Sunday, September 09, 2007

Scott Hanselman's Computer Zen - The FreeMiniMac has arrived and will the fun ever start?

So I'm thinking about a Mac. My sister just recently purchased a Macbook Pro, and even though I didn't bother trying it (I was afraid I would like it and get one) I still wanted to get more info just in case I may want one in the future. Plus I liked the box. Scott Hanselman (post below) talks about the OOBE (out of box experience). I like the ITBE (In the Box Experience) better right now. You can use it as a travel case.

To me, owning a Mac is like my dream of owning a Mercedes. I go to work every day in my Nissan. It works. It's worlds better than my Ford Escort was. I don't have to work for a mechanic to keep it running. I can't justify upgrading to something with a leather seat that remembers my last ass groove position, and wipers on the headlights.

Plus the parts on a Mercedes can be expensive. And the oil change is $300 at the dealer, not that I would go there. (Applecare anyone? If your warranty comes in it's own fancy box you know there is trouble a-brewin')

Plus you have to pay extra for a nice case to keep the nice shiny finish clean. I bought a pressure washer for the Nissan that gets about 3 uses a year... and for some reason I have 2 power car wax buffers that aren't even used. Somehow I think a Silver Mercedes, like a Silver Mac, would cry out to stay clean and scratch free.

I work everyday on a PC. It doesn't work how I like it some (lately most) of the time, but I can't justify spending my own money to get what would really be just a toy for me.

Anyway, for the time when I go ahead and buy a Mac (or when MS ends up buying them out to upgrade Silverlight to OS-X) here is a link to some software with reviews.

I bought a powerbook a few weeks months ago just for the sake of deviation and exploration. .NET day and night felt a little droll even with the new things.
My take: oh my, just typing on the thing is somehow more pleasurable than typing on my wonderful A64 X2 pc will all the goodies. There's just some sort of feng shui that XP lacks in its core.
(That said, some of the keyboard nav still vexes me...)
So I decided to try and do everything that wasn't work on OS X for a bit.
I've been "using" since Win286. Flipping everything on to the mac really wasn't that hard.
I was actually amazed at how much decent small-shop software there is over there. I knew about a few things, but most of the time, when I went searching for something I liked on Windows for OS X, I found something close enough or better.
I don't know what you've found so far, but here are some of my random notes, they're free :)
- iTerm - good term replacement. Free.
- The dock goes on the left. Iirc you have widescreens, this placement seems natural to me.
- Quicksilver is totally cool, they hype seems warranted. I mainly use it launch apps right now (it makes the dock sort of an afterthought for all those second level apps you might go to the start menu for or whatever), but I've done some of the 10 minute tutorials and it's pretty cool... Nothing really like it on Windows right now.). Double command key triggering is my flavor. Free.
- FolderShare is awesome, I use it to synch my mac to a windows server that can then do the network backup thing along with the rest of my crap.
- quicksilver purists seem to grouse about spotlight a lot, but I actually use it a fair amount, it works better than any of the search I've used on windows (but I haven't used X1).
- TextMate - I thought I would use it just for ruby, but I ended up using it for text, html, everything. It's my emeditor for mac. It's even better actually, very CR-like with it's templating. Would love to see a windows version. Trial -> $45ish
- CSSEdit - best css editor I've ever used, better than TopStyle. Trial -> $25.
- RSyncx - This took some doing, but my mac came with a bad memory slot so it went back to Apple after the first week. RsyncX will let you clone your full drive onto a firewire (or other available) drive as a bootable copy. I don't know if this is as important to have laying around as it was with OS9 and earlier. Anyway, I ended up springing for one of the LaCie externals because my USB enclosures and firewire enclosures weren't working with RSyncX. Basically it was finnicky--buy other things like Carbon Copy Cloner and Super Duper flailed for me. Free.
- Adium - Coolest looking IM client I've ever used. Makes trillian look like a pig. Gratis.
- NNW. First I was a NewsGator lover, then FeedDemon won me over. Then I started dinking with NNW and, there it is again, it just feels nicer. I'm a NG subscriber, grandfathered or whatever... I emailed them, they will have it linked into NGO soon, but no dates. They don't have a licensing route for existing NGO subscribers yet, their advice was use NNW Lite for a few months (or pony up the $25 on the old Ranchero site)
- Speaking of NNW, Brent Simmons (the developer) is manning the support channels over on the NewsGator forums if you want to ask him about how Mac devs really do it (this is not a bumper sticker suggestion)
- I don't know how they do it. I like TextMate and I've got my little rails rig working well and so on. I do a lot of typing, I have to lean on tdd so fricking hard because I feel naked without a nice compile check, intellicrack, etc. Basically I run my tests after every third keystroke, or so it feels.
- Consolas, Vera Sans Mono... Must have even with nice complement of mac fonts (Lucida Grande is great). Mac proportions are different, so sometimes Vera is too big, Consolas to stout. Georgia is great on any platform or serif.
- DEVONthink - sort of like OneNote. I like it better, but I'm actually not a huge OneNote fan (I want to like it, It's just a little too loose for me, I like more folders and notes). I'm using it for a lot of other pim-type stuff and as a document manager. Was $70, overpriced but good.
- Cocoalicious. Don't know if you do the deli.cio.us thing. Like Bloc Party, I didn't get this the first time around, but it won me over (and I own OnFolio). Cocoalicious adds a lot of automation hooks, most notably you can do post to blog from in NNW and throw it into delicious. Free.
- Fugu. Tried transit. Tried Yummy FTP. I have an account with TextDrive so I do the scp/sftp thing for file transfer. Transit really barfed a lot and the other two didn't. Fugu's free but awkward and doesn't do remote editing that well (WinSCP blows all three away for my money). Maybe Yummy is worth paying for, jury's out over here.
- ecto - the Ranchero folks make a blog client that also might come into NGO subs hands someday. Ecto is one of the better blogjet type clients, I've used but it's been a bit flaky for me lately--it's wysiwyg/html modes can be annoying for things like bullets. I may revisit this one, but it has some neat things that some of the Window clients could learn from, at least as far as UX and tagging go.
- Mail- Mail.app is neat sometimes, I've used t-bird for personal mail for a while. But my friend/host moved me onto Exchange for personal mail recently and Entourage->Exchange is the best thing going. It's not as good as Outlook, but it's pretty much better than everything else (and now I have contacts, tasks, cal, etc for personal--before it was tedium on my main box because of profile limits).
- CandyBar - It's not a mac if it's not pretty with cute icons.
- RDC, VNC for remote. Regular old shell beats putty any day. Keys can be a pain, SSHKeyManager helps with this.
- Xcode. Do this first, do this before Fink. Save mostly obfuscated headaches. Once I got Xcode installed, Fink went on fine and then I could start fixing OSX's default ruby install.
- I switched up and installed lighttpd to do my local webdev instead of apache. Lighty is pretty cool. I still haven't grokked this whole fastcgi world where we bang rocks together and don't have a reliable worker process.
- CocoaMySql makes the shame of working with mysql more bearable.
- Synergy is your MaxiVista. I haven't gotten to this yet, but it's apparently about the same deal. There's a service piece and a Cocoa GUI piece iirc.
- KVM. I ended up getting this addlogix powerreach unit. I'm not wild about it, the keystroke switching is cumbersome compared to the Belkin SOHO I've used for several years and liked. I couldn't find something that was dual-dvi, usb k+m and supported at least 1920x1200. This was my best option.
It's good, but it was pricey at like 250 and I use the front buttons to switch. Also, some of the higher order mouse buttons get caught in the wash.
I lost mouse 5 and 6 or 6 and 7 on my logitech on the mac, they work directly. Good news was: at least I didn't need to buy a bunch of kvm cables, just another dvi cable.
I didn't intend to right a novel, but you're "good tools people", what the hell. You'll find one thing useful in here, you've done the same for a lot of the other folks out there :)

Source: Scott Hanselman's Computer Zen - The FreeMiniMac has arrived and will the fun ever start?

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