Downsides of The Mac Switch
Being a new Mac user and a computer user of 15-ish years, I figured I’d list some of the things that were not the garden of eden utopia that the idea of a mac sometimes is. Where possible, I’ve included my solutions or findings. Anyone out there in the lazyweb who has ideas to address anything, feel free to chime in.
- Working in the big Dilbertesque corporate world I get to deal with outlook and exchange, and speaking as someone who doesn’t have to deal with the administration side of the Microsoft Exchange server side of thing, I have to say that Outlook and Exchange seems to work fairly well. Email works OK though way too heavyweight (and not nearly as well as my precious and fantastically fast and efficient Mutt or as I heard recently, sylpheed), shared calendar is nice, and a global addressbook makes things all happy and good. Of course, I have a horrendous situation myself at the new location where I’m working downtown, but when I was on the north shore it was all good.
On the PC I used Outlook 2003 (nice) and recently Outlook 2007 (slower, but had better search and more glitter). Microsoft Office 2004 for the Mac has Entourage which is a really horrible looking port in my opinion and seemed to lack the Exchange-over-HTTP protocol that I need to access my mail. I haven’t gotten my paws on Office 2008 for Mac yet to see how that is. Mail.app (the built in mail client) looks and acts fairly standard for a GUI mail app, and supports exchange, but not over HTTP.
My solution for this so far has been to run my working version of Outlook 2007 from the PC under VMWare Fusion in Unity mode (and waiting for Office 2008 for the Mac).
- BitTorrents (taking a 180 degree deviation from corporate work stuff)…. I love uTorrent and of the Mac Torrent clients I’ve tried, none compares. The “official” Bittorrent client is ok, and missing some of features I like from the windows version. Also I’m scared of the corporateness of the company now they are legit. Tinfoil hat firmly in place. Transmission isn’t bad interface wide, and seemed really slow to do downloading. Turns out that apparently it’s banned by a bunch of trackers. Today I found BitRocket which has a nice UI, seems to do about 80% of what I like, and actually downloads files. Anyone know what the canonical OS/X bittorrent app is?
- Simple things like keyboard shortcuts. I really miss hitting WindowsKey+L to lock my screen. There are some really hacky solutions out there (IE: a wonderfully horrible solution of a shortcut of ctrl-f8 ctrl-shift-f8 or something like that), but the closest I’ve found is enabling the “show status in menu” option from the keychain access tool. Simple huh? Still just a mouse click, though not quite as easy as WindowsKey+L. Option number 3 is a screensaver hotcorner… doesn’t feel quite right to me.
- I discovered that all funky-odd-craptastic random systems problems don’t go away as soon as you move away from the Redmond giant. While trying to get the screensaver hot corner to work i found that my screensaver didn’t seem to be engaging. In fact, it wasn’t coming on at all. Reboot (lesson learned from the past)… same issue. OK, muck around for an hour or so. No luck. OK, reboot again. Works perfectly now.
- An iTunes music library with 44,000 items loads just as slowly on a dual core 2.2Ghz, 2G of RAM Mac as a dual core 1.8Ghz, 1.5G of RAM Acer 🙂
- Having a built in terminal is great… however, when the backspace/delete key when SSHing into servers isn’t 100% the same, and the terminal type isn’t 100% the same as with say, the defacto Windows terminal program Putty, it is annoying. Not toe-chopped-off annoying, more one-mosquito-somewhere-in-the-bedroom-as-you-try-to-sleep annoying. Just not used to BSD I guess.
- Along with the Terminal twitchings, I really want <a href=http://www.deckmyn.org/olivier/software”>quickputty for OS/X. Anyone? Please? Yes, I can save 40 odd sets of Terminal config files and access them from a folder on the dock… it’s just not the same (or as quick and easy). Ironically, I can use the quickputty install in my VMWware machine to accomplish this if I want to do all my terminal work within the windows VM.
I’m sure most of these things are fixed by either just getting used to the new environment or finding the “right” tool for the job which I’m sure the mac-people know, and us windows/linux folks just don’t know the right question to ask. I’ll be back tomorrow or the next day with what’s nice and better living in the Mac world.