Recently I upgraded from a white 13" Macbook, which was the only thing I could afford when I bought it, to an aluminum 15" Macbook Pro. When I had the Macbook, I purchased a mini-DVI to VGA connector; a proprietary Apple product that allowed me to have VGA-out without sacrificing the small form factor of the Macbook.
When I sold my Macbook, I kept this adapter, assuming that it would work with my new Macbook Pro. Maybe I should have done my homework, but I finally discovered the truth yesterday when I had to make a presentation on my laptop. I had my adapter in hand, and was about to connect it to the laptop, when it just wouldn't go. I must have looked like an idiot because I started trying every single port possible… at one point I was trying to jam it into the ethernet port, and that's when I had to give up.
I was disappointed, to say the least. There's no reason why the old mini-DVI port wouldn't fit the current design of the aluminum unibody Macbook. Apple just had to come up with something better, and I was left to make the presentation with a small crowd seated in a semi-circle behind me, hoping that my laptop screen would be large enough for them all. My one saving grace was that my presentation was not a sequence of slides or a lot of visuals. I was just sharing some information, and for the most part, talking… but it was still embarrassing.
While I'm on the topic of gripes, I hate the fact that my Macbook pro has only 2 USB ports. 2!!! How am I supposed to use a laptop in 2010 with only 2 USB ports? To make matters worse, when I plug in my clunky Verizon broadband modem, for working on the go, I can't plug in anything else, because the adjacent port is half-obscured. I carry around a small USB hub to help my situation, but even that can't be plugged in when I'm using my modem. My wife's smaller, much cheaper Dell Inspiron has 3 ports, and it's on the low end of the Inspiron spectrum.
But my gripes about the hardware are minor; what I really can't stand these days is Finder. If there is one thing Finder is horrible at doing, it's finding things. The search feature pales in comparison to the Windows Explorer search that comes with Windows Vista & Windows 7. In Windows, I can find anything quickly and easy, even when searching a terabyte of data in a non-indexed location like an external drive. And the results look great, are easy to sort, and can be viewed in a variety of ways. Finder isn't like that at all. When I'm in a folder and I start typing a search, it starts searching my entire Mac every time. I always have to select "search this folder," even though being in that folder should make it obvious that I want to search that folder. To make matters worse, searching by file name is always a lot harder than it should be, and searches tend to be very slow, sometimes not working at all. I can't explain why it fails to find files that I know are present, but it does. And as I continue to do my work on my laptop, and have more and more important files to find, the shortcomings of Finder continue to eat further and further into my productivity. That's just search; don't even get me started on how lousy the views are… I mean, why even have Coverflow at all?
This is one of those areas where Apple just doesn't think very practical in their product design; while I like my Macbook a lot, and I don't intend to go back to plastic laptops, ever, I'm continually frustrated by things that seem to shout for necessary improvement, but continue to go unchanged by Apple. And as much as I wish there were more competition to offer me a better alternative, there just isn't. I need a sturdy laptop in a small form factor that runs Unix under the hood and has well-designed software (like Coda, which I use every single day). If there is something out there that offers all that, without the shortcomings I've mentioned here, I'd love to try it. In the meantime, I better get myself a new mini-DVI adapter.