Tag Archives: Apple

First Month on Mac OS X

My Windows PC died about a month ago after 5 years of service as a home server. The hard disk controller on the motherboard was failing. I weighed my options and decided to replace it with a Mac Mini and an external hard drive enclosure. So far it’s working out well. It’s certainly a lot quieter than the loudmouth fan on the 400W power supply in my previous rig.

However, there’s plenty in OS X that’s tripping me up. I’m trying to figure it all out organically without looking in Help for keyboard shortcuts or quick tips. As a Windows power user switching to OS X for the first time, I have several annoyances.

  • The right-click-on-folder-name for folder hierarchy took me about a day to discover. It’s not as slick as the Windows Explorer way of displaying an Address Bar with clickable folder names.
  • I severely miss the behavior of Home and End keys in Windows, where it jumps to beginning or end of line instead of beginning or end of page. I know I can do the same thing with CMD-Arrow, but that is some seriously old muscle memory. I accidentally jump to end of page about once per minute.
  • CTRL-Arrow on OS X jumps around the Mission Control desktops and dashboards, which on Windows is jumping to the next word on a page (OS X shortcut is OPT-Arrow). I accidentally pull up the Dashboard about once every 10 minutes.
  • Cut, Copy, and Paste is still X, C, V but using CMD instead of CTRL. That’s an entirely different way to configure your hand to hit that key combination and I haven’t learned it yet. It’s pretty frustrating to be slow at Copy and Paste.
  • If you right click inside the Finder, either on an item or in empty space, you are given a content menu with actions. New Folder, Move To Trash, Copy, Paste, Get Info, etc. are usual suspects in the context action menu. If you click on an document, Windows Explorer gives you the option (among other actions) to Cut, Copy, Delete, and Rename. Finder only lets you Copy or Delete from this menu. I kinda miss Rename action but severely miss Cut action from this context menu. I’m copying then deleting a lot more these days.
  • Also, the Context menu in Windows has a dedicated keyboard key (between ALT and CTRL right of the space bar). I haven’t yet discovered a keyboard shortcut for the context menu in OS X. I’m reaching for my mouse quite a lot.
  • I miss the Explorer dialog boxes in Windows. The Finder Open Dialog has no address bar, which means no pasting in URLs. I’m copying a lot of stuff to the desktop. Also the Close Dialog in Windows usually has a hotkey, so you can hit “S” on the keyboard to Save, “C” for Close. These days I’m having to reach for my mouse to click a button.
  • I dislike how after installing an app, the DMG is still mounted on the desktop. It’s just annoying.
  • It seems like the Trash is a universal target to make something “go away”. Trash can isn’t a clear metaphor for unmounting a disk image.
  • iTunes, Quicktime, and Home Sharing work so much better on OS X. Home Sharing loads my iTunes library so fast. I bet it gets slower but for now I’m enjoying it.
  • iPhoto is an unmitigated disaster. What a mess. Apple has an iCloud Control Panel for Windows that is simple and straightforward and downloads photos off of Photo Stream into an actual file in an actual folder. Requiring iPhoto to interact with iCloud Shared Streams is madness. Where is the equivalent of the “Photos” app in iOS? Also, I want to see these photos in a window in Finder by that doesn’t seem to be an option.
  • The nomenclature of Video, Movie, TV Show, and Home Video is just as confusing on the Mac as it is anywhere else, iOS included. Videos I take on my phone that are added to an iCloud Shared Stream get put in my iPhoto Library in my Pictures folder? But videos I take on my phone then manipulate in iMovie get saved in the Movies folder? And videos I take on my phone get synced to iTunes under Home Video and saved in the Music folder?
  • The Mac App Store is pretty great. For too long I’ve relied on CNet for finding utility software. Although my Mac Mini shipped with Mountain Lion and first order of business was update to Mavericks, after which the Mac App Store prompted me to download and install Mavericks again. Weird. And in the past month I’ve downloaded 2 Camera import updates to support RAW.
  • Pages, Numbers, and Keynote I got for free, but I’m don’t imagine I’ll ever use them They’re removed from the dock. I’ve got Microsoft Office 2011 for $10 from the Home Use Program. I may never use it either, but I know Word and Excel. I’ve removed Mail, Calendar, Contacts, Reminders, and Notes from the dock as well. Frankly, I’d rather just do all of it from my iPhone than get notifications about it in two places.
  • Pinta is a decent replacement for Paint.NET. I miss Notepad++. I need to upgrade my license to 1Password to be a Mac + Windows license. I also miss my tool chest of random executables that I’ve collected over the last 12 years since adopting Windows XP. I had a screenshot tool, a file renamer, a file append tool, and of course ProcMon.exe in my tool chest. Now I’m afraid I’m spending $20 a pop on little utilities in the Mac App Store or learning how to do all this in Terminal, which is a painful thought.

iOS Wishlist

in iOS 4.3 (at least that’s where I first noticed it), Apple included a feature I’d been hoping for. App Store changes messaging if you already purchased the app; it will update the Purchase button to “Install” if the app exists in your purchases. No more wondering “have I installed this app before or will I get charged $2.99 for it?” It has made the transition to my iPad 2 much easier, since all I need to do is launch App Store an immediately I know what apps I can go ahead and install. Easy.
Thanks Apple. Here’s more stuff I want:
  • a public API to toggle on/off wiFi, 3G data, cellular radio, and bluetooth. if for no other reason that one touch Airplane mode.
  • API to automatically sync or download new content without being user intervention if under certain conditions. I would like a Pocket Casts to automatically download new episodes when my iPhone is charging. I would like Reeder and Read It Later to sync when I am on wifi. I would like App Store to automatically update my apps at 4 am if it is both charging and on wifi. I know why they do this, because of battery consumption. But they turned this on for Push Notifications and Location services before…
  • customizable battery profiles, so when I’m alerted of “20% battery remaining” I can choose to switch to a low consumption battery profile.
  • I want to create folders in the Photos app without syncing from my computer.
  • Shared search history between Safari, Spotlight, and third party apps like Google Mobile App.
  • everything Chris Clark says here: A Services Menu For iPhone.

Jailbroken iPhone 3G

A couple of weeks ago I used Spirit to jailbreak my iPhone. I spent the last two years or so playing by the rules, mostly because I tend to play by the rules. I knew Apple didn’t appreciate the iPhone Dev team at all, I knew they hated the idea of users jailbreaking (or worse “unlocking”), and I even read where jailbreaking was arguably illegal and perhaps actionable. All things considered, I decided to jailbreak. So far I don’t regret it at all.

The process of it seemed a little bit daunting. Full root access can be scary. Where do I find documentation? What if I brick my phone by accident? It’s been my experience in the last couple of weeks that you don’t need to be a codemonkey to jailbreak your iPhone, you just need a sense of adventure. And just about every “scary” feature that makes a low-level change has a warning with big red letters so you know to be careful (or stay away).

I’ve downloaded dozens of themes and never really found something I liked. Some of the more extensive ones have skins for all sorts of things, including the keypad in the Phone app. I’ve made just a few modifications to the homescreen, nothing drastic.

Here are some apps I’ve found that are worth sharing:

  • LockInfo. $4.99. Display for your lockscreen. Mail, calendar, weather, twitter, missed calls, lots more. I can see if I have mail without having to “slide to unlock” and see what the weather forecast as I’m walking out the door without launching an app. pretty handy.
  • WeatherIcon. Free. Changes the “Weather” app icon so it displays the correct temperature. You can even have the temperature displayed as a badge on the app icon.
  • MyWi. $9.99. Turns your phone into an ad-hoc wireless access point, with encryption. Or do bluetooth tethering. Had some stability issues to start, but I think it’s just a matter of the WiFi Channel being used in the area. I was surprised at the speed of my 3G.
  • NES and Gameboy emulators. Many of them free, most of them aren’t perfect. The better ones cost a few bucks, even those aren’t perfect. But they sure are cool. I even saw a PSX emulator, which I’m not too sure about on an iPhone, but it would be neat for an iPad to be sure. You can find ROMs online and SSH them to your phone.

I used to think of the iPhone like a rollercoaster. Get in and out when you’re supposed to, keep your hands and feet inside at all times, just sit back and enjoy the experience because leaving the designated path can be very dangerous, right? I think of it now like driving a car. If you are computer novice, you probably want someone to drive you around from place to place. If you are an intermediate computer user, you can probably drive yourself around without getting into too much danger. And it goes without saying, if you’re an expert then you are probably racing for pinks.

iPad Reactions

I wanted to want it. I was willing to spend money. But it doesn’t give me what I’m looking for in a “couch laptop”, so I’ll pass. I’ve collected some of the more interesting opinions.

the Positive

Bits / NY Times – Video Demonstration

Wilson Rothman / Gizmodo – The iPad Is The Gadget We Never Knew We Needed

Michael Pusateri / cruftbox.com

you need to hold it for yourself. It’s a different computing experience

Cory Ondrejka / Agile or Dead

I wouldn’t be at all surprised if tactile browsing is crushingly better than keyboard + mouse, and given how much of our day is spent on the web, something that makes that more fun is a big deal.

the Negative

Apple evolution demotivational poster

Adam Frucci / Gizmodo 8 Things That Suck About the iPad

Michael McWhertor / Kotaku – Hands On With Apple’s iPad, Just The Games

Adam Lisagor / lonelysandwich

Get the giggles out. But I’m afraid I’ll only ever love the device despite its embarrassing name. And that makes me love it a little less.

the Optimistic Future

Marco Arment / marco.org

One of the biggest factors holding back iPhone app practicality in certain areas was screen space, and that was just dramatically expanded with the iPad.

John Gruber / Daring Fireball

Part of their vision for moving computers from technical culture to popular culture is about getting away from defining these things by their technical specs. So the prominent talk about A4 is telling. This is something they want us to notice.

Wade Roush / Xconomy

But with every Apple purchase, there’s a part of me that rebels at handing my money over to a company that’s so fanatically controlling. I can’t help wondering what Apple’s customers and developers would do if another company came along with a solid, elegant, open computing platform and a less suspicious, more cooperative disposition toward its community.

the Pessimistic Future

Alex Payne / al3x.net

if I had an iPad rather than a real computer as a kid, I’d never be a programmer today.

Mark Pilgrim / dive into mark

… I have no doubt that someone will figure out how to “jailbreak” the iPad, too. But I don’t want to live in a world where you have to break into your own computer before you can start tinkering.

Adam Pash / lifehacker

Unlike the iPhone, where it was easy enough to convince ourselves that these problems were imposed for good reason, the iPad is basically a keyboard-less netbook that will exert complete control over what you’re allowed to use on it.

the Final Word

I won’t be buying one. The “app” culture of Apple works fine for a small screen with no disk access. Any computer I spend a great deal of time on will need to be open with open development (shareware) and open web access (flash). I’m not a consumer and I don’t quite fit in with the Mac crowd. But I’m not a developer or tinkerer, which is why I’m not much for the Linux thing. I’m a user. Hopefully, a power user. To be honest, I’m a PC. Apple, I like your products, I love my iPhone, I’d like to have a great tablet PC, but the iPad just isn’t a fit.

MSI Wind

My parents are dead set on buying a Mac Book.

I’m a PC. Vista isn’t the answer to the world’s problems, Windows 7 is going to inherit many of the same issues, and for the last 14 years Microsoft has been making changes based on the Mac OS.  If you’re going to overspend on a Macbook, I can see doing it for a few reasons:

  1. Strong dislike for Microsoft Vista
  2. Desire to belong to the Mac culture
  3. You like shiny objects

After talking it over with my Dad, he wants to use Garage Band and doesn’t like how slow his current Vista desktop gets. Garage Band does seen pretty sweet, but there’s enough open source and free ware that can do all those things. Vista Sidebar and User Access Control are annoying but can be disabled. I just don’t know. $1500 is a lot of money, especially when you can buy a Windows Vista laptop for half the price.

Then I discovered the MSI Wind. It’s a $400 netbook that I’ve seen running Mac OS. The hackintosh concept was never popular with Apple, but now you can get a hackintosh macbook. MSI has even come up with Mac OS X drivers for the wireless network card in their MSI Wind. I can run XBMC and, with Boot Camp, I can get it to run Windows XP and maybe Ubuntu on top of it.

I’m still very much a PC. I work all day on Windows XP, Windows Server, Microsoft SQL, and I think the “right-click” is the most essential productivity hack ever. For an enterprise-wide solution, there’s no logic to choosing Mac Server; even it’s own website says it’s best for small businesses [probably small photography and graphic design shops]. But I do like my iPhone 3G and wouldn’t mind having a slick netbook.

I’d hesitate to give one to my parents, since there won’t be any real tech support [just me] and I just don’t think I’m up for that. But I wouldn’t mind trying it out for myself. If I can find it on sale for $350 I might just buy it.