Good points, and well made

by Giles Turnbull

There was a fun thread at Ask Metafilter last week, prompted by a post from user aberrant who wanted to know: “How can I better enjoy my new Mac?”

Aside from the usual list of tips that you’d expect to see in a thread for Mac newbies (learn to use Apple+Q; there is no Registry, and you don’t need to defrag; Quicksilver rocks; etc), I spotted a few choice snippets of advice and opinion that I thought deserved a wider audience…

I love that I no longer even have to THINK about IE except when I’m developing web applications … I like TextMate. I absolutely adore not having to worry that the next patch tuesday is going to bork some system driver, and avoiding driver version hell is nice.SpecialK

After using a Mac for awhile, going back to work on a Windows machine is pure, RSI-inducing hell, because you end up comfortably using your thumb to invoke the Command key on the Mac, whereas on Windows, the most frequently used keyboard shortcuts are invoked with totally un-naturally located Control key.melorama

Take your time. the situation was good for me cause i had a windows box i used when i needed to get things done, and a Mac to play on. and after i certain amount of time i realized the Mac was where stuff got done.[@I][:+:][@I]

What’s the one thing you always say to Mac newbies, or wannabe newbies?


2006-11-20 14:12:03
I just wanted to say thanks so much for your blog. I used an Apple 20 years ago but PCs were the tool of choice for the industry in which I worked, so that's what I've had since. When my relatively new Dell became almost non-functional after a Windows update a few weeks ago, I decided I'd had enough...went straight to an Apple store (where I had a good customer service experience unlike any I've had recently) and bought the new dual-core MacBook. Whoa. I am one happy person and trying to catch up on all I've missed and re-wire my brain for the simpler Mac way of computing. Your blog is helping in a very big way.

2006-11-20 14:18:01
Who thinks about IE anyway. Run firefox. I map my control to caps lock as I'm a heavy emacs user and need to use the ctrl key all day long.

I can kinda see the point about updates, but just because a mac user doesn't think about updates doesn't mean that they shouldn't get them. I can speak from experience that updating shared libraries in *nix is similarly frustrating to DLL issues.

Honestly it all comes down to software and to be frank I've yet to see software that tips the balance in productivity now that I can actually afford apple products.

Kristopher Browne
2006-11-20 16:35:05
To Anonymous:
There are apps that will push the balance of productivity over the edge, especially for a keyboard friendly user or a GTD convert.

Quicksilver was mentioned above, but can never get enough press... Especially combined wit scripting or Services, it is like the perfect blend of command line and GUI, complete with pipes and redirects. And it's even free.

TextMate isn't free, but somehow is the first editor I have seen shut up people from both the Vi and Emacs camps of the debate.

For GTD goodness you kinda have to shop around to see what works best for your personal habits, but the best tools all around for Task/Action management and Collection are all Mac apps. I am thus far fond of Journaler for Collection and kGTD for Action management.

2006-11-20 16:40:48
> "updating shared libraries in *nix is similarly frustrating to DLL issues"

Yeah, but updating software on the Mac is as simple as leaving Software Update to run once a week, then clicking "Install" and typing in an administrator password when it comes up with stuff.

Compare to Windows Update, or Microsoft Update, or whatever it's called this week - choose between critical updates and other updates, choose one of four levels of automation, upgrade to a different kind of Updater every few months. Nightmare.

2006-11-22 09:19:46
To be frank some of the quoted comments don't really address the question that was asked - "How can I better enjoy my new Mac?"

For example, "I love [not having] to think about IE" has nothing to do with that question at all. Neither do many of these other comments. They are really addressing an entirely different one that *wasn't* asked, viz. "What do you like about the Mac?" - or perhaps even, "Why do you prefer the Mac to Windows?".

I suppose if one re-interprets "I like TextMate" to "I'd advise you to buy TextMate" then that comment is just about on-topic. Much else isn't.

I'm not sure what advice I would give to anyone who wants to know "How can I better enjoy my new Mac?" Perhaps I'd point the person to some reliable books on OS X - to start with Pogue's _Missing Manual_, I guess and O'Reilly's _Learning Unix for Mac Os X Tiger_. Perhaps I'd throw in a few platform-specific tips, such as, "Don't close program windows; hide them with control+H." I'd certainly suggest a few pieces of software (TextMate among them). If the questioner was a heavy user of mobile phones/Palm-based PDAs I'd probably suggest looking into the level of integration that's possible with OS X. The out-of-the-box Bluetooth support in OS X is very good (and, if we must make comparisons, I'd say OS X is well ahead of XP here).

Wouldn't our questioner, if he were a keen text-messager, "better enjoy [his] Mac" if someone pointed out to him that he can send SMS messages out of Address with a couple of clicks and get to type them on a real keyboard not a phone keypad?

2006-11-23 01:34:29
Honestly? I usually tell people how much easier I think life is on a mac. But when they come to me and ask me "why should I buy a mac?", I say no more. Because when you do, you end up being morally responsible for everything that goes wrong - for the bad phone support, for installing new software, for regularly cleaning up the system, for answering all their petty questions they are to busy googling themselves.
But when they came over on their own, I was able to surprise people with things like Exposé, the whole iSuite - and with the visionary statement "You only need Photo Booth". And I advise them to install X11 and give the gift of open office, inkscape, and the gimp. And, finally, font forge. After that, I don't hear from them for weeks. Although X11 is not the most beautiful solution, everything already is fast, feature-rich, mostly intuitive - and everything is already a Universal Binary.