Friday, February 26, 2010

Mac OS X Snow Leopard -- I'm loving it (mostly)!

Recently, when it was time for a new laptop, I decided to buy a MacBook Pro (Intel-based with Mac OS X 10.6.2 -- Snow Leopard). Over the past few days, I have been playing around with it, migrating files from my Ubuntu Linux box. So far, things have gone through smoothly, thus by and large, I am enjoying my new Mac.

Over the years, I have been using Ubuntu Linux and I have been very happy with it, especially for software development. Lyx and OpenOffice are handy for writing technical documents. However, I have realized that when it comes to write a manuscript for publication, and to communicate effectively with non-Linux collaborators, MS Word (with EndNote) is the standard. So I set up a Windows XP virtual machine via VirtualBox on my Ubuntu Linux box, which avoids the problem of dual booting and allows for easy file sharing between Linux and Windows.

Mac OS X is Unix/Linux based but has native support for MS Office and Adobe Suite of programs, so it seems an ideal choice for a new laptop. Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard) is claimed to be "The world's most advanced operating system. Finely tuned." Other things aside, I do appreciate the fact that 10.6 (Snow Leopard) is a refinement of 10.5 (Leopard) from installation to shutdown -- "In ways big and small, Mac OS X Snow Leopard makes your Mac faster, more reliable, and easier to use."

So far, I have configured Mail to access my Columbia emails. I must say that Mail is way better than Columbia's CubMail web-interface, and I like Mail's native integration with iCal and Address Book. Safari still needs some getting used to, from my mostly Firefox experience. However, it is nice to find that some websites, which does not work in Firefox but IE, display properly with Safari. Preview appears to be powerful for PDF and image viewing and manipulations. I have installed Xcode, and may explore it more, if nothing but to see what an IDE has to offer. Of course, it is nice to have direct access to MS Office (mostly for Word and PowerPoint, so no need to play around with OpenOffice), EndNote, Adobe (Acrobat, Photoshop, Illustrator), etc.

Some nuisances up to this point:
  • Keyboard missing numeric keypad and Home/End/PgUp/PgDn
  • Ctrl-C/V etc keyboard shortcuts I am used to now become Command-C/V etc
  • File and directory names are not case-sensitive -- most surprising!
Overall, my new MacBook Pro is a very nice toy to play. As I become more familiar with it, I may like it more, hopefully.