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. (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=”>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.

4 Comments on “Downsides of The Mac Switch”

  1. Hey Arc! Glad to hear you’re on a Mac. I’ll try to help you were I can.
    1. Entourage is a slow piece of shit, but if you’re on Exchange (like I am) its all you’ve got besides OWA. I’ve found in the account settings for Entourage, I’m able to enter in our OWA address for the exchange server and I’m able to get my email, calendar, address book over HTTPS without a VPN. Take a look, hopefully that helps. I’ve also enabled Sync Services for iCal and the Address book so that my iPod stays up to date with my schedule and contacts. I’ve also become a big fan of Plaxo for keeping contacts in sync between multiple computers.
    2. For bittorrent, I still just use the command line version on my Linux box. I think I’ve downloaded the official version for my Mac, but I just don’t use it. I guess having a laptop, I’d rather the torrents were running on a server.
    3. Keyboard shortcuts, I think you just get used to. I always find myself on a windows box, hitting Windows-C or whatever as I’m so used to Command-C on my Mac. To lock my screen, I think I’ve just set up a hot corner to activate screen saver and in the security settings, require a password to disable the screen saver. There are also a few “proximity” applications that use your bluetooth phone and automatically lock your screen when you go away and unlock it when you come back. They are pretty neat, but I’ve never started using one full time. They always seem to think my phone has “moved away” at the worst times. One other one that is pretty neat and uses the remote that came with your mac is called iAlertu. It acts like a car alarm and uses the motion sensors in the mac to detect if anyone moves or touches your mac.
    4. Yep, it still a computer and still crashes on me too.
    5. I think you can get Putty from the Darwin Ports.
    Another terminal I used to use is iTerm, though the Terminal is much improved in Leopard.
    6. Programming fonts, here’s few different ones
    Currently, I’m a big fan of the DejaVu Sans. And if you are looking for a text editor (besides vim ;-), I would recommend spending money on TextMate. Great text highlighting, formatting, and text shortcuts. Its a bit pricey, but for some reason, when I switched to the Mac, spending money on good software didn’t seem to be a problem. One other thing I’ll recommend is MacFuse from Google and then MacFusion a GUI for MacFuse. The combination of the two allow you to mount FTP and SSH servers as a local mount (or NTFS, Gmail, etc), very similar to fish in KDE. Very cool!
    Be sure to check out sights like, and for daily deals on software. You can sometimes find a good package deal or a good price on a very useful peace of software.

  2. I’m a new Mac owner (at home) as well, still hip-deep in Microsoft world at work, just like you. I haven’t faced the specific issues you mentioned, but I agree with the general tone — the Mac is nice but it ain’t perfect, notwithstanding rants by the Mac community. In fact one of the things I’ve discovered is that Win XP ain’t all that bad.
    I am the owner of the business and I just don’t see how we can avoid owning a Small Business Server with Exchange, SQL, etc. for the Dilbert universe we live in.
    @philiphodgen on Twitter.

  3. Well-stated and very legit frustrations. (keep Mac OSX Hints – – handy at all times as a switcher)
    I did part of the beta for Office 2008 – you won’t be disappointed (expensive, but worth the wait for work compat).
    Transmission & BitRocket are the kings of the BT hill, I’m afraid (though I personally really do like the Transmission U).
    For locking,, may help, but yes this is annoying, especially since I’m a security dude. Quicksilver – – is a great utility, especially if you’re used to entering things quickly in Start->Run on Windows and can be tweaked for pseudo-Windows+L -type functionality.
    If you already have the “reboot to fix functionality” problems, just wait until the kernel panics from plugging in USB devices (granted, esoteric devices…like the iPhone…sigh). This never seemed to happen much pre-Intel, btw.
    I’ve never liked the iTunes UI, so I’m already too biased to comment.
    For terminals, give iTerm – – a whirl. The built in terminal can also can also be augmented nicely with some mucking around in the configs and augmenting functionality with Quicksilver commands.
    Despite the annoyances, you’ll enjoy life on the OS X side. I bounce from Mac to Windows (all of them) to Linux to BSD throughout the day and can honestly say that OS X still wins. Beyond my own, rant-filled site, I have occasional posts over @ The Apple Blog – – and will be submitting an entry soon that covers “must haves” for OS X (an ordeal after my Leopard install)…it may help identify some other apps that will make your switch a bit more pleasant.
    happy new year!

  4. Hey guys, thanks a lot for the suggestions, I’ll dig into it. I haven’t been getting notifications of comments, so I only saw this today!