Once You Go Mac…

by Christopher Paul on February 27, 2006

…You never go back.

Well, that’s what they say. Although they borrow from the now very un-PC (as in Politically Correct) stereotype, I can see why they say it. The OS X operating system is colorful but crisp and simple – sometimes a little too simple for my tastes but it works. And that’s what many people say they like about Apple’s award wining operating system.

Now at work (where I’m required to fix the computers) and at home, the Windows XP computers around me crash all the time. My home PC gives me the PC finger, aka the BSOD or Blue Screen of Death, every few days. Its a hardware problem I’m sure because I’ve updated every device driver I can and it still happens. The work computers are so fucked up the only way I can really get them to run right is to not run them at all or uninstall all the BS open-source apps that we run to band-aid things together. I’m the computer expert in the house and I’m the one who struggles to get things to work. I’m sick of it, really, and its because the Macs seem to work better I think I will switch the next time I need to buy a computer.

My wife’s Mac almost never has any problems. If there are problems, she force quits the app that’s giving her trouble and restarts it. Nothing ever crashes, really, and her work is almost never lost when she does need to force quit. I, on the other hand, often lose my work and sometimes have to reboot the entire PC to get things working again. But working in the environment I do, I’ve learned that rebooting is not the way to solve problems because it can often cause new problems and not fix the ones you want to eliminate.

I’ve got two problems with OS X that I know I will struggle with. One dealing with how web pages look differently. Lets face it, most websites are coded for IE 6.0 for the PC. Most companies want to target the largest audience and since Microsoft still controls something like 95% of the commercial/home OS space, it makes sense that websites are coded for the most number of viewers. And I don’t need the sites to look exactly like the PC – I remember the browser wars of ’95 through ’97 and know that one can get by with the site looking a little funky. But I still have to get used to it. I’ve already installed FireFox 1.5 for the Mac but I still have to play around with the settings because all the fonts look thick and bold – yuck.

The other problem I have with OS X is that I feel that its taskbar system is a waste of space. I will give Microsoft kudos for ripping off the start menu the way they did; it works. Its got the little icons on the side that tell you what’s running in the background but only help enhance the user experience (like the sound control/mute icon & the network connectivity icon). It also has the applications bar that shows what apps are actively running and will group like windows if they take up too much room on the taskbar. And who can forget the $15m jingle inspired Start menu. The menu that lists all the applications installed on the computer along with all the other administrative controls you would ever need (and some you don’t). Apple’s bar is almost the same but its SO BIG!!!

It takes up too much room and the bottom left and right corners are really unusable because the taskbar (although transparent and movable) gets in the way. Yes, I know you can auto-hide the menu or make it smaller but that doesn’t do much; who wants to move the mouse to the bottom of the screen even more than I need to already just to access the menu before choosing the running programs? Plus, as you run more applications, you could run out of room. As far as I can tell, there isn’t a way to group windows in the taskbar on a Mac like you can in Windows.

But maybe Mac lovers don’t care. I’m sure I’ll get used to the taskbar – I’ll have to get a bigger monitor to compensate for the wasted screen space, though. The web pages is something I can probably change but haven’t figured out how to yet. The keyboard sucks but I am using the cheapest Apple keyboard you could have gotten at the time my wife bought her computer (just after we started dating in ’02) so maybe that will be different too.

What I will hate is recoding the blogs to make sure they render in both PC and Macs.

But I’ll rant about that another day…. its late and I’m signing off Proteus and will dream of flying toasters tonight.

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