Thursday, January 22, 2009

First brush with Mac OS X

The Apple juggernaut seems unstoppable these days and where ever I turn I seem to run into people asking me why I'm not running a Mac. That said a few days ago I had the opportunity to work for a little bit with an iMac by myself. I had a very simple task at hand. I needed to print a couple of flight itineraries that I had in an web mail account. Here are my impressions that I came away with.

First of all there is that whole bull shit mantra that "Mac always works". First Firefox locked up on me within 5 minutes and then Safari locked up after a little while after that. My problem is that I don't know how to kill an app on OS X so after the last of them locked up I was effectively done. I have way better mileage with browsing on Windows than this regardless if I use Firefox, IE or Chrome.

I really hate the whole menu at the top of the screen thing they have going on Mac. I'm sure in some ways you probably get used to it, but I also dislike it on a philosophical level. The problem with it is as your screen starts to fill up with documents it is very disconcerting to have the menu end up sometimes far from your actual document. I also dislike the fact that the menu has a mixture of global and application items. I also don't like the buttons on the left hand side of the window without icons in them. I'm sure you learn this, but which of red, green and yellow means maximize window. Perhaps it's me, but it just isn't obvious in my mind.

Also very annoying is that Mac doesn't remember your last used print settings. Every time I tried to print something the page size was reset to a CD sleeve (Which I'm sure is something that Johansson had set up somewhere). On any other modern OS the print dialog simply remembers what the last settings you entered in the print dialog was.

Then there is the issue with the mouse. I can see that one mouse button can be easier to use for a novice. But the way they have apparently done it on an iMac is that it looks like there is only one button, but you can still press it as a right and left mouse button (And have different actions occur). That is just plain retarded, and how can that possibly be construed as simpler?

Also, during the entire time I was using the computer there was also this weird quiet chirping sound coming from it. I assumed that it had to do with IM or something like that. However when I asked him about it he didn't know either, but he guessed it was a problem with having too many USB devices connected to the computer. User friendly indeed!

Finally I have the number one gripe with this whole mess. The keyboard layout! What the hell kind of idiot decided that the Swedish layout of the keyboard shouldn't match what is actually printed on the keys (It was a Swedish keyboard)? I could never figure out how you got a '@' character on the Swedish keyboard. It was printed as being on the equivalent of AltGR+'2' which is the same as a "normal" keyboard. However, that didn't work. In the end I had to switch to an English layout for this one character. I later learned from Johansson learned that it was located on something like AltGR+'รค'.

Before I did this I had basically always thought Mac's had kind of cool hardware (Off course except for the glide point which would just have to go) and the slick UI based off of a unix kernel appealed to me too and that I would probably have liked running it as long as I could for work. Now I know not to believe the hype and when I don't have to run Windows anymore I'll be switching back to Linux.

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