8 months into the Mac world

Well, I had been meaning to post more periodic updates of my journey into the world of Macs, but I didn’t. No good excuse. 😉

It’s been… interesting.  There is quite a bit of getting used to, interface-wise.  OS X has a clean interface, but it is showing its age here and there.  They could borrow a few things from the Windows world.  Just think of having to reach for the mouse when a dialog pops up because there is no keyboard shortcuts on the stupid buttons!  This one is a major pet peeve.  But it hasn’t killed me yet.

As mentioned in my previous post, I decided to get a Mac to explore a new programming platform.  Well, that hasn’t really happened yet.  Or has it?  OK so I haven’t done actual Objective-C programming to create native OS X or iOS applications, but I’ve used a few built-in goodies to automate a lot of tasks on this machine – laborious, repetitive stuff that I had been doing manually for years.  AppleScript, while verbose and a little on the wild side, is great for automatic Mac applications (especially when the applications have explicit support for it).  And since it’s really UNIX running behind the pretty interface, languages like awk as well as UNIX shell scripting are readily available.  I’ve used a mix of some four different languages to automate time-wasting and error-prone manual tasks related to the maintenance of my web site, The Metal Crypt. It took a while to get things the way I wanted, but now the daily update process is almost pain-free.  The next step will be to replace the crappy Microsoft Access interface (for maintaining the site’s MySQL database) I put together in an evening over 10 years ago.  That was a temporary thing until I got around to writing something more permanent.  Ooops…

Did I say Microsoft Access?  Yep.  I’m running a number of Windows applications in a Windows 7 virtual machine using Parallels virtualization software. It does a pretty good job of integrating the two operating systems, especially with a “Coherence mode” that displays Windows applications alongside Mac ones on the OS X desktop.  That works relatively well, though some applications don’t always react so well in that mode.  Other than that I’m running software with a decent Mac equivalent, like Quicken, Catraxx, AssetCat, BookCat, CatVids, Visual Studio, Mp3Tag, MediaMonkey and the Windows Home Server console for managing my WHS-based NAS.  I even went nuts a little bit one day and created an Ubuntu virtual machine, so I was running three operating systems at the same time.  Unfortunately the Linux Coherence mode is not up to par with the Windows one yet, but hopefully Parallels are working on that…

Overall, I’m liking the experience.  The machine and operating system are not as perfect as the Apple zealots scream on every rooftop (I’ve had more OS crashes or hangs than I ever did with Vista and Windows 7 combined over a period of more than 5 years).  But there’s a lot of stuff to like, and it’s fun overall.  Did I mention monitor quality?  The iMac’s built-in 27″ monitor is excellent, and so is the additional 27″ Thunderbolt display.  I’ve got quite a bit of stuff available simultaneously on all that screen real estate.  Maybe too much, now than I think about it…

Now, with an unexpected move last fall and then a lot of overtime last winter, as mentioned earlier I never got around to doing some “real” programming on this puppy.  I just added a few Xcode components to get ready to roll, and spent some time swearing because the damn thing has somewhat weird support for source control (actually, I’m still swearing since I have yet to get it to play with Subversion).  Little things.  Now it’s time to dig deeper in Josh Smith‘s book iOS Programming for .NET Developers.  After all, that’s what kind of triggered this Mac adventure in the first place…