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Bandito

The First 24 Hours: A new Switcher's Tale

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IT'S HERE!! IT'S HERE!!

 

On Thursday afternoon I finally took delivery of my new Apple Macbook Pro. Not only is this a new computer for me, but it's also my very first Mac. As an I.T. veteran having spent over 10 years in the field support/troubleshooting/configuring/building/etc Windows-based systems, I was certainly looking forward to learning a new operating system.I've been anxiously awaiting this new laptop since Apple first announced it back in January, however since this is one of the first models to sport an Intel processor (the iMac being the other) I was hesitant to order one right away as issues were certainly to be expected.

 

So I've spent the past few months trolling the Mac specific sites to gain as much knowldege as possible about OSX. Having been a Maccast listener for neaarly a year already I also added a few more of the Mac podcasts to my repitoire. Over the time I've gathered quite a bit of information about OSX, listened to 'Mac Geeks' wax poetic about 'all things Macintosh' & got involved in Mac user forums. I've picked up tips & tricks, read application reviews and bookmarked links to some must have freeware. All I was missing was the Mac. But that was soon to change... As the new Macbook Pros starting to arrive in mid to late February, the reviews started to pour in. By an large the reviews were glowing. Everyone had their own opinions, but many of those followed a similar train of thought: "The New Macbook Pro was FAST". Everyone seems to love it. And the X factor being the battery life (Apple never released any specs on battery life) seems to be at least on par with the previous Powerbook G4 hovering around the 3-3/12 hour range (of course all of this is susceptible to usage). There were no major issues to report. A minor annoyance with some people reporting a hissing or whining sound and the standard complaining and the standard complaints about Rosetta (which is to be expected).

 

Not having a pressing need for older OSX apps I wasn't concerned with the Rosetta emulation and while I would have preferred 4-5 hours of battery life, the reported 3-3 1/2 hours was certainly an upgrade from the 2 hours I've been getting from my Dell Inspiron 600m. That settled it. Out came the credit card and the new laptop was ordered.

 

The New Arrival:

 

So on Thursday, I took delivery of my new Mac Book Pro from FedEx. Now I may be 35 years old, but I felt like a little kid opening up a birhday present. Having been the proud owner of a 40 GB 3rd Gen iPod, I was certainly expecting a nice packaging job from Apple. what I wasn't expecting (although I had already seen pictures online) was how nicely the Macbook Pro was packaged. Such attention to detail. No wonder Apple maintains such a cult-like following. If they spend this much thought to the box that it's shipped in, I can just imagine how well the product itself is designed. I certainly wasn't let down.

 

Apple certainly isn't easy on the pocket so I didn't want to go too overboard when ordering this laptop. While the 2.0 GHz model (w/ 1 GB RAM, 100 GB Hard drive and the 256 MB Video Card) was certainly tempting, there was an additional $400 premium for it. Not to mention yet an additional $300 if I decided to bump up the processor to 2.16 GHz. I decided that I would be happy with the 1.83 GHz model, spend an extra $100 to increase the RAM to 1 GB (from 512 MB) and call it a day. After all, my current Dell laptop was a 1.8 GHz Intel Centrino with a 60 GB Hard drive and a 64 MB ATI Mobility Video card that I'm extremely happy with. The 1.83 Dual Core Mac should suffice. Add the $350 for Apple Care and I'm already looking at the most money I've paid for a laptop in 10 years.

 

Although the Macbook Pro looks pretty much like the Powerbook before it (which I've seen a number of times in the Apple Store). But having one in front of me.. my very own.... was something special. It certainly is a thing of beauty. Very sleek. Very stylish. As I unwrapped everything, plugged it in and turned it on, I took the next hour or so stepping through the initial setup and registration as well as poking around with the different settings to adjust it to my likings.

NOTE: With the built in isight camera, the prompting to take your picture for use as your account picture is a nice touch. Again 'attention to detail'

 

Starting to Use it:

 

Like I said, I've spent the past few months gathering information about OSX. I've bookmarked a number of applications that I felt I would certainly need for day to day use: OSX equivalents of apps I've used on Windows and Linux.

 

Following Apple's instructions I allowed the laptop the time needed to get to a full charge and then spent some time walking around the house and testing the range of the built in Wi-Fi. First impressions? Very nice. I was happy with the range of my Inspiron 600m, but the MBP certainly appears to have a better range. Using iStumbler (one of the apps I installed) showed me quite a few more wireless networks around that I hadn't seen before. As well as one across the street that I knew existed (I helped them set it up), but was out of range with my other laptop... especially when in the master bedroom which is at the back of my house (furthest point possible from the network across the street). Very nice.

 

And as for those other apps that I wanted to try... here's a list of the first 10 apps I felt I just had to install:

 

* Cyberduck FTP

* Chicken of the VNC

* Adium Chat Client

* iStumbler

* Firefox

* iTerm

* Desktop Manager

* Q (QEMU Emulator)

* iBackup

* Handbrake

 

But enough with the 'Other apps'. As a new user of OSX I really wanted to explore the wealth of apps that come pre-installed. As an iPod owner, I was already familar with iTunes. But what I wasn't expecting was how easy it was to use it on a Mac. Of course it's a simple application. That's not what I meant. In the last 'Fun' Apple event, Steve Jobs showed off the new Mac Mini with Front Row. He highlighted how simple it was for him to play shared music from another computer with iTunes. Upon seeing that I setup my iTunes library on my Windows workstation to share. Sitting in the living room with my new MBP I was easily able to find the 'shared music' on my Windows computer in the other room and play it over the wifi connection. It was flawless.

 

Thumbs-up for Apple.

 

And speaking of flawless, I wanted to send something to the printer quickly. As a seasoned IT veteran, I'm familar with setting up and configuring printers. The routine of pointing my system to the printer, specifying which printer it is from a list, adding the driver disk (if needed), etc. It's old hat. I knew it would (or at least should) be easier with an Apple because 'everything just works', right? Ok, so I figured I'd at least have to specify the IP address of the printer (since I have it setup on my LAN). Nope.

 

Enter Bonjour

 

As you know, Bonjour is the technology that allowed iTunes to discover other shared music on my network. I expected it to play role in detecting that. What I didn't expect and was certainly pleasantly surprised by, was the ease that it detected that there was a printer on my LAN, query what the printer was and give me only the opportunity to say "Sure, That's what I want to print to".... so to speak. Wow. Another nice touch.

 

Another thumb up in the air for Apple.

 

After dinner time I sat down to play with the laptop some more. This time my 7 (ok, nearly 8) year old daughter sat down next to me to watch. She knew how excited I was to have the new laptop and was with me in one of the Apple Stores when I was looking at the iMac. So while she was sitting next to me I figured that this would be a fun time to launch Photo Booth. This isn't a very sophisticated program, but boy is it fun. We must have spent the next hour straight just taking pictures of us making silly faces and enjoying the built-in effects. Hey, any time spent laughing and having fun with my daughter is a good time. That prompted my 4 year old son to come join us too. And then my 2 year old son wandered over to join the fun. The short of it? I now have a few dozen pictures taken of all of us that I can use to easily put together a slideshow, calendar or whatever. And the best part was that there wasn't anything more to do that select the effect, click the record button and smile after the countdown was finished. The screen even flashes white to light up the subject. What a fantastic yet simple application to include and take advantage of the built in iSight camera.

 

Mark one in the 'Fun Factor' column for Apple

 

And speaking of the kids. Since my daughter loves to play with different 'kid friendly' websites on her computer (a Windows XP Home system) she's very comfortable and eager to sit down at a computer. She makes her daddy proud. So I wasn't going to refuse her some time to play on the my new Macbook Pro... even if it is Daddy's expensive toy and not hers. No matter. What I did do though was to set her up with her own account. Wow. Very nice. Simple parental controls. Not only can I specify what she can or can't do on the computer, I can lock down the list of applications she's allowed to run. And most importantly, I was able to very easily configure which web sites she was allowed to go to as well. I felt quite safe letting her spend an hour or two just surfing around Safari knowing that she could only go to the sites I accepted (i.e. - Disney, Nick Jr., Kim Possible, Barbie, etc)

 

MY Life... err.. that's iLife

 

Install Windows onto a computer and you have... well an Operating System. Ok, so there are a few games (i.e. solitaire, minesweeper, etc), a few extremely basic programs (i.e.- Wordpad, Outlook Express, Paint, Calculater, Address Book, etc) and some System Utilities. All pretty basic and nothing to gush over. Ok, so Internet Explorer is included, but some will argue whether that's a pro or a con. Apple, however supplies a number of apps too as well as a software bundle called iLife. Ok, so with the price that I paid for this piece of hardware I guess I should expect something more than just an Operating System. But it's still nice to see.

 

The bundle consists of iPhoto, IDVD, iMovie, iWeb, iCal, iMovie HD, Garage Band as well as the aforementioned iTunes. What a nice suite of apps. In the short time that I've had with this laptop I've briefly dabbled with iTunes (of course), iPhoto (to edit the pics taken with Photo Booth) and iWeb (to see if I can easily incorporate some pages into my website). I plan on using iMovie and iDVD since my wife & I just recently purchased a digital video cam to capture the various events my kids attend (softball, horseback riding, etc). And while I don't plan on starting a podcast, I'm sure that I'll find a use for Garage Band. Hmm. Maybe it'll give me an easy way to contribute to some of my favorite tech podcasts already. But until then I'll have to dive further into these apps and see what they can do.

 

I must be in the Front Row

 

Front Row to OSX is kind of like Media center Edition was supposed to be to Windows XP. All in all I had expected it to be a nice addition. However I was also fully expecting to ditch it in favor of Equinux's Media Central especially since it's now a Universal Binary and has support for the Apple Remote. And I still might. But Front Row certainly is a nice product. Since I had already enjoyed the ability to easily locate and play other 'shared music' found on my LAN. Using the included remote control and navigating Front Row is a breeze. And having access to my music, podcasts and playlists from anywhere in the house is quite nice. I think my only problem will be when I take this laptop out on the road. Guess I'll have to keep a small stock of local music and movies to hold me over. In the meantime I'll see which program wins out in the long run (Front Row vs. Media Central).

 

The Amazing Magsafe

 

Steve Jobs gushed over the new 'Magsafe' technology in the Macbook Pro: a power chord that's held to the laptop by a magnet... strong enough to hold it in place if pulled straight, but breaks away easily if tugged on at an angle such as when someone trips over the chord. This break away action will prevent the laptop from flying off a desk to meet it's certain doom as it crashes to the floor. Apparently this must have been something that plagued the stylish yet clumsy Powerbook owners of Apple past. Are you kidding me? Were Mac Geeks THAT clumsy? I've had a number of laptops over the years and have never, I repeat never had one knocked to the floor due to someone (myself included) tripping over the power chord. Then again I'm fairly anal about making sure that the power chord is tucked behind a desk out of the way. But I will admit, the magsafe works quite well. Easy to snap on. Easy to remove.

 

Installing Apps

 

Ok, so I mentioned the first 10 apps that I just had to install shortly after getting my computer setup. But what surprised me (and I have a hard time believing this) was that most of them simply required me to drag and drop the main executable binary to the folder of my choice. That's it. Ok, some of them seemed to show a quick progress bar of 'other files' that appeared to install. I'm still suspicious of these files. Coming from a Windows world where nearly every application installs a slew of executables, supporting DLLs, data files and a number of 'registry entries'. It's hard to fathom that these program were all single binaries that can be dragged to the trash to uninstall.

 

OS Interoperability

 

I've always been a 'Windows Guy'. I have a home full of Windows based machines including my own Dell laptop and a self-built tower (which stores all my application installs, project code, ISO images and a quite a mass of media including ripped movies and MP3's), my wife's Dell Desktop in the kitchen's menu desk, my wife's new Dell Inspiron 6000 laptop for her business and my kid's Dell Desktop in the 'Teen Room' upstairs. All of these PC's are running either Windows XP Home, XP Professional or Windows Media Center Edition with my desktop and laptop both running a dual boot between XP Pro and Ubuntu Linux. Needless to say that having a VNC Client (Chicken of the VNC actually) was essential for me to be able to remotely access and control those machines. What I haven't played around with yet (but certainly will) is handling of network shares between the operating systems.

 

Blazing Fast (?)

 

One thing that I consistently have heard in reviews about the Macbook Pro is how fast it is. Now while it does appear pretty snappy, I'm actually not blown away by it. Maybe it's because the previous Macs were that much slower by comparison. Maybe it's because I've been accustomed to using my 1.80 GHz Intel Centrino Inspiron. It could be a number of things. Now don't get me wrong, I don't think it's slow. I did bump the RAM up to 1GB which should certainly help, but there are time when some apps take a little bit to load (as in a few bounces on Dock as I've heard 'Mac Geeks' refer to it). Firefox is most noticeable (since I've been using it most often, however I also know that at this time it's not quite a Universal Binary yet. But there have been other apps which are UB's that have acted/responded in a similar fashion. I'll keep an eye on them and report back at a later time. As a side note: after 24 hours of use and nearly a dozen applications installed I've already used the Disk Utility to repair all permissions (just in case).

 

Conclusions

 

Well I'm trying hard to keep an objective analytical point of view here and give this Macbook Pro a fair judgement. While my review may contain a cross reference between the OS itself (as OSX is new to me) and the Macbook Pro as a piece of hardware, the lines in my eyes are certainly blurred.

 

While I'm not blown away by the speed as many appear to be, I'm not disappointed either.

The battery life has certainly been more than satisfactory so far, but final judgement hasn't come in yet. The pre-installed apps on the MBP are absolutely fantastic. And the old adage of 'it just works' certainly has come into play. Aside from the printer being correctly detected, so did my Nikon digital camera and Panasonic camcorder. In the case of the Nikon, I just plugged it in and iPhoto opened and could easily import all images. No muss, no fuss, no drivers to install, no additional software needed. Simple.

 

So what's my initial impression of the Macbook Pro (and OSX as a new switcher)?

 

It absolutely Rocks the short hairs !!

 

Oh and yes... this is the first post I'm writing while sitting on my Mac.

I'd give another 'thumbs up' for Apple... but apparently I'm out of thumbs at this point.

:D

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Terrific report, Bandito!

 

I'm glad you're enjoying your new toy (I remember that kiddie-ish feeling when I got my Mac Mini :D). Welcome to the ever-growing community of satisfied Mac owners!

 

-Christian

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Ok, so I mentioned the first 10 apps that I just had to install shortly after getting my computer setup. But what surprised me (and I have a hard time believing this) was that most of them simply required me to drag and drop the main executable binary to the folder of my choice. That's it. Ok, some of them seemed to show a quick progress bar of 'other files' that appeared to install. I'm still suspicious of these files. Coming from a Windows world where nearly every application installs a slew of executables, supporting DLLs, data files and a number of 'registry entries'. It's hard to fathom that these program were all single binaries that can be dragged to the trash to uninstall.

 

An application on Mac OS X is more like a folder (actually it's called a package), with many different pieces inside of it. When you copy a larger application icon, you'll see all these individual items being copied to your hard drive, but in the end you'll still see just one icon. If you right-click (or control-click) on the icon, you can choose to view the package's contents.

 

The first time you run an application, it will surely create some support files. Almost every application will at least create a preferences file in your library/preferences folder. Some may create additional support files in other places. But, you can safely just delete the app by dragging it's icon to the trash. There may be a few support or preference files leftover, but they'll cause no problems (other than taking up a little space on your hard drive). I usually do a Spotlight search to find these and delete them also.

 

Oh, and congrats on your new Mac.

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An application on Mac OS X is more like a folder (actually it's called a package), with many different pieces inside of it. When you copy a larger application icon, you'll see all these individual items being copied to your hard drive, but in the end you'll still see just one icon. If you right-click (or control-click) on the icon, you can choose to view the package's contents.

 

The first time you run an application, it will surely create some support files. Almost every application will at least create a preferences file in your library/preferences folder. Some may create additional support files in other places. But, you can safely just delete the app by dragging it's icon to the trash. There may be a few support or preference files leftover, but they'll cause no problems (other than taking up a little space on your hard drive). I usually do a Spotlight search to find these and delete them also.

 

Oh, and congrats on your new Mac.

 

Thanks, I'm really enjoying it.

 

I had noticed that I could 'Show Package Contents' to those binaries, but still thought there would be more. I'm not too concerned about preference files (.plist) as they appear to be quite small in size (approx. 4KB).

 

All in all, that Apple Kool-Aid is tasting mighty fine. :D

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one thing about parental controls, i am barred from my mac mini to use safari, mail and ichat and can't install abd even if it does install my dad has to designate it in sys prefs to let me use it, but i have found ways to open up mail, iChat and mail.

 

safari-opend dashboard and click manage widgets and click get more widgets openeing safari

Mail once in safari click email page and mail opens

iChat-leave the status buble in the menu bar and set it to available and wait for someone to IM you. i think it happens because one app open another.

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one thing about parental controls, i am barred from my mac mini to use safari, mail and ichat and can't install abd even if it does install my dad has to designate it in sys prefs to let me use it, but i have found ways to open up mail, iChat and mail.

 

safari-opend dashboard and click manage widgets and click get more widgets openeing safari

Mail once in safari click email page and mail opens

iChat-leave the status buble in the menu bar and set it to available and wait for someone to IM you. i think it happens because one app open another.

 

Not surprising that there are ways around it, but I doubt my nearly 8 year old daughter will figure that out.. nor has the need to. She doesn't have/use email and is very happy with just her websites. Launching safari from the widget manager does hold the site restrictions though.

 

It doesn't appear that the Dashboard can be locked down via the Parental Controls, however it can be removed from starting up altogether. That may be enough.

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And a follow up to the applications I've found handy...

 

QUICKSILVER is absolutely amazing. I love it. And not just to launch apps (although I use it mostly for that), but for quick Address book lookup, launching websites, etc. Very slick.

 

SilverKeeper from LaCie seems to be a very nice, flexible backup utility. I like it better than iBackup (although I need to keep playing with them both). But since I was able to make a full system back to an external USB 2.0 drive (ok, a partition on that drive) and should be able to boot from it in an emergency... I'm happy with it.

 

NetNewsWire Lite for RSS aggregating. Pretty basic. Although I might just stick with Thunderbird once I port my email over from my Windows install (which I assume will be possible). Thunderbird handles RSS too.

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Congrats on purchase. I just ordered a Mac myself and I am waiting for it to ship (first Mac.)

 

iMac, 20 inch

2.16 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo

2 GB DDR2 RAM (667 MHz)

256 MB dedicated VRAM

250 GB hard drive

 

It should be quite adequate.

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Awesome report, keep it up man and enjoy. Find me on iChat or Skype tonight (remember I am GMT) after 10 if you wanna talk. I love hearing people objective but happy with their new Macs as I am in the same boat right now.

 

Congratulations on your amazing new purchase and long may your happiness with Mac continue.

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wow great report! i felt the same when i got my macbook, absoutely love it. lol the feeling like a kid opening a present bit made me laugh, as im 16 and it was a great self-paid present to myslef after 5 hard months of saving from burger king! :P

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