Well, last week I made the leap into the great unknown. After using flavours of Windows since version 1.0 – I decided I’d had enough. So from Birmingham Airport (UK) I bought MacBook Pro 13″ with copy of Microsoft Office for Mac. Don’t worry, I haven’t completely lost it – and won’t be becoming a MacBore or LinuxBore. But I wanted to report my experiences and tips and tricks along my journey of coming to grips with the new environment.
Why the change of all those years of being a “Window Guy”. Well, I have this idea that our relationship with technology/ISVs is like a marriage. When you first get married your in the flush of your first love – and sure there are bad things about the new person in your life, but you overlook and forgive those. Then as the years roll-by those bad things seem to become more and more noticeable. The way they do the dishes or slurp their tea start to grate. So it is with technology. When you first get your new toy you love the thing, but as the days/weeks/months/years/decades(?) roll-by the technology begins to really annoy you. That’s how things ended up with me Microsoft Windows on a PC. I got to the point that whenever I saw “Not responding” when Explorer opened or when I changed an IP address – that I want to put my fist through the monitor. So in truth my decision change was as much an emotional one, as a technical one. My relationship with Microsoft had reach ‘irretrievable breakdown’ – we weren’t really talking to one another in the end. Now we are firmly in the divorce courts of technology, with the lawyers fighting over the spoils. I’m sure that in 15 years time I will be saying the same about Apple….
So what have my experience been so far? Well, I’ve tried my best to do everything in the last week using the Mac. In truth in the first couple of days I spent most of my time copying files, setting up email accounts, importing bookmarks, setting up my iPOD with iTunes (which is much, much better on the Mac!). I wanted to avoid running Windows applications as much as possible. Although I have downloaded and installed VMware Fusion 3 to run Windows XP. To be honest it was more because I wanted to see what its like – than really needing to. Most of what I need to can be done with the Mac, and I have RDP for Mac, VMware View4 for Safari set-up – so when I do need to get to my remote lab environment I can. I did download the full Citrix ICA Client ‘Program Neighborhood’ (yeah, I know they call it something else now) but in truth that’s mainly for legacy reasons – from here on in I’m going to use VMware View 4 and virtual desktop. My plan is try and get the native PCoIP client running under VMware Fusion – so I can have a PCoIP experience from my Mac. The web-based client support for Mac doesn’t support VMware Fusion.
So, so far so good – what have been the downsides – and challenges yet to overcome?
- Keyboard Strokes - The Mac Keyboard is different but similar to a Window Keyboard. And the instinctive urge to press some conjunction keys is still there – even though there isn’t a 1-2-1 mapping. I’m using the mouse and menus more than I would normally… must print out a page of the keystokes and print it above my desk until the become second nature. This is part made more complicated by my View4, RDP and Citrix sessions having their own keyboard shortcuts – its possible to get in a bit of muddle
- Right-Click Trackpad – a lot of people complain about a lack of right-click environment – to be honest I don’t know why Apple don’t just enable this by default. You have to go into System Preferences, Trackpad and tick of an option called Secondary Click, and ask it to be in the ‘Bottom Right-hand corner’ – and then away you go
- Screen Capture – Apple’s ‘Preview’ comes with its own tools for grabbing parts of the screen. In Windows I used snagit – which is much better – under Fusion. I’m kinda of reluctant to go out and buy a dedicated screen capture utility – but I can see in the long run – I’m gonna have to bite the bullet and purchase – some screen capture/video thing for the Apple…
- Entourage – Is part of MacOrifice. It’s fine as an email client – but I don’t rate as much as Microsoft Outlook. For start I can’t check my hotmail with it, and it doesn’t appear to have RSS Feed support like Microsoft Outlook 2007 did. I quite like all my **** being in one place. I need to do some research on this – so I might be able to find a plug-in for both hotmail/RSS feeds – so I have one place to go. There real problem with Entourage – is despite it being a Microsoft mail client – there is NO import facility for the Outlook PST format. To be honest this was the biggest pain the arse I’ve had so far. The work around is to install Mozilla Thunderbird on the old Windows PC – then use it to import the mail/settings/address book. Once imported (it did take a long time with my 9,000 items!!!) You can then open the mail store in Thunderbird to get to the mail. Each folder in outlook becomes a separate mail file – and you can rename the inbox files to have a inbox.mbox extension – drop them on a removal hard-drive and import them into Entourage.
- UPDATE: I did manage to get my hotmail in Entourage even though MS say you need an extra special hotmail account to do it. I think I’ve had my hotmail account so long it was upgraded to Plus (or some such status) – which meant it worked with Entourage after all. Problem solved…
- iPAQ and Windows Mobile - The Mac has no support for Windows Mobile and Synchronization. That was going to be first step to getting my address book. Nothing doing. You have buy special software to get Windows Mobile enable PDAs to sync with Mac. As is my iPAQ is nearly 4years old. It was one of the first phones to have touch-sensitive screen, wifi, bluetooth and satnav. Anyway, its on its last legs – and I’ve secretly be harbouring a desire for an iPhone. My provider, VodaFone get the 3G enable version of the iPhone in the new year which is weeks away. So I plan to switch away. I also plan to get the TomTom cradle for the iPhone. It’s pricey, but boosts the GPS signal and comes with all the usual hands-free, mute music for turn-by-turn instructions and phone calls.
- Pricey Accessories – Before I bought the MacBook Pro I took a look at some of the accessories – and more importantly their prices. You know, look I’m prepared to pay the mark-up for the MacBook Pro. It’s a quality product blah, blah, blah. But I mean £50 for a fucking mighty mouse – who is hell Apple kidding? £20 quid for DisplayPort to VGA adapter? The piss-de-le-resistence is of course, the £1K+ LED 30” inch cinema display – a must have item for all “creative professional” (my arse!) look I know LED will be great, but I’m sticking with my old HP SVGA flatpanel and VGA connector for the time being. I almost bought the wireless keyboard and mighty-rip-off mouse on the apple store when I was in Norway the other week. Unfortunately, every time I selected a patrotic “British” keyboard, the basket updated it to a German keyboard. Are they trying to tell me something here…?