I bought a Mac

December 26, 2013

I've been a Windows guy since I first learned how to use a computer. I had cheap Windows laptops through college, and built my own desktop. The last time I used a Mac before this September was in middle school, when our libraries had the first iMacs. I remember hating those things with a passion - nothing worked right, they were slow, they were ugly, and the mice only had one button. Fast forward to 2013. The latest iteration of the Macbook Pro came out, with fancy retina graphics and Haswell processors. OSX 10.9 is out. And, finally, I can right click.

When I first started writing code, I just stuck with Windows. I SSHed into a server with Putty and used Notepad++ with the FTP plugin. Since the plugin kept my local files synced with the server files, it was essentially like working locally. The only time I had to manually FTP files back and forth was with images and other binary files. I got used to working like this, and everything was great. Then, a couple of weeks ago, I started working on a new project. I decided to do it on Windows. This was a mistake. I couldn't use a package manager. Common utilities and frameworks and databases just wouldn't work perfectly. There were always random C and C++ library errors. There would be a special "windows fix" for everything. Command prompt is the worst piece of shit ever created (seriously, why can't I resize the window?). After about 2 days of that nonsense, I moved back to my Ubuntu box, apt-get installed a bunch of things, and was ready to go in about 5 minutes.

A few days later it's Black Friday. I had been looking at Macbook Pros, waiting for a good deal. None came. So, in the spirit of American consumption, I decided to just buy the Mac for full price, minus the education discount. I've now been using a Mac for a month or so, mainly for browsing, watching videos, light coding, and writing. Here are my thoughts so far.

What I like

  • The build quality is excellent. This is the best touchpad I've ever used, the keys are nice, and the screen is nice. This is typical of Apple products, but I'm used to crappy laptops that are just... crappy.
  • The battery life is also excellent. I can get a whole day of use out of one charge.
  • Developer friendly. Homebrew isn't as complete as say, apt-get or yum, but it's good enough.

What I don't like

  • Built-in Apple apps. I've never touched apps like iBooks or iTunes, and I never will. It's also annoying that I can't remove them easily.
  • The app ecosystem is based on paying. In Linux land, apps are open source and free. In Windows, some things are free or shareware, and some paid. And in Apple land, everything is paid. Sublime Text (plus extensions), Growl, Alfred, Pathfinder, and even a simple calendar app all encourage or require paying.
  • The apple button. I'm used to Windows shortcuts, so Apple ones don't make much sense. The apple button controls both app and system level tasks, and the control button is only used for certain app level tasks. For example, in Chrome, new tab is Cmd+T, but switch tabs is Control+Tab. What?

What I hate

  • The windowing system. By default, the maximize window button doesn't actually maximize. There's no easy way to move and resize windows around like in Windows. Apps can be open without windows being open - this has caused me a lot of frustration when I cmd+Q something.
  • Finder is a piece of shit. Seriously. No hidden files by default. No directory panel. No address bar. No "up" button. No large thumbnail mode.
  • The settings are way too limited. This is general problem with Apple devices. I need another app to clean up my menu bar?

Overall, my main complaints with the Macbook Pro are with OSX. I might try installing a Linux distro on it, but none of the desktops I've tried were any better than OSX. For now I'll just keep using it and hopefully get used to the minor annoyances.

Edit: I've found more things to dislike.

  • Finder still sucks. In thumbnail mode, grid doesn't resize to your window size. There's no way to set default views for specific folders. You can't cut files.
  • Preview only opens one image at a time. In windows, you can just open one image and use left/right to change images. You can't in Mac. You also can't delete. Editing the image is permanent - there's no confirmation of any sort.
  • Yes, I know you can preview an image with space, but that also sucks. Navigating by grid? Really?