MacBook Pro: 30 days later

Summary

After 30 days of use with my first Macintosh Laptop, I’ll convey my feelings and thoughts. In my “First Week” post I posted my initial thoughts on this baseline and bottom of the MacBook Pro line laptop.

Now it’s important to know that I’m not a first time Mac user, for I’ve owned a few G4 class PowerMacs in the past. I know that the biggest hurdle for a new Mac user is the use of the Command Key as a modifier key instead of the Control Key (assuming that the new user even knows about Control-* shortcuts), however after daily use it’s pretty much seamless as I use Linux, Windows and MacOS pretty consistently and equally the use of Command or Control is pretty automatic as I unconsciously know which OS I’m in. Both modifier keys are very awesome for different reasons, and neither one is better than the other.

“Teh Snappy”

(“Teh Snappy” is internet lingo for UI performance) As for drivers (mainly 3d drivers) and pure processing power, my Quad Core Windows 7 box is a much more powerful crunchy box (I have it converting Video files to MP4 for the last three weeks or so), but Windows 7 on the whole is just not as snappy of an OS… everything seems to have a Delay. Third party software still seems to take forever to load. Mac applications (with the exception of Adobe products and Steam) seem to load very quickly–especially for a lower class machine with half the memory (and laptop grade hardware).

Windows has more software choices available (especially Free software), however the Mac’s software quality (on the whole) seems much more robust and polished.

The Audio Unit/Core Audio interface for Garage Band instruments and inputs is hands down much better than anything Windows has built in. WDM just plain sucks as an interface to my MIDI & Audio Hardware in Cakewalk’s SONAR. I’ve never been able to get it to work right and I’ve always had to use SONAR in VST mode which required more memory to use (and was still buggy in some instances). Everything just worked awesomely on my Macs (albeit it was very slow on a G4 PowerMac when using software instruments).

Hardware & Integration

The integration between the OS and the hardware on MacOS X is hands down awesome. Bluetooth devices seem to be a part of the OS, instead of what seems like a bolt-on solution like Windows 7’s taskbar icon. The MacBook Pro just feels solid, as it’s a little heavier than one would first think. The keys are locked in and are almost impossible to pop off without breaking the key itself. My only complaint is that I’d like to have ONE MORE USB port so I don’t have to unplug my MIDI keyboard to sync my iPhone when I’ve got it docked at home to my external monitor. This is easily remedied if I were to just go procure a USB hub.

How to learn to use a Mac

I’ll be posting video tutorials soon (all I’m waiting on is to purchase a license for ScreenFlow), this will be from anything of how to navigate the Operating System to installing software to using Garage Band and other common software. I’ve made a few private videos which have been a smashing success with the few who have watched the videos. To be honest I doubt that I’ll limit myself to just Computer tutorials, but I figure that I wanted to start with things that I know fairly well.

Software that I use daily

  • Apple Mail (built into MacOS)
  • Safari (built into MacOS)
  • iTunes (with the Last.fm scrobbler plugin, built into MacOS)
  • iPhoto (part of iLife, which comes with every Mac)
  • Pages (part of the iWork suite)
  • Adium (a nice multiprotocol Instant Messenger)
  • Terminal (I connect to Linux servers, built into MacOS)

Software that I use almost daily or occasionally

  • Garage Band (part of iLife, which comes with every Mac)
  • VMWare Fusion (for testing Linux server distros and for my Windows XP virtual machine)
  • Keynote (part of the iWork suite)
  • iCal (built into MacOS)
  • CoRD (to administer to Windows Servers)
  • Chicken of the VNC

My only real User Interface complaint

Something needs to be done with the Dock… right now it’s using a strange amount of space. I normally turn autohiding on because otherwise when a window is maximized to use the whole screen there’s quite a bit of  wasted space on the right and left of the dock. Windows does have Mac on this front UI wise in my opinion. The Windows 7 taskbar  is used all the way across the bottom. Although depending on your configuration still has wasted space if you don’t have my programs open or docked), but the taskbar is there and at least has purpose instead of showing the background. It’s a matter of whether it seems to have purpose or not, even though both really take about the same amount of space.

Some would say that the menu bar across the top is a big issue of used space, but actually it’s not. Almost every Windows application will have the same amount of space allocated per program for a Menu bar. The Mac having it all the way on top all the time is something easily understood if a user has experience with the OS (yes, it bothered me too when I was just starting to use a Mac, now I understand and love it).