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Showing posts from August, 2008

Buy my wife a MacBook now or wait?

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Okay, here's the deal: my wife's birthday is at the end of September. Since getting her an iPhone 3 weeks ago she's completely fallen for the thing and is now ready to accept a new Mac as a replacement for her rapidly dying Windows XP laptop. The Windows laptop she uses is running painfully slowly and needs a full reformat and reinstall. Since I'm now heavy into Macs I'd rather not deal with it anymore so the time has come.

That said I've got a bit of a challenge. My wife is a high school teacher and qualifies for not only an educational discount but also the special that Apple is running through September 15th that gives students and teachers up to a $299 rebate on a qualifying iPod purchase. That means we could get her a nice little MacBook and give the free 8GB iPod Touch to our oldest daughter in college.

This would be a slam dunk except for the news that's been building that Apple is on the verge of releasing updates to both the iPods and MacBooks. Apple…

Keyboarding your way through Google searches

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The other day I wrote about how I am trying to use the internal trackpad on my MacBook Pro instead of plugging in an external mouse. Since I switched to Mac from Windows I've become quite a heavy keyboard user, mainly because I feel that I am able to multi-task much better, especially when using the combination of LaunchBar and Spaces.

Where this breaks down is when I need to do a quick search in Google. I can quickly get to the search box by hitting Command-K in Firefox or Command-L, Tab in Safari (Command-Option-F in Safari is hard to pull off for me). I enter in my keywords and BAM, I've got my search results. But it breaks down once I need to navigate through the results - I pretty much have to grab the mouse.

The reason is that the only keyboard way to navigate through a Google search result is to hit the Tab key like you're playing whack a mole in an arcade. This is because the tab key stops on every link on the page and there are far too many that are not search relat…

Driving without a mouse

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Lately I've been away from my Mac Pro and using the MacBook Pro quite a bit. With no permanent workstation I set up shop on the nearest table or use the MBP to warm up my legs while parked on my lap. My normal routine was to fish my Logitech mouse out of my laptop bag, plug it in and off I go.

The MBP has an excellent trackpad and even though it only has a single button on it I've been adjusting to using it instead of the mouse. Having the machine completely self contained does make it much more portable. Here are some of the things I've been doing to make it easier to get by without the mouse attached.

The MacBook Pro Trackpad
The trackpad on the MBP is great and an excellent substitute for a full range mouse. Without question the best feature for me is the two finger scrolling; it feels completely natural to simply slide my hands down the keyboard a bit and scroll away, then pop my hands right back to the keyboard and continue. I like not having to disengage from my keyboar…

Six months after my switch, an update

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I'm now just past the six month mark since tentatively purchasing my first Mac and beginning to switch away from Windows. At the time I bought my MacBook I had a number of machines in the house, all running either Windows or Ubuntu. What I've tried to do on this blog is provide a kind of running commentary on switching, hitting on some of the challenges I've encountered, the native Mac applications I've found and the general feelings I've had about making the switch.

What I find interesting after 6 months is the impact buying that little MacBook had not only on the way I handle my personal computing but to a large degree the influence it has had on the way I do my development work. You see after I bought the MacBook I found myself doing more and more with it. I had a Windows XP development / gaming rig parked directly in front of me but I was constantly sliding my hands over to the MacBook.

My entire development platform—at the time Visual Studio—was completely set u…

Using 1Password on a Mac and an iPhone

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As I get older I find myself forgetting things that I really should remember and remembering details that I wish would simply clear from my brain's cache to make room for more useful data. I can still recall the phone number from my childhood home, yet remembering the unique PIN number my cable provider wants me to give them before I talk to a human working there is well beyond my grasp, even a day after I make one up.

Life is complicated enough without someone else badgering me for yet another new security PIN or password, each with it's own unique set of requirements. 6 characters? How about 8-14? Must have a non-alpha character, must not. Can't be longer than 8 characters. Case sensitive. Must be mixed case. Enough already!

I manage an increasingly large portion of my life online or on the phone so this is a big deal. What's a person to do? There are a couple of no-cost solutions. Some people use the same password for everything. You come up with some nice, safe passw…

After a week with the iPhone, what's great, what's not

I've had my iPhone for a little over a week now and figure it's a good time to settle in and talk about what I like and dislike about it. I have not really changed my calling habits too much as a result of having the iPhone; the way I use the phone in general is about the same as I've done in the past. Where it has changed my daily activities is in the additional stuff I can use it for outside of being a simple phone.

No longer do I get stressed out about having to waste time standing in line or sitting in an airport terminal waiting for a family member's flight to arrive. I simply whip out the iPhone and check my e-mail or hit the Newsgator mobile site to see if there are any new developments on my Washington Redskins. I haven't tried the full iPhone version because I've been so pleased with the web based model.

I love the Safari web browser built into the iPhone. Other than Flash sites everything I've pulled up renders great and is readable easily by zoomin…

My wife and her iPhone

I've mentioned before that my lovely wife of 22 years is both brilliant and technically challenged. Whenever there is the slightest problem with technology—whether it's switching the inputs on our TV or dealing with the smallest of issues on her Windows XP machine—I hear the "David...!" yell. This has led me to consider getting my wife a Mac to replace the HP laptop she has used for a couple of years now. I would love to get her on the same platform that I'm on and get her to enjoy the Mac experience I have had so much fun with.

I'm also a realist and came to the conclusion months ago that she will simply not enjoy the switch to a Mac unless it was something she really wanted. It's not that she's anti-Apple; she has been an iPod user for years and loves them. It's just that unlike me her computer is purely a utility, something that is used to accomplish her goals. Given that, a Mac would likely be a challenge for her because it is just different en…