Tuesday, March 06, 2012

OSs and Going Forward

Despite my art background I have been a Windows guy most of the past 20 years. It has its shortcomings, but I know it and work well with it. I have been, due to work mostly, stuck in an XP world, and it is getting to be time to move forward. The problem with me moving forward is that I have to bring my extended family along, kicking and screaming.

I have found myself becoming somewhat computer agnostic over the past few years. First I started running my own web server, and settled on CentOS. I started with the GUI, but have become quite comfortable in VI and Pico. I now understand all the uber-geeks saying you have to command line if you REALLY want to run Linux. Even in my brief dabbling in Ubuntu, you need some familiarity with command line functions or you will be very limited and frustrated.

And there is the rub with Linux. No matter how ready for prime time it gets, it will always be, at it's core, command line centric. That means you either have to be a geek, have an IT department to support the deployment, or be cheap enough you are willing to mow your way though it. This is not the OS for family based tech support.

I have an iPad (on which I am writing this post), an iPhone, and two iPods. I love them all, and thought it was time to revisit OSX. I bought an old Mac Mini with the latest Snow Leopard installed and set it up as a media server with Plex.

I've been endlessly tinkering, and have come to some conclusions there and I am horribly frustrated with it. Really. A modern OS you can't change the OS font size? OK, there is a hack, but it doesn't work well because it isn't uniformly manifest, and the header bars don't resize, so anything over a couple of points bigger and it is a mess. This means as your resolution increases, your font size decreases to the point that on a 55" hd screen you have to be within 6 feet of the screen to have any hope of knowing what you are doing. You can go to a lower resolution, but that defeats the beautiful interface.

I also find myself having to click multiple times to do simple tasks that take one click in Windows such as closing a program. Why does clicking the red X not kill the program? Why do I have to control-click the item in the task bar and click "quit".   Doesn't it believe me? And why are the eject buttons right next to the network folders so that when you finally manage to add one it causes you to disconnect drives if you even stutter your finger on the trackpad while going over to select it?

I love Apple hardware. I genuinely believe they have the best hardware in the business, but OSX is a frustrating mess. If you don't think so, it is because you don't know any better or just have very different priorities than me in an OS.

So, it is back to Windows. I am eying Windows 8 very carefully and, while I have some significant concerns, I think it is the only real option going forward. Actually I can see me on a MacBook Air or Pro with Win 8 in the next 6 months or so. That has its own issues of an incompatible keyboard, but I think you may end up with the best of all worlds that way. I just hope Apple does a better job with their Windows drivers because I really don't like virtual machines. Dual boot is the only option, and too many things break when going down that road.

Here is hoping the next six months are good to both Apple and Microsoft.

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