It Starts With ‘M’ and Ends With ‘ac’ and It Scares the Hell Out of Me

By Sarah Hawk
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First up this week I have to come clean about something. This post very nearly didn’t happen. Today I got a new toy and as many of you will know, new toys such as this one take up an awful lot of time. Today marks a very special day for me. After more than a decade of being a dedicated PC user, today I got my first Mac. Yup, that’s right. I’m changing teams. This blog post comes to you courtesy of my brand new MacBook Air. It hasn’t taken me this long to change teams because I have any doubts about the quality of Apple products. It is simply because I don’t like not being good at something (which is unfortunate given the number of things that I’m not good at). My unfamiliarity with all things Mac has been a stumbling block for a long time. The fact that I was one of only two people at SitePoint HQ that didn’t work on a Mac made me start to rethink my position. And I have to be fair, this is one pretty machine. The fact that I can’t find my way around the bloody thing is more than slightly frustrating, but I’m prepared to give it time. So now that I’ve spilled my guts to you, I’ll get on with the task at hand.

This week I’m really going to just reiterate the same things that I told you about last week – and that’s not because I’m being lazy, but because those two things happen to be extremely important ones for the SitePoint community. The first is the 2010 SitePoint Community Awards. This week is your last opportunity to vote, so please make sure you do. We’re sweetening the deal by offering spot prizes of $200 SitePoint vouchers to five lucky voters. So if you have spent any time over at the SitePoint forums in the past year, this is your opportunity to have your say and thank those people that you think are worthy of wearing a badge for the next 12 months. So…what are you waiting for?

SitePoint Community

The second thing that I want to bring to your attention today is our Great Holiday Photography Competition. Already there are some amazing submissions coming through, and we have a new set of subjects set to be announced next weekend. Whether you’re handy with a camera or not, check it out and send us a snap of what the holidays mean to you. You just never know your luck – there are some pretty cool prizes up for grabs.

This week on our Facebook page we are counting down the top 5 reasons why you need to master Facebook advertising if you want to drive traffic to your website. This is all in aid of our latest SitePoint live course which kicks off this Thursday. It’s one that is very dear to my heart, not just because it focuses on one aspect of social media, but because it is being run by a very good friend of mine, SitePoint Marketing Manager Jennifer Sheahan. If monetizing Facebook is something that you are interested in, then make sure you follow the countdown and take a look at what the course involves.

I’m going to stop there this week because I have lots of work (read: playing on my Mac) still left to do this evening, but before I go, I’ll let you know which topics are hot in the community this week.

Hot Topics This Week

In the JavaScript forum this week the talk is all about how to determine page width and height. Can you help out with that one?

For a bit of light relief, check out our photo showcase for the month in the General Chat forum. I’m asking you to take a pic of your kitchen sink. Go on…

There is an interesting thread in the X/HTML forum which talks about the downsides of using HTML5. Have you got an opinion?

And the last thread up for this week comes to you from the CSS forum. We have a user having trouble using CSS instead of tables to construct a photo gallery. An oldie but a goodie…

Well… I’m done for the week. You’ll hear from me just once more before Christmas, by which time I expect to be fully Mac literate and prepared to stun with my brilliance. Until then, ciao.

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  • andru08

    Welcome to the fold :)

  • Miraz

    I guess if everyone around you uses a Mac you’ll have plenty of help, but congrats on joining the club.

    If you need anything else, do take a look at my MacTips website:

    It may help solve some of the mysteries for you.



  • xxiinophobia

    “My unfamiliarity with all things Mac has been a stumbling block for a long time.”

    How has it been a stumbling block for you? (Background: I am a PC user and have only done web work on Windows-based PCs; nearly 13 years experience now.)

    Good luck with the switch, regardless.

    – xxiinophobia

    • I guess it has only really been a stumbling block in one way xxiinophobia, and that is because I work in a company of Mac users and I am not based in the office, therefore support is an issue. Someone does something cool and I ask them how they did it and it’s using a Mac app. Or something needs to be set up and people can talk me through it provided I am on a Mac. That sort of thing.

  • Stretchy

    Funny… the guy dont know how to find it’s way on the OS yet he is hard about it. That says a lot about this company (sitepoint) I think. I loved this company in the past, but more and more I give my business elsewhere because of this kind of lack or credibility. I think that people in this business shouldn’t be “religious” about technology and give us the facts… bot be a Windows fan, a Mac fan or a Linux fan… really sad post!

    • I’m sorry to hear that you feel that way Stretchy. I think that you are missing a couple of pertinent points here. One is that our personal choice of technology doesn’t affect our reporting of the facts and the second is that most of the material that you read comes from bloggers and article writers that we employ for their areas of expertise. The technology used by our HQ staff has no bearing on that.

      • dstevens

        I don’t see the sadness in the post the way Stretchy does. I don’t see (hear) the writer banging the drum for a specific platform. Metaphorically, she drove Fords for years and now has purchased a Dodge. I don’t hear the rantings of a zealot.

        Disclaimer: FWIW, I don’t now nor have I ever owned a Mac, iPhone, iPod, or anything else from Apple.

        To Hawk, work well with your new ‘Dodge’.

    • goldfidget

      I don’t see this as religious Stretchy, just a short paragraph about someone liking the look of their new laptop, but not knowing how to use it yet. Most of the article is about the competition and the Facebook advertising course.

      No one is saying that there’s anything wrong with windows. Sitepoint isn’t really a fanboy sort of site.

    • Chris

      I don’t understand the relevance of your post pertaining to the company.

      Shouldn’t we be ‘religious’ towards technology in general since it deeply pertains to our career field?

    • Funny… This post looks more like someone trolling rather than someone engaging in a conversation via a blog comment.

      A blog posting that discusses the author’s choice, preference or experience in technologies, hardware or OS is hardly relevant to the quality of the organization that they are associated.

      I loved this company in the past, but more and more I give my business elsewhere because of this kind of lack or credibility.

      If I had a dollar for every time someone said that when I worked for a retail electronics store ; )

    • goldfidget

      Also Hawk is not a guy ;)

  • goldfidget

    Hope you enjoy the Mac. Substitute the apple key for the ctrl key, and get used to apple-`and after a week you’ll never look back! :)

    • To a degree. I’ve been using a Mac for about 5 years at home, and while I do like it (particularly the way it looks and is built, and how easy it is to keep updated), I still do miss some things about my old office Windows XP. Having said that, my mother bought a Vista machine a few years ago, and that was the most Godawful thing I’ve ever had to work on, and if was going from Vista to OS X, I’d be celebrating madly, because you can no nothing about a mac and everything about windows and still not be able to achieve as much on Vista.

    • goldfidget

      Oh, and use gestures, a lot. Two finger click, two finger scroll!

      • goldfidget

        Oh, also (and forgive me if this is a bit basic) apple-space instant search. It’s pretty much the main way I open files now. It also works for contacts and bookmarks and as a very handy calculator.

      • That’s genius!! I converted about 4 month ago and didn’t know that. Have been shuffling round in Finder for stuff but that is awesome. I’m sitting in my office and I can count 3 Windows PC’s and 2 laptops, all of which are now just generating heat as I use the Mac Book for everything. Best decision I ever made.

        Only thing I can’t figure out is how to assign an application to a screen in Spaces without having to go through the settings page… gotta be a way?

  • cemory

    I’m still thinking about making the switch to Mac. The price is the only thing holding me back. It’s around $1,000 US to just join the club, then more money for the software. Did you consider buying a second hand Mac? Last time I owned a Mac was a Performa PowerPC in 1994 or 1995.

    • I didn’t actually consider going second hand as I’m fortunate enough to have been given this one by work. Thanks SitePoint. :)

    • goldfidget

      You can get a good chunk off if you go for a refurb model. If you go to the mac store site, about half way down on the right there’s an option to buy refurb macs and ipods. They’re fine, they’ve just been returned for one reason or another then fixed up. Mine is a refurb and I think I saved about £400.

    • TheWix

      Nice machines but the price tag stops me!!!

  • Sarah, good for you!

    Almost exactly a year ago I left the Windows desktop after about 20 years and I haven’t looked back. It took a lot of consideration and I have a virtual copy of Windows running for Windows development but I haven’t regretted the move!

  • Dave_SF

    There is nothing wrong with being a PC user or a Mac user. But… If you ask me…
    Mac’s are worth every penny… if you are a developer or designer I would have to suggest getting a MacBook Pro… (I am in the music recording industry and believe me you won’t find one engineer using anything other than a mac… I’m not even sure Pro Tools runs on a PC… LOL)
    But I have to admit I am biased owning all things apple – and love them all!!!
    More to the point – love what you use! PC or Mac

    • So true… 10 – 15 years ago I used to do hard disk recording (demo stuff) with Cakewalk Pro Audio on Windows. It’s been a long time since I’ve done anything but in the meantime I’ve met up with several guys who have professional recording studios or master albums and they are all on Apple hardware.

      • Dave_SF

        Right on… I was actually using Cakewalk on my Vio before upgrading to the MacBook Pro – Logic 8 really will do anyone good – but Pro Tools still remains the industry standard – along with apple hardware

      • Yeah, I really liked Cakewalk. I used it with a Sound Canvas so I could sequence instruments like drums, keyboards & horns.

        I got Logic (Express 9) bundled on my Mac when I bought it…. I figured at some point I was going to want to do some recording and since Logic was an option, I might as well get it. I’ve only tinkered around with it. I need to get a good A2D converter so I can plug my guitars into it. Nothing special, just something so I can lay down some tracks and do some writing.

    • goldfidget

      Absolutely. The thing is to use the tool that’s most appropriate to the job. If you’re doing .Net development use Windows. If you’re a coder deploying to a Linux environment or are a designer, use OSX. If you’re a sysadmin use Linux.

      It’s only natural to get a bit passionate about one’s tool of choice though!

    • krdr

      There is.
      BTW, my friend musician bought Mac, just because other musician bashed him for using Sony Vaio.

  • Colibri

    I’ve been a Mac user since they were born back in the early ’80s, or thereabouts. (Don’t have clue about PCs.) Recently realizing I’ve been underutilizing many of the Mac’s great features (or have been living in total ignorance of them,) I picked up a copy of David Pogue’s Mac OSX Snow Leopard, The Missing Manual. It contains nearly 900 pages of readable and often entertaining instruction on everything Mac. I’m about halfway through it, and already have learned about numerous valuable features I wasn’t availing myself of. For example, Keychain so you don’t need to memorize (and then promptly forget) umpteen passwords.

    • If I have one complaint about Macs, it’s that they come with so little in the way of instructions and guidance on how to use them. (Maybe the same is true of PCs, but I used PCs for so long that I didn’t need the guidance.) Luckily, my in-laws all use Macs, so I had help when I started, but otherwise, and if you’re converting, they are pretty confusing and you miss an awful lot.

      • I feel the same way! I guess you take for granted how much you actually know until you change. I’m also fortunate in that everyone else (bar one person) in the office uses a Mac so I have plenty of go-to guys.

        I feel like I’m on top of it now – which means I’m probably using it to about 50% of it’s capability. ;)

  • Thanks all – there is some fantastic stuff here. After just over a day I’m feeling confident enough to use this thing! I’m actually starting to love it already. It weighs nothing and I’m completely sold on hot corners.

    I think I’m a fan.

  • goldfidget

    Oh, not a tip so much, but something that really works for me. I have a tmp folder in my home directory which I use to store temporary files. I keep a shortcut to it in the dock set to fan and sort by recent. Then when I want to make a quick image for a site but don’t want to hold on to it I can just pop it here. Every now and again when I run short of hard drive space I clear it out.

    • Nice tip. I like it.

  • goldfidget

    Also I assume you are using two finger rotate, three finger swipe, four finger swipe, etc, etc…

    • Sure am. Pure genius.

  • butteboy

    I mostly use a Mac and like how easy they are to use.

    I bought a PC laptop with windows 7 and am slowly getting used to a PC. Things that are simple to do on a Mac (click on the apple in the upper left-hand corner and select About this mac to get system information) take more time and clicks on a PC.

    It seems you need to be more of a mechanic with a PC than a Mac.

    • goldfidget

      Truish, although you have a proper linux terminal on a mac so you can script it using bash, plus you have the automator should you be that way inclined :)

    • krdr

      right click on My Computer doesn’t do the trick?

    • EastCoast

      You can do this with one keypress: windows key+’pause/break’

  • Key

    I just can’t understand why to buy Mac ? MacOS is Unix-based so to be honest buying MacOS is weird because you can get UNIX-based system (BSD, Linux) for free and you can easily customize for example linux to look like MacOS.

    • Yes Linux, BSD, Solaris and and many more are available but the software is not at the same level as what is available for Win or OSX.

      Now before anyone gets in a tizzy, I speak with over 10 years of Linux experience going back to RH5/6 and I do have several machines running in the office with various distro’s of Linux. I gave careful consideration to moving from Windows to Linux and even did test runs of working entirely on Linux machines on several occasions however, for one reason or another I had to go back to my Windows machine and it always had to do with the software I needed. Eclipse with Aptana came very close to satisfying my needs but I work with numerous team members on projects and I have to make sure that the EPS, PSD, Doc, XLS and other files work seamlessly between machines. If Adobe produced CS for Linux, I could have done it and then just virtualized Windows for Excel and Visual Studio but that’s not the case. That’s why I chose the path of OSX a year ago.

      • Key

        Agree migrate form Win to Linux is hard i try about 5 times but now i am using Linux and don’t think to go back. About software – i can open EPS, Doc, XLS, PSD (if want use VirtualBox for windows) and about Linux and photoshop I realized that every Linux user some time before was a win user so all we have to do is search and we will find solution for win to linux problem. I have used osx and it is almost linux with difference that photoshop has made release for OSX. Exlipse and Aptana i have tested both and both are strange – i use Komodo IDE or freeware Komodo EDIT.
        So i still don’t understand why to pay for OSX ?

      • Thanks for the Photoshop/Wine article. I’ll give that a try and see how it works. I have a Linux laptop that I use for recreational computing. I’ve been using Linux for non-work stuff for about 3 years now.

        I very nearly chose Linux instead of OSX but I have to admit part of the compelling thing with an Apple computer is the hardware. The keyboard IMO can’t be beat. They are really excellent, quiet and wireless. Same thing with the mouse. I have one of the new ones that responds to gestures and swipes. It became a fairly natural response. The display layer in OSX was what really got my attention though. I spend a lot of time in front of a screen and I’ve always been impressed with how well the display hardware is integrated with the OS. I don’t care so much for the effects and animations but the clarity and focus are what really matters to me. It was worth the marginal expense.

      • goldfidget

        I think it really is about what works for you. There’s no point in claiming that one piece of kit is intrinsically better than another, it’s a real individual choice. For me, I appreciate the level of thought and attention to detail that apple put into things. I suppose they can afford to do this because they’re the most expensive.

  • goldfidget

    Oh, one last tip: enable full keyboard access. I found it frustrating when I moved over to Mac that there were no keyboard shortcuts for navigating dialogue boxes. If you go to System Preferences > Keyboard > enable keyboard access for all controls you can turn them on.

    Enter selects the default option; space selects the secondary; tab tabs :)