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OS X, Technology

Lost in a new land

On Saturday I got a MacBook Pro.  Since then I’ve been getting used to the way it works and setting up various apps that I use.  Primarily Adium for IM and VMWare Fusion for running Windows (writing code).  I’ve already switched all of my email to gMail and I don’t use a built-in calendar much; though I am trying out iCal.  I’m also digging the Spaces feature in Leopard, I used the heck out of the same feature when I was in college and ran unix.  I also had a similar app for Windows but over time I stopped using it.

The way the dock integrates with Spaces is amazing though; I have IM in one screen, iTunes in another, VMWare in yet another, and everything else on one.  When an app is running I can just click its icon in the dock and go to the appropriate space immediately.  I can also set it up so that certain apps always occupy a particular space.

The thing I’ve been impressed with the most so far has actually been VMWare.  Its Unity feature lets apps from Windows look as if they are part of the OS X environment.  So I can have Windows Explorer sitting on top of a Finder window just as if it were another dialog.  Once I figure out how, I’ll get a screenshot posted to show what I mean.  Eventually I’ll also get this laptop set up for compiling Mono and see how some of the other IDEs compare for writing code.

I’m still missing a few things though.  I’m used to having at the very minimum MSPaint that I could paste a screenshot into and then crop and do minor edits to add call outs.  I’ve been using Paint .NET to fulfill this need for a while.   I’m also at a complete loss when it comes to shortcut keys.  I’m starting to retrain myself to use Command-C, V, X but when it comes to text cursor movement I still struggle much more than I should.  Now I know how new computer users feel when presented with the Ctrl, Alt, Windows, and Context Menu keys on a windows keyboard!


About James

I am a Senior Developer/Consultant for InfoPlanIT, LLC. I previously spent over 7 years as a Product Manager for what eventually became ComponentOne, a division of GrapeCity. While there, I helped to create ActiveReports 7, GrapeCity ActiveAnalysis, and Data Dynamics Reports.


2 thoughts on “Lost in a new land

  1. Text cursor movement isn’t that hard to retrain when you learn that like ctrl+arrow keys skip words on Windows, alt+arrow keys skip words on Mac. Page Up/Page Down scroll the viewport instead of move the cursor; I think this is a relic from before the scroll wheel era and it sucks.

    When it comes to screenshots, OS X has sharper and more refined tools but are less obvious.

    Command+Shift+3 takes a fullscreen screenshot. Command+Shift+4 puts you in (let’s call it) “screenshot mode” – when in this mode, you can toggle with the space bar between a crosshair for dragging an area to screenshot or a camera cursor for snapping a single window or sheet (including drop shadow). You start out in crosshair mode.

    These shortcuts all dump PNG files on your desktop; if you hold Control down while you press Command+Shift+3 or before you release the mouse button after clicking or dragging in Command+Shift+4, it ends up in the clipboard instead, and you can paste it anywhere you’d like. You can also start Preview and choose New from Clipboard or Command+N to just make an image from it. Preview can crop and resize pictures, make some colors transparent and convert between formats, but there’s no clear-cut Paint replacement.

    Posted by Jesper | November 14, 2007, 6:18 am
  2. Thanks for the tips Jesper! After I wrote this post I talked with some of the other Apple converts in the office and found that FireFox was the culprit in screwing me up so badly since it didn’t adhere to the text cursor “standards” on the mac.

    I still struggle when in Firefox; but I’m getting more and more used to it on the other apps.

    Posted by James | November 14, 2007, 12:58 pm

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