John Kaster

Behind the Screen

Archive for the ‘Mac’ Category

MacBook Pro Impressions #3

with 3 comments

In my first and second posts on this subject, it looks like the MacBook has been losing in the comparison to Windows 7, so I thought I’d do a quick (we’ll see!) post on some things I do like about the Mac.

Spotlight rocks

Spotlight kicks butt all over Windows search, particularly when searching in the windows start menu, which frequently doesn’t even find installed software by name. Spotlight is fast, it finds everything, and the UI is set up so you can just type as much as you need to find the item you want, you hit enter, and it opens. I actually almost never use my dock.

I started using it even more after I discovered the Command+Space hotkey that invokes the spotlight search.

Fancy fingerwork

The 4-finger swipes are quite handy (pun intended) now that David Clegg has told me about them.

  • Swipe 4 fingers left or right: show all running tasks
  • Swipe 4 fingers up: show your desk top
  • Swipe 4 fingers down: show all open windows
  • Swipe 4 fingers in the opposite direction: revert your view

3-finger swipes that work in Safari and Firefox (at least):

  • Swipe 3 fingers left: move backward to previous browser page
  • Swipe 3 fingers right: move forward to next browser page

Lots of configuration options

As several people pointed out in comments to my last post on this subject, there’s also a lot of configuration options available on the mac. It turns out I disagree with Apple on what should be the default setting for at least a few of them Winking smile.

The following bookmark is one I refer to when I remember to teach myself some more Mac features, also.


Written by John Kaster

April 14, 2011 at 8:18 am

Posted in IT Industry, Mac

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 …

Written by John Kaster

March 15, 2011 at 8:10 am

Posted in IT Industry, Mac

MacBook Pro Impressions #1

with 8 comments

I got a MacBook Pro on December 23rd, 2010.  I’m jotting down my impressions as someone very familiar with DOS and Windows, and not at all familiar with the Mac.

I haven’t worked on a Mac since about 1986, so any previous experience I’ve had with them is irrelevant.

I’m not comparing Windows vs. Mac OSX. In fact, the primary reason I got this laptop is so I could run both Windows and Mac software on the same machine, which I’m already doing.

Naturally, the shipping box for the Mac is attractive and well-designed, with a plain outer cardboard box, and a cardboard anchor/pad for each corner of the inner decorated box. The inner box has a black plastic handle so you can lift the box out of the outer box without any difficulty. I like that the self-contained and compact design of the shipping system.

The lid opens and closes nicely. I think it’s held shut magnetically. The power plug also is magnetic – it plugs itself into the laptop when you get the adapter near the receptacle on the laptop. It’s also reversible, so the cord will run alongside the laptop coming toward the front or the back, allowing you to choose which way works better for your current layout. The power brick has a short plug adapter that can be swapped with a longer cord if you need to reach further to your power source. (I just leave the longer cord on all the time).

Apple provides some introductory training videos I found somewhat useful. It’s interesting that options for also running Microsoft Windows on your Mac are also prominently featured.

The keyboard has a pretty good feel. There’s no home or end key, or page up or page down. The delete key is really a backspace key. I really miss not having both. You have to use various multiple keys to get the missing keystrokes and some of them are less intuitive than others. The use of the command and control keys is completely inconsistent, and is still a source of frustration for a keyboard jockey like me.

I’ll record additional impressions in later posts regarding sleep mode, headphone jacks, ISO support,  “intuitiveness”, spotlight, VMWare fusion/parallels, VPN client, Finder views (no tree!), VoiceOver and more. If you care! Winking smile

Written by John Kaster

January 19, 2011 at 5:24 am

Posted in IT Industry, Mac