Top 10 things I hate about my new macbook

I got a new macbook last month. It’s a nice machine, with 160GB Hard Drive, 2 GB RAM, and Parallels 2.5 and Vista preinstalled. I was ready for switching to be a little bit of a hassle. But I really wasn’t expecting to still hate my mac, more than a month into owning it! Here’s my top 10 gripes.
1) It crashes. At least once a day (the screen says “you must restart your computer now” in about 5 languages). Friends say this is likely a hardware problem: I’ll be calling applecare (1-800-APL-CARE) tomorrow to try to get to the bottom of this.
After rebooting, it puts up a dialog box which asks if I would like to report the problem to apple / find out more about the problem. A nice thought. However, pushing the button does absolutely nothing!
2) No gtalk. Seriously, WTF? I rely *heavily* on gtalk. I use it not just for chat but also as a simple way of exchanging files, and as a way of having quick voice conversations. How, in mid-2007, does gtalk for mac not exist? Is there some back-story involving software licencing issues that I’m not aware of? Is google worried about apple as competition? This is a seriously lame thing about the mac, and it seems to be entirely google’s fault.
3) The software installation process is just weird. After installation, you often have to copy your entire application over to the “Applications” folder. Excuse me, shouldn’t an installer do this?
4) The mac approach is to have a top menu for an application that appears at the top of the screen (above the main rectangle of the application). Unfortunately, this really sucks if you’re using multiple monitors. Your main app is on your nice big LCD screen, but the top menu for it is over on the other monitor!
5) Weird modal problems that are not apple’s fault, but still suck if you are transitioning from windows. For example, when you are in the file chooser, a windows user is used to pressing the “return” key to open the directory and move down to the next level. On OS X, this action selects the current directory and closes the dialog box!
6) The wide-screen format of the macbook is seriously constraining. It’s hard to design or even to read a decent chunk of a document without having to scroll.
7) That pretty white laptop gets dirty *really* fast. Black is an 150$ feature that I actually wish I had bought, not for fashion reasons, but just because it wouldn’t look grungy. White is a terrible color for a product that gets daily use like this.
8) The power adapter requires a ground (my ex-house had many 2-prong outlets. Fortunately, my new pad in SF does not have this problem, so this is less of an issue for me now than it was 2 days ago).
9) Requires special dongle for connecting to a VGA Monitor. Pretty much every monitor except the ones you buy from apple are VGA.
10) No built-in support for right-click (two-button mouse). I realize I can attach an external mouse for this, and I also realize that ctrl + click = right click. But still: I want that button!
Looking at this list, at least half the problems are hardware problems (maybe more, if #1 turns out to be a faulty hardware issue). So if only I could buy a thinkpad that would run OS-X, I’d be pretty happy! Sigh…

12 thoughts on “Top 10 things I hate about my new macbook

  1. Ed Gibbs July 15, 2007 / 10:20 pm

    Crashing once a day is some sort of hardware issue. Crashes do happen, but they’re rare.
    GTalk is just using the Jabber protocol so you can use Adium on the Mac, it’s a very nice IM client.
    Most apps the whole install is drag it onto the Applications folder. There really is no install step. I’m guessing you’re missing install wizards?
    The two button mouse is done by tapping with two fingers on the trackpad. It seems weird at first but actually works really well.
    Hope this helps with some of your switching pains.

  2. Ayush July 16, 2007 / 12:02 am

    I was experiencing those crashes also when i first started using my macbook, they only happened while using/running parallels, since then ive switched to using ‘Tiny XP’ in parallels instead of regular XP and those crashes have stopped entirely.
    if you attach an external LCD and use that as your primary monitor u can drag the top menu bar to the External instead of the Laptop.

  3. Alfred Juarez July 16, 2007 / 1:52 am

    Well first of all is nice that you got a mac, but there are some things that should be weird for you if you’re coming from windows. here is my short list trying to solve your problems.
    1.- Thats true, its called “kernel panic” and is something like the BSOD (Blue Screen Of the Dead coming from windows). You should call apple to ask for technical support.
    2.- Yes, there is no Gtalk application from Google, but you can use iChat, Google had a tutorial to do it here: http://www.google.com/support/talk/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=24076.
    3.- This is funny, i think this way is easiest than using an installer. But this is just my point of view.
    4.- lol, nothing to say here…
    5.- Yeah, this is just another point of view…You need time to get it.
    6.- nothing to say…
    7.- Its true, this point really sucks, i agree..
    8.- ….
    9.- It really sucks..
    10.- lol, but yeah you can use the right click with an external mouse, just go to System Preferences, and select the keyboard & Mouse option, then select the Mouse tab, and choose the secondary Button at the combo box.
    Thats all for now.. see ya..and have a nice day.. =)

  4. Chris Craft July 16, 2007 / 6:24 am

    A couple of thoughts…
    You say you hate these things about your mac, which seems a bit unfair. It’s not Apple’s fault Google hasn’t put out Gtalk. Incidentally, you’re aware of the Gtalk flash version that does work, as well as iChat’s ability to work over the jabber network, right?
    Also, as for right click, you do know that you can put two fingers on the track pad and click to right click, right? Just put two fingers somewhere down on the pad and click.
    As for installations, all you have to do is drag the icon over a few “feet” and it’s done.
    I find the Mac to be a pleasant platform, and I trust you will as well once you get the frustrating hardware problem fixed.
    Yours,
    Chris Craft

  5. Tink July 16, 2007 / 8:20 am

    2. You can use Gtalk with Adium on your macbook though.
    3. I dont get this prob with software. i mount the disc image and it then installs into my application folder.
    5. Its a diff system. you just need to get used to it.
    6. I would have thought any 13″ screen would be constrainging. should have got yourself a macbook pro.
    9. Where the hell you getting your monitors from? All monitors nowadays are DVI.
    10. you soon leave to always have one hand on the keyboard and therefore right click doesn’t become a problem.

  6. rich July 16, 2007 / 10:13 am

    i have a white macbook too and i wish i had paid extra for the black one. the area where my palms rest on the keyboard are looking quite nasty. btw, not sure if this will help you, but there’s an option to use two fingers on the trackback to pull up the right-click options. i use it all the time and love it. a lot better than using the control key.

  7. Jon July 16, 2007 / 11:06 am

    Adium
    1) doesn’t support voice chat
    2) Seemed to require some other open-source service to run (forget what it was called, but it looked pretty cludgy)
    Thanks for the tip on right-clicking! Very handy…

  8. Jon July 16, 2007 / 11:33 am

    Wow, I touched a nerve! Hi everybody …
    So I’m very excited by the parallels tip. I’m trying to just NOT RUN PARALLELS full-stop and see if that removes the kernel panic. I have this suspicion that it is parallels fault … I can imagine the VM accessing some memory it wasn’t supposed to and causing havoc very easily. I’ll also try upgrading to parallels 3.0 and report back.
    p.s. I’m running Vista under parallels: maybe I should try “switching” to tinyXP?
    David: I switched to get factory-installed UNIX. It performs as expected (using MacPorts for a package management system).
    Chris: A computer is a platform. It is judged by the software that is available to run on it. So “fault” is irrelevant (though seriously, wtf is google up to? They have 12000 employees now, surely one of them is capable of this project).
    Ed: replied to you above.
    Alfred: “Yeah, this is just another point of view…You need time to get it.” pretty much sums up my situation. Thanks for detailed reponse!
    Ayush: thanks for tip on top nav.
    Rich: Your quote “the area where my palms rest on the keyboard are looking quite nasty” should be forwarded to ALL who are considering buying a white macbook. Seriously, it already looks like a piece of construction equiptment or something. Can I really take a laptop that looks this dirty to a business meeting?
    Tink: One monitor is a ViewSonic 19″ (bought from Frys Electronics). The other came with a Dell desktop. The 19″ is a year old, the 17″ is two years old.

  9. Ryan July 17, 2007 / 10:04 pm

    re: #4, you can designate either monitor as your “main display”. That’s where the system menu will appear. As I recall, this feature is not entirely obvious (it drove me crazy as well), but look carefully at the options in System Preferences -> Displays and you’ll figure it out.
    Sorry I can’t give you more specific instructions, but I’m on a Mac Mini with a single monitor at the moment.

  10. Manish Jethani August 1, 2007 / 10:10 am

    I’m using Adium (starting today) on a friend’s recommendation. Otherwise I was using the web-based Google Talk.
    As for your complaints, I had the same reaction when I switched: yes, OS X is weird in so many ways. I’ve gotten used to it now but it’s still a bit of a pain (after so many years of Windows and KDE/GNOME).

  11. Ed August 9, 2007 / 9:39 pm

    I planned to buy a macbook, but the more I looked at it the less I liked it. In addition to the things you mentioned: grunge, one button trackpad (which are both things I didn’t like but felt I could live with), my list has the following:
    1. No media reader (no macs have them)
    2. Only 2 usb ports (pc notebook’s typically have 3 or 4)
    3. No expansion port (no pc notebook in this price range lacks this basic necessity)
    4. Slot drive. There is no good reason to put a slot drive in a notebook other than form over function. You can’t use disks with labels, you can’t use the mini dvd’s that many camcorders produce and you can’t use the mini cd’s that come with many peripherals. Over time the slot drive is likely to scratch disks as its dust barrier gets brittle and/or dusty. On top of that the drives are finicky about media – they need Verbatim, and maybe Maxell, or else they default to only 2.4x dvd write speed.
    5. The edge bites into my wrist. Nearly every other notebook maker makes the front edge thin and/or rounded for ergonomic reasons. But again apple chooses form over function. They like the thicker look with a clean finish when the clamshell is closed. So the front edge is higher off the table and relatively sharp.
    6. This one’s not that big a deal, but I just don’t like the feel or the size of the trackpad.
    7. The macbook screen is dim and low contrast, in my opinion. The macs are always separated from pc’s at the store so it’s hard to compare. But the blacks don’t stand out and the colors don’t look as deep as either the macbook pro or comparably priced pc notebooks. Again this is just my opinion.
    Apple is selling a ton of these things, so maybe I’m just a complainer. I hope you are happy with your mac in the long run. But although I wanted to get a macbook, I just couldn’t overlook a list of negatives this long.

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