Here are a few observations after my first week as a Mac user:
Apple know how to do packaging: OK so it doesn’t make the product any more useable but it does add to the warm and fuzzy feeling you get when you unwrap the new toys that you’ve just spent a big wedge of your hard-earned on.
The laptop itself looks and feels really expensive and its light weight makes it perfect for carrying to meetings or working on the move. My old Dell felt heavy before but now it feels like it weighs a tonne.
OS X is a much nicer place to work than Vista (which I’ve never liked which is why I stayed with XP on my laptop) although I am surprised at how much more I have to do in the terminal. There are a lot of handy utilities that I got used to having in Windows that either don’t exist or aren’t as fully featured on the Mac.
After spending so many hours of my life staring at a 15.4” screen with a fairly high 1680x1050 resolution, the 24” screen makes everything look huge. The picture quality really is something to behold: super deep blacks and vibrant colour and it’s bright enough to light up a small town!
I have to wonder which joker decided to move the keys around on the keyboard: I keep ending up with @ signs when I want double quotes. And could it have been the same joker who thought the hash key was so rarely used that it didn’t need to even appear on the keyboard? Whoever it was they’ve obviously never done any programming work. It could easily have replaced either the § or ± symbols that do get to share a key between them and I can't recall needing either of them recently. Oh and to get a hash you need ALT+3…easy eh?
I gave MacVim a quick tryout for my source code editing as I’ve read a few blogs recently about how great Vim is. I’ve not spent nearly long enough with it to make a fair assessment, but it’s a bit too alien for me at the moment. I’m so used to the E text editor on Windows that I think I’ll have to stick with TextMate on the Mac for now.
Ruby and Rails are both much quicker: sometimes I was able to go and make a cup of tea in the time it took Webrick to boot on my Dell, although this is partly because the Dell was so full of junk that it frequently ran out of both disk space and memory. It is also nice to be able to install gems that require compilation without all the hassle that this usually involves on Windows. In theory I should now be able to get more work done and drink less tea.
I was initially worried that having to compile a lot of the tools I use, like Ruby, MySQL and ImageMagick, from source would be a daunting task, but thanks to some excellent tutorials by Dan Benjamin on HiveLogic I’ve been able to do it with no real problems at all.
So far I’ve been really pleased with the experience and the transition has been a lot less painful than I imagined. I’m now faced with the daunting task of sorting through several years of accumulated files and then moving everything off the Dell and onto the Mac, although if my wallet can take the strain I might have to splash out on one of those new fangled SSDs first…