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
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…

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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…

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