Switching to OS X – A Month With a MacBook Air

This is the kind of article that Apple fanboys love to see. Somebody has switched to the almighty Apple platform. Well, this will be a little different than the typical post – there are things I don’t like about this; things that I hope Apple will come to their senses and fix.

To be fair, the foreshadowed things that bug me aren’t actually that major. You’ll see that I’m actually fairly satisfied with this rig.

Origins

So, I’m not your typical convert, (if I can even be called that). I ditched Microsoft Windows a few years ago. Believe it or not, I’m one of the 2% of people out there that use Linux on his laptop/desktop for nearly everything. Up until last month, I was able to do just about anything worth doing in Linux. I do a lot of work with Adobe Flex and Air though, and when Adobe dropped Linux support in favor of supporting mobile OSs betterΒ it made it fairly hard to do my job.

Anyway, with these origins, you’ll understand how the things that I miss are generally not the same as the things that Windows converts miss. As a result, you probably wont relate as well, but I’m gonna tell you anyway. πŸ™‚ But first – the good.

OS X Wins

I’m a shell guy. I write shell scripts to make my life easier. I enjoy having a cron as well. There are advantages to being able to configure everything in the OS with files instead of a stupid registry. The list goes on.

I realize that Windows *can* have a shell and can do some of these things, but I’ve always considered a pain to install the software required to make it work right, and I always find myself tinkering with it for some time afterward because something didn’t work right.

If that wasn’t enough, things just work the way they should. When I got the Mac, I set up a printer at work in about 30 seconds. This was a network printer. I’ve never done that before. Wireless was the same way. My favorite Windows games (Starcraft 2, World of Warcraft, a bunch of Steam games) all have native OS X versions. Now I don’t waste time with Linux/Wine or dual booting. All of the apps I’m interested in running also work (FlashBuilder, Flex/Air SDKs, Android SDK, etc).

It boots fast, is fairly secure, and is fairly stable. When apps crash, they’re easy to kill. Managing the system is pretty straight forward. I love the little search bars in the help menus.

What’s funny, is Apple hasn’t really innovated anything new. They’ve taken what’s already out there, and just made it work the way its supposed to.

OS X Loses

This is the part some people wont like. πŸ™‚ The first things I noticed were that OS X doesn’t have some keys that I use very frequently. I use them so frequently that on my keyboard at home, I’ve worn the paint off of them. These keys are – Page Up, Page Down, Home, End, and Delete.

I’ve found that Command+Left/Right Arrow works for Home/End. I’m still not sure how to make a Delete/Page Up/Page Down action. When I do a lot of editing as a programmer, not having these keys slows me down.

The OS can’t be skinned or themed. There is some hackish stuff you can do, but it doesn’t ever work right. The whole time, I’m worried that I’m going to jack up the OS.

I’ve wanted another computer with OS X on it and found that the only way to do it well is to just buy an Apple. Well, Apple computers are really dang expensive. I want a PC that I can play games on and have them look really good. The other Macs are 50-100% more expensive than a comparable PC. That’s quite a lot of money for an OS. One quick beef – the iMac. The hardware is decent – but I don’t need it to come with a 21″/27″ screen. I spent $800 already on an awesome screen 4 years ago. This wouldn’t be too big of a problem if it only made the computer cost $100 more. In my eyes, it adds about $500-$900 to the price.

Conclusion

My Mac works well for me. It does everything I want Linux to do, and mostly has the software compatibility that Windows provides. The specific computer that I bought, (MacBook Air Late 2010 with maxed specs) is fairly expensive for what you could get out of a PC. I get exceptional battery life, a machine that can run Half Life 2 and Starcraft 2 alright, in a package that weighs just over three pounds (counting the charger).

For a lot of people, I would recommend a PC because it simply makes economic sense. If Macs didn’t cost so much though, I’d recommend them to everyone. For what it does for me though, this is the only machine that does what I need it to do that I can find.

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First

This is the first WordPress post I’ve made. Woot. More content to come later.