Matt's First Mac Experience (Please, Be Gentle)

warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/buckman/public_html/neo/modules/advanced_forum/advanced_forum.module on line 492.
Matt Barton's picture

Well, I finally got my new iMac up and running, and I must admit I'm impressed with what I've seen so far. But, you'll have to excuse me if I don't put those Apple decals on my car just yet.

AppleAppleI've been having some problems making the transition (I'm a Windows "power user" in many ways, and it's tough starting over from scratch with a new OS), but I think I'm starting to get the hang of things. Sure, it's a bit disturbing when even the input devices (the keyboard and the mouse) feel strange and unresponsive, but I'm sure I'll adapt as time wears on. The subtle differences are odd and sometimes frustrating. For instance, I use the "home" and "end" keys a lot on my PC to skip to the end of a line when I type. I have these keys on the Mac keyboard, but they don't seem to do anything. I also have a large widescreen monitor built-in, but the text has a habit of being so small I can't read it. Furthermore, the window re-sizing controls are different...In short, it's like speaking Spanish all your life and suddenly finding yourself surrounded by Portuguese. Yes, the basics are the same, and you can understand and be understood on most things, but all those subtle nuances get mangled in translation. I have the distinct impression that I'm "talking louder" at the Mac rather than correctly, and I need to learn its language.

One of my problems may be a result of learning what feels like hundreds of tricks to avoid using the mouse. I tend to get a pained wrist whenever I use the mouse too much, so I've learned all the keyboard shortcuts and other little tricks to keep from having to rely on it. Naturally, most of them don't work on the Mac. I don't think I'll be able to break the habit of using ctrl-C and ctrl-V to copy and paste, for instance. I try them on the Mac and get a "boop" noise. Ctrl-V moves my cursor to the bottom of the screen. Sigh. This is going to be raw and painful. The "Mighty Mouse" is definitely going to take some getting used to. It's like I woke up this morning to pee and discovered I've got a new (and oddly shaped) outflow device. And it doesn't seem to aim properly.

As a former Amigan turned PC by sheer necessity, I've never been particularly committed to the Windows platform. I bitterly resented having to "downgrade" from my Amiga computer to a Windows machine after Commodore (for all practical purposes) went belly-up. Anyone who was an Amigan during the mid to late 90s knows the pain of slowly discovering that new software just won't be available for your computer anymore. Yes, there will always be crappy shareware games and some $200 word processor from a company you've never heard of, but all the exciting stuff is happening somewhere else.

When I was trying to decide what to do after Amiga, I briefly contemplated Apple. However, in my mind, Apple was still associated with the Apple II--those clunky computers they had at school that had games like "Add and Subtract the Purple Ants" and "Spell the Capitals." I had no idea the Apple II could be used for fun, since my only exposure had been in the form of educational "games." About the closest to fun I ever had on the machine was playing Oregon Trail, but even that seemed pitiful compared to the great games available on my Commodore 64. Meanwhile, I was all-too-aware of the competition between the Mac and the Amiga. Indeed, you can still hear people getting worked up about whether Mac or Amiga had the first multitasking windows operating system.

I mean, for God's sake, I remember seeing a Mac lab with built-in monochrome monitors in the mid-90s. Monochrome? Built-in? No, no, I still shudder to think.

Needless to say, when it came to choose, I knew I would be dedicating myself to the PC. For one thing, it was the mainstream choice, and I could be reasonably sure that software would be available for this platform for a long time. Secondly, it was cheaper. Thirdly, Microsoft's efforts with DirectX was finally making it easier to install games and get them running on your hardware. Plug-and-play? I'm in.

So, you may ask, how did this Mac get on my desk? Well, the short answer is my school. The longer answer is, I felt it was high-time I saw for myself what all the hubbub was about. What is it about Macs that inspires such fierce loyalty in those who love them? I wanted to find out if it was just the "designer" looks and flashy graphics.

As of yet, I can't tell you much. I'm still trying to familiarize myself with the GUI and relearn old tricks. I'm also limited at the moment to the games that came installed, which amount to a few freeware boardgames (to be honest, Ubuntu Linux comes with a better selection). However, I actually have quite a few Mac games in my library (mostly graphical adventure games that shipped on Mac & PC CD-ROMs). One of these is Myst IV, which is a graphic-bonanza on the PC which I'm eager to see on the Mac. Hopefully, I'll soon acquire some newer games and report back about the experience.

Meanwhile, if you have a Windows-to-Mac conversion story, please tell! I'd like to hear about your experiences, particularly if you have any tips for making this easier.

Comments

Mark Vergeer
Mark Vergeer's picture
Offline
Joined: 01/16/2006
adapt mouse tracking, copy past keys are there just different...

You can change the mouse tracking to a different speed. It takes some tweaking but it is possible to have the mouse respond similar on both OS'es. I suffered the same problems with Linux. I actually have my G4 and my P4 connected to the same monitor, mouse and keyboard via a USB switch, the keyboard being a M$ Digital Media Pro keyboard and the mouse being a M$ Wireless Lasermouse 6000, both come with XP and OSX drivers and make setting up the devices on both OS's to be just as responsive. Perhaps something you should consider aswell. Otherwise it's just a matter of tweaking the tracking speed and acceleration speed of the mouse - especially the latter needs changing when you are used to windows mouse tracking.

The copy and past keys are there - just different... hey Apple was first when it comes to copy and paste commands using keys. Just use alt-c alt-v etc or use apple's option key instead of windows ctrl keys. There are a lot more similar key commands in there.

When you've adopted to tricks to avoid using the mouse you might be better of with alternative file manager tools very much like the old Norton Commander. On OSX one can do quite a bit with just keys too - but you have to face the fact that Macs are mice-machines!

Let us know what the first things were you tried out. If you need some directions please let me know.

Perhaps we could write a joint-venture article on the transition. Mine wasn't so much a transition as I've been using my sister's old macintosh machines next to my windows machines on and off for years.

Cheers, Mark

-= Mark Vergeer - Armchair Arcade editor =-

n/a
forcefield58
Offline
Joined: 05/19/2006
I was one of those Amigans

I bought my daughter an Apple laptop to use at college and I helped her set it up as far as networking goes, have experienced web access with it and simply nagivated the various screens. It did take awhile to get used to the interface, but after awhile you realize it is simply much easier to use than Windows. Networking worked pretty much out of the box to my wireless router. I could get used to it but for now am still using my Windows PC.

I'm also an Amigan and reluctantly made the switch from my beloved Amiga 500 with dual floppy drives to a Windows Pentium 1 PC back in 1992. All during the mid-80's and early 90's I swore to everybody I knew that had a computer that I'd never, ever, switch from an Amiga to a Windows-based PC. But, like most people, I did. I came real close to buying an Amiga 2000 but saw that games and productivity software was becoming more scarce by the month.

It things continue and more software I like starts to become available for the Mac, I may go that way for my next PC. Not sure yet though so I'll be interested to hear how your experience goes.

n/a
Matt Barton
Matt Barton's picture
Offline
Joined: 01/16/2006
Amiga Glory Days

It's funny, but this new Macintosh distinctly reminds me of my beloved Amiga. There are lots of nice features, and it's obvious that a lot of effort has been put into making this system look and feel good.

It's really not surprising. After all, Apple would have gone the way of Commodore if it didn't have three things going for it--great hardware, software, and marketing. Commodore had the first two but lacked the marketing. As far as gaming is concerned, the PC utterly sucked (imho) until the mid-to-late 90s, when games started looking less like Scorched Earth and more like Doom. Of course, Microsoft's DirectX and the overall stabilization of graphics and sound cards played a huge role in the PC platform becoming #1. However, the biggest contributing factor was definitely the non-proprietary nature of the hardware, which allowed so many manufacturers to compete on the market, driving down the price and upping the value.

My prediction is that eventually the GNU/Linux platform will be #1. Why? Because companies can compete for both the hardware and the software. Nothing will be proprietary or in the hands of one company--particularly the all-important standards.

If this seems crazy, again, just think of where the PC was in back in 1990 compared to the Amiga and Mac platforms. I figure the historical parallel would be that the GNU/Linux of today is where the PC was back in the early days of DOS. Yes, a lot of serious people were using them for professional reasons (much of which probably had to do with IBM's legacy as a business computer), but it wasn't until much later in the PC's career that anyone would seriously choose it as a gaming or even a family-friendly rig. GNU/Linux will eventually lose the stigma of being an "expert only" system and gain the lead simply because it'll be the best value option.

n/a
Bill Loguidice
Bill Loguidice's picture
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Masses switching to Linux? I don't think so.

It's a good debate, Matt, but to me, a pipe dream to think that eventually Linux will "win" the desktop wars. Once people get comfortable and decide on a standard it would take something truly extraordinary to make them switch. The only reason why I think Apple will have more success than their current 3% or so market penetration now is by their ability to dual boot into Windows (and eventually likely have it preinstalled along with MacOS with swtich-on-the-fly. Hardcore computer users and Microsoft haters don't like to hear it, but Windows is here to stay for a long, long time. There's no compelling reason for 90% of the computing population to ever switch. It runs the majority of software that's out there, the majority of hardware that's out there is compatible, it's on the majority of new machines sold, etc. It's the OS you work with if you want to have the greatest access to resources and be software and file compatible with your buddies and the business world. That's VERY difficult to overcome, and certainly a fragmented operating system like Linux can't possibly do it.

For Linux or Mac to take over the home, they'd have to start to take over corporate desktops. Again, that's not going to happen. It's easy to shift on the server side, but for the average user, it's Windows and Microsoft Office.

=================================
Bill Loguidice, Managing Director
Armchair Arcade, Inc.
[ My collection ]
[ http://www.MythCore.com ]

n/a
Matt Barton
Matt Barton's picture
Offline
Joined: 01/16/2006
It's Going to take Time

Please don't get me wrong, Bill. I'm not saying that this will happen anytime soon. There are many factors that might stretch out the time it will take significantly, just as there are others that might speed it up considerably. Linux is still more difficult and less user-friendly than its commercial competition. After all, it was designed by computer experts for other computer experts. Stuff like Knoppix and Ubuntu are seen by the "real" Linux community as dumbed down Linux with training wheels. Indeed, if you're not as comfortable in a shell as a GUI, you're missing out on much of what makes Linux worth using the first place.

As I mentioned earlier, I think Linux is still in its "DOS era." It's got a long ways to go before it can compete with the commercial competition. Making it happen would require a substantial investment in usability, the kind of stuff that isn't fun or useful for off-duty programmers to bother with. To see what I'm talking about, look at the Linux apps that are really polished--they're all utilities and other programs of use only to experts (compilers, servers, etc.) If you need an IDE for C or some type of shell application, they've got great tools for you. These are programs by experts for use by experts. They have a self-interest here in making sure these tools work well. Meanwhile, all the other types of programs receive attention only from do-gooders and the odd hacker or two. To put it simply, EMACS is what Linux does well. Open Office sucks.

In short, to make Linux truly competitive would mean dumping a great deal of money into its development, and who'd do that? The people who should be doing it are commercial software developers who are tired of being led by the whims of Microsoft (or Apple)--in essence, the same group that put PCs on top because they were tired of being tied down to proprietary hardware. However, these are the same people who are most afraid of Linux. They assume (wrongly) that all software for Linux is freeware.

It seems clear to me that if GNU/Linux is ever going to hit the mainstream, it'll have to be supported (at least initially) by commercial software developers selling proprietary apps. That'll mean relaxing the "separatist" approach and letting people discover the value of free software for themselves.

In short, nobody bought a PC instead of an Apple or Commodore back in the 90s because they had an ideological committment to open hardware standards. Yet, that's the same type of strategy people are using to recruit folks to GNU/Linux. Why do so many people use Firefox? Is it because they endorse FOSS? No way. They just like it because it's free and is a joy to use. When the Linux OS as a whole reaches that point, Microsoft will have its competition.

n/a
Mat Tschirgi (not verified)
Don't care much for Macs, but they have great software!

When I attended the Savannah College of Art and Design from 2002-2005, our lab computers were Macs and I never got used to the Mac OS X interface. I got along with it, but I felt like I could work with 300% more effeciency on the PCs.

The Macs have some great software. Final Cut Pro is fun, though the interface is just like Adobe Premiere. I do like how there is a lot of great initial software included with Macs, but I feel like I am working harder when I am on a Mac than a PC.

--------------------------
=- Mat Tschirgi =- Armchair Arcade Editor
Hear my gaming podcasts!

The Super Koopa Troopa Show

Played to Death

Catatonic
Offline
Joined: 05/20/2006
You'll get used to the Mac

You'll get used to the Mac if you use it every day. Make sure to learn the keyboard shortcuts. Most of them are right next to the menu items (Command-X, C, and V for cut, copy, paste) but some aren't, so you have to go to online help or Google them. They usually use the Command key instead of Control. The Control key is mostly useful inside a terminal window, where it works just like in other unix systems.

Here's some good ones to start with: Instead of Home and End, use Command-Left Arrow and Command-Right Arrow. Command-Up and Command-Down move the cursor to the top & bottom of a document. And Option-Left Arrow, Option-Right Arrow move the cursor between words.

Have fun. If you don't like Mighty Mouse then ditch it and use whatever you like.

Mark Vergeer
Mark Vergeer's picture
Offline
Joined: 01/16/2006
- linux not becoming mainstream -

Mainly because there is no consistent interface, there's a ton of GIU managers out there and every distribution is different. Installing and running programs can be somewhat of a hassle, especially when there is source code but no binaries for your specific distribution - you are basically going to have to compile and install the programs yourself. You'll need to install compilers and dev-libraries to be able to do that properly.

Don't get me wrong here, I like the whole concept of Linux/ There are just a little too many people doing the same thing (gui-, interface-, api-, install/deinstall-wise) in a different way so that uniformity and standards are kept at bay. Good for innovation, not so good for the main stream user. I've even been as crazy as to install PPC Linux on my G4 a couple of times. There's no real advantage for me running Linux on a PPC Mac when there's OSX, so I finally decided to reclaim all harddrive space for OSX.

Whilst MacOSX is based on Unix it does have a consistent interface and a lot of the stuff underneath the hood is catered for with clever scripts and the lot. When you drag an 'application icon' to your application folder in order to 'install' the program a lot of stuff is happening underneath all taken care of by the consistent gui-> UNIX scripting that is going on. Such a thing will just never be as easy on Linux because of the fact that there are so many GUI's out there all doing things their own way. And yet it is possible to get those Linux apps up and running on MacOSX, provided you have the proper libs. Let's face it, OSX has just one desktop which is pretty damn consistent all the way. Of course you can run Xwindows apps but they don't 'fit' the rest of OSX as well as the OSX stuff does.

OSX pretty much accepts any USB mouse/keyboard combo. But does pay to look of OSX support, especially on 'enhanced' keybords with special keys. I just love being able to get iTunes playing a song by just pressing the 'play'button on my M$ keyboard (read above). Volume control, and special keys launching specific apps is just very convenient.

But Matt, you write about getting a Mac, but what is it exactly you are running OSX on? I wrote about an iMac, so is that one of those devices sitting on this metal stand where the entire computer sits inside the monitor housing? What are the hardware specs?

Say if you need to get some retrogaming up and running, look at my article for a good point to start. There's quite a few ways of getting the old Id first person shooters up and running with 'enhanced graphics' using the dos-game files.

Beware that a lot of older macintosh games do only run in OS9 or lower. Classic mode doesn't always offer the needed compatibility (due to limited hardware access) so it does pay to dual boot to OS9 whenever you want to play old 'classic' games. Or use an emulator like Basilisk II or Sheepshaver. I am still waiting for a good PPC virtualisation software that allows virtual PPC machines to be creating capable of running classic OS up to OSX.....

-= Mark Vergeer - Armchair Arcade editor =-

n/a
Catatonic
Offline
Joined: 05/20/2006
Good point about Classic

Good point about Classic mode - the Intel Macs don't have it, so you have to use an emulator.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.