Trying to blend in...
I was on a local Blender workshop recently. It was okay, alltough not really aimed at my level of experience. I had a little trouble keeping my concentration up because the tutor explained even the most basic 3D concepts.
Nevertheless the whole thing fired up my interest in this 3D suite, so i've been playing around since in this program and my first impression is ... well, mixed. When i spoke to the tutor, i explained that certain shortcuts just didn't make any sense to me. He answered that one should be open for new workflows and such, which is of course right. So I have now about 1 1/2 days of intense tutorial following and certain concepts are still new to me.
First one: There was a certain sense of "Maya is unintuitive and menu items are deeply hidden in menues". This is sure right if you don't know the shortcuts and quick menues behind several shortcuts. Sure, this isn't especially intuitive, but then again, Blender hides a lot of functionality behind shortcuts and quick menues, so this critic doesn't sound very valid to me.
On the other hand i found a solution for my annoyance with the sub-object-selection. In blender ctrl-tab is opening a menu to select vertice-, edge- or face-mode. In 3D Studio Max and Maya i simply press 1 for vertices and 2 for edges. As 3DSMax offers the additional sub-object "border", which selects open edges, in poly-mode (highly useful!), face-mode is selected with 3 in Maya and 4 in 3D Studio Max. In blender you activate layers with the number keys, f. e. 1 for layer 1, 2 for layer 2 and so forth. I can understand why layer selection was valued over sub-object-selection, after all Blender's funcionality is far beyond simple modelling and layers are a globally used functionality. Still pressing three keys for something that i use very often in modelling strikes me kinda odd when other (less used) functionality is far closer (like extrude hidden behind the E-key). Anyway, the solution that i found useful is activating all sub-objects at once by shift-clicking all sub-object-mode-buttons. This way you don't have to change subobject mode at all! Now i just have to get used to pressing A all the time for erasing the current selection...
Another thing that bugs me is that on my blender version (2.5 alpha 2), the "edge loop"-shortcut with alt-select edges doesn't seem to work. The only alternative possibility to select a loop is by selecting an edge and then pressing ctrl-e to pop up the edge-submenu. There you find another "select loop" menu point. That's not that intuitive eighter. And not especially quick considering you have to press three keys and possible navigate to the right menu entry if you used something else from that list before. I hope i'm just doing something wrong and there is a faster way, otherwise this would be a major annoyance.
Finally i also found how to deactivate the home grid. This hides now in the properties panel, which you get with N.
At least what i can say so far is that i feel much more comfortable in Blender now. The 2.5-version is a huge improvement, it adds a lot professionel feeling to it. Especially the fact that you can customize the panels so much is a huge plus. It's definately much more appealing than the rigid UI of 3D Studio Max. I am still suspicious wether i would archive a similar modelling speed as in Max, but for every other workflow i guess i'd prefer blender by now. And this is a huge compliment!