The New Switcheroo
I've been using a Microsoft operating system ever since I got a 386sx back in the day. First DOS, then any number of Windows iterations. From 95, to 2000, to XP. It's been a long streak that has finally come to an end. I have switched to a Mac as my primary machine.
Why did it take so long? I jokingly say that I've harboured a grudge against Apple ever since they ditched the IIgs for the Mac. Truth is, I was comfortable. I had the applications that I liked to use and a configuration where I knew where everything was. Then I got sucked into getting an iPhone back in June. I even stood in line for half a day to get one and I haven't regretted it for one day since. In the meantime, my old laptop was starting to feel the burden of almost 3 years of use and abuse. I've been monitoring the price gap between a similarly configured Dell laptop and a Macbook Pro. The divide was wide, providing little incentive to make the switch.
Until I heard of a new Macbook Pro to come out in October.
I watched the reveal in earnest. Then, I quickly leaped to the Internet to do a price comparison. I noticed the price gap was down to $300. That's a more reasonable price gap. I placed an order. I even ordered a 1TB Time Capsule to go along with it. Might as well go whole-hog.
Now that it has been a week, here are my thoughts on the transition.
The Capsule arrived a couple days before the laptop did and I didn't hesitate to set it up. I chose the Time Capsule because I was enticed by the all-in-one nature of it. It's an automated backup, wireless router, file server, and print server all in one. In fact, this is the first time since I've started computing that I've had a formal backup practice in place. Seriously.
It has been working well but my biggest pet peeve is trying to use it as a file server. If I haven't accessed the Capsule in some time, it takes a few seconds for things to power up. Otherwise, no complaints. It does what it says on the box and the automated backups via Time Machine have been painless.
And then the MBP arrived. All 2.53Ghz, 4GB, 250MB 7200RPM hard drive of it. I was instantly awed by the experience of getting it set up. It was truly a delight. I had a smile from ear to ear. Yet, after an hour or so I noticed that I seemed to be running on battery power. A defective power supply, it seems. Despite not getting very hot, I discovered that putting the brick on a block of ice gave me hours of usage instead of minutes. I got Apple to send out a replacement post-haste. In the meantime, I picked up a second power supply and was pleased as punch with having persistent power. Huzzah!
I dove right in and made the laptop my primary machine. No sense delaying the inevitable. I even put my session for the Sidebar Workshop on it, although it wouldn't detect the screen properly where all the other Macbooks of the day did.
The past week has been spent installing plenty of software and getting used to the new environment.
The main applications I have installed already include:
- Adobe CS4
- Zend Studio (since I already had a license for it)
- Sequel Pro (I'm not loving it. Not as good as SQLYog.)
- Dropbox, Desktoptopia, and other utilities
My transition has been mostly painless. With that said, there have been some things that I haven't been overly thrilled with. I find Mail.app limiting. Although I'm told that plugins fill the gap there. I'm thinking of trying Entourage but plenty of people have told me that it's a resource hog. Getting email off the old machine was a minor inconvenience but I was able to use Thunderbird to export the mail from Outlook and then use Mail.app to import the mail from Thunderbird. It worked perfectly, from what I can tell. My contacts got ported via the iPhone, which was handy. Lastly, I'm not loving iCal either. The integration of to-do items isn't as slick as it was with Outlook. It doesn't seem to send out calendar responses nor allow you to suggest changes to an event that somebody else creates. (If you know how, let me know)
Probably the last major piece of software I need to install is the VMWare/Vista combo for Windows testing. Now to get my hands on a copy of VMWare. In the meantime, I have Crossover that I can use for IE6 testing, at the very least.
My favourite part of the whole laptop is the trackpad. The ability to do two, three and four finger swipes is fantastic. I use it constantly. So much so, that I don't want a separate keyboard and mouse. The keys are well spaced so I don't feel like I'm mashing away on a tiny keyboard. It's quite comfortable. My only complaint is that the edge of the laptop has a hard edge and doesn't make it conducive to resting your wrists.
Multiple Monitors and Spaces
One of the interesting things I've noticed is less of a need for multiple monitors or using Spaces to separate what I'm working on. When I was on Windows, more screen space was welcome. Yet, with the magnificent trackpad, I find them cumbersome. As a result, I'm just using the laptop screen and haven't had a problem with it. Once I get back into the flow of heavy development, we'll see if that still holds true.
Some people were curious about the screen but I had a glossy screen before. Neither bother me. The screen is so bright it breaks through any glare you might have. The screen is so bright that I usually turn it down. The screen is so bright that someone looked at my screen and said, "that's bright" only for me to turn the brightness up further. Some muttering from said individual could be heard. (I've turned down the brightness on the iPhone, as well, for the same reason.) I do find myself being more particular about keeping the new screen clean, though, as I do notice specks more readily. That can only be a good thing.
This is a purchase that I have no regrets about. I'm happy to have made the switch. I can finally feel cool when I go to a web conference and not be the loner with the Windows laptop. More than that, I just like how the machine looks and feels. It's well constructed and perfect for my needs right now.