Learning to love OS X

· by Steve · Read in about 4 min · (688 Words)

So I’ve had a Mac for a little over a week now. Despite spending a few necessary evenings getting Vista installed and set up, I’ve found myself using OS X the most, and I find my appreciation for it growing the more I use it.

I’m starting to get a better feel for XCode now (thanks to the earlier tips, and training myself to single-click rather than double-click on source files to avoid extra pop-up windows) and am beginning to understand things like how Frameworks function (and I have to say, they look very sensible), and what on Earth Carbon and Cocoa are and why they both exist. I’ve brought the project files on CVS HEAD up to date on the Mac now so all is well there. I do plan to spend some more time creating XCode projects of various types from scratch though since I’m still not sure what a lot of the options do or how they would be configured from the ground up. I also need to figure out how to build SDKs and distributable packages.

I still can’t get along with Mail.app due to its poor multiple identity support and flaky IMAP implementation (the save sent items to server feature leaks messages like a seive) so I’m still using Thunderbird. I lose the OS X address book integration but because I don’t need to use iSync right now it’s not a big deal - I need a solid mail client more than that. I also still use Firefox for similar reasons - Safari / Camino just don’t quite cut it when you’ve gotten used to having good extensions at your fingertips.

Other areas have gone well though. Adium is great, easily my preferred IM program now. Quicksilver is useful, although I’m by no means using its full power yet. NeoOffice is very capable until Open Office get an official non-X11 version out. Seashore is competent enough at most things that I haven’t felt the need to reboot to use Photoshop yet, although I haven’t used it a huge amount. Most of all I find the environment very usable and fast - it definitely outperforms Vista by a noticeable margin. I can do all the same things, including building Ogre and other more demanding things but with almost twice the battery life and without hearing the fan once. Visual Studio is fast on this machine too but dear God does it get it hot under the collar. Dashboard and Expose make jumping between apps and helper widgets faster than the equivalent in Vista. It still annoys me that I can’t resize my windows by dragging any border, but I can live with that. Two-finger tapping and drag-scrolling means I don’t miss having a right button either.

All in all, I’m finding OS X rather comfortable, more than I thought I would, given I knew my application choice would be more limited, and my experiences jumping desktop OS’s in the past (Linux of various flavours) hadn’t enticed me away for any length of time before. Windows still has the edge on sheer number of 3rd-party applications, but OS X has definitely turned this long-time Windows users head. I’ve heard from no fewer than 4 previously PC-only friends that they’ve bought MacBook Pros in the last month (looks like I’m not the only one who was influenced by the new model). Maybe it’s possible that the Mac could regain the late 80’s / early 90’s glory years? The world does need a real alternative to Windows on the desktop - and Linux isn’t it for most people IMHO, it should stick to servers & tech workstations until it can decide on a standardised UI - and I may be late in discovering it, but OS X certainly delivers. I can’t imagine it ever being a real threat to Windows in the business world because of the strong consumer / design house focus, but it definitely wouldn’t be a bad thing for it to make it into more homes. I’d even recommend one to my Mum if she ends up having to buy a new laptop 😀