April 21, 2008

My killer top tips for swapping a PC to a Mac

My regular readers will know I bought a Macbook last year and my initial experiences weren't good.

If you followed along, though, you would realise that I ended up coming to terms with it and quite quickly - although there were a number of things I wish I knew before making the swap.

Well, having used it in earnest now for quite a while I wanted to report back with the list of the top 5 tips I've picked up.

1) Don't work with it on your knee. The Macbook battery gets very, VERY hot - especially when recharging. I use it on my desk and end up with a very hot area underneath the left hand section. This is, apparently quite normal. I usually prop that end up slightly (or raise the whole thing off the desk a few cm's to allow air to circulate.

2) Read the list of top applications you must have for your Mac. There are loads of these out on the web and I've followed as many as I can. My top applications (the ones I use everyday) are Firefox, Quicksilver, NeoOffice and Cyberduck. Quicksilver is the lifesaving application everyone says it is and I can't believe it's free! AntiRSI is a great tool for timing tasks and stopping you overworking. It physically locks the keyboard at preset (user defined intervals) forcing you to get up and walk away from the computer for a while. It is an aid against developing repetitive stress syndrome and it allows you to chunk work into blocks that make it more palatable to do. Great for those things you don't want to do but have to...

3) Get a back up in place. This is not, specifically, related to Mac's, but is good practice anyway. I have an external hard drive housing and I bought a 300GB drive to fit in, I link in with Firewire to the in-built port on the Mac. Using Carbon Copy Cleaner I have imaged my hard disk onto the external drive and have it scheduled to update changes every Sunday at 8am. This will guarantee me a complete replacement set-up should I need it (God forbid!).

4) Learn the shortcuts. As an ex Windows user I was a little lazy. I would use the mouse for lots and lots of things. This was easy and convenient. It was also very slow. Now that I have the Mac I have taken the opportunity of learning some of the Mac shortcuts to help me speed up my work and become more productive. Want to put your Macbook to sleep for a while? alt-Apple-eject held down for 2 seconds will drop it instantly into hibernate mode. Want to close a window (or tab) that's open without having to locate that little red dot in the top left hand corner with your mouse? Hit Apple-w and it will close instantly. One of the favourite things with the trackpad mouse on my Macbook is the instant scroll (both left and right). Holding 2 fingers down on the trackpad and dragging up or down will put the screen into scroll mode. Doing the same thing but dragging left and right will scroll horizontally. Very cool and well thought out.

5) Your battery will last 3 hours tops. I have my Mac running in power saving mode with the Air Port turned off. I take 10 minute breaks every fifty minutes where the machine goes into power mode and still the battery lasts 3 hours. Now this isn't a problem as I have the AC adapter and can plug it in immediately, but beware of this if you're out at an Internet cafe with no power source.

I'll keep updating you on what's happening with the Macbook over the coming months. So far I've found no major faults or flaws. It seems stable (although I have had one or two freezes which needed a reboot. nothing major but I'll keep an eye on this), and works like a charm.

One thing I am looking at though, is trying to address the definitive list of 'Mac vs PC' issues that keep getting thrown up by the Zealots every time someone writes a 'Why my Mac is better than a PC' post or vice versa.

Keep an eye out for that one!
(Photo courtesy of Galaygobi)

Please subscribe to my blog through RSS

Original posting at Musings Cafe


1 comment:

  1. Actually LaunchBar is much better than QuickSilver. I have used QuickSilver for years and never used it's full potential. Too many features, too much effort to uncover, install and configure them. LaunchBar has fewer feature, but those are the ones I need and they are where I need them. Thanks to a better UI/workflow I find myself using more features in LaunchBar than in QuickSilver.

    For your absolute must-have list: Saft, TextMate, NetNewsWire, HoudahSpot and Apple's iWork package.