The Macbook Pro’s Best Party Tricks

May 22, 2006

There are a couple of things that are particularly fun about the MacBook Pro, even for the most jaded Mac user.

First of course is the Windows-in-a-window trick. Since I use Desktop Manger to keep a handful of virtual desktops around, I just run Parallels Desktop on a virtual desktop of it’s own. Desktop Manager uses the same visualization effects that Fast User Switching does, and it’s always fun to watch people’s heads snap around when you click on the desktop pager, and it does the rotating cube thing to swing around to a copy of Windows.

Next up is Front Row. I got away with my sweetie last weekend, and of course (being geeks) one of the first things to do in the hotel was to set up the notebooks and get online to check e-mail. When that was done, she said “Darn — I didn’t bring any DVDs, did you?” Having anticipated the question a bit, I clicked the little Front Row remote from across the room, and a few seconds later we were all set with a selection of movies I’d stashed on the hard drive. Who’s the alpha geek now, baby?

Last but not least, now that I’ve got a little more processor horsepower, I’ve got some slack to run frivolous applications I’d never really wanted to spare clock cycles for before. My current favorite is Xeric Design’s EarthDesk.

EarthDesk puts up a view of the planet (using your choice of a bunch of projection, rendering and centering options), along with cloud maps, sunlight, darkness, moonlight and even city lights, all updated every five minutes or so, as your desktop.

It’s not terribly useful, but it’s interesting, and you can see at a glance what’s going on with weather systems, time of day in various areas, etc. It’s a lot of fun for $20.

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