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My Mac Transition, II: Getting Stronger

Options are unlimited with the Mac so far.
Oct | 21 | 2010

Oct | 21 | 2010

In my post last week, I kicked off a series detailing my transition to the Mac from the PC. Now it’s time for Part II of my odyssey.  I am probably further along than I would have thought for one simple reason: my Sunday plans of watching my fantasy football team wreak havoc over my clown of an opponent went awry. (As an aside, I have routinely have started this year just about the worst combination of players. )

Frustrated with my consistent ability to pick the worst players, I went straight from the bar to the local Barnes & Noble.  Armed with my newly bought David Pogue Missing Manual, I knocked down 50 pages of my new and highly useful book. I’m like a sponge for this kind of thing.

Options Unlimited

There are so many ways to access programs that’s it can be a little overwhelming. Consider three:

  • Dock – This is the little tray of icons in the picture above. It’s kind of like the Windows’ menu and quick launch rolled into one. It’s very easily customizable and a joy to use.
  • Expose – This is just nuts. You can assign default keys to applications for easy access. What’s more, you can set up four or more virtual screens.
  • Dashboard – Think iPad or iPhone here. You can download quite a few widgets such as Wikipedia, calculators, Google search capability, chess, weather, dictionary, and a host of others. You get to these with one simple click of a button or mouse. It’s just really convenient.

I am also loving the ability to customize the background of folders with colors and pictures. Windows 2000 used to have this feature but they removed it in XP. It appears as if you can change just about anything and, since I’m a big shortcut guy, assign a combination of hotkeys to routine tasks. (And I haven’t even finagled with the Automator yet.)

Like the great Chicago song, I’m feeling stronger every day.

One slight annoyance: As a writer, there’s no forward delete key, although you can use FN+delete (function delete) to mimic this functionality. It’s not a big deal and I suppose that I just have to deal with it.

So far, the Mac hasn’t crashed once. Ironically, as I was finishing this post, I had my first crash! Of course, this was only Firefox, not the Mac.

Simon Says

Like the great Chicago song, I’m feeling stronger every day.

At the same time, though, I have to remember my own moderation issues when I pick up a new toy. Enthusiasm aside, it took me a really long time to get anywhere remotely good at golf. Also, when I was 19, I bought a bass and told my teacher that I wanted to play Rush. He laughed and started me off with much simpler music, such as U2 and The Police. I’m sure that I’ll digest most of this new functionality but, in the interim, I’ll need to take my time.

Overall Mac grade so far: A.


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  1. Martin Wildam

    From nowadays point of view I don’t understand transmission to Mac, when you could transmit to Linux (e.g. Ubuntu or Mint for example). Only reason I understand: If you already own an iPhone or iPad and use it heavily integrated with your System.
    BTW: Mac is perfect vendor lockin – so from that perspective not really better than Microsoft.
    But: Ubuntu should run on Mac as well. 😉

  2. Crysta Anderson

    I recently switched to a Mac at home and am loving it for many of the reasons you list. But the lack of the forward delete key bugs me – thanks for the shortcut! The other thing that throws me is using the open-apple+ instead of CTRL+ for many of the shortcuts. As a writer, I didn’t realize how strong the muscle memory is! And it doesn’t help that the CTRL key on my work Lenovo ThinkPad is in a different place than on the keyboard I used when docked.

  3. philsimon


    I hear you about lock-in. I suppose that I don’t mind so much. I don’t think of Apple as evil and I run plenty of OS stuff on my Mac and PC.

    Crysta – old habits die hard. I’ve heard good things about Dvorak keyboards but can’t imagine having to relearn to type after over 20 years.

  4. Martin Wildam

    I am a software developer and thus I am confronted with a few things – e.g.
    You might not care about – now – but when a system is locked down (Apple is also doing other harm to software developers) then it is likely to happen that developers don’t like to develop for that OS any more and in the long term affects you in the way that for your OS less software will be available than for other OSes.
    So somehow you should care – or – if it is no problem to switch again later – wait another while until you switch again…

  5. Phil Simon

    I hear you about open vs. closed. It’s a major point in The Age of the Platform. It’s no binary; it’s a continuum.


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