Archive for May, 2006

First Impressions

Monday, May 29th, 2006

This is what happened in my first few hours of Mac ownership…

Unpacking it was of course very exciting, and I was impressed with the way the whole thing is packaged. It feels like you’ve bought a high quality piece of gear the moment you open the box.

I was surprised at how small the Apple Remote is. Good job it attaches magnetically to the side of the iMac or I might lose it! They could have made the keyboard cable a bit longer though. I have one of those desks with a keyboard tray which means the cable has to go over the top of the desk to the Mac, rather than behind the desk and back round. It’s not too bad in practice though.

Problem #1 was pretty funny – I couldn’t work out how to turn it on! So much for the Mac being a paragon of ease-of-use. After 5 minutes of looking round the side and back, and pressing random keys on the keyboard (I’d heard you could power on Macs this way), I eventually had to give in and read the manual. I don’t know how I missed that power button at the back!

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It’s Arrived!

Sunday, May 28th, 2006

Haven’t posted in a few days. That’s because my nice shiny new iMac turned up on Wednesday (about a week early) and I’ve been playing with it! :) It’s very nice indeed and, apart from a few minor quirks and oddities, on the whole I’m very happy with it. It still feels quite new and mysterious though.

The funniest moment was when I had it all plugged in, but couldn’t work out how to turn it on! I must have spent 5 minutes looking for the power button, and I’m ashamed to say I had to read the manual in the end to find it! :-/

I’ll be posting more detailed first impressions in the next day or so, but for now here are the obligatory photos of me unpacking it and setting it up.

Consumer Heaven

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2006

Well this looks rather nice doesn’t it. If only I lived in NYC! More cool photos.

CNBC did an interview with His Steveness in the new store. Interesting that half of the people buying Macs in their stores are “converts” from Windows. He also made it pretty clear that Apple’s focus is “notebooks and consumer desktops”. Wow, I’m turning from a “PC user” into a “consumer”! ;)

Well I’d better buy a game or two then, if I’m going to be a consumer. The last game I bought was Baldur’s Gate I think, so I’m not exactly on the cutting edge of computer gaming. The Diablo series looks pretty cool, but I can’t work out if it’ll run on an Intel Mac or not. If you’ve tried it please let me know!

I just pre-ordered my copy of Parallels Workstation – sorry, it’s now called Parallels Desktop – for Mac. Kinda weird paying for software that doesn’t exist yet, to run on a computer that I don’t yet own. Still, I saved $10! :)

In other news, Reason is now shipping as a Universal Application. Woo-hoo!

Apple “closes” OS X

Thursday, May 18th, 2006

Macworld UK have posted this (IMO rather sensationalist) article saying that Apple has closed down OS X, ie the source code is no longer available. In fact what they’ve done (and I believe they announced this months ago, so it’s hardly news) is closed the x86 kernel and drivers. All the other parts of Darwin that were open source, still are. I think Macworld’s just trying to stir things up and grab some extra page views here. ;)

The main reason for closing the source is, allegedly, that Apple want to make it harder for people to hack the OS to run well on PCs. (I’m sure they’ll find a way though, whether the kernel is closed or open.)

Frankly it doesn’t bother me much that the kernel isn’t open source, as long as it works and I can get my work done! It’s not like Mac OS is a Free Software operating system in the first place. And personally I’ve never had to hack the Linux kernel to suit my needs, so I doubt I’d be wanting to hack the Mac OS one either. I’m a bit concerned that the lack of peer review might lead to a less stable and less secure kernel, but we’ll see.

As for the article’s argument that research scientists won’t be able to compile a custom kernel – well there’s always Linux or FreeBSD isn’t there! :)

On Its Way…

Wednesday, May 17th, 2006

Just placed my order for the Mac at the Apple Store. :) Here’s what I ordered:

  • iMac 20″ Intel Core Duo 2.0GHz (Big screen for watching movies on!)
  • 250GB hard drive (I struggle to fill my current 40GB drive with stuff, and the 500GB ones are noisier apparently)
  • 256MB video RAM (games are gonna require it in a year or two)
  • 1GB RAM (1x1GB stick) – figured I’d get a second stick elsewhere and save my $$$!
  • Oh and AppleCare. Just in case the thing blows up 12 months and 1 day after I bought it. ;)

It’s going to take a little over 2 weeks to turn up. I was a bit irritated that the store implies “5-7 business days” but then they sneakily add on 2-4 delivery days at the time you place your order. Ah well. Maybe it’ll arrive a bit sooner!

Now I’m playing the waiting game…

Macs Suck Too, Apparently

Tuesday, May 16th, 2006

It’s not all sunshine and smiles in Happy Apple Land. Marc Logemann has posted a list of top ten things that he hates about the Mac. The one that got me was adv. Mouse settings only adjustable by 3rd party shareware apps. Surely not! Apple-heads, tell me it’s not true!!!

To be fair, he’s also posted a list of 10 things he loves about his Mac. I’m particularly pleased to see startup scheduling for tasks like nightly backup. I was wondering if the Mac could do this.

Really it all depends on what you want to use your computer for, and what your expectations are, I suppose.

If you’re a Mac user, would you agree with these top 10 lists? What do you really love or hate about your Mac?

One thing I find slightly weird about Macs is that you apparently can’t maximize windows easily. Why would you not want to use all your screen space for the task you’re working on? Controversial topic I know. I’m sure I’ll get used to the Mac way soon enough.

(on a totally unrelated note: this Quicksilver thingy looks great!)

OpenOffice.org

Monday, May 15th, 2006

OpenOffice.org logoComing from the Linux world, I’m a big fan of OpenOffice.org, the free office suite. I’d like to stick with it when I make my Mac switch. I don’t fancy shelling out an extra AUD $500 for MS Office when I get my Mac, and besides I have a lot of documents in the OpenDocument format already!

Now you can get OO.org for the Mac, but it’s supposed to be a bit “rough round the edges” (which seems to mean not as pretty as a native Mac app, and with menus and stuff in the wrong place). Still, if it works then that’ll do me. It currently doesn’t run on Intel Macs officially, though there are some “Community Builds” of it that run on Intel.

Seb Payne has written a couple of handy-looking tutorials on getting OO.org up and running on a Mac – one on installing X11 (a prerequisite for OO.org) and another on installing OO.org itself. I’ll give them a go once I’ve got the Mac in my grubby hands.

Have you used OpenOffice.org on a Mac? What do you think of it?

Andy Hertzfeld talk

Sunday, May 14th, 2006

TUAW has a cool hour-long video of Andy Hertzfeld (one of the original Mac developers) discussing the early days of home computing, the Apple ][, Woz, hacking on floppy drives and thermal printers, and all sorts of cool geeky topics if you like that sort of thing! It's pretty funny in places. Takes me back to the heady times of the Apple ][, the Commodore PET and my first ever computer (a Superboard II). Ahh those were the days!

Andy now works at Google and this talk was videoed at Google’s NY office. He also talks about the writing of his book, Revolution in The Valley.

Sweet, Sweet Music

Saturday, May 13th, 2006

speaker.jpgOne thing I’m really looking forward to when I get my new Mac is to be able to use some great multimedia software again. Multimedia on Linux is, well, not quite there yet! Don’t get me wrong – it’s come a long way in the last 8 years, especially in the areas of sound editing (Audacity), digital audio workstations (Ardour), sequencers (MusE) and video editing (Cinelerra). But most of these apps still lack the stability and polish of the commercial offerings on Mac and Windows.

You also can’t run Reason on Linux. I love Reason and have been putting off buying the latest version (v3) until I bought a new PC powerful enough to run it! Things were looking dodgy for Intel Macs for a while as Reason (like most current Mac software) is PowerPC based, and its performance on Intel Macs under Rosetta is supposed to be pretty poor. However, the Props have recently announced that Reason will be released as a Universal Binary. Woo-hoo! That’s another thing for the shopping list then. :)

Parallels

Friday, May 12th, 2006

mac_linux_win.jpgParallels Workstation is another reason that I’ve finally decided to get a Mac. I really need to run Windows, Mac OS and Linux at the same time to do browser testing for stuff like the PageKits, and ideally I want to do it all on one machine (space is limited in my little office). Well now for the first time I can, thanks to this nifty bit of software and also Apple’s move to Intel.

For the above reason I’m not really interested in Boot Camp (rebooting just to test a website in Windows would be a right pain), but Parallels Workstation fits the bill perfectly. Judging by this Macworld review, it’s pretty speedy and easily capable of running the 3 operating systems at once.

Yay! No more nagging Si to test PageKits in Mac browsers. Parallels will be on my shopping list as soon as (a) it’s out of beta and (b) my wallet has recovered from buying the Mac. I’ll also need to get myself a copy of Windows XP of course (Home edition should do the trick). My poor bank account!