My Macbook Experience

I posted a blog about my Macbook Pro shortly after I bought it, for anybody who missed it, you can read it HERE. It’s now been over a year, I thought I would give an update on my experiences so far.

I own a Samsung 7 Series laptop, it’s great. I also own a server with multiple Virtual Machines, I use these as a test lab. My Macbook has become my primary home device. It’s so lightweight and the screen is so visually appealing that it completely trumps my Samsung and is my preference. BUT! As I had kind of expected, my Macbook still has not become my work horse machine, my go to machine I use for productivity, further more, When I bought the Macbook, I figured this would be the machine I would use for editing my images\graphics and working on my websites. Well, it hasn’t quite worked out that way. I always had this notion that MACs were popular with artists because the software was superior, I find the image editing software that comes with the OS is very lacking, even, dare I say, more lacking than what comes pre-loaded on Windows!! For the little editing I require for images on here, I would sooner use Microsoft paint for cropping, using the color picker etc. I was disappointed with the built in utility and so I downloaded GIMP, but I guess over the years it has lost it’s shine a little bit, plus I had all kinds of issues with it crashing out on me! So, as of this typing, I am still using Windows for my web work…strange, eh? I’ve heard from people that GarageBand is great for recording Podcasts, haven’t tried that yet. I have used iMovie quite a bit, I think it’s needlessly complicated but does get the job done! Craps out on me a lot less than Adobe Captivate but I think given the choice, I’d probably use SnagIt\Camtasia.

So I guess I should state my likes and dislikes at this point.

Dislikes

The Updates are even more annoying than Windows Updates. Why? Because I will get prompted to update, I decide to allow the updates and then get an error stating that I need to shut down iTunes….one problem, as far as I’m aware, iTunes isn’t open! But it is, The Operating system leaves applications running in memory after you close them, kind of like on most mobile operating systems. So you need to go to Force Quit to exit the application to allow the update to install. That update installs and then BANG! Close Safari for the next update and so on and so on. It’s very frustrating.

You can’t open multiple instances of the same application. I figured this one out when I was preparing to go back to Ireland shortly after I bought the laptop. I wanted to use a few calculators to figure out my spending money, bills etc. But try as I might, I couldn’t get another instance of the calculator to open. It turns out that there is a way, you can run a command in the Terminal to do this…but why, oh why do I have to do that!? It seems like the most fundamental thing for an application to do. I guess I took Windows for granted on that one.

The Seamless OS upgrade was not quite seamless for me. Two of the applications which came pre-loaded on Mountain Lion OS appeared in a paused state when I moved to Mavericks, annoyingly, I couldn’t tell what apps these were. I eventually figured it out and downloaded them again. One of my most important apps, Parallels Desktop, also stopped working. I don’t know what happened, I couldn’t fix it either but eventually after throwing enough spanners at it, it just started working again. My NAS can no longer be accessed from my Macbook now either, a friend of mine has pointed that SMB 3.0 is now the only version supported so this i likely the root cause. Which sucks, because I have a lot on it…for now, I just used my Laptop when required.

The myth of the Apple ‘Echo system’. After moving to the US, I found out due to not having a previous line of credit in the country, I could not get a decent cell phone on contract. If I wanted to buy a decent phone on Pay as You Go, it would cost about 700 dollars!! So for a year and a half, I was using my Irish phone with a T-Mobile sim card in it. I was getting Edge for my internet access, it was painful. So once I got some credit going I looked at phones. I was advised to get an iPhone since I had a Macbook…as there’s this Echo System and everything will be in sync. So, I investigated what this everything was. It turns out it’s all stuff I don’t use on my Macbook. Contacts, Calendar, iCloud etc. I already had Dropbox and SkyDrive (with a lot more free space) for my personal cloud. I have been using Gmail since it originated, when it was still invite only, I’m pretty well in bed with it at this stage, any meeting invites I get, get stored in the Google Calendar because of this. Also, I have never been in the habit of storing contacts on my computers…so it seemed pointless to me. As it turns out, when I got my Samsung phone bam, all of my contacts, calendar etc. all came right back. I guess because I had Android previously and because I use Gmail, this was already in sync. The beauty of this, is the fact with Googles echo system, I’m not tied down to Googles hardware, I have a wider variety than just getting whatever iPhone is out there. So the Apple echo system is really just something to make you feel like you’re tied into their hardware. Don’t worry about it, there’s plenty of good alternatives.

Face Time. Does anybody actually get enjoyment from using this or is it a simple means for a quick video chat? It seems very limited in what it can do when compared to Skype with all of it’s optional plug-ins or even something like Google Hangout. Of course there’s much better professional solutions for web meetings and conferences. It just seems like such a waste, there’s so much more you could do with it. But I guess the draw for them is that you have it on your iPhone and have it on your Macbook, so if you are in bed with Apple you can have the illusion that this is the only way it’s possible to have the same video calling experience on two different devices.

Web Browser…Pretty much all I do with my Macbook is read. Whether it’s an eBook, Document or something on the Web. It’s what I do most. The retina display makes it a very attractive option for this as does the fact it’s so light weight and portable. Unfortunately for browsing, I’ve found myself forced to use Safari…Chrome sucks, I actually don’t like Chrome on Windows either. Firefox sucked a whole lot last year because it wasn’t fully retina display enabled so a lot of the graphics showed up pixelated and blurry…well now it is retina disabled but since going to Mavericks it’s a pain in the ass to navigate, if I try to change tabs the upper window expands and gets in the way. So, I’m stuck using Safari….I’ve gotten kind of use to it but by no means would it be my first choice ideally.

It starts up super fast! Which is something many MAC users have said to me before but I very quickly realized this counteracted by how long it takes to shutdown. It takes a long time to shutdown because it has to terminate all open processes before shutting down each time. It’s a big gripe in fairness. Applications staying in memory isn’t very efficient, it also makes me wonder, if I was doing something more taxing with this machine could it get to the point that it just hits it’s limit and craps out.

One other thing which was a little annoying. I got a wireless printer…unfortunately my Macbook PRO does not have  CD\DVD drive, unfortunately I couldn’t install the application to setup the printer using this. There was no MAC version available for download.  Luckily, I had my Windows Machine, so I was able to set it up on my Samsung and then the printer was picked up on my the Macbook. A small inconvenience but would have been bigger if I didn’t have an alternative.

Likes

The hardware is amazing. I can’t speak highly enough about it. It’s very well built and solid, at the same time it’s very lightweight. Every aspect of it, is top of the line. The Keyboard is great, there’s no gaps so no way for anything like say, dog hair to get in under the keys. The built in web camera is pretty good, it’s already a little outdated after a year but that’s just due to progress with external web cams on the market. The Solid State Drive is pretty quick for transferring files (unfortunately the drive is small so I don’t transfer many files and now my NAS no longer works from my MAC)

The RDP Client has been improved immensely since I first got my Macbook. It was a pain in the ass to do a remote session to one my VM’s previously, in fact I use to use TeamViewer because the experience with RDP was just awful. Now, since there’s a rich remote desktop client for all of my Windows VM’s, I use my Macbook more often for doing some of my lighter tasks e.g. Creating Deployments, Creating Group Policy Objects, Managing Patches.

Parallels Desktop software means I can use a Windows machine on my Macbook when on the go too and use my more critical windows apps directly from my Macbook. I love this software! Granted this and the RDP Client aren’t really likes for the Macbook itself but they make using my Macbook a much more viable option for the kind of work that I do. I may blog about Parallels some day. Also thanks to Andrew Morgan for hooking me up with the software!

Battery Life. Unfortunately my battery life has reduced since upgrading to Maverick but even still, it seems like the battery lasts a lot longer than my previous laptops. That’s a huge plus. It sucks when your laptop dies after an hour on the plane.

My love\hate relationship with the magnetic plug continues. I still have the annoyance of it just popping out from time to time (giggles) but have also had the laptop saved from my clumsy ass tripping over the cable a couple of times, so I guess the good outweighs the bad.

Overall I’m still happy with my purchase. I wanted to gain experience with MACs and I certainly am becoming much more experienced. The hardware is amazing, the software is atrocious. But hey, The Tech world in an imperfect one!

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2 thoughts on “My Macbook Experience

  1. Hi Rory,

    Glad you like your Macbook. Just a few points.

    When an app is running in the background it will appear with a dot underneath it in the doc. If you click shutdown it will automatically close all apps for you. You don’t need to do it one by one (I tested this out just now and my machine was completely powered down in about 2 seconds).

    Some apps, like safari will allow you to open multiple windows but multiple instance of an application is something that does not exist in OSX land.

    I find that FaceTime video quality is much better than Skype. It doesn’t allow you send message but that something that can be done via the Messages App.

    Safari is by far and away the fastest browser on a Mac, its renders flash better then any other browser on OSX and has a faster Javascript engine also (because apple won’t open up there safari JS engine to 3rd party devs same as on iOS).

    Its odd that you say mavericks reduced you battery life. Apple claimed that new features in Mavericks were designed to be more power efficient. I find that screen brightness and keyboard back light are the two things that really effect battery life.

    I dual booted my macbook air with Windows 7 as I need VS2012 for work. I haven’t done any virtualisation on it and I don’t plan to. I can’t image that it would be a great experience.

    • Thanks Neal, No red dot in the dock for my running applications. Do you mean shutdown as in Shut Down… to should down the entire machine? If I shut down my machine with multiple applications running it takes anywhere from 30 seconds to 50 seconds to shut down. It’s not too worrying but it is slower than any of my other machines, including my server. Safari is pretty much the only decent browser from what I can tell, but I’d much prefer Firefox on Linux or Windows. In regards to the battery life issue, I’m not the only person seeing the problem…it’s mainly when streaming audio or video but is noticeably different than on Mountain Lion. I would like to go back to Mountain Lion for SMB support for my NAS but I’m a little worried about doing that since Apple pulled support for it back in October. It’s kind of take it without the leave it option.

      The virtualization works great. I did the boot camp thing before but preferred the idea of virtualization so I could see how Windows apps and Virtual apps could be used and presented seamlessly on MAC’s…my last place of work were rolling out Macs to a couple thousand users who still needed Windows apps and may not have had connectivity for Citrix. Parallels is pretty nifty. It virtualizes IE with Safari and all!

      FaceTime is fine for a quick video chat. The letterbox view is pretty annoying. I stopped using Skype years ago, started using it again because i got an Xbox One. The quality is great with the Xbox One but not so sure how it is on a Desktop. I never liked Skype because it has always been a resource hog

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