Once you go Mac…?

Recently, I confessed about my flirting with Mac, and right after that I got the chance to go all the way. An Art Director in the company I work for resigned, and I got (read:took) the opportunity to take over his Power Mac G5 with the Panther OS installed and 1,5 GB RAM. In short, a very competent computer.

Some more cynical people would say that it is a case of “knowing your enemy”, but that’s definitely not the way I see it, I was just very interested.
However, the things that bothered me was:

Dialogs
Since I’m really a keyboard shortcut freak, not being able to tab in dialogs beween “Save”, “Don’t save” and “Cancel” was really annoying.
The keyboard
I really like the look of the white keyboard, and it’s as nice to touch as patting a puppy, but in the long run I didn’t like typing on it. This might be because I normally use the ergonomic Microsoft Natural MultiMedia Keyboard.
The necessary connection to a PC
I have the need to develop things in Visual Studio.Net, and using the Remote Desktop Connection Client for Mac to connect to my PC proved to be to too slow (over a 100 Mbit LAN), definitely a lot more sluggish than the equivalent Remote Desktop Connection built in to Windows XP.
It also resulted in other keyboard combinations to write characters like >, {, [ etc, which just became utterly confusing in the long run.
Why I didn’t use Virtual PC for Mac is because I already had the development environment I wanted on my PC, and that I didn’t want to compile things in an emulated environment.
Developing tools
Except for Visual Studio.Net, I really think Macromedia HomeSite is superior to BBEdit for writing web interface code.
Maximizing windows
To the contrary belief that PC users have their application windows maximized just because they don’t know how to change it, I really prefer having them maximized. It helps me keep focused on the thing I’m doing for the moment, and then I just use Alt + Tab to swith to any other programs I need to work with.
Closing of windows
I just find it weird behavior to keep the application running when I close the last window in it.
What’s up with the Command key (the one with the apple on it)?
Is it really necessary to have this key? Isn’t Ctrl, Alt and others sufficient? Or is to make up for the lack of an Alt Grip key?

 

All in all, it didn’t suit me for developing purposes, but I would have nothing against using a Mac for entertainment purposes at home.
Now when I’m back with Windows XP, and now sporting the silver color scheme, it feels just right! :-)

 

PS. Thanks to Per Zimmerman at Gamepepper for helping me finding where different characters actually were on the keyboard, as well as the discussions about a real environment vs. an emulated one. DS.

Posted in Apple/Mac,General |

10 Comments

  • Interesting. I’ve been thinking of purchasing a Mac myself for quite some time, but little things like the ones you mentioned are stopping me from going in head first.

    You got quite a beast there to experiment with though ;-)

  • Robert says:

    Oh, definitely, it's a great machine! :-)

    But maybe, if I wouldn't have had the PC as something to go back to, over time I would've adapted to the Mac environment.

    But for now, I'm happy with my PC. :-)

  • Robert says:

    Note:

    Post updated with DL, DT and DD elements instead of UL and LI.

    Thanks to Faruk for pointing me to this.

  • Faruk Ates says:

    I see my whining and complaining has worked! But, it’s an improvement, and I think you’ll be happy now that you know how to use these nifty little Definition Lists ;)

    Also, I can totally sympathise with your “frustrations” :)

  • Being a looong time Mac user I'd like to give you a few tips ;-)

    Keyboard shortcuts: They are there, just not as obvious as in Windows. Escape = Cancel, Return = OK, Command + D = Don't Save. There are tons more.

    As for the feel of the keyboard, if you have the latest model (which I think you do if it's the one that shipped with the G5) I agree that it is not the best keyboard Apple has made. It still suits me much better than 3rd party keyboards though.

    I haven't used Remote Desktop so I can't comment on that. Virtual PC on a G5, however, is really snappy, and I have no problems running Visual Studio .Net in it.

    HomeSite vs. BBEdit, well that's mostly what you are used to I think. I'd go nuts from all the code hinting that HomeSite does. I want it uncluttered.

    Most apps will maximise windows if you hold Alt while clicking the plus button. I very rarely use it, but it's there if you want it.

    What's up with the Command key? Ergonomy. I find the Mac keyboard shortcuts are much easier on my hands. Thumb on Command key, index finger on shortcut key. In Windows I have to kind of twist my wrist to hold down the Control key with my little finger and then use my index finger or even my thumb to press the shortcut key. Plus, the Ctrl and Alt keys are used to enter special characters. You know, the ones you need to type some weird ASCII code sequence for on Windows ;-)

    All of these "problems" pretty much come down to what you're used to. If you feel anywhere near as awkward using a Mac as I do when I use Windows, I know the feeling :-D

  • Robert says:

    Roger,

    I thought you'd have something to say about this topic! :-)

    Thank you for the tip about keyboard shortcuts!

    When it comes down to the keyboard itself and the Command key for ergonomy, I definitely prefer my Natural keyboard, where the whole point is being ergonomic.

    I haven't used Virtual PC, so I guess were even that one, then. :-)

    HomeSite, of course, offers numerous ways of customizing the interface, where the code hints are easy to turn off (for instance, I never use them).

    I really have to try that maximizing trick on the Mac!

    > All of these “problems” pretty much come down to what you’re used to

    Oh, definitely! It was fun giving it a try, but I won't make the switch right now.

    Call me when you're in Stockholm next time, and I'll teach you some useful Windows shortcuts (but you probably regard that as a threat…)! :-)

  • markus says:

    Now Robert, first you started out with that drooling tounge when you first heard about me leaving Halogen, leaving bo doubt that you wanted to lay yer hands on my dual 1.8 ghz G5.. and now what? WHINING?? heh…

    Regarding the shortcuts, I can only but agree with the previous comment. I always felt that making the computer copy a text or whatnot on a PC is/was utterly awkward. Thumb on the Cmd-key and then your left pekfinger on the C-key and a quick shift to the V-key… instead of twisting your arm 180° to do the same on a win-machine. But, guess it's all a matter of taste? :)

    Anyway, just installed Tiger (OS X 10.4) here on my 17" Powerbook. Really nice. Really. Honest.

    (btw, my trip to Egypt was rilly swell. In more than one way. ttyl.)

  • Robert says:

    Markus,

    The drooling subsided a bit, I guess… :-)

    Good to see that you're back, I hope you had a nice time in Egypt!

    I still use the Mac, it's just not my number one computer. Although, I'd have no problem at all having a 17" Powerbook with Tiger as a home computer! :-)

  • Just realised another thing about using the keyboard in dialogs: if you go to the "Keyboard & Mouse" control panel and check "Turn on full keyboard access" under "Keyboard Shortcuts" you can tab through any dialog. Activate the button you have tabbed to by pressing "space".

    The same preferences panel also lets you change, add and remove any keyboard shortcuts you're missing or aren't happy with.

  • Robert says:

    Roger,

    Thank you!

    If given the opportunity, maybe I should give it another try. :-)

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