February 10, 2006

Apple + Intel = WOW

It has been a couple of days since I have updated mainly because I have been having so much fun with this new machine.  Words cannot describe the feeling I get sitting down to the keyboard, listening to iTunes, or just browsing the web.  There is something with Macs in general, for some reason everything looks better on them.  In any event the switch went great nothing broke and I’m now working on this machine more productively than I was on my old system and without the headaches of the blue screens I had been getting lately after installing a USB2.0 card.  Of course I have to describe a bit about my experience of getting the machine setup.

When I got the unit out of the box I couldn’t wait to try it out having never been a real strong supported of bluetooth I thought it would be interesting to say the least how this new machine would fair at the install with no cables to plug in.  I have to say it was so easy I became absolutely giddy.  I started up the mac and it recognized no mouse was installed and walked me through installing the batteries and getting the mouse ready to be recognized and it took over the rest.  After I had mouse it was on to the keyboard where the instructions where less through but carrying over the knowledge I had from the previous operation meant I was far from lost.  It simply prompted me to enter a set of numbers on the keyboard and press enter.  A second later the keyboard was paired and I was ready to rock and roll.  Thats exactly what I did for the next 4 days.  I found replacement programs for all the software I was using mainly mail and word.  Let me say Pages is a much better word processor than I anticipated.  Kind of a bridge between a stripped down page layout program and notepad.  All the simple and easy to use tools you might find in Quark, Framemaker, or Pagemaker in a program for average people to produce fabulous documents.  I got my iPod connected and that was fairly uneventful once I figured out how to get around to porting my music from the library on my PC to the Mac.  I got firefox installed and running like a champ with all of my extensions running.  I got my mail setup with TLS using the Mail app.  I got all my filters setup for parsing all the email I recieve in a day into its respective folders.  This was much easier to do than Outlook 2k which gave me so much hell I eventually caved and let mail pile up in my inbox to be sorted by hand when I got a chance which often meant e-mails burried.

After I got my normals setup it came down to all the remote work I do.  This is where things got interesting not because it was hard but because it was nothing like I expected it to be.   I first started digging around for a good program to get into my machine from outside my network.  I used VNC on my PC so I dug around on the internet and was surprised to find all flavors of VNC servers for Mac OSX.  I finally settled on OSXvnc it had a simple interface and performed very well for connecting from my machine at work.  I also needed a viewer which luckily there is VNCviewer for mac osx.  For some reason I expected it to be difficult to find replacements for these programs but as I searched I found there were more versions of these for mac os than windows.   I then needed my terminal connectivity.  I used openssh for windows on my PC and this system being BSD based already had a terminal and ssh client built right in.  A few seconds of setting my background color and font to the trusty green and black I was connecting to the various machines I admin with no problems.  My next program to replace was PSPad a favorite of mine a text editor with to many features to mention but two of the ones I used the most were syntax highlighting and the ability to edit files via FTP.  When I searched for something similar I was disappointed.  The closest thing I found was BBEdit from Barebones Software.   At $199 sticker shock is hardly the word to describe what I felt. Especially after having used PSPad for so long.  I have to admit the program is great and it supports sftp which makes me happy because now I don’t have to worry about who happens to be between me and my servers when I’m editing files.  It isn’t worth $200 bucks but for students it is only $50 still a push put probably worth it if you use a text editor for a living.  The find and replace features were wonderful with full regex based searches.  It was very speedy and responsive and overall I think it will make a great replacement for PSPad the integration with CVS also allows me to take one more thing off my list which was a nice GUI based CVS program for managing code changes.

Now that I am ready to handle my work and communications it was time to take a look at the fun stuff games.  The only game I ever played on my old machine was UT2K4.  This was a challenge the CDs I had did not support Macintosh.  But I had a copy of my old drive on a server a little bit of package stuffing later and I had an older version of UT2K4 installed with all the media files and my settings from my old machine.  I then ran the update from macsoft and viola I had a universal binary version of UT2K4 installed and ready to go.  When I first launched the game it looked about the same as my old machine until I got in my first game and ran a stat fps.  My old machine peaked at about 30fps.  When this map loaded and  I started walking around I was floored to see 240fps!!!  I was happy to find out that adjusting the display to the full 1600×1050 left me at 70FPS with everything turned on.  It should also be mentioned that this was all done while running iChatAV, Firefox eating up about 280MB of ram because I had so many tabs open, and a couple of other programs I had open at the same time.  My PC never had anything running in the background.  Needless to say I am very pleased with the graphics performance of this machine and every day I find my self more and more in pure awe at the engineering both HW and Software that went into this machine.

I’m going to have to write a lot about various mac programs in the next couple of weeks.  There is just so much that "just works" on this machine it is unreal.  Some of the things I have seen over the past couple of days absolutely blow my mind and there is no way to pen how truly awesome the experience has been.

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