John Kaster

Behind the Screen

MacBook Pro Impressions #2

with 9 comments

Wow, I’ve been so busy since my last post on my MacBook impressions, I’m going to keep this post to some quick observations so I don’t fall so far behind I never get back to this topic.

UI Oddities

I keep hearing about how great the Mac UI is, and how much better it is than Windows. Maybe it’s because I’m comparing it to Windows 7, but I’m just not feeling the “Mac UI” love that much. I really don’t see that it’s significantly better than Windows. Some examples:

  • Hitting “enter” on a file in Finder (Mac’s version of windows file explorer) allows you to rename the file. It doesn’t open the file.  Having the Enter key invoke a file rename UI rather than opening the file I’ve “selected” really doesn’t seem like the best choice.
  • I can only resize a window by clicking on the bottom-right corner of the window. I can grab any edge in Windows and resize the window. Windows is definitely more user friendly for this, and minimizes mouse movements.
  • Apps that have multiple windows frequently hide my most recent window when I have to temporarily switch tasks, and the only way to see them is to hold down icon in the Dock (taskbar) and wait until the windows are gathered, then I have to click on the hidden window to bring it back up.
  • When I stick a movie DVD in the drive, the Mac doesn’t do anything. I have to start the DVD player explicitly. I don’t know what the reasoning behind this, but sticking a DVD in the DVD drive is a User Interface event, and it should respond to that event. Windows certainly does.
  • The Mac has drag and drop issues for several stock Mac applications when trying to drag a file from a networked drive into the application. In several instances, it just won’t work at all. I have to use that same Finder window that’s pointing to the networked drive, copy the files locally, then use the files from the local copy. Lame.

Quality comparison

For those people who claim that the Mac doesn’t crash, spin up on CPU cycles, or lockup as much as Windows does, all I can say is, you’re wrong. I’ve actually experienced more frequent “issues” with my MacBook than with my old Windows laptop that was not built for Windows 7 but was upgraded to Windows 7 Ultimate.

I have also had very flaky external display issues with my Dell U3011. Calls to Apple support didn’t resolve it, other than insisting it was my Dell display that was causing the problem. After more than a month of problems, and finally not being able to connect to my external display at all, I decided to give the “Genius Bar” at my closest Apple store a try (an hour round-trip away from the house.)

After plugging in the laptop to the monitor (also lugged up to the Apple store) at the Genius Bar, it “just worked.” So something related to the amount of time disconnected/powered down reset the display issue. Everything I know about hardware and software issues points to it being a display driver problem, though.

I have since learned to never close the lid (putting it to sleep) on my MacBook when connected to my external display. Whenever I’m going to close the lid, I disconnect the mini-DisplayPort to DisplayPort adapter first. I have had zero display issues since adopting this practice.

Bad design decision

I spent about a month trying to figure out why my line-in/microphone input wouldn’t work on my Macbook when doing voice conferencing. I even talked to two Apple Care technician about it, and they didn’t know. The people at the Genius Bar finally gave me a partly accurate answer – rather than using a standard Laptop headset that works on any one of dozens of different kinds of devices, I have to have a “USB headset”. What they really meant is I need a powered microphone attached to the input jack.

Requiring a powered mic for a laptop or any other portable device is a ridiculous design choice/limitation. There is absolutely no valid reason to require a powered microphone as an input source for a laptop computer.

More observations when I have time. There’s plenty more to bring up. I need to start taking better notes while I’m working …

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Written by John Kaster

March 15, 2011 at 8:10 am

Posted in IT Industry, Mac

9 Responses

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  1. A “USB headset” would actually bypass the on-board sound system entirely, in favour of a USB audio chip in the headset.

    Re OS X in general, what annoys me most after the keyboard is the lack of a cohesive pattern for maximization and restore. What I like most is a terminal which, with the aid of MacPorts and friends, I can get access to all the usual GNU etc. utilities I’m used to with Cygwin on Windows, and of course Linux.

    Mind you, I run Windows 7 almost exclusively on my Mac Air.

    Barry Kelly

    March 15, 2011 at 10:07 am

    • The inconsistencies with Control and Command key combinations still mess me up every day. I also make heavy use of VMWare fusion and do the majority of my work with Windows apps still.

      John Kaster

      March 15, 2011 at 12:02 pm

  2. “When I stick a movie DVD in the drive, the Mac doesn’t do anything. I have to start the DVD player explicitly. I don’t know what the reasoning behind this, but sticking a DVD in the DVD drive is a User Interface event, and it should respond to that event.
    Windows certainly does.”

    Go to System Preferences and click on CD’s and DVD’s, and you’ll see an option to open the DVD player when you insert a DVD.

    Just get a USB headset. Different designed machine.

    Phillip Woon

    March 15, 2011 at 11:55 am

    • Phillip, thanks for the tip. I’ll take a look at that preference. The problem with replacing my headset is that I’m quite fond of my existing headset, and there isn’t a USB headset that’s anywhere near as comfortable for me.

      John Kaster

      March 15, 2011 at 12:00 pm

  3. “I can only resize a window by clicking on the bottom-right corner of the window. I can grab any edge in Windows and resize the window. ”

    Not a big help to you now but in the next release of Mac OS X, 10.7 (Lion), they are bring resizing from any windows’ edge. Give that one to Windows.

    Colin Johnsun

    March 15, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    • Thanks for the comment, Colin. I should have mentioned in my post that this new resizing option was planned, but the post was already getting way longer than I originally planned 🙂

      John Kaster

      March 15, 2011 at 11:41 pm

  4. Hey John,
    Re “Apps that have multiple windows frequently hide my most recent window” I think Command+` is what you want. It cycles through windows owned by the current app. Tod

    Tod Landis

    March 16, 2011 at 3:46 am

    • Thanks, Tod. I’m not seeing Command+ do it, but David Clegg replied to me via Skype, pointing out the “four finger swipe” options on the trackpad – horizontal is to show all apps, up is to show the desktop, down is to show all open windows. Now that I know that, I’m happier with it.

      John Kaster

      March 16, 2011 at 4:28 am

  5. […] my first and second posts on this subject, it looks like the MacBook has been losing in the comparison to Windows 7, so […]


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