I’ll just jump right into it. Since the last blog entry about the Mac, here are:

The new things I like

  1. It boots up quickly
  2. I really like the preview feature and desperately miss it on other OS’s

The new things I DON’T like:

  1. The pinwheel of death. For a computer with a dual core CPU and 3gb of RAM (yes, 3gb, not 2), the pinwheel appears an obscene number of times. When opening more than one webpage, when compiling, when opening NeoOffice, completely at random, when something crashes, and so on. Why does OS X suck so much at distributing processing time over the cores? Why do both cores get pegged down completely so damn often? The hourglass cursor is FAR less prevelant on my Windows computer at home which has similar specs (dual core CPU and 2gb of RAM).
  2. Firefox runs like crap. It is noticeably slower on OS X. Pages take longer to load, it eats up a lot of CPU while rendering them, and yes, you get to see a whole lot more of that damn pinwheel. It’s especially bad on certain pages (such as Facebook), possibly indicating some AJAX issue. It also eats up a lot of RAM, although that happens with Firefox on any OS. Hopefully version 3.0 will improve this.
  3. Mail crashes more often than it should, and when it does, it has a way of taking the whole OS with it. I can rarely (if ever) recover from Mail locking up - force quit can’t quite handle it - and usually need to reboot. Moreover, I’ve become slightly disillusioned with the built in search. It will quite often refuse to find emails that contain text exactly matching your search terms. Finally, its conversation view is inferior to gmail. Having said all that, it is still incomparably better than Outlook.
  4. I got a Blackberry Pearl recently (I’ll post more about my phone adventures later) and to put it simply, trying to sync a Blackberry with a Mac is damn near impossible. The Mac will find the phone and connect to it via bluetooth… I think you can even transfer files… But the sync will fail every time. Just google for it and you’ll find legions of users frustrated by this. Even over a USB cable, the sync is extremely buggy: the sync program seems to hang, the status bar never reaching 100%, and you only get a partial sync. The events on the phone end up on the computer, but not vice-versa. I can’t say this is the fault of Apple, but given the popularity of Blackberry devices, this is pretty disappointing.
  5. The computer has some graphics driver issues that, according to an article one of our IT guys showed, Apple will not address. The symptoms vary a bit, but on my computer, I will get a complete lock up every now and then. The whole system will freeze and not respond to any kind of input. I have to hold down the power button and reboot. I’ve tried some manual fixes posted online (which involve booting off an OS X install disc and manually replacing graphic driver files), but they led to some graphics corruption, so I had to revert live with it. The crashes are rare, but very unpleasant. Again, I’m not sure it’s Apple’s fault - maybe nVidia or ATI are to blame - but Apple’s big sell is that they control the hardware, and such problems are quite disappointing.
  6. A less severe symptom of the driver issues is that the computer has issues with dual monitor support when booting (or, say, rebooting after a total lockup). If I leave my external monitor plugged in when I turn the computer on, the computer will seem to switch into an extended desktop mode (the desktop on the laptop screen will change appropriately), but the external monitor stays completely black. The ONLY solution I’ve found is to shut down the computer, unplug the monitor, boot back up and then plug the monitor back in once the OS is running.
  7. The keyboard shortcuts are driving me nuts. I know I wrote about this in the previous post, but even after several months of use, they still feel wrong. For example, in many pop-up dialogs (such as an ok/cancel), you can’t always switch between the buttons using the keyboard - I’ve tried arrow keys, tab, Apple + arrow keys and several other combos, and none of them do anything. In some programs you can push the apple key plus the first letter of the option (ie Apple + D for Don’t save in TextWrangler) but this is not consistently available. The keyboard shortcuts themselves for various system operations are not always listed - for example, why are there no keyboard shortcuts next to sleep or logout in the Apple menu? Finally, the inconsistency of keyboard shortcuts can be maddening. In some programs, Apple + B makes text bold. In others, it’s ctrl + B. In some, switching tabs is done with Apple + arrows (in which case, I have no idea how you get to the beginning/end of a line of text), in others, it’s ctrl + tab (and apple + arrows instead have a totally different behavior, such as back & forward in a browser). The list goes on and on.
  8. Finder sucks. I tried to like it, and I do appreciate the search feature, but it’s just a dumb way to handle file management. Not being able to see the whole file structure (ie, anything above your home folder) is maddening. I understand the whole security/permissions setup of Unix can keep the system safer, but on a 1 (power) user system, it would be real nice to be able to just have full access to your own goddamn computer.
  9. I hate the blinking, bouncing notifications in the dock. I understand that you want to install update #457 for the OS or give me some mundane, completely unimportant message, but every time a goddamn icon starts hopping incessantly at the periphery of my vision, I just want to put my fist through the screen.
  10. I’ve never found expose useful. It looks gorgeous and is nice in theory, but it just doesn’t seem efficient. I’m used to good keyboard shortcuts, so a more powerful alt+tab - as available on Vista - is significantly more useful.

Is Windows that much better?

No, not really. Windows has its own share of flaws and frustrations and as I said in the first post, neither OS is head & shoulders above the other. The point of this post was to vent a bit and challenge the conception that the Mac is some holy mecca of operating system salvation. Same shit, different smell.

However, for my purposes, Windows does get the job done just a little smoother and cheaper (esp. the hardware). If I can ween myself from gaming (or let the lack of quality games do the job for me), I may even switch to Ubuntu some day. Free definitely has it’s advantages.