I want a Unix-y Mac more like Windows

No, seriously. While $dayjob is primarily done on Windows – for convenience with legacy apps – I have a year old MBP that I absolutely love – most of the time. When will we ever have the best of them all?

Once you learn enough of the cryptically arcane symbols that serve as the magic handshake to actually get Unix-like boxes to do something useful, there really is a lot of quickly accessible power in there. All sorts of file, web, data, and network processing is possible from a few short and simple (er, cryptically arcane) lines of text. Even better, with Cygwin and the like, it’s possible to take some of this power all over the place.

Macs are magic – most of the time. 80% of the things you touch, click, or CTRL-click on a Mac just ‘Do The Right Thing’. Not only is it intuitive, it’s also beautiful. Hmmm, I’ll have that one – click – done. Oh, cool – it also buttered my toast while measuring milk for my coffee – delicious and convenient all in one!

The other 20% is the arsenic-laced inner seeds of Macdom. The moment you step off the path of the One True Way, you’re lost. Even worse than being lost, even after scouring the forums and tips and clicking on every pretty button there is, you find out that there just plain isn’t any way to accomplish what you want.

Now in Unix, you get lost plenty. But there you should expect it, ever since you passed by that #!/bin sh echo "Abandon All Hope" line a while back. In Macdom, it’s all the more frustrating when you find yourself adrift, with no obvious or unobvious way to get what you want.

On Windows, it’s reversed: 20% of the things work the way you expect. The other 80% are different, and they’re different between each set of applications you use too boot. But once you learn the arcanely cryptic menu accelerator keys, you get by pretty well. And the great thing about Windows is that if you want to do something unusual, then you can find a way to do it. It may require downloading an unsupported program to hack the underlying data file, and it may not be portable anywhere else, but it will work. You do have options.

So I want just enough of the core power of Unix shells and potentially portable, higher level scripting languages. Then I want the beauty and simplicity of Mac to manage it all for me without too much typing most of the time.

Then when I decide to do one of those aberrant things that the Mac Gods have declared not worthy, I want the breadth of semi-pro hack tools available on Windows to get it to do exactly what I want.

That, or an iPhone that fits in my pocket with a screen that magically expanded when needed. I’d settle for that, I guess.

Backup Blogging

No, not blogging about backups, although I promise to do that real soon now. But blogging a backup of things I’ve meant to blog but never quite did.

  • What is going on with Starbucks? Not that they’re my favorite coffee company – that’d be Peet’s – but their stock prices, their coffee quality, and now the breakfast sandwiches are going to go away this coming fall! I actually like ’em quite a bit, although the cheese & etc. is never quite straight on the muffins. P.S. I’m surprised FF’s default spellchecker doesn’t know the word “Starbucks” too. Mebbe their developers just are too much the Jolt or DD drinkers, I guess.
  • Busy, busy, busy with too many different projects at work, including some that take, ahem, an inordinate amount of overhead time. Sigh.
  • Did I mention we bought a MacBook Pro? Shiny. Finally sharing iTunes/iPhoto etc. properly. Now to actually, y’know, loadup all the past pictures and then do something kewl with them. Oh, and back them up in an organized fashion.
  • The new fridge is nice. A very expensive way to temporarily fool yourself your kitchen is remodeled. Note to fridge shoppers: most of them are pretty much the same, with minor differences. Actually shop in person, and pick the one with the most convenience shelves that’s in your price range.
  • Gotta love those politicians, spending all that money to send everyone 2 separate letters telling them they might get that economic stimulus check. I was amazed – we actually got one! A real live check, too, since they seem to forget I did direct deposit last time. Just in time to potentially influence voters, too. Amazing!
  • Joyous Summer Solstice! It was such a beautiful day – and such a beautiful evening the next – that I completely forgot to logon to commemorate in a timely manner. I only hope the sun will forgive me for that.
  • Looking forward to seeing a number of friends this weekend, and had the first summer dinner last weekend with other friends, which was quite delightful. I love summer air – it feels softer, somehow.

We’re fine. We’re all fine here now, thank you. How are you?

MacBook or Pro? What options really matter?

The time comes in a man’s life to accept that substandard tools aren’t worth the extra effort they require. My question to you, dear reader, is: what parameters are important to consider when buying a laptop of superior design?

Sure, I’ve played with Macs before, but I don’t know if any of the various options (different memory cards, if 2.4 is really better than 2.1, etc.) really affect how it works. Note that I’m really just looking for a couch machine, not a compile box or a gamerz console. We just need something for looking up imdb while we’re watching our Netflix, normal webstuff; plus the normal Mac uses: iLife’ing our music pictures home movies everything.

Other than the decision to spring for the extra fat screen (at expense of filling your lap, causing the cats to have to sit next to you), versus the normal screen, is there any other really key aspects to think about when buying one?