January 08, 2011

Note to self: Don't fall for aesthetics again

It looks I will have to get a replacement laptop in a month or two, and every now and then I think of getting a MacBook.  Could be because of unintentional peer pressure.  Almost everyone in my company carries a MacBook around, so it won't be surprising if a part of mine is sold on the beauty of the machine.

Here I am going to enumerate the reasons why I should stick to a Linux machine -- or rather my past (bad) experiences with the Apple machine.  Just so that I don't fall for aesthetics again ;-)
  • MacBooks do not have Home, End, Page Up, and Page Down keys.  Command+arrows work in some programs, but not all.  Some programs might respond to Ctrl+arrows.  Bottom line is that no key combination can be programmed into my muscle memory, and I would be frustrated by the lack of productivity.
  • Apple believes that people run several different apps simultaneously, and that it's not common for a single app to have several open windows.  You'd press Command+Tab to switch between apps and after switching to the app you want to, you press Command+` to cycle between the windows of that app.  But I do pretty much everything on the browser, so technically I have only one app open with a dozen windows.  Suddenly, all I have is sequential access to my windows!
  • This might have improved by now, but when I used a MacBook about two years ago, the UI was mostly mouse-centric.  Some dialog boxes just cannot be closed with the keyboard, for example.  I am a keyboard warrior and I go out of my way to avoid using the mouse.
  • They still have the freezing problems.*  Not more than two weeks ago I saw a colleague trying super hard to bring his MacBook back to life after it got stuck somewhere.  The laptop would go to sleep, wake up, and do all that, but just won't let him do any work.  He had to power down the machine to get it back to working.  If they haven't fixed that problem in the past two years, I don't think they will fix it in the next few months.  No matter how brilliant the sleep indicator is, if the machine would lose my work I don't want it.
  • Mac OS has only one clipboard, which means I will have to explicitly copy stuff before I can paste.  I know there are people who get confused by X's primary selection and clipboard, but I am not one of them.  In fact, I love them.
  • I know there's a Mac App Store that may make it easy for me to find and install apps.  But hey, apt-get is a hundred times easier and it costs no money :-)
* I came up with this a few weeks ago: MacBooks are like ice cream.  Pleasant to look at and use, but frozen most of the times.

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