Monday, August 30, 2004


I've been a Linux user for over a decade now. Before that, I
used the C64, GEOS, MacOS (before it was called that), but I've never
really used Windows for any period of time by choice. On several
occasions over the past decade I decided to give Windows a try again,
usually in a dual boot configuration. Each time it didn't last long
and I was promptly back to using Linux exclusively. Windows simply
lacked the customizability, the transparency, the power, and the
convenience of a Linux system. More recently, href=>Cygwin and less crash-inclined releases
of Windows have made my required occasional use of Windows tolerable,
but no reason to use it by choice. When it comes down to it, I
decided I was just set on Linux and to some extent it wouldn't matter
how good an alternative was, I was set in my ways.

Then, because we were having a baby, we decided to get a video camera
and come up with a solution for doing video editing. I had seen
iMovie and been impressed with the apparent power and simplicity.
That, combined with having heard some good things about OS X and being
comfortable with its unix foundation, made us decide to get a Mac. I
know there's some good video editing stuff for Linux, but I'm not yet
comfortable with the maturity of that subsection of the linux
application base. So, a few months ago, we bought a 17" PowerBook.

Initially, I was reasonably happy with the PowerBook and MacOS.
Click-to-focus still annoyed me and it took me a while to learn to
like Expose, but it was ok. For the purpose we bought it for, video
editing, it excelled. Both iMovie and iDVD are outstanding pieces of
software for doing what I want to do. I'm sure if I got more
interested in doing really elaborate productions, I might prefer a
more sophisticated system like Final Cut, but I'm pretty happy with
iMovie for now.

So, I've continued to use the Mac for almost 4 months, and I've got to
admit, I'm a convert. It manages to pretty cleanly integrate the
convenience of a casual use GUI with the transparency, accessibility
and power of unix. It's not just that if you drag a file into a
terminal window, it expands to the fully escaped pathname. It's not
just that it ships with perl. Those are nice, but what really does it
that most of the apps seem to store things in open or obvious ways.
iTunes puts a bunch of mp3s in a transparent directory hierarchy. iCal
uses vCalendar. Mail uses a bunch of mboxes. Address Book, well, it
lets you export to vCards.

That said, the included apps are all of sufficiently high quality that
I haven't felt as great a need, as I often do, to fiddle with them.
Mail's junk filtering is great, and it's filtering rules setup is
cleaner than most. iMovie continues to please, as does iTunes.
iPhoto is even pretty cool although it doesn't handle large libraries
gracefully at all. In fact what really has me converted is the DWIM
factor. (DWIM == Do What I Mean) Linux and Windows both have had the
problem for me that they wouldn't do what I meant. With Linux, I have
sufficient access and transparency that I can force it to DWIM. OS X
comes pretty close to DWIM most of the time, and I can force it on the
rare occasion that it misbehaves (for example, creating several
smaller iPhoto libraries).

I still rely on my Linux server, so I'm not a complete convert, but
the PowerBook is pretty sweet.

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