CyberNotes
Microsoft/Mac Monday




It has now been over a month since Ryan and I purchased our first ever Mac computers. After about a week we gave you our first impressions and mentioned a few things that we liked and other things that were taking some time to get used to. Now that we’ve had some more time to get familiar with our new purchases, we decided to give you an update.

When we gave our first impressions at the end of April, we mentioned that there were lots of things that were taking time to get used to. We’ve managed to get used to just about everything, but there are still things that are taking some time, and we also found that there are some Windows only applications we really miss.

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Applications we miss…

While we’ve come across some applications that are great on the Mac’s, there are three programs we used on a daily basis in Windows that we really miss. The Mac alternatives are available, but they jut aren’t up to the quality of these applications:

  • Windows Photo Gallery
  • Windows Live Writer
  • Microsoft Office 2007

We tend to take a lot of pictures and it was always nice to manage and go through them in Windows Photo Gallery. I’ve already mentioned my complaints with iPhoto and while it’s nice, it just doesn’t compare to Windows Photo Gallery.

Windows Live Writer is another application we used every single day. At this point we’re bouncing between blogging clients for the Mac to try and find one that can offer us a majority of what Windows Live Writer did. It seems like Ecto will be the best solution for us, but we’ve come across a handful of bugs that make it frustrating to use at times.

We’ve heard people say on occasion that they felt as though Microsoft did a better job with Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac but we beg to differ. Microsoft Office 2007 is simply amazing and I’d love if they would have been able to come up with something similar for Macs. After trying both Office and iWork (by Apple), we found that while iWork’s interface is much better than Office for Mac, they don’t have nearly the set of features that Office does. If you’re a power user (like we are) and you like to build complex spreadsheets, you’ll find the drawbacks pretty quickly while using iWork.

Gadgets, Feedreader, Time Machine, and more…

While we used gadgets in the Vista gadget sidebar, we have found that we use gadgets on the Mac more. The overall quality of gadgets that are available seem to be superior from what Vista currently has available, and we like the set-up for using them on a Mac better as well.

Another important aspect to our daily computer experience is the feed reader. We go through hundreds of news items on a daily basis and previously we were using a desktop feed reader called FeedDemon. When we got the Macs we had to decide if we wanted to use something web-based like Google Reader or start using NetNewsWire. We went with the later and found that while it’s simple and doesn’t have as many features as FeedDemon, we like it better. It opens quick, looks good, and flows with the operating system.

One thing we haven’t had to take advantage of yet, but will be nice if we have to is Time Machine back-ups. Time Machine is something we use, it’s simple to set-up, and we’re grateful to have it. While we haven’t had to use it yet,it’s nice to know that we can do a full system restore from it if need be which is reassuring knowing our past history with hard drive failures.

iChat, Transitions, and Keyboard…

iChat comes with all Mac computers and while we did a comparison of iChat and Windows Live Messenger previously, one thing I forgot to mention was a feature called Bonjour. It’s built right-in to iChat and works with computers only on your network. It allows anybody who has the feature enabled to talk with others on the same network.

For example, both Ryan and I have Bonjour enabled and because we’re on the same network, we can talk to each other without being logged in to any other account. We just started using this during the day when we want to send links back and forth to each other but don’t want to be interrupted by other friends. Alternatively you could create a separate account, but this works out nicely because setting it up is as easy as checking one box. It immediately picked-up the people on the network.

One of the biggest things we’ve noticed that Apple focuses a lot on is transitions – like transitioning into Expose’ and Spaces. Everything is always a very smooth transition and it really enhances the user experience.

Keyboard, Screen, and the Power Cord…

The backlit keyboard on our MacBook Pro’s is great, especially for when you’re working in a room that doesn’t have a whole lot of lighting. Just in general, the keyboard has a nice feel to it. We have also gotten used to the two-finger scrolling which is actually really nice too. Now when we end-up using a Windows Laptop, we go to use two fingers to scroll and it just doesn’t feel right not to have it. The two-finger tap for right clicking is also nice, although we still do miss not having a right-click mouse button.

One feature that doesn’t get mentioned very often but enhances the experience is the auto-dim feature on the screen. It auto-adjusts based upon how bright the room is in which helps you conserve on battery power. You can still manually adjust it if you’d like, which is nice as well.

Who would have thought that a power cord could be so nice? It’s magnetic which means you don’t have to worry about your computer getting yanked around if someone happens to step or trip over the cord. It’s a nice touch.

What we’re still getting used to…

We’ve managed to get used to a lot of the little things that were annoying in the beginning like using the command key for shortcuts instead of the control key, but there are still a few things that are taking time. Our big complaints:

  • No memory card slot
  • Only 2 USB Ports

Both of the things listed above were features we had on our last laptops and so not having them is disappointing. We’ve grown accustomed to four USB ports and surprisingly used them all. Now there are only two because Apple felt the need to put an excessive amount of FireWire ports on the computer that many things don’t support. Even our iPhone came with only a USB cable.

We also miss just pressing the Windows key to perform a search, although overall, the spotlight interface is a little nicer than that of the Windows Start Menu.

Wrapping it up…

All in all, getting used to a Mac computer wasn’t as difficult as we thought it would be. After the first week or so, most of the things we were struggling to get used to weren’t an issue anymore. And because we can either use Boot Camp or Parallels (of course there are other options as well) to use Windows, we don’t have one complaint about making the switch to Apple computers.