Duncan Wilcock


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Thursday, January 20, 2011

What I think of my Mac

So I bought a mac a few months ago. I'd been curious about them for a while, and as a computer geek attracted, but also a bit reluctant to jump on the band wagon.

My reservations: They tend to cost about twice as much as PCs for the same technical specifications. These days what's important to me are mostly lightness & portability, hard-disk capacity, and high resolution on the monitor. For the past few years processor speed and memory capacity (RAM) seem to be less important to me.

But I decided to take the plunge for a couple of reasons - I've been wanting to try my hand at writing iPhone apps was a big one, as was a sense that most of the "fun stuff" has shifted to macs - like writing iPhone & iPad apps - but also a lot of the really good web development stuff, and - I'm not sure, just a sense of the "centre of gravity of tech innovation" having made a shift from PC to Mac in the last year or two. Or perhaps I've just been reading too many Apple tech news blogs. :)

I also wasn't enjoying learning Windows 7 or Vista. I couldn't find anything particularly worthwhile for me in the new OS, and I wasn't enjoying having to figure out again how to do things I was able to do easily in XP.

Anyway - I bought one of the new MacBook Airs that came out in October. It's good - sleek, light, and I really love the large, multi-touch track pad. Physical design wise, Macs really are head and shoulders above most of what the PC market has to offer. The mag safe power connector is particularly excellent, as is the nice small size of the power adapter in the first place.

But is it really worth it - that's the question that has been in my mind. I guess it's worth it to me because I'm finding out what macs are all about.

Is it really easier to use? I wouldn't say so precisely.

What bugs me about it? The lack of function keys on the keyboard does bug me a bit. But mostly it's the feeling of being "only a consumer" - part of what I understand to be Apple's philosophy is about design, and about "taking things away" that they deem unnecessary, but as a result I keep bumping into things that I want to do, and am accustomed to being able to do on a PC, but can't. It feels like wearing a straight-jacket sometimes. Oh, and the other thing that really annoys me are the and the "smug apple punks." But I'll leave that for another post.

Things I find really bizarre (and stupid) on my mac:

1. You can't turn off the start-up sound - a jarring "dong" that happens when I have to restart/reboot the computer - which is admittedly rare - but still what a ridiculous noise. Yes I've tried the "start up sound" preferences panel hack - but for some reason it doesn't work for me.

2. I also can't believe that it won't stay on with the lid closed. Yes, I've found "Insomniax" - a hack that makes this possible, and I have also come to understand that it's for a practical reason (ventilation through the keyboard) but - I still find it ridiculous. Since I use it to play all my music, I like to leave it on with the lid closed and the music playing. It's so easily configurable on windows, it just seems so strange that it's so "off-limits" on the mac.

Alright, I'll end this post here. I have a bunch more to say, especially about iMovie, but I'll break it up into several posts.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

This Blog is Back Online

After a long hiatus, I'm resurrecting this blog.  I've had some thoughts rolling around that I've been wanting to write down in longer form than are suitable for twitter or facebook, so I'm going to write some of them up here in the next while.

I scanned through my old posts, and yes - some of my views have changed in the intervening 4 or 5 years since I posted most of this, but it's still stuff I wrote - and a lot of it I had forgotten about - some of it is really pretty good (if I might say so myself)

Anyhoo.  Stay tuned.