Update: Mac Stuff

It’s been a while since I’ve mentioned my Apple on this site… that’s mostly because my G4 has been sitting mostly unused for a while. As you may remember, a few months ago I threw about $800 into a G4/450MHz tower, in an effort to see what all the hub-bub about OS X was. I’ve still got it running and I keep it up to date; it’s now running OS X 10.2.3 and even the recent updates to Office.X and the “I” line of Apple software. The problem is that I can’t seem to pull the “Switch” trigger.

When I first started looking into making The Switch, I looked at the list of applications that I depended on every day. What I found was that almost even application title I used had an OS X named equivalent. Why does that statement sound like the legal-ease that follows an automotive lease offer during a radio commercial? Because it has to. There seems to be a large gap between most of the Windows/OS X applications. Applications like Photoshop are nearly identical; almost eerily so. Word is close enough, but since I don’t use Word’s more advanced features, I expected both Win and Mac versions to be interoperable. I have little to no use for Excel or PowerPoint (at least lately) so I haven’t even looked at them. Outlook is the major pooch screw.

There was “Outlook 2001 for Mac” released a while back, but Office.X now comes with an application called Entourage, which buries every released version of Outlook – I have high hopes for Office 11. Entourage is clean looking and has all the “good” features, most of which you can use without having to get an Exchange MCSE certificate. There’s little doubt why Microsoft changed the name: they wanted the Mac users to get a clean break from the specter of Outlook. However, they also have screwed most of the current Outlook users. I’ve been running with Outlook since it’s first version in 1997. Before Outlook I was using Eudora, but since I was having trouble moving my stored mail between PC upgrades, I decided to look around, and this is when I found Outlook. Outlook stored all of its contacts, calendar items, and e-mail in one file. Ok, so it’s a huge file, but it’s still just one file. Makes for easy back up and mobility between PC upgrades; I still have business related e-mail stored from 1997, when I first made the move to Outlook. Do I need it? I don’t know. If I knew I didn’t need it, then it would be fine to get rid of, but I don’t know and that’s my problem with this. See, Entourage (and Outlook 2001 for Mac, for that matter) doesn’t use the same PST file that Outlook 97/2000/XP uses. Nor do they make an import solution available. There are some shareware applications out there that are supposed to make this migration possible, but frankly it pissed me off that I would have to buy something else, which may or may not work, even though the same company made both versions of Office.

So let’s say I can get my PIM data moved over to Entourage – what about my Pocket PC? There’s a company that makes PocketMac, which is supposed to allow synchronization, but I want to see how well it work before I shell out $50 for it! Especially since ActiveSync has always been free. This company doesn’t bother with shareware, so you have to take it on faith that it will work for you. Ordinarily, that’s not an issue for me. In fact, I’ve bought plenty of software over the years, without having seen it before, but this is different – this isn’t my primary PC yet and I want to know if it can be! Why drop another $50 for what might be a coaster in the months to come? Also, I have reason to be gun shy. During this effort, I started to get antsy that Access wasn’t in Office.X, nor did it seem like anyone cared about it, so Microsoft would probably continue to overlook it. This is when I discovered Virtual PC 5 from Connectix. This was a pricey piece of software (about $350 for first time users) but it sounded really slick. You ran the OS X based VM on your Mac and you can have different virtual OS sessions running, each with their own virtual hard drive image files. Within an OS X window, you could put any number of PC type OS’s there, including XP, 2000, 9x, etc. I had heard that CompUSA carried this app – they are a huge retail supporter of Apple – so I went down to the local store and played with an install of Virtual PC there. It was running XP Home and it looked like it was compatible enough, but it was as slow as a dog. When I looked around the Usenet for some public feedback on Virtual PC, I read that it is geared to run like a Pentium II. Um… XP on a P2? I cringe while using XP on my Celeron notebooks and now people want me to pay $350 to run a Pentium II? Um, no! And the “speed test” was being done on a Dual G4/1.25GHz – when I talked to some of the techs there, they hypothesized that I wouldn’t see a huge speed difference between my G4 and their dual G4, and while I’m not in a position to dispute that, it doesn’t sound like I would be buying the new Dual G4 anytime soon.

What I was finding was that if I needed PC specific applications, I could muddle with the P2 slowed Virtual PC or I could run the Remote Terminal Client that will use XP’s built in Remote Desktop functionality. The former isn’t an option and the latter was slow. This was where Microsoft threw another speed bump at me. Going across my local 100Mb network, the Mac Remote Client was slower that my XP to XP remote session via the Internet. This could have been slowed down by the 450MHz processor, since X Windows terminal sessions were also so, but to me it still didn’t matter. Very disheartening. Besides, this would mean that I would now have to keep up maintenance on both PC’s, XP and OS X. Again: Um, no!

So, I guess I’m sticking with the PC world. Besides, while the TiBook and iBook look neat, they are way too heavy and expensive for me to replace my lightweight and cheap Sony that I’ve been using for a year. Give that the Sony is in the same price range as the iBook (which is only a G3,) I figure it’s got five times the power and weighs about two pounds less. The cool and beautiful UI is just not enough for me to pull the trigger… yet. It seems that new conversion utilities and applications appear almost daily; all over the place people are matching The Switch – Apple would never let such stories stay secret! Also, today starts the beginning of Macworld Expo in San Francisco, so there will be even more new productions from Apple announced over the next couple of days. The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is going on in Vegas this week too, so look for some iPod related news from there.

I guess I’ll just have to stand on the fence a while longer (or at least until my balance gives out.)

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