Sunday, March 25, 2007

Mac News

I've been playing with my Macbook now for two days. Here are some impressions.

I forgot that software can do the right thing most of the time. I have spent years fighting with Windows applications. And when you start using the Mac gui you feel like you have to fight it too. Then you realize that, like Ruby, if you just try the thing that makes the most sense, it's often what the software has been designed for. This is a big part of that welcome home for me.

There's a real operating system under here. I am working on getting the VPN connectivity to work to go correctly. When I wanted to really see what was going on, I opened a command prompt and started using things like ifconfig, traceroute, and tcpdump. I could also see logs, processes, and use scripting languages like perl, python, and ruby right out of the box. Earlier I said the Mac was my first computer back in 1984--but that I started programming exclusively in Unix a couple of years later. Well, this is the best of both worlds.

The Macbook Pro hardware is incredibly elegant. Using this thing to browse Digg is like eating McDonalds while driving down the road in a 911 Carrera. It's fun to find the hidden capabilities--like the ability to use two fingers on the mouse pad to scroll. I love it.

The standard suite of Apple software products are powerful, simple, and easy to use. Its not wonder that people don't need the millions of third-party applications that exist for the PC. Products like Dashboard, Spotlight, Keynote, iPhoto, iTunes hit sweet spots of user need and functionality in just the right way to thrill you.

I love Front Row. It sells me on the AppleTV. It also underlines how smart Apple is. The iPod, Front Row, and Apple TV are all basically the same software system (maybe they are the same software). They're zeroing in on the huge home and personal entertainment marketing with a killer platform in the same way they zeroed in on the desktop metaphor in computing. Brilliant.

Speaking of third party applications. I did buy Roxio's Toast 8 with TivoToGo for the mac. The standard TivoToGo functionality is pretty much the same as with the PC. But with Toast you can burn Tivo recordings to DVD! Also, I noticed that the picture quality and playback capabilities of the Tivo recordings on the mac are 1000% better than on the PC. Mediaplayer couldn't play back Tivo recordings to save its life. Its not just video that looks better either--it's pictures too. I'm not a graphics guy enough to understand why--but this thing looks way better than my top-of-the-line PC ever did.

Speaking of Microsoft. The only software I'm struggling with is theirs. I got Office 2004 and every time I launch an Office application.. Well.. Let's just say it's not the experience to which I'm becoming accustomed. Maybe it's just Entourage that's causing the bad impressions.

Now, if I could just get my VPN working properly..


Blogger CatFood said...

2004 Office is not a Universal binary , so you are running poorly written software in emulation (Rosetta). The new Office 2008 that's about to go into BETA in a month or so will be Universal. I just wish we didn't have to use MS software at all.

3:34 PM  

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