One Week Later – How’s Mac Life?

Mac Desktop - Dock with Finder Icon and After a week of using a Mac as my main desktop computer, it’s as if life has changed. It’s like I joined some elite club. That was evident by the encouragement on the GameSalad forums. Apparently, a lot of Mac fans frequent the website. They were happy to hear that I was choosing a Mac over a Windows machine. Although, I’m still in the process of resolving some issues with the switch. The biggest issue is software. During the last decade, I acquired a lot of software. Some programs did not survive the transition.

Notepad++ — I chuckle when I see job advertisements that state something stupid like, “Must be able to hand code HTML.” If I’m hiring a carpenter to build a house, I don’t demand that he knows how to cut wood by hand. Humans rule the planet because we have tools, ways to make life easier. It’s no different for web development. Yet, sometimes I do like to mess with the code manually. That’s why I liked Notepad++. With its color highlighting, HTML, JavaScript and PHP code was easy to read. But unfortunately, Notepad++ doesn’t run on the Mac. Instead, I’m using gedit as a replacement. After figuring out the plugins, I realize that it’s an excellent replacement.

Although, I did notice some issues. Spellcheck doesn’t work on gedit. The plugin loads properly, but it doesn’t seem to have a dictionary. Every word is highlighted as incorrect. I think this issue is fixable. I just haven’t gotten around to it yet. The other issue is that Notepad++ seemed a bit more peppy. It was great for working with ridiculously large text files – like SQL files or web log files.

I think the performance issue with gedit is related to memory limitations. My Mac Mini only has 1 GB of RAM. The little silver box is very quiet, except when it’s using virtual memory. I can hear it accessing the hard drive. I do not like this at all. I don’t want to wear out my computer because of such a trivial matter. Although, upgrading the RAM in a Mac Mini is not so trivial. I watched a video on how to upgrade the memory on a Mac Mini. It’s certainly not intuitive. I’m confident that I can do it, but I haven’t decided how much RAM I’m going to install. I should probably upgrade my Mac to 4GB.

Halo – Wow, this is absurd. I’m seeing used copies of Halo being sold for over $100. It’s a highlight of the sorry state of Mac gaming. A new copy of Halo for PC is only $20. I like Halo, but not at $100. I suppose that I could use this situation to my advantage. I can make Mac games with GameSalad. With the limited supply of Mac games, there must be consumer demand.

AIM – I didn’t expect problems with Instant Messaging… and I didn’t have any problems. Yet, something unexpected happened. I was surprised to discover that iChat had AIM support. I didn’t even need to install the AIM software.

Folding@home (GPU) – I still haven’t figured out a way to do CUDA / GPU based folding with the Mac Mini. There is a CPU client, but CPU based folding is very slow. I tried using the CPU client for Mac, but didn’t seem like it was working at all. I turned it off.

Money – The main motivation for switching to the Mac was economical. Having two desktop computers seemed redundant. By using the Mac Mini exclusively I can lower my electric bill. I’m thinking it will save about $120-$250 a year. Yet, with 4 GB of Mac RAM at roughly $90, I could easily spend away any savings. This is especially true with software. A cross-platform upgrade to CS5 would set me back about $600. Purchasing iWork is another $50. If I wait for iWork 11, that would be more expensive. I haven’t made any major purchases yet. That means occasional switching back to the PC.

So far, I’m enjoying the Mac Mini. I think it’s better. Even after using Windows 7, the Mac just feels more modern and more powerful. There are just a few more issues to work through.