Mac newbie, day 4 (a rant about keyboard shortcuts)

Ugh…. I’m a major keyboard user and avoid the mouse at all costs. While the trackpad on the MacBook, with its many gestures, is SO AMAZINGLY AWESOME that it can ALMOST pull me away from the keyboard, it’s still not as fast as the keyboard for many operations. That said, MacOS seems almost hostile to keyboard users. And I’m not just talking about the fact that they’re all different than Linux (or Windows) — I can adapt (though as soon as I typed that I accidentally hit ALT + ARROW rather than CTRL + ARROW to jump back a few words to edit what I’d typed and almost lost this post because I used the Mac shortcut on a Windows computer, which caused the browser to go back! DOH!).

Here’s an example:

iPhoto… I imported the photos from my phone and then went through and started deleting all of the one-off temporary pictures of receipts, product price tags, etc… Normally I’d do this very quickly with the keyboard… arrow to select the picture, delete, arrow to the next. A very fast operation. In iPhoto? Forget it! Every time you delete a photo it resets your position back to the very first photo. As far as I can tell, you cannot use the keyboard to navigate efficiently. Another example, in iPhoto, is the inability to navigate back out of an album. Once I enter an album I cannot find any keystroke to go back up a level. I’ve tried everything I can think of and every shortcut that I can find that works in the finder or elsewhere… No such luck.

Maybe as I learn more shortcuts I’ll change my mind, but as of right now I’m giving it a 4/10 score for keyboard navigability.

Mac newbie, day 1

Day 1 as a Mac user.

I picked up my rMPB15 at Best Buy this afternoon. I’d already done my research, so it went fast… in and out. They agreed to match Frys’ price, saving me a bit of a drive.

I get it home and do the unboxing… no pics, there’s already plenty of those online. That said, opening Apple products is always fun as their packaging is a nice as their hardware! Beautifully packed, though I’m surprised that there wasn’t more padding on the box top!

First boot… things aren’t going so smooth! I didn’t do a search yet to see if this was a common problem, but we’re off to a rocky start. After entering my WiFi password (all 32 or so characters of it!) I hit next and it just sits… and sits… and sits. Strange. So, I hit back and try again and then the screen suddenly starts getting corrupted — pages on top of pages, can’t read the fields very well, but manage to get the password re-entered, and get to the next screen, which won’t let me type my Apple ID. Both radio buttons are selected, and I can’t type, it just keeps beeping. Can’t click anything. Back button finally works, back to WiFi password entry again. Long password entered again, same problem, lots of controls layered on top of controls, a complete mess. 3 or 4 tries, getting worried, finally go all of the way back to the first page of the setup wizard and try again… this time it works perfectly. Phew. Not a good first impression Apple!

So… I spend some time playing… I don’t like the bottom dock, takes too much space… move it to the left like Unity and remove some app icons that I don’t intend to use too often. Spend some time walking through every preference page, just to get a feel for what’s up. I tried not to change too much, try it out the way Apple suggest at first, but there were a few things that I still wanted to change:

  • Background graphics
  • Auto hide the dock
  • Not re-arrange my desktops based on last use!
  • Three finger drag (see below, bug #2!)
  • All of the gestures are on (not sure what the defaults were, but they all looked good!
  • Added a printer (took all of 2 seconds given that my Linux box had it shared with CUPS!!)
  • Function keys on by default (I use vim extensively and have a lot of stuff mapped to function keys!)
  • Navigate dialogs w/ keyboard (why wouldn’t anybody want this?)
  • Turn off the ANNOYING volume change feedback (I learned that you can still get it if/when you need it by holding shift while changing the volume)
  • Dictation w/ enhanced dictation w/ fn key shortcut!
  • Show date on title bar
  • Tap to click on trackpad (hidden in accessibility?!?) (see below, bug #3!)
  • …more? that’s what I remember changing! 🙂 …

I guess I did deviate from Apple’s defaults quite a bit!

My search history reveals my frustrations for the day:

  • Macbook power button does not sleep (doh! just hold it longer!)
  • OS X menu shortcut ( — not as easy as alt+letter for the appropriate menu in Linux & Windows!)
  • OS X fill all space/OS X maximize window (so the answer basically appears to be to install some 3rd party tool, or “better” just learn to deal with a ‘better’ design. I bought 15″, I want to use 15″!)
  • 3 finger gestures don’t work (see below)
  • FaceTime pause full screen (bug #4?!? yikes! — see below)
  • OS X disable volume change feedback
  • airdrop macbook iphone (not possible?!? odd… looks like Yosemite fixes this)
  • osx pgup key
  • more, I’m sure…

Google was definitely my friend today!

So… wrapping this up… my biggest hurdle of the day was getting used to the differences, ESPECIALLY the keyboard shortcuts — being a major keyboard user makes switching harder than it would be for a primarily mouse user.

Also, four major bugs was more than I expected from the hype, but they’re all things I can overcome. Just to summarize the bugs:

Bug #1: Installer Problems

Already discussed in detail above…

Bug #2: Three Finger Drag stopped working!

Apparently I’m not alone in this one… it was nice while it worked, but it went away and I can’t use the 3 finger gesture to move windows around anymore. I’ve tried rebooting, toggling it on/off, etc… nothing.

Bug #3: Tap to Drag

Another bug… tap to drag (hidden away in accessibility) has an option to either stay locked in drag mode, or automatically release when you lift your finger. About half the time it won’t release unless I tap, even though I have it set not to lock. It also takes too long to release, even when it does succeed, meaning that my next operation is often interpreted as another drag.

Bug #4: Facetime pauses in fullscreen

Called my son on his iPod 5 and he reported that every time I went full-screen my video was paused — though my camera light was still illuminated and I still saw my local video feed.

Anyhow… as I get more comfortable with the differences in keyboard interaction and the general paradigm I’m liking it more and more, but only time will tell.

BTW, as an aside… so far I like X-Code. A little cluttered, but seems to have a lot of power, and it uses Clang++!!!

A Linux lover buys a Mac

I’ve been wanting to do some mobile development for quite some time (all the way back to the original Newton, which I did some experimentation in before they dropped it). I considered doing Android development some time ago, but about the time that I was getting into it I decided to switch to an iPhone, which I absolutely loved — well, there went that plan. 🙂

So, here it is almost four years later and I decided to try again and decided to start with iOS development this time. Problem is, you have to own a Mac. I haven’t owned a Macintosh since the SE! So, after some pondering, I decided to go all out. I’ve been hearing great things about the MacBook Pro, and given that it has the ability to triple boot with BootCamp I decided that it offered the most flexibility, not to mention, they’re just sexy! So, today I bought a 15″ MacBook Pro, installed Xcode, and started to work my way through the documentation.

I decided I’d chronicle my experiences as a complete MacOS newbie! Maybe some of this will be helpful to others, maybe nobody will read it, maybe somebody will decide to chime in and add some comments showing me the error of my ways, it’s all good!

Having used Windows extensively at work and Linux extensively for both work and personal reasons, I’m finding it to be very different than what I’m used to! (ESPECIALLY keyboard shortcuts!)