After One Day: First Impressions and Questions of a New Mac User

Well, it’s been a day, and my new MacBook Pro computer is still in existence on my desk, and hasn’t vanished back into some techie mirage.

Some first impressions:

One thing that Apple has done well for a long time is industrial design and marketing, and it shows. The “iSoftware” really does have an integrated togetherness to it: the DVD player works well with the remote, which also mutes iTunes when I want to make a phone call. It even synced with my BlueTooth cellphone!

And I really, really like the “two fingers on the trackpad to scroll” feature. That replaces the scroll button on a mouse completely for me. (The Mac recognised my Wacom drawing tablet as well!)

Ow, this keyboard is small
Being a portable, the keys are closer together than I’m used to, and I keep hitting the Caps Lock key when I’m not intending to. I keep wanting to delete forwards from the cursor as well, and I’m at a bit of a loss because I can’t remember how I did it ion the Windows machine. As it is, I have to Option-Shift-Right Arrow over the offending text to select it, then I can delete. It’s just a matter of getting used to a slightly-different way of doing things.

I’m getting used to the Option and Command (“Shreddie”) keys, but I notice that a Control key is still there, and I can use it to Ctrl-click on things to get a context menu.

Where are my programs?
I miss the Start menu, with its list of installed programs. But i am getting used to hittng Dock, Finder, Applications, then selecting the one I want to use. I did search for one at one point, though.

The Dock
Cute, especially when I set it to be small and expand the icon that the pointer is over. It seems to be about halfway between the Task Bar and the Quick Launch icons on Windows XP.

Free Stuff!
The machine came with thirty-day trial versions of various software, including IWork, which I do want to test. I have a presentation due in two weeks, and I was considering buying it. It’ll be good to see what it’s like.

I also downloaded OpenOffice for Mac OS X, and discovered that it’s an “X Window System” application that does not use the Mac’s own user interface. I had to install the Unix-style “X11” windowing system, which was provided as an optional piece of software on the OS X installation discs. Once installed and activated, OpenOffice placed its own menus and such in a MacOS window, and did not use the man Mac OS menu at the top of the screen.

The Chat Situation: Disappointing, so far
The machine came with iChat, and I was able to install Skype and MSN Messenger. Unfortunately, there seem to be no multinetwork IM clients such as Trillian; ICQ is unavailable; and the MSN Messenger client I got from Microsoft seems to be a couple of versions behind the one on XP. My friend on MSN was unable to open a video chat with me.

So… is there a way to make iChat work with other IM networks such as MSN, and especially ICQ? Most of my Esperanto buddies are on ICQ, and most of the rest of them are on MSN.

All Unixy underneath
It gave me a great deal of pleasure to open a terminal and see a genuine Unix-style prompt staring at me. ls -l and all that. :slight_smile:

Mail: What address am I using?
I’m sending email using the Mac’s inbuilt Mail program, and using the email address of my email account from my ISP. It was very fast in sorting the thousands of messages I had from 4 months of webmail access only!

I had been using Thunderbird on the XP machine, and sending mail with a Sender and Reply To address in my external domain. Mail addressed to that domain is forwarded to my mail account at my ISP; this allows me to change ISPs without changing the email address that everyone sees, which has already happened once.

Can I configure the Mail program to send using a different Sender and Reply-To address?

I have much to learn.

I don’t use email programs, so I’m no help there. However, I can tell you if you drag the applications folder to the right side of the bar on the dock, left-clicking on it will make it act much like the Start menu.

You can drag any application you want right into the dock. Or, if you want it to seem a bit more like what you’re used to, you can make an alias of your applications folder and put that in the dock. Then you can just click and hold on the alias in your dock and a list of your programs will pop up.

On preview, nevermind.

It’s undoubtably going to get mentioned many times, so I’ll mention it first: Install Quicksilver. You’ll love being able to open programs without resorting to the mouse.

For multinetwork chat, try Adium.

That looks very interesting. I just installed it. What an artistic installer!

Thanks! I’ll give that a look.

:: moments later ::

That looks more like it.

:: now downloading ::

Yes! All the IM networks are there!
[sub]Now if I can only remember my usernames and passwords…[/sub]

My daughter uses Adium for all her Instant Messaging. That handles just about everything, I think.

Oops. Too late.

Oh yes, Adium seems to be working splendidly. I already reconnected with a friend in Brasil! :slight_smile:

As for OpenOffice and X11, they are working on a more native version of it for OSX. There’s also an existing Aqua (Mac interface) version called NeoOffice. Follow links here for more info on either). I haven’t used either, so I don’t know what state they’re in today.

You may prefer to change your keyboard to swap the Control and Caps Lock keys. I can’t recall exactly where to change this, but it could end up being easier (Try somewhere in System Prefs). You’ve already noticed that the ⌘ key works more similarly to Ctrl in Windows, and the usefulness of the Control key in certain situations. Ctrl-click is also equal to a right-click if you plug in a mouse. The trackpad can also be used for right-clicking (but I think you need third-party software).

In the Mail help file, look up “accounts.” It has info about adding multiple e-mail aliases to an account.

The junk filtering in Mail is pretty good, but I added JunkMatcher to it, and now my junk filtering is damned near perfect.

I’ll add another vote for NeoOffice.

Thanks! I’m going to check those out.

So far, I have downloaded:[ul][li]Adium[]MSN Messenger (replaced by Adium)[]OpenOffice 2.2 for X11[]a DivX video viewer/codec[]A Windows Media video viewer/codec (both of these codecs integrated into the QuickTime player)[]The NVU HTML editor and website management tool[]Stuffit Expander[]Skype[]FireFox, andGoogle Earth[/ul]This place is beginning to feel like home. [/li]
Today, my friend and I afe going out to Tiger Direct to get a USB-to-ATA adapter so that I can read in data from my old hard drives in the fried computer. Also, I want to check out the cases for the MacBook Pro at the Apple store in Sherway Gardens. I’d like to get a hard case that I can slip inside my book bag.

Sunspace, if you haven’t already done so, be sure to check out the recent Dashboard thread for lots of info about cool widgets!

Thanks, freckafree! I’ll investigate some of those.

I discovered how to put my favourite programs on the Dock: you just… drag their icons out of the Applications folder.

Also in the Applications folder, in the Utilities subfolder next to X11, is a deceptively-modest little program called Grapher. It merely displays equations.

But that’s like saying that the Mona Lisa is just a painting. Grapher displays 2-D and 3-D plots of functions, and lets you edit the functions, and provide lists of parameter variables so you can graph the function across a range of values and see how it changes, and displays gorgeous rotatable coloured 3-D graphs that are pure eye candy. It even integrates and differentiates! And it’s so fast!

I was thinking yesterday how much I wanted to play with Mathematica, and there’s a mini version right in my computer for free! :slight_smile:

In other news, my friend and I went out to get the USB-to-ATA cable to plug the Parallel-ATA IDE hard drives from my Frankensteinian old Windows computer (which I built myself) into the MacBook Pro via USB.

The adapter was $22.99 or something like that at Tiger Direct. We brought it back to my place and liberated it from the almost indestructible welded plastic casing it was packaged in. Inside were the cable, a power-supply, a power cable, and an adapter cable for powering 2.5-inch hard drves. The adapter cable for the smaller drive in particular seemed cheaply made: it was a header with two wired soldered to two pins and heatshrunk. It looked like something I might have put together in the lab as a temporary measure.

I opened my old computer and removed the hard drive. The adapter cable plugged into the 40-pin connector on the hard drive; the power supply plugged into the 4-pin power connector in the drive.

We plugged the drive into the Mac. Nothing. No drive icon appeared. The skimpy instructions said that it would Just Work. Hmm. Maybe it needed the driver anyways?

The driver software was on one of those small 8-cm mini-CDs, which specifically do not work in the slot-loading drive on the MacBook Pro. Hmm. How to get it into the Mac? My friend opened his laptop, whose CD drive could accept 8-cm discs. We read the Mac directory from the CD into a USB pen drive, which he removed and I then plugged into the Mac.

There was a driver for Mac OX X. I tried installing it. The system asked me to reboot, so I did, and when I plugged the cable back in, the system complained of a driver that didn’t work. Still no icon. My friend tried plugging it into his laptop… Windows XP there recognised that a USB Mass Storage device had been connected, but wasn’t showing any contents.

Had the drive somehow gotten damaged? Had I lost all my data?

Let’s try the connection again. What if we change the drive jumper from Cable Select to Master? We did so, plugged it all back together, plugged the USB cable into the Mac… and the drive icon appeared! I opened it, and the Finder window showed all my familiar old directories. After four months, I could see my stuff again! Web pages, pictures, artwork, ebooks, video files, on and on and on.

I breathed a huge sign of relief.

So, a word of advice. If you get the Cables Unlimited USB-to-IDE Cable, model USB-2100, be sure to set the connected hard drive to Master! It won’t work otherwise, and nowhere in the documentation does it say so!

And that is the difference between Macs and cheap stuff. All that extra effort to polish the product and refine (or, in fact, write) the documentation costs. But it’s worth it. :slight_smile:

I am now listening to Soma FM on iTunes and using my data.

Re: Widgets thread:
And then disregard the whole thread since you already got Quicksilver. . .

I Just bought a Mac Book! I can’t wait for it to get here. I haven’t used a mac since '99, and I refuse to upgrade past win 2k, the last OS that Microsoft didn’t screw up. I hope its as cool as I think it will be! I wish the SDMB would do a search for “mac”… anyone have anymore threads about macs they want to share?