Switching to Mac

I learnt computing on a Mac and my first computer was a Mac. Back then, as a technical illustrator, I did all my training on Macs. But it’s ten years since I last had one and moved over to the ‘dark side’ of PC. Since then, software, financial, and compatibility (no longer a big deal) issues and just plain laziness have stopped me switching back… until now. So a few weeks after getting my second hand iMac, here’s some thoughts on my rehabilitation:
Name
Ok, first and most important. All my past PCs have had girl’s names. My iMac is called Mac – I don’t think you should call a Mac anything else.
Screen
I’ve never had anything anywhere near as big as the 24″ screen and it’s fantastic. It’s like computing at the cinema. It’s not taken long to appreciate the value of viewing multiple programmes side-by-side but this new ‘floating world’ seems strange after minimising and maximising on a laptop. I seem to be moving and resizing application windows all the time. Maybe an automatic desktop tiling tool would be useful.
Input Devices
I don’t use the Mac mouse. It’s too big, I don’t like the tiny wheel on it and I can’t figure out the buttons. I’m sticking with my little laptop Saitek with its right click and industrial size scroll wheel. It struggled a bit to navigate the 24″ screen. so I upped the curser speed a tad and swapped my cheap mouse mat with a Razer aluminum gaming pad. It’s the first time I’ve ever used one of these and its great. It matches the look of the iMac and the keyboard and holds firm on the desk on little rubber pads. It has a slightly textured surface on one side but I prefer the ultra smooth one. The Mac mouse runs (and sounds) horrible on it but the Saitek glides brilliantly on its tiny little feet. Now I’m whizzing across my screen in no time.
Browser
Having used Firefox for several years I’ve been impressed so far with Safari (it was all Netscape when I last had a Mac) and will continue using it. I’ve downloaded Firefox all the same, primarily because I need to continue using Zotero which is essential to my studies (i’ve pretty much given up using EndNote).
RSS
Safari RSS is OK but I like using a desktop aggregator. After trying a few Mac compatibles I’ve settled with Vienna, probably because it most resembles Feedreader which I use on PC. It’s clean and simple with just the basic features I need, and I like its built-in Safari-like browser.
The Dock
I prefer having this on the right of the screen and I’m still deciding what goes in there.  After several weeks. I still get excited with the effect when I roll over it.
Office
I use Microsoft Office for Mac because I am so spineless…
Text Editor
It might seem a bit weird to make a big deal over this but I like using basic text editors (e.g. Notepad) a lot. I like the clean simplicity and the ‘unformattedness’ of them – a throwback to my HTML editing days. In fact I have (in addition to the Dock) only 3 things on my desktop – The HD folder icon (which I don’t think you can get rid of), a folder alias to ALL my files, and a blank TextEdit file which I use as a notebook type thing – to type in, fill, copy to other sources (journal, blog, e-mail, Word etc.) and empty on a daily basis. I like the formatting options of TextEdit over Notepad – RTF is more flexible than TXT (it’s limited formatting is sometimes useful and it has a spellchecker).
Overall, it’s running like a dream though I have always been reluctant to adopt the reverential devotion of many Mac users (and ex-users), and the whole ‘Mac is cool / Microsoft is evil’ thing – I’m not too happy with the ‘iTuneification’ of all my MP3 files for one thing. There are some things that Windows (even Vista) does pretty well and my old Dell desktop (if not some others) was a pretty reliable workhorse. But it’s great I made the switch. I still have a decent enough PC at University and my laptop is just about hanging on in there…she’s called Emily.

I learnt computing on a Mac and my first computer was a Mac. Back then, as a technical illustrator, I did all my training on Macs, but it’s ten years since I last had one. Since then, software, financial, and file compatibility (no longer a big deal) issues and just plain laziness have stopped me switching back… until now. So a few weeks after getting my second-hand iMac, here’s some thoughts on my rehabilitation:

Name
OK, first and most important. All my past PCs have had girl’s names. My iMac is called Mac – I don’t think you should call a Mac anything else.

Screen
I’ve never had anything anywhere near as big as the 24″ screen and it’s fantastic. It’s like computing at the cinema. It’s not taken me long to appreciate the value of viewing multiple programmes side-by-side but this new, unanchored ‘floating world’ seems strange after minimising and maximising on a laptop. I seem to be moving and resizing application windows all the time. Maybe some sort of automatic desktop tiling tool would be useful.

Input Devices
I don’t use the Mac mouse. It’s too big, I don’t like the tiny wheel on it and I can’t figure out the buttons. I’m sticking with my little Saitek laptop mouse with its right click and chunky scroll wheel. It struggled a bit to navigate the 24″ screen. so I upped the curser speed a tad and swapped my cheap mouse mat with a Razer aluminum gaming pad. It’s the first time I’ve ever used one of these and its great. Its industrial looks matches the iMac and keyboard and small rubber pads hold it firm on the desk. It has a slightly textured surface on one side but I prefer the ultra smooth one. The Mac mouse runs (and sounds) horrible on it but the Saitek glides brilliantly on its tiny feet. Now I’m whizzing across my screen in no time.

Browser
Having used Firefox for several years I’ve been impressed so far with Safari (it was all Netscape when I last had a Mac) and will continue using it. I’ve downloaded Firefox all the same, primarily because I need to continue using Zotero which is essential to my studies (i’ve pretty much given up using EndNote).

RSS
Safari’s RSS reader is OK but I like using a dedicated desktop aggregator. After trying a few Mac compatibles I’ve settled with Vienna, probably because it most resembles Feedreader which I use on PC. It’s less fussy than others with just the basic features I need, and I like its built-in Safari-like browser.

The Dock
I prefer having this on the right of the screen and I’m still deciding what goes in there.  After several weeks. I still get excited by the roll-over effect.

Office
I’d like to use OpenOffice but I got Microsoft Office for Mac because I am so spineless…

Text Editor
It might seem a bit weird to make a big deal over this but I like using basic text editors (e.g. Notepad) a lot. I like the clean simplicity and the ‘unformattedness’ of them – a throwback to my HTML editing days. In fact I have (in addition to the Dock) only 3 things on my desktop – The HD folder icon (which I don’t think you can get rid of), a folder alias to ALL my files, and a blank TextEdit file which I use as a notepad  – to type in, fill up, copy to other sources (journal, blog, e-mail, Word etc.) and empty on a daily basis. I like the formatting options of TextEdit over Notepad – sometimes the flexibility of RTF (basic formatting and spellchecking) over TXT is useful.

I’ve always been reluctant to adopt the whole ‘Mac is cool / Microsoft is evil’ attitude of some Mac users (and ex-users). I think it cuts both ways – I’m not too happy with the ‘iTuneification’ of all my MP3 files for one thing. There are some things that Windows (even Vista) does pretty well and my old Dell desktop (if not some others) was a pretty reliable workhorse. But it’s great I made the switch. I still have a decent enough PC at University and my laptop is just about hanging on in there…she’s called Emily.

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