Saturday, May 27, 2006

Third Impressions Of The Mac

The Mac gets better the more I use it, though Apple’s Singapore-style DVD policy is still driving me crazy.

Mac Calendar and Address Book Beat Microsoft Office


MS has cut Office for the Mac a big step down from Office 2000. Its Outlook equivalent (Entourage) can’t automatically file new emails by folder (a must for high-email-volume multitasking), and its Calendar is dreadful – to enter an appointment, rather than enter it in situ you have to pull up a screen-obscuring dialog box. Its address book is similarly clunky.

So I’ve switched to the Apple iCal and Address Book which do most of what I need (barring spellcheck), and am testing Apple’s Mail. If that works out, I’ll deep-six Entourage. Plop.

That leaves Word and Excel, which don't have equivalents in bundled Apple software. This is annoying because both load and run slowly on Rosetta, in spite of 1 GB of RAM and 1.66GHz Core Duo.

The OpenOffice folks are still working on their Apple Intel port (odd, since I thought it was all Java), but if that turns out to run faster, I’ll ditch all of MS Office.

UPDATE: OpenOffice is available for Intel & I'm downloading now.

PC to Mac Networking

Excellent, now running smoothly over the wireless network to Mrs. G’s PC laptop and my dead PC's file backups.

Dashboard

This pops up a bunch of user selected tools (weather reports, unit converters, language translators etc) when you mouse-off a selected corner. I’ve downloaded some of the thousands of available widgets. Some are useless – a car hire widget told me that there were no cars available at Rome’s Fiumicino airport in August! On the other hand I found a tasteful white Calculator & so was able to ditch the orange-bordered default

Installation

Installing new software on the Mac is vastly faster than Windows. Instead of tiresome Install Shield-Wizard-navigation then reboot, you download the install file, double click it, and a few seconds later it’s ready to run.

The Great DVD Conspiracy

I now know more about Apple, Matsushita, DVD firmware etc than I ever wanted to.

Turns out the reason I didn’t pick the issue up before purchase was censorship on the US review site I've hitherto relied on. Before buying, I carefully checked it for DVD problems, finding none.

So, having found the issue, I posted a comment on the site to warn other users. It was suppressed, I assume because the site considers discussion of multi-region DVD to be illegal.

This confirms SecDef’s wisdom: “you don’t know what you don’t know”.


A quick look at the law suggests the reviewer is over reaching – region coding is part of a civil-law contract between the media producers, the DVD drive manufacturers and the PC vendors. Users aren’t party to that contract & so aren't bound by it - which is why Amazon sells multi region DVD players and why the media producers haven't been hit for restraint-of-trade by the WTO.

Anyway, I think I’ve figured a way around this evil conspiracy on the Mac & will report results.

The entire process is very annoying, but at least I’ve learned not to trust the review site.