Monday, April 18, 2011

Return to the Dark Side

In 1984 my father brought home our first computer. From the year you should be able to guess what it was. In '89 my most used system changed to the new Good Guys(TM): MS-dos, later know as the Bad Guys(TM): M$-Windoze. Being able to play better games was the main reason for that change. Later, 1995 or so a friend brought some disks he had got of a BBS with something called GNU/Linux. For the next ten years I used Linux almost exclusively, including my early years at university and in my research. However, it eventually became apparent that you cannot do research on Linux alone. You need Microsoft Word, and you need EndNote. In addition, you would rather like to have Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator as well.

For years I either double-booted with both MS-Windows and Linux, or, had several computers in parallel. The idea was to have one for heavy work, like statistics and dual-boot it for Windows-programs like Word and Photoshop. Then another computer for most other things. This other computer would run Linux only and be quite small, a netbook, as they later became known as. The result was that I had to bring both computers most of the time. That was a good idea that turned out horribly wrong.

I didn't consider Apple for years, it was expensive, didn't run games and wasn't GNU (If you don't know why that matters, just ignore it). Then I bought a iPhone 4, upgrading directly from a phone with buttons that could send SMS and make phone-calls (Yes, I am a late adopter). And it was slick. As slick as I remembered thinking the Apple Macintosh Plus was in its time. It was easier to check mail with the iPhone than to use the computer. One thing led to another, and yesterday my 13 inch MacBook Pro arrived.

That's enough personal history for one post. The rest is the mandatory setup-story: How to migrate from Linux/Windows dual-boot with Linux-on-the-side to OSX Snow Leopard.

All my old files were easily copied by way of a couple of 1TB USB hard-drives. The hard part was consolidating the three different versions of the project-folders from different computers. For file-organization I opted to keep my age-old folder hierarchy and using the Desktop-folder as root so that I get easily accessible icons. Basically, I have a "job" folder for work-related stuff, and a "div"-folder for other stuff. I then linked the Pictures, Download, Documents, Public and Dropbox folders to the desktop as well. In bash and emacs it makes for a longer path (/Users/user/Desktop/job vs. /home/user/job), but otherwise I think it will be easier.

The Apple backup-facility: "Time Machine" is a dream to setup. It needs no explanation, just use it.

Email was easily imported as mbox-files and, I guess, most other formats too. It automatically handles gmail, appropriately compared to other accounts. It is well built and apparently handles my 15000+ mail-archive without any particular complaints.

Syncing with my iPhone got all my contacts and calendars automagically transferred. Brilliant.

Adobe programs are in essence designed for aApple so they pose no problems, so far. I got CS5 Design Premium to get Illustrator, Photoshop and Bridge (the rest are a bonus). Note that image analysis functionality only is included in Photoshop extended, thus Premium.

MS Word, Powerpoint and Excel are necessary. The Apple variants Pages, Keynote and Numbers are probably nice, but from experience the compatibility is not good enough. I got Microsoft Office 2011.

Then the problems started. EndNote X4, does not work with Word 2011 under OSX. You have to update to 4.0.2, and activate Cite-While-You-Write again in EndNote "Customizations". This may be enough but you might have to copy the "EndNote CWYW Word 2011.bundle"-subdirectory from the CWYW subdirectory to the Word Startup directory in the Office directory. And, then you have to activate the Startup directory for Word under "Preferences - File locations".

(If you didn't know what GNU was earlier, then you can stop reading now. The rest is qualified nerdery.)

One fantastic thing, which I hadn't realized, is that OSX uses proper movement-bindings by default. C-f, C-b, C-n, C-p, C-a, C-e etcetera move the cursor as they should. As usual the Microsoft applications do not conform by default, but it can be fixed. In Word open "Tools - Customize Keyboard" and look for EndOfLine, StartOfLine, LineUp, LineDown, CharLeft, CharRight and EditClear. You have to look under "All Commands", but you can type the first few letters to search. Then just add the proper bindings. Even C-k can be made to work by selecting "Tools - Macros" and creating a new macro with the lines:

Selection.EndKey Unit:=wdLine, Extend:=wdExtend

Put them just before the "End Sub" line. Then you go back to Customize Keyboard and set your key-binding.

Emacs is always a bit of a chore to install on any new system. You have to get your bindings just so, and get all your local enhancements to work as they always have (emacs-users are conservative that way, not like the insanely fundamentalist vi-users, but still). The first thing to do is always (setq inhibit-splash-screen t). The splash-screen is a Bad Thing(TM). Then the best way is to use the Apple command-key as Meta since the Macintosh uses both Alt-keys for character-bindings, i.e.

(setq mac-option-key-is-meta nil)
(setq mac-command-key-is-meta t)
(setq mac-command-modifier 'meta)
(setq mac-option-modifier nil)

Today OSX (and most good systems) use UTF-8 as the default character coding system. You can make sure that this works by setting

(set-terminal-coding-system 'utf-8)
(set-keyboard-coding-system 'utf-8)
(prefer-coding-system 'utf-8)

I found the easiest way to install packages was to just place them in my user's site-lisp directory and use load-path for each one. The user site-lisp directory is: "~/.emacs.d/site-lisp/". Then I pretty much copy-pasted my old .emacs and everything seems to be working splendidly.

Caps-lock is Evil, the button to the left of "A" should be a control-key. Luckily, you can change your modifier keys under "System preferences - Keyboard - Modifier Keys".

I end with a short note of thanks to those who wrote the web-pages and manuals where I found many of these hints. I'm sorry to say I didn't save the references while I did the setup, so I have no idea where I stole the ideas from.