Before I get into this, let it be said that I am very pro open source. I have been using and promoting the merits of it for years. In fact, I have been so anti-Apple it has offended my friends who just liked their products. Even being in an Apple store gave me the heebee-geebees. “I’m not cool enough to be here, I wear brown shoes.”, I would think. So this is a long, drawn out story of how I cam to appreicate and respect Apple. Linux fans (of which I am still one), know that I managed to use the Mac more before writing this article than humanly possible. This was not a one shot test, yeah it looks cool and nice box. I used the the Mac.
I was interested in doing some iPhone development and this gave me a good excuse to buy a Mac. Truth be told, this was not the only reason. For the past year and a half I had been running into numerous issues with Linux. I am by no means a newbie and problems just kept coming up. Don’t get me wrong, I love Ubuntu and Linux but now it was bringing down my productivity and in a major way. After losing years of work e-mail in Evolution (yes I know, backup, my bad) and having a laptop that simply froze for no reason but ONLY when running Ubuntu I decided enough was enough. If I wanted to put my money where my mouth was, I needed to try the Mac and now I had an excuse.
A month before I got the Mac, I also invested in an iPhone (for development and use, hey I ain’t rich) and I was amazed, and saddened. What an amazing device, but why so crippled? This is what I had expected from Apple, they take two steps towards you, and then three back. My Nokia N73 that was 2.5 years old actually had more “functionality” if we had to count them out on paper. I seriously considered returning it, I could not believe that applications cannot run in the background. My IM windows actually close when I leave the app? I had to have a non-techie EXPLAIN it to me I was in so much shock. I decided to hold onto it as my trusty N73 had suffered many falls and was well on its way to mobile phone heaven where it belongs.
So I went in neck deep and got a MacBook. The trip to the store was what I expected, a nice girl comes up to me and asks if I need help. I knew what I wanted and went right to the 13 inch MacBook. I picked it up and a cool little Incase gel-sleeve-thingy. So I went home and tried it out. Like most techies, getting a new computer especially one with a new operating system is like getting a new car. You have to use the thing for hours on end. I made a big cup of coffee and started.
Presentation was immaculate, as expected. Everything about the box, to the way the documents were laid out has been looked into. These people are big on impressions, they know its an experience to their consumers. I took the comp out, didn’t bother look at the directions (does any techie?) and started it up. After it asked me a few questions and found all my personal info from an old iTunes account (*weird*) the experience began.
I knew OSX was going to be beautiful, no shock there. The effects are similar to those on Compiz Fusion but they are integrated in a way that makes more sense. In other words, they have 5-10 graphical effects that do something specific and do it well. Compared to 30-40 for Compiz of which 2 make sense other than just being cool.
Two hours in and I don’t want to leave the computer. Hand gestures on the trackpad, check. I can no longer leave a finger dangling as I used too. The trackpad is large and prohibits me from doing so. So I went online and started searching for apps, Adium, Firefox, iTerm, Tomboy (yes it exists for Mac), Quicksilver, Growl, Gmail notfier, among others. Things are going very well so far, and I install things easily.
The problems begin…
I want to install vpnc, which is easy enough on any linux or BSD distro. I see that I have two options Fink or Porticus. I tried both and neither one is going to blow you out of the water. In fact one of them gives you a bunch of options when you install any application. You want to know what those options are? COMMAND LINE COMPILER OPTIONS. What in the world is this? I know and understand most of the options but comon’ guys that just poor form. Give people the standard and then an OPTION to do what they want on their own. I could not believe this and still can’t when I think of it. Lucikly I have found that many of the OSS programs I use had a separate Mac installer (which seems to be a new thing). VPNC worked, now we’re rolling. Nmap installed, GNU versions of many other utilities as well. After using Fink and MacPorts I decided to go with the latter. It seems a little more “together” and not as thrown “together”.
The firewall is disabled by default. You have got to be kidding me. Comon Apple, someone seriously dropped the ball on this one. This has nothing to do with customer experience, this has everything to do with a huge oversight. Seeing as how you recently said everyone should have an anti-virus for OS X I think everyone having a firewall is a logical conclusion. If anyone knows why Apple did not turn it on, please let me know. I would love to hear the logic on this one.
Safari has these great gestures you can do with the trackpad, moving through history, zoom in-out, etc. I noticed that Firefox did not have them and did some research. It appears Apple was not willing to give the Mozilla team the APIs requires to give Firefox the same functionality. However the firefox team was able to reverse engineer Safaris magic and add all the gestures and MORE into Firefox 3.1b2. I must admit, the gestures stuff is pretty cool and I can see a device in the near future putting a trackpad on everyones desktop for gestures only (if it does not exist)
Time machine is great in concept. I could not wait to use it as I have a 500GB drive connected to my Popcorn Hour and wanted to use it for remote backups. BUZZ! No can do, Apple doesn’t like that network connected drive. You can only backup over a network if you buy a Time Capsule, otherwise, any USB connected device will work just fine. I didn’t like this too much. I was able to get it working after a serious hack session, but it was flaky at best. I gave in and used an old 120 GB USB drive to use for Time Machine, it worked like a charm but this is part of the issue I have with Apple. For every inch they give, they seem to take.
That being said, in the next piece of my article, I begin to understand why they make decisions like that with Time Machine. It appears that if its not going to work 99.9999% of the time, they would rather not use it at all or keep it locked down. With Time Capsule they control every piece of the backup so they can guarantee certain things. I am curious to see if they will loosen this up in the near future. I think they will.
Apple likes money and attempts to get it where they can. Granted they are a corporation so its in their blood, but sometimes you just think enough is enough, I already bought the computer why must I pay extra for a video adaptor? More on this later….
Thats the end of part 1… part 2 is coming tomorrow…