Two Years As A Mac User

Apple logoIt was a little over two years ago I made the “switch” to Apple for my main computer with the purchase of a G4 Mac mini and I have not really looked back. As a technologist, I pretty much keep my eyes open to every bit of technology out there. Until Mac OS X came out I did not give the Mac a serious look because in all honesty, the “Classic” OS sucked. It was slow and it seemed to struggle with multiple applications running concurrently.

Well, that is a long time ago now and Mac OS X is on it’s fifth cat now with Leopard coming out last month. Leopard seems like a whole other world when looking back at that shitpile they called OS 9. With Apple’s migration to Intel hardware it felt like it was a good time to upgrade and besides, I have been using the same Dell Inspiron 8000 laptop for about 7 years now so I decided to kill two birds with one stone.

Enter my new 17″ Macbook Pro that recently arrived. I named it Aries and it is a pretty sweet machine. I got this sucker loaded up with the 2.6ghz processor, 4GB ram, 200GB 7200 RPM hard drive.

A lot of my free time the past couple of days has been spent setting it up my way. You know how that goes, you get a new machine and you have to tweak the hell out of it, install your favorite applications, and iron out any kinks to reach that point where it feels perfect.

From my many many years using a Windows computer as my main machine I had a set of apps that I had grown accustom to and would always make sure they are installed. Well, on the Mac it is the same, except when I made the switch I had to spend some time figuring out what applications that did not have Mac versions and what replacements that were comparable to what I used on Windows. Luckily it seems more and more organizations are making their products multi-platform. I already have Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop, Thunderbird, and Firefox on the Mac, but not a day goes by anymore where you don’t read about other application being ported.

Here are some of my favorite Mac apps:

On the PC I was a HUGE fan of UltraEdit – I still install and keep it updated on my Windows machine at home. skEdit is not quite as good as UltraEdit, but it is very close. When I first made the switch to Mac, I tried TextWrangler and a few others that had the ability to do editing/saving over SFTP connections. skEdit does the colored syntax, WebDAV, and even has a plug-in to work with Subversion repositories which is cool.

Adium is like the ULTIMATE instant messenger on the Mac or on any platform for that matter. The closest thing to it is Pidgin which is my favorite on Windows and Linux. It took me some time to discover Adium. When I first made the switch I was using AOL’s AIM client for Mac OS X which by the way sucks and has not been updated in YEARS. I kept seeing Adium mentioned on TUAW and decided what the hell and gave it a try. Good call – it is very customizable, supports pretty much every IM protocol, and is a very solid app.

In the Windows world I never did find an FTP/SFTP client that really clicked for me. I often switched between WS-FTP Pro and SecureFX – both commercial options and both decent. Thankfully on the Mac I found free options that I happened to like better. I first started off with Fugu, but unfortunately Fugu does not seem to be maintained any longer and it still a PowerPC app. So I started using Cyberduck and it has proven to be a great little program. Not sure why but the Mac seems to have many more good FTP/SFTP options that on Windows. Perhaps it is because of all the web designers that work on Macs. Who knows?

What I am looking for now is a good replacement for HyperTerminal. Yeah I know it is not a great app, but when I need to connect via serial console to a router or firewall the options on the Mac don’t seem to be as mature yet.

Here’s to the next year of Mac goodness 🙂