Musings of a new Mac user

A few days ago, I finally received my actual work machine: a sleek 15.4″ widescreen MacBook Pro. This is the first Mac machine that I will be using on a regular basis, having never owned one before. So, I am slowly re-learning how to be productive on a laptop, but what I can say so far is: the odds are high that my next personal machine will be a MacBook. (We’ll see if I can stretch my budget for a MacBook Pro… if they release a smaller one, then it’s probably a definite yes :P)

I’ve still a ways to go, I’m sure, but so far I’m doing good in terms of personalizing how my machine works. The trackpad now works the way I’m used to it working; I have my trusty Aptana IDE with me; I have installed QuickSilver (but have yet to really get used to it); and I’m slowly learning the shortcut keys and whatnot, which is a big must. I suppose I’m moving along just fine; proof of this is when I sit down after a day’s work at my own laptop and end up hitting Alt+S for saving and Alt+Left Arrow Key to go back one word when typing. ;)

Now, I’m still weighing the pros and cons of going for a Mac for the next personal machine. In a nutshell, these are:

  • Web development (read: PHP) should be easier on Macs because UNIX-compliant. I have not tried this out yet since I don’t use PHP when at work.
  • Oh my gosh, the colors! The clarity! It’s absolutely breathtaking. I am in love.
  • If I’m working on a Mac machine the whole day and go home to do some hobby coding on my Windows machine… I end up having around 10 minutes of re-learning the shortcuts and the keyboard. Yes, my mind is apparently rather malleable that way. It makes for slower hobby coding!
  • I love the fact that the screen brightness dims when the surrounding light dims. Way to go, Apple! (Have Windows machines done this too?)
  • Games. Seriously, people, this is a huge disadvantage, and I know that I am not the only one. I like my games. Right now I am delegated to the smaller games that don’t suck you in and make you play all night long, but I still have that inner yearning to go back to my gamer days. :P
  • I’m still trying to get the hang of things not maximized all the way, which apparently is “the norm”. Now I don’t have a problem with multi-tasking in that way (i.e., having a code resource in one window on one side of the screen and the actual IDE in another side) but more often that not this just feels a little messy and disorganized to me.
  • Expensive! Okay, the MacBook isn’t too expensive over a high-end laptop, so it’s probably more of a psychological thing.
  • I need IE on Windows for web design. Let’s face it, lots of people use IE, so I have to design for IE as well. I know about Parallels, and I will have to take that into consideration, and make sure that it does work exactly like a Windows machine (or that IE does, anyway).

This isn’t saying that I’m completely won over, as there are still times when I feel like, oh but this is so easy in Windows! I am missing TortoiseCVS (is there a similar Mac OS X equivalent around that I don’t know about?) and I’m still slowly inching my way around Terminal. But this might all just be because I’m still a newbie, but I’m sure in time it will all feel like second nature.


  • […] Expo (SITEX) to purchase my first ever personal Mac. Almost a month prior to this, I had received my first Mac in the form of my work machine, a MacBook Pro, and after a lot of deliberation, have decided to purchase my […]

  • @Ivy: Thanks! I just got a new MacBook actually (personal use), and it’s running Leopard, so Spaces helps. It just feels really cluttered, and I’m not the sort of person to want to have to minimize applications first before opening up a new window. :D

    @Mat: Thanks for your recommendations! I don’t think I’m inclined to dish out an extra license of Parallels myself, so it looks like BootCamp for me at the moment. When I get a new Windows license. ;) You’re absolutely right, though: I’m hooked! I just bought my own personal MacBook last weekend, but haven’t been able to sit down and blog about it yet. About the screen real-estate, I liked the fact that everything’s full-screen on Windows because I feel I’m more focused that way. I can tile the windows if I need to see two applications at once; but otherwise I don’t want to see anything else but what I’m currently working on. And since most of my Windows are browsers, it’s really better to have them at least at 1024x. However, it’s not as disturbing to me now; a few more weeks of this and I probably won’t mind. :)

  • Don’t go with parallels it’s craptastic.. Just use Vmware and make a new virtual machine, much easier and a hell of alot faster. IE will work exactly the same the only difference is it’s virtualized.

    I’ve been using Mac’s for quite a while and i’ve seen everything every other OS offers out there but none compare to the solid nature of the BSD core and for OS X this is no exception. Software is easier to install and far more efficient with the use of DMG’s. There’s no dependency hell like in a linux based operating system and most of all the power is still retained in the terminal you just need a bit of magic from sudo or to create a root user.

    Unless you’re from a solid BSD background and judging by your list of OS’s above; you’re not.
    Then it’s going to take a bit of getting used to. Play with it and read as much as you can in a month or so I await your new impressions and I’m betting you’ll be hooked.

    Oh about the cluttery full screen stuff on mac. it’s for a reason because a mac only takes up enough screen real-estate as the application needs and unlike a shitty windows pc you have expose to deal with window switching (f9, f10, f11) you’ll find that the window state actually becomes more comforting as you begin to multi task and juggle more stateless windows at once.

    P.S get macports to setup your dev sandbox. Don’t bother with fink.


  • Oh I hear ya on the no window maximization thing. It drive me nuts! If you’re running OS X Leopard it shouldn’t be too bad since spaces will help with the desktop clutter. As for IE, you might want to try bootcamp. My old Macbook was running Windows Vista Ultimate fine. :)

  • Haha, I just bought my own personal MacBook last night :D Inuupdate/customize ko pa hehe. :D

  • Yey Hooray! New mac zealot in town. :) At least someone at PHPUGPH knows why I love Macs now. :) Hooray!

  • Hi Anonymous,

    Thanks for your feedback regarding Parallels! I think I’ll be going with just Bootcamp for now; I can’t justify using Parallels when I’m not doing heavy freelance webdesign/dev work on my personal laptop. :)

    And yes, I did know about Firefox for Mac. :) Most of the apps I use have Mac equivalents, so yay for that. :)

  • Anonymous said:

    Parallels is okay if you don’t plan to run much off a windows on your mac, otherwise bootcamp is a much better option. Because it’ll run it at full speed and optimization, which would most likely be better if you’re a gamer. With bootcamp though you’re soley on your windows side, rather than it acting like a virtual machine in your mac. Under parallels and bootcamp you are acutally using windows for both, because you install the windows software, and it runs the same as it normally would.

    Not sure if you know but there is a downloadable version of Firefox for Mac.

  • Re: Camino – I tried it out but I really didn’t like the look of forms in it. Especially the form buttons. I mean, was that just the site I was looking at or is that a general concern?

    I have yet to see what the new Safari is like, but I’m pretty happy with FF as it is.

  • Ah, but if I get too used to it and alienated from Aptana, I shall end up needing to have it installed “for real”! XD It’s so difficult to make decisions these days, hehehe. I wonder if they will humor me at all if I ask for a Coda license…

    Hmm, well, looks like I’d definitely go with Bootcamp for my personal laptop! XD I shouldn’t mind booting up again just for checking on IE, although I might be annoyed when I need to visit IE-only sites. They’re annoying! But sadly a lot are like that :(

    Thanks for the website recs — I actually didn’t know about them prior to today, so that helps a lot. :D

    (Now the only question is… do I have money? Come to me, o Money!)

  • Re: Coda, why don’t you just use the trial version for a little while, until you get your personal machine? After all…you ARE ‘trying it out’! :)

    Re: Bootcamp – well, Bootcamp is free. It’s a feature of Mac OSX 10.5 Leopard, so the only thing it costs you is a Windows license. If you have the license, you can install and run Windows just like a PC, no difference, so really the only expense is if you keep having tp upgrade your Windows licenses.

    Parallels you need a Windows license as well for, but you also need to pay the Parellels license, so that’d cost more. It’s just a matter of weighing pros and cons – with Parallels you have the ease of not having to reboot every time you want to test something in Windows. But with Bootcamp, it’s free and you can run any and all games you want. So for me personally, I’d take the tradeoff and go for Bootcamp – I could deal with having to reboot. I’d just save all Windows things I need to do, up and then do them all in one go, you know? If I put HTML Kit on Windows, then i can easily do web development there too if I test it in IE and it looks shitty lol!

    Hope that helps a little!

    Oh, and for other Mac software, bookmark both and, they’re the main software websites for Mac. Any time you’re looking for a certain program, do a search on those sites first – usually you can find whatever you need!

  • Hi Sasha! No worries, hee! I should probably look into Camino, I’ve been hearing it a lot recently. As for Coda, I’ve been interested in it for a while, too! Only I prolly won’t be able to try it out ’til I get a personal mac; I can install it here on my work machine but would feel iffy about heaping expense again on the company (and would not like to use a license I bought myself for a work machine!). But it looks quite spiffy!

    As for Bootcamp, no one told me that before, regarding the difference between Parallels and Bootcamp. We’re trying to lobby for a Parallels license at work, mostly for testing purposes, because it does sound better that you won’t need to reboot just to use Windows. But of course they wouldn’t care about gaming :X

    Which is more expensive in the long run (Bootcamp vs Parallels)? I still haven’t decided if I will be giving up my Toshiba M100, although it might get there eventually… I’m not sure!

    As for CVS, that’s interesting, thanks! I already have CVS installed, but was looking for a GUI for it — will have to check out if that one included in the update is a client that has GUI. :D

  • :X Sorry to spam you! But I had a quick look at the CVS program you mentioned – it’s version control, isn’t it? I don’t use it, but googled it. Anyway, I had a quick look on MacUpdate for you:

    It seems there’s at least 1 app there that do CVS version control too (and maybe more, I didn’t look that closely)….hope that’s what you were looking for? :)

  • Yay for your new Mac, congrats!! I’ve been a Mac girl since 2001 – no turning back for me. ;)

    Just wanted to point a few things out.

    * Re: Games. Why not just put Bootcamp on your Mac, boot up into Windows when you want to game, and play anything you want to? Remember, your new Intel Mac can run Windows as well as any PC. In fact, a recent survey by PC World found that the fastest Windows Vista laptop awas actually a Mac. So you should have no problem playing any of your games – your Mac will run Windows as well as any PC does. :)

    * Re: IE on Windows for web design. See above. :P With Bootcamp, it really is exactly the same as running Windows on a PC, so you will be 100% guaranteed things look the same in your IE as in a PC IE. However, with Parallels it’ll also be exactly the same…I guess it just depends on your budget. If it was me, I’d invest in Bootcamp and a Windows license, ’cause you can def. run games better via Bootcamp than via Parallels.

    * Safari isn’t really a terrible browser – I quite like it, actually. Unfortunately, in my (now old) iBook G4 it tends to run slow, plus, being a web designer, it isn’t too handy that frequently enough, Safari does render things differently than Firefox – so that’s the sole reason I am not using Safari. Although, actually, I’m not using Firefox either, it’s a major memory hog on my system, and it just feels…un-Mac like, somehow. I use Camino as my main browser. Light, fast, includes everything I need, and uses the same rendering engine as FF. :)

    Oh – side note, I have fallen in love with using Coda for all my web development. It’s an editor, FTP application, and Terminal in one, including a web browser to preview pages and/or go to sites’ control panels. It is super handy to be able to do EVERYTHING webdesign related in two programs: Photoshop and Coda. I’d recommend looking into it if you haven’t already! :)

    Okay well – I hope that helps a little or something lol! Feel free to shoot me an email if you have any Mac related questions….I’d be happy to help!

  • Yeah, so I heard about the whole GUI thing. It’s true that there’s a lot of debate going on about Windows vs Mac vs Linux/etc, but I think all these OSes have their own pros and cons. I’ve used all three at this point — I used to have a dual boot Linux Mandrake on a Windows desktop.

    I think at this point, what “works” for me is whatever it is that I’m using on a daily basis. I’m finding it increasingly troublesome to keep using two different operating systems — not to say I can’t do it, but because I’m a stickler for being productive and stuff, I find it irritating when I hit Control+S on Mac or an Alt+S on Windows.

    And yep, you can have all three operating systems on a system; you can use BootCamp to have Windows on an Intel Mac, and I’ll bet the same can be done for Linux. As for an Intel PC, I have a friend who installed OSX on it and it did install, although some hardware stuff wasn’t well done. And like I mention, I’ve tried dual-booting Linux and Windows. :) Pretty straightforward, actually.

  • Angela,

    I don’t know I think Apple just seems to have a better handle on the technology they’re using. I’m pretty sure they started before Windows (we have a lot of discussions about Windows vs. Mac all the time in class lol) and apparently windows basically copied Mac but without actually copying it exactly. They flipped a lot of things around. There’s the obvious: the tool bar, on Mac is at the top, and Windows is at the bottom. And to exit out of/minimize/maximize a window is on the opposite side. And I guess they even put black and white on the opposite side of their colour palette so they could say that they didn’t copy Mac. There’s lots of other things but those are the one that I can think of right now.

    Something that I find rather amusing about my instructors is that most of them prefer the Mac over Windows, but don’t mind using Windows (they’re all using MacBooks because they decided they should all get the same thing). Some of them are very pro Apple lol. Then one of them is always complaining about both the Mac and Windows. He’s all about Linux lol. It’s kind of funny if you get him going on that topic because it’s hard to make him stop. He keeps trying to convince me to get Linux. Apparently you can have Linux on a Mac or PC, and when it starts up it lets you choose which operating system you want to use. I really don’t know much about it other than what he’s told me. It’s just kind of interesting. Well, to me anyway.

  • Oh, credit cards won’t make the purchase cheaper, and oftentimes it will make the purchase more expensive if you don’t immediately pay off the amount billed to you :D But sometimes they have installment plans, so you pay by increments — easier on the pocket :D

    Yeah, I’m slowly unlearning Windows stuff. I sometimes miss it, and sometimes I’m too entranced, lol. It all depends. Sometimes I go on my Windows laptop and get confused why stuff don’t work, and then realize I’m hitting the wrong keys! XD

  • I don’t own a credit card *no income lol* so I have no idea if that would make the purchase cheaper, but hell yes, if it does, I’ll buy it. xD I’m not that much a Mac fan though….too accustomed to Windows.

    There was a recent article in the news on the experience of someone who had switched from Windows to Mac as well. She loved the transition and realized how much she had to ‘unlearn’ the traditonal Windows way. of doing stuff.

    For me I think I’ll just get Vista after my A Levels…hehe. ^^

  • So I hear! I don’t know if I can wait ’til March. XD I’m scared of uberhuge crowds though. Hmm.

    Would you for for certain if Apple gives zero-installment plans on credit card purchases during ComEx? :D

  • Don’t worry too much about the computer expo…we get it here every year. There’s always next year if you’re staying. ^_^

    Some tips about the expo: If you want the cheapest bargins, be sure to pop in on the very last day. Because that’s when everybody starts slashing their prices like crazy! But of course, you’ll have to deal with the extra large crowd that comes zooming in on the last day to cash in on the bargins as well. xD

  • Hi Keira!

    I have to yet properly look through iLife, but I’ll agree that there’s a lot of good software that comes right with a Mac. If you think about it, it’s mostly a Microsoft “problem”, that they don’t bundle better software with their OS. But then… hmm, it’s been a while, but I remember MS did have a problem on their hands regarding bundling MSIE with their OS. How come Apple didn’t get that same problem when they’re bundling a lot of apps with their OS? Or maybe I just don’t know but they did?

    I have to agree with the multimedia stuff. My photos are omg so vibrant on a mac. :D

  • I definitely have been won over by Mac, but have yet to actually purchase one.

    I’m a Multimedia student so we’re using Macs a lot. Five of my six classes this semester are in the Mac lab and one is in the PC lab. But I think ever since the release of Windows Vista I’ve been kind of hating Microsoft. Fortunately, my laptop came with XP and after upgrading to Vista (and getting frustrated with EVERYTHING) I was able to downgrade. I can put up with Windows XP but I can definitely say that my next computer will be a Mac.

    I think the only reason my family had switched to Windows from Mac 5 years ago was because of the price. But the reasoning for the higher price is that Macs come with more/better features, software, and hardware that are just standard to come on a Mac. They all have the same stuff on them. Where as all the Windows computers are made by different manufacturers, so they have completely different features, software, hardware, drivers, everything that come on them so you have to choose what you want and what you can live without. Then you have to go out and buy all basic the stuff that you didn’t get on your Windows PC which then ends up costing you the same, if not more, than a Mac would. Yes, you do have to buy software for the Mac too, but there’s a lot great software that comes within iLife where you can do pretty much anything. If you wanted software even similar to any of the applications within iLife for a Windows PC, you would have to go and buy each of the separately.

    And Macs are better for Multimedia type stuff. Yes, that is really a matter of opinion but with the amount of people who have that opinion makes it pretty close to fact lol.

  • *prays with you* There’s a computer expo here sometime in the end of November and I’m sort of in a panic, as I don’t have enough money by that time! :O But I know exactly what you mean about the Windows laptop… I still love mine and I’m loathe to part with it. *loves* Plus I’ve grown so used to the fingerprint scanner for logging into my computer… which is really just a small thing so I didn’t put it into the cons, but zomg I love love love it, getting logged in with no keystrokes at all is fabulous.

    Oh, I don’t use Safari :X I still use Firefox. I should maybe try out Safari, but what the hey, I like my Firefox, hehe.

    I’d rather have a Windows desktop than a Mac desktop, mostly because it’s more fun to play games on a desktop! It can withstand quite more, er, keyboard abuse than laptops :X And it would be easier to replace desktop keyboards than laptop keyboards XD

  • I own an HP laptop, which I love to death and would never part with save destruction of one of us, but I have been looking at buying a Mac for my next computer too (desktop, though), so it’s great to see some comments from a new user. I didn’t know about the maximization thing, but I’m not a gamer and I don’t design websites much any more so I probably won’t experience the same cons you do. Price is a big factor for me though, too. *prays for money* Come to me.

    I’ve heard that Safari is a terrible browser, so if that was true then I would need to install Firefox. But that light dimming thing is awesome, MY computer doesn’t do that anyway, haha.