Friday, June 29, 2007

MacBook Pro

Okay, I got my MacBook from school over a month ago, but I haven't written anything about it because I wanted to see if I could get used to it, get a feel for it. I don't want to make any rash or uninformed comments.

Firstly, I have to admit that this Mac looks freakin' cool. And the 3D-like movement of windows and icons was rather mind-boggling at first: Deleted icons or files disappear in a puff of smoke... literally. Push F12 and a transparent Dashboard appears with clock, calendar, weather and calculator. Push F11 for Desktop and all the windows I have open scatter and disappear into the closest screen margin. So in terms of the visuals, this is a pretty slick machine. And it is fast. I can have a number of different applications running at the same time and none of them slow down, at least not that I can tell on the screen.

The screen itself is another story. I have a Toshiba with a Trubrite screen and it is nicer and sharper, I believe. But my eyes are so bad that, perhaps, I am not the best judge. Also, the results I am getting from burning DVDs are not the best. iDVD will burn DVDs that you can play on any DVD player and when I first saw it I was floored. Some of the menu options are out of this world--they move, play music, and all you have to do is drag and drop photo or video files into the drop zone and you're done. Very simple. But I soon learned there were some serious limitations to this "ease of use". On my PC, I use Nero to burn my DVDs--in case you're wondering, not everyone in my family can use a computer with ease, so I burn DVDs of the J drama they want to see. Anyway, on Nero I can custom control bitrate--that is the number of bytes per second to be played. On the Mac, I have only two options: Best performance and best quality. The lower the bitrate, the worse the video image, but I can see that the finished product on the Mac is not as good as what I have been doing on the PC even at a lower bitrate. I suppose it has to do with .avi files, because it seems that it doesn't handle interlacing very well, even though I have the apporpriate DivX codec. Hmmmm...

Another thing is my reliance on Windows terminology. I mean, what's a Dock? It took me a while to figure out that there is a row of icons of certain applications as well as specific projects and files currently in use. But why did they make the Dock default "hidden"? I was playing around with the machine for a good 3 hours before I finally realized how to reveal applications and files: Okay, iTunes... where did you go... um, Safari? Firefox? how do I see you again... When I was looking through the Help, they were talking about clicking on the icon in the Dock. The what? WTF is a Dock... I must have yelled at least 17 times...I finally figured out that if I drag the cursor toward the bottom edge of the screen, the Dock will pop up... They should NOT make the default hidden. They should show it so idiots like me now what to look for. And what is the function of Finder. What will it find for me? Is it like a search? I finally figured out it was just a jazzed up window where I can view my files. f I want to do a search, I have to use a completely different application, Spotlight. I was very confused at first.

Another big thing for me is the lack of Japanese fonts for word processing. As a Japanese teacher I like to use a lot of different fonts and there a quite a few for PC, from newpaper type to brush strokes. but there are virtually none for the Mac, about three basic fonts. Very boring.

Oh well, It's taken me over a month, but I think I've gotten used to it. I enlisted the help of a former student who helped me with a few things via e-mail, but I did most of the stuff myself. All guys are Tim Taylor at heart, right? And my conclusion is still inconclusive. But I have decided to try Boot Camp. It is an application that will split my hard drive in a way that will allow me to load Windows and use this machine as I would a PC, with the exception that I will have a lot more power: 2.16 Ghz cpu and 2 Gb memory. I'm installing it tomorrow. I giggle at the thought of doing my PC work with this kind of power!

If I reach Nirvana (I was going to say orgasm but I changed my mind), I will let you guys know.

P.S. Thanks to those of you who kicked my ass in my last post. I think it got my juices going.

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