Taking a new approach

Well, those of you who've seen me at the various No Fluff Just Stuff shows probably already knew this was coming, but today I finally made the switch, bought a Mac, and started the (rather scary) experiment of converting my IT life over to a brand new operating system, something I haven't done in close to two decades. (Not since I bought my first 286 PC, in fact, back in high school.) I am now the new owner of a 17" MacBookPro (4GB, 1900x1200 matte, for those who want such details), and I'm slowly starting the transition.

Thus far, the Mac experience isn't all that exciting--I unwrapped the box, plugged the thing into the wall outlet (hey, now there's a switch--Macs come with pre-powered batteries, it seems), booted and walked through the opening steps of Mac OS X. (Don't ask me which version it is--I honestly don't know yet, nor do I know how to find out. I will, in time, but for now...) Vaguely reminiscent of Vista's installation (or maybe that should be the other way around), if a touch smoother.

Next steps, install iWork, so I can see if it's the Office-killer that some of my Mac-zealot friends say it is, install Firefox (because Safari just doesn't work for me, not even for the fifteen minutes I spent using it), and purchase VMWare Fusion. This is the secret to my $4000 experiment--I don't have to switch over completely in one day, because I have everything I do bundled up in VMWare images (one for Java work, one for .NET 2005 work, one for NetFX 3 work, one for playing-around-with-new-programming-languages work, and so on), so as long as VMWare images are cross-compatible between Intel Macs and Intel PCs, I'm good.

Unfortunately, this isn't going to be quite as smooth as I'd hoped; I'd forgotten that the Mac OS and Windows don't exactly share the same filesystem--Windows prefers NTFS (and has for years now), but apparently the Mac OS doesn't have write capabilities to NTFS. This presents a small problem, as my external 160GB USB drives are all NTFS-formatted. So I can suck the images off the drives, but can't write to them. Ugh. Possible salvation lies in the Ext2FS filesystem, which apparently is supported (through open-source efforts) on both Mac OS and Windows. I'll pick up a new 160GB drive, format it Ext2FS, and see how well it works on both machines.

(Curious readers may wonder why I need a filesystem that's writable in both directions; frankly, I need the full-fidelity because I'm not entirely convinced of the sanity of this move just yet, and I want to be able to go back if I need or want to. In fact, I'm going to be carrying the trusty T42p around with me, snuggled right up against the MBP, for a few months yet.)

So, as I write this, I'm running my "Work" guest image on top of VMWare Fusion. (Had to buy the upgrade to VMWare Workstation 6 in order to support the move to Fusion, since Fusion uses the hardware format of Workstation 6. Besides, Fusion/6 has some support for DirectX, and yes, I'm also interested in getting some games installed in here and playing around that way too. :-) ) I have to say, I really don't care for the touchpad, having spent the last half-decade training my index finger to use the nipple on the Thinkpads, but I picked up a Bluetooth mouse for serious work sessions, and like all good mice, it has two buttons. (Anybody know how to emulate a right-mouse-button-click on a MacBookPro?)

Fortunately as well, I have friends who are serious Macophiles, and I'm sure they will take my n00b questions with patience and understanding... since it's their fault I'm here anyway. :-)

Wish me luck....