Mac

Switching from Windows to Mac OS – The Software

With my change in OS comes a change in desktop software, at least to a certain extent. There are plenty of apps with native Mac counterparts and in some cases, they’re better than the original. A standard set of software would be – an Office suite, video editor, screen capture tool, chat client, password manager, note taker and web editor. I now have a native Mac app for each one.

For example, Microsoft Office was easily replaced with LibreOffice.

Outlook was replaced by the built in Apple Mail.

And OneNote was replaced with Outline.

While Write replaced Word, I will be using Scrivener that I got a few years ago.

Here is a short list of how it’s worked out so far.

Word -> Scrivener

Microsoft Office -> LibreOffice

OneNote -> Outline

Outlook -> Apple Mail

Irfanview -> Pixelmator.

MediaMonkey -> iTunes

Notepad++ -> TextWrangler

O&O DiskImage -> Time Machine

This is the short list of the apps with native Mac equivalents.

Atom

SnagIt

Camtasia

Scrivener

Scapple

Notebooks

Wordweb

Dropbox, Google Drive

Trillian

Paprika

Virtualbox

WordPress

Roboform

Slack

Github

And of course, Firefox and Chrome.

I also brought in some welcome additions. I have the desktop version of Appigo ToDo to sync with the iPad and TypeIt4Me, a fantastic text expander that’s extremely beneficial for writing, creating templates and filling in forms for some of the testing I do.

One loose end is a replacement for Corel Paintshop Pro. I know there is Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Lightroom and even Affinity Photo, but I’d like a native Mac version. Maybe one day.

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Switching from Windows to Mac OS – The Hardware

Buying a Mac is actually a tricky affair. Because of the expense, my first thought was to build a Hackintosh. I love the idea of it, but it requires some specific hardware, some specific procedures and a bit more dedication to the cause than I’m willing to give. And, if I needed new hardware, I would rather get a real Mac and know full well it works.

But where to start? Any machine would need to have at least 8 cores and 32GB of ram. That’s what I have now and anything less would be a step back. I also need to add quite a bit of hard drive space. That eliminates the Mac Mini.

The iMac, especially the new one with 18 cores, meets the power criteria, but lacks the hard drive capacities and the price tag for that model is in the stratosphere.

The MacBooks are nice, but it doesn’t have the cores or ram, and I’m not keen on having a laptop as my main machine.

It’s down to the Mac Pro, but, with a catch.

The current Mac Pro is impressive, but, you need to think ahead on the hardware you want. However, the previous generation of Mac Pro still has a few tricks. The innards of that big aluminum case contain hardware that is powerful and expandable.

They aren’t produced anymore, but they can easily be found on eBay. Once I started looking, I found the Mac Pro of 2010 and 2012 are far more powerful than I ever imagined. When completely loaded, they support multiple processors with multiple cores per processor and can be fitted with huge amounts of ram and high end video cards.

After comparing prices and specs, I decided to go all-in and bought the biggest machine I could find, which crushes what I have now. It sports 2x 6-core processors at 3.54 Ghz, 128GB of ram, a 1TB SSD main drive, a 1TB data drive, and a staggering Nvidia Titan X video card with 12GB of ram. As a gaming rig, it would set your hair on fire.

But, this will be an application workhorse, so with 128GB of ram, I will create virtual machines bigger than my physical machines. I could also make a massive ram drive so as to stuff dozens of programs into pure memory.

The Titan X won’t be used to it’s full capacity, but it supports multiple monitors and my video won’t lag for years to come. And I’ve already added two 3TB hard drives for more data storage.

It could be overkill, but it has some brutal power. Apps take mere seconds to install and switching between them is near instantaneous. Plus, apps will never starve for ram. When the day comes to retire it out, it will make one hell of a media or web server if nothing else.

I consider it an acceptable upgrade. It goes beyond any Hackintosh or Windows based machine I could have built on my own or ordered for anything close to the price. It will be some years before a machine comes along that has big enough specs to make me upgrade. From here it would need to be 18 cores and 256GB of ram.

mac-system-properties

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Swooped in and grabbed a copy of Outline for Mac for $6.99

I’ve written many times of my fondness for OneNote and since work is almost exclusively Mac based, I’ve been looking for an alternative to use. Yes, I know there is OneNote for Mac, but have you used it? To put it bluntly, it’s a piece of crap. It’s slow, buggy and the requirement of hooking into Windows Live is an utter annoyance. Plus, like so many other Microsoft services, it just doesn’t work correctly.

I have Outline on my iPad and it’s a great app. Now, Outline for Mac has dropped to $6.99 and I jumped at the chance to get a copy. Normally, Outline is $39.99, which I think is outrageously priced. Yes, it’s a good program, but let’s not get ridiculous with our pricing shall we? But hey, $6.99 is more than a fair price.

The install footprint is extremely small with a 38MB download. This is a fraction of what it takes to install the latest version of OneNote.

So far, Outline is working very well. It’s quite, has the tabs I’m used to, allows the local creation of files and is far more responsive than Microsoft OneNote for Mac.

If you’re looking for an usable tool like Microsoft OneNote, but you actually want it to work correctly, I would recommend checking out Outline for Mac. It’s a really good program that is always improving and has all the features of OneNote that I want to use.

Outline for Mac

image

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So it’s time for a paradigm shift in the world of computers

So it’s time for a paradigm shift in the world of computers. In the past I’ve worked for companies that were Microsoft partners, that were Microsoft centric and some that were a mix. A previous web company did a lot of their dev work on Unix machines and even hosted sites on Unix servers, but they had a heavy mix of Windows machines and most of the desktops were Windows machines.

Recently, I switched over to a new company and for the first time in my career, I’ll be exclusively using a Mac. They embrace Open Source and over the years have shifted further and further away from MS products. Today I was given a new MacBook Pro and it’s the only machine I’ll get. It’s the same type of machine everyone else in the office has. The only difference is some are MacBook Air while others are iMac computers. Oh my goodness, this is incredibly different for me. I’ve used Macs in the past, but never as the sole workstation. I have to admit, I feel out of my element.

There is no semblance of Windows here. No Windows workstations, no Exchange Server for email and no AD.

The first order of business is to get used to this environment. I’ve wanted to get a Mac for the longest time and now I’m fully committed. The UI is a bit foreign to me and I’m having a bit of trouble getting around. The main thing I struggle with is where programs are installed. Just where do they go? I know there is no drive concept and it’s all part of the root, but it takes some getting used to.

Another issue is program selection. Some of the tools I’ve come to love and rely on aren’t available anymore. OneNote for Mac is vastly different. Why the devil can’t I save files locally?

I already miss DisplayFusion and ClipboardFusion. Oddly, I sort of miss Outlook as well. I’ve moved over to use the built in Mail client for OSX. It seems decent, but oh my goodness, does it look and feel different.

I also have to get used to the different keystrokes. There is a Control key, but it work the same way. That Command key will be my new friend. Where the devil is PgUp and PgDn?

What the hell is up with this Magic Mouse? This thing is weird!

This is going to be an interesting journey, not only because it’s a new company and a new roll, but going All-In on a Mac. No safety net, no way to jump over to Windows if this doesn’t work out. I have the Mac and that’s all there is to it. I have to make this work. I assume since everyone else here works this way I can adjust, might be a few bumps in the road for me as I change my way of thinking and doing.

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A Quick Look Around SlimBrowser and a Trip on the SlimBoat

I’m not sure what started me on this path or how exactly I landed on the CNET page listing all the browsers, but someone I managed to discover and install SlimBrowser. It has turned out to be a good thing.

For the past several years I’ve used Firefox. I jumped on board with version 2, the same time Microsoft decided that IE6 was so good it didn’t need updating. Firefox offered Tabs, plugins and slew of other features that made it truly awesome.

I still love Firefox and use it everyday. But something intrigued me about SlimBrowser. It was the fact that so many features were built in, yet it was still so small.

SlimBrowser has tabs, there is a SpeedDial like opening screen with the most frequently used pages listed, it has a built in Ad Blocker, it has a built in Pop Up Blocker, there is AutoFill and saving of passwords and there is an improved download manager, plus a whole lot of other stuff I haven’t quite gotten to yet.

And it’s extremely fast in loading web pages.

But here’s the real kicker, it’s riding on top of the Microsoft Internet Explorer rendering engine.

You have to have IE already installed, which is why it’s so small. This is simply a new wrapper on the “Trident” rendering engine. But wow, it works so much faster and looks so much better than IE 10.

I have to use IE 10 at work, but I don’t like it. I find it utter slow, with a horrible UI and it’s complete lack of plugins is just bothersome in this day and age. But this SlimBrowser seems to smooth over that angst.

If that wasn’t enough, there is actually a version of SlimBrowser based on the Webkit engine. It offers the same Ad Blocker, AutoFill, Download Manager and a whole slew of other features.

So there you have it, a whole new set of browsers you can mess around with. One that uses the same files as Microsoft or the one that uses the same files used by Google and Apple.

Either way, this is a pretty slick browser and it has the same plugins I normally have to load. Yet it remains small and incredibly fast. Take it for spin, I bet you’ll be impressed.

SlimBrowser – Trident based browser for Windows

SlimBoat – WebKit based browser for Windows, Mac, Linux.

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