More Q&A on my New MacBook Pro

Well I didn’t quite expect 30 plus comments on my post about switching from PC to Mac, but it probably shouldn’t surprise me. Mac vs. PC is always a controversial subject I suppose and certainly people who love their Macs feel very strongly about it.

I thought I’d use this new post to answer some of the comments on the original.

Scott Williams and the monk (along with others) suggest that maybe my problem really isn’t a Mac vs. PC one but is more a problem with Dell PCs specifically. He notes, “I’ve built many PC’s over the years and have rarely had problems with them.”

I’d like to say that my bad PC experiences were limited to Dell but this is not the case. In addition to my primary machine that I used (my Dell notebook) I also have another Dell desktop at home, an HP Media Center PC at home and my primary at home PC a custom built ACMA machine. I have to say that I’ve had problems with all four of the machines. A while back I wrote a post called Tech Support With Thomas Hawk that I was going to keep up on. In it I was going to try and document every problem that I had with my PCs going forward to see if people could help me fix them. But there were too many and the post got unwieldy.

My custom built ACMA machine for instance sometimes just won’t boot up. I have no idea why. I have to begin unplugging all of my USB devices until eventually it boots up. Then I can replug in the USB devices and use them again. That’s a pain. I could go on and on but there’s no point. Universally over the past 15 years my experience with PCs have been bad. Different brands, Sony, HP, Dell, Toshiba, custom built, etc.

Maybe with Vista this will change. Maybe not.

A lot of people wrote comments saying that they had had similar conversions with regards to moving from a PC to a Mac. I think that a big part of my move was feeling comfortable with the unknown. That’s really hard to do. Having Kristopher there as a resource should things go wrong gave me a lot more confidence. I’m not sure if I’d done the switch over without feeling like I had the support I’d need. But my fear was irrational. And it should serve as a reminder that things oftentimes are easier than you’d think and innovation should be pursued even when you fear change.

An anonymous user asked “what’s the EVDO device?” I had problems and had tried three different cards with Verizon for my PC, none of which would work. Finally I concluded that my card slot on my laptop was bad. I called Dell for support on this but they would only authorize my shipping it back to them for repair if I completely reformated my PC and started over. I didn’t want to lose all my email (figure out how to move it to another PC etc.) and I didn’t want to be without my laptop for a few weeks while they looked at it so I abandoned it. I went to the same Verizon store (yes, ironic that I was railing against Verizon as pigs for trying to charge you $15 a month for YouTube videos) with my Mac, bought a card on the spot, plugged it in and had it working within 10 minutes. I’ll have a whole other post on that later. EVDO rocks.

Shawn Oster
asks me how I’m liking the OS on the Mac. It’s great. It takes a little getting used to but I find it very similar to windows actually. I’ve had to get used to using the command key instead of the control key but once you learn the basic shortcuts (command N for new window, command + shift N for new folder) I’m able to get around on it pretty easily. Forcing myself to learn and use the various keyboard commands helps. Right click works and even with the touchpad if you hold down the control key you get right click.

Smiley tells me that all Macs are female. I didn’t know that actually but I like the way that sounds. Interesting.

Matt Large
asks my opinion about iPhoto and Aperture. While I haven’t used iPhoto yet I did try out Aperture. I like Aperture a lot. It’s super easy to use. It’s also super fast. I found though that I couldn’t figure out how to do some of the things I do in my post processing in Photoshop though. For instance, in Photoshop I can alter the vignette on my photos. I couldn’t figure out how to to do that with Aperture. As smooth as Aperture felt, I think that because I’m more familiar with Bridge and Photoshop right now I’ll probably stick to them for now. Aperture seems like it does 95% of the stuff that you need to do with photo post processing though. It handles temperature for RAW files well. But there are little things like the spot healing brush, vignette, etc. that I still prefer Photoshop for. By the way to see how I process my photos and get lots of great Photoshop tips check out Episode Three of Photowalking on Scoble Show. Jan Kabili, a Photoshop author and Pro, walks me through my workflow and gives me some fantastic tips (Part I, Part II).

Mero and some others ask if now that I’ve bought a Mac if they can expect me to be one of the first to try out the new iDongle (Apple’s announced TV extension thingy that I’ve been critical of in the past). Ha! Well, I doubt it, but you never know. My principal objection to the iDongle (my name for it not Apple’s) is that I don’t think that it will offer premium HDTV support. Unless the iDongle offers support for a dual tunner premium cable/satellite HDTV PVR package then I have no interest in it. If Apple does plan on offering premium HDTV support through the iDongle then I think it’s a marketing mistake not to announce this now. $300 for a plug in to move standard definition TV to your hot new 43″ HDTV plasma does not excite me at all.

Shinypenny asks what model Dell that I had. I had the Inspiron 630m. It was less than a year old.

Andrew Denny says he was the only guy commenting who bought a Mac and actually regretted it. Certainly I am not under the impression that the Mac is a miracle machine. It is at the end of the day a computer and all computers can have problems. Even Kristopher Tate who largely pushed me towards the Mac just recently had a problem with the battery on his and just earlier this week had to send it back to Texas for repair. But at the same time, I will say that fundamentally, it just works. And that counts for so much. Certainly you will always find a few bad apples in a bunch, but in general I think that Mac “just works” much better than the PC.

tmv32 asks, “Do you know what program or how Kristopher transferred your mail and contacts to the Mac?”

Actually I don’t but I’ll ask him. I used Thunderbird for email on my old machine because Microsoft kept rejecting my valid and legal authentication code for my legal copy of Outlook. Kristopher just does magic with computers. It’s really pretty crazy watching him work. He just kind of hooked it all up and started typing and doing all these things to it and in about 30 minutes the machine was all tricked out and all my old stuff (email, contacts, Flock and Firefox settings, etc.) was just seamlessly moved over. I’m using Thunderbird still on the Mac (it works great and is free) so I think it was just a matter of exporting some file from my Dell and reimporting it on the PC. He just connected my Dell into his network at home
and did his usual magic. I’m lucky having a friend to help me out like that.

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  1. Heh, actually I was agreeing with you in that I think that you’re just as likely to get a crummy PC whether it’s from Dell, HP, Sony, Gateway, etc. This is slightly off-tangent but I think the PC market has become so cutthroat that the major guys have to get the absolute cheapest parts they can find and load the OS with dozens of extra crapware programs. Apple is able to do the opposite, and fortunately for them, they can price their machines accordingly and still make money.

    My main point was that when you DIY you can avoid all of that and get quality parts and clean OS. The catch is that you really need to know what you are doing, and therefore is limited to only a few people, which is just too bad.

  2. tmv32 says:

    Hey Thomas,

    Thanks!! Just let me know what he says.

    Since you stayed with Thunderbird I bet it was just a straight export and import to the Mac. Maybe I can import Outlook mail to Thunderbird on the PC and then export it to get it over to the Mac. I was going to just use Apple Mail so I wanted to see if I could get my Outlook Mail to Apple Mail, ant then my Calendar and Contacts transfered over as well.

    Thanks Again!


  3. Nick Starr says:

    Glad to see you finally over on the Mac side of things. I wrote about you switching this morning.

    Question I had was, did you get the 15″ or 17″ and if the 15″ the 2.16 or 2.33 Ghz?

    I just bought my MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo 15″ 2.16″ about 2 weeks ago and even though I’ve had the MB and iBook previously, this is simply a think of beauty. (Oh yeah make sure to at least have 2 gigs of ram).

    Some great short cuts to learn are Apple+Q, Apple+H, Apple+Tab (and then you can press Q or H to Quit or Hide that app whil in the Apple+Tab menu).

    I’m sure you will get much use out of your new purchase. I know I can’t stop using mine.

  4. the monk says:

    Thomas – I think that USB issue you are having with your work computer can be fixed by turning off USB Emulation in the bios. That controls the tradeoff between USB devices from BIOS to the OS.

  5. jan says:

    Hi Thomas: I’m loving that you love your new Mac. Congratulations.

    Your Photowalking buddy Jan

  6. Anonymous says:

    Since I have used Windows crap all of my tech life, I thought I would share. I have NEVER bought Apple. I tried one out for 30 days (last spring). Windows really bytes big time! I waste so much of my work day recovering, reimaging, back-up,etc. it really sux badly. Win xp makes 2000, 98 etc look like leprosy. Windows is horrible. But when big brother is paying, you use the crap put on your plate. 🙁 *But the day “I” start forking out the money…apples on the plate.

  7. Manish says:

    Here is a handy Mac tip for you: If you click on the touchpad with TWO fingers at once, you get the right-click menu. I.E. same menu that you would get when you right-click.

  8. David Lambert says:

    I’m glad that you like the Macbook Pro. I just switched to an iMac about a year ago and loved it so much that I got a Macbook a couple of weeks after it was released.

    I just thought you might want to know that there is also a setting that allows you right-click by tapping the trackpad with two fingers, you can get to it by opening system preferences, clicking keyboard & mouse, and then clicking the trackpad tab, the option toward the bottom of the screen.

  9. macdavid says:

    I’m not a power user, I guess beyond luddite …

    I switched, no was born again! in April06… like you just one day decided to switch… in my case I new I would be leaving Afghanistan soon and would have time job hunting so could spend time learning it… but after a week it’s just intuitive… and the support thats there from Mac users … podcasts alone NeatLittleMacApps, Screencastsonline, its been a pleasure to learn and yes I even play with my apple… never ever tried learning with a PC…

  10. Anonymous says:

    An interesting test now would be to install Vista RTM via BootCamp once there are definitely native drivers for all the components on the MacBook Pro.

    Then you can take the hardware differences between Dell/Sony et al and Apple out of the equation and compare Vista and OS/X on the same hardware.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Have you had any heat issues with your MacBook Pro? In particular can you use the laptop on your lap and do some non-idle work and not get scorched?

  12. sharonwest says:

    “things oftentimes are easier than you’d think and innovation should be pursued even when you fear change”

    this is one of the smartest things i’ve read all day. 🙂

  13. Anonymous says:

    Just an FYI, the iDongle (I presume you refer to the iTV) has HDMI ports, as well as RCA and digital audio.

  14. Thomas Hawk says:

    “Just an FYI, the iDongle (I presume you refer to the iTV) has HDMI ports, as well as RCA and digital audio. “

    But will it support premium HDTV content and will there be a way to get premium HDTV content via a PVR on your Mac without having to buy individual shows. To use your current subscription to either cable or satellite? When I hear this I’ll get excited.

  15. jaberg says:

    Sorry for the “redirect” but tmv32 might find O2M from Little Machines to be helpful.

    No affiliation and to be honest I haven’t used it. (So be sure to backup your Outlook data before attempting anything!) But for $10, I think it’s going to find a place in my “little black bag.”

    And Thomas, welcome to the fold.

    Best Rgds!


  16. “Right click works and even with the touchpad if you hold down the control key you get right click.”

    As someone who couldn’t bear the thought of not having my right mouse button and who also recently made the switch to a MacBook Pro, I feel obligated to mention that this is not the only way to “right click.” Sometimes you don’t want to hold your hand over your keyboard, anticipating when you will need to right click again. Well, if you put two fingers on the touchpad (like when you scroll) and click the mouse button, you’ll get a “right click.” You may have to select this option in your mouse preferences.

    I’ve been elated with my switch too. I never thought I’d care more about OS X Leopard than Vista, but lo and behold, I do. Go figure…

  17. Anonymous says:


    Just a quick note that there are several ways to migrate from Outlook to Mail/Address Book on the Mac.

    Here is a link to a forum discussion on this topic at Ars Technica’s *excellent* mac area.

  18. Jonathan says:

    Hey TMV32…try outlook2mac by

    Works pretty well and is cheap too


  19. Anonymous says:

    I totally agree on both the quality of hardware and the OS for the Mac. Yet, I find myself yearning for a delete key that will erase the letters to the right. On my IBook G4 the delete key only does what the “backspace” key does on a PC–erases letters to the left of the cursor. Holding down a second key to get a “delete” to erase letters to the right would be OK–but how to do that? I looked through the keyboard setup but did not find a way. Daniel

  20. Anonymous says:

    you can use ctrl-d for right-delete in all cocoa-applications

  21. Anonymous says:

    You can also hold down the ‘fn’ key (on laptops) while pressing ‘backspace’ and you will get what you want. Bye.

  22. Anonymous says:

    There are some really great comments made here about the Mac. As a 20+ year user of the Mac OS I can safely say that the majority of the PC vs Mac “garbage” has always…. always…. always been based on the old stance that “PCs are in the business world” or “everyone uses PCs so why use Mac?”

    The point here is USABILITY, FUNCTIONALITY and DEPENDABILITY. I use Macs everyday at work (technology teacher) and we are using Panther on over 500 machines throughout our district. IT JUST WORKS says it all. IT JUST WORKS. My kids (over 1,000) from grades Kindergarten through fifth grade LOVE working with this OS and can spend time LEARNING, CREATING and SHARING instead of looking at a “BLUE SCREEN OF DEATH” or loading this patch that patch blah blah blah.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences Thomas…. great to see it!!!

    Oh and btw don’t forget to mention or try out EXPOSE´. Try opening some movie trailers, a web page and another important app all at once and then press your F9 key. Watch what happens when you call over your PC buddies and see their faces go blank. Do that on a PC and all you’ll watch is calm wheat fields in the distance.

    MACS just work.

    Joe T.

  23. Two things I wanted to point out, largely unrelated to each other, but related to things you’ve stated in this or your previous post…

    First, since you like the automatic spell-check feature, I think you might like the dictionary keyboard shortcut. Hover your mouse over any word and then press and hold the following keys:

    (note: the APPLE-key is also known as the COMMAND-key)

    After a slight pause, the word will be looked up in the Dictionary for you, and even better, move the mouse around (while still holding those keys down) to other words and their definitions just pop up.

    The second thing I wanted to mention is that while most people don’t have a go-to guy like Kristopher at their disposal, there is help for those of us who are not so lucky. If you live near an Apple Store, you can always talk to a Mac Genius or Mac Specialist who can help you brave through your adjustment period. Most stores should also have various classes, and if you buy ProCare, you can get personalized one-on-one training for an entire year.

    Anyway, that is my two cents. Glad to hear you’ve switched! I did four years ago and don’t plan on looking back!

  24. tom g says:

    just to follow up Tom Heaton’s comment ont he DIctionary feature- just right-click on a word in ANY application and the drop menu will have a “Look up in Dictionary” option.

    I teach high school, and whenever I tell parents about this they re-consider what to buy their kids for college.

  25. Joshua says:

    What if all the Mac propaganda (users and company alike) is more of a deterant than an actual attempt to gain the majority of computer users consumer support?

    An analogy: If you found a secret well that produced pure, delicous, and mineral rich drinking water you would, of course, alteristically wish that everyone could share in the splendor of your discovery, much like Mac’ users and their machines. However, you would also know that this water is limited as a resource and certain other people might wish to exploit it for whatever reason. Thus, though it is your duty as a virtuous human being to share the truth for its own sake–just as Mac users always advocate PC users switch–you must secretly hope that at least some people will be so put off by your ‘evangelical’ presentation and resent their own ignorance that they will vow never to follow your example.

    In a sense, this semi-psycholocial explanation makes sense to me. Just for kicks, anyone else have a fantastic kinda’ thought about it?

    P.S. DOS/Windows user for 20+ years. G4 MacMini user for 2+ years now. Never going back.

  26. Anonymous says:

    u wrote:

    “things oftentimes are easier than you’d think and innovation should be pursued even when you fear change”

    sharontimes wrote:
    this is one of the smartest things i’ve read all day. 🙂

    i couldn’t agree more, that’s what it is about, fear of the unknown, preconceived ideas.

    if u used both OS’S for a long time, it’s very very unlikely that u will ever prefer windows, it’s not just about taste, preference, windows is inferior, absolutely, easy tasks require more clicks, u can get caught in an absurd maze of properties, even a loop (window 1 opens window 2 opens window 3, that opens window 1 :D.

    the handling of the mouse is bad, software like that would never even make a beta at Apple.

    the windows fonts are a very bad choice, too thin, too small, hard to read, apple has been using fat fonts for 22 years now (chicago 12, followed charcoal), not just a choice based on taste, but scientifically proven to be easier to read, and to distinguish from your data.

    a menu bar at a fixed location is better, because it’s predictable, and putting it at the top of the screen makes it even better, u just “trow” your mouse up, then u select the menu.

    pop up menu are easier to use than drop down boxes.

    when a mac application opens u have feedback (bouncing icon), when i use windows i frequently open the same application twice (why is that possible anyway ??), because i’m not sure it worked the first time.

    mac os x comes with great applications, especially safari, itunes, iphoto, idvd, windows is almost empty (i have the OEM version)

    without making any changes to my windows configuration it crashes after booting once every 4/5 restarts.

    my mac os crashed 4 times since 2000, and i’m a developer.

    the API of mac os x (used by developers to “communicate” with the OS, has been stable for 22 years, software written in 1984 still works on today’s macs, if u add a resource (to tell mac os it’s compatible), or if u recompile it (better because native ppc and intel)

    the windows API has a better way to handle events, and it has easier networking (sockets instead of open transport), but the rest of the mac API is vastly superior (+ u don’t have to use open transport anymore anyway)

    esthetics are not important, but they contribute to the pleasure of using a computer, and microsoft’s choice of colors, fonts and images is just terrible, it looks like a computer made in 1985 east germany.

    u mentioned having to use the command (apple) key instead of control, well, don’t u prefer the command key ?

    it’s not just a question of being used to one of the other, the command key is at a much better location, just under the thumb when your other fingers are hovering over the QWER keys.

    on a PC u frequently have to enter passwords in hexadecimal, that’s completely unacceptable !

    the only reason i use windows is to play games.
    availably of software cannot be considered a quality of an OS, it’s an advantage of the platform, but it does not make it better !

    it’s just the consequence of millions of people that made, or had to make, the wrong choice.

  27. Anonymous says:

    and my name is martin 🙂

    sorry for the long post.

  28. jeff says:

    For moving outlook mail to the mac you can use O2M (Outlook to Mac) a $10 program from Little Machines. It works very well, I’ve used it to migrate about 20 pc’s over to the mac.

    Their website is

  29. Pecos Bill says:

    Oh yeah, AppleScript is pretty kewl and great for post-processing stuff. (Automator is too new and needs others to support it). It’s very different to coding other languages unless you know SmallTalk. If you aren’t a coder, you’ll find it rather straightforward and easier than you think. has some good, free scripts that you might like.

    One of the kewl things a Mac can do is turn your really expensive computer into a hard drive (briefly). Just restart and hold down the T key then hook it up to anything using FireWire. Can be handy for transferring things. Just unmount the disk then press the power button when done.

  30. Anonymous says:

    so guess what! to right click on your macbook wether its a pro or not all you need to do is put two fingers on teh track pad and click. PIECE OF APPLE PIE haha

  31. Grant says:

    I don’t know what Smiley is talking about… my PowerBook G4 is definitely a guy. His name is iVan, for crying out loud! 🙂

  32. Thomas are you aware of the greenpeace report that came out today on the technology industry’s environmental performance. It seems Apple are not doing a good enough job. Now that you are a make owner I was wondering whether you were willing to advertise this fact and help leverage Apple into action. It seems Apple value you influential position in the blogosphere!

  33. Nevyn says:

    > I called Dell for support on this but they would only authorize my shipping it back to them for repair if I completely reformated my PC and started over. I didn’t want to lose all my email

    For the love of something holy, keep a backup! On an external harddrive dedicated to backing up. Always have *all* data on at least two locations. I’m not exaggerating. This is the single most important advice you should heed (releated to computers) ever.

    It’s really not something that regular users should have to care about, but I guess we’ll all have to keep thinking about it, at least for another half year.

  34. Anonymous says:

    Hey… All this talk about recording HD… Have you ever read this?

  35. PJWhite says:

    All of my macs are girls: Cortana, Francesca and Gabriella. And I love them dearly.