The famous Apple "halo" effect has won another serious follower.

Several years ago I bought an iPod classic. A while later Dennis bought a newer iPod classic (with a colour screen). Then Dennis got an iPhone. (Which is a delightful bit of hardware, but for productivity reasons I'm still sold on my Blackberry.)

And then I bought a Canon 5D Mark II camera. (Not an Apple product, but bear with me...) It's a Single Lens Reflex camera that produces glorious 1080p30 High Definition video. Video that my PC couldn't play, let alone edit. And hence, when it came time to think about getting a new PC and I could have considered a "PC", I was instead drawn to a new environment... and hence I now have a Mac Pro along with a copy of Final Cut Studio for video editing.

On the whole, switching to a Mac has been easy. First up: if you are thinking about switching to a Mac, remember that changing operating systems has its confusing moments.

For example:

  • I just went back and fixed a typo in this blog posting and then, without thinking, tried pressing the "end" key to get back to the end of the line - which doesn't do the same thing on a Mac.
  • Double clicking on the top of a window doesn't maximise it: it shrinks it.
  • The main menus are always at the  top of the screen instead of the top of your current window.
  • Closing windows doesn't close applications: so if you don't realise this you end up with a lot of applications still running
  • Installing programs can be a little bit weird: often simpler, but weird, since sometimes you just drag an application into a folder, sometimes you get a file that thinks it's a disk, sometimes there's an install program, sometimes there isn't. But you rarely seem to end up with an installation that scatters hundreds of DLL files on your drive and does intrusive things to your registry, etc..

If you are prepared to accept that some things work just a little differently and get someone patient to guide you (or read Apple's guidance for Windows users) you find a lovely integrated environment.

A whole bunch of my favourite programs have Mac versions -- it's not like I even have to find an equivalent program: my favourite software providers already support the Mac themselves. It's like they realised that somebody like me would be drawn to the Mac one day.

These include:
  • Canon Digital Photo Professional software (for editing my Camera's Raw images)
  • Nikon Coolscan software (for my film scanner)
  • Bibble (Raw camera editor, which complements Canon's software)
  • DIM (for copying and renaming images)
  • Lotus Notes (for email, running my blog and wikis etc.)
  • Readerware (for book cataloguing)
  • Open Office/NeoOffice/Symphony (and if I really wanted it, Microsoft Office)
  • VMWare Fusion (which lets me run work based Virtual Machines on my Mac, or run a Bootcamp installation of Windows inside my Mac instead of dual booting, or Linux)

The only program I really feel I'm missing is Photools' iMatch program: and for the time being I will run it via Fusion. Once upon a time I would also have wanted Paintshop Pro, but whilst I used to love it, I've come to hate it since Corel took it over and turned it into a slow and unreliable program, so I'm not stressed that it won't run on a Mac.

I'm teaching myself video editing with Final Cut Studio. High level video editing is a little like brain surgery: it takes a long time to understand what all the options are and how not to make a mess. I've tried this before with Adobe Premiere under Windows. Both times I've done it carefully: done a lot of reading, read stuff on the web, taken notes to help me learn as I try things out. Admittedly the technology has moved a long way since I tried to learn Premiere under Windows 5-6 years ago. But my experience with Final Cut Studio on the Mac has been streets ahead. Whereas the Windows/Premiere combination seemed to go out of its way to fail (or to fail to explain to me what I was doing wrong), FInal Cut Studio seems to be much more likely to simply work. I'm not saying it's easy. It's not. (Going to a class would probably be a very good idea if you weren't already familiar with video editing.) But here are two examples of it being nice:
  • I chose a video format for my project. I thought I knew what I was doing. When I imported my first clip, Final Cut told me my clip was slightly different to the format I had chosen and offered to change my project's settings to match my clip. Nice. Premiere would have given me an error.
  • I wanted to find a control. With my old release of Premiere this led to fruitless hunts to find a tiny icon that I could see in my books but not on my screen. In Final Cut I went to Help and typed the name of the control and it directly opened up the relevant menu item(s) thus not only telling me the answer to my question, but showing me as well.

Now: I'm being a little unfair on Premiere because I'm familiar with an older release from more primitive times.

But I do like my Mac.

Image:I’m a Mac
Photo taken on the banks of Merri Creek on 10th May 2009.

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Anthony Holmes May 24th, 2009 10:19:28 PM

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