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: