Sunday, 1 June 2008

Macbook, final conclusions

I was using macbook for 3 weeks intensely and I came to some final conclusions after the first impressions subsided.


As I said many times, display is not that great but it is acceptable for editing photographs on the go which for me is the most important thing. It would be great if the screen could be tilted more to the back though.

Keyboard is good and comfortable, but lacks useful keys like page down/up, home/end, delete etc. I'm still not comfortable with using fn modifier key and I still can't understand why there is a command key on the right side of space bar.

Laptop itself proved to be light enough so you can carry it around effortlessly which is important and that is even more pronounced with the long lasting battery which really is a highlight of this laptop. When asked how much the battery lasts, and to my answer it is almost 5 hours with semi-light usage people generally look astonished. «But, but, my laptop lasts only for a hour and a half when I write mails».

Touchpad is good enough, but still have occasional problem with sudden activation when typing.


Lets talk about Leopard. I'm still not used to «enter renames the file» , «command-d to hide all windows, click on the desktop, and finally command-n for new finder window». Everyone boasts how os x is easy and fast to use but I just find it completely opposite. There are still problems with getting some windows to be displayed. For example, you command-q a program who has unsaved data, switch to another virtual desktop and when you return to the first program, you'll have a hard time finding that message box which asks you if you want to save the document or not. Everything will be disabled (because there is an active message box but not displayed) and you have to use expose and other techniques to get the message box in front of other windows. That never happens in windows. I could understand that the message box could go to the background but why would the main window still be disabled?

No window maximization button still bothers me to no end. Why does apple hate maximized windows so much? I can understand that maximizing a firefox window on a 32'' screen doesn't make much sense, but for the love of god, it does make much more sense when you have a 13'' screen. No, I don't want to look at my pretty background picture which takes 1/3 of the screen while firefox window is open. I want it all used for browsing. My iphone has bigger screen when surfing than firefox default window size (and that's not firefox's fault). They could make that maximize button to truly maximize the window by default and add command-maximize button for "apple" functionality.

Still that command-q to quit the program is bothering me to no end. That red X button in the top left corner of the windows should close the window, but it's the last instance/window of the program, it should quit the program at the same time. Using mouse to do close programs and do other window management is really unwieldy. For example, if you want to close the window in windows, you can just flick the mouse in the corner of the screen and just click (in top right corner) or double click (in top left corner). Or you can alt-f4 or in most of the cases just ctrl-q. Then, I'm still bothered because a lot of the key shortcuts can't be reconfigured. I can't reassign command-tab to ctrl-tab and vice versa. Function keys are pathetic to use (they are used for copy/paste etc.) and nope, I can't reassign them either. There are just tons of things which are carved in stone and can't be modified which is just a shame because everyone is boasting how advanced and user-friendly mac os x is.

Finder window is rubbish. Just lacks basic functionality and some of it looks like it was hastily hacked together (breadcrumb "navigation", or a weak attempt at it). No buttons to go up a directory, back/forward buttons are sometimes are sometimes disabled. To little information in general about directories, files etc. Why there isn't a quick info when mouse overing a file? That is just bad design. There is just no proper tree view of folders. Hello?! What is this, DOS? Even windows 3.1 had it.

Dock still sucks and it is almost useless because you can launch every program using keyboard/spotlight and it just to large screen-wise. It is just a windows start menu positioned horizontally instead of vertically. But this one takes more screen space.

Spotlight is ok and well integrated. But it still has problems. For example, as you can see on the next image, I have Opera browser installed somewhere on the disk. As they say for os x, you can just drag the application straight to the trash to uninstall it. So I tried to find Opera using spotlight, but judging from the search results opera isn't in the index (or for that matter installed). That problem could be easily rectified if you could be allowed to manually add additional folders to index. But you can't. You can only remove some folders, but you cannot add them. Which leads one to conclusion that spotlight indexes all the folders on the disk. Which just isn't the case. All of spotlight’s functionality a windows user can have is with windows desktop search or some other indexed search. I do admit that wds is not that tightly integrated in the os, but it has same functionality and it is much more configurable.

Spotlight can't find installed opera.

I almost forgot the the dock which as I said earlier is a crap. And I can only affirm that. I still haven't found some decent replacement for it. Disk Copy is clone of a norton commander -> windows commander -> total commander but has almost all keyboard shortcuts wrong and lacks many shortcuts anyway.

There just isn't a photo quick view program as fast stone viewer or irfanview (and both are excellent and free) on windows. You can use that preview or quick view which are just a load of crap. Even an awful windows picture and fax viewer is better. And this is saying much.

Office:mac 2008 is generally ok, but has some seriously unpolished edges. For example, you can't remove elements gallery bar (or whatever it is called) from the screen which just eats your already cramped screen space. Toolbox is just awful to use as a current (windows) office user. It is just to bloated, has tools on wrong places etc. As I started to write this document in word, I could choose the document theme, but now as this document is complete, I cannot find that tool anymore even it is set to appear there. Word lacks that quick styles or whatever they are called which are easy to use and can get your document to look attractive. Excel is ok, but those hardcoded keybinding really kill it. Ctrl-u for editing a cell. What the fuck is this? emacs?

Gallery toolbar just gets in the way. No way to remove it.

General conclusion

If you are long time windows user, I just cannot recommend a mac. It is just a pain to readjust to all the keyboard shortcuts and it is difficult to use both systems at the same time. Mac OS X doesn't get in the way most of the time which is a good thing. But still, OS itself doesn't bring food to the table. Those are the tools you are using. Also known as program or applications. Windows user has much more applications at his disposal and many of the most powerful applications are made for windows too. For example Photoshop, Office, Lightroom, Dreamweaver, Firefox etc. I'm not talking here about programs which only 0.1% of computer users use. I'm talking about tools which 90% of people use. I do recognise that windows xp is designed by a committee and has many flaws. For whatever its flaws I'm just more comfortable with windows. There is a less number of general key shortcuts but they are more powerful. And keyboards don't lack extremely useful keys. True, there are much more viruses, spyware, crapware on windows, but unless you are just completely naïve retard who clicks on every porn link and downloads trojans, you won't have much sympathy from me.

Completely another thing is hardware. As they advertise, you can run windows xp on a mac but I still have to try it though. I have tons of photos on this laptop which aren’t copied to another disk yet. So I don’t want to experiment just yet. But I will though. Macbook itself is attractive because of its lightness, and small footprint so some people might want to buy apple hardware and run windows on it. But I’m not really sure about that anymore though. You can get comparative Dell XPS for same money as a macbook and that laptop looks at least as attractive and it is even more lighter. As a macbook pro replacement you have plenty to choose from though. Lenovo Thinkpad T61p series is probably even better than macbook pros because you can get higher resolution screens – 1920*1200 (at 15’’ models) and they are build more robust and I’m sure can take much more rough handling.

But contrary to many people reading this would believe that I hate my macbook, they just are so wrong. I do love working on it and most especially, I like it because it is has a small footprint. I just don’t like those os x problems which just slow me down and make doing stuff at macbook just more difficult. Ah, did I mentioned that this laptop is the only one which could find and connect to a free wi-fi internet connection in the office of 10 laptops? 2 of those are latest macbook pros and other were random windows laptops. Sometimes plastic cases do have advantages it seems.

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