All entries for Friday 20 July 2007

July 20, 2007

Day 1: Why bother?

I decided a month or so ago that it might be useful for me and some of my colleagues to have access to Macs alongside our usual PCs. The office is actually fairly platform-agnostic already, with most people using Windows most of the time, but a smattering of Linux, Solaris and Mac around the place. But the reasons I thought more Mac hardware might be useful are:-

  1. Some of our customers are Mac users. It’s not a huge percentage – somewhere between 5 and 10% – but it’s enough that there is some benefit in us knowing what OS X looks like and how it works (and in particular how its browsers behave) so that if someone rings us up with a question and mentions that they’re using a Mac, we know what they’re talking about when they say “Finder” or “Spotlight” or “Keynote” or whatever.
  2. Every so often, some of our academic colleagues wax lyrical about OS X apps and their rich functionality and/or ease of use for areas of content creation in which we’re interested – podcasting, audio/video/image editing and upload, recording, etc. It’ll be interesting to see whether Macs offer better or easier solutions than Windows for some kinds of content creation.
  3. As providers of web tools, we’re concerned to make sure that our applications work on as many browsers and platforms as possible. That’s historically required us to keep lots of machines around the place just so that we can check how things look on different versions of IE, FireFox, Safari, Konqueror, etc on different operating systems. The idea of using Parallels to let us see how pages look on lots of browsers across lots of OS’s, all on a single desktop, is immensely appealing.

For extra entertainment, I’ve also decided to to try a personal experiment by switching from using PCs most of time, and Macs just now and again, to using nothing but a Mac the whole time to see how easy and comfortable the switch is. I’m a fairly ordinary user – I use a web browser, I email, I use Word, Excel and PowerPoint (but not in great depth), I have a calendar (using the Palm desktop), photos (in Picasa), music (in iTunes), and I manage my bank accounts with Microsoft Money. I do screen mockups and icon work using Paint Shop, and now and again I do bits of video editing with Windows Movie Maker. Sometimes I watch TV shows I’ve downloaded from the internet. I play casual games of the sort you find at PopCap and elsewhere. Will all those things turn out to have easy, comfortable alternatives on the Mac, or will I find myself using Parallels to run a Windows app or two because I can’t bear to switch? We shall see.


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