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Susan's Adventures in Mac-land

July 13, 2011

Susan wrote this week's post

I love it! Can't believe it took me so long to make the switch from PC to Mac. After all, it was on my new year's resolution list -- for 2010! As our regular readers have no doubt already surmised, I'm a little slow to accept change and try new things. Jon is definitely the company (and family) guinea pig.

But better late than never! I've been working on my Mac now for a few months and I'm pretty close to reaching Macaholic status. I had to work on Windows again recently when setting up for a hands-on class and I couldn't wait to get back to my Mac.

What's so great about Mac for me? There are dozens of small things, but here are a few of the bigger ones.

1) Jon beat me to this one but the Mac Finder function is just magic! If you could see the mess of stuff on my physical desktop (and I'm very glad you can't!), you would understand why having Finder is so important to me. Filing is not my strong suit. While Mac's Finder can't help me find thing on my physical desktop, it can at least help me find things on my virtual Mac desk, which is equally disorganized -- searching for files or folders by content or file name, filtering by folder if I want -- is not only simple, but incredibly fast. Searching for emails -- by keywords, names, from/to/subject line or entire email content -- is equally fast and easy and done using exactly the same interface.

And there are the special filters in Finder to find things created/changed Today or Yesterday or Past Week. The amount of time that feature alone has saved me is incredible.

Yes, Windows and Outlook had many search capabilities but in all the years I was on Windows, I never felt like I mastered searching there and it was very slow. With Mac, there's a little Search box that works the same for searching email, files/folders, PDFs and ... a simple, ubiquitous, consistent interface regardless of what I'm looking for -- reminds me another system I like to use . . .

2) Ease of application installation and removal. Drag a folder into the Applications folder. Drag an Application from the Applications folder to the Trash. No registry. Need I say more?

3) Runs Windows way better than my PC ever did. Yes, I still run a few Windows apps -- the primary one being RD Power (I've jumped on the "I want RDP running on a Mac" bandwagon with both feet). Strangely, my Windows virtual machine has less memory than my PC had but it seems to be far more stable and way faster on my Mac using the Parallels virtual machine.

4) Touch pad gestures. I'm not a fan of touch pads. If there is one thing I have to confess I still miss from my ThinkPad, it's my TrackPoint -- you know, that little red button in the middle of the keyboard. A lot of people don't like them, but I was very attached to my TrackPoint. If my Mac had one, I'd be even happier.

But what my Macbook lacks in TrackPoint, it more than makes up for with touch pad gestures -- most importantly the two-finger scroll. Reading a document, PDF, a web page or whatever, I can just rest my fingers on the touch pad and gradually scroll up or down -- or just as easily "speed slide" back and forth through a document looking for the part I want. Think scrolling mouse, but (to me, anyway) infinitely easier to control. There are many other gestures that sound way cooler still, but so far I haven't found that much use for them yet -- like using two fingers to rotate a picture or PDF document and the two-finger pinch open and close (if you have an iPhone or iPod touch, you've no doubt mastered this one). These are great, but on my Mac I personally just haven't found that much occasion to use them.

But then, there's the screen zoom. I am (well) over 50 after all. Zooming comes in very handy when my old eyesight meets a web page or document created by some clever kid! Using the touch pad, it's very easy to control the degree of zooming.

5) It's simple. I'll have to confess that I still have to ask for help from my resident Mac expert (Thanks, Jon!) from time to time, but much of the time, it turns out that I was having trouble doing something because I was trying to make it harder than it really was. Unlearning old Windows ways of working takes a while.

It's just easier than Windows. It's very hard to explain exactly what I mean by "easier." Almost any specific example I can think of, you could say "but my x application on Windows does that too." True, but on Mac, it's mostly about consistency of interface, even for Mac applications not written by Apple. It's not 100 percent consistent, but so much more so than I was accustomed to on my PC. And things are integrated -- between applications and with the operating system. I actually hardly ever feel like I'm interacting with the OS -- it's just there in the background making it easier for me to do my job.

The most amazing and endearing thing about my Mac? It is to my desktop/laptop computing world what IBM i is to my host server world. Simple, integrated, consistent, elegant, unassuming.

Mac -- it's the IBM i of the workstation world!

Posted July 13, 2011| Permalink

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