As a little test this week, I have attempted to use ONLY my MacBook for my day-to-day computing needs. It has been an interesting week to say the least.
If you think about it, you can separate out the tasks you preform with a computer into a couple of different broad categories. My challenge this week was to compare MY work experience on a Mac to that I had with Windows.
Here are some of those broad categories:
Web Surfing and RSS Reading
Accounting and Bookkeeping
Creation of Information or Data
Management of Information or Data
Web Surfing and RSS Reading. For both Mac and Windows I use Firefox as my web-browser. So using a Mac this week was not that big of a change. The interface was about 90% the same, and my favorite add-ons and plugins still worked. The big difference was RSS reading. On my Windows system, I use Feed Demon, on the Mac, NetNewsWire. Of the two I found NetNewsWire to the easier program to use.
Accounting and Bookkeeping. I use Quickbooks for doing my business financial management. When I first started it was hard for me to get used to the ideal that Quickbooks was JUST a bookkeeping software package, and NOT a comprehensive consulting firm management solution. So my use of Quickbooks is straight forward. However, while there is a copy of Quickbooks for the Mac, I was unable to move my data from Quickbooks Premier 2008 to Quickbooks Pro 2007 for Mac. In the end I still have to use Quickbooks on Windows.
I also use a program call Stamps.com to print my postage. Sadly, stamps.com is Windows only.
#### BIG EDIT #####
(this is why I love visitor feed back )
I’ve just been told that there IS indeed a postage system for Macs, http://mac.endicia.com/. It’s priced on par with Stamps.com ($15 per month plus postage). I’ll be downloading this and giving it a try. It also has a Windows Version as well.
Communications. This is a big category. To me communications is everything from E-mail, to phone, to VOIP, to Blogging.
I’ll start with VOIP. I use Skype to communicate with my clients and friends in Europe and Africa. Skype is about the same on both Windows and Mac, but the Mac hardware make Skype so much easier.
Blogging on Windows was done with Word 2008, which has a simple “post to blog” feature. On Mac I used Mars Edit. It’s hard to compare the two, Mars Edit is a comprehensive blog management tool, while Word is a VERY powerful text editor. In the end, Mars Edit wins out because while Word is great at editing text, you cannot use those features on a blog site.
Phone, Contacts, and Email are touchy subjects, and perhaps (along with Quickbooks and Stamps.com) is the largest single failing on the Mac. In Windows with Exchange and Outlook, my Contacts and E-mail (with schedule) are all kept well synchronized. There simply is not a comparable solution on the Mac side. While there is the up and coming “Mobile Me” from Apple, it is not doing well, and requires an iPhone, which does not have all the features I need on a phone. I am hoping that Google’s Android platform will address this failing VERY soon. If I can get a truly open smartphone platform that supports syncing my Contacts, Email, tasking, and Schedule with my phone, an online source, and my computers, I’ll jump on it.
In the end I still have to use Outlook on Windows.
Scheduling. As I said, on Windows I used Outlook. However on my Mac there is iCal, which I am now using with Google Calendars “CalDev” feature. My website also is current with my Google Calendar via WordPress Plugin. I like iCal a lot, and want to use it as my primary Scheduling system.
Entertainment. For me, the Mac wins hands down. I do not do a lot of high end computer gaming (I have consoles for that). However, simple games and quick diversion are great on my Mac. I can also play my old emulated games on my Mac (which I can do with my Windows system, but it’s so much nicer on my Mac). But with my Apple TV and iPod, the true Media entreatment winer is Mac, hands down. Yes, I know Apple TV and iPod will work with iTunes for Windows, but the integration is so much cleaner and nicer on a Mac.
Creation of Information or Data. This is anything from Word Processing, to Programing, to Photoshopping, to Web design.
I have office for the Mac, which is pretty much like Office for windows, except Entourage is a poor reflection on Outlook. So the spread sheet and word processing experiences are petty much the same.
Ironical, I’ve been using a port of a Mac product on my Windows Box for Years. In WIndows I have use an editor call “e”, which is just a clone of a really good pseudo IDE (Integrated Development Environment) called Text Mate. I do not really do any hard core programing, so I cannot comment to those.
Photoshop is photoshop.
On Windows when I needed to to a quick HTML page, I would use Front Page, (later the awful Expression Web), then cut out the bits I needed with e. I’ve not really found a good WYSIWYG html editor for Mac. I’ve played with Nvu, but I was underwhelmed. Oddly, I am moving away from webpage editing in favor of using Content Management systems like WordPress. So my days of coding HTML may be on the decline anyway.
Management of Information or Data. Here I found Macs to really come through. The default way Windows Manages data files is very klugy. With Mac, Images are managed by iPhoto, Media by iTunes, general files go in Documents, however you want. I never really understood how Windows Media Player managed music. There are even some great plugins to allow me to upload and publish data to the “cloud”, like Picasa, Youtube, and my Blog. There is also very little “support” files cluttering up the place. In windows an application gets installed into Program Files, but bits of it can get put all over the system. On a mac, 99% of the time an application is a single file (yes I know it’s really of folder), in the Applications Directory. Need to move it to another Mac? Just drag and drop the file.
In the end, I still have Windows XP running in Parallels on my Mac. I simply cannot operate without Outlook, my Phone, and Quickbooks, and at the moment to keep all the features I have now, those have to stay on Windows. The first 4 days of the week were spent trying to find alternatives to Windows on the Mac. Next week I will try living with BOTH Mac and Windows side by side, and see how that goes.