Home > Ramblings > Good thing Eve gave us that apple

Good thing Eve gave us that apple

April 4, 2007

Not too long ago I bought my first Mac, a mini. I was in the market for a new computer. I didn’t want to spend another $3k like I did last time. I’ve found the longer I work with computers the less I want to pay for them in my personal life. A shiny new pentium doesn’t hold the same appeal as it used to. So I was looking for something in the sub $1000 range.

I had been wanting to experiment with the new Unix-based macs for quite some time, but couldn’t in all honestly justify the expenditure. But lo, this time around I needed an inexpensive computer to do video and picture editing on with the impending birth of my son. Fantastic, excitement abounds as I purchase my first mac.

After several months of mac enjoyment the opportunity to get a mac at work arose. I pounced on it. Now I am the proud owner of a 15″ macbook pro. Now I’ve been using a linux desktop full-time since around 2000. The transition was easier than I thought it would be. The hardest thing was getting used to the fact that most things just work, that may seem silly but it was a legitimate learning curve for me. I’m very used to having to spend several hours setting up and configuring the desktop, setting up keyboard shortcuts etc, to get to my normal productivity level. With the mac it was pretty much just turn on and go. There were a couple of things that I had to retrain my brain to just let the computer do the work for me rather than over-think things.

The thing that I think sets a Mac desktop apart from any other option is the glue. In OSX there is more glue to plug all your applications together. Not to say you can’t do it in other Desktop OSs but it’s easier on a mac. First there is quicksilver, it’s like spotlight on steroids, lets you launch applications, find contacts, send emails pretty much anything. In Linux (and certainly windows) there really isn’t any comparison to quicksilver (though some of the newer kde/gnome desktops may now have something). In Linux I usually open a terminal and run whatever command I want, but I have to know it exactly (or tab complete it based on part of it). That method also doesn’t allow me to do different actions on the same bit of information.

Lets take iTunes for example, there are plenty of music database type applications out there. But there is alot of existing glue for iTunes. I’m a fan of last.fm and I can scrobble what I listen to to last.fm using an itunes plugin. When I get up and leave my desk (hot corners are awesome, why doesn’t anyone else do hot corners?!?!), activate my screensaver, itunes pauses, and then resumes when I come back and unlock my screen. I have a small app that shows the current playing song in the menubar and when the song changes pops up a transparent window with the name, artist, album and album art. When one comes up with missing album art, I have a dashboard widget that takes the current playing song, queries amazon for it and returns the album art, then I hit a button and it updates all the songs in that album with the correct art. This whole process takes approximately 5 seconds.

Song comes up with missing album art.

  1. Hit F12
  2. Hit CD icon on art searcher
  3. if art is correct hit button at bottom to update itunes
  4. if art is incorrect modify search or hit a button to see all matching choices
  5. Hit F12 and go back to whatever I was doing.

That’s the kind of glue I’m talking about. Every app that has text input is spellchecked, with the same dictionary. Now some will argue that since iTunes is made by apple as well as the OS that they have the advantage, but most of the glue tools I use are third party apps. They aren’t produced by apple, but apple makes it easy to talk to iTunes, or even to the OS. In Linux the window manager is something you run on top of the OS and more often than not it gets in the way, when it doesn’t get in the way it doesn’t make it easy to talk to it. Applescript is probably one of the smartest things Apple has done. It gives novice programmers a way to communicate with applications, you don’t have to understand about corba buses or learn a particular application’s API, you just use applescript to tell an application to do something.

Don’t get me wrong I still love a good Unix box, it’s what I do for a living and from a server perspective things are way easier than on a mac (netinfo… hello!? That was a dumb idea), but if their is still a desktop war, as far as I’m concerned it’s been won already.

Categories: Ramblings
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