Sunday, June 12, 2011

Why I Hate My Mac

Because it makes me feel like a complete incompetent, an utter n00b.

On the Windows PC I am slick, proficient, productive. I am the go-to guy in our office if anyone needs help with Office. My fingers naturally curl into the three chords of Ctrl-C, Alt-Tab, Ctrl-V like Rick Parfitt belting out that good old Rock'n'Roll.

On the Mac everything is painfully slow and clunky. I have to use the mouse instead of the keyboard short-cuts and it takes multiple clicks to do things that I would normally accomplish in a few well chosen actions. I hate it. The Mac may be usable but it is not intuitive.

I know, I know it's a "training issue" and in six months time I may well be singing its praises like all the other Mac fanboys and geekgirls. But that's not the point. Right here, right now the learning curve is so steep it more resembles a brick wall. I have so much to unlearn and relearn it is dispiriting.  It was more of a shock because I love my iPhone and was hoping for a similarly pleasant experience but not so.

When my previous laptop died I decided I would finally make the switch after years of hearing how wonderful the Mac was. I was trepidatious because the one application I really needed, QuickBooks UK version, was not available for the Mac. No problem they say - use BootCamp. So I went and bought a top of the range MacBook Pro. Now bear in mind that not only have I never owned a Mac I have never even used a Mac but I did look over someone's shoulder once. And these are my initial experiences:

  • First impressions OK. Switching it on the layout seemed reasonably intuitive. That row along the bottom seemed to combine the functions of the Windows Start menu and quick launch and task bar. The system tray was up the top but that was fine.
  • Menu bar has moved. Clicked on a few apps and was confused by the lack of menus across the tops of the windows until I worked out that it was along the top of the screen and changed according to the active application.
  • Inconsistent app installation. Used Safari to download and install Firefox no problem. Then used Firefox to download Skype and it all went pear-shaped. I ended up with some kind of disc drive icon on my desktop instead an installed application. Not a consistent experience.
  • There was no driver for my HP LaserJet 1020. I tried Googling and installing an alternative driver which did not work and eventually used the driver for a different model but not after wasting quite some time - hardly plug and play.
  • The serial number is written on the base in minuscule font, something like 2pt, silver on silver - only just legible with a magnifying glass a close range. Made registering for the Protection Plan difficult.
  • There is no key labeled Option. This caused me some grief with Boot camp. I was asked to format the disc drive as part of the Windows install and thereafter I could only boot into Windows. With no information I had to guess what the Option key was and I guessed wrong that it was the Squiggle key. "Oh f**k", I thought, "I've gone and wiped the Mac OS! I'm going to have to go into the shop and get the bl**dy thing rebuilt." [I now know it is the alt key to the left of the Squiggle key - thank you Elizabeth]. But there was a very worrying, panic-inducing half hour.
  • There is no # key. How am I supposed to use Twitter hash tags. [I now know it is Option-3].
  • It only has two USB slots. So with the laser printer, the all-in-one scanner, the external back-up device, the wired mouse, the wireless transmitter for the separate keyboard, a USB stick and the iPhone for syncing I am quite a few slots short of a full set of peripherals. Fortunately I had a USB mini-hub in the drawer.
  • iPhoto took control. It insisted on downloading all my photos into separate events one for each day. Excuse me I want to be in charge here. I want to decide the folder structure and which photos go where. Moving photos all into one event seemed very long-winded and inefficient. [I now know there is a merge function - thank you Helen]
  • There was no equivalent of Windows explorer as far as I could see. It was several weeks until I was round at a friends house that he pointed out that it was Finder. [Thank you - Tim] The Smiley icon gave no clue, the name made me think it was a search function and using Spotlight merely reinforced that misapprehension.
  • File >> Save As >> Where give a fixed list of locations so I had to save it where I was forced to and then painfully move it using Finder (now I knew what that is). Now I know to click the drop down icon next to the file name field not the where field - how unintuitive is that?
Now I have invested in a great, thick book "Switching to the Mac: The Missing Manual, Snow Leopard Edition" [Thank you - Ian].

It's slow work though and I am very slowly creeping up the learning curve but at the moment I still hate my Mac.


Stuffy said...

Adapt and survive windows boy... I've been there, the problem is baggage, 30 years of learning how to get round Microsoft's inherently bad product has re-written your neural pathways to blind you to the Jobs way, "he's called Steve, he must know what he's talking about"

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Personally I would be terrified of a Mac but I'm sure you'll soon have yours sorted!