Love and hate: back on the Mac

Update: June 4, 2007: I have no idea what I was thinking when I said kind things about Entourage below. I was very, very, very wrong. Entourage is beyond bad.

Two days ago, I switched back to the Mac as my primary work machine after just over a year using a PC. I was a Powerbook user for a couple years before coming to Yahoo and use a Mac at home, so the Mac is nothing new to me. I’m sure I’ll have more to write later, but here’s a very superficial rundown on the first couple of days with the MacBook Pro:


  • Entourage. When I used a Mac before, I used and Thunderbird. I’m hooked into Exchange at Yahoo! (good for calendaring and Treo synching), so I’m using Entourage now. It is so much better than Outlook on the PC. I had no idea.
  • Backlit keyboard. I like working in the dark.
  • Expose. Expose, oh how I missed you!
  • Unix. Yeah, there’s Cygwin for Windows, but it never feels right.


  • That absolutely idiotic magnetic power supply. Who thought that was a good idea?
  • Single mouse button. I’m a big right-mouse-click person. I know you can still do that if you plug a mouse into the Powerbook but there’s nothing like having it on the laptop keyboard. This is nothing new, of course, I just forgot about it until I switched back.

I could say a lot more, but after two days, I’m loving it overall.

Apple sucks

Over the weekend, in getting ready for my trip Bangalore (via London, where I sit now with a long layover), I decided to download some episodes of “The Office” from the iTunes video store. I downloaded a few hours worth of video, dutifully paying for the video using the account I’ve used for all my iTunes purchases in the past.

After settling into my seat for the 10 hour flight to London, I booted up my laptop, ready to enjoy the videos I had downloaded and presumably paid for. Imagine my horror when I clicked “play” on the first episode and got this screen:

iTunes authorization screen

Of course, you have to be connected to the Internet to authorize, so I was out of luck for my whole flight.

Apple, you suck. (At the very least, build the authorization step into the download process — aren’t you known for obsessive user focus?)

Thunderbird on the Mac: delete key doesn't work!

I recently started using Thunderbird on the Mac (after using for a couple of years) and it’s great and all, but why doesn’t one of the delete keys work? On the Apple keyboard I have, there are two delete keys: one under F13 and one below the “help” button. I didn’t realize it until I started using Thunderbird, but I always use the latter key (the one below “help”) when I want to delete e-mail. That delete key doesn’t work in Thunderbird on the Mac. Other people have noticed — it’s not just me.

I’m one of the odd people who uses a Mac keyboard for his PC — I like the Apple keyboard and I switch between a Mac and PC via a KVM switch, so it makes sense to stick to a single keyboard. And guess what? The delete key on my Apple keyboard that doesn’t work on Thunderbird for the Mac actually works on Thunderbird for Windows.

Go figure.

I sorta wish I was using a Mac again

While Russ just laid out his reasons for a possible reverse switch (Mac to PC), I’ve been missing my PowerBook just a bit lately after voluntarily deciding to switch to the PC when I started the new job (I still use a Mac at home, though). Working with the PC is going ok, but sometimes I kick myself, honestly. I mean, I’m getting my work done, but it’s those little things. Here are a few of them:

  • To put the Mac in sleep mode, I used to just close it. On the PC, I have to go to the Start Menu, select “Shut Down,” then choose “Standby” (this process might not be described perfectly because I don’t want to bring my PC laptop out of standby right now to check. That is slow, too. I’m typing this post on a Mac!)
  • I really like, and still use it at home. I have not yet figured out how to effectively search my mail in Exchange like I did effortlessly in (Yeah, yeah, Exchange can be kind of lame, but the GoodLink software that pushes mail to my Treo is all worth it. And I know you can get POP/IMAP mail with SnapperMail on a Treo, but been there, done that — GoodLink is WAY better.) Exchange isn’t required in the Windows environment, just thought I would mention it anyway.
  • I spent part of the weekend fooling around with the Bluetooth on my PC and it didn’t quite work. I’m sure I’ll get there, but I doubt I’ll be very well-positioned for Bluetooth heroics with the PC. Stranded families are unlikely to appreciate the slow wake-up of the PC when every moment is critical.
  • I can’t type very well in the dark any more (that backlit keyboard. . . oh, how your memory haunts me!)
  • I didn’t know how much I would miss the built-in Terminal (though it’s not perfect by any means)
  • Man, it was nice having gcc and my own dev environment running on my laptop.

One good thing about using a PC at work and a Mac at home is that I can try out pretty much anything out there, but I think the best thing is that I can bitch about them both on a regular basis.

Adium rocks!

Quack! Tim wasn’t kidding — Adium for OS X (based on Gaim) is awesome. I had been using iChat on my OS X box at home until I picked up a bunch of Yahoo! Instant Messenger pals in my new job. I tried Fire for a few weeks, but it left me cold. Honestly, I never really liked iChat that much either, even after exhaustively going through its preferences and stripping it down interface-wise as much as possible (getting rid of the text bubbles, the sounds, etc.)

That being said, I hadn’t spent any time looking for alternatives, but two minutes after reading Tim’s post, I was up and running with Adium. Easy switch, and totally worth it, though I recommend disabling the sound effects immediately — I jumped out of my seat when the first IM came through with a loud “QUACK!”

iChat and Fire are both gone from my dock now.

Backing up a Mac with rsync

If you want to avoid using all the goofy backup software that come with firewire drives these days, but you haven’t gotten around to reviewing the rsync man page and you’re starting to get a little worried about your backup situation on your Mac, this is the page for you. Rsync has always been a mainstay in my tools arsenal, but mostly on Linux and Solaris. This set of detailed instructions will clear any rsync cobwebs quickly, and throws in a few Mac-specific details to boot. I’m running my backup now. . . . looking good.