Saturday, March 13, 2010

Journal of an iMac Virgin #2

Well it's Day 7 in my new iMac world.

I've still not got past Chapter 2 in Mac OS X Snow Leopard For Dummies which is not the best Dummies book I've ever read! That said I've been using the iMac for long hours since Monday and have generally been enjoying the experience with interludes of frustration while I try and work out how to do something. I'm not a lover yet - but I could be!

I'm going to try and record what's been good and not so good about the process within the context of the debate I started (with myself) about PC vs Mac for artists and which a lot of you joined in and commented (see links at the end)

The Pros
  • Out of the box and up and running was FAST I didn't time it but it was minutes. It was so simple. I didn't have to do anything difficult apart from getting the power cord to go through the hole on the stand and plug into the back of the screen. That took about 20 seconds! I didn't have to load anything. I didn;t have to make my way through masses of 3rd party garbage software which has been pre-loaded. I didn't need to uninstall anything to get the security suite up and running - because I didn't need to install a security suite. It found and recognised my modem.
  • The screen: The screen is absolutely stunning and amazing and I simply cannot possibly do the screen justice just using words. I have a very big smile on my face every time I look at a digital image file or watch a video - full-size on a screen which is bigger than my old TV! It also dims itself automatically when I stop using it for short periods before it goes to sleep after not being used for 15 minutes. That'll be saving a few pennies.
  • The style: once you get over the huge size of the screen it is a joy to work on something which doesn't look like it should live in the bedroom of a teenage boy! I'm so pleased that the graphic designers decided to love Macs!
  • The silence is wonderful too. I've only heard the imac's hard disc twice this week - once while installing PC Elements 8 for Mac and once while installing iWork. I've not heard the fans at all. The back of the screen which is a giant aluminium heatsink is in no way hot - indeed I'd be pushed to call it warm. I've got my fingers crossed that it's going to stay like this.
  • Microsoft Office: I'm not missing Microsoft Office at all - but then I don't use it a huge amount these days as I use Google docs for most things. I have however now got iWork loaded but have still to find my way around it. I may not now buy Office 10 when it gets the mac upgrade. (I hasten to add that I still have a PC which is loaded with Office 2007).
  • pdf functionality: It's great being able to convert files into pdf files using Preview and Pages 09. Office makes you upgrade to the business version to get this functionality. It's a huge asset for being able to create files relating to mini publications and documents you want to be able to share easily online.
  • the Apple Keyboard with Numeric Keypad is like a laptop keyboard in a desktop configuration. It suits me fine at the moment and certainly has not presented any problems with my tenosynovitis. I'm at the looking at the screen all the time stage when typing text - and just need to look down when doing anthing unusual. That's pretty good in my book!
  • the changing top menu - I love the fact that the menu at the top of the screen is entirely dictated by which window you are in. It took a bit of getting used to as it is do not what I'm used to.
  • Finder: I really like the columnar function which makes it easy to follow through there you're going when creating a folder or looking for or saving a file.
  • I love the Exposé function and the fact it has a key (but I don't 'get' spaces as yet)
  • It was very pleasant to find that Adobe PC Elements 8 works in an almost identical way on the Mac. The changes seemed to be to do with the differences between versions 7 and 8 rather than between PC and iMac. I've only just opened The Missing Manual Book for PC Elements 8.
  • The SD slot on the side of the screen is great - but I'm glad I read the comment about being careful not to get it confused with the CD/DVD slot just above it@
Comments - not significant
  • The Dock - I'm getting used to it rather than a fan at the moment. I've got it off to one side given all my lateral screen estate
  • It's nice to have iLife preinstalled and for that to work with all other mac software rather than having different software doing different bits
  • Organising the windows on a huge screen: It's taken a bit of getting used to in terms of how to position windows next to one another.
  • Wireless networking: It's nice to have a wireless modem inside but I guess I'd have preferred to be asked whether I wanted to use wireless networking before being asked which network I wanted to connect to. The reality is that I always stay on an ethernet cable for big machine sat on desktops. That said it found my wireless modem router easily and set itself up quickly - and it was easy to take it off line when I realised I was operating wirelessly rather than through the ethernet.
  • I think my Canon Pixma 630 mutilfunctional Printer/Scanner Drives were already on the iMac. I know I didn't have to upload or download anything to get it to work - but we did do a software update yesterday.
  • iPhoto - I still don't understand how to access photos in iPhoto when I want to post them to my blog. Or how I can get them organised in my folders so they match up with a structure which makes sense to me.
  • Adobe Bridge - I've not even begun to try and get to grips with Bridge as yet. It just sits there and looks at me and I ignore it. You'll notice it's not stopped me posting images to my blog!
  • naming/saving files: this took a bit of working out. It's a bit less intuitive that it could be. I kept looking for how I could find the folder to save the file too and couldn't work out how to do it. On the other hand finding out for myself means I remember it!
  • What do I have to do to generate a stack - I haven't had one yet!
The Cons

my post-it note with shortcut reminders
  • Few of the keyboard shortcuts are the same and since I use shortcuts for most things that was the biggest hurdle to get over. I still can't block a line of text fast so I can move or delete it and that one is driving me crackers!
  • The magic mouse is a bit too sensitive to accidental gestures Just brushing it accidentally sends the objects on my screen into meltdown because they think I've swiped it. I think I might have to get a more conventional mouse as it really is not ergonomic in my hand.
  • The Firewall is not turned on automatically and I didn't realise this until Wednesday. I've now got it at maximum power.
  • My Dummies book suggests that people who download files from the Internet do in fact need virus protection software (ie you're only protected if using your own files and downloading from very reputable sites). Not quite sure what to make of this one. However I do a lot of downloads so I'm thinking it might be a good idea to investigate further.
  • I'm still not feeling confident enough to do my banking over the Internet. I need to sort out the virus issues first.
  • size of the Finder image icons: I HATE the fact that I can't choose what size the image icons should be in Finder. OK so I can do it in Preview - but I need it when I'm in Finder!!!
  • missing keys on the keyboard - that's just weird. Why would you not include the hash (#)key? I wish they had one key you could press to find out what the shortcuts are for all they keys they haven't included.
  • the mouse with the missing right click: Right clicking is second only to using keyboard shortcuts in my everyday computing world. So not having a mouse with a right click was most disconcerting. Setting up the right click button on the mouse was a tad more difficult than I was expecting. I wish I had written down where the instructions are for that one!
Many thanks as ever to all the people who have sent me notes and tips during the course of the week for the 'how do I...?' questions I've been twittering. DO USE TWITTER if you are trying to master a new machine or software - people are fabulous at answering questions! :)

Links to posts in the PC vs Mac debate to date:

13 comments:

Kaylyn said...

I think its funny that you refer to photoshop elements as PC...there's an Imac Virgin freudian slip for you!

I would love to use an Imac, but a great deal of the software I use doesn't work well or at all on macs. I understand that since leopard you can dual load windows, but then you have to buy a bunch of extra software.

This is all very informative and entertaining! All those folks who use macs and say they are so much easier fail to understand that I think a PC is easy because I've been using them since windows 3.1!!

Katherine Tyrrell said...

I've been using PCs for longer than that - I go back to Dos and Wordperfect!

Unfortunately, PC manufacturers seem to be in the game of built-in obsolescence/broken way before time. My first PC lasted 5 years and the life of each PC has been getting progressively shorter and shorter

If you look back at the links below you'll see the reason I finally opted for a Mac - and that I also concluded that anybody who buys a new machine is always going to be buying new software too - so what you opt for is to my mind increasingly academic on that point.

I'm not at all convinced that buying a PC so you can continue to use old software is ever a wise move given the rate at which other technology (eg printers, drives etc) change and stops being compatible with old software.

Anyone got a machine which can still access a floppy disk?

Sophie said...

You cannot upload images straight from iPhoto to your blog. The only way around it, is to make a copy (drag or export) to your desktop (for example) and upload it from there. iPhoto is a very, very closed system and for that reason I am not using it for the majority of my images (the slideshow function is pretty cool though!). You cannot find your image files inside iPhoto via Finder either. I've found some good tutorials on Bridge and am using that now, alongside Finder. You can amend the size of the thumbnails in 'finder' with the little slider at the bottom right (if you are in thumbnail view). I have no idea what 'spaces' are yet either!! I like expose though. Once you sorted the right click on the mouse it works 'just as normal'. I am totally with you on all the pro's. Just watched a HD you-tube video and it is amazing.
Oh, and I've had no crashes, error, or hanging programs yet....:D

Justin said...

Have you considered trying OpenOffice online? Like MS office, but free.

I maintain a small lab with students downloading all sorts of stuff from the internet. I have yet to have a problem with viruses. I would suspect that the line about internet safety is more of a liability issue than anything else.

I too prefer to avoid iPhoto. I can catalog my files without it.

When looking for the right click, it can be accomplished with the control key and a click, or you might try a two finger click on your magic mouse. two fingers on my Macbook gives me a right click.
The keyboard without # is a mystery. Mac has re-arranged several of it's f-key usages in the past few generations as well. I don't understand this logic.

Glad to hear you are having considerable success. Hope your finger is better soon, and wish you continued enjoyment of your iMac.

Elisabeth said...

You can save just about anything as a pdf right from the print dialogue box in any program.

Terry Krysak said...

This reinforces my resolve not to buy a Mac. A friend of mine bought one 4 years ago, he is a new computer user at 85 years young, and I have not been able to help him with any of the numerous issues with problems he has had, as I am a PC user.
A tip for your readers regarding PDF. There is a program called PDF creator that you can download for free and it works as a printer driver in that it will create a PDF from MS Word or any other document, or a web page, or screenshot. Also Open Office which is free has a PDF creator utility in the word processing portion of the software.
Best of luck in your learning curve with Mac.

Katherine Tyrrell said...

Terry - to put this in perspective, this is the simplest switch I've had to a new computer and operating system in many years

I've spent far longer sorting out how things now work everytime I've bought a new PC (because I had to!) and bought the latest system which was not what i was used to before.

From my experience, it's not a good idea to assume your computer will go for ever. Many people may get a shock if their computer dies tomorrow in terms of just how much they need to get to grips with and learn.

I also don't regard learning a whole new bunch of keyboard shortcuts as a big deal.

In Apple's favour, they have lots of tutorials on their website and you can also book in for one to one (paid)tutorials at their store. They'll even switch all your stuff from your old computer on to a new mac.

Ujwala said...

great that you are up and running. a couple of your queries and points caught my eye.

iPhoto - allows you to send emails with the photos attached to blogs, flickr and facebook. all these sites give you a unique email id so that you can post photos directly by mail. The new '09 version also allows you to setup and send to fb and flickr directly. for these options there are icons at the bottom right hand corner of the iPhoto app window. I email my photos to flickr and then post them to the blog from there.

dock - you could try using the hide option for the dock which will then pop up only when you bring your cursor to that part of the screen - bottom or where ever you've moved it to.

pdf - as elisabeth has mentioned in her comment, the mac has pdf functionality built into it's print function making it very useful. if you go to a webpage and want to save the page for reading at leisure, select print from the file menu on top of whichever app you're in and then at the bottom left hand corner of the window that pops open you'll see a button that allows you to save the page as a pdf with many sub options. select the one you want and rename the file if you want to and save.

finder icons - right click anywhere in finder and you'll find at the bottom of the box that pops up a "show view option" click on that and move the slider to left or right to resize. two finger tap on your magic mouse acts as a right click. i use it all the time on my track pad.

i've been using the mac since '96 and have not needed to use an antivirus programme. maybe with the increase in the mac user base viruses may become common to this platform too but until then i dont think it's a necessity. the apple / mac forums posts will have more information and help you make up your mind.

all that talk about the screen size and quality is making me want to get an iMac too! : )

Small Paintings by Catherine Gillespie said...

This is a great book - Very readable and I use my Tiger version as a reference all the time:

Mac OS X Snow Leopard: The Missing Manual by David Pogue

Parka said...

You should get Mac OS X Leopard Killer Tips. It will save you a lot of time while using the Mac. It's easy to read as well, just 1 or 2 short tips per page, with over hundreds of tips.

As for the dock, I rarely use it. You should check out an application called Quicksilver which a lot of Mac users use. It's basically an application launcher with keyboard shortcuts.

Adobe Bridge is great. The ability to preview all sorts of images helps me open the correct files all the time. Major time saver for anyone who creates graphics, lots of graphics.

There are too few virus on the Mac for you to worry about. I'm on a lot of Mac discussion boards and have never read about anyone getting infected.

Katherine Tyrrell said...

Thanks for the tips - I'll investigate those

Lisa McShane said...

Hi Katherine,

I am sitting here w/ my 2 PC laptops. One is running in safe mode because it won't turn on otherwise (3 years old), and one is running a symptom test to answer the burning question, 'why does the blue screen of death pop up when my pc is idle for 5 minutes?' (2 years old).

Naturally I'm using the safe mode to visit the Apple store online and I remembered your recent blog posts on this same subject.

It's been more than a month and I'm curious, are you happy you switched to Mac? In the end, did it work out? I'd love your thoughts as I ponder this big decision!

Katherine Tyrrell said...

Oh that sounds soooooo familiar! I now use my dead laptops as a foot rest

I have to say I'm loving the 27" iMac - the screen is completely and utterly awesome. So far the people who have been out and bought iMacs after me have also said the same thing

I've got precisely two problems so far (once I got over my twitchiness about not having a virus checker)

(1) My magic mouse uses up batteries like they're a box of chocolates - munch, munch, munch!

I've now got rechargeable ones in and the battery charger on the go constantly! I suspect it might be mouse so I'm going to get it changed

(2) I hate iWork (apart from the fact that it's now so much easier to make pdfs). It just isn't as sophisticated or as easy to use as Office. As soon as Microsoft has get the Mac version of Office 10 sorted I shall be queuing up to buy a version.

I guess I better to do that post to update folks!

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