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Stream of Consciousness

I went to bed at 8:30 last night, mainly to hide because I could feel the blackness coming. So now I find myself awake at 5:30 a.m. with my head full of thoughts. A lot of it is really just about what I need to do. The main work-related things are to complete Judy’s website proposal and my employee contracts. With Tracy’s leaving, I now have to be available to serve on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings. This is to save money. So I can’t dedicate myself to doing much of anything on those mornings. I suppose this is all just minutae, so I could let it go and stop worrying about it.

I would also like to read some bible since it’s Holy Week and that’s what Gillean suggested doing this week. Then there’s the dog to take out: not really a priority, but still, it would be enjoyable. I also didn’t practice last night for tonight’s gig, but I suppose it’ll be all right. There’s no time to practice before, as I’ll be rehearsing at Donal’s for the Easter Sunday gig.

And there’s the MacBook Pro to consider. The one I ordered a fortnight ago has come in, only it’s a glossy screen instead of an anti-glare screen. So the leasing company is offering a free accessory to take the glossy screen, or another 2+ week wait for the anti-glare. I’ve got no chance of looking at one to compare, so I don’t really know what to do.

The iMac is here!

I was waiting for a long time for the new iMacs to be released. That happened, but it seemed soon that Leopard would come out (the new operating system) so it would have been daft to jump into Tiger when I could wait just a little longer for Leopard. That happened a few weeks ago and I placed my order: a 24″ iMac 2.8 Extreme Edition. It arrived last Friday (took about six bloomin’ weeks mind) and came with Tiger installed but a Leopard disk. Just how long does it take for Apple to get Leopard pre-installed boxes shipping!

Anyway, it came and it’s nice. I upgraded to Leopard immediately and it’s now sat in our living room. Lorraine is finding the learning curve to be rather steep and I remember that from when I switched a year ago. Well, I say switched. What I really mean is that I bought a MacBook, installed Windows on it (in Parallels) and used OS X for pretty much nothing other than web browsing on Firefox (which I use on the PC also). So I never really got over the learning curve either.

It’s little things like getting used to using Command instead of Ctrl. The fact that many sites talk about an option key and they really mean the alt key. I try to delete stuff in the Finder using guess which key? Yep, the one that says “delete” on it, but it doesn’t work. I’m a keyboard shortcut junkie so it makes it harder for me I guess. Lorraine is more of a mouse gal and I thought it would be a little easier for her, but she’s having trouble too. Why does maximise not , well, maximise? I have to get used to bringing the cursor up to the top left instead of the top right for the close (although I’m getting used to Command W and Command Q now).

My wife’s main production tool is Word. It came with a nagware trial version of Mac:Word 2004. It’s troublesome. You can’t create a new folder in the Save As… dialogue box – that’s mind-numbingly frustrating. The non-breaking space and space characters are so small as to be virtually invisible (also VERY frustrating).

And iPhoto will NOT import my photos. Seemingly it’s a bug caused by the fact that my jpgs and raw files are all tagged with Lightroom. So the “it just works” thing failed on day 1 of having the iMac. And there’s no work around. How about that ladies and gentlemen?

So, all in all, it has been rather a negative experience. I want so much to like OS X. All those people can’t be wrong, surely? You know, the Mac evangelists. I do get sick of Windows XP trouble, but I’ve been using it for so long now that I pretty much can fix most things or at least know how to Google and where to look to troubleshoot. I’m rather in the dark with OS X though. However, I shall persevere (although saying that I’m actually sat in front of the iMac right now but typing this in a Remote Desktop window hooked up to my XP PC — hmmmm….)

A month of Mac

I’ve been using my MacBook now for exactly one month. It’s great to have a notebook computer. My main PC is in the attic, so up some creaky stairs. The good lady uses the downstairs PC in the evenings, and as the kids are in bed, I don’t like to clatter up and down the creaky stairs. So the laptop is really handy.

So how do I like the Mac OS? Well, to be honest, I haven’t actually used it very much at all. I confess that I installed Parallels to run XP and pretty much use that only to remote desktop to the upstairs PC. Seems a bit daft forking out the premium for Mac hardware and doing that, I admit, but the truth is that I’m so busy with my translation that I haven’t had time to play around very much at all, let alone learn a new OS.

Hardware wise I love the MacBook. I’ve got used to the keyboard now, although the fn key drives me up the wall, as does the CD eject key (right where ctrl and backspace should be respectively). I acknowledge that PC laptops have quirky key positions, too.

On the few occasions when I have tried to use Safari for some quick surfing, I get caught out by the fact that the cursor keys appear to be disabled in password fields. Why, in the name of all that’s Mac, should this be so?. It’s so unbelievably frustrating for me, as my password system requires the use of the cursor keys. And almost as annoying is the missing delete key. Man, it’s doing my head in. Sure, I can hold down fn and then backspace becomes delete, but I navigate in Word with the keyboard and I’m all over the place. It slows me down A LOT.

I’ve been catching up on MacBreak Weekly and The iLifeZone, so I’m well equipped with Mac tips for when I finally get some time to sit down and play. Quicksilver looks like it will be right up my street!

So, the question is, when it comes to upgrade time, do I upgrade my main system to a Mac Pro, or do I just upgrade to a Core 2 Duo, new motherboard and Vista? The way I’m feeling right now, I’m about 80% in the PC camp, but I still really want to give the Mac a chance. I know that I haven’t really done that yet.

Tune in next month for the next instalment!

PS. And if anyone knows how to fix that annoying cursor key/password field thing, I’d be most grateful to hear about it.

First day on the Mac, by a Windows user

I got my MacBook and have spent a couple of hours with it. This if the most I’ve typed on it yet. The keyboard is very nice actually, and the whole thing just feels quality. However, I’m finding it rather frustrating to be honest, mainly because of the unfamiliarity. I’m quick on a Windows machine and have the keyboard shortcuts down pretty well – so much so that I don’t use the mouse that much if I can help it.

I get that command Q is the same as Alt F4, but what about Ctrl W? I can delete a word at a time using the alt key with backspace, rather than Ctrl as it is on Windows, but where’s the delete key? And how come Firefox didn’t show up in my regular user account after installing it on the admin account?

Part of the problem is that I don’t get to play on the Mac until the evening when I’m really too tired to be reading how-tos and manuals. I’m sure it will come in time. But, as this is my only Mac in a Windows world, I’m curious as to how frustrating it is going to be switching between them all day long with the keyboard shortcut issue. I haven’t tried doing anything really productive on the Mac; that’s not really what I got it for anyway, but it would be interesting to see how it works for heavy word processing, audio editing, etc. I guess I should start off by finding a site of info for switchers from Windows – anyone recommend anything?

It is a nice machine though. I also got a nice Timbuk2 bag for it.

I’m not sure about the glossy screen. It does reflect the light, but so far it hasn’t really been an issue.  

As I find with my iPod, it’s the little things that make Apple products nice. I went to plug in the magnetic power cord, which is a great thing in itself, but the thing that made me smile was that there was no right way round – downside up or upside down, it fits! And the button the battery that makes the lights come on to show how much charge is left is another example of the Apple goodness.

So, all in all, it’s a nice laptop, but there’s a curve. I’m pleased.

Cough

Hamish has had rather a bad chesty cough for over a week now so we reckon it’s time that we took him to the doctor. He seems perfectly happy, but you hear scare stories about coughs turning into pneumonia and the like, so it’s better to be safe than sorry. Of course it means a long wait for Lorraine in the waiting room – it’s bad enough when you have an appointment, never mind when you don’t! And since I have to work, she’ll have to take Freya with her as well. Thankfully there are plenty of toys in the waiting room, but also plenty of infectious diseases too!

Lorraine took some pictures yesterday to use for our Christmas photo cards and we’ve been deliberating over which picture to use. I can’t attach one right now as I have some hard disk diagnostic checks running on the downstairs computer right now and, of course, I hadn’t copied the pictures up to the centre of operations. I’ll post them up later on today and maybe you can help me choose.

Translation wise, I have a mere 500 words to go of chapter 7 to go, and that leaves only chapter 8 and the conclusion, some 9500 words. The end is visible.

Oh, and I got the MacBook yesterday. It’s going to take some getting used to – being partial to keyboard shortcuts, it’s rather frustrating not to have them any more. I’m sure there are some shortcuts to learn, they’re just different.

Back to work then…

MacBook: the saga

This follows on from my excited post about my new MacBook.

So I did bunk off and nip into town yesterday to pick up my new MacBook, just as I knew I would. I had to get up at 6 am so that I could do that.

I arrived at the shop, presented my invoice and they collected the computer for me. While it was sitting on the counter, I asked why the 2 GB of RAM I ordered as an upgrade was on top of the box and not in the computer. They said that I would have to remove the existing RAM modules and replace them with the bigger ones. “So what do I do with the old RAM then?” was my obvious response. To which they replied something along the lines of “whatever”.

So I called for the manager and had him explain to me that they would install it for me for a mere 49 euros. Bear in mind that this is a five-minute job, which makes the hourly charge for switching RAM 588 euros. Hmmm. But then they explained that, if they were to do that, they could keep the old RAM and deduct that from the price. Forgive me for being presumptious, but I just assumed that that is what they would have done in the first place. The overall result would be that I would pay 90 euros less, even taking into account the 49 euro charge. So I came home empty handed and dejected, and had to get up at 6 again this morning so I can make the trip into town again today.

When I got home, I examined the original invoice and the updated one to take into account the 49 euro charge and deduction. That’s when I began to get really confused. The original invoice had the RAM listed at 154 euros; the updated one had it listed as 271.42. So I sent an email to the shop asking that they explain the pricing and also to let them know how disappointed I was about the whole thing.

I’m going back in to town in about an hour to pick it up and will hopefully get some good service (not common in Luxembourg I’m sad to say). Dare I start to get excited again?

MacBook and haircuts

You all know that saying that says if you hang around a barber’s shop for long enough, sooner or later you’ll get a haircut? Or, as Nick Cave so eloquently put it, if you dine with the cannibals, sooner or later, darling, you’re gonna get eaten!

My point? I’m a dyed-in-the-wool Windows guy and a power user. I cut my teeth on Windows 95, onto Windows 98 (not SE), Windows 2000 and I’ve been using Windows XP Pro since Service Pack 1. Along comes Security Now (the first podcast I ever subscribed to) then TWiT, This Week in Media and then, pretty much down to the fact that I enjoy listening to the TWiT-casters, I found myself subscribing to MacBreak, then MacBreak Weekly and now even the iLifeZone. This was rather strange, as I’ve never owned a Mac in my life. Most of the TWiT-casters are Mac guys, some even openly admit to being fanboys. So listening to the TWiT-casts was the equivalent of hanging around the barber’s shop. It was just a matter of time.

So, Apple switches to Intel chips and now Windows can go on a Mac. Now there’s a thought. My wife’s Sony Vaio (P266 MMX with a whopping 32MB of RAM) is looking rather long in the tooth and so it seems only right that we upgrade the notebook. So, that decided, I said I was going to wait and see if Apple would ever put the Core 2 Duo chips into the MacBooks, which of course they did. So, I placed my order for a my first ever Mac on Saturday 11 November: a white MacBook with 2 GB of RAM. Being a little concerned about the switch, I decided to add a copy of Parallels and Windows XP Home to the order. I’ll see how much I can get by without Windows, but I’m pretty sure I’ll end up installing it at some point.

And, joy of joys, I just got a call from the shop to say that my MacBook has arrived and is there waiting for me to go and pick it up! Of course, it would come on a Tuesday, when the only day I can easily get to the shop is a Saturday. Still, it could be worse, it could be Monday! But I’m fairly sure that I’m going to try and bunk off tomorrow morning so I can go and collect it – I can always get up a couple of hours earlier to work and then nip into town for my MacBook.

Exciting times!