Category Archives: Mac

New Blog Post coming soon!

Expect to see a new blog post here soon! I wonder what it’ll be… πŸ˜‰

It just works!

As I blogged about before for, my Mac is 3 years old and still working great. The only exception is the battery. I’m on my second and it only lasts about 30 minutes. I bought an “advanced” battery from FastMac. Initially it had a nice long life, but after a year and (168 cycles) its almost worthless. I’m not sure I’d go with them again. :-(

Yesterday I stopped by my local Apple Store and purchased a new MacBook Pro to replace my old one (planning to give my wife my existing MacBook Pro).

I unpacked it last night as was a bit disappointed that over a month after OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard was released, it only had OS X 10.5. *sigh* It took almost an hour to upgrade (then apply the patches).

But, here’s the real deal: I have never in my life been able to move/upgrade my system as easily as I did last night.

Instead of this being a week of setting the PCs by each other, copying various files over, entering settings and preferences, realizing I forgot something, downloading patches, etc it took me 3 hours. (well… actually it took me 30 minutes and the laptop 3 hours to copy stuff while I slept :-) ).

I had both Macs connected to my network and fired up the “Migration Assistant” on both Macs. Clicked through a few settings/options and off it went copying my applications, settings and documents.

I didn’t expect it to just work. I expected lots of issues, but I logged in to my new Mac and everything was there. My Dock settings, my applications, my mail, my documents, my desktop wallpaper, passwords, etc all there!!

I couldn’t be happier!!

I’m sure I’ll find some stuff that didn’t get copied, but so far the only thing that isn’t working is VMWare’s Fusion (which has a pretty involved installation program). Its there, but not working. My VM image is there however.

Hats off to the Apple developers for making this “just work”…

Coming up on Three Years since making “The Switch”

In another month or so it will be 3 years since I switched my main computer from a Windows Compaq laptop to a MacBook Pro. So… its time for a Mac Post rant. πŸ˜‰

Even though my Mac is near 3 years old it still works great (that doesn’t mean I’m not thinking about getting a new one, but… it still works great! :-) ). Macs aren’t perfect and there are some issues to be sure, but… overall I’m very pleased.

Now that I’m a Mac User raving Mac fan-boy, I get into PC vs Mac conversations all the time with my fellow geeks. Its always interesting and I try to keep the focus from being “Macs are SO much better than PCs” (they are, but… πŸ˜€ ) to more of a “For me, the Mac just fits me really well and the extra cost is more than made up for by the enjoyment I get from it.”

After my last conversation I was driving home reflecting on it when it occurred to me: In every discussion I’ve had with people who are dissing the Mac, those doing the dissing havenever used a Mac at all! *sigh*

Whereas almost every Mac user has spent significant time on both platforms (indeed – I’ve been a Windows user for 15 years at least).

I realize this is anecdotal, but I know a lot of people who have switched to a Mac and all are happy with their decision. I don’t personally anyone who has switched the other way (though I’ve read of a few people who ditched Apple for Linux for semi-religious reasons – real geek types).

The other day, I was talking to a guy who does a lot of “PC Support” stuff on the side. He’s always over at somebody’s house replacing hard-drives, removing viruses, restoring registries, etc. He said to me that the number of calls he gets from people after they buy a Mac drops off to maybe a 10th of what they were before. A tenth!!! When the do call its usually not a Mac issue, but more likely that their ISP is having trouble or some other networking issue.

Finally, when I bought my Mac it came with OS X version 10.4, I’ve upgraded it to 10.5 and now to 10.6. Each time it went off without a hitch and in less than an hour I was back in business. Sure.. there have been a couple of applications that needed to be patched/upgraded but no errors or major problems. I’ve never once had to do a “complete reinstall” as I’ve had to do every time with my Windows boxes.

So to all my fellow geeks out there with Windows. Good luck with that upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7! πŸ˜€

Testing MarsEdit

I’m testing out MarsEdit. I’ve been using TextMate for my blogging and I really like it. Except it has this nasty habit of screwing up my posts by escaping all my quotes and putting “\n” everywhere I hit return within my post (the posts are all written in HTML so it should ignore that stuff).

I just learned that MarsEdit supports editing in TextMate as an “integrated” external editor.

I’m hoping this will avoid my TextMate issue (MarsEdit does all the publishing instead of TextMate) and hopefully find some other useful features.

CocoaHeads – First Meeting

Last night I attended the first Minnesota chapter of CocoaHeads started by a good friend of mine. There was a really good turn out with about 20 people there – more than I expected.

It was a great mix of people with a few seasoned Cocoa veterans and bunch of rookies (myself included in the latter). There was a lot of interest in iPhone development. It would appear that Apple is drawing a lot of people to Cocoa/Object-C with the it (most everyone there was interested in iPhone development). My personal interest is more on the Mac application development side, but I have to admit I’m pretty jazzed about the potential market for iPhone apps.

After some introductions, Bill and Damon (I hope I\’m spelling it right) kicked things off with a demo of a couple of iPhone applications they\’re working on for their company CodeMorphic. They’re doing some impressive stuff and I’m really looking forward to seeing how things progress for them.

When Bill and Damon finished, Bob gave an excellent introductory presentation on Cocoa development. He even risked *gasp* live coding during the presentation. He pulled it off with out a hitch! It was clear that Bob put some serious time into preparing for the presentation (I think he’s set the bar pretty high for the rest of us who want to present).

Its fun to be in on the start of building a community around Apple development here in the Twin Cities. I’m really looking forward to the next meeting. Bob will present again, but this time going into more detail on the Objective-C language.

Hopefully we’ll see you there! :-)

When Great Designs Clash

Ok… yes… I’m an Apple Fan Boy. One of the things I really like about it is its design.

Here’s a simple thing – when I plug in a USB mouse the track pad instantly shuts off. Its the first computer I’ve owned where that’s the default behavior (honestly… until I went to write this I’d never even looked to see if there was an option to do otherwise). My other PCs have always left the track pad on. In fact my old Compaq R3000 had a little button above the trackpad to turn it on/off. When is it really useful to have the trackpad AND the mouse active at the same time? (What… you think is it? Welcome to the 1% club! πŸ˜‰ ). On my old PCs it just feels gimmicky compared to my Mac. Its a small thing and perhaps if my old PCs had defaulted differently it wouldn’t stand out. Certainly it can be accomplished on a PC. I have yet to find a PC who’s track pad doesn’t look like a small swimming pool in the center of laptop, but I digress…

I also purchased a Logitech VX Nano mouse. Which is a very nice laptop mouse (with one design flaw which I’ll get to in a minute). One of the things that appealed to me was that it has a very tiny receiver that plugs into your USB port. As a matter of fact, one of their bragging points is that you never have to remove the receiver because its so small.

This is where the designs clash for me. You see… I use my laptop quite a bit without a mouse (usually from my family room). Typically what happens is that I use the mouse at my desk at work, then when I get home I use it from the family room. Finally, later in the evening when I move to my home office and use the mouse again. The problem is without fiddling with the settings on my Mac, the trackpad is dead when I leave the tiny receiver plugged it.

So… why not unplug the receiver? I do all the time. But, this is where I run into the other issue. You see… the folks at Logitech designed the VX Nano’s receiver to be left in. They allow you to store the receiver in the mouse, but its an unhandy feature that has you popping off the battery cover all the time. Other mice made by Logitech that have larger receivers allow you store the receiver in a handy slot at the base of the mouse. Its really easy to work with.

It comes down this: I bought the wrong mouse for my needs.

Now the design flaw: The mouse has this great feature that the mouse wheel can “freewheel”. This comes in very handy when scrolling through code listing, long documents, big web pages, etc. In fact, its the main reason I bought the mouse. However, the clearance for the wheel within its housing on the mouse is very tight. On mine, the rubber grip ring on the mouse wheel has stretched just enough that it doesn’t clear anymore and therefore doesn’t freewheel.

Time to get a new mouse…

One Year from Making the Switch

Its been one year since I dropped a large chunk of change at my local Apple store and picked up a shiny new MacBook Pro. To sum it up: I couldn’t be happier.

It is by far the best computer I’ve ever owned. First, there’s the design of the laptop itself. I really like the form factor of the MBP. It has very clean lines and it makes a Dell Inspiron look really low-tech. On a Dell you’ve got a “swimming pool” for a track pad, you’ve got pencil erasers outlining the LCD screen, you’ve got these enormous hooks poking out at you from the top and the case itself looks like a black cheese grater across the sides and bottom. Now… there are a few things that I don’t like about the form factor of the Mac: having everything plugged into the side, the location of the security lock and the racket (yes racket) the slot-loading DVD reader/writer makes. But, these gripes are minor. I know, I know.. for you Dell owners you’re saying “big deal, does any of that really matter?” Maybe yes, maybe no. I’d compare it to owning a Chevy versus owning a BMW. If you’re the type who can’t tell the difference – then save your money. :-)

Secondly, the OS itself is a pleasure to use. Mac OS X is really well built and the applications bundled with it are excellent. Its definitely greater than the sum of its parts. It never leaves me frustrated, waiting and griping to the computer “what are you doing now?” Nope… instead it just works. Certainly the fact that Apple owns both the hardware and software helps a lot. Simple example: When I leave work at the end of the day I just close my laptop’s lid. That’s it! No suspend. No Hibernate. No Shutdown. No Sleep. Just close the lid and slip it into my bag. With my old laptop, that was a gamble. I had to make sure it had “hibernated” before I closed the lid. Otherwise it would get confused and might not properly hibernate. If I made the mistake, I might find a rather hot (*gulp*) laptop in my bag when I got home. Plus, when I get home my Mac wakes instantly and connects to my wireless network in a couple of seconds. Those little things have completely changed the way I use a laptop around home. I use it more often and more casually because its so fast at waking up. Wanna check the current radar? 15 seconds – there! Wanna know what the reviews said about movie “blah” – 20 seconds – there! These are things I wouldn’t do on my old Windows laptop because that would take 2+ minutes easily.

Third, for whatever reason (perhaps the robustness of the Cocoa framework underneath) software written for the Mac seems to be more consistent and useful. Its hard to describe, but OmniGraffle is more “fun” than Visio. AdiumX is the best IM program I’ve ever used. SuperDuper! is a dead-simple back up program that works great and AppZapper makes uninstalling fun (seriously).

I’ve have become a total Mac “fanboy” and I evangelize it any chance I get. After one year of use I can say I’m 100% happy with the decision to switch and intend to replace all my other computers over time with Macs (except my server box – that stays with Linux)

Why I bought a Mac

I’ve had my Mac for a little over 2 months now and I’m really enjoying it. The question I get from my colleagues all the time is:

Why did you buy a Mac?

Its a good question, so I’ll answer it here.

One of my reasons was to have a machine based on Unix. I’ve tried Linux (I’ll have another blog on that later), but its UI is still not up to Windows standards. I’ve installed Cygwin, but that feels like a hack and didn’t really give me true Unix underpinnings. Why is Unix important to me? All of my career, I’ve tried really hard to avoid Unix – crappy user interfaces, expensive machines that I’d have to share with others, etc. Well… after years of being a Windows/PC guy, my Java development has had me using Unix based boxes more and more (usually to deploy files, read logs, debug scripts, etc). I’ve found myself woefully ignorant of Unix. Mac’s OS X is built on top of Unix and gives me a chance to learn it day in/day out.
I’ll call this: Getting my Nerd fix

Secondly, there is a “cult of Mac” where everyone is passionate about them. People are crazy about their Macs (as I’m becoming too). There’s a whole sense of being part of something when you own Apple products. If you see someone at a coffee shop using one… there’s an instant kinship you have with that person. You’re part of the club! (and when you get one – I’ll teach you the secret handshake!) How Apple can cultivate that, I don’t know… but its an amazing marketing feat. So… part of my choice (a minor part) was to be a part of that club and understand it.
I’ll call this: Joining the Uber-Geek club.

Thirdly, I really liked the design and look of the Macs. Apple really knows how to do industrial design. My MacBook Pro feels as solid as an IBM Thinkpad without looking like a Sherman Tank. Everything, from the power supply (aka “the brick”) to the way it latches the lid closed is well thought out (exception being where the security cable is attached – what were they thinking?!?). Furthermore, I’ve always thought OS X itself is beautiful. The Aqua interface, bright icons, etc – from the stores… it just looked fantastic. I’m really nitpicky about user interfaces and a serious sucker for “eye candy”. OS X is the best from a look standpoint – bar none. I spend a lot of time on my computer having a Mac instead of Dell is sort of like having a BMW 330is instead of a Chevy Impala SS. Yeah, they both can go fast and handle in a “sporty” matter. If numbers were all you cared about, then the Chevy is the way to go. But… its all those subtle things that a BMW has that make it a much nicer ride.
I’ll call this: Indulging in the finer things in life

Lastly, I wanted to get off of Windows – not because I’m one of the stereotypical “Microsoft Bashers” (guys… grow up already). Nope, if anything I’ve been a pro-Microsoft guy for most of my life. I needed a change – I’d looked at beta copies of Vista and I couldn’t get excited about it. I needed to try something new and Vista wasn’t going to cut it. Everyone says that most of Vista’s good ideas came from OS X, so why not go straight to the source. They seem to out innovate everyone. Plus, Windows was really starting to annoy me – hibernate didn’t work right, deleting a small file sometimes took forever, my “Start” menu would take a long time to display, silly messages popping up all the time, etc. There are lots of times I’m left wondering: “What the heck is my PC doing?!?” Every time someone talks about their Mac they say its such a joy to use – The user experience is much better, things just work, its much more intuitive, etc. I wanted to enjoy.
I’ll call this: Needing a change – midlife tech crisis.

So there you have it – my (long winded) reason for making the switch. In another post soon, I’ll elaborate on my findings after making the switch. I can say that I really like it – so far its the best computer I’ve owned. Stay tuned…

Making the Switch

Yes, its yet another blogger talking about making the Switch from Windows to the Mac. For me, its returning to my roots. I got my start programming on the original Macintosh. Yep… 128K of RAM and two 400K disk drives!

Continue reading Making the Switch