Help! I'm going Mac! (blame Office)

Written by Guido Jansen in
January 2010

Sounds kinda desperate, but maybe that's a little true... I switched to an all-open-source 'strategy' on the desktop (and laptop for that matter) for the last couple of years (after many years of using MS Windows) and that worked quite nice for me. I used Ubuntu, OpenOffice and lots of more good open stuff. And when I make a choice for a software program I heavily (expect to) use, I always look at it being cross-platform (either as a native program or web-based), because of 1) I might want to switch to another OS or use the program on another PC and 2) The people I work with that use another OS need to be able to use it as well when needed. But my job requires me to work closely with our clients and (sub)contractors. And they all use MS Office.... For the last half-year I really tried to work with Office docs both through OpenOffice and Office in a WinXP virtualbox environment, but both didn't work out. The first one doesn't because it's not as compatible as I would like it to be, the second one worked terribly slow. So I need an OS that can run Office natively, that leaves two options: a windows solution or a mac solution. Both are against my private policy for being open, but apparently the (work) environment in The Netherlands isn't ready for that so I'm willing to compromise... for a few years... I originally bought it with XP and ran Ubuntu on it ever since. I never used Vista (on any pc). Two weeks ago I turned my 3-year-old laptop into Windows 7 machine with MS Office (yes, both with legal licenses :)) and I have to say it's not a completely bad experience. It runs quite smooth, the interface is nice (although I sometimes need half an hour to find some specific windows setting) and Office runs like a charm. On the other hand I also had three BSODs, probably due to some problem with the audio driver but I'm not completely sure about that. Anyway, due to several reasons (having more stability and better appearance, better compatibility with clients that almost all use macs, creating (allegedly) higher performance from the user  and, last-but-not-leat one of the company owners being a big mac fan) I will get a Macbook pro next week: My1stMac. Help! I like the 'open' movement as it enables me to choose the best hardware products out there (Media Center, PDA, MP3 player, desktop, laptop, etc)  and still be able to connect them and use them all together as a whole. Mixing in one Apple product doesn't seem to be a great idea. Apple people all think their products are so wonderfully connected and synced to each other, but the real accomplishment would be when it would sync great in other (non-Apple) environments, not just when you only own Apple products. Every heard of vendor lock-in? This protectionism is what I really dislike about Apple. I understand why they do it, but I just hate it.  iTunes for Windows is a second-class product, they have a very strange/ unpredictable policy for the iPhone Apps in the iPhone store and have you ever looked at the folders and decryption stuff on an iPod? If you buy an iPhone or iPod you essentially need a MacBook to get to its full potential. Wouldn't it be nice if they could just make products that are great on their own, without putting crazy stuff in place that makes people dislike using your product when they combine it with other non-Apple stuff? Despite being sad that it didn't work out for me to keep working on an 'open' system, the geek in me is kinda excited at the opportunity at learning yet another operating system. Also, OSX is supposed to be the best OS in terms of usability, so that's something that the Applied Cognitive Psychologist in me is quite curious about. So what will I be taking from Ubuntu to the Mac?

  • Dropbox
  • Jungledisk
  • Tweetdeck
  • Firefox
  • Chrome
  • Skype
  • Filezilla

And of course MS Office will be installed. So If you have any software suggestions for me to at least try when I get my mac, please send me your comments, I already received some nice suggestions! Suggestions in the field of project management, software development, Magento, ecommerce and social networks are all welcome. I also do some (RAW/CR2) photo editing and like to DJ sometimes so if you have suggestions for that too: please let me know. Also: If you know of some good (video) tutorials on how to get started with a macbook, don't hesitate sending them through. Despite the fact I'd like to think of myself as a digital native, I appreciate all the help I can get to make this switch a smooth and quick as possible :).

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