Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Giving In and Buying a MacBook

I finally caved in to the marketing pressure from Apple and a lot of my Apple-religious friends. I bought a MacBook. Why would I do this after many years of trying to do everything with open source software? The main reasons are iTunes and my wife's need to use MS Office.

I need iTunes to manage my family's 3 iPods (2 of which I got for free at tech conferences and users groups). I also will need iTunes if I decide to buy an iPhone. I have been thinking about it because I am surrounded by friends and co-workers who swear up and down that the iPhone is the answer to all of life's problems. Anyway, Apple won't produce a version of iTunes that runs on Linux and that's a shame, but there's nothing I can do about it.

My wife has been using our Ubuntu linux desktop for the last few years, and has gotten along quite nicely until recently when she needed some advanced spreadsheet functionality like mail merge. I am disappointed to say that Open Office just wasn't cutting it. The feature set was either lacking or buggy. She was longing for MS Excel. MS Office is available for the Mac, so that problem could get solved too.

So far, the best thing about that Mac has been its packaging. It came in a slick box with fancy designer Styrofoam. It has stylish body and the l.e.d. lights have a pleasing glow. Also the screen has a great, kind of glossy, picture.

I do have some gripes:

For one thing, I can't find a way to turn of that annoying sound the computer makes when booting. A few blog posts I read say that you have to download some 3rd party software to disable it.

After 20 minutes of surfing the web when I first booted up, the computer crashed and the wireless card stopped working. I had to take the computer back to the Apple store. Thankfully they exchanged it even though I had purchased the MacBook from the online Apple store.

There doesn't appear to be any way to maximize a window. There is a green plus button on each window that makes the window larger, but it doesn't make it go full screen. Why can't I have this functionality on a Mac?

There is no concept of right-click! To get a context menu, I have to put 2 fingers on the trackpad and click the button. I guess I can get used to this, but come-on, would it be so hard for Apple to make the right side of the button do what Windows and Linux users expect?

You can only resize a window from the lower-right corner. This is unbelieveable. Both Windows and Linux allow you to resize a window from any edge of the window. I find this really annoying.

There are no Page Up, Page Down, Home, and End keys! The function key + up or down arrows will do the same thing as Page Up and Page Down. Also the Apple key + the left and right arrow will do the same thing as Home and End, but I'm just not used to it yet.

Pressing the red X button on a window closes the window, but doesn't close the application even if it is the last window open in that application. You have to remember to explicitly quit the application with an Apple key + Q. I always forget to do this and am left with many open applications as a result.

Despite all these gripes, I am happy to be getting to know my way around a Mac now. I have always felt completely lost on a Mac and these days, it feels like everyone and their mother has one.


Unknown said...

They may take some time to master and become familiar with however these key short cuts may simplify and enhance your mac experience. "once you go mac you'll never go back!" My wife used to want nothing to do with computers and now she is very comfortable with our macbook. So much more intuative and you would not have had such ease hooking up your pc to your high def display.


Guitaronin said...

My dad is a total Macite (or would that be Macist), and every time I'm at his place I have the same complaints you mentioned. Let me know what you think once you get passed those initial discomforts.