Thursday, March 13, 2008

New iMac for a Classic Windows User

I couldn't resist. Apple released the iPhone/iPod Touch Software Development Kit, and of course it only runs on an Intel based Mac PC. Wanting to be able to write my own custom applications for my iPod Touch it was clear I would need a Mac of some sort. Apple sells a nice variety, and every PC in their lineup is beautiful. I've written a couple of killer applications in my past, and know that writing software doesn't demand the fastest PC. It does requires one that you can sit comfortably in front of for hours on end without complaining. Poor ergonomics from the keyboard or mouse, eye strain, or even a crappy keyboard layout can take the fun out of programming in a hurry.

Macs have built-in bluetooth. Knowing this I planned to buy the least expensive Mac Mini and use the bluetooth keyboard and mouse I already own that came with a Dell PC. I've also got a spare Monitor. Perfect Economy. My local university computer store sells Apple PCs and offers a minor educational discount on them. I went in planning to buy a Mini, and came home with an iMac. There wasn't a Mini in site, and the low end iMac was my next least expensive option.

The iMac was well packaged. One simple box. I was able to carry it home on the back seat of my motorcycle. Integrating the CPU into the monitor is a wonderful idea. It is especially nice when the monitor used is a beautiful 20 inch widescreen LCD.

For some reason I was expecting my Mac experience to be delightfully simple compared to what I usually go through when I am setting up a Windows PC. Not so. The iMac wants to set up networking when first turned on, and since my router uses mac address filtering it couldn't connect. During setup there is no indication of what the iMac's mac address is. I eventually figured out that I could tell it I had no internet connection, then later add the networking. It still took several tries to get my wireless router's networking to stick. Exactly as aggravating as setting up a new windows PC in my house.

My iMac was supposed to come with wireless keyboard and mouse. When I opened up the box there was a wired keyboard and a wireless mouse. The Mac keyboard has two USB ports built into it. I found that pretty handy for plugging my camera and iPod Touch into so I decided to keep the wired keyboard. The mouse kept failing. It would drop it's connection to the iMac, freezing the cursor on the screen. On a PC the keyboard can be used to jump around to the task bar, programs, or whatever if no mouse is connected. I found I had to reboot the iMac to get the mouse working again. Bad. I complained to the store where I'd gotten the iMac. They agreed it should have had a wireless keyboard with it as well. They offered to take it back and sell me a basic iMac with wired mouse and keyboard, and a 320gb hard drive for less than I'd paid for the first iMac with a 250gb drive. I took them up on it, but of course then had to set up yet another PC on my home network. Ouch!

I'm only just beginning to get familiar with OS 10 on the Mac. I'd been a little jealous of how pretty the Mac OS was compared to Vista. Now that I can play with it, the eye candy is just that. Candy gets tiring after that first time you eat too much of it. I DON'T like program menus always being at the top of the screen. You long time mac users are laughing at me of course, but the obvious simplicity of the Mac OS turns out to be not obvious at all to a long time windows user. I'll get use to it, of course. I have already figured out how to turn it on an off. I'll take another look after I've played with it for a month or two.

Just so you'll know, my Dell bluetooth mouse works wonderfully with the iMac. The wired mighty mouse is still wrapped up in it's box.


1 comment:

  1. I'm sorry to hear you had such a painful experience when you first got your Mac. I'll admit, switching isn't always easy. Took me a while myself. I started with a mini, but ended up with a Macbook pro because I needed more power and decided I wanted a portable.

    I have the same MAC address thing on my router, so I just disabled it until I found out the MAC address.

    I'll admit, eye candy does get old. However, I find it looks just so much better than Windows XP.

    Hopefully your experience will improve. I know it can be difficult at first. I was the same. I was the biggest MS fanboy until I got a Mac.