Wednesday, January 13

"Mac" Gyver

Do you remember that old series? An adventure every episode, and you got to look at Richard Dean Anderson, too. He was the "go to" guy for the Phoenix Foundation. "Mac" could do almost anything with a Swiss Army Knife and a roll of duct tape, and make it look easy. My new Macbook pro is so much fun, and so full of neat, user-friendly applications, that it's become my "go to" tool. My MacGyver.

The touchpad, for example. Unlike most laptop touchpads, on the Macbook it is not a soft touch, rubbery texture, but rather a glass plate, about 3" square, give or take. Yes, just a glass plate. And no pressure is required to navigate with it. It recognizes even the slightest touch of my fingers. And even more amazing is that it knows whether I'm using 1, 2, or 3 fingers. A single digit operates the cursor. Two digits scrolls the screen up or down, and three can be used to flip through applications. Okay, I'm not very good with three yet, but I'm getting there. But how cool is that? I don't even need to have the cursor on the scroll bar; just the fact that I'm using two fingers instead of one tells Mac what I want to do.

I've also adjusted the settings so that I don't even need to pressure click to select an option. No clicking necessary. I just tap on something twice "tap tap" and it's selected. I love that.

And I love the docking thingie at the bottom of the screen. All the stuff I use all the time is displayed on this shelf at the bottom of the screen. I just tap tap on the icon for the application I want, no need to minimize what I'm working in, and the icon sort of bounces in place, like it's all excited that it got picked for the team or something (remember the Teri Hatcher character, Penny, on the show?), and then pops right open. And I can adjust what shows up on the dock. For example, the default applications included things like Garage Band (I think you can play music on it or something?) and Photo Booth, which I don't anticipate using regularly, if at all. But I like the Stickies (like the 3M notepaper, except not) to show there because it's a handy place to store frequently accessed but not really confidential information like my library card number.

And there's a ready-to-go back up application which I haven't actually used yet, but theoretically should back stuff up to an external drive.

It has something something called a Keychain which I'm still figuring out how to use, but is essentially a passworded application for storing other passwords. And if you consider how many dag blame passwords we need these days, you can see how useful that would be. If I'm reading it right, there's even the option for another layer of security for those really confidential numbers.

Another handy feature is the "downloads" display. Tap tap and anything I've downloaded, audio, photos, documents, fans out in a semi-transparent diplay so I can easily find them. And it's right there on the right hand side of my dock; no need to go through layers of menus to find out where I stored something. I need to find out how long stuff shows up there. Forever? Or maybe it's just the X number of recent downloads? Gotta read up on that.

Also over there on the right hand side is the Application and Documents menus. Tap tap and and I get a menu of all my applications. It looks something like a Windows Control Panel, except sharper, the icons more obvious. Tap tap on Documents, and what appears looks something like the iTunes menu, but displays what, on Windows, is probably the "My Computer" menu.

It has ports for USB cables, thumb drives, and - get this - the power cord attaches with magnets so if it gets stepped on, it will come away easily and not send the whole laptop crashing to the ground. It also has a series of tiny green lights that show the battery lever when press there.

But I still don't know where the speakers are. Haven't found the Swiss Army Knife or duct tape, either.