Friday, June 15, 2007

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And it was evening, and it was morning, the first day

OK, maybe the biblical reference is a bit much, though some might start things out with, “In the beginning, Jobs created the Apple and the Mac.” I've just been through my first day with a new Macbook, the first real experience I've had with a Mac.

Apple just announced new Macbook Pro models last week, just incremental upgrades to the old ones. I got one of those: the 2.4 GHz model with a 15-inch screen and 160 GB hard drive. Slightly faster/higher/stronger than the old model: slightly faster processor, a little more hard drive, more main memory, nicer (and “greener”) screen.

So far, I've got lots of the software installed that I'll need, and things are mostly working. I note that it's a little disconcerting that some things “just work” without telling me so — the fact that they just work is good, and I suppose that once one gets used to that idea, one doesn't want to be bothered with the notifications and the progress windows. It's just that when something's new, those progress windows and the “OK, it's working now” bubbles are nice. Instead, I wonder when it's going to connect itself to my network... and it had already connected, almost instantly.

The keyboard's going to take some getting used to. There are no “insert” and “delete” keys (the one marked “delete” works like the “backspace” on a Windows keyboard), the “home” and “end” are in different places and work a bit differently, and, most maddeningly for someone who's switching, the key marked “ctrl” doesn't do what the corresponding Windows key does — what does that is the key marked with the funny quatrefoil symbol (the “Apple” key).

OS X 10.4 (“Tiger”) seems very nice, and there are cool things about the OS and the user interface (I especially like the “exposé” mode, which lets you see all the open windows at once in order to easily select the one you want). Alas, it doesn't support the A2DP Bluetooth profile, so I can't use my stereo headset. That's reportedly coming with “Leopard” (OS X 10.5), due out in the fall (no, I'm not about to install a pre-release version when I barely know my way around!).

I'm not convinced about the single, context-driven menu at the top of the screen. It's fine when the top of your application window is near the top of the screen anyway, and so it saves having to have every window waste space on its own menu bar. But if you have a small window that's near the bottom of the screen (as my main email window is), or all the way over to the right (as my IM contacts window is), it's annoying to have the menu bar be so far removed from the application window. I'll have to see whether I get used to that over time.

There's a lot that seems like it's “wrong” until you find out that it's really there, and you just need to learn how to do it. I've found quite a few of those so far (the Dock is much nicer than it first seems, for instance). We'll see how I like it as I learn more.

2 comments:

Jim Fenton said...

I have to at least partially agree with you about the menus. When you have those big, beautiful Apple monitors, it can be a long way from your application window to the menu bar. It's just one of those tradeoffs between screen real estate and convenience.

The other problem, when using the big display in my office, is that I sometimes want to use both that and the screen on my MacBook Pro. The menu bar is at the top of only one of the screens, and it's painful to move from screen to screen to select something from the menu.

Maggie said...

LOL. That sounds like my recent switch to Windows, in reverse. I used to be a Mac programmer. It's hard to go from things "just working," to "where the hell is..." and getting used to that Ctrl key, and suddenly your text isn't inserting any more, it's overwriting, and you click in the menu bar, but it's the wrong menu bar... :-)