Apple likes and annoyances

I’m writing this post on the Mac. I’ve come to like and dislike things about the Mac.

To sum it up, I do not understand the fascination with Apple. It seems to be driven by a misguided response to Microsoft Windows Vista. I really feel Vista is overall a superior OS.

Mac likes:

  • Better apparent hardware quality than PC. The essential chips and wires are the same. It’s the packaging and fit and finish that’s better. But it’s not night and day. For example, Lenovo’s laptops aren’t “pretty,” but they are well designed.
  • Pretty. Except perhaps for Sony, PCs just don’t look great. But then again, I don’t, either. So this is a weak plus.
  • Very fast boot and shut down. Start up is less than a minute, shut down is just seconds. I guess that Apple must be able to massively optimize its code since, unlike Vista, it doesn’t need to run on varied hardware configurations.
  • One version of OS X. Microsoft screwed up with its confusing flavors of Vista. Apple was right to include everything in one version at one price. The only valid counterpoints I can think of are support and enterprise reluctance to install everything. But tools already exist to address both problems.
  • Freeware enthusiasm. Those developing freeware for the Mac see more enthusiastic about developing well-running, easy to use applications than comparable efforts for the PC or especially Linux.
Mac dislikes:
  • Safari is surprisingly buggy, insecure, and is prone to UI glitches, incompatibilities, and stalls for no apparent reason.
  • The kernel panic I induced without trying.
  • Sometimes crashes when awakening from sleep. When this happens, the laptop stops responding, and the “on” light doesn’t even light. The only way I can get it back on is to hold down the power button for 5 seconds (like a hard power off when it’s on) then power it back on. This sometimes happens to Vista, too.
  • No second mouse button. Come on, how long have PCs had 2 button mice? Control-click? Whatever.
  • Touchpad is too big. I keep sliding other fingers on it because it’s so huge. Somehow I change Safari’s font size when a finger slips. (And searching on Safari gestures still hasn’t explained why that happens.)
  • Menu bar stuck to top of screen. Windows does it better: menu bars are attached to the application window. Actions that require lots of menu use really get annoying on OS X.
  • No concept of multiple instances of an application. OS X has strictly one copy of an application open, and if it has multiple windows, they all share the same menu bar. That means you cannot Command-Tab between windows of the same application; you have to switch to Command-`. Binding task switching to application affinity sure seems arbitrary. It’s like the old days where you had to open an application before opening the document.
  • Because of prior problem, too easy to close out all windows/documents of one application. Command-Q and hitting the wrong button does it.
  • The knowledge that I am indirectly supporting an unusually smug, proprietary, sue-happy corporation. In my opinion, Apple to computing is like Prius to automobiles: the social statement seems to take undue weight, bordering on arrogance. But what is this social statement for?
    • Despite their use of BSD, Apple is highly proprietary.
    • Even though it’s compatible with clone hardware, Apple makes it quite difficult and illegal to run OS X on non-Apple hardware.
    • Apple sues bloggers.
    • Apple is a profit-loving company just like Microsoft.
    • Apple sells its stuff at well above market prices.
  • Apple menu, application menu, File menu on every application. Windows does it better with a master Start menu and the application-specific menus neatly attached to the application.
  • Errors often get buried with no indication. Only on some errors do I see the bouncing icon on the dock. Many errors go unnoticed if the “erroring” application isn’t in the foreground.
  • Poor busy notifications. The cursor only occasionally indicates that the computer is “working.” The application’s icon in the dock only bounces for a smallish portion of its load time. There’s no hard drive light, and Safari has no “working” indicator like all other browsers.
  • The dock. Pretty but poorly executed. The “running” indicator is hard to see. Windows again got it right:
    • Start menu contains both “pinned” items, most frequently used applications, and all the rest of your applications are just a click away.
    • Running applications are clearly visible in the Taskbar.
There was a time that I thought I may be interested in an Apple. But now that I have one, I think it’s going to be a toy more than a workhorse.
Why am I still on this Apple? My Lenovo X60 developed a hardware problem. I received it back from Solectron today (contract repair company), and it developed a serious “power on” problem, and the tablet functionality stopped working. I should get my Lenovo back on Thursday. I cannot wait!