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Aaron N. Tubbs

Dragon chaser.

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I knew that buying a Mac was like buying into a religion. Well, I thought I knew, but it’s already starting to manifest itself in strange ways. Take for example, my referrer log. In terms of visitors coming in on referral links, about 50% of what I was getting back in my linux days were from people searching for QuantumView, another 20% for people searching about Lex Luther, another 10% for people searching about smokers getting fired, and rest evenly split between searches for naked portafilters (which, ironically, I am interested in, but have never talked about — google just finds my page because the word naked is in the link stack, and portafilter is in some of my espresso musings), pedophiles, “you have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide” and various queries about proxy authentication methods. My old traffic from the Canadian Headhunter have pretty much dried up.

However, as soon as I post about owning my first mac, I start getting hit roughly every minute with regularity, peaking in 2-3 hits per second. No secular phenomenon would cause this sort of increase in traffic.

Anyhow, my advice in order to get more traffic to your blog is no longer write something interesting, write something all the time, and all of that other stuff that Scoble recommends. Instead, it just requires you go out and purchase a mac, and say “Hey, I just purchased a brand new mac, and it’s swell, and I’ve installed some stuff on it, and I’m going to do some more stuff, and it’s swell, …”

Who knew? Until this point, there wasn’t any predictability in what sorts of things actually generated traffic. I begin to realize the strange game people play that are actually interested in generating revenue from traffic and so forth.

In any event, I’ve had two days with the new 15" Powerbook. My only real functional pet peeve to this point is that the thing automatically sleeps when you close the cover. I have a cat; it is not safe to leave the thing open if I’m not going to be around. She is curious, and she likes to rub her chin/teeth on sharp edges, and this will surely lead to:

  • Hair in the keyboard
  • Random things being done via inadvertent invocation of QuickSilver commands (Loki is known for her mischief; I’m sure she’ll find a way to methodically delete all of the data and applications using a few quick paw motions).
  • Nose prints on the screen

There may be some way to disable this functionality, but I’ve not yet researched it. In the power menu, all it says is that the thing will be put to sleep when I close the screen, no options to change the behavior. I might be missing something. Because of this, while transferring stuff from an SMB mount to the laptop over wireless, which is taking some time, I had to hide the laptop in the server closet with the screen open in order for the transfer to finish. Similarly, I was trying to update WarCraft III the other day and closed the screen so I could go have dinner, and this caused the hard crash I’d mentioned. Good design for people that just browse the web and check email. Bad for everybody else.

The light-up keyboard makes the keys impossible to read in moderate light; I just end up leaving it off. I don’t usually have to look to use a keyboard, but getting used to FN/CTRL/APPLE/OPTION instead of just CTRL/ALT is taking some practice; I may give up and remap the keyboard, as rolling my pinky into the control key to switch screens in screen is just not working for me.

I think that’s my complaints to this point; nothing major yet.

I always thought Rendezvous was some sort of happy fuzzy nothing for people that couldn’t configure things. At the root of it, it is, but it’s damn handy in a multi-mac household, and doesn’t do a terrible job of picking up non-mac equipment. Even better is the automatic integration into so many other applications; iTerm gives me an easy ability to rendezvous with another mac in the house over ssh, the printer discovery, and all of that is really slick. I’m starting to think it would be really cool that this does become an industry standard so it can work across all platforms. This is the sort of painless network plug-and-play that everybody dreamt of ten years ago, only it’s actually working now.

I like that out of the box my mac has everything it needs to support any sort of graphic file, and any sort of compressed archive. That’s pretty cool. bz2, gz, dmg, zip, sit, hqx … no problem. I’m not sure why some things are distributed as Application folders you drag/install to your disk, and some things are distributed as pkgs, but I’m not sure that I care; both work without much fuss. I’m a little dubious as to how clean an uninstallation comes when you just remove an application by trashing it; I can see how this would clear out anything stored in the Application folder, but what about any other clutter it leaves around? I guess that’s one of those questions to which I’ll find an answer in due time.

I also still like how intuitive things are. I wanted to change my buddy icon, so I opened up my buddy icon, dragged a photo in from Safari, resized it, I didn’t have to hunt around to figure out how. That’s nice. Maybe I’m just getting old, but I just don’t see the point in hacking at this stuff any more than is necessary. Maybe this means that I like a stupid idiot-proof interface, but maybe it means that taking the time to develop intuitive, simple, functional, yet powerful interfaces and frameworks should be the real focus.

I think a classic example is the iRiver iHP versus Apple iPod; the former is almost impossible to use without some instruction, and knowing how to use 50% of the features requires studying cryptic diagrams and selecting one of the eighteen buttons in three sequences and clicking versus long holds. I would challenge anybody to be able to use 90% of its features in less than an hour of screwing around. Technically it’s a superior piece of equipment — it has a radio, digital out, digital in, onboard voice recorder, mic in with phantom boost, on-the-fly mp3 and wav recording of digital or analog sources, support for ogg, flac, wmv, etc. Sound quality is a wash either way, though with digital and an outboard DAC, I imagine you could get better results from the iRiver, and we’re talking about compressed music here, so there’s already a limiting factor. But, give me an iPod, and I’m going to be able to use it. Give a six-year-old who has never used a digital media jukebox, and they will be able to figure it out. At the same time, give it to a geek, and they’re going to say “that’s cool, it works really well, it’s easy to use.” They don’t disdain it because it’s simple; they praise it because its simplicity is elegant and effective. Part of it is that the iPod has a quarter of the features, but part of it is that the iPod is a work of genius in terms of design; nothing more than necessary, things work like you would expect them to without ever having to read any instructions on how to do so.

I know I’ve ranted about this before, and how I learned to stop worrying and love the mac and on and on, but after a little time with my Powerbook, I’m feeling it more and more.