Moved to Mac: Status Report

Two weeks ago I decided to take the plunge and move my life from a Windows XP desktop to a 15″ G4 Powerbook. Thanks to all the readers that gave me tips on their favorite apps and utilities.

I thought it would be a big deal. As a long-time Windows user who’s used to all-day rebuilds and migrations, I figured I was in for at least as much work to switch to Mac OS X and a new computer. I was wrong. I’m sure some will disagree with me, but IMHO, it’s easier to move from a PC to a Mac than it is to move from one PC to another. One reason is that when you move from one PC to another — which I’ve done many times — you like to take the opportunity to re-install most of your applications, a time-consuming process. The alternative is to use some utility to replicate everything. But one of the reasons for moving to a new PC is that you don’t want to move everything. In particular, you want to start with a fresh registry, not one filled with all the junk you’ve collected over a period of some years. Mac OS X has no registry, of course, so when you want to remove an application, you just delete it.

In any case, I’m now entirely living on the PowerBook, and here are some of the applications I’m using:

  • Outlook2Mac from LittleMachines ($10) is amazing. I used ot to move all of my email, contacts and calendar data to the Mac OS X utilities. The best $10 I ever spent on software.
  • NetNewsWire from Ranchero Software is not only a terrific RSS aggregator, as of version 2.0 (beta) it’s also one of the best tools for receiving podcasts. Brent Simmons has always had a great sense of intuitive UIs, and NewNewsWire is in that caegory of ‘it just works’ programs.
  • Microsoft Office: Mac — yeah, I broke down to support the old habits.
  • Quicksilver from Blacktree, Inc.
  • Skype now works pretty well on OS X.
  • Stuffit was one program I had to buy (Stuffit 9) because the version that I brought over from my iBook didn’t work on the PowerBook.
  • Firefox, which I like better than Safari.
  • iSync Palm conduit to synch my Treo 650 to the Mac OS X utils.
  • Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, both from Apple, $59 each, are excellent. I just wish the mouse had a way to do window scrolling like you can do by dragging two fingers on the touchpad.

One other thing that blew me away: When you start OS X for the first time, you’re asked if you want to move from another Mac. I’ve been using an iBook — which will now become my wife’s as a replacement for her XP box — so I said yes. One Firewire connection and 20 minutes later, and everything I cared about on the iBook, including all of my personal configurations, was moved to the PowerBook.

And other than a few reboots in order to install applcations, the PowerBook hasn’t been turned off since I bought it. It just works.

[Qualification: I’m still using a few XP boxes as the workhorses in the IT Conversations studio. Mac fans will argue this, but for the type of hard-core post-production audio work I do, fast Pentiums and some of the Windows-based apps are superior to what I have on the Mac. So while I moved my personal stuff to the PowerBook, all of my audio and imaging apps stil reside on XP. I could move Photoshop, etc., to the Mac, of course, but I’d have to buy all-new copies for some big $$, so for now I’m happy keeping those on XP.]

Just two complaints:

  • The touchpad ‘click’ bar requires just a bit too much pressure, and I find if I drag/drop something across the full width of the screen, I tend to drop it prematurely. I’ve taken to using two hands, with one finger on the second hand to jold town that bar.
  • I haven’t for the life of me figured out how to get to ‘end-of-line’ in most text applications. On most Windows apps, the ‘end’ key does this, but on the PowerBook, most apps interpret this as ‘end-of-page.’ Maybe I’ll figure this one out.

8 thoughts on “Moved to Mac: Status Report

  1. Congratulation, Doug

    Today I was playing with Apple store customizing my upcoming PowerBook G4 and then I just got an rss notification that you switched and this means that Iā€™m taking another reason to move to Apple products.

    Best, Kushtrim


  2. Key bindings are sometimes puzzling, especially since they tend to be different for Cocoa and Carbon apps. Most modern apps support Emacs key bindings – Ctrl-A for beginning-of-line, Ctrl-E for end-of-line. If that doesn’t work, Fn-End/-Home (on a PowerBook) usually do it.


  3. Actually OS X has two protocols that functionally are the registry. Applications store their preferences in ~/Library/Application Support/(Name of App, or Company Name/Name of App)

    These XML plists often do remain around so that if you reinstall you don’t start from scratch, but no other programs interact with them, so their orphaned status is immaterial.

    Second there is some sort of method by which OS X “knows” when you install and remove an app, even if you are just dragging a bundle to (~)/Applications; I’m not positive but my guess is that on first run OS X notices something being executed and files away the knowledge that this is an App, and potentially what sort of files / actions to throw its way if the app offers that data. When you drag to trash, OS X notices this is a file on the watch list and removes that data from its internal “registry”.

    MS could fix its registry by making it more functionally aware of itself. (and ensuring no app’s key changes could clobber another’s, one of the most irritating things to have happen in I’ve ever encountered) The functionalist seperation of per-app preferences and global metadata removes little utility from OS X, but seems to prevent the ridiculous problems to endemic to 2000/XP.

    (Certainly I’ve never heard of the OS X “registry” having problems. Individual 3rd party apps sometimes mishandle their .plists (some bug regarding the writing of them) but that demands nothing more than the deletion of that plist; no user data is allowed in them so you lose no work, just configuration settings. OS X has a utility to screen all plists for any miswritten entries; it can also try to repair them (with a 100% success rate so far; I’ve had one corrupted once)



  4. Glad everything went smoothly. I have always had both Macs and Windows until a couple of years ago when I finally gave up on anything Windows. Life has been easier.
    As far as Photoshop goes (or other expensive software), have you checked to see if they have a cross-grade update. I’ve heard some do, some don’t.
    Have you tried GarageBand yet?


  5. Welcome brother. I switched from a PC to an Ibook about 12 months ago and couldn’t be happier. Adam Christianson’s MacCast is an excellent podcast for Mac users. Thanks for your ongoing work with ITC.


  6. Doug, congratulations on your Mac (semi) conversion. I recently upgraded from a 15″ Titanium Powerbook the the latest aluminum 15″ G4 Powerbook same as yours.

    My advice about the trackpad: it’s improved the and window scrolling feature is another Apple interface idea that everyone will copy, but I’ve found that unless you are actually working on your lap, the best solution is to use a Windows mouse!

    I’m serious — the Mac has supported them ever since the arrival of USB. The one I like is also one of the cheapest, the Microsoft “Notebook Optical Mouse.” It’s tiny and light, has both left and right buttons plus a click-type window scrolling wheel with a nice light touch. It costs $29.95 at Best Buy.

    If you really want something even beyond Windows style scrolling, check out the Kensington StudioMouse Wireless. It has a fantastic touch sensitive scrolling control where the click wheel would be on a normal mouse. Just touch and hold, it scrolls in either direction. The only thing I don’t like about it is that it’s much larger and heavier than the little Notebook mouse. Either of them are ergonomically far superior to the Apple mouse IMO.


  7. I recently moved to a 15″ Powerbook at home from a XP whitebox. Since then I’ve shut my Powerbook off twice I think. I was equally amazed at how easy it was to do the “switch.” In case you are looking for a good mouse with two buttons and has a scroll wheel check out DVForge’s Bluetooth Mouse. I just could get used to not having a right click option. Some habits never die. šŸ™‚


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