Today I’m a Mac User

July 2, 2007

With the computing dramas of the last few days I was hoping that the Mac Pro would turn up, and it did this morning. Today as they say is the first day of the rest of my life, for today I’m a Mac user.

First Impressions
The Mac Pro is heavy, and comes is a very large box, so large that the courier driver bought it to the front door on a trolly 🙂
That aside, wow! I plugged it in, turned it on and within 5 minutes I was up and running. I’ve owned many, many PC’s over the years and it’s never been this simple.

About an hour after the Mac arrived the 4gb of memory arrived from the States. God bless the US-Australia Free Trade Agreement, under $400 US delivered and no customs duty to be paid. This is where the experience gets better. Unlike PC’s, which are usually sealed with a sticker saying that if you break it you void your warranty, the Mac Pro not only has a button to release the side of the box, the instruction manual that comes with it even explains how to insert the memory! So much for Mac’s being closed systems! Putting the memory in was also easier than any PC I’ve ever encounted. Top end new PC’s might have this functionality now but essentially the 8 Mac memory slots reside on 2 cards that can be easily removed to place the memory in. No fussing around trying to get the memory in the slot in a small space, the memory easily slotted on the card, and the card takes less than 5 seconds to reinsert. Turned the Mac back on, not one problem.

As a life long PC user this is a bit of a shock. Surprisingly the minimize window buttons on the left aren’t a big deal, after half a day I’m not even looking on the right hand side anymore. Looks are wonderful. Sure, Vista is a nice interface but this is something more special again. I half suspect that maybe it’s also the programs as well, Twitterrific for example is splendid, but the whole thing just gels visually so well.
Hardest part so far is the task bar (the top bar). I’m use to having my drop down menus at the top of a window. The hardest part is remembering to click on an application to access this, for example I’ll have Photoshop open on monitor two to create images for TechCrunch. I’ll get use to it, just a small thing.

The Bad

Mac’s are suppose to just work, and I’ve got to say that mostly that’s true, installing programs for example is a breeze. The problems is that I’m having issues finding device drivers for my Logitech Cam, Keyboard and Mouse. The keyboard and mouse are working, but none of the supplemental buttons on either are. The webcam doesn’t work at all, despite being relatively new. Now to be fair none worked under Ubuntu either, but Apple brags that your peripherals will work, this clearly isn’t the case, although I’ll spend some more time in the coming days digging for drivers. Some of the way things install can also be a little dicky as well, for example I have what look like disk drives for a couple of the programs on my desktop, when I delete them I delete the programs, it’s like I’ve mounted the program instead of installing it.

I’m creating this post in Ecto: for a blogging platform raved about it’s not half as nice as Windows Live Writer; that and you’ve got to pay for it. I’ll probably purchase Parallels in the next couple of days and run either Vista or XP in it so I can switch back to Writer, and maybe even get my Webcam working. I need Windows for testing purposes anyway: yes, I should be embracing Mac alone but I write reviews for a living at the moment, and it’s not uncommon to encounter Windows only apps.

On speed alone I love it, but having said that it’s an Apple and Oranges comparison (pardon the pun), 2x Dual Core Intel 2.66 something or others with 4gb ram vs an AMD 3400+ with 2gb of ram on my PC box. No regrets, I’ve still got a lot to learn but so far no error messages, no validation messages, no continual prompts asking me if I want to do that: not having to deal with this alone is worth its weight in gold 🙂

13 responses to Today I’m a Mac User

  1. Oooh, so you’ve crossed over to the “other side”. This will enhance your geek reputation no end 😉

  2. If you’re like me, you’ll be a power user in 4 days. Now mind you, those 4 days will be painful as you do comparisons between Windows and Mac, but after 4 days you’ll have problems going back.

    Now. Do yourself a favor and get an Apple iSight and an Apple bluetooth wireless keyboard and mouse. You’ll want those, particularly the keyboard, because it has the Apple keys… and you’ll use those. PC keyboards have no Command key, for instance, and Macs don’t need the Windows key. 😉

    Congrats on the purchase.

  3. If you’re not a fan of Ecto have a look at MarsEdit.

  4. Check out this link for installing apps on your Mac:

    Essentially, you need to drag the icon from the mounted volume, into your Applications folder. Then you can eject the mounted volume and delete the DMG 🙂

    (oh, and if you need any more help with your Mac, visit and fire away on the forums!)

  5. Using a Mac was like playing the guitar for me. You get the hang of it really quick, but to be a master takes some time! That said, you’ll inevitable come across things that are “easier on Windows” before you discover you don’t need to do those things on the Mac! One example is where you say this:

    “Surprisingly the minimize window buttons on the left aren?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t a big deal, after half a day I?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢m not even looking on the right hand side anymore.”

    I don’t think I’ve ever used it! Perhaps once.. on Macs you just double click anywhere on the title bar to minimize. No need to dig around for the button 🙂 Ditto for closing.. most seasoned Mac users just use Cmd+W all the time. It’s a simple left-hander.

  6. I made the switch this last spring as well, after years of threatening to do it.

    I don’t know what took me so long. 🙂

  7. fog city dave July 3, 2007 at 8:56 am

    Congratulations on your Mac Pro. I hope you continue to enjoy it. For device drivers, a good place to start is, a great Mac resource. And yes, you are throwing away disc images without installing the apps first (this is, admittedly, one of the less intuitive aspects of OS X). The good news, however, is that installing those apps is a simple matter of dragging them from the disc image to the “Applications” icon on the left-hand column of any open Finder window. The vast majority of apps on Mac are self-contained and require no installation (no registry or any of that nonsense) and those that require no installation also require no un-installation, and can simply be dragged to the trash. But yes, you do want to copy them from the disc image beforehand 🙂

  8. I second the remark that you really need an Apple keyboard if you don’t have one. There are also 3rd party keyboards like the Tactile Pro which you can buy instead.

    Also, once you’re settled in, get Quicksilver. Even if you just use it launch programs (like I do), you’ll find it saves hours and opening the Application folder, scrolling to an app, and double clicking on it. I open Firefox with alt-space ff these days.

    Another one to look at is TextMate. I’m not sure how you write your posts, but the BlogMate plugin comes in handy if you do it in HTML or similar.

  9. Brian Christmas July 3, 2007 at 10:12 am

    G’day, and congratulations.

    To use that usb camera, try here…

    Many bloggers recommend…

    Also, have you tried setting up the mouse using the ‘Keyboard and mouse’ preferences in ‘System preferences’ in the Dock. The keyboard definitely needs to be mac compatible.

    As well, there are a lot of little extra thing like the ‘lozenge’ in the top right of a Finder window ‘toggling’ the window tool bars, and the fact that in a finder window you can drag your favourite folders into the left drawer of the window

    A few keypress’s worth learning are Command (next to Space Bar) – Shift and either of A, C, H, U



  10. The menu being at the top of the screen is one of the thing that makes Macs great. From the design point of view, it is easier to target an infinitely wide menu strip on the Mac than to target a 22-pixel wide menu strip at the top of a window. Yes, infinitely wide. Keep on moving the mouse up as long as you want and the cursor stays on the menu strip. Thus, the only thing you need to target is the menu selection which is much easier to hit. So, you don’t have to worry about getting to the menu. Simply throw the cursor up as far as you can and you are there. I know it feels strange for Windows users not to have the menu attached on windows, but once you get over it, it works great.

    To minimize windows, you can press Command+m or double-click the title bar. I never use the yellow and red buttons. Another combo trick to learn is Command+tab to cycle applications and Command+` to cycle open windows in an application.

  11. Don’t forget about Expos?ɬ©! Thats a beautiful window switcher! 🙂

    System Preferences > Dashboard and Expos?ɬ©

  12. For mouse customisation, try USB Overdrive by Alessandro Levi Montalcini.

  13. Check out for a set of drivers that work with most webcams. Congrats on your purchase, and welcome to the Mac world. 🙂