As soon as Macs started running on Intel, they became infinitely more attractive just because suddenly you had the option of using Windows on them too if you needed to. Because let’s face it, as lovely to use as OS X is, and as much as its popularity has grown, the majority of the world still runs Windows. Boot Camp is a great little tool provided by Apple which makes setting up a dual-boot into Windows generally a breeze, barring a few small niggles such as the slightly ropey support for the extended functions of the track pad (two-finger right-clicking and scrolling is very flaky).
I can’t believe this is the first time I’ve needed this on OS X, but it came about from needing to write a document for a European customer and suddenly realising I didn’t know how to make an umlaut on my Macbook Pro’s British keyboard. On Windows I might fire up the Character Map, but I didn’t know how to do it on OS X. Here’s what I discovered: OS X friendly apps like Mail, Safari, iCal and even Firefox have a ‘Special Characters’ entry on the Edit menu which brings up an equivalent of Character Map.
It’s always fun to watch Apple and Microsoft slug it out in the advertising space - here in the UK we mostly have to do this via YouTube, since apart from a short stint of amusing Mitchell and Webb Apple ads and those pretty bland “I’m A PC” ripostes, we don’t really see the front-line assaults which take place on US TV screens. So I hear that MS have a new set of ads out, where “regular” people go and look for a laptop, whereby they look at the Mac and say “whoah, far too expensive!
For a geek, I can exhibit luddite tendencies sometimes. I don’t run Vista yet on anything other than secondary test machines, because I really don’t like it very much - I feel it’s burning additional machine resources in a way that adds little or no value to my productivity or user experience compared to XP, and I’ve had several usability / stability hassles with the test machines I’ve had. I also remain very skeptical about the relative importance of Dx10 given that the vast majority of users either don’t have Vista, or don’t have a card worthy of being called Dx10 compliant, even in gamer circles.
If, like me, you were wondering why the excellent Pixelmator got out of the door without an easy way to see the colours you’ve picked in HTML-friendly hexidecimal form, the way you can in Photoshop - well, it’s actually that OS X has an altogether more elegant way of handling this kind of thing. I didn’t know this, but the colour picker widget shown in PixelMator is a standard OS X one, and you can plug in new widgets for it.