Thursday, April 17, 2008

Falling out of bed

So several years ago I was first exposed to Mac OS when I taught development courses at Lehigh University (specifically on Director, which I would loosely classify as an abomination of a development environment--an assessment largely based on Lingo) and on Flash, which I still teach to this day (also in a Mac Lab here at USU). But I've never run Mac as my primary OS until just a couple of weeks ago.

So far, so good. I did break down and get a license for End Note because after a day and a half of searching for an open source alternative it looked like the Tex based alternatives weren't quite what I need them to be. Which is really too bad because Office is not exactly my favorite piece of software. Allegedly the next version of open office is going to have bibliographic support built in, and that's kind of the "last mile" problem I'm having right now. I need to be able to insert citations into a word processor that I could use on a daily basis, and mimicking the cite while you write functionality of End Note is also an important feature for me.

I'm slowly breaking down my dependence on SPSS. I got R running and I've successfully been able change the default packages and to import SPSS data. A CSV file generated by Excel hasn't been quite as easy to do.

I do have to say that as a machine (I'm using an old PowerBook Pro with a PowerPC chip (not intel based) this thing has a lot of nice mechanical features out of the box. For instance, if I hook it up to my external display while it's in sleep mode but the cover is still shut, it comes out of sleep mode with the external monitor as the sole display. Which is especially nice because I hate the way dual displays runs on the mac (with program menus always at the top of the screen, I wind up going back and forth--although I did find a keyboard shortcut utility to pop up the current program menu on either screen).

Mostly, I have yet to have any sort of trouble hooking up to a wireless network. And even though it's only been a couple of weeks, I've connected to 3-4 networks, all of which my Dell (which had dueling drivers from XP and my wireless card) had non-stop trouble with.

Oh, and I have a logitec wireless mouse and keyboard that I use in my office. It was plug and play with this PowerBook. After telling it the keys adjacent to my shift keys it was off and running, including use of the volume/mute play/pause buttons on the side of the keyboard. As David Wiley would say, using this thing is like falling out of bed.

Now if only I had the new touch pad on this thing. I'm still not used to having to press the button w/ my thumb.


robmba said...

Whenever I use a Mac, I feel like my right hand is tied behind my back, and I can only use my left hand to do everything while sitting on an uncomfortable chair.

So what's the draw? What got you to switch?

Andrew Walker said...

Best available machine in the department. That and I'm wanting to avoid Vista like the plague. I've only worked with it a couple of times for less than a couple of hours but both times it made zero sense to me. One was trying to get a wireless connection active. I notice that it was just as difficult with the new OS as it always has been. Except now you get the added bonus of a plausible deniability prompt every time you even look at your router "WinSCP has requested that you download one or more files, would you like to allow or deny this request."

I will say that prior experience helps a lot. It's not an easy transition to make at all--but I'll also say that it's way worth it.

Wep said...

Welcome to the better side of the computer world :) I switched when I started at Lehigh too, and bought a powerbook when my Dell crashed during a web resource dev class. I have never once looked back. I now have a MacBook and it is fabulous.

I think my proudest mac moment was on vacation with my husband last year. We limit one computer each on a vacation. I brought my mac, and he brought his work computer. When we got to the hotel he couldn't connect to the internet. He was about to call around to find another hotel but couldn't find a phone book. Imagine the anger on his face when I opened up my mac and effortlessly woke it, googled, and found a new hotel with a network he could use ;)