My MacBook Pro Experience - Day 26

My MacBook Pro Experience - Day 26

Summary: My MacBook Pro experience will, over the next few days, be drawing to a close. But what will be the things that I miss and those that won't I miss?


My MacBook Pro experience will, over the next few days, be drawing to a close.  But what will be the things that I miss and those that won't I miss?

After nearly a month I have to admit that the sexiness of the notebook has faded.  That never lasts long.  It's a notebook, a nice one no doubt, but it's still just a tool.  However, as style has given way to function, I've been pleased with how practical a machine it's been.  Once I'd overcome the WiFi problem, the machine quickly started to pull it's weight.  It quickly became a web surfing, writing and blogging platform.  Using Grab to take screenshots soon became second nature (although it's nowhere near as good as SnagIt, my screen capture tool of choice, but Grab is better than Snipping Tool which comes with Vista).

There are a number of aspects of the MacBook Pro's hardware that I really like.  For example, I love the screen.  It's one of the best that I've used - clear, crisp, bright.  I really enjoy using the trackpad - the double-tap acting for a right-click is a real timesaver and I find myself trying to do this on my other notebooks all the time now. 

The backlit keyboard is also a feature that I'll really miss.  I don't like the keyboard layout that much because I keep hitting the CAPS LOCK key but that's something that I'd get over after a while.  Even little things like the button on the back that shows you how much charge is left in the battery is a neat touch that I now wish my other notebooks had.  The MacBook also runs cool and seems to dissipate heat well.  I can use it on my lap without discomfort.  The MagSafe power connector is also a winner.  Very nice indeed.

As for the Mac OS itself, I've been quite surprised as to how much I've warmed to it.  There's a simplicity to it that I find comforting.  What can I say about it apart from "it just works".  I appreciate how clean the notebook is - there's no craplets to uninstall or get in the way of the Mac experience.  To be honest, this MacBook was set up for me by the kind folks at Apple who loaned it to me, so I'm not sure how much setting up there is when you get a new MacBook.  As a rule I buy notebooks without operating systems on them and set them up myself and I've done this so many times that it's almost second nature.  If Apple had given me a Mac OS X disc I would have gone through an install process to see what it's like, but since I don't have one, I can't.

One software feature that I really like is BootCamp.  With Leopard I'm pretty sure that Apple is going to be making a really big deal of the ability to run Windows on a Mac.  It's the safety net that I think many Windows users have been waiting for in order to give Apple and Mac OS a go.  BootCamp makes a transition to the Mac OS a lot easier and offers some the opportunity to live and work in a multi-OS world.  BootCamp also removes a major home limitation - gaming.  Just install Windows and get the best of both worlds.  Yes, it's two systems to administer, but it's worth it.  If you keep the Windows OS off the net and don't download email to it, you could dispense with having to download and install patches from Microsoft.

There are, however, a few things that irritate me about the MacBook Pro.  They don't irritate me in any huge kind of way, but after a month I'm still irritated.  I still feel that they keyboard is too far away from the front of the MacBook and I find myself hunching over to type.  The buttons on the trackpad feel clunky and out of place.  I'm surprised that Apple haven't come up with something smarter (my recommend would be to trash the buttons and replace them with touchpads).

Another irritant is the Mac lunatic fringe.  I don't mean fans (there's nothing wrong with being a fan), but instead those that make broad, crazy claims or seem to seem to take any criticism as though it's a personal attack.  There are far fewer of these lunatics around today than there were a few years ago but they're still there, on Mac forums and websites.  These people do Apple no favors at all and I'm convinced that they actually put people off buying Macs. 

If you're a MacBook user, what's yur favorite feature?  If you use a Windows-based notebook, is there a MacBook feature that you'd like to see on your next notebook?

Previous installments:

Topic: Apple

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  • Fav feature

    A tie between Spotlight and Expose. Both have saved me a lot of time.
    Benton Rich
    • Quartz and Expose for me...

      Quartz and Expose for me, I just love having the integrated PDF support. Don't need CutePDF or some other 3rd party app. Best of all, you can make PDFs from absolutely any program, and be able to open PDFs in many programs that take advantage of Quartz.

      Expose is the best windowing management system out there, bar none. Such a time save.
  • Screenshots and lunatic fringes

    One freeware tool I find incredibly valuable is Paparazzi, which instead of taking a shot of the entire screen, instead captures an image of an entire webpage (going all the way to the bottom, not just what you can see on your screen at a given moment). More info here:

    As for the lunatic fringe, I think you'll find them for all manufacturers of operating systems, whether it's our local Windows users, the open source crowd, or we ridiculous Apple fanboys. Perhaps we Apple folks are a bit louder or a bit more defensive--remember though that we've been beaten on, called weird and out of the mainstream, and basically belittled for our computing choices for the last 10 plus years. If you spend more time in the Apple community, sites like MacFixit or MacInTouch, you'll find a really supportive community. People who go out of their way to help one another, and, surprisingly, people who are vastly more critical of Apple and their products than you'll find around here. Even the worst Windows bigot can't hold a candle to a hardcore Mac user when it comes to holding Apple's feet over the fire when they are inconsistent in applying their user interface guidelines, as just one example.
    tic swayback
  • keystroke conversion problem

    One impediment to using a Mac for long-term Windows and MS Office users such as myself is the need to learn new key combinations for routine tasks. One example that particularly irks me is the lack of a Delete (delete forward) key on the Mac keyboard. You have to hold down some other key (I keep forgetting which one) and press Backspace in order to delete forward. Did the author have much trouble retraining his fingers?
    • Laptop keyboards only?

      The standard external keyboard that comes with iMac's, PowerMacs, Mac Pro's
      etc. has both a delete backward and delete forward key. I had actually used
      Windows based notebooks for so long that I thought the delete forward key
      was something only Macs had. I'm assuming that the MacBook Pro leaves this
      key off due to space considerations as do so many other notebooks.
  • Screenshots

    A utility that I love is Snapz Pro made by Ambrosia Software. It will take screen captures in just about any format you want, and it will record video at just about any quality setting you want. I find it very useful.

    As for the zealots, yes they are out there. And there are a few forums I don't visit because of them. There is one forum that is downright terrible,and if you say one bad thing about apple, the people go nuts and ban you. But some forums are great, and are not afraid to criticize apple.
    • I agree about Snapz Pro...

      I agree about Snapz Pro, you should really check it out. I think it's more akin to your SnagIt program. I really like the "Menu" snapshot feature, it's extremely handy when making tutorials and you want to show peeps exactly [i]where[/i] in the menu to click something.

      The video capture feature is also equally impressive.

      Make sure you check it out before you give up your laptop. I bet Ambrosia wouldn't mind giving you an evaulation copy.
  • Lunatic Fringe

    I find the lunatic fringe more vocal on the Linux side. Also, there is a lunatic
    Windows fringe, that is not only lunatic, it's a bullying fringe, beating up the small
    guys (Mac and Linux), which I find rather distasteful.

    Finally, I'd like to point out that the number of times a read ABOUT the Mac lunatic
    fringe far outweighs the number of times I read anything FROM the Mac lunatic
    fringe. It seems to me that Mac haters love to point to the lunatic fringe as an
    argument against the Mac.

    I use OS X, Windows and Linux.
  • Viable Option

    It looks as though a viable option has been added to the roster of choices. This
    "new" option has an advantage of being able to run all major desktop
    environments OSX, Windows, Linux, and Unix. The reason this choice
    distinguishes itself from other choices is because it's one made in an open market
    outside of the influence of any one platform. It represents the one proprietary
    alternative to Windows. As such it is Windows one true competitor.

    If Apple wasn't around, our choices would dwindle to 1 proprietary desktop and 1
    open source project.

    The Windows based economy has created and sustained too much support work
    to ever go away, and marketplace dominance by Apple is probably something we
    should all have concerns about, but what about choice?

    Choice is offered up as the great virtue intrinsic to the PC platform. The irony is,
    that without a group of people prepared to vote with their dollars and make what
    is often the harder decision to choose Apple, this option would not have been
    available. the real, substantive choice between platform and OS would have been

    For those who are comfortable with one desktop environment from cradle to
    grave, this isn't an issue.

    However, when the criticism for the MacBook Pro distills down to "keyboard is too
    far away" and "too bad about the wingnuts"? I think it's worth mentioning that the
    wingnuts carry their voting share. They threw support, in the form of the purchase
    price for a computer, at Apple. They are equally responsible as any Mac user for
    allowing this choice to remain available. I'd agree with Tic and say there is a large
    amount of denail coming from all corners.

    So we don't have to choose a MacBook, or a MacBook Pro, but we can't presume to
    be a champions of choice and then not recognize it when it runs over us. If the
    wingnuts carry influence in this kind of decision, and are capable of swaying the
    decision one way or the other? Quite frankly, I'll be betting on the wingnuts in
    future. Their criteria for choice (for better or worse) has been their own critical
    judgement, not the opinions of others (wingnuts or not). They will have proven
    themselves influential. And at the very least they've had their hands on the tiller.
    Harry Bardal
  • Lunatic fringe

    I too am annoyed at the lunatic fringe whenever I need accessories. Going to my local Apple store is like going to the white temple to pray. Many of the fringe that hang out there remind my of the Moonies that used to hang out at airports or busy intersections selling wilted flowers, wide dopey smiles with a rivulet of drool out of one side of the mouth. Although the clerks in the stores were generally helpful, I always felt I needed a shower after leaving the store. I just order online now.
    • And comments like that probably serve to inspire or

      fire up the so called "Lunatic Frindge". Perhaps the frindge existed in
      part because Apple for many a year now has been under assault?
      Could it be that people or the lunatics were so tired of being
      questioned as to "WHY" they choose Mac's in the face of the obvious
      (via sheer numbers) only real and sound choice of Windows and
      everything Microsoft? There will always be the foil hat wearing folk
      out there but in some cases say like recently we learnt that our own
      government is actually listening too us and watching us, they turn out
      to have been pushed or worse still they turn out to be RIGHT!!! Curse
      you GW Shrub!!! You made the foily hat wearers took smart and the
      reast of use look like trusting fools...THANKS!

      Pagan jim
      • Which is the bigger set of lunatics?

        As someone pointed out above, I'd be willing to bet that the number of people complaining about Apple fanatics far outnumbers the actual number of Apple fanatics (and the same goes for the number of posts by each subject).
        tic swayback
  • Integrate the ThinkPad

    Integrate the ThinkPad Keyboard and UltraNav with Apple's backlight and I would probably buy a Mac. The whole touchpad input turns me off though.

    I love OS X though.
    • As a longtime ThinkPad & MacBook Pro owner

      the keyboards (too me anyhow) now seem to be very similar. I like them both. Personally, I don't use the UltraNav because I like the touchpad on the IBM. Different strokes. Backlit keyboard or light from screen top edge. Both are great ways of dealing with the low light issue. (As much as I enjoy my Macs, I wish IBM was still making laptops though. Very well thought-out hardware.)
  • Am I reading this right?

    "BootCamp also removes a major home limitation - gaming. Just install
    Windows and get the best of both worlds."
    Careful Adrian, you are starting to sound like a convert. Windows is the
    best for gaming, no doubt. But one could interpret the rest of that sentence
    to be saying that for most everything else, OSX is the best.

    "Yes, it's two systems to administer, but it's worth it."
    The folks at ZDNet are going to start docking your pay if you keep on
    making Apple fanboy statements like that!

    Tongue in cheek aside, I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed most of
    this series. With a couple of notable exceptions I found it to be the first
    objective look at Apple hardware and OSX that I have found on ZDNet.

    I can also see where you would be turned off by the lunatic fringe that
    posts here, but I think that if you were to be just as objective about that,
    you would find that the lunatics are fairly evenly distributed among the two
    camps. To be honest, it's a turn off to me too but not in the way it was to
    you. It turns me off to ZDNet, as this site seems to attract the lunies so
    much more so than all the other sites I frequent. In fact, I find that if
    anything, Apple fans on Apple centric sites are more harshly critical of
    Apple than Windows fans are of Microsoft - especially when they feel that
    Apple hasn't been consistent with the vision that we all invested in when we

    I hope to see more reviews from you of alternate operating systems in the
    future. Keep the faith, and by the way ... since you obviously really love the
    MacBook Pro, I'm betting they'll give you a pretty good deal on it. After all
    it's a used system with clunky trackpad buttons. ;-)
  • Certain type of lunatic

    Unfortunately, I have found the Mac/Linux platform draws a certain type of lunatic that in themselves are annoying - not their computer of choice. They tend to have a separatist attitude about everything and like to think they are being different or on the edge by using the Mac or Linux. And using Mac/Linux somehow makes them better people. They like to put down MS users as incompetent lemmings - and yet they really don't want the Mac/Linux to be popular or widely accepted - because it would then somehow diminish their exclusiveness. MS has it's lunatics as well, but since it is used so widely, there are more average joes around to counteract the noise.

    Thanks for a great review Adrian. It's the most honest, balanced review I've seen of the system. I think I'm still happy using Linux and MS, but I will probably get one for my wife.
    • I hope for your sake she doesn't read this!...

      "Unfortunately, I have found the Mac/Linux platform draws a certain type of lunatic that in themselves are annoying...
      ...I will probably get one for my wife."
      Rising Star
  • Installing OS X...

    Installing OS X is pretty straight forward. Boot from the CD or DVD (hold down the C key when booting up the computer), and it loads the installer.

    Choose the Language for the installer. Click through EULAs. It pops up with a list of HDDs you can (or possibly can't) install on. Then you have options on what type of install you want to do. You can do a Clean Install (makes a new system, but doesn't erase the HDD), an Archive & Install (makes a new system, but also copies over preferences) or, you can completely erase the HDD and do a normal install (probably what you want to do.) You can also hit the Customize button and choose specific parts of the OS to install.

    You just click the install button and away it goes. No dialogs in the middle of install, either. When it's done, it'll automatically restart for you.

    After it restarts, you go through the initial setup phase with user names, passwords, time zones, etc.

    That's about it.
    • Oh, one more thing...

      Oh, one more thing: it takes anywhere from 10 minutes to 30 minutes to install depending on your computer's configuration.
    • You forgot to mention the part of the install ...

      ... where you are required to register with Apple. The Draconian Overloads at Apple do not allow you to opt out. If you do not register you cannot complete the install.