Friday, July 28, 2006

Mac OS X: Another switcher in the bag

Well after a period of sustained resistence, I finally could cope no longer and am writing this particular entry on my new MacBook via safari. I've had it for a couple of days now and having no real prior experience with Macs besides playing with them in the Mac store it has been nothing short of a revelation.

Yes I had read Cedric's comments prior to my Mac experience and although he raises some valid points, I have to say after 3 days with the machine I'm not sure what took me so long to make this decision.

The experience starts when you get the package with the usual emaculate packaging, from then as soon as you turn on the machine yo notice the attention to detail. Yes some may call the welcome in a million languages cheesy, but you know that somebody out there has spent a lot of time making sure this is a great product. Then you go through the start-up phase and everything "just works". It hooked up to my wireless router with no problems, no fighting with networking settings and drivers like in Windows. Updates were then automatically installed and I was ready to go.

The interface is quite simply light years ahead of Windows and I'm not sure even Vista (yes I've tried the betas) comes anywhere near it. Video is extremely slick with QuickTime and looks simply stunning on the glossy screen and the amount of value you get with the included iLife suite (plus the super cool Front Row) is awesome. After adding the machine to my Windows workgroup it automatically saw the other windows machines on my network and I could start copying data onto it.. no problems.

I then started installed my beloved IDEA (which I had to abandon for Eclipse for a period on Windows because the Sun VM persistently crashed forcing me to fall back to JRocket which I couldn't get to work with IDEA) using the remarkable install process: Download dmg, it automatically (after showing a "are you sure" dialog) loads a window with an IDEA logo in it, Drag-and-drop the IDEA logo to your Applicaiton folder and you're done! No progress bars, no install wizards, amazing. And of course because jdk1.5 comes with Tiger, again all Java apps including Grails "just worked".

One of Cedric's concerns was task switching and I am also a former Task Switch Pro user on Windows, but I gotta say I don't miss it! Expose simply blows all other task switching systems out the window. I'm constantly using it and was quite amazed at one point when I had a QuickTime video playing which shrunk along with the others windows without the video jerking or getting confused. You could continue to watch the video whilst monitoring other processes (like your ant build ;-).

One of the first things I installed was the much vaunted QuickSilver. This application is amazing, I installed the Gmail plugins and can search for an image, resize it, and attach it to an email automatically addressed to somebody in Address book all with a few keystroke combinations. I find the combination of QS and SpotLight mean I very rarely open Finder (like Explorer on windows). No more browsing heirarchies of files looking for the right one, they're all accessible immediately via powerful search combined with expressive QS actions.

So, what don't I like or what do I miss from Windows? Well not a great deal actually. I kind of miss the Windows maximize button as the "zoom" in Mac OS X is just not the same thing and takes some getting used to. Other than that there is not much to miss from the Windows world, everything I need and use is available for the Mac and if I'm desperate I can run Windows via Parallels. I'm really happy with my decision to switch and there is no going back now, not that I would want to!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Groovy/Grails Seminar & Grails 0.2 Release

Little late in blogging about this as I've been a little busy recently, but the Groovy & Grails seminar went splendidly well. The audience were fanstastically enthusiastic and asked some really good questions which prompted some excellent discussion. Overall a great success and I look forward to the next one.

Thanks again for SkillsMatter for hosting it, I had the pleasure of putting some faces to names whilst I was there which was great. The slides that Dierk and I presented can be found here:

Shortly after the seminar we decided to put out Grails 0.2 which is numerous improvements (see the news on the Grails site for details) and features. Thanks to all those who contributed to the release!

PS For the observant out there you will notice that the slides I presented look suspiciously similar to the ones I delivered at JavaOne ;-)