Finally bought a Mac

I finally made the plunge. About 10 months ago I posted about why I had not purchased a Mac. Well, now I finally bought one. It’s a 20” iMac with the Core 2 Duo processor. I actually got a fairly good deal using the corporate employee purchase program (EPP) at the local Apple store, and got a free all-in-one HP printer/scanner/fax machine after a rebate.

With about 3 weeks of using the Mac , so far I’m happy with my purchase. I have had a few problems, mostly resulted from my lack of knowledge of how to do various tasks in OS X that I can do without much thought in Windows. For example, in Windows I commonly create new text files to work with by navigating to where I want them stored, right clicking, and choosing new -> text file. I have not found a similar feature on the Mac and am now creating new files from within textedit. I’m sure there are other ways to do it, but I have not found them yet. Other problems I doubt are my fault. Mail.app crashed a couple times while retrieving email on its initial launch but restarted correctly on its second try. This problem occurred frequently during the first few days and somehow automagically fixed itself.

It is taking me a little time to figure out good freeware apps for things like editing html and php files. I’m using Taco HTML Edit for now, unless something better comes along. I might switch to Eclipse with the HTML and PHP plugins. I know its kind of overkill to use Eclipse as a fancy text editor, especially since I will want to use Xcode for any Java software development, but I love Eclipse. The biggest frustration so far has been dealing with the fact that I know the set of utilities I install on Windows boxes to help with my daily tasks, but need to find equivalent apps for the Mac.

I’ve figured out how to enable Apache and install PHP, x11, OpenOffice, Xcode, Stuffit Expander, and a few other things. I’ve also successfully moved my purchased iTunes music and Audible.com audio books over. Everything was been nice and easy once I figured out the basics.

I initially thought I had a single button mouse, but I’ve now figured out how to configure the mouse it let me right-click. There are context menus for everything, why is the mouse not configured to use them by default? Even with the mouse configured correctly I had problems with it mis-interpreting right-clicks as left-clicks when I was working quickly with it, and I really missed my ergonomic keyboard, so I replaced the keyboard and mouse with a Microsoft wireless ergonomic set. Microsoft even provided drivers so the fancy multimedia keys on the keyboard even control iTunes. The Apple keyboard is definitely more stylish looking, but I chose function over appearance on this one.

One application that has been very helpful so far is CrossOver Mac, which allows many Windows applications to run in OS X. I’m using the beta copy now but expect to purchase it when it’s finally released. CrossOver is a nice commercial version of the Wine project. I’ve used Wine on Linux in the past, but Crossover is very easy to use. Obviously it will be nice to eventually switch to all native Mac applications, but for now running the Windows versions of Office 2003 and Photoshop are saving me the cost of buying new versions. I have a few shareware and freeware applications I use frequently as well, and most work fine with CrossOver.

One thing I’m extremely impressed with is the lack of crap. If you buy a consumer machine from HP, Dell, or any of the other big Wintel companies you get all kinds of preinstalled crap pointing you to subscription services. Sure the Mac tries to push you to .Mac and iTunes, and has a trial version of Microsoft’s Office for Mac but it’s nothing like dealing with a new machine with Windows preinstalled.

My first projects that will test my ability function on the Mac are redesigning internetfun.com and creating a few practice Cocoa apps to learn my way around Xcode and Objective-C.

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