Mac Life Part 8 – Cloud Based Email Using IMAP

Figuring out the best way to handle email has been the most stubborn hurdle in my ongoing mission to create the perfect Mac cloud based working environment.

I get hundreds of emails every day and at one time I was running a backlog of over 35k unread emails, something had to be done and my Only send me junk emails blog post wasn’t the most elegant or long term solution to the problem!

The “problem” with standard POP (Post Office Protocol) mailboxes is emails are stored on the computer which downloads the email from the server and it’s then deleted from the server after downloading. This is fine so long as you only have one machine where you manage all your email AND if you are careful when setting up your mailboxes on mobile devices to leave copies of your email and any replies on the server – which isn’t the default and is often tricky to set up correctly.

I am not that disciplined and I often end with multiple copies of the same email on different devices and I can never find my replies when I need them. At one time I thought the solution would be to access all my email online as webmail using a web browser but this proved far too slow and cumbersome and I ended up back at square one.

With hindsight I can see my email problems are why I’ve ended up with everything on a single laptop which I dock in the office so I can sit at a desk and use a proper keyboard and larger screen. I’ve been very happy with this setup until I bought an iPad but I’ve got my eye on the new all-in-one iMacs so I’ve been thinking again about the very best way and work with desktop machines, laptops, iPads and iPhones.

Using MobileMe, Dropbox, Firefox Sync, 1Password, Google Apps, Evernote and a few other cloud based services I can pretty much work on any device now as everything syncs together apart from email which triggered my IMAP moment.

Partly because I’ve been online since before POP mailboxes were commonplace and and partly because I’m lazy I hadn’t really investigated other ways of handling email. I was vaguely aware my MobileMe mailbox synced itself across all my devices and I assumed it was some Apple black magic. I had already disciplined myself to only use my MobileMe mailbox on my mobile devices but the penny hadn’t dropped that I was using an IMAP mailbox and it does seem to be the key to cloud based email handling.

It turns out most ISPs support both IMAP and POP so I’ve been working my way through my mailboxes and setting them up to use IMAP instead.

I feel such a numpty I hadn’t figured this out earlier but better late than never and although solving one set of problems has created a few new ones but there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that’s all the excuse I need to get myself an all-in-one desktop mac!

So What Is IMAP?

IMAP stands for Internet Message Access Protocol and it’s basically a remote controlled cloud based mailbox, read this Wikipedia IMAP page for the long answer.

IMAP Pros and Cons

IMAP Pros:
1) One mailbox can be accessed from multiple devices, even at the same time, and the IMAP protocol takes care of all the syncing so all your devices are effectively looking at the live contents of your cloud/server based mailbox.
2) New emails arrive in near real-time because IMAP stays connected to your mailbox instead of periodically checking like POP mailboxes.

IMAP Cons:
1) Most ISPs have a storage quota so if you get lots of emails with large attachments your storage space can fill up which means you need to keep an eye on your mailbox and I’m not aware of any easy way to do this.
2) To avoid an IMPA mailbox becoming full to archive copies of important and large emails I’m partially recreating the problems with POP mailboxes I just solved by assigning a “main email” machine.

IMAP in Mac Mail

I haven’t found an easy way to convert mailboxes from POP to IMAP in Mac Mail so here’s what I did (based on this useful Mac Mail IMAP article):

1) Rename my existing mailboxes with a P (for POP) prefix.
2) Create new IMAP mailboxes without P prefix.
3) Spend some time deleting stored emails (so you have enough online storage space).
4) Move the remaining messages from the POP to the IMAP mailbox – just drag and drop the contents and Mac Mail will move everything across and upload them to your IMAP mailbox.

I’m Loving IMAP

Although IMAP isn’t the complete solution to email management it does mean I can now have all of my email on all of my devices, all of the time and read, delete and reply wherever and whenever I want to so I’m loving IMAP.

Back to Mac Life Part 1…



Mac Life – Part 7 – A Few Teething Problems?

Mac Life Part 7 exists to help Dan Williams who recently made the switch from PC to Mac after having a play with my set-up and has a few teething problems:

“Hi Joe, I’m now all set up with my Mac and very happy with it. It took me less than half hour yesterday to set up the Mac, Airport Extreme all working, broadband on, laptops can connect to the broadband, PC in with ethernet cable, Printer setup. I’ve also got firefox installed, exported and imported all saved passwords for hosting/networks etc and I have MSN messenger installed”.

Chatting with Dan reminded me of some of the things most people ask when they start using a Mac so let’s take a closer look:

The UK Mac keyboard layout

In an earlier blog post I couldn’t come up with anything that’s better on a PC than a Mac but I take that back, the Windows keyboard layout is better and less confusing than UK Mac keyboards!
The Mac keyboard is cursed with THREE modifier keys for no good reason I can think off. They are called the [Control], [Alt] and [Command] keys BUT people also refer to them differently! For example the [Command] key is often called the “Apple” key and the [Alt] key is also called the “Option” key, so that’s three keys, five names and two stupid little graphic icons nobody can relate to for starters – and I’ve got more!
There’s no Delete key on laptop keyboards. Instead you get a backspace key (top right) which, if you hold down the [fn] key (bottom left), can be turned into a “proper” Delete key, still with me? You probably noticed the @ key is inconveniently located above the 2 key but can you find the # key? Well, no prizes for guessing there isn’t one and you can get a # by holding down the [Alt] key and pressing the 3 key but why on earth is it missing?
I have more, but I’ll stop because I don’t want to put you off switching and after a couple of weeks you’ll get past the keyboard shortcomings and be back up to full speed so it’s just part of the Mac switching experience!

Expose & Spaces

Most people also seem to confuse Expose and Spaces, which isn’t surprising since they share a System Preferences Panel and the “Active screen corners” concept but if we take it a step at a time it’s easy enough to get a handle on:

Spaces are “virtual screens” so instead of buying a second monitor you can turn Spaces on and have up to SIXTEEN virtual screens – that’s a lot of screen real-estate and quite a lot to get your head around in one hit. For ages I avoided Spaces and settled for one screen but after I spotted my daughter zipping around 9 screens I decided it was time to teach this old dog a new trick and I experimented with 2 screens side by side. I’ve eventually settled on 4 virtual screens arranged in 2 rows and 2 columns and I can move between them effortlessly using the [Control]+Arrow keys. You can also set which applications open in which Space so they are always where you expect to find them. Anything not specified opens up in the current workspace.

Expose basically “exposes” stuff, it’s the way to show windows which are hidden under other windows, just press the F3 key to activate Expose and you’ll soon grasp the basic concept and tweak as you go along to your requirements.

Both Expose and Spaces can be controlled using the keyboard, mouse and active screen corners or any combination which suits the way you work. I’ve included screenshots of my Expose and Spaces set up at the top of this post.

I prefer to use the mouse for scrolling and moving the pointer around so I don’t have my mouse set up to control Expose or Spaces.
Since the Expose Panel is on the left I have the top left of the screen set as an active screen corner for Expose, along with the F3 key, which is set up by default. Extending my reasoning I have the top right of the screen set as the active screen corner for Spaces along with the F5 key. Finally, I have both bottom corners set to reveal the desktop along with the F6 key.
I also make heavy use of the [Command]+[Tab] key combination which cycles through the active applications, whichever space they’re running in – similar to the Windows [Alt]+[Tab] combination.
So with Spaces and Expose set up and in conjunction with the [Command]+[Tab] key combination I have total control over what appears where and how – it quickly becomes second nature, trust me.

However you set your system up you can tweak it later and you’ll soon evolve a setup which works best for you. If you have any Mac teething problems and I’m here to help, just ask.


Mac Life – Part 6 – Readers Questions Answered

You can thank Neil for Mac Life Part 6 because when I started replying to his comment to Mac Life Part 5: “[I would…] be interested to hear how you got on with your software switches. For instance, I use Dreamweaver, Fireworks, IPSwitch FTP etc. Presumably, you can download MAC versions and use original License Key?” my reply got so long I thought it deserved this follow up post.

There’s good news and bad news on the software switching front.
I also use Adobe Dreamweaver and Fireworks and the REALLY bad news is you have to buy a NEW licence – you didn’t really think Adobe would miss a chance to screw even more money out of you did you?

Update: Possible Adode “Crossgrade” Option

The not-quite-so-bad news is you can upgrade and change platforms so it’s effectively a crossgrade.
I am aware of at least one person who has successfully switched their Adobe software license from PC to Mac by signing a “software destruction letter”. This may or may not work for you and may/may not work in the future but it’s got to be worth asking Adobe nicely before you part with your cash.

I didn’t get along with earlier Mac DW versions which I found both buggy and slow but the current release running in Snow Leopard is stable and you can save your workspace layout how you like it which is great – I hated the Mac style floating palette and tool menus.

It still took everyday use to adjust to the Mac Dreamweaver way of doing things. Mac OS generally displays file lists differently to Windows and I don’t think there’s any way around that (although there’s bound to be an utility to patch this, anyone know of one?…) so my usual way of handling file uploads by displaying files by date modified and merely uploading the files at the top of the list doesn’t work for subfolders which remain stubbornly alphabetically sorted even when files within those folders have been updated which is very irritating!

You could put your faith in Dreamweaver’s file syncing features but I’ve never trusted them and have lost files using it so maybe it’s just a problem of my own making. Fireworks is buggy, crash prone and a memory hog but it’s no worse than the Windows version and it’s still my preferred web image editor so maybe it’s just me that has problems with it?

I haven’t used IPSwitch, I used Globalscape’s CuteFTP Pro for Windows and was pleased to find there’s a Mac version CuteFTP MacPro which offers more features than I use but works well so I haven’t looked any further. Again I had to pay for another license.

One the plus side I have found BBEdit to be a worthy successor to my beloved Textpad text editor, which is sadly Windows only so has now been retired. I’ve never needed a word processor – everything I write ends up in an email, a blog post, a DTP package for printed magazine publication or on web pages – I’m writing this in BBEdit before cut and pasting into Blogger.

I do have MS Office for Mac installed (hangs head in shame) because I purchased it a couple of years ago – the last time I was on the point of going totally Mac. It’s a nice safety net to have around but it’s expensive and I rarely use it – consider using Google Apps free online spreadsheets or Apple’s iWorks which features a pretty decent spreadsheet called Numbers, a combined word processor and DTP application called Pages and Keynote to create Powerpointesque presentations. All three come with excellent quality templates and video tutorials and single and family pack licenses available at sensible prices.

Mac Life Part 7 – Some common teething problems explained…

Back to MacLife Part 1…


Mac Life – Part 5 – Living In Cloud Cuckoo Land

Cloud based services are the future but in the here and now they’re still pretty good. Set them up, have a play, and sit back and watch them evolve into indispensable services…

In previous blog posts I’ve mentioned cloud services including Mobile Me, Evernote and Dropbox. The big idea is to make it possible to get at my emails and data from anywhere with an internet connection but it has taken me years to figure out the advantages, limitations and feasibility of working with my data in the clouds.

Cloud Based Calendar and Contact Sharing
Apple’s MobileMe service has this covered and can keep your contacts and calendar appointments up to date and synchronised across all your machines, including Windows, Mac and iPhones.

Cloud Based File Sharing
iDisk is part of MobileMe and gets you 10Gb online storage where you can store files and share them via a public folder with other users but what I really want to do is share folders with other MobileMe users, friends and collaborators and I don’t think that’s possible at the moment. Until then it’s most useful feature is to share files between my Macs, virtual PC and iPhone.

Unlike MobileMe Dropbox makes it really easy to share files and collaborate with other people. Dropbox offers you 2Gb of FREE storage to get started with extra free storage if your friends sign up via your referral link and there’s a paid Pro upgrade option if you need 50Gb or more storage.

There are other online file storage services floating around but Dropbox is free and easy to set up and use so I haven’t had any reason to try the alternatives.

Sharing Notes & Documents
I use EverNote which is an awesome FREE cloud based service, with paid upgrade options, that’s perfect for sharing searchable notes across all my machines and with my iPhone. Visit the Evernote website and watch the video tutorials which will blow your mind.

Email handling
Moving my huge archive of Outlook email has been my biggest headache. Fate intervened and I lost years of old emails when my PC hard drive failed as I was porting them across to the Mac!

I’m using Mozilla’s Thunderbird on the Mac and to port the email across from the PC I used a nifty utility called Email Alchemy with memory booster active which works well – unless a hard drive fails on you.

In a blog posted titled Only Send Me Junk Mail From Now On! I explain why it’s better if you don’t email me with anything important. I’m still trying to arrive at a workable solution and the current state of play is to use Mailwasher Pro to look at all the emails sitting in my mailboxes across various accounts and services and delete and reply to anything urgent from there.

I think the way forward is to use google mail. When setting up new projects, especially where I’m collaborating with other people, we’ve been using Google Apps and the free google email services looks like the most workable solution for large volumes of email so far.

Project Sharing & Project Management
Google Apps is where it’s at. It’s another awesome free service which makes it possible to share spreadsheets and documents between collaborators online and in real-time and access them from anywhere using a web browser on any machine, PC, Mac or PDA.

Using a shared Google spreadsheet you can see other people editing cells in real time and chat with them at the same time. I hardly ever need to use Excel anymore, another MS application consigned to the scrapheap with no tears goodbye.

I’m not sure if chatting in real-time is strictly a cloud service or not but it remains a crucial part of the way I work in the clouds. The real-time chat mode in Google Apps and MSN make it easy to keep up to date with any project.

Cloud Based Multimedia Sharing
My son lugs around a heavy case stuffed with DVDs and music CDs, he thinks he owns them. I’m past that. Being in possession of shiny silver disc means nothing. You can’t own music, TV programs or movies – they belong to the original creators and all you ever have is permission to listen or watch them so I’ve been content to have my music delivered to my ears via iTunes and more recently Spotify which only stores files locally on your iPhone for offline listening.

iTunes now offers Home Sharing which allows your to share your media between up to five machines which reminds me of my Apple Inspired Vision Of The Future posted back in 2007 – it’s all coming together nicely.

Conclusion – Was Mac-Switching Worthwhile?
Unsurprisingly, given I started writing this on my PC and I’m finishing it on my Mac, the short answer is YES.

My Mac setup is an excellent affiliate marketing environment which means I can work from my office desk or get away from my desk by removing four cables and I’m good to go with my entire working environment without rebooting – it’s an almost perfect fusion of desktop PC and portable laptop.

The biggest remaining challenge is figuring out the best way to organise local file storage and sharing. Although cloud services are the future they’re still slow and need an internet connection so I still need to store some data, music and pictures locally.

Everything is backed up to a Mac Time Capsule so if the machine breaks or gets stolen I can, in theory, restore everything from the last backup at the click of a button.

So that’s my Mac Life, how’s yours?

Mac Life Part 6 answers readers questions…

Back to MacLife Part 1…



Mac Life – Part 4 – Running Windows Programs On A Mac

Ok, you’ve got your Mac, you’ve still got your PC and you’ve set up Windows so it runs on your Mac, now it’s time to set up any Windows programs you still need and make sure they work before you finally shutdown your PC for the last time.

Most of the issues I’ve experienced can be resolved or minimised by tweaking the settings in your virtual machine or by changing the way you work, particularly how and where you store and share files which I go into more detail in Part 5.

Generally speaking most software applications run just like they do on real Windows machines but even with a top spec Mac the trade-off is speed – you are effectively running 2 computers on one machine so the more grunt your CPU has and the more memory you have installed the better.

Here’s how I got the following Windows programs up and running on my Mac, your mileage may vary.

Affmeter Pro – On the Mac
Once you’ve used Affmeter Pro manually logging into each network to check stats seems tedious and inefficient so here’s how I migrated my copy.

Download the original archive from the link in your original registration email somewhere you can get at it from Windows running on your Mac.

From within your virtual PC open the affmeter archive and it will prompt you to install the Microsoft .Net framework. On the Windows update site select the runtime version which will take some time and then install updates.

Next, make sure Affmeter Pro is not running on either machine then copy Affmeter Pro’s data file:

C:Program FilesAffmeterDataaffdata.afx

to the AffmeterData folder within the PC environment on your Mac.

Run Affmeter Pro and enter your serial number which is also included in your registration email.

That’s it. I have had a few issues upgrading between versions but it generally runs fine under Parallels.

Mailwasher Pro – On the Mac
There is an old Mac version of Mailwasher Pro but don’t waste your time with it because the current PC release is much better. You can download the current release version from the Firetrust site here:

Install within the PC environment on your Mac, cut and paste your registration key from your original registration email. To migrate your blacklist, friends, filters and training data to your new installation you have to copy some files.

Open the About Mailwasher dialog from the Help menu and enable the extended error logging checkbox.

On your original PC open the About Mailwasher dialog from the Help menu and enable the extended error logging checkbox.
Click on the path below to open MailWasher data files directory:

C:Documents and SettingsJoeApplication DataMailWasherPro

Within the PC environment on your Mac open the About Mailwasher dialog from the Help menu and enable the extended error logging checkbox.
Click on the path below to open a window displaying the MailWasher Pro data files directory and shut down Mailwasher Pro.

Now copy the Training folder, blacklist.txt and filters.txt from your orginal PC to the Mac.

Relaunch Mailwasher Pro. At the time I switched there was a problem with the mailpv.exe in the download archive so I had to manually recreate my mailboxes so if it’s not fixed by the time you switch you’ll have to do that as well.
Preferences are not migrated so I suggest running Mailwasher Pro on both machines and going through the Options dialog making sure everything is set up to your preferences. Finally you can toggle off the extended error logging checkbox.

I use the Mailwasher Pro preview window extensively to follow links and write Quick replies to emails and with the Parallels environment on the Mac these actions will open the default PC mac client (usually Outlook Express) and default PC web browser (Internet Explorer) but since the aim is to go Mac I was pleased to discover Parallels can be set to open internet applications either to the default PC or Mac applications – in my new Mac setup that’s Mozilla Firefox and Thunderbird.

You’ll find these settings in the Virtual Machine Configuration dialog under Internet Applications.

Quickbooks Pro – On the Mac
Every affiliate needs to keep HM Revenue & Customs happy so you’re going to need some accounting software. I’ve been using Intuit’s Quickbooks Pro for years and although there is a Mac version it’s only available for the US market. A UK edition has been promised for years but I wouldn’t hold your breath – I’m STILL waiting Intuit!

The PC version runs fine within the Parallels environment on a Mac I just have trouble getting it to play ball with the my Mac network printer for which Boujour for Windows, another mac innovation, comes in handy.

Mac Life Part 5 covers using Cloud based services…

Back to MacLife Part 1…



Mac Life – Part 3 – It’s Decision Time

Once you’ve made the decision to switch from PC to Mac and BEFORE you make the switch is the time to think carefully about the hardware you’ll need, the way you work and the applications you use.

If you haven’t already bought a Mac you can add buying a laptop or desktop machine to your research and planning. As I mentioned earlier I prefer sitting at a desk when I’m working but I eventually settled on a MacBook Pro laptop and a 24″ LED display which gives me the best of both worlds. At my desk I dock the laptop to the monitor which already has a mouse and keyboard attached along with integrated webcam and sound. To work on the laptop all I have to is disconnect 4 cables and walk, no reboot needed, it doesn’t get much better than this (one plug would be even nicer Mr Ive).

Many popular applications are available on both platforms. Most web browsers including Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer, Microsoft Office and Apple software including iTunes, QuickTime and other applications have logical alternatives on the Mac platform which are widely discussed on the Mac Switching forums which are well worth a read.

In an effort to make the time I spend working as productive as possible I’ve already been working towards using browser and cloud based applications and services including Google Apps, MobileMe, Dropbox and Evernote which leaves me with just three PC only applications I need. In my case these are:

Affmeter Pro because it gives me a quick overview of what’s happening to my affiliate income.
Mailwasher Pro because it’s the quickest way to keep an eye on all my mailboxes.
Quickbooks Pro because although there’s a US Mac version this isn’t available in the UK.

If you’re not planning on running any PC software on your Mac you can skip to Mac Life part 5 which covers cloud based services…

Before we get into the nitty gritty of setting these up on a Mac it’s time to decide how you are going to run your Windows software on your Mac. There are three main choices:

Boot Camp
Apple includes this as an optional install and it works well but you have to boot into Mac or Windows mode and I want to run both side by side and cut/paste and copy files between them in real-time so it’s a non-starter for me.

Parallels can run Windows, Linux and pretty much any OS as a virtual machine within the Mac environment and once set up it’s an almost seamless experience. it works well and has proven reliable so I’m pleased to recommend it. There’s a free trial available so why not give it a try?

VMware Fusion
There’s a free trial available but I haven’t tried this software. It appears to offer similar features to Parallels which I’ve been using for years so, if you’re not already using Parallels, give it a try and make your own mind up before making a final decision – feel free to share your experiences by commenting below.

All three options require a legitimate copy of Windows so make sure you have that to hand before you install your chosen software.

Mac Life Part 4 covers running Windows programs on a Mac…

Back to MacLife Part 1…





Mac Life – Part 2- Virtual Machines & OS Merging

Although I’m now exclusively using Mac hardware I am still “OS merging” – I still need Quickbooks PC accounting software and down the years I’ve picked up a few other PC only applications including Mailwasher Pro and Affmeter Pro which I don’t want to be without so I’m running them using the Parallels Virtual PC software.

Virtual Machines – Better Than The Real Thing?

(If you’re not planning to run any non-Mac software you can safely skip to Mac Life Part 3)

My Atari background offers me a unique insight into the pros and cons of working with Virtual machines compared to the real thing. Atari software ran much faster on both Mac and PC hardware than it ever did on real Atari computers and I’ve run up against all the typical issues which ALL need to be addressed before finally committing to using a virtual machine:

Switching between the guest and host OS
This can involve a complete machine reboot or a keyboard shortcut and everything in-between.

Accessing software from the other OS
Parallels makes it possible to run the host and guest OS in parallel so it doesn’t get much better than this.

Accessing, moving and copying documents and files between the OS’s
You’ll need to find a way of working which makes it easy to access documents and files which need to be available across OS’s and you’re going to have to find what works best for you on a trial and error basis.
My solution is two-fold. I run a local network with shared storage and I use remote cloud services – which I’ll go into in more detail later on.

Hardware compatibility issues
If your software relied on any hardware which isn’t supported or emulated by your Virtual machine you won’t be able to use it. There’s no easy solution to this one.

Problems with peripherals
Printing is the most common area which always throws up unexpected problems.

Keyboard layout handling
The Mac and PC keyboard layouts are different. A few crucial keys are in the “wrong” place or simply missing! Switching to a Mac and continuing to use Windows software is a challenge that requires practice and a measure of perseverance and reference tables.

Mac Life Part 3 covers what I think you should do before finally making the switch…

Back to Mac Life Part 1…



Mac Life Part 1 – Switching to Mac

I’ve owned personal computers since 1981 and I have been looking for the perfect set-up ever since. There have been some great machines along the way and decades later thanks to the Parallels virtual PC software, which makes it possible to run PC and Mac programs side by side on a Mac, I now have the best working environment so far.

I’ve retired my last office PC so I thought I’d share my experiences and encourage anyone interested in kicking the PC habit to do the same and switch to a Mac.

Why Didn’t I Switch Earlier?

(It’s complicated, you won’t miss much by jumping to Mac Life Part 2 if you’ve already bought a Mac and want to know how I’ve set mine up.)

Because I’ve been using computers since 1981 I have decades worth of prejudice and baggage to unload. I prefer sitting at a desk using a computer with a “proper” screen, keyboard and mouse and my first Apple Mac was the unrivalled Mac Duo which cleverly combined the desktop computer experience with a neat netbook sized laptop which could be ejected and used on the move. The Duo concept remains the best computing set-up I have ever used until my current Macbook Pro setup which is why it’s taken me so long to finally make the switch.

Renegade Publishing Ltd was originally formed to publish Atari Computing magazine so the Mac versus PC debate wasn’t an issue – we were promoting Atari machines and software. However, after Atari development ran out of steam, I had no choice but to migrate from Atari to PC and Mac software at the same time Renegade Publishing Ltd evolved into online publishing and marketing, new age media in modernspeak.

The business needed accounting software and the only choices back then were Sage and Intuit Quickbooks and neither have UK versions that run on a Mac so I bought my first PC and I’ve been running both Mac and PC systems side by side ever since.

The PC versus Mac Debate
My Atari background has helped me remain objective when weighing up the pros and cons of each platform and I’ve had a longer look at both hardware platforms and operating systems than most computer users will ever have and combined with my professional background in technology and product design on this subject I really do know what I’m talking about! Here’s my overview:

Apple Pros Superb product design, headed up by Jonathan Ive, CBE, originally from Chingford, Essex, one of the world’s foremost product designers.
Reliable, out-of-the-box lifestyle solutions people love using – even if they don’t know it yet!

Apple Cons Comparatively expensive, Apple only cables, standards and conventions.

Mac OS Pros Reliable, easy to use, easy to keep up to date, generally virus free, compact, free software included which works and is easy to use for most common tasks.

Mac OS Cons If it does break, it can be serious.

PC Pros There’s a dazzling choice of hardware available which means it’s possible to build anything from a budget priced general purpose machine to a state of the art gaming platform.

PC Cons The flipside of supporting such a wide range of hardware is compatibility and software driver problems.

Windows Pros I’m struggling to think of any, help me out here Windows fans…

Windows Cons The Windows interface has never been a seamless experience and it’s very tedious to keep to date and virus free. New hardware often leads to driver and software compatibility issues.

Mac Life Part 2 covers Virtual Machines & OS Merging…





Mac Undercover by Orbicle – Mac Anti-Theft Software

Mac computer users should take a look at Undercover by Orbicle which effectively renders a stolen mac useless to a thief and there’s even a chance it will help you get your Mac back or see what the thief looks like!

Once installed if your mac is ever stolen you visit the Undercover website and enter your unique ID number at which point they start looking for your mac.
As soon the the stolen mac connects to the internet the IP addresses and router address is logged which helps trace the physical location of your mac and, if your mac has an iSight webcam, sends pictures of the thief every few minutes.

If you still don’t get your mac back at least you have the satisfaction of knowing the thief won’t enjoy using your mac for long. After half an hour Undercover simulates an intermittent hardware failure (even if the mac isn’t online). If the thief decides to sell you mac or take it in for repair Undercover will track this and will shout and display a full-screen message alerting the reseller (or someone who bought the Mac from the thief) that the Mac has been stolen and should be returned along with Undercover’s contact information and reward offer.

They seem to have thought of everything and the prices are really cheap:
* Single User license: $49
* Household license: $59
* Site license: $249
* Student license: $39
* Volume educational license: $8/Mac

There’s also iAlertU which is a free alternative to Undercover, it doesn’t include the network tracking but is a more in-your-face deterrent. There’s no reason why you couldn’t use both.

I should mention I have no connection with Undercover by Orbicle apart from being a customer.