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Mac Mini Day One

Yesterday was my wife's first full day with her new Mac Mini. She's being pretty good about it, but can't help getting frustrated at times. Now and then she's used phrases with "hate" and "stupid" in them, but she's also found a few things to be happy about.

Keyboard and mouse

First up on the "unhappy" side is the Apple Aluminum Keyboard. There are two major defects: the flat-topped keys and the very low height.

Most keyboards have curved keycaps - your fingertips rest in the indentation and it's therefore easier to keep them where they belong and to sense when you are centered on a key. For some reason, Apple uses flat top keys. OK, these aren't cheap "chiclet" style keys, but they sure are annoying. As this seems to be a "love it or hate it" thing, Apple really should offer this in two styles - one with the flat keys and one with curved.

That's simple enough to fix - she just needs to go find a USB keyboard she likes and we'll replace it. Until then, we still have to deal with the height problem. Slim is great but not when you use a wrist bar in front of your keyboard for comfort. This is a pad something like this. We both have them, but the Aluminum Keyboard is so low that it's below the pad, forcing your wrists downward. I solved that temporarily by setting the keyboard on top of the box it came in (good thing I saved that).. That isn't perfect, but it will do until we can get her a keyboard she likes.

She was also quite upset about the keyboard repeat rate until I showed her how to adjust that in System Preferences. She has that arrow backspace zipping right along now and the mouse double click speed is also just where she wants it.

On the "I like it" side was the ability to zoom in with Ctrl and the mouse scroll wheel.

The Dock and the Mac Way

Like most PC users, she's used to minimizing programs rather than just switching away from them. It's funny, because in that respect the Windows taskbar is no different than the Dock, but most Windows users minimize rather than just clicking on something else. I've shown her that she doesn't need to minimize but she's not used to that yet.

Of course she didn't like other apps windows showing up when she does go to another program, so I changed the defaults to automatically hide all other windows.

defaults write com.apple.dock single-app -bool TRU
killall Dock 
# if you want to put it back to normal, do 
defaults delete com.apple.dock single-app 
killall Dock 

I also showed her how to put her commonly used documents into the right hand side of the dock. She liked that; it is much more convenient than having them on the Desktop (though like many others, she doesn't like having to mouse over them to see what they are)


"Where's Print Preview?"

I think she appreciated that it's always there after hitting "Print" and that she can save to PDF just as easily. She didn't like that not all apps let you choose specific pages to print, but fortunately Word does so she's not too miserable.


This is where most of the unhappiness came. Fortunately, 99% of it was just Preferences that I could quickly change, but there are some differences from the Windows version. One is that the Terms field for Invoices is several characters shorter in maximum length. That's annoying because we use a "Prior to Expiration" for renewables like licenses and support contracts. That text won't fit in the allotted space in Mac Quickbooks so we'll just have to leave it blank and put that note elsewhere. The other annoyance is that the Windows version has a popup calendar when you click on any date item - the Mac version doesn't have that so you can't point and click to change a date. We haven't found any other major differences yet but they could still be lurking.


She really liked the "Faces" feature in the new iPhoto. this is pretty cool: you can assign names to faces in your pictures. After naming three or four pictures of the same person, iPhoto can find other pictures of that person. I hadn't seen this before either - it's pretty impressive and quite useful.

Well, that was day one. We'll see how the rest of the week goes.

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© Anthony Lawrence

Mon Apr 20 02:16:15 2009: 6239   jtimberman

Re: preview and printing certain pages

Preview itself can select certain pages for printing, though anecdotally I think it's limited to ranges, rather than a variety of selection (ie, only 1-5, rather than 1-2,5).

That said, "Preview" itself is probably my favorite integration feature of OSX, because I hate print preview inconsistencies in most programs on Windows and Linux.

Mon Apr 20 10:25:38 2009: 6240   TonyLawrence

Sure, though that's an extra step.

It would be nice if the standard print dialog could handle pagination. Of course that requires knowledge of the text stream but a lot of that is already in QuickLook so it should be possible - someday :-)

Mon Apr 20 10:29:06 2009: 6241   TonyLawrence

There was a Mac ad on TV last night that mentioned "Faces" (which my wife has already used)

She proudly said "Hah! I have that!"


The problems she has are 99% QuickBooks. The Mac version is definitely inferior to the Windows. If you'd never used the Windows, you wouldn't mind as much but it's very hard to go backward.

Tue Apr 21 15:57:25 2009: 6249   TonyLawrence

I just tried adding a webcam. The thing is seen as a USB20 Camera in System Profiler:

Product ID: 0x6288
Vendor ID: 0x0c45 (Sonix Technology Co., Ltd.)

and it works on my MBP but not here. quick look seems I have all the same drivers (google, macam) but no video.. hmm..

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