The Mac is here

Well, I ended up getting a MacBook, now that my reliable Toshiba Tecra S1's screen has finally died.

I'm trying to remain objective, but the fact is that this isn't the device I would really have chosen, given a choice. If there had been a nice small Windows laptop on offer, I would have gone for it. That said, lots of colleagues who now have Macs are very happy with them, so I'll persevere for now. This is a business tool though - something to help me work and be productive, not a toy that I want to ogle at for hours on end because of its sheer widget bouncing beauty.

So, first impressions of a slightly grumpy user who feels he's ended up with the best of a bad bunch and is peeved that, at the local Sun office at least, a properly portable Toshiba wasn't on offer...

It came with a European plug. Granted, this is something that happens with most of the electronics you buy in Dubai, but it's still irritating. A British three pin is the standard across the Gulf, not Euro toothpicks. Now I need a UK to Euro converter and a Euro to UK converter in my bag.

I keep hitting the '\\' key rather than return. That's something my fingers will probably get used to, as well as the fact that the 'fn' and control keys are reversed compared to my Windows laptops.

The keyboard feels plasticky.

It came with a US keyboard. That's not Apple's fault, of course, but I preferred my UK keyboard on the Toshiba, which had a nice pound sign. This keyboard doesn't even have a Euro symbol.

It's not clear how replaceable the keyboard is. The keyboard was replaced twice on my Toshiba for various reasons - how long will this one last?

There are only two usb ports and you can't keep the mouse plugged in and use a usb stick at the same time, as the ports are too close together. Yes, I got a wireless mouse with it, but I don't want to have to carry a large mouse with a battery in it around with me. A small, retractable usb mouse is much more convenient. The usb slots are also on the left of the laptop, meaning the mouse cable has to stretch around to the right. I'd have preferred three usb ports - one for the mouse and two for an external hard drive, but that's not something that's a Mac only gripe - a small Tosh would have been the same, I expect.

The 'm' key looks like an upside down 'w'. I know, this is only a minor whinge, but it looks odd and I'm feeling picky, so there.

I can't work out how to hide the toolbar at the bottom, but will doubtless find the setting somewhere.

It's heavier than I thought. My old Tosh was 6.2lbs with a lovely 1400x1050 screen. This is 5lbs with only a 1280x1024 screen. I'd expected it to weigh less. It is much smaller though and fits nicely in my bag and on my lap.

I can't run the software I need to synch and backup my Palm Pilot. Nor can I run the software needed to synch and backup my Sony phone. Even charging the Sony phone via usb won't work well as Sony insist on having drivers installed on the laptop the phone's attached to for it to charge properly. I will also need to run VMware's client soon and that won't install either.

Looking back at the issues above, these are all minor gripes, common when anyone goes from one machine to another. Let's see how the Mac measures up over the coming weeks. If I get fed up with it, I'll just put Windows XP on it, go back to the classic theme and choose non anti-aliased fonts. It'll look old and dull, but I'll know where everything is and won't spend time fiddling, which, quite frankly, is all I care about.


Your valiant attempt at refusing to bow to the Mac Gods was shortlived, yet invigorating.

Good luck now you have turned... duh duh DUHHHHH to the dark side... Mwahahahahaha!

Posted by Troy Watts on June 08, 2008 at 10:44 AM GST #

The quickest way to hide the dock (the "toolbar at the bottom") is to press Cmd-Alt-D. You might also find, like me, that on a widescreen display it makes more sense to have it on the left than the bottom-- you can change this and other dock settings in the Dock panel of System Preferences. (Or by right/ctrl-clicking on the dotted separator line on the dock itself.)

Posted by Calum on June 08, 2008 at 12:03 PM GST #

For the Palm sync, check out Missing Sync:

Good luck!

Posted by Magnus on June 08, 2008 at 01:11 PM GST #

Another reason to stick with a corded mouse is that you'll be able to use it on the plane. Wireless peripherals are now on the list of do-not-use-during-flight gizmos, at least in the US.

If you really do need more USB ports then small non-powered multiport hubs are hubs are widely available. Also easily lost while travelling, of course. Try to find one that will let you plug your USB storage fob into the remaining system USB port while the hub is inserted: storage devices sometimes can't tolerate the extra hop that a hub introduces, so I'd try to put only non-storage devices (mouse, fan, light, coffee warmer, pole dancer, missile launcher, &c.) downstream of the hub.

Posted by ottomeister on June 08, 2008 at 05:06 PM GST #

You don't need 2 USB ports for many external hard drives, a typical 2.5" will run off one powered USB port. Ton of virtualization options including VMware's fusion, Sun's own VirtualBox etc.

Now you are on your way to being a Macboy you can watch the stevenote tomorow at WWDC

Posted by Tony on June 08, 2008 at 05:08 PM GST #

Assuming that you are using the british international setting, if you press ALT and 2 you will get the €. If you turn on the little keyboard viewer you can see what the keys turn to when you press the alt key and shift key. (Under the System Prefs, International, Input Menu, make sure the check box next to "Keyboard viewer" is checked and the one at the bottom that says "Show input menu in menu bar" this will put a little flag of the current language in the menu bar. (I.E. the British, US, etc...) it will also put a menu item called show keyboard viewer. when you do this it will show the keyboard on the screen in a little window.. hope that helps!

As for the heat, that is something on all the macbooks.. I have one of the Targus chill mats for mine. One you may want to look at is the It is a chill mat with built in USB hub..

Posted by jason on June 08, 2008 at 10:04 PM GST #

Also about the power convertors, get the "Apple World Travel Adapter Kit". Saved me a bunch because of the different connections in the different countries that I have been too. It is the little ends that hook on to the power brick...

Posted by jason on June 08, 2008 at 10:06 PM GST #

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