Well, as mentioned before, I’ve recently been given (by my PhD funding body) a MacBook Pro laptop. I’m really getting to like it, but there are still some things that frustrate me. So, this will be one of two posts: my favourite things, followed by my least-favourite things. So, the good bits first:
This feature has actually replaced my desire for an iPad! When I close the lid of my MacBook it goes to sleep in about ten seconds and I can put it back in my bag. When I want to use it again, I simply open it up, tap a key, and I’m immediately back exactly where I was. This has really changed how I use my laptop. I’d only get out my Windows laptop when I was sure I’d have a significant amount of time to use it, as it took so long to wake up from sleep/hibernation mode. Now, if I have five minutes to spare I just whip out my laptop and manage to get around four minutes work done! Also, just as an aside, the sleep indicator on the MacBook Pro flashes in a very soothing way…hardly surprising as they deliberately designed it to mimic the human breathing rate during sleep (see here).
I’ve always been a fan of linux (I installed my first Linux distro at the age of around 12), but I’ve never really managed to persuade myself to use it on my main every-day machine. Servers yes, but laptops no – it didn’t have the right software, it was too finicky to do stuff with when I need my laptop to work every day. But now I have a solution – OS X is a very polished desktop operating system, with a linux-y (technically, POSIX-compatible) base. If I want to use GCC on my Mac, it’s there. If I want to install some linux software it’ll often just work. If I want to use a linux-based GUI then an X server is built in to the operating system. And, probably most importantly, there is a decent bash terminal built-in to the operating system. Best of both worlds? Definitely!
I didn’t realise how great this was until I moved back to my Windows laptop for a while. The touchpad on my MacBook is just so smooth and easy to use. Two-fingered scrolling is so easy, as is pinch-to-zoom. I’ve always hated scrolling on touchpads before (they often have a horrible ‘scroll zone’ on the right-hand side) but on my MacBook I use the touchpad to scroll even if I’m plugged into an external mouse!
So, those are my three favourite things. It’s interesting to note that these three things aren’t particularly difficult or complicated things, but they just make my MacBook far nicer to use on a day-to-day basis.
Next time: what frustrates me about my MacBook Pro.