Thumbs downFor the past few weeks, I’ve been waxing poetic about how wonderful my new MacBook is and how fond I am of it. Since I began using a laptops 12 years ago, I can say without a doubt that my new laptop is by far the best laptop I’ve ever owned. I know, I know, I sound like a lovelorn sap who can’t stop talking about his new girlfriend. We’ve all had friends that just won’t shut up about their latest infatuation and I know that, at least here in my weblog, I’m modeling that same behavior. So in an effort to redeem myself, my dear friends, I’ll now share with you the things that I don’t like about the MacBook.

Wi-Fi Drops The Network When On Battery
As long as the laptop is powered by an outlet, the Wi-Fi connection is solid as a rock. Unfortunately, the same thing can’t be said when running on the battery. From time-to-time, the wireless network connection drops without warning. After working for awhile, I’ll find that an instant message, a web page, or an e-mail that I’m trying to send won’t work. Looking up in the menu bar, the network icon is greyed out, showing that there is no connection.

If I pull down the menu and select my office network, which is encrypted, I’m prompted for the password. It’s as if the computer has forgotten that my office network is a preferred network. However, if I turn off the Airport and then turn it back on again, everything goes back to normal. Well, it goes back to normal until another amnesia wave overcomes the Airport and my settings are forgotten again and I have to repeat the procedure.

I’ve been told that there’s a fix on MacOSHints that will resolve the issue, but I’ve been unsuccessful in finding it. I’ve tried enabling “Interference Resistance”, but that doesn’t seem to resolve the issue. I need to test this problem on other networks to make sure that it’s not just my network that’s at issue, but for the time being it’s a real PITA.

The Keyboard Isn’t Backlit
OK, this is a minor grievance, but I do wish the keyboard had backlighting. I’ve never had a laptop with a backlit keyboard and the feature isn’t something that I’d use all that often, but there have been a few occasions where it could have really come in handy.

It is a feature on the MacBook Pro, so I suppose if I needed that feature bad enough, I could always upgrade. One fun thing that I’ve tried is enabling the Caps Lock key, which has a small green LED that illumates the edges of the key and places a small green dot in the upper left corner. It looks really cool and I think it’d look awesome to see the whole keyboard lit this way. Of course the Caps Lock key isn’t really illuminated from a functional standpoint, but it sure does look cool 🙂

The Delete Key Is Really A Backspace Key
Coming from a Windows perspective, I miss having a dedicated Delete key. What’s labeled on the keyboard as “Delete” is really a backspace key. What’s the difference? Well, a backspace key deletes items to the left of the cursor and a delete key deletes text to the right the cursor. Sounds like a minor difference, but if you’re used to being able to edit copy in either direction, it can be a bit of an adjustment.

I’ve talked with fellow Mac users that don’t have the long-term detriment pedigree of Windows, and they find that backspace is enough and many have said that they just don’t see the point of a true delete key. I guess it just depends on what you get use to. For me it just seems easier and faster to have both options, instead of having to move the cursor and then backspace.

Now I did discover that if I hold down the “fn” key, the “delete” key becomes a true delete key, so it’s not that I don’t have a workaround. I don’t like having to use two keys, but that’s a minor inconvenience. I’m already doing it with “ctrl” and the mouse button to get a right click, so it’s a fairly easy adjustment to make.

Home & End Keys Are Different
While on the subject of keys that don’t work like I expect them to, the “home” and “end” keys are a little different. They are paired with the cursor keys and through a combination of “fn”, “ctrl” and “option”, I can get them to work, but again, not like I’m used to.

When I think of the “home” key, I think that the button is going to take me to the top of the page. Here’s the key combinations and functions that are available:

  • fn + home = top of the page, but the cursor stays where it was. I can see the top of the page, but I have to take the additional step of a mouse click to put the cursor there.
  • ctrl + home = moves the cursor to the beginning of the line
  • option + moves the cursor one word back

Like the “delete” key, this is a minor issue at best, but if you do a lot of typing and tend to be more keyboard based than mouse based, you’ll find these little things annoying.

Applications Don’t Close
There is a fundamental difference in how Windows and Mac handle the closing of applications. Coming from a Windows perspective, I’m used to closing an application by clicking the “X” button at the top right corner of the window. On the Mac, it’s on the left, but I was expecting the same experience and it’s quite a bit different.

For 90% of the applications out there, if you close the application by clicking on the “X” button, all you’re doing is closing the window, not the application. For the 10% that do exit the application, it is because the app only uses one window. Since the other 90% use multiple windows, the application stays running. Mac users don’t see a problem with this, but if you’re coming from a Windows experience, then it can be a little bit unsettling.

The workaround is easy enough though, Cmd+Q will close the application and now that I’ve found QuickSilver, I’m finding that I’m using the keyboard more than ever.

So there you have it! My list of things that bug me about my MacBook. It’s a pretty short list considering that I’ve been living now for three weeks on only the laptop. Most of the items are pretty minor and the only one of any consequence is the network drop glitch, but I think there’s a fix out there. I just have to take the time to find it. In the mean time, I’ll just continue slamming and jamming on the best laptop I’ve ever owned. 🙂