The Aftermath of Part I

Before proceeding with this article, please read through the first Mac article, "A Month with a Mac article", to get a foundation for the purpose, perspective and background that led to this article. This article is very much intended to be a sequel and not something that will stand on its own. If you've never used Mac OS X at great lengths or haven't read through the positive and negative points of the Mac platform from a PC user's perspective (from the first article), go back and read Part I before continuing.

When I originally committed to doing a Mac section on AnandTech, I actually committed it to the readers before discussing it with the rest of AnandTech staff. So when it came time to implement it, the rest of the staff didn't see much of a place for Mac articles on AnandTech. It took a lot of convincing (as well as some executive privilege) for the establishment of the Mac section, and then came the publication of the first Mac article: A Month with a Mac: A Die Hard PC User's Perspective.

Within the first three days of publication, that little Mac article skyrocketed to becoming one of the all-time most popular articles ever published on AnandTech. The flood of emails that came in as a result of that article is greater than the response to any single product launch that I'd ever seen. Even to this day, I get tons of emails from users just now stumbling upon the article, searching for PC user experiences with OS X as folks contemplate trying out OS X for the first time, thanks to the release of the Mac mini.

Immediately after the publication of the first Mac article, I already thought about doing a follow-up. The scope of the first article was already quite massive and the depth was as thorough as I could be without writing a book on the experience, yet there was already so much more to cover.

Then there were the responses to the article - Mac users complained that I was being too harsh on the one-button mouse, PC users complained that I was being too positive on the OS, but then the vast majority of users actually provided some very good feedback, asking for more information in certain areas. In fact, I'd say that the Mac article resulted in the most positive email responses that I've had from an article to date. I introduced the original article by talking about how difficult of an article it was to write, but after the overwhelming response to it, a sequel didn't seem that difficult.

One problem with these types of articles is that they inevitably take much longer to put together, simply because there are no structured tests to run and analyze. Articles like this are very much about the experience, and to do the experience justice, it's truly something that you have to integrate into your daily routine for a while. Prior to the first Mac experiment, I'd used Macs at various stages in my computing life, but never actually trying to integrate them into my daily routine. Writing an article based on any of those experiences would have turned out very differently compared to what the first article ended up being.

The downside to these long-term subjective evaluations is that the hardware industry changes at a spectacular pace and a lot happened during and immediately after the publication of the first Mac article that changed things dramatically. Before diving into the focus for this article, I'd like to briefly touch on some of the hot items that have surfaced since Part I.

What's Changed Since Part I
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  • garote - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    A note about Exposé usage on a powerbook:

    I know it's unorthodox, but consider using the 'Fn' key, on the lower left, for activating Exposé. It's easier to reach in general, but especially easy to use when you want to drag an icon/file _through_ an Exposé operation (via hold-release), from one window to another. Especially if you're right-handed.

    You can still use Command-up/down for home/end, Command-left/right for begin/end of line, and Option-left/right for next/prev word. You'll have to invoke F6 to use the keypad, however, and you'll lose quick access to page-up/page-down.

    The big difference, of course, is that you'll lose access to the regular invocation of the FN keys - however, I find that I never want to use the FN keys anyway, unless I want to embed a bunch of Photoshop macros in them.

    Try it for a while. If you're a heavy Exposé user, you may find the change quite pleasing.
    Reply
  • adespoton - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    Hi Anand; just thought I'd clarify a statement you made in your conclusion:

    "Unless you do a lot of .NET development on the road, just about anything you use your laptop for is available under OS X...."

    For anyone in this situation, Project Mono is available for OS X at http://www.go-mono.com/archive/1.0.5/macos/MonoFra...
    Of course, this doesn't give you *all* the .NET bindings etc., but for basic .NET development it works quite well -- and has the added benefit that you can test the programs out under OS X as well, without resorting to emulation.
    Reply
  • jayemcee - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    Thanks for a nicely balanced article. The speed issues tend to fade a bit (especially pure cpu speed) when looking at the way the system operatesand how it helps productivity. Less downtime for the system (my uptime has been continuous except for reboots at software updates times). Drag and drop into and between applications make the system appear very elegant to me and a bonus is when I want it... there is BSD *nix underneath OS X.

    The hardware is as good as it gets for the price and I do not feel cheated by Apple. Of course, there is also that indefinable Apple experience that you get when opening the boxes of a new piece of apple hardware. I guess that I am addicted to that as well. :)

    You write well and many PC magazines would do well to emulate your methods of testing the unquantifiable variables of all machines that they test and then write about... for public consumption.

    Reply
  • mattfaulds - Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - link

    Great article. Good to see someone weighing things from a bablanced point of view.

    Would like to reiterate the greatness of Sidetrack (www.ragingmenace.com)

    I have an iBook G4 and have changed the button to a right click button, the corners of the tap pad to exposé functions (and a right click corner) and a scroll on the right side. It's very customisable and very stable.

    Apple really really should pay him lots of money and incoporate the optional function as standard. You need it with the limited space on a laptop.

    Cheerio
    Reply
  • waterbug - Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - link

    Anand,

    Another thing to compare between OS X and Windows is sleep/wake behavior. Try this at home:

    Connect both your Wintel laptop and your PowerBook to a WiFi network with DHCP and verify connection by opening a browser. Close both lids for 5-10 seconds, until you're sure they're both asleep. Open the lids.

    You should be able to click a link on the PowerBook within 5 seconds of seeing the LCD come on. If you have a static IP, it'll be even faster.

    On my XP laptop, it takes anywhere from 10-45 seconds to reacquire the wireless signal, figure out the encryption, reacquire a DHCP address, and then finally be able to do anything.

    It sounds trivial, but imagine this scenario: imagine you're working with your laptop in the kitchen, and you decide to move to the dining room. Do you close your laptop, or walk over to the dining room with it open? With my Dell, I walk around the house with it open. With our iBook, I close it even to rearrange things on the bed. It's not a huge issue, but it's one of those "little touches" that makes for a more satisfying ownership experience.
    Reply
  • lookmark - Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - link

    Nice article, as always. I too am slightly disappointed by my 15" PB's wireless range, and hope Apple is able to improve it in fure models.

    Just want to chime on the fabulousness of Quicksilver, which is like just a little taste of Tiger's Spotlight, focused on launching (or more, if you want). Well, well worth checking out.

    I too started with the Applications folder in the Dock -- didn't we all? -- but Quicksilver is so much better it's quite astonishing, and considering it's completely free and open-sourced all the more so. Apple is clearly taking notice as well.... it's been reported from the latest Tiger builds that the (customizable, of course) shortcut for hitting Spotlight quickly is now command-space, a la QS.
    Reply
  • jim v - Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - link

    Actually, the ethernet port on the PowerBook is 10/100/1000 Reply
  • bcstanding - Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - link

    I am one of those guys that switched from PC to Mac (3 years ago). This article (with Part I) is one of the most insightful and unbiased articles I've ever read on the subject of the Mac User Experience. Very well done!

    I also thought I'd chip in an idea - if you don't have quite enough RAM, you may want to leave apps open (just hide them) instead of quitting them. OS X seems to be faster when swapping a program back into memory than starting it outright. I'm on a 3 year old PowerBook, though, so this may not be applicable for faster Macs...
    Reply
  • davechen - Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - link

    As an old school Unix programmer, I've always hated keyboards that have a large caps lock and a small control key (as most do these days). I use control a lot more than caps lock. Hell who ever really uses caps lock.

    So on OS X, I'd be lost without uControl. It's a little control panel that allows you to remap modifier keys (along with a lot of other things). Here' the link:

    http://gnufoo.org/ucontrol/ucontrol.html
    Reply
  • jsares - Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - link

    I second and third the suggestions for SideTrack. Great shareware from a great guy. Reply

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