Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Mac Impressions - The First 60 Minutes

What follows is something a little bit different: For your amusement, a somewhat steam-of-conciousness recounting of my first 60 minutes with a Mac Mini (purchased for the purpose of doing some on-the-side iOS development), from my background as a guy with 25+ years of DOS/Windows experience (dating back to doing BASIC development on an IBM PC my Dad brought home from work when I was 6 years old!) and some limited Unix/Linux experience, but no real Mac experience at all. Enjoy!

8:01 - Successfully booted up! Logitech mouse and "brand X" USB Windows keyboard (in use temporarily until next reboot, when I'll try my PS/2 IBM Model M keyboard with an adapter) appear to be working!

8:03 - Using Safari... the mouse scroll direction is backwards! I can't cope with that, Googling for a fix... okay, fixed it in System Preferences | Mouse.

8:06 - Some keyboard shortcuts use Win (Command)! Some still use Ctrl (Ctrl+Tab to switch browser tabs!) Confusing! A lot to learn!

8:11 - Keyboard document navigation is different!
- “Move one word at a time” now uses Alt (Option), not Ctrl!
- What’s the shortcut to jump to the beginning or end of a document?

8:14 - Middle-click doesn’t close tabs in Safari!
- Maybe I’ll switch to Firefox later. But going to stick out the “native experience” for now.
- Also, where are the favicons on the tabs? Hard to tell them apart.

8:17 - Ctrl+Tab doesn’t use MRU order in Safari!
- To be fair, no other browser gets this right either by default except Opera. Will be a deal-breaker though if it turns out that there’s no workaround, just like Chrome.

8:23 - Woah - Ctrl+LeftArrow takes me to some other desktop that shows a calendar and a calculator and some other stuff! (Hit that by accident trying to navigate within some text in an editor!)

8:27 - Looking through system preferences, Ctrl+UpArrow = Mission Control apparently! Seems like an interesting Alt+Tab (er, Cmd+Tab) alternative?

8:30 - Mouse button 4 (thumb button) doesn’t go Back in Safari! Is there a way to make that work?

8:32 - Some things are somewhat familiar from iPod Touch, e.g. Notifications Center and FaceTime.

8:35 - Safari seems bad at suppressing popup windows? Or maybe I’m just wandering into more “grey” parts of the Internet as I’m trying to look up things like keyboard shortcuts and haven’t learned yet which sites have good Mac info? But I've seen at least 2 spammy-looking popup windows show up in front of me so far.

8:37 - Thinking about security as I'm having to type in a couple of my passwords... How do I know that this Mac isn’t running a keylogger? What’s the equivalent of Ctrl+Shift+Esc on this thing? (Just tried that; it didn’t do anything, nor did Cmd+Shift+Esc, not that I really expected it to. Maybe a good old command-line ps -ef is the answer, like in Linux... will need to learn what's "normal" on this system and what's not.)

8:38 - Ok, so how do I open a Terminal window? Searching Google... Aha, Cmd+Space is kind of an analog to Win+R (or just the Win key as of Windows 7) on Windows. Then I can just type “terminal” and hit Enter.

8:41 - Where’s the filesystem explorer? I remember that it’s called “Finder” on Mac. Poking around... Ah, I see, it’s activated from the smiley mac face at the far left of the “applications bar” thingy at the bottom of the screen.

8:42 - The Close button is in the top-left of each window, not top-right. Is there an Alt+F4 (universal “close window” shortcut key) on this?

8:45 - Talking to my wife on her iPhone via “Messages!” Man, this thing works flawlessly, unlike any solution that I’ve tried on a PC to chat with her on her iPhone. User experience is just like my iPod Touch. Impressed, but at the same time disappointed at that lack of a good PC solution for me to use at work; real keys (PC) blow away virtual ones (iOS device) every time.

8:48 - The Home and End keys don’t work in the Messages message entry field, but they do work in other places like Google Docs running in Safari -- what’s that about? They don’t seem to work in the Safari address bar either?

8:50 - Thinking ahead to writing up all this as a blog post. Is there an equivalent to LiveWriter on Mac? I'll probably just use the Blogger web UI for starters.

8:52 - Oh, found by accident that Cmd+UpArrow/DownArrow is like Ctrl+Home/Ctrl+End. Was trying to do that Ctrl+UpArrow thing to activate Mission Control to find out where my terminal window went. Don’t see it... I must have closed it. But now I also see that Cmd+LeftArrow/RightArrow act like Home and End.

8:56 - What’s Launchpad do... ah, seems reminiscent of the iOS desktop. *All* of the icons!

8:58 - No Menu key? Is there a “right-click” key on Mac to bring up spelling fixes when the caret is on a misspelled word, without reaching for the mouse?

9:00 - Typing in a Safari textarea field and typoed in “cusotmer” and Safari is showing a little popup with the suggested corrected spelling “customer” -- great! But how do I accept that correction without reaching for the mouse and clicking on it? Just pressing space bar like on iOS doesn’t seem to do the trick? I can’t seem to use the tab key to get to the little popup either? ... Ah, I need to hit DownArrow and then enter, ok.

...And there you have it, the highlights of my first 60 minutes as a Mac user! Maybe I'll come back to this topic and do a "Mac Impressions - The First 60 Days" and give some more in-depth impressions once I've gotten to spend some significant time with this new machine.

Finally, here's one bonus thought to leave you with:

10:40 - I must have hit "Home" and/or "End" at least 15-20 times as I was editing this post, and in the process discovered that those keys on a Mac apparently serve to scroll the viewport (but not the insertion point, thankfully) to the beginning or end of a long editable text area, respectively! The muscle memory from all those years of DOS and Windows is baked in pretty hard. It will be interesting to see how difficult it is to overcome that as I continue using this new Mac... at least *some* of the time already I'm remembering to use Cmd+Left/Right instead of Home/End, but it's far from 100% at this early stage!

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