Engineering Manager | Trail Runner | Stockholm, Sweden

I'm a switcher

It would never have happened if they hadn’t decided to introduce the new MacBooks with a sale. That, and the fact that it was love at the first sight. I am still in a state of amazement whenever I switch this cutie on. As Lofota quite eloquently put it: “it just works”. And it just works without too much linuxy hassle or the dumb, overprotective, insecure Windows way.

It’s all sleek and smart: software as well as hardware. It looks better than any Windows, including Vista, while I can be sure it’s safe and effective and that all my tools I got used to under linux are just a terminal away. (It took five seconds tops to make my terminal window geekily transparent…)

One thing that blew everything else away at once is the Unicode support. I can have kanjis literally everywhere. And I mean it. iTunes handles my Japanese songs easily, UTF-8 filenames are trivial, emails work like a charm. If you have ever tried installing a Japanese application on your – say – Hungarian Windows you know what I’m talking about. Luckily since Apple is a fierce promoter of Unicode it encourages all the software develeopers to adopt the same attitude. Also Japan is a huge market for Apple as far as I know which also helps Unicoding everything.

From the outside it’s very clean and clear. The lit-up white apple on the back of the screen redefines cool. The charger connects to the machine with a magnet, meaning if my clumsiness ™ accidentally tips over the charger cable I wouldn’t send the MacBook flying over the room. The lid also uses a magnet to close, softening the process a great deal. There’s an otherwise invisible lamp on the side that pulses gently when the computer goes to sleep notifying the user that it’s not in fact powered off. (And OS X actually comes back after sleep, with everything working as it used to.) The keyboard felt weird at first but it proved to be great to type on, also very silent. The touchpad is able to scroll if I touch it with two fingers making an external mouse unneeded. (I tried connecting my old Logitech but it just didn’t feel as comfortable.) I recently discovered a button on the back that shows the battery strength with some green leds without the need to switch on. Recalling the countless times I brought my CD player with me uncharged it’s a neat feature indeed. With the battery in the MacBook weighs 2.3kg – not the lightest of them all out there but still quite transport-friendly. I carried it with me to the university once and it felt OK, like I had a book in my backpack. Also importantly the charger is unbeliveably small and light too. Lastly about the speakers that have a very impressive and clear sound, even at maximum volume, not quite like usual notebook speakers.

After starting to use OS X I felt like a kid who has been treated to a truckful of toys to play with, all colourful and exciting. I found myself constantly grinning, like “oooh and I can even do _this_”. Small moments, like when doing the initial setup OS X offers to take a picture of you using the built-in camera and Photo Booth and sets it up as your avatar. (Anyone remembers those ridiculous ducks and frogs?) OS X is sometimes criticised for too much eyecandy but – especially in the light of Vista – I kind of liked it. Everything is animated, antialiased, drops a shadow, fades into transparency. Aqua does it today what Aero will do who-kows-when. I press F9 and all the opened applications slide to a neat line-up so I can choose which to highlight. Alt-tab with style. I press F10 to see all the windows of a given application, like Finder. F11 shoves all windows to the sides to free up the desktop. And F12 brings up the famous widgets, in my case clocks, weather report, usage statistics, calculator, currency converter, etc.

There are rumors that there are not enough software for macs or that they are overpriced. Well I didn’t feel any need to purchase any additional software. The MacBook really does work out of the box. Incidentally if there’s a need for a specific application I can still just use a free OpenSource equivalent, like NeoOffice. (No way I buy MS Office. lol)

And I haven’t even started really using my Mac yet. Just wait until I go home and classes start.