March 13, 2008

Somethings I did not expect from a Mac

Posted by Sudhindra Rao

I got a Mac (the new and shiny Mac Book Pro with 2.4Ghz processor and 2GB RAM and 120GB harddisk). I was very
excited and feeling very cool about my new possesion(thanks to a couple of secret angels in the world).
I was becoming excited about doing things differently(or doing them more intuitively as it were), with my Mac.
And so I did - it started when I began experiencing the sleekness of the product.

  • Its weight way under the bulkiness of my old Dell Latitude D620.
  • The keyboard has just the number of keys you normally use - also the multi-function function keys (especially the F9-F12 set.)
  • The comfort of using one click trackpad and the clever use of programmability to add on the right click functionality of the track pad. - I am more of a mouse user though.
  • The presence of the apple key(ohhh it so much looks and sometimes works like the Windows key on my Dell- but more about that in a bit.)
  • MacOSX packed with the power of Unix under the hood - thats just brilliant - Now anything I want to setup is just a hack/script away. - Best thing to happen to Operating Systems since Windows(just kidding...)
  • Placement of speakers as well as the camera is just right.

Some pain points on my Mac (or how Mac missed the bus on some of the key aspects of usability for a developer)

  • Leopard when launched in December had this bug - the keyboard freezes occasionally. For about 2 months the only solutions were - wait till Mac unfreezes the keyboard on its own or try restarting it(Windows contributed this elixir to software - if it does not work reboot) Thankfully the newest firmware release is supposed to take care of that(fingers crossed). (Another fix I heard was to press on the area between the space bar and the track pad with your thumb for a bit - let me know if it works) - latest update is that on some machines the keyboard firmware update did not fix this. So cross your fingers.
  • Finder does not show you the hidden files - thanks to all the programmers out there who wrote TinkerTool which helps you do just that. (whereas on windows there is a setting for this - how thoughtful of you Bill)
  • The applications on Mac are under the Applications folder as Applications/ this a mac.. having a macOS directory under each one of these is just redundant - especially when you install this application through the dmg installer.)
  • The Menu items are not mapped to keys - Alt+F+O does not open a new file or Alt+F does not take me to the File menu ...
  • An important annoyance that comes to mind when using a Mac - they mapped the apple key to do what Control key does on any other OS - Windows, linux, Solaris -
    all respond to Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V for copying and pasting. Why would Mac want to be different? Why are they not following the convention?
My Iphone
My iPhone was something that I bought just after I got the Mac and I am very proud to say that I have an unlocked iphone with the latest firmware(1.1.3 - I know the unlocking software works with 1.1.4 but I haven't had the time to update) thanks to Zibri(, thanks to GeoHotz( and thanks to all those who strived days and nights to get all the iphones to unlock and make numerous iphone owners proud.

I am very happy with the unlocked iphone especially with the OSX under the hood.
All the software that I can install on it(when I last checked I could put VNC and ssh on it.. ) - hackers prevail.
The usability is splendid (thanks Steve Jobs) - except the well known annoyances (viz. cannot forward messages, cannot send messages to a list, no zoom/video on camera) - apparently
there are softwares available which can fix all of these in some way.
The biggest problem is with the Camera part - where I need to use iPhoto to download pictures.
I have found out since then that on Windows the iPhone shows up as a disk and pictures and songs can be transferred
like on a USB key. - But on a Mac I cannot do it. The iphone is not mounted as a volume either.How annoying???????

I am sure even with all this I will still prefer my Mac. But the Mac by no means is the best in usability. I am going to collect all these annoyances(maybe there can be a to compete with ) and keep an updated list.


pdcawley said...

Picky I know, but command-C and command-V were copy and paste way back with the first mac. Windows' ctrl- shortcuts were a way of aping that on a computer that didn't have the extra key.

Sudhindra Rao said...

Thanks for that info..
This is even more alarming. Why would Mac shift from a standard Macs came up with? And for no apparent reason. Its not like the Ctrl key is no longer part of the keyboard.

josh said...

command-C means apple-c. he is saying things are this way because they always were. they haven't changed.

josh said...

a couple points on your post from one who recently switched. you should hold off on your complaints for at least a month while you learn more about the new system. you might be surprised how most of your complaints go away with a bit more mac experience. hang out with some mac experts for awhile and you'll be surprised how much you pick up.

BTW. File menu commands are mapped to the keyboard. command-O gives you the file open dialogue. command-N opens a new file, etc. however there are less shortcuts for system functions like locking the screen. you should look into a program called quicksilver for that.

As for seeing hidden files with finder... who needs finder when you can just open the bash shell and type ls -l :)

Sudhindra Rao said...

Thanks for your comments Josh..
Sorry for the mis-interpretation of the command key..But yes I have been patient and have had my machine for about 3 months now. I am not saying I will go back to windows - just that there are somethings that are not that good on the Mac. I can lock my screen with keys, I have tinkertool, I have tried using some shortcuts that drive the menu - but it just calls the functions and runs then.. in windows/ubuntu u can see the menu and drive it with updown keys.. thats whats missing too.
I do open my bash shell and do all the things I need to. I have been doing Rails development on my Mac and there is nothing like it. All the Unixy greatness is just incomparable.

josh said...

np. not trying to come off like a fanboy defender of the faith. As a debian user for the past 4 years i have my own list of gripes, but i found that the list got pretty darn short after i'd had the mac for a few months.

things that bother me are the lack of a coherent install/uninstall system (please just make apt-get the new mac installer). I also hate the sharp edge at the front of the laptop, i can't rest my lazy wrists on it comfortably.

as for the not being able to see hidden files, here is how to do it without adding any special software.