Friday, July 08, 2005

It's alive!

I'm typing this on the new PowerBook. I had good timing -- the backlight on the Thinkpad simply wouldn't come on after I returned to the office this afternoon, and so it is attached to an external monitor. I'm in the process of transferring my files over to the Mac. It's going smoothly at the Mac end, less smoothly at the Thinkpad end. This is perhaps to be expected.

I'm impressed. Out of the box, things just worked. I didn't have to fiddle at all to get the networking to go; I didn't have to do any tricks to attach to the mail server; I didn't once dive into the /etc subtree. I'm still getting used to the general feel, and will probably do some things inefficiently for a while. On the other hand, I actually used the NeXT labs at UM for a while, and I've on-and-off run the GNUStep system on top of Linux, so it's not like the system setup is totally unfamiliar. All in all, there are only a few flies in the ointment, and they're pretty minor:

  • Why does OS X Tiger come with a non-graphical Emacs? I can download a nice flashy Emacs, but including only a terminal window version as the default seems perverse.
  • The development kit doesn't include any flavor of Fortran compiler. I understand why -- the GNU Fortran tools are in a transition phase where g77 is leaving, to be replaced by the F95-friendly gfortran. But it's still inconvenient.
  • I compiled HiQLab, and it failed to pass my system tests! I don't know what's going wrong, exactly, but I got my first MATLAB crash the first time I tried to run the MATLAB version of HiQLab. The standalone version didn't make it through the test suite, either -- but it made it part through in a really weird way. Compiling the MEX file was an enormous pain, but I knew it would be.
  • It seems strange to me that you'd drop the CD into the trash to eject it. Now, in this version of the OS the trash can turns into an eject button, so I have a reminder, but it's still not the metaphor I'd have chosen.
  • I can't see jsMath on my web pages! It gets filled in by blank space under Safari. Maybe the thing to do is to go back to Firefox, but I'm sad that my super-portable method of incorporating math into web pages is not so portable as I thought.
  • I've discovered during the process of the data transfer that along with all its other woes, the Thinkpad suffered some file system corruption. This has complicated the transfer.

I just wish I'd done this a little sooner so that I could have had more leisure to get switched over. I leave Monday for my next trip, and I really have things that I ought to do before then other than monkeying around with a new computer. Not more entertaining things, mind, just things that pose imminent threats that might eat me if I ignore them.