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Macs are easy... and pretty [Oct. 20th, 2007|10:14 pm]
Renting them, on the other hand, might not be.

See, one of the skills listed in the job description for the OSU job I applied for was use of MAC OS. So, I went to the local MAC store to see what they had. They didn't have any computers cheap enough for me to buy as a training machine, but I didn't expect that. However, they did have a rental program... which, unfortunately, no one at the store knew how to implement. So, instead, they suggested that I buy a MAC and then return it, with a 15% restocking fee.

I don't like this... the cheapest MAC is 600, so this makes a brief rental $90. However, I'd decided that it was easily worth $100 to learn how to use a MAC, so rather than renting a MAC for 2 days ($40), I ended up buying one, to be returned in two days.

Okay, it's easy. I'm sure there are lots of tricks and shortcuts that I won't learn and things that I'm doing differently (especially since I'm using a Windows keyboard and a multibutton mouse) but the basics are really easy. And damn, but some of the graphics are awfully pretty. I was also (pleasantly) surprised to learn that it's easy to get to a terminal screen, and type in standard Unix commands. I was able to set up file sharing, and VNC-controllability, as well.

But I'm now at the point where I've pretty much done everything I can think to do that isn't application specific. I suppose I should do some other stuff, like play a DVD (and get it to eject) or burn a CD. Does anyone out there know anything interesting to look at or play with?

[User Picture]From: brooksmoses
2007-10-21 05:47 am (UTC)
That sounds remarkably familiar. A friend of mine gave me an old Mac of his, and that's approximately what I did as far as playing around with the operating system.

What I did after that was set up ssh access, disconnect the monitor and run it headless from a terminal window on my usual desktop computer, copy over the relevant source trees, and try building GCC.

(And, actually, it was quite useful for that for several months when I was actively doing GCC development work that needed to be tested on a big-endian machine. But that's a whole different matter.)

I'll be interested to see if this thread turns up other fun things that I can do with my computer, too!
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[User Picture]From: jhetley
2007-10-21 12:17 pm (UTC)
If you know what applications the job requires, see if you can play with those on a Mac. Even the same programs don't always work the same way -- MS Word is . . . similar, for example. Likewise Quicken. Even Firefox doesn't seem identical between the Mac and Win OS.

But I found changing over (and switching between) pretty painless.
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[User Picture]From: essaying
2007-10-21 05:03 pm (UTC)
Definitely do the CD and DVD thing -- it's not intuitive for Windows users.

There's a nice little utility called Dashboard -- you can set up Widgets (weather, dictionary/thesaurus, calculator et al) and attach them to a corner of your desktop, so anytime you want to use them you just move the cursor to that corner and they pop up. I use this *constantly*.

iTunes, of course, is fun and user-friendly. Also, my MacBookPro has a useful function in its touchpad -- the equivalent of a scroll key on a mouse -- you just use two fingers instead of one and it scrolls instead of moving the cursor.

Macs are fun!
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[User Picture]From: eleccham
2007-10-21 06:00 pm (UTC)
I am in the market for a laptop - my new job says "pick a computer" and I went and looked at MacBooks.

I found the MacBook keyboard horrible - tiny arrow keys, no pgup/pgdn/home/end/delete... I don't think I could program with that.

I didn't look at the Mac desktop keyboards, but I think you're better off with a Windows keyboard. :)
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[User Picture]From: johnpalmer
2007-10-21 08:00 pm (UTC)
There is some re-mapping... Windows is the clover, and Alt is the (command? Option? Whatever the heck...) key. That's one of the reasons I figured I'll never learn all the shortcuts. (Plus, I find that you right click sometimes; I think the Mac standard is still a one-button mouse.)
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[User Picture]From: jhetley
2007-10-21 08:34 pm (UTC)
I'm using a Logitech trackball on my iMac -- just plug it in and go.
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[User Picture]From: sjgross
2007-10-21 09:07 pm (UTC)
I have both Mac and PC. Mac OS is my favorite of the 2 but I have to have a PC for work.

A couple of things to play with: get familiar with the Dock and system preferences.

One more note: if you're using Office on the Mac, the items you would normally find under Tools | Options are under Edit | Preferences - The first version of MS Office X was like that, and I don't think it changed.
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From: (Anonymous)
2007-10-23 09:03 pm (UTC)

Macs ... where things can go really wrong.

I bought a Mac last year to teach myself more, and to test a bunch of problems I was running into with my clients. It's a core2 duo mini, and I bought it on sale at Micro Center ($399 was a great deal!). I use it with a KVM switch, using a standard PC keyboard and mouse.

Macs are fairly easy to use, but I don't think they're particularly easy to manage. I have to say I'm really disappointed with mine.

The Mac I have does some of the things that I expect to be able to do in business environments -- using network file shares and incremental backups, for instance -- really poorly. A lot of this has to do with the slipshod design of MacOS X, between its legacy Mac HFS/HFS+ filesystems (and the applications that depend on resource, data, and other forks) and the fact that HFS(+) is what lies beneath a moderately modern *IX kernel and operating system. Their approach toward integrating the filesystem into the kernel lends itself to the creation of arbitrarily complex file metadata, that frequently aren't understood by the ported UNIX applications (and many of GUI applications, too).

While Macs are easy to use, it's been my experience that they really don't play well with others. In heterogenous environments, there are a lot of problems with interoperability as you start pushing on the systems. And that says nothing of the inefficient use of memory and processing resources, requiring faster and more powerful equipment to do the same tasks. And *that* is compared against Microsoft.

Write me privately and I'll send you the analysis and recommendations I sent to one of my clients about Mac backups last summer.

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[User Picture]From: wyang
2007-10-23 09:08 pm (UTC)

Re: Macs ... where things can go really wrong.

PS - sorry. I didn't realize I wasn't logged in when I posted. -B
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