By Anthony Paonita
I STARTED an experiment about three months ago. Popping open the seal on a Titanium PowerBook G4, I decided that the new arrival would only operate on OS X, Apple's new, Unix-based operating system (version 10.1, to be precise). Unlike some other pioneers, I'd condescend to use X's "classic" OS 9 environment for applications that hadn't made it over to X. For me, those apps included Quark Xpress, Macromedia's Dream-weaver (for Web authoring) and Adobe Photoshop.
Courtesy Apple Computer Inc.
For the most part, I haven't looked back.
A big part of the reason I've been able to exist mostly in X is Microsoft Corp.'s Office version X for the Mac. It installed without a hitch and it looks good, too. (Essay question: Why is Microsoft's Mac software nicer than its Windows counterpart?)
The only feature I didn't take to is the overly intrusive "Notification" mini-application--I don't need that much nagging. I removed it.
Otherwise, life for the OS X user isn't all that different from the usual Mac experience. You just need to go with the flow, and let X be X.
In other words, it's not a bad idea to adapt to X's way of storing files. It wants to put documents in your home "documents" folder, and it loves to put movies in, yes, your "Movies" folder. I did drag some icons where they'd be the most use, like putting a shortcut to my docs on the dock.
I'll probably jinx myself for writing this, but I've only managed to crash this machine once in three months.
One thing I've adapted to very easily is X's stability. I'll probably jinx myself for writing this, but I've only managed to crash this machine once in three months.
I also like X's networking ease. You just set up all your preferences -- modems, IP addresses, Ethernet, wireless, etc. -- once, and the computer just senses what kind of connection you're using at any given moment.
The only thing missing in this basically upbeat picture is literature. Sure, Apple includes an OS X manual in the box. But it's a pretty basic, cheerless thing, and Apple certainly isn't going to tell you how to hack your Mac. So I went browsing book stores for OS X manuals.
One of them stood apart from the OS X supplemental manual crowd: Mac OS X: The Missing Manual, by David Pogue (Pogue Press/O'Reilly; $24.95). Pogue is a technology columnist for The New York Times and a computer consultant to the stars, and, more importantly, an engaging writer. Unlike Apple's official documentation, Pogue tells secrets and makes jokes. He also gets deeply geeky when he has to. Even so, he explains things like network protocols and security in nothing less than easily understood, conversational terms. And he tells you how to tweak Apple's various "i" programs, like iTunes and iPhoto.
Anyone who wants to know more about how X works should go do that one-click thing now. Among other things, he explains how to banish that pesky Quicktime Pro ad forever, without popping for Pro. It involves playing with dates, and if you're that interested, buy the book. The book also includes a first primer on the mysteries of command line Unix. I suppose that hell has frozen over and pigs can fly, because Mac users are, all of a sudden, trying to figure out what to type at the prompt. (Okay, I know it's completely optional, but just having the Terminal app is tempting...)
Coming up soon are OS X native versions of Adobe Photoshop and Dreamweaver. Then I'll say goodbye, finally, to the classic Mac way of computing.
Anthony Paonita is a senior editor at The American Lawyer and Corporate Counsel magazines, and a contributing editor at Law Technology News.