Thursday, December 13, 2007

MacBook Pro: six month review

I've had my MacBook Pro 2.33Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo for over six months now and thought I'd give a quick review and impressions. Disclaimer: This review will be from the standpoint of a guy who uses the box mainly to connect to his corporate network, surf the web and do some occasional live video importing using iMovie HD.

It is pretty bulletproof and does not hang, until you start playing with HDV. Then things slow down or in some very rare situations, have hung the box. Thus, a restart is necessary.

Wi-Fi and hardwired ethernet setup are a breeze. At home, WiFi performance to my NetGear WGT624 is excellent and works from the first floor in my loft, through metal studded walls up to the router which is upstairs in the loft roughly twenty feet away. I have had no trouble connecting to WiFi networks in hotels or conference centers.

In order to logon to other boxes at my home and corp networks, I run Microshaft Terminal Services and Chicken of the VNC. This is our peak season at work, so when I am home, I will log in over Cisco VPN to my workstation at work via MS RDP and keep the connection up as long as possible. Cisco VPN has been connected for as long as fourteen days with no downtime. Microsoft RDP occasionally hangs and I will have to restart the box. Figures..the times I have had to restart a Mac is because of a Microsoft product. Finally, built in BSD Unix gives you all the Unix tools plus ssh/scp for other connectivity options.

OS Alternatives
I don't run Boot Camp; instead, I run VMware Fusion (VMware's answer to Parallels) and have XP and Fedora running in virtual machines on the MacBook. Parallels works for some people; however, I encountered problems with a kernel panic when I installed Fedora. Since we use VMware at work, I just opted to use VMware Fusion.

XP and Fedora performance in Fusion is good, but not great for things like editing video. However, at least you have the capability of running an alternate OS without fear of the virtual PC going down. VMware allows you to assign one or more processors to a VM, so that is an additional performance boost.

I know folks who do run Boot Camp without issue if you want to go down that route.


I haven't used the Mac apps other than Safari/TextEdit/Preview/IMovie HD/iTunes. But those programs seem really intuitive. Kudos to Jobs for enforcing ease of use. On certain websites. there is squirrely-ness with Safari and some form fields. I suspect this is due to those sites' coders not doing a good job of testing. For those websites, I run Firefox and that usually will get around these problems.

Battery Life
Multimedia will suck the juice out of this thing. I probably get only 1 1/2 to 2 hours of battery life if I am viewing YouTube or watching a DVD. However, if I use non-multimedia apps, I get quite a bit more usable batt time. For instance, I was able to use Microsoft Word on a plane for about 4.5 hours straight before the box died.

All in all, I am a man for all seasons: PC for noodling about or raw firepower and the Mac for "it just works"


Monday, December 10, 2007

Google Gmail shortcut keys

In Settings, enable keyboard shortcuts.

j (move to older thread; aka. Conversation)
k (move to newer thread)
o (open thread)
With thread open:
n (next email in thread)
p (previous email)
o (open/expand email (or collapse it if it currently expanded))
u (return to list view)

y (if reading Inbox, archive thread; ie. remove from Inbox)
s (star or un-star message/thread)
# (delete; ie, send to Trash)

x (select thread -- useful in thread list view, in conjunction with j & k shortcuts)
? (Help; ie. show list of keyboard shortcuts)

Link to full list of shortcuts:

Thanks to BT for the reminder!
Feel free to drop me a line or ask me a question.