I ended up changing my return flight from Chicago to Denver because of the chaos from last week's huge snow-storm. By the time I got back early yesterday morning all seemed back to normal--and FedEx had attempted three deliveries of my new MacBook Pro. I went to pick it up yesterday, and when he handed me the package I peered suspiciously at the label as I hefted it, amazed at its small size and lightness. I was used to my Dells coming in near-cubic-meter boxes with respectable weight. The label seemed to be right, but I opened the package in the car, anyway. Inside I found an even more svelte box, with the unmistakable goods. Consumer Reports won't be dishing out a Golden Cocoon award to Apple any time soon, and that's a very good thing. I took a few pictures too (see below) of the out-of-box-experience, using my Dell Inspiron 8600 for comparison. The MacBook is much thinner and a bit lighter, and about the same in the other dimensions, despite having a 17" widescreen to the Dell's 15". I just hope I won't miss the Dell's WUXGA resolution too dearly.
My first moves were to install Firefox and Thunderbird. I've done a lot of research while waiting for the new computer and Tim's and Mark's public repudiation of some of the more proprietary aspects of Mac's bundled tools resonated strongly with me. The arguments that Mozilla interfaces were non-Aqua and thus ugly are completely uninteresting to me. I don't subscribe to the school of thought that only Apple is capable of good interface design. More importantly, I've used Safari and Mail.app quite a bit, and I don't really like their UI. I personally find them rather patronizing. In the end, the only reason I made the switch to Mac is that I've come to believe that I can make My Mac serve me, rather than turning me into a servant of The Great Mac Cause. Being able to install cross-platform tools for my basic work was a bit like erecting my flag of independence, to be a bit florid. Anyway I considered Camino but the incompatibility with FF extensions, including the likes of ScrapBook and Web developer tools was a show-stopper for me. I might still install Camino and even Flock. I'm all for browser polygamy.
The next thing I grabbed was Virtue Desktops (Thanks, Graham). Sorry but I can't work with all my windows crammed into one room. It seems Apple realizes the need for these as well, and is preparing the feature for Leopard. Unfortunately Virtue, and AFAICT Apple Spaces are far more limited than virtual desktop technology I'm used to. They work on the principle that each app is assigned to a "space", rather than each window. So my usual setup of having a set of Firefox windows with tabs for regular browsing, and another for client-related browsing, and another for OSS work isn't supported. I can probably get around this for browsing by using a few different browser apps, but I think this will be a real problem in the case of iTerm. I usually have a terminal window or two in each of my "spaces". I also need to find some more keyboard shortcuts for Virtue. shift-tab...arrow keys...enter is a tad too much.
I grabbed iTerm right away because I need tabs. I did find WidgetTerm, a neat Dashboard version of iTerm (no tabs, though). Dashboard is slick. I can't wait till I have some time to go hunting for widgets, and maybe even hacking up some of my own. Hope I can do so in Python.
I chose Vienna as Web feed reader. I'd have been OK paying for NetNewswire, but not on all their dubious terms . I need to quickly figure out IRC and IM (Jabber, AIM and Yahoo), and I'm finding this a bit of a murky area. AdiumX gets some great notices but some of my colleagues warned me of it because of some lingering show-stopper bugs. I'd also love to have IRC and IM in the same app. I'm guessing I'll end up trying a bunch of stuff to find what works for me. Oh well. I'm also presently trying to work out ssh-agent. I found this resource I plan to try. Then will come the hard part: my development set up. I'll be looking for an overview of Python and C dev tools on the Mac, preferably one that evaluates a broad variety of options. I think I'm going to try giving up emacs again, so I'll be checking out good stand-alone text editors. I might even go as far as trying an IDE or two. I got great advice on dev setup in comments to "Time for Mac".
A couple of annoyances I'll have to research more are lack of right click on the touchpad and an occasional disappearing mouse cursor. We ordered Lori's Intel Mac with a wireless keyboard and its mouse had right click as well as a very neat scroll button. I hope I won't be forced to use an external mouse on my notebook: I hate holding down ctrl for context menu. And sometimes the mouse cursor seems to disappear for a second or two. I'm trying to narrow down what triggers this. It's not a huge deal, but sometimes an annoying obstacle.
All in all I'm getting a god vibe about my choice. If nothing else, the energy that comes from shaking up my routine is refreshing. Thanks to all who have given such useful advice, either directly to me, or in the many general, on-line resources.