Apple Of My Eye

By

Apple
Having been an Apple user now for all of 48 hours, I thought it would be a nice idea to share my experience, migrating from Windows to Mac OS X after probably near-enough 15 years of blue screens and triple checking every single command. This post details a few observations from the first two days of using my new MacBook and OS X.

Why?

The reason for my move from Microsoft to Apple was fairly simple: I’m fed up with Windows. While the operating system is widely used throughout the world, it isn’t ideal. Yes, Windows is popular, but following sheep isn’t necessarily the best way to go. I don’t think a day ever went by when I didn’t feel the need to restart my computer, or log out and back in again simply because the system stalled, hung or crashed. While I didn’t know Apple would be any better, the user reviews I have read online suggest a more reliable, aesthetically pleasing and generally more productive interface to deal with. Im under no disillusions that it will be better for me, but after so long with Windows, I decided a change might be good.

So I made the jump. I also wanted a new laptop and my better half, who has recently left the FastTrack scheme will need to return her free government computer soon. So my old Dell is being passed on to a new owner, and I have a new toy. A MacBook Pro. It isn’t cheap, in fact it the most I have ever spent on a computer, but knowing my Dell would generate some funds and being able to utilise the better half’s education discount, the plunge into the world of Apple wasn’t as bad as I initially imagined.

Initial Worries

Will I like it? Will it work with me? What about compatibility? Will I even like the laptop?

I must admit to being a little apprehensive. Having spent all my life working with Windows, I was a tad afraid of switching. I have used OS X briefly, and even had a little play in Southampton’s new Apple store. But actually owning a MacBook and using it every single day for all my tasks? I was ever slightly daunted.

I was even worried I wouldn’t like the look of the MacBook. Silly, I know, perhaps even shallow, but if I’m going to spend lots of money on something, I want it to look good as well. The photos and images on the Apple website didn’t put the laptop in its best light in my opinion, so delivery day was quite the experience.

Under Promise, Over Deliver

This surely has to be the motto of any decent company that sells and delivers products? Well, you’d hope so. However, I’m afraid reality is a little different. When I ordered my Dell just over a year ago, it took a fair while to arrive. I must admit, the online tracking thing is really nice. I could see when it left the factory, crossed the sea to England and even when it arrived at the Portsmouth depot. However, while that is all well and good, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will arrive on my doormat on time. Alas, Walsh Western, the company that Dell use to deliver their products, were less than great. After a strongly worded email, it was eventually in my possession.

And so it seems again that Dell are messing around. When I ordered my MacBook, I also ordered a Dell monitor to go with it. I was told it would be delivered within five days. It is still yet to arrive after ten.

But Apple on the other hand, that’s a different kettle of fish. I ordered my new toy online, and the email confirmation stated about 21 days. Quite a long time I thought, but it wasn’t a bog-standard system so I chose to ignore the lengthy wait. Expected delivery date: Around about the 23rd July.

With about one week to go, I was emailed again from California (or possibly less-glamorous Ireland, I believe) informing me that due to high sales recently, my order was delayed by three days. I was to be kept informed so the promise went.

Then, on the 18th July, when I arrived home from work I was greeted by a ticket on the doormat. “We attempted to deliver an Apple product, but we missed you.” I called the TNT depot who said I could pop down that evening and pick up my consignment.

That is what I call under promise and over deliver.

The Packaging

Apple knows how to package their products, don’t they? I mean, really, it doesn’t matter all that much. A cardboard box is, at the very end of the day, a cardboard box. But it is still nice to see the attention to detail when I’m presented with a printed image of its contents underneath a plastic handle (which would be really useful had I bought it from the store). Opening the box reveals a “MacBook Pro” embossed polystyrene block protecting the system. Everything was neatly laid out inside, it looked liked it had been packed by pro. Even the cable-ties were neatly twisted.

The manuals came in a box similar to the old iPod Nano boxes (CD sized), but to be honest I haven’t really looked at them yet. The cables were neatly tied up and it even comes with a little remote control. According to my better half, I have a habit of hoarding boxes. Every ow and again they get culled, but this box will remain. This box is not to be discarded!

Initial Boot Observations

Of course, the extras would have to wait. I plugged it in, opened the lid and pressed the power button.

It should be noted here that despite my concerns, it looks like a professional, smart and neat laptop. Everything appears to be carefully considered in the design and you just know that this wasn’t thrown together at the last minute. The power cable is attracted to the socket by a magnet. It just pulls itself into position. When inserted, a small LED glows red to say it is charging. Once charged, the LED turns green. The lid latches fold in flush when open, and as the screen is closed, magnets again pull the hooks out at the last second. There is no clicky noise when it is closed either, just a soft and gentle motion. I will say the large Apple logo on the topside of the screen (as in, when closed it is on top) is a little bit blingy. When the MacBook is on, it glows subtly. I think I would have preferred a more understated logo, but if that’s the only fault, we’re doing well so far.

Of course, as with Windows, I have to go through the registration form and set a few default preferences before I can play with it. It is nice though, that while there is music playing during all this, it does stop after a while. The annoying Windows tune doesn’t cease during its initial boot, and the incessant questions often caused me to wonder I was bothering. But Apple must have realised that the function keys don’t work while the system isn’t logged on, so after a minute or so the music fades to silence.

There weren’t as many questions either, which is a bonus, although I did spend about five minutes looking for the @ symbol. My Windows habits are going to die a very slow and painful death.

The initial boot in itself is pretty interesting. Upon hitting the power button, I see a subtle Apple logo, then my desktop. As soon as I see the desktop, I can start work, no quibbles, questions or you have unused icons on your desktop. I know Windows can offer a slick boot, but that would entail a lot of optimisation and faffing around. So far (and I do admit only 48 hours) I haven’t felt the need to change a thing in an attempt to speed it up.

Mac OS X is similar, but different to Windows. That really is the best way to describe my experience at the moment. Many features are pretty much identical, but there are lots of differences also. The organisation of everything is going to take me a while to get used to, and silly things like the keyboard shortcuts will need re-programming in my mind. It took me about half an hour to work out how to install Firefox and FileZilla, but once I cracked it, I realised just how simple and intuitive it is. After downloading, I click the file to unzip, drag the resulting icon over to Applications, and it installs it. No clicks, no taps. It just does it.

Another thing I immediately fell in love with is the Trash Can. With Windows, I got so frustrated with the constant “are you sure you want to do that” questions, I developed the habit of always pressing shift + delete to delete something. Even then I still got a “really? warning. The Recycle bin was just too much for me.

However, Mac OS Xs Trash Can just does it. I drag something to the icon on the Dock. Whatever it is gets removed from wherever it was and is placed in the Trash Can – which is exactly what I wanted it to do. I’m not bombarded with 30 warnings and confirmation messages; it is almost as though the system trusts me. Emptying the Trash Can is equally as easy and satisfying.

I also get the impression control + alt + delete (or its equivalent) won’t be needed. Not once have I wondered if the system has crashed. Not once has a program stopped responding. Mac OS X does have a force close option, but really I’m yet to even consider clicking it.

The lack of warnings, boxes, suggestions and the like leave me feeling as though I now have a lot of time on my hands. I’m so used to doing something and then having to confirm my action. But OS X just does it. It makes me wonder how much of my life has been wasted clicking these buttons? I also notice the lack of okay and cancel. I know I’ve said this many times already, but it just does it. Honestly, it’s a little weird at first.

Sum Up

While my productivity has nose-dived, this is only because I am essentially learning how to use a computer again. But I am actually enjoying the process. Little things seem to make more sense with Apple than with Microsoft, and the attention to detail with the MacBook is especially pleasing. Automated tasks make the everyday things easier. The ease of installing new applications, the accessibility of everything, the gorgeous look of it all, I’m wondering why I didnt switch earlier?

So far it has been pleasurable, and even though I know there are still many hurdles to overcome, I feel as though I have made a right choice in converting.

Computing has become, dare I say it, enjoyable.