full size keyboard, it’s there…it’s also called Delete (just to left of ‘End’ key, and below the “help” key)

    > I really should be able to navigate to any folder I want for saving something.

    You can!! Uh…I guess you just don’t know how to do it. Get a Mac book or something. Like OSX missing manual, or OSX for dummies, I’m sure they proabably cover that issue.

    > Making shortcuts on the desktop should be easier

    Like: Select icon(s). “Make alias” in the file menu.
    Also, you can drag *anything* to dock to create shortcut.
    Or drag *anything* to sidebar, or to button area of *any* finder window.

    > I like to be able to open a box

    I guess you will have to do without that blue cold cathode lighting that helps you get your computing done.

  8. IE 5 will work (under Rosetta), but good luck finding it. Also, it blows kodiak bears. You’re better off with the debug menu changing the user string. Ostensibly, the root of the problem is idiot web programmers that test only for IE. They deserve to be burnt at the stake. That usually works for me. Also, I never knew about fn+del, and I’m a Mac keyboard shortcut whore.

    Finally, wireless mouse = no power surges from USB 😉

  9. One more alias tip: Pressing Option and Command while dragging a file in the Finder will create an alias in the new location instead of moving or copying the file. Also, a dragging tip: Pressing Esc while dragging cancels the drag in the Finder (and in most apps).

    Glad you got the Save issue solved, that must have been a pain! 😉

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