You know how Apple partisans like to tell you how much easier and more intuitive the Macintosh UI is than Windows? Maybe that was true 20 years ago - though my 1980s and 90s encounters with the Mac confused me more than DOS or Windows - but not any more. It turns out that a computer is a computer; there are some differences between the two interfaces, but they seem to have been converging over the years. I'm not having any significant issues in switching over, though I really wish I could figure out the keyboard combo that would italicize or boldface text. And that menu bar at the top with the menus for only one application visible at a time? I prefer the Windows way, where there ISN'T a fixed menu bar. It's convenient to have the stuff that's in the lower right of the Windows interface up on top, though.
But it's the physical stuff that right now is making me want to have a talk with Steve Jobs. You see, Apple doesn't believe in docking stations. They don't make docks for their laptops and I'm told the third-party docks can break the machines - not good.
But here's what that means for people who use a laptop as their primary computer, which is the story for most people where I work.
First of all, I've got a goddamn pile of cables snaking around my desk. Coming out of the left side of the computer: power cable, Ethernet cable, monitor cable, mouse cable, headphones cable. On the right side of the computer, a Kensington cable lock.
Technically, I could work without most of these. I don't listen to music all the time. The Mac will run on battery power for maybe three hours, meaning maybe 50% longer than the Lenovo ThinkPad I abandoned the other week. The Mac has a fan, but it's rarely on, and I bet that's why it has such good battery life. We have wireless everywhere at work, so I don't really have to have the Ethernet cable, but it is faster, a lot faster, than wireless. If you really love the Mac touchpad - which is programmable and nicely designed - you might not need the mouse. Depending on your eyes, you might be able to live with the screen on the laptop instead of the 24" monitor sitting in front of me.
But I can't. I have terrible eyes and an unusually strong prescription for progressive lenses. The glasses are not set up for use with a laptop. It would destroy my neck to rely on the laptop screen for more than a couple of hours a day. Ergonomically, I find the mouse (and preferably a larger keyboard than the Mac has) to work better for me than the touchpad.
And that cable lock? Because of the location of its keyhole, it gets in the way of using a mouse and it gets in the way of sliding CDs in and out of the oh-so-beautifully-integrated CD/DVD player.
Last complaint: the Lenovo case was made out of plastic, and the edge where you wrists would be was rounded and sloped slightly, but the Mac's edges are aluminum and make nice sharp right angles that dig into my wrists. I'm not sure there's an ergonomic way around this other than using an external keyboard, giving me MORE crap on the desk.
For crying out loud. So much for the belief that Apple is so careful and thoughtful about design issues.