A Foot of Mac

I broke down:

Three retail boxes, one for Keynote software, one for a 12 inch Powerbook, one for an iPod

Now I’m just walking around with a big goofy grin on my face. First thoughts:

  • I cannot tab in forms like I used to
  • Enter lets you change the filename instead of drilling down
  • The aliasing of the fonts looks funny at first but you get used to it
  • It’s faster than my Vaio
  • Things are very intuitive (e.g., setting up my bluetooth mouse)
  • iSync rocks
  • Setting up my phone as a GPRS modem was not intuitive.
  • I want something like Putty
  • 256MB of memory is not enough
  • I’m getting used the quirks pretty quickly
  • I keep hitting the trackpad when I’m typing and erasing stuff

It’s not a total switch, I still have Windows XP on a laptop and a desktop that I use daily, and my Gentoo desktop has been running very well. This is just getting my feet wet on a new platform, and greatly expanding my testing enviroment. A big part of my motivation was that a grossly disproportionate part of my audience (about one in six) is on OS X, a platform that I previously had no easy way to test on.

I would love to hear software recommendations and general tips and tricks. One thing I really miss is I used to have shortcut keys that would launch putty SSH sessions to different servers and use key authentication so I didn’t have to type anything, about 5 of them, and not having that is actually slowing me down a lot.

61 thoughts on “A Foot of Mac

  1. Congratulations.

    1GB RAM, I have an iBook with 640mb RAM and Safari bogs it down. Should note I have 20+ tabs and windows open in Safari plus 10 or more apps open at the same time. Camino, Firebird, Thunderbird, OmniWeb, ohand Transmit for FTP is nice. Fire for IMing or just use iChat but Fire has more clients, Net News Wire Lite (free) for feeds, M Player OS X 2 for those Windows media files, Konfabulator has cool widgets and you don’t have to wait for Tiger. I’ve got apps I haven’t even tried yet. You have X11 installed and can run KDE or Gnome if you want to play.

  2. Congratulations!

    Proteus for chat, Colloquy for IRC, Transmit for FTP, SubEthaEdit for text editing, HexEditor+HexEdit for Hex editing, NetNewsWire for feeds, VLC and Mplayer for video, xBack for showing off, Desktop Manager for virtual desktops (effects!).

    Omniweb too. V5. it’s great.

  3. Yeah I just helped my sister place an order for a 14″ iBook today. I’m going to end up buying a PowerBook for grad school but I’m hoping they release the G5s by summer 2005. By the way Matt, if you are thinking about buying VirtualPC, hold off for a few weeks since version 7 is going to ship soon.

    Enjoy the new purchase!

  4. You can use something like SSHKeychain to manage ssh keys. There are a couple of other solutions out there as well, but that’s the one I ended up sticking with.

    Being a Linux/BSD guy, I’m used to setting up my ssh shortcuts in ~/.ssh/config. Keep ssh settings in the registry like putty is, um, not very portable.

  5. Congratulations on your purchase! 256MB is not enough. A couple of hints in regards to tabbing and the trackpad. For both hints open up System Preferences -> Keyboard and Mouse.

    1. Under the Trackpad tab, turn on “Ignore accidental trackpad input” that should help you avoid trackpad and keyboard accidents.

    2. Under the Keyboard Shortcuts tab, check “Turn on full keyboard access

    A couple of my must have software apps: LaunchBar and NetNewsWire

  6. Get yourself a copy of Alex Harper’s SideTrack — adds to the utility you can squeeze of a trackpad, and you can ‘ignore trackpad while typing’.

  7. Scott, I’ll check that out. Portability isn’t a big deal to me, it was just the incredible utilty of having different settings—host, screen size, username, key to use, connection type—available a keyboard shortcut away.

  8. Not that I’m in the market for a new computer at the moment, but as a potential candidate for changing his keyboard layout in the near future, I am curious: how was switching the keys about to the dvorak layout?

  9. Congratulations on the purchase! I recently made the plunge into the OS X world as well with the purchase of a PowerBook, and I’m very impressed with it all.

    Just curious – did you use the UH educational discount? 😉

  10. I’m not sure this is the best way, but in Terminal I was able to save settings to open an ssh session to a .term file, then with iKey (or QuicKeys) create a keystroke to open it. There might be a free way to create such a keyboard shortcut as well.

  11. Nice buy!

    Here are some random tips:

    – About passwordless SSH, check out this hint or maybe this one.
    Sidetrack lets you use the trackpad for scrolling and more.
    Adium X is a great multiprotocol IM client.
    – This is probably something you’ve already found if you’ve been looking through the panels in System Preferences, but otherwise: In System Preferences -> Appearance, make sure the font smoothing is “Medium – best for Flat Panel”.
    – And of course, buy more memory 🙂

  12. First of all, congratulations. Second of all, get Quicksilver. I’m serious; run, don’t walk! Quicksilver!

    Other than that, I use Proteus for IM, Synergy for iTunes shortcut keys, BBEdit as my text editor. If you ever have any questions, feel free to mail me and I’d be glad to help.

  13. Mike S,

    I thought Apple had stated that they were not going to be releasing G5 laptops because it wouldn’t fit.


    SSHKeyChain is pretty cool, but like Scott said, holding them in the SSH config would be much better. I personally am still looking for a decent PHP IDE with a class browser for Mac. The only one that I’ve been able to find is Zend Studio and it’s $279.

  14. Matt, nice to see you have joined the OSX world. I love my 12inch Powerbook. It was my first entry into the Mac world and it is a nice starting point. There is nothing like coding your website using a fast wireless connection on your couch or sitting in bed. I will say this, take good care of your battery because, I am having a bit of trouble with mine!

  15. So, I knew you’d break down and buy one soon enough!!!

    Software I love…

    • BBEdit
    • LaunchBar (or Quicksilver, whichever is good)
    • DefaultFolderX
    • Transmit
    • NetNewsWire
    • Synergy
    • Ejector
    • Azurreus (BitTorrent)
    • GraphicConverter
    • hymn
    • ClearDock
    • OmniOutliner
  16. Although my site is still under re-design, I put together a pretty good Mac related section. You might find a few things useful things there:


    And if you don’t have time to click on it – You HAVE to check out BUTLER. Just thank me later 😉


  17. It seems everyone is getting a powerbook now! I was incredibly tempted to pick up a 15″ one when I was on holiday in Vegas a couple of weeks ago, my first visit to an Apple Store and I very nearly caved!

    Coming back to the states again in sept/oct so who knows, mebe ill pick one up this time 🙂

  18. Next to laptop, Keynote and an iPod. Now I’ll have to try Proteus and some of these other suggestions. Have BBEdit, that is definitely a good one.

  19. I love my 15″ Titanium, and I agree with others who suggest a gig of RAM. Power users benefit a great deal from the extra memory, especially when Photoshop and other RAM-hogs are open. As for software, there’ve been some great recommendations, and Transmit for FTP, NetNewsWire Lite for RSS reads, and SnapNDrag for screen captures (the default program won’t run if a DVD is playing). Also, TigerLauch keeps additional aps in the menu bar so my dock isn’t too cluttered, Snak’s good for IRC and VLC runs *.avi files when QuickTime can’t.

    Enjoy your Mac!

  20. Sorry about the iPod purchase… Apple will have their new iPods out on Monday, 19th July.

    If you don’t take it out of the box, you can send it back and exchange it.

    Congrats on the purchases though, and welcome aboard.

    If I were you, I’d stop using your other machines for a period of 1 month to fully immerse yourself in how OS X works.. otherwise, you’ll just be frustrated, and use the other machines as a crutch

  21. cool stuff… its a good start, i have a powerbook g4 15 inch 512mb 1ghz, as well as a g5 powermac 2gig ram, my friends g5 has 4gigs ram…


  22. Heh, I see the iPod there. Well, they just announced a new iPod to ship next week I think. Well, the 3rd gen’s are still good… I’ve got one. Enjoy your new powerbook. I have been drooling over the 12″ powerbook for a while now. I’d go buy 512 ram from crucial to add in for not very much.


  23. -I would recommend the 1GB of RAM.
    -Get Buttler (formerly “Another Launcher”) – keyboard shortcuts/quick launcher/etc.
    -Desktop Manager (for multiple screens)
    -www.macosxhints.com (search the posts & forums)
    -if you are a UNIX guy like me: iTerm & fink
    -mac journal (a journal w/ Blogger API posting support — i.e. you can save it to your hard drive & post to many blogs such as wordpress)
    -fugu (scp/sftp client – free)
    -versiontracker.com & macupdate.com
    -and of course sf.net & freshmeat.net

  24. One more vote for iTerm, a must-have replacement for Apple’s Terminal.app, as well as Desktop Manager and Fugu. I like Fire for multiprotocol IM, but I’ve heard Proteus is nice too. For an editor I tend to like jEdit, because I can use it on Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux and it’s the same all around. Enjoy!

  25. I’ll try to add things that others havn’t mentioned, too much.

    Ignore: Butler and chose either LaunchBar (my pref) or Quicksilver (free). The more you use them, the more they learn about how you work. It’s amazing.

    If the FTP client suggestions aren’t to your liking, a pro ftp app that I can’t live without is Interarchy. It’s a great compliment to BBEdit. Others that I know enjoy Fugu as their ftp client because of how well it ssh tunnels.

    The free version of bbedit is sometimes tough to find, so here is a link: download bbedit lite, but if you want to pay, pay for the full bbedit, not text wrangler – you wont regret it.

    Firefox is of course a nice browser choice.

    If you must use a p2p program, I suggest Acquisition. It’s amazing once you get the interface down.

    If you have a bluetooth phone, check out Salling Clicker and BluePhoneMenu

    If you ever get stuck on anything on your mac, here are the sites to check:

    And for general mac news:


  26. My 2 cents:

    * Tabs are definitely a problem. Even w/ full keyboard access, checkboxes don’t seem to stick in the tab-order. Also, you’re going to get in situations where enter does one thing and space does another (bad Apple!). Dunno if there’s a fix.

    * Apple-O will open folders/applications. You get used to it eventually.

    * I use X11 for my terminal, although I’ve heard good things about iTerm (Terminal.app has really wonky termcaps, especially shell-to-shell — I’ve never found a suitable fix so that backspace worked in vim, local, and remote shells )

    * For ssh, you can put your keys in ~/.ssh/authorized_keys (ssh_keygen, blah blah blah). I have aliases for my sessions although you could write an AppleScript and bind it/access it via a launcher to do your connections. Shell + AppleScript = the ability to script just about anything (although w/ AppleScript, it’s like hitting yourself w/ a hammer over and over more often than not)

    * 512MB is not enough. I’m up to 1GB and still occassionally get VM churn

    * I just set up Synergy for x-platform control from a single kb/mouse. It rocks. Would definitely recommend it or something similar (this can also be done w/ VNC, or MS RDC)

    * I’m a big AdiumX fan. IMO, a better interface than Fire or Proteus, an extremely active developer/user community, uses GAIM libs for IM network support.

    Also second the recommendation, macosxhints is a great place to learn something new about your Mac every day.

  27. As you can see, Mac users love to spread their success finding useful apps. To go along with everyone else’s, I’ve written my own list of most-important software when I moved myself (orig TiBook) and my parents to Panther (on their 1999 iMac): http://ziphstric.com/blog/archives/2003/12/07/running-with-the-big-cats/

    Since then, we upgraded both my laptop and my parents machine to 768 Mb and that was an excellent move. I think that bus speed and proc speed is most likely my biggest bottleneck now on these older machines.

  28. In the great suggestions I have not seen Cocktail in the software suggestions. I keep my 15inch TiBook running for three or four weeks between reboots. Cocktail cleans up all of the stray cache issues and file permissions among many other things. I also enjoy Net Monitor.

  29. Congratulations on your new machine.

    I couldn’t help but want to throw something in after reading through the comments:

    On the trackpad issue: the keyboard mouse control panel has been my first visit with every new laptop for years. The first thing I do is turn off the trackpad clicking feature & voila, no more accidental jumping around the page (though I sometimes have to go looking for the pointer later.)

    For program switching in Panther I still find myself using cmd-tab more than F9 – I love the new large icons. F10, however is a boon when one program has multiple documents open.

    On the subject of software – please take the time to look at the software included with your computer. Everyone thinks that Apple ships nothing installed simply because there is not some version of MS Office on every computer. Apple has done a wonderful job of including useful software products beyond its iLife suite. Be sure to check out Art Director’s Toolkit, GraphicConverter, OmniGraffle & OmniOutliner. All are great programs, well worth paying for but are included free with each laptop and eligible for upgrades as well.

    oh – and get a coolpad, easily the best $20 I have spent on my laptop.

    system: TiBook 667DVI, 30G hd, 768 meg ram & a bunch of toys

  30. Cool! I am writing this from a brand new iBook that my girlfriend bought yesterday. We went to the store, she fell in love, and now I’m out in the cold 😐 I hope it all turns out fine. Macs are beautiful, and this thread might be useful to her too, thanks 🙂

  31. Be advised, if you follow peoples’ advice and install Sidetrack, that it is a kernel extension hack that could cause problems with software updates in the future. In the past, it has caused kernel panics with some OS updates.

  32. Matt, welcome home. One thing I can say, as someone who has switched twice (one away and again back to Mac), to help you ease the transition is to avoid finding a replacement for every software app, shortcut and movement you make on Windows. Remember, you just moved to probably the most user friendly operating system of all time. If there isn’t a direct translation from windows to mac for any particular thing, it’s probably because there’s a superior way to go about whatever it is, that Mac OS X provides either through the operating system itself or through an add-on application.

    The short and long of it is very similar to learning a foreign language, resist the temptation to try to translate everything and just simply embrace, immerse and learn. As someone trying to learn Hungarian right now, I’m constantly seeing parallels to my efforts in the computer world.

    Secondly, my “I could not live without this” list: Quicksilver, BBEdit, Saft

    And the runners-up: VoodooPad, WindowShade X, NetNewsWire/PulpFiction, Terminal, ecto, Default Folder X, iPhoto Library Manager

    I’ll leave the Googling to you…

  33. Oh, and all of those people telling you about FTP apps? Well, I personally say fooey.

    Since moving to Mac OS X, I have found NOTHING that beats scp (and scp -r) and rsync (tunneled over ssh) for all of your file transfer needs[1]. HOWEVER, if you absolutely MUST edit that ONE file on your webserver and you don’t want to download/edit/upload, BBedit’s full support for scp is absolutely the bomb. It does CVS quite nicely as well…

    [1] – that is, unless you need to transfer between your computer and some LAMEASS host who only supports unsecured FTP. In that case, if for any reason you can’t immediately dump that host, then listen to what people above are telling you about FTP programs… 🙂

  34. Hey, congrats! I switched over to the brighter side of life three years ago with a new iBook. Since that time I have also purchased a new Powermac G5 and a Powerbook G4. Love them. I edit a lot of video using final cut express which I have found to be an excellent program. Hope you enjoy your new Mac!

  35. Congrats on your new mac! 🙂 Just wanted to let you know about a couple of site’s and apps that will help you, if you should run into some kind of problems with OS X (not likely)…

    No. 1 troubleshooting site for OS X : http://www.macattorney.com/tutorial.html The tips and tricks you’ll find here, will help you solve 99% of all problems you might encounter using OS X. Although it’s ment to be a troubleshooting guide for Jaguar (OS 10.2) the tips and tricks will works for Panther (OS 10.3) aswell.

    Download OnyX from here: http://www.titanium.free.fr/english/onyx/index.html Once a month or so run the “Automate”-scripts with the app. It’s a good thing, by the way, to repair your privileges after installing large programs or system upgrades, or if the system is acting wierd (see OS X Help-menu for instructions).

    Enjoy! 😀

  36. Yeah! Nice purchase. I’m soo stinking stoked, I too just purchased a powerbook (12″ 867/640/super…etc) and I can’t wait to get it in the mail! I’m like a little child… These recomendations on software are great, I’m stoked to put it to use! Take it easy!