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More kool-aid December 4, 2011

Posted by applejosh in Geek.
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For a little over a month now, I’ve been the proud owner of an iPad. When they first came out, I really didn’t think much about them. Just an oversized iPod was my thought. However, there are enough differences to make them actually quite useful and make me more productive (when I’m not playing Angry Birds or Cut the Rope).

It’s much easier to type on this than it is on an iPod/iPhone. Not quite as easy as a laptop or desktop, but the portability factor kind of makes up for that. Also, using any of the plethora of “notebook” applications is actually kind of cool. (eg. Penultimate, Noteshelf, etc.) While writing in these apps is not really “just like paper,” it is a little more subtle than typing on a laptop or tapping on the iPad onscreen keyboard while in a meeting. I decided a while ago that I needed to de-paper my life as much as possible. Apps like Evernote and Noteshelf help with that.

Web browsing is also pretty darn nice. The extra real estate makes a difference. And before anyone asks, no I don’t miss Flash. I dislike flash on my laptop (slow, buggy piece of junk), and actually prefer browsing on my iPad at times just to avoid it.

I kind of regret just getting the wifi version. While I really don’t have a need to have a cellular connection all the time, there are those very occasional moments when it would just be really handy. Maybe next time.

The other kool-aid I drank was in the form of an AppleTV. I’m not quite as excited about it as the iPad, but it does have its nice points. Mirroring the display of the iPad is pretty nifty, as is the ability to easily play downloaded movies and TV shows off the MBP. Netflix is OK, but I’m seriously thinking of dropping it. It was nice to be able to watch all the old Psych TV shows, but the movie selection is poor to say the least. And based on a lot of the news I’ve read, that selection is not going to get better any time soon.

Anyone else drink some kool-aid recently?

MBP update – almost 3 weeks into it April 15, 2011

Posted by applejosh in Geek.
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So I’ve had the MacBook Pro for a couple of weeks, and I thought I’d just provide a quick update on my opinions of the device. In a nutshell, I love it.

The trackpad is fantastic. Once you get use to the “no button” thing (the entire trackpad is one large button) and configure it to your preference, you wonder why Windows based PCs still have buttons and minuscule trackpads. The gestures take some getting used to (two finger for scrolling, three fingers for forward and backward, 4 fingers to bring up active apps, pinch to zoom, etc.), but I find myself trying to do things this way on Windows machines. It just becomes second nature.

The keyboard is also nice. The keys have a nice feel, and the way they are integrated into the aluminum shell just works well. It feels solid.

The OS is obviously very different than what I’ve used in the past, but to be honest, it’s very easy to pick up. Apple’s interface just seems to flow, and most things just make sense in how they work. (I find myself making things harder than they actually are. Probably all that Windows conditioning I’ve had.) The mail/calendar/contacts apps works with my work’s Exchange Server (which is both a positive and a negative), and it’s actually pretty nice considering it’s just using Exchange ActiveSync. I wonder if the next iteration (Lion) will allow connecting to other Exchange Server versions.

The display is crisp and bright, although I do wish the resolution was a little higher. I continue to be amazed by the form factor. It’s just very well crafted, sleek, slim, and just nice to see. No complaints.

I continue to learn new things about the OS, device, and applications every day. (I made my first command script to ssh into a server at work today. Just like .bat files in Windows.) It’s just a pleasure to use this computer. I can see why people become fanboys (although I still don’t consider myself to be one, and I try not to be a fanboy for any technology as these things can just change in a heartbeat – that’s the fun of technology). With the proper software, I can see how smaller companies could utilize these machines in there environment. I haven’t researched how these devices would be integrated into a larger environment where there would ideally be policies and such to manage the network, but I suppose if the enterprise employed a virtual environment of some sort, these devices could be used by the user to connect to those in some manner. (Yes, I’ve downloaded the Microsoft RDP client – and it’s a piece of crap. The conspiracy theorist in me suggests that Microsoft did this intentionally.) I also wish it had a VMware client, but maybe someday (although I’m not holding my breath). I’ve been thinking about bootcamp/vmware fusion/parallel and some sort of Windows partition, but really, why would I want to?

Lastly, one app deserves mention. I ❤ Omnifocus. It’s just a fantastic task management tool.

Any suggestions on what to investigate next? I’m up to learning more about this platform.

New chapter in Geek life April 2, 2011

Posted by applejosh in Geek.

Well, it’s not as life changing as one might think. I have not obtained some new über certification or changed professions. I simply bought my first Mac. (I did have in my possession at one time, an old G4 based desktop system of some sort, but it was running an old version of MacOS (9.x I think), and it really never was used other than one late night attempt (semi-successful) at installing a Linux variant on it.) I now have a MacBook Pro. My old home system is about 9-10 years old (and was obtained “used” from someone who was just throwing it out), and wasn’t really useful for anything more than a repository of my iTunes library (and it even struggled with that). I figure if I buy a computer once every 10 years, I can afford to splurge on the premium that Mac based systems command.

I’m still in my “newbie” phase, and there are quite a number of differences between MacOS and the Windows world in which I have spent (and continue to spend) the majority of my post-school life. I use the justification that at its heart, Mac OSX is running on UNIX. The Mac OS is just a shell running on a geeky OS. In looking for a replacement for my aged desktop system, I did not limit myself to the hodgepodge of office supply wares. The systems available at Staples, OfficeMax, and even Best Buy really did not make me feel like “this is the one.” I wasn’t “wowed” by what was available off the shelf. Sure, I could take one of these plastic-y systems and throw a copy of Ubuntu on it to make it more geeky, but I’m getting to the point in my life where this type of commitment in my off-hours just isn’t there. I work with computers all day long at work. I just don’t have the drive at the end of the day to dive back in just to have a system that does basic things like browse websites, sync/backup my iPhone, and generally just decompress with the mindless babble of Twitter or Facebook.

So as luck would have it, I had some time to kill after leaving the office and before my wife’s flight got in. I went to the Apple Store simply with the purpose of getting a bumper case for my phone. (Yes, I know it’s essentially a glorified rubber band, but it’s a pretty rubber band that fits the device well.) I wandered around the store for a bit, touching the demo machines (iPads, MacBooks, etc.), and frankly, I was impressed with the build quality of the MacBook Pro line. It’s a solid feeling machine. I’ve never been an Apple zealot (my online nickname was simply a username I picked for some online forum many years ago while eating an apple and surfing the web – it just stuck), and in fact, I’ve been slightly anti-Apple over the years. So why was I considering this product line? Well, I admit that aesthetics played a part. It’s a nice looking piece of equipment. But it just seemed to function well. The OS flowed well. The keyboard was one of the best I’ve seen on a laptop, and the touchpad was great. And the 13” model just seemed like the perfect size for casual surfing from the couch. And it’s easy to carry. Not quite iPad portable, but it’s close and much more powerful.

So I left the Apple Store, picked up the wife, and went home that night. I mulled it over for a while, and on Sunday, I had pretty much made up my mind. With the blessing of my better half, I went back to the Apple Store and was soon a member of the Apple cult, sort of.

I have always avoided telling people what system they should have at home (because I’m always asked these questions at work, despite my efforts to make it clear that I am not all-knowing and have no idea what these people actually want their home systems to do). You know what you want to do better than what I can garner from a 20 second conversation. You know what you like (form factor, OS, performance). I can tell you what I think (for what that’s worth), but it really comes down to you doing your own research. If you want a netbook using Linux, then good for you. If you need Windows because it’s just what you’re familiar with, then go for it. If you want X or Y or Z, then you should find out what provides those.

So, while my online nickname finally makes some sense (it’s only been 10 years), don’t expect it to mean I’m suddenly some sort of “Mac or die” type fanboy. I selected something that has what I need and what I want at this point in time. I don’t expect others to have the same values or needs. Go find your own “right” machine.