Friday, March 02, 2007

I don't want a mac anymore!





I'm cured!

In the past, I've griped about my Windows XP machine and how I sat and stared with envy at those with their sleek Apple iMacs, but I think that's over. For a while. Until I get sick of Windows again.

Yesterday, I was fed up. Last year, I spent some decent coin on a Dell so that I could edit videos. Nothing fancy, just stuff for YouTube. You know, messin' around.

My experience with my Dell has been less than stellar. There was a problem where I couldn't play back DVDs because it shipped with an outdated or screwed up video codec. I'm not sure which, because even after 20 hours on the phone with some dude in India named "Larry", we never got to the bottom of the problem. In fact, it sorta fixed itself, but I have no idea how.

This has not been the only problem (of course). My DVD drive likes to disappear sometimes. That's right. It uninstalls itself. Then it comes back. Perhaps it is moonlighting as someone else's DVD drive for extra cash? I don't know.

It's pointless for me to list all the annoying things about living with a Windows machine, we already know what they are. Needless to say, I've looked to people with Macs, with their great hardware/software integration, with a mixture of awe and jealousy.

So this takes me to yesterday. Frustrated at the lack of control in Windows Movie Maker, I dreamed lazily about the blissful nirvana of iMovie. It looked so easy and elegant!

"Screw it, I'll get one!", I thought.

Luckily, cooler heads prevailed and I realized I should probably try one out first, before plunking down all that money on something I would be stuck with for years. I asked around and my friend Jake was nice enough to lend me his black MacBook for a very reasonable sum.

I went over and got it and instantly started playing around on it.

"This is great!", was my reaction. Everything was so shiny and new. You moved the mouse around and things popped up and animated themselves. I was impressed.

I took it home and jumped right in. I plugged in my video camera, fired up iMovie and voila! It started digitizing right away!

I was very impressed with this. My camera is a little tricky. It's a cheaper Sony Handycam and it does not play well with most video editing software. Getting it to work well with Movie Maker was no easy task. iMovie was another story.

As I began to work with my video clips within the program, I started to have vague recollections of my brief Mac experiences from the past. I hate the way the mouse moves.

Please don't send me an angry letter explaining how I am an idiot and that acceleration lets users have more precise control of the mouse, blah blah blah. I don't like it. In fact, I hate it. It might seem like a nitpicky point, but it's the way you interact with the computer. Everything else starts with that. If you're not happy at the start, how can anything after that be any good?

I called my friend and asked him how to turn off the acceleration. The short answer is: you can't. You used to be able to, I remember it. The nice folks at Apple have decided that you shouldn't, so that's that. Which leads me to my big gripe: They know what's best for you.

Just like every Mac FanBoy who is penning his hatemail right now while you read this sentence, Apple is so convinced that they have "the right way" to do things, they remove your choice to disagree.

Now, Jake was nice enough to find me an application on a website that would turn off the acceleration, except that it didn't. It added a layer of software to the mouse's own way of doing things that emulated non-accelerated movement. What?? As you can guess, it didn't work too well.

If you don't know what I'm talking about, let me explain: On a PC, when you move your mouse, the movement on the screen is roughly equivalent to this in a linear fashion. If I move my mouse 1 inch, my cursor on screen it moves about 5. If I move it two, then the cursor moves 10. This does not change with the speed of my movement, it just takes less time to do it.

On a Mac, if you move your mouse slowly 1 inch, it will only move maybe 1 or 2 inches. But, if you move your mouse quickly over that same 1 inch, it will cover much more ground because it has been accelerated. I am told that this is helpful for people who need precise control over small details, people who edit photos professionally, for example.

I like the PC way. On my computer, if I want my mouse to accelerate, I can turn that feature on. Why isn't it the other way around?

So I was already frustrated when I started getting a headache. I don't have the greatest vision and the MacBook comes with a pretty high resolution on a smallish 13 inch screen. This means text appears pretty small.

I opened a help window in iMovie and had to struggle to read it. The window was very small. I tried to resize it, but the little policeman inside wouldn't let me do it. I went to change the font size and this worked; the letters got bigger. But the window stayed the same size and I had to scroll back and forth to read each sentence.

This is when I gave up!

Yes, I am a baby. But I spend a lot of time on my computer and I like things to be the way I want them. My friend has offered to come over and help me customize things to my liking, but I think it's gonna take me a few days before I can even look at that thing again (the computer, not my friend).

It gives me knots in my stomach. Does anyone have any advice for living with a Mac? I don't want to give up on this thing. Am I going to have to pay 20 dollars to buy some shareware to "fix" this problem with the mouse? Is there a way to resize the help window that I don't know about? I would have looked in the help files, but as I had no way to resize them, the thought of all that frustration sent me back to my Dell.

I have a sinking feeling that this kind of "we know what's best for you" control that they exercise over you at every step of the way is exactly what makes them work so well.

They don't let hardware manufacturers do what they want either, everything has to be to their exact specifications, which is why when you plug in a camcorder, your clips download into your computer perfectly. But does it really screw anything up if they just let me use my mouse in a normal, intuitive fashion? Can't I have a program take up the whole screen if I want to?

Am I just wildly ignorant of how these things work? Is there a simple solution for all these (admittedly minor) quibbles?

I want a computer that has useful software that works well and can get things done right out of the box. That is what drew me to the Mac. But I also need a computer I can live with, that doesn't drive me crazy with its quirks, which is why, for now, I am sticking with my PC.

10 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

1) Control your mouse by going to the little blue apple in the upper left, then selecting System Preferences: Keyboard and Mouse: Mouse.

2) Drag the lower right-hand corner of the window to resize windows.

3) Enjoy your Mac.

10:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought I'd offer the answer to your question.

System Preferences > Keyboard & Mouse > Mouse(tab) = here you can adjust most of the behavior that is concerning you (Tracking Speed is what controls the acceleration).

Even more fine tuning can be done under Universal Access > Mouse(tab).

11:00 AM  
Blogger Hollywood Phony said...

Thanks for all the tips. I realized that I had missed the lower-right hand corner thingy that changes the window size, probably because I can't see it that well.

I would probably need at least a 20 inch screen to use one on a day-to-day basis. When I bump down the resolution, everything looks crappy, as is the case with most laptops I've used.

There really does seem to be nothing I can do about the mouse movement though. I think Mac people have just come to accept that is the way mice are supposed to move, but I can't be the only PC convert who thinks it's frustrating. Can I?

11:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hate mouse acceleration too.

It supports an external display, go ahead and get a Westinghouse 46" LCD or something big like that.

If you chose a lower resolution for an LCD, pick an even divisor like exactly 1/2 of the native resolution, that way pixels can be scaled evenly. Also, turn off the anti-aliasing (True-Type) when you use anything other than the native resolution.

12:12 PM  
Anonymous Kelly said...

I own a mac ibook - and of coarse its the second version (the white one that looks a macbook) and i dont think ill ever go back to a windows machine.

In my high school we have about 4 computer labs, and over the summer they just installed brand new dells in the library (those hi-tech plasma/flat screen whatevers) and took out the crappy late 90's computers. Since I bought my mac in April 2006 and used the schools Windows which half have XP and the other rooms have the plain old useless software, ive compared Windows to Mac and i think swtiching from windows to mac was one of the greatest desicions ive ever made - pathetic maybe but im still really young so ill go with calling it my greatest move so far

When you did your videos with Animals From The Future and did your current videos did you guys edit them on Windows XP movie maker? If you did/do you might notice that movie maker shuts its self out a lot it will freeze and say something like theres an error and needs to close or something. My brother had that problem on his (he still has windows) and i had that on mine a lot when i had my dell.

imovie is a great program, you should also consider getting final cut pro for imovie as well if you decide to go for it and becoming a mac-addict like ive become.

one thing i DONT like about the apple product like you said is the mouse - but not on the ibooks/macbooks/powerbooks. though for some reason i notice a slight difference between the ibook and powerbook mouse. i find a difference in the keyboard on powerbooks as well.. but i cant stand the apple mightymouse b/c the buttons are hidden from the naked eye .. yeah. so i got furious and almost threw it at someone/something. though nothing pisses me off more than a logitech trackman wheel mouse ..

in my opinion i recommend the mac on a strong note.

and by the way - getting the mac which never ever gave me problems (like viruses, crashes, etc) - but if my dell did which happend every 2 weeks at most, the "Geek Squad" at Best Buy never fix it right away. My power adapter broke on my part, and I took it to apple and they fixed it in a day and a half. just a sidenote

1:14 PM  
Anonymous RickB said...

Yeah the marketting is awful, but don't let the sith lords of PR rob you of this oppurtunity. Eric, put it this way - viruses say bye bye, norton don't get your money no more. and---
think of all that software us mac users would gladly 'lend' you.
Plus Michael Dell and Bill Gates said your mum was a big whore, nerdy bastards.

5:28 PM  
Blogger Hollywood Phony said...

Thanks everyone, for all your comments. The breakthrough actually came for me when, out of frustration, I ended up reading through some WMM forums. While MS isn't going to tell you how to do any of this stuff, there are some decent features in Movie Maker, but only if you know how to find/use them. That's basically what I wanted a Mac for, so if I can do a passable job with my regular PC, chances are I'm not shelling out any dough. At least not yet.

6:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I bought an iMac a week ago, I had never owned one before. I also hated the mouse movement on the mac. I use a shareware program called "USB Overdrive" to get a mouse speed that I like. It's nag-ware, but it fixed the speed problem for me.

8:46 PM  
Blogger Christian said...

Crashes, viruses, etc are all Apple myths made to make their product seem superior. The only thing PC have problems with is hardware issues. That's the only Apple advantage. Though you sacrifice some program usage and hardware availability.

All those PC spectres only are a problem if you are an idiot. Stay away from sites that give you spyware, don't read emails from people you don't know and you'll be fine.

Also, don't think that Geek Squad actually knows how to fis your computer...

10:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Um Eric I wish I could help you out bro but I too purchased a Mac about a year ago and I still hate it. The mouse sucks. As do several other features. Such as: icons in the dock. They're *super* sensitive and bring programs up constantly anytime I get close to them with my mouse. This is a problem which *should* be fixed by requiring icons to be DOUBLE clicked to open shit. But no. I live with this every day of my life as well. It's a great computer, the hardware, etc. But user friendly? Oh, no ~ no. It's more like my computer working *against* me. Nothing seems to make sense. I miss when my PC would ask me yes or no questions in an attempt to make sure I wanted it to do certain things rather than making the exec decision on its own which always seems to be the wrong one. Sorry I couldn't offer help, only empty bitching. Hang in there though?

1:28 PM  

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