Apple’s Evolution

Edwin Tofslie has put together an amazing graphic depicting the evolution of Apple computers from their first desktop, literally made out of an old school desk it appears, to the iPhone. Very cool indeed, and a trip down memory lane as although I’ve been going on about my current defection to being a Mac user, it’s not the first time I’ve used Apple products...

My first exposure to Macs was with the Apple II, with its classic block graphics. A friend of mine had one on which we used to play text based adventure games. Then at school our forward thinking computer teacher, Mr Michael Bawtree – writer of The Student’s Calculator Book, fitted our computer room out with a selection of Macintosh Pluses, alongside the traditional BBC Micros. The Macs were generally used by the more literate students to publish their respective fanzines, and it was my first exposure to DTP (Desktop Publishing) which I would continue on my Atari ST at home.

At University we tended to use bog standard grey PCs, installed with Fortran and other Physics simulation related software. Then later during my MSc we had access to more advanced PCs with UNIX terminals to carry out more advanced C++ coding – not a Mac in sight. That was until I started work at Quidnunc in 1996, where Macs were quite common – we had a PowerBook 500, Newton and some LCs floating around from the early days when the original Quidnunc programmed the first Mac Email for Microsoft. Later, as we expanded our in house graphics capabilities, the more visually orientated employees used a mix of PowerBook G3s and PowerMac G3s for their desktops. Ah, the memories.

How to Slow Down You MacBook Pro: Lesson #1

My new MacBook Pro had been behaving remarkably badly for the last few days, it would start up and get to the login screen quickly – but then once I logged in it would sit do nothing for a good few minutes, perhaps with the search icon showing in the top bar. Once started, many programs apparently hung while loading. This was a bit frustrating, as it’s a brand new Mac so it should be running optimally.

Unsurprisingly it turns out to be ‘my’ fault. I’d loaded my collection of fonts from my PC into the FontBook font management software the other day and it wasn’t handling the few thousand fonts that well. So I went into my user resources and just moved all the fonts out, then restarted the machine, and now everthing is fast again. My next quest is to locate the few key fonts I need regularly and install just those, rather than suffering from font overload.

Of course this is my own stupidity, but I also wonder why the Font Book wasn’t managing the fonts as expected. I had turned off all the fonts except a few, but it seems like the system is still looking at all the fonts before it then cross-checks with the font manager to see which ones are active. This seems a bit daft to me – surely if the integrated font management software says ‘this font is off’ then the system should ignore it until told otherwise? Plus that also raises the question – “How many fonts can my Mac run before slowing down?“. There doesn’t seem to be an answer, but I’ll let you know if I find out.

Life on Mac and PC

Having had my new MacBook Pro for a few days I’m finding myself learning more and more of the cute little tips and tricks to make it easier to use. I especially like being able to scroll multi-directionally on the touchpad by using two fingers at once. Very clever. I was also happy to find that once I’d set up a new wireless network, the MacBook found my PC with very few problems – unlike the old days back at Quidnunc in ’96 fighting with third party software.

Of course since I’m not fully migrated over from my PC, I’m having to work on both machines at once and that causes some confusion. Firstly I keep finding myself trying to scroll using two fingers on my PC laptop.. And the other thing that’s really catching me out is using the ‘CTRL’ key for shortcuts rather than the Apple key. The Apple key on my Mac is where the ‘ALT’ key is on my PC – so I keep pressing ‘ALT+C’ to copy instead of ‘CTRL+C’. Although it’s CTRL+A (select all) that’s really bugging me right now…