Friday, February 08, 2013

Macbook pro reviewed with vile and hate...

I've made it very clear in my previous blog posts/status messages and random conversations, my disdain for closed source systems, primarily Windows and MacOSX. I was a happy camper in my last company because I got to use Ubuntu with wmii as my primary work environment.. and I was churning code like there was no tomorrow.

That all changed when I joined Cisco. Even though you can install whatever you want on your machine, I decided to go with the IT supported Windows 7 so I don't have to muck around with any of the internal proprietary softwares that is generally vogue in any company of Cisco's size. At the end of the day, I had to vnc over to a linux/solaris build server so I didn't care much. Windows was just a thin client, and for most part it didn't get in the way. Operating systems don't really matter if all you need them for is IM, browsing and email (the same software is available on all the oses anyway).

Fast forward 3 years, I needed to refresh my laptop. I decided to go with a mac book pro this time, only because it had much higher hardware specs than it's counterpart. I wondered if I had made a wise choice. In the first one week of badly missing the dock (not the OSX dock, but the hardware dock you put the thinkpad on) and the pin mouse(most people think that it is useless, but it is quite useful if you know how to type and don't want to move your hand from the keyboard), my experience with mac seemed like a self fulfilling prophecy.

I was ready to hate this mac book pro, and write rants for the next 3 years.. but then I really started using the damned machine. With few tweaks, I got my .vimrc, .bashrc and .screenrc to work on mac (some of these files, I've been building for over 10 years!). Adium, which to my surprise is implemented on libpurple, filled the void pidgin had left. And chrome.. what can I say about this fantastic piece of software, once you log in to the browser, you won't know the difference if you are browsing on windows, osx or linux. So OSX just got out of the way as Windows 7 did and let me do my work as I used to do earlier.  All the apps like evernote, rescueTime that I depend on pretty heavily just worked as expected. 

But then the fun started, when it started seducing me to its vertically integrated ecosystem. To install some apps, I had to get AppleID, so I got one. To get the nifty notifications I configured my facebook, twitter, gmail and flickr accounts, which automatically imported the calendar and contacts, so with barely any effort, I was using OSX's calendar, notification system and contacts. Coming from the windows/linux world, I was used to either open a software and search for relevant entries or just grep for configs/data in the respective directories, but spotlight changed all that. Searching for anything became much easier. To my surprise, some software ran faster on a windows virtual machine on mac than on windows running on my old laptop (with similar memory allocation). The douchey way to scroll became "natural". It just looked like a really really well designed ubuntu system (I know people will find it funny because Ubuntu has been taking GUI cues from OSX.. but I come from that world).

The hardware itself is a joy to use. The 15'' retina display is great and it makes the HD IPS display of my photo processing workstation look like the screen of windows with 1024x768 resolution with 256 colors. Keyboard lights that turn on when lights are dim, extremely thin dimensions,a great touchpad, the completely silent 256G SSD and the monstrous 16G RAM makes this machine a joy to use. 

Am I a fanboy? No.. and probably will never be. Why? Well the cost of the machine with all the connectors etc have run to about $3000.. Unless someone is paying for it, there is no way in hell I'll be shelling that amount(in this case my company pays for it). I hate non-standard keyboards. I don't like the command key, I don't like the omission of page-up/down, end/home keys, and I'll never get used to the "MAC" way of doing things because I'll always be working in an environment where I'll be using Linux and working with people who own heterogeneous set of machines and operating systems, so I'd want something that doesn't stump a non-mac user. Even if the keys were eliminated from the laptop itself, they shouldn't be disabled when a usb keyboard is connected. Also, don't know what'll take Apple to put a hardware dock support to the mac books, but connecting a keyboard, a mouse, two displays and a power chord is a chore. The available third party solutions are nowhere close to Lenovo docks. The battery life of my 3 year old Lenovo laptop is still much much better than the new Mac Book Pro. Also MS office softwares work much better on Windows machine.

So what's the final verdict; undoubtedly I'm in love with the machine and is much better than my old Lenovo laptop, but since the hardware configs were different, it is not an apple to apples comparison. Do I still feel the same way about closed source software.. absolutely. Would that stop me from using a decked up mac book pro.. absolutely not :).

PS: Incidentally I wrote this entry, on MBP, sitting in a street corner starbuck, sipping a skinny latte, in San Francisco. I don't know the hipster/douchebaggy smugness is my own or one induced by this vile machine :)