iPhone 4

This past Monday my iPhone 4 arrived.

For me, this is the device I’ve been waiting ten years for.  For years I carried a phone, a PDA, and a pager for work.  Even after I was able to get paging on my cell phone I still had to carry around two devices.  I couldn’t access anything on the Internet on my PDA or my crappy phone and I couldn’t check e-mail or send a text message without cycling through three letters per key to do it.

Then, about a year and a half ago, I bought an iPhone 3G and all those problems were solved.  My calendar and contacts were now on my phone and my phone was a PDA too.  I could also send text messages with a real keyboard.  I had e-mail and the Internet, and it was all pretty damn functional.  No longer did I carry a PDA, a phone, or a pager; just one device now.  I was quite happy with it.

When the 3GS was released I didn’t bite; it was a primarily just a faster version of what I already had, with standard definition video and a few other bells and whistles.

Then the iPhone 4 came out.   Continue reading “iPhone 4”

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Roller Coaster Tycoon 2 on the Mac

This is really the only PC game I’ve ever really liked.  Turns out it runs great in Sun’s VirtualBox running Windows XP.  The only caveat is to turn off the mouse integration while playing; that way the right mouse clicks work properly.  Great to have this one back again.  This is the only thing I even keep Windows around for now.

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Turning Off Windows

When I decided to switch to the Mac one of the first things I did was create an application to application comparison matrix in order to ensure I could find an comparable Mac replacement for all my important Windows applications.  I found some great articles written by others who’d made the switch and that really helped in that process.  Now that I’ve had my Mac for a year and a half or so I’ve found replacements for virtually everything I had on Windows.  In order to help others who are making the switch to a Mac or maybe just looking for a Mac replacement for a Windows application they can’t seem to shake, I thought I’d put my cross-reference list here, albeit it in a very informal, unstructured manner (trying to avoid a boring list).  I’ve included links where possible.

My hope was that most of the apps I used on Windows would have a Mac port.  That way I wouldn’t have to learn something new and the learning curve would be shortened.  I’m not opposed to learning something new but switching everything over at once and having to relearn everything is a tall order and I wanted to be productive as quickly as possible.  Luckily many of the apps I used on Windows had Mac ports.  Firefox, for instance, is available for both (as well as Linux).  I used Safari for a while but ended up going back to the comfort and familiarity of Firefox.  Unfortunately the default theme for Mac Firefox is kinda ugly, in my opinion.  I use the Silvermel theme and it both looks and works great.  There’s also Opera and Camino, as well as a slew of other, more obscure browsers to choose from.  Most recently though I’ve been using  Google Chrome; it’s been lightening fast, incredibly stable, and has a great bookmark syncing feature.  It’s also available not only for the Mac but for Windows and Linux as well.  No matter which browser you go with giving up Internet Explorer will be incredibly satisfying. Continue reading “Turning Off Windows”

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DeltaWalker

DeltaWalker Folder Comparison Window
DeltaWalker Folder Comparison Window

Before I switched from Windows to a Mac I did a lot of research.  One of the things I spent a considerable amount of time on was software.  Could I find Mac equivalents for most, if not all, of my Windows software?  I found that I could find a Mac equivalent for almost everything, save for a couple programs.  One of those programs was a little file/folder comparison and sync utility called Beyond Compare.  Believe it or not, this was almost a show-stopper for me because I literally use this program every day.  I bought it back in 2005 for $30 and have been using it constantly ever since.  I had been certain that a comparable program for the Mac would be easy to find but it just wasn’t.  (I’ll refrain from using a bad “it must really be Beyond Compare” pun.)

So I compromised with a workaround; run Beyond Compare in a virtual machine and set all non-Windows local directories up as network shares.  This works, but it means that I’m still dependent on opening Windows XP every time I need to sync directories.  Every three months or so I’d check back again to see if Beyond Compare had been ported to the Mac or if a comparable competing product had been released.  After a year and a half, I finally found that product. Continue reading “DeltaWalker”

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The Mac Switch Six Months In

It’s been about six months now since I made the switch over to a Mac.  The honeymoon period is over and I’m happy to say that I’m still very, very pleased with my purchase.

One of the things I really like about it is that it’s so well-designed.  I’ve really gotten on board with the integration that Apple has provided between the Apple-developed apps.  In fact, some of the other apps have hooks into OSX for various functionality.  I even switched over to Safari about a month ago.  The switch from Firefox to Safari wasn’t because I didn’t like Firefox; it was mainly to capitalize on the integration with OSX and also with the iPhone I plan to buy soon.  Safari is good; I really didn’t feel any pain from the switch.

Another aspect of the design that I really appreciate is the all-in-one nature of the iMac.  There are really not any user-serviceable parts (aside from memory) with the iMac but the compact design means that my office is free and clear of clutter.  I have a single machine sitting on a small desk in a small room.  Nothing on the floor and minimal wires and cords snaking down the back of the desk.  What’s even better is that this machine is powerful enough to run both Windows and Linux in as virtual machines.  In the past I had multiple boxes sitting on the floor of my office taking up space and making an awful racket.  Now I have a single, silent machine running OSX for my day-to-day work and running Windows and Linux as if they were just applications.  Zero physical footprint in my office for both of these operating systems.  I’m smitten with the concept. Continue reading “The Mac Switch Six Months In”

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The iMac’s Mouse Acceleration Curve Sucks

I love my iMac.  I’ve written about that in the past.  I still love my iMac.  However, something just didn’t feel right about the mouse.  At first I thought it was just getting used to a new computer so I gave it some time.  (Of course I use Linux and didn’t have the problem.) Then I thought it might just be the wireless Mighty Mouse’s weight or drag across the desk.  So I put the mouse pad back which didn’t make a difference.  I also removed one of the batteries to make it lighter.  None of this helped.  Then I thought it might just be the Apple Mighty Mouse itself.  I replaced it with another mouse I had at home, then with another.  No luck.  My arm and my wrist began to hurt.  I felt like I had a depth perception problem or I was just crazy.

After about two months I finally just looked on Google.  I searched on something vague, like the mouse didn’t feel right or something like that.  Lo and behold the answer to my question was there; it was the mouse acceleration curve.

Turns out, somewhere along the line between Mac OS 9 and Mac OS X 10.5 Apple decided to quietly change the acceleration curve on the Mac.  The result is an acceleration cliff; the mouse moves quickly and then, right before the target it slows down…to a crawl.  Normally the mouse would slow down incrementally, gradually, allowing the person to place the pointer directly on the target.  Once the mouse slows down it creeps across the screen.  This was causing me to overcompensate and making my arm ache after a while. Continue reading “The iMac’s Mouse Acceleration Curve Sucks”

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Mac Conversion

I finally pulled the trigger; I’m now a Mac user. About a year ago Traci’s laptop’s video card mysteriously died so we bought her a replacement desktop computer. We were tight on cash so we bought a low-end Dell running Vista. I’ve lamented since then on my frustrations and disappointments with Vista and Traci absolutely despised it. It was then I began to think once again seriously of moving to Linux and avoiding an upgrade to Vista, but I found that Linux still just wasn’t quite there on the desktop yet. It was closer than it had been in the past but still not what I needed.

As a result I decided to take another look at the Mac. It had been a few years and since then OSX had been released and the prices had dropped some. Long story short, I began to think seriously about a Mac and began researching what it would take to switch from Windows. I found that it was easier than ever to make the switch.

So after about a year of Vista Traci finally had had enough. We decided to pull the trigger about two weeks ago on a new iMac for her. We received it on a Friday and had her completely moved over to the Mac by Sunday morning. After spending the weekend with her Mac I decided it was time to make the switch myself and ordered mine. Continue reading “Mac Conversion”

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Why A Mac?

So, why a Mac? Well, I’ve done a fair amount of thinking about this decision and have come to a few conclusions. I need to upgrade within the next two years. My current box, although still quite snappy, will continually become slower and slower as software and operating systems (Vista, in particular) become more processor and memory intensive.

First of all, I had to consider my options. I have three options really; Windows, Mac, or Linux. I know there are other operating systems out there but for my personal machine at home none of the other options make sense. Given these three options I first needed to identify what I really wanted. Part of me, at least the non-conformist in me, wants to buck Microsoft completely. Sorry to disappoint all you Linux apologists out there but Microsoft is and will continue to be a major force in the computing world for some time to come. There is no escaping Microsoft completely, especially if you’re coming from a Windows world and have already come to use some Windows-only software. Continue reading “Why A Mac?”

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Consideration For A Mac

For the past 8 years I’ve been toying with the notion of switching from Windows to either Linux or Apple. I consistently dismissed the idea either because Linux wasn’t quite capable of supporting the switch or because Apples were just too damn expensive. Granted, Microsoft has made significant improvements in Windows stability (and even security) over the past several years so the impetus to switch isn’t quite what it was in the Windows 98/Me days. Windows XP was actually a pretty decent attempt at Unix by Microsoft, all things considered, but it’s still Microsoft at its base. Security sucked in XP and doesn’t seem to have improved drastically in Vista, unless you call nagging the end user to death security.

Speaking of Vista, that’s really what’s sparked this whole thing…again. My wife’s laptop decided to burn out its video card so rather than fixing it immediately we came across a good deal on a new Vista desktop for her. After we got it home we ended up replacing the printer (incompatible with Vista) and bought two new copies of Outlook. My scanner won’t work with Vista either, but that’s a bridge we’ll cross another day.

After spending some time getting her machine set up I realized one major thing: I’m really not that impressed with Vista. I really expected something big for an OS five years in the making and I was, well, underwhelmed by the whole thing. It’s slow as hell, at least on her system, and the interface just isn’t what I thought it would be. I expected something revolutionary and it just appeared that it got a decent facelift. Continue reading “Consideration For A Mac”

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