Resistance is Futile — I’ve been Assimilated (by Apple)


The second most popular post ever on this blog was my review of Lenovo’s Thinkpad W510. I used to really like the IBM Thinkpads. (The number one post is the link to 64-bit versions of Eclipse, and I don’t even use Eclipse except for an occassional refactoring or stepwise debug).

I just gave my 15-month old quad-core, high-res, 8GB Thinkpad W510 with a 128GB SSD to one of our grad students after Andrew bought me a shiny new Macbook Air 13″ with 4GB and a 256GB SSD. Apple only just a few weeks ago came out with similar hardware for the Macbook Pro, by the way, and Lenovo’s not exactly rushing out of the gate with new CPUs.

Evaluation Period Honeymoon

I thought at the very least, if I hated Mac OS X, I could just install Windows. If the Air was too small, I could just use it for travel.

Within about 24 hours, having watched Apple’s converting from Windows to Mac video, I’m a convert. So much so that Mitzi’s been getting sick of hearing me tell her how great the new Macs are. We’d both last used them with any frequency when I had a Mac Quadra in the early 1990s.

Among my favorite things is emacs commands in text windows. And I’m not sure how I lived without the gestures for scrolling and navigating the web. It really is a unix machine underneath, though I never had any problems with Cygwin on Windows. I also love the keyboards. That and the weight are what finally soured me on the Thinkpads — their new ones are terrible.

Did I mention the insane battery life?

Or just how nice it feels? It’s like moving from a Kodak Brownie to a Leica.

The last time I was this impressed with a piece of hardware was when my grad school department got its first Sun Workstation I way back in 1985 or 1986.

It’s not perfect. Does Microsoft own the patent on grabbing windows by their sides to resize them? It’s not possible in either Linux or the Mac [I was corrected in the comments; it is possible in Linux, just very trying as a test of hand-eye-mouse coordination]. And why do I have a delete key that’s really a backspace and no real delete key? (Yes, I realize fn-delete adds up to a delete.) And what’s the function key doing where my control key should be? Does anyone ever use caps lock for anything? Why do computers still have them?

Also, I don’t find Macs as blindingly obvious as everyone else says they are. For instance, I had no clue as to what to do with the “power cord”. I went online. I read the manual. I’d have thought it was the wrong piece, but it was listed in the parts. Turns out you need to take their power supply apart and then it clips in. Huh? It reminds me of getting an iPod many years ago and having no clue how to turn it off.

No Half Measures

Given that the money was turned on at Columbia, I ordered the Macbook Air for home and travel, as well as a 27″ iMac for the office, and an iPad 2. The iMac is very sweet, but somehow not nearly as cool as the Air. I can’t wait until the iPad shows up — I’m tired of printing out PDFs. As soon as the iPhone 5 shows up, I’m getting one from Verizon (I don’t even have a cellphone now).

Welcome to the New Borg

The old joke used to be that Microsoft was like The Borg, whose tagline was “you will be assimilated”. Slashdot even uses a Borged-out Bill Gates as an icon.

It turns out that as hard as Google’s trying to be the new Borg, the current Borg headgear apparatus rests on Apple’s head. After all, they’ve not just locked down their hardware, they’re also trying to take over the music and movie distribution business. That’s why I’m so surprised I couldn’t find a Steve-Jobs-as-Borg image. C’mon Slashdot, help me out here.

Tip of the Day

When your significant other says he or she thinks you like your new Macbook Air more than him or her, do NOT reply, “It’s so thin!”. Luckily, Mitzi has a sense of humor to go with her yoga-and-running-toned body.

6 Responses to “Resistance is Futile — I’ve been Assimilated (by Apple)”

  1. Devin Dawson Says:

    5 year convert going on here. I feel your pain on the window resizing. I finally found which gives you the “quick resize” capabilities that I always coveted in Windows 7. Might make it a little more bearable depending on how you arrange things.

  2. MarkH Says:

    Check out “Cinch” in the mac app store for windows resizing.
    Happy mac convert here too.

  3. ke Says:

    What do you mean grabbing windows by their sides to resize them isn’t possible in Linux? It’s certainly possible in Ubuntu.

    • Bob Carpenter Says:

      Ah, I should have qualified this as “easily” on Linux. It’s like a game of Operation trying to get the mouse cursor tip in exactly the right position to resize a window in Linux. Before we converted the Linux machine back to Windows, someone showed me some kind of alt-function key combo that grabbed whichever piece of the window that was closest to the mouse and let you resize it. But Linux is so bad in so many ways (like its super slow alt-tab equivalent) that it’s really not even in the running as a desktop environment for me. I do use Linux servers, though.

      In Windows, when you get near the edge, the cursor expands to make grabbing it very easy.

      On the Mac, you seem to need third-party apps to do anything but resize from the lower-right corner. This makes it a multistep process of first placing the upper left where you want it then resizing.

      On the Mac, it just doesn’t work at all without third-party apps.

  4. Luke Nezda Says:

    I didn’t realize just how far the Emacs key bindings could be taken in OS X (via the Cocoa Text System) until yesterday. Check this out:

    My favorite so far is the :complete binding – talk about a typing accelerator!

    I also highly recommend QuickSilver.

  5. Seth Says:

    I’ve been a convert for about 18 months. Not quite a “resistance is futile” Apple drone yet, but close.

    If you haven’t discovered it yet, there’s you can very easily remap cntl-alt-fn-cmd-caps lock in the preferences menu.

    Remapping caps-lock to control was the best decision ever. Suddenly, emacs’s usability increased dramatically. But, yes — caps lock should be abolished. It’s a useless key.

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