Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Mac - First Impressions

Yeah, I'm two grand poorer and all I have to show for it is this giant Cadillac of a computer.
I actually waited years to make this purchase as I couldn't get off the fence.  I couldn't bring myself to spend Mac money, and I couldn't make myself buy another Windows computer because of the two things I could really live without when it comes to Windows:
  1. The Device Manager.  As a computer tech I'm in the ol' device "mangler" several times a week.  With every Windows system that I've owned, it's been a matter of when, not if, I would need to pull up device manager (or it's close cousin, Disk Manager) to give Windows a grope to see what was up.  I'm sick of 'rolling back drivers', and rigging up drivers, and putting up with manufacturers who had abandoned the platform about five minutes after selling it and leaving it to their suppliers to provide driver updates.  The last issue would inevitably lead to weird situations where the audio drivers are three years old, and the network drivers are three weeks old (which doesn't really matter since the network drivers never work right on a Windows system; you might think that they do, but they don't, trust me).
  2. The Registry Editor. The single story I like to relate was on my last PC that was mine, I tried to install a Visual Studio service pack and was met with a ton registry resistance.  After spending more than a day tearing the registry guts out of the system the service pack finally installed, but it doesn't escape the fact that the Windows registry is a horrible joke on the users of the system.  Over the years, Microsoft has taken steps to try and safeguard the system from a total debacle that might be caused by a couple bad bits in the registry, and although it has had some success, it is largely duct tape on a leaky hot air balloon.
Add to those two points that Windows computers have been completely commoditized, i.e., they're cheap shit.  When inspecting Windows laptops, I'd push the 'enter' key, and keys as far away as 'q' would jiggle from the pressure.  Cheap keyboards, cheap mice, cheap screens, cheap power supplies, cheap heat sinks, cheap software, cheap cheap cheap!  I couldn't take it!  Part of my waiting was that I figured that a real Windows system would appear that wasn't an ugly, over clocked gaming PC, but no dice, regular consumer Windows PCs only got cheaper and nastier.  I know other people have used Windows computers for years with no issues, but maybe by the nature of my occupation or something, my last ten years of using Windows PCs has sucked something fierce, and it didn't look to get better if I kept going down that path.
At this time I'll register two surprises that I've had with the Mac, one good, one bad.  On the good side, Safari has really surprised me.  It's really a top notch browser (at least in Lion) and I've haven't missed IE (even IE 9) for one second.  One the bad side, while better than it's Windows version, iTunes still sucks - Windows Media Player on the Mac, only slower and crappier since the idiots who wrote it haven't figured out how to do background library refreshes, or library scans that don't fall over themselves and add duplicates to the list.  I miss Winamp.

On a nerdy note, I downloaded Xcode, Apple's development package.  I ran through the 'Hello World' tutorial on their site and all I have to say is: Visual Studio it ain't.  Whereas Microsoft hides the guts of the XML and whatnot that actually drives a .Net application, Apple leaves it all laying out on the cutting board, 1995 style.  At least that's my impression after having used it for 15 minutes, so maybe I'm missing something.  (As well, the intellisense was busted, but since I've had that happen in Microsoft dev packages on occasion as well, I'll give them an out).

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