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It's now a week since I started using my Mac and I wanted to share some random thoughts:

  • The MacBook trackpad... WOW... it's the way trackpad should be: if configured correctly you can right-click, left-click, double-click, drag&drop and scroll (both horizontally and vertically) using only the touch surface, no need to use the only button: the most usable trackpad I ever used
  • I'm trying to use for all my day to day tasks (reading email, browsing, chatting, blogging, reading feeds, editing HTML and text, and so on) native Mac applications, so I've not installed Vista yet. I'd like to use Windows only to run Visual Studio.
  • All the best applications for Mac are commercial ones: TextMate, Transmission xTorrent, Transmit, Ecto, MarsEdit, NetNewsWire, costs all something between 20$ and 50$. Not a lot of money but using Windows I never had to pay to get a text editor (Notepad++ or other dozens of free/oss text editor), a BitTorrent client (uTorrent), a FTP client (SmartFTP), a blogging software (WLW), or a RSS Reader (RSSBandit). I know there are other applications that do the same and are free, but not as good as those ones.
  • Aot many opensource apps for Mac: probably this comes from the fact that people that used a Mac are more willing to pay for supported and commercial applications and less likely to try and spend time trying to figure out how to make an OpenSource app works.
  • The only two blogging applications for OS X (Ecto and MarsEdit) both suck: Ecto 2 is very limited in the tags you can enter, removes the tags he doesn't like (even the ones you add in the HTML view), Ecto 3 beta requires some strange methods to be implemented in the MetaBlogAPI (blogger.getUserInfo or something similar) so the "add blog" operation partially fails and it doesn't retrieve the blog categories, so useless. MarsEdit is not WYSIWYG and doesn't support tags. So, since I've not installed Fusion/Parallels with Vista yet, I think I'll go with TextMate even if it cannot be automated like WLW and is not WYSIWYG, but at least I've full control of the HTML and TextMate is one of the best text editor I've ever used.
  • I tried using Adium as IM client, but it doesn't support Skype, and I never really like multi-protocol clients, so I'm using MSN Messenger, iChat for Gtalk and Skype. Too bad since the icon of this app is awesome
  • iPhoto is just great: you put a card in, it detects the insertion, asks you if you want to import the pics, and automatically creates an event for the pics.

All those thoughts led to a consideration: a OS is as good as the applications that run on it. And the more the apps, the higher, the probability that there is a great app for your needs. This is true for Windows, but a little bit less true for OS X: probably because there are less developers willing to develop on the Mac, and I guess it's because of the horrible Objective-C needed to develop native Mac Apps.

What guys do you think?

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posted on Sunday, January 6, 2008 6:28 PM

Comments on this entry:

# re: Random thoughts after one week of Mac

Left by John-Daniel Trask at 1/6/2008 8:35 PM

Just a minor correction, Tranmission is free - not commercial :) In fact it's open source.

Cheers,

- JD

# re: Random thoughts after one week of Mac

Left by Simone at 1/6/2008 8:37 PM

JD: you are right: I meant xTorrent (http://www.xtorrentp2p.com/)

# re: Random thoughts after one week of Mac

Left by Andrew Mayfield at 1/6/2008 11:02 PM

There is a plugin for Skype with Adium.

Skype API Plugin for Pidgin/libpurple/Adium (works very well with Pidgin)
http://myjobspace.co.nz/images/pidgin/

# re: Random thoughts after one week of Mac

Left by Simone at 1/6/2008 11:11 PM

Hi Andrew, thank you for sharing... I'll have a look at it, but if its the same as the one that runs on Pidgin Skype must be running on the backgroud anyway.

# re: Random thoughts after one week of Mac

Left by Scott at 1/7/2008 5:27 AM

"horrible Objective-C"

What has your previous experience with Objective-C been? I've found that, other than the fact that the message signatures take a little while to get used to, it's a good, dynamic-dispatch language. The Cocoa framework that OS X uses is miles better than the old C-based Carbon framework and it seems to get better with every OS release.

# re: Random thoughts after one week of Mac

Left by LorenzoC at 1/7/2008 10:03 AM

Ins't MacOsX based on some sort of BSD?
Isn't there any compatibility with BSD/Linux apps?

# re: Random thoughts after one week of Mac

Left by Simone at 1/7/2008 10:43 AM

The Cocoa framework is great: it is a nice MVC framework for managing all the view of all applications. This is one of the greatest things of developing on the Mac. But the programming language doesn't feel like a language with a modern syntax: I mean, you still have to allocate memory for your objects, and need to dispose it after you have finished using it. Here in C#/.NET we are debating fluent interfaces, we are trying to minimize the amount of code that must be written... feels like a completely different world.

# re: Random thoughts after one week of Mac

Left by Simone at 1/7/2008 10:54 AM

@Lorenzo: yes, it does. But do you really want to use X applications on a Mac system?

# re: Random thoughts after one week of Mac

Left by Damien Guard at 1/7/2008 11:40 AM

Objective-C 2.0 which is part of the new XCode 3 on Leopard has a managed memory model.

[)amimen

# re: Random thoughts after one week of Mac

Left by LorenzoC at 1/7/2008 1:06 PM

You know I am not a programmer but speaking of Open Source, I guess some Linux software could be ported on Mac, probably re-doing the GUI to be compliant with the MAC desktop. See Safari/Konqueror/KHTML/WebKit as example. I am seeing many ideas from Mac being used for today's Linux desktops.

# re: Random thoughts after one week of Mac

Left by Daniel Jalkut at 1/7/2008 11:01 PM

I'm guessing that once you fine-tune your personal collection of "must-have apps," you'll stop believing that the Mac has a poor selection of apps compared with Windows.

From my perspective, as a Mac developer and user, I sense that the quality of apps is much higher on the Mac, and I personally think it's largely thanks to a high prioritization aesthetics and usability, and to the ease with which Objective C makes it possible to develop quality apps.

Soon enough, you'll be sharing your favorite Mac apps with PC-using friends, apologizing that they're not available on Windows. ;)

Daniel

# re: Random thoughts after one week of Mac

Left by Simone at 1/7/2008 11:11 PM

@Daniel: I'm not saying that Mac has a poor selection of apps, I'm just saying that there are almost only "commercial" applications while on Windows, on some segment of the market, there are almost only free/OSS apps.
As for the Objective-C thing: I'm happy now with Leopard it is a managed language, and that one can build Cocaa apps with Ruby :)

# re: Random thoughts after one week of Mac

Left by Daniel Jalkut at 1/7/2008 11:14 PM

Hi Simone - I was responding to the sentiment in your final paragraph, where you suggest that if there was a higher number of apps on the Mac, there would be a higher chance of finding great apps for what you need. I just think you'll find the great apps for what you need, regardless of whether there are a high number of apps :)

# re: Random thoughts after one week of Mac

Left by David at 1/7/2008 11:35 PM

You need to use a Mac longer than a week to start passing judgements.
There are a lot of free and open source apps as well as free cross platform apps. When I first switched a few years ago I had the same incorrect first impression.
And I, for one, prefer just being able to work instead of having to spend an inordinate amount of time trying to make things work, which was alwasy my Windows experience.

# re: Random thoughts after one week of Mac

Left by Simone at 1/8/2008 12:21 AM

@Daniel: statistically speaking, the more the apps, the higher the possibility to find a good app :)

@David: Mine were not judgments, just the first impressions trying to migrate from Windows to Mac.

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