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Technically Speaking All in on IT

I wanted to write a blog post to document how I do some day-to-day things. It helps me to keep track of my work habits, refine them and perhaps help some others who are looking for some solutions.

My current rig is a Apple MacBook Pro 13” unibody. It has the 250Gb drive with 4Gb memory. I am running the latest version of OS X Leopard. I am really enjoying the 13” form factor. It is a little smaller and lighter than the previous 15” unibody which, to me, just felt heavy. I also don't notice the lost two inches in the screen the way I thought I might. Plus, you have much more power than with the MacBook Air. This model may be a favorite with an executive looking to run on a Mac. But it doesn't say executive status the way an Air does, I know! I have also noticed that in the two weeks I have been using it, not once has the battery been hot as it constantly was with the 15”. I have no idea if this is due to the new built-in battery or something they changed on the airflow or internals. However, my lap is very happy.

I have three browsers loaded: the latest Safari v4.0.1, FireFox 3.5 and Google Chrome developer build. I do the bulk of my browsing in Safari but once in a while a page will act funny and I will switch over to FireFox. However, the SSL VPN that my employer uses only works with Safari. On the downside, Safari has been hanging quite a lot when using the SSL VPN. Lots of non-responsive force quits. And, Safari wont automatically recover my lost tabs for me the way FireFox will.

For Tweets I rely on TweetDeck. Although I am not a fan of the memory leaks associated with Adobe Air apps, its suits my work habits the best. I like being able to span the columns across a large external monitor and view many searches at once.

My personal email is handled through GMail in the browser where it works brilliantly. I have no need to download it to another client on my Mac or Windows clients. By the same token I also use Google Reader for my RSS feeds. It leaves no data on my client and when I switch computers, to say, my home computer or rebuild my laptop (as I often do) I can pick up right where I left off. Easy peasy.

I run a Windows 7 virtual machine on my Mac in VMWare Fusion. I have heard some good things about Sun’s Virtual Box and may try that soon. I run a Windows virtual machine for a couple of reasons:

  1. My employer’s applications and tools are still largely Windows-centric. There are more Macs in the business now and gaining but they still aren't first-class citizens when it comes to apps and tools. We are getting there though. The VPN issue is a big one. Visio is another. I still haven't found a Mac app that replaces Visio or can read\modify Visio files. Ditto for Outlook and Microsoft Exchange. As many Mac people know, Entourage is a pitiful replacement for Outlook. It gets better with the Web Services beta but you need Exchange 2007 – which is also a requirement for the coming Snow Leopard enhancements and I am sad to say we are still running Exchange 2003.
  2. Did I mention no MS Visio or Outlook native Mac versions?
  3. We also use MS SharePoint heavily and while Safari does a good job with the sites, there are some things that don’t quite translate and I need to bop over to IE for.
  4. There still isn't, IMO, a blogging tool as good (or as $free) as Windows Live Writer for the Mac. I am keeping my eye out though. And certainly none I have tried that can automatically blog to a SharePoint site as Windows Live Writer can.

 

I don't game on my computer other than the odd hand of Texas Hold ‘em Poker so no worries there.

I use MS Office for the Mac 2008 (sans Entourage) for my office needs. I also utilize Google Docs on a small scale for some personal stuff. I try to store as much of my data that isn't sensitive in the cloud. I live Windows Live SkyDrive at the moment as it provides a bigger quota (25 Gb) over Windows Live Mesh (a measly 5Gb). However, SkyDrive is a manual process and to make matters worse, you cannot drag and drop folders, only files. Which is a real PITA for copying over folders of docs and a music library is almost impossible. I lost a lot of data with MS Live Mesh before I understood some of the subtleties. For instance, when you hit your quota, data added continues to sync between computers, but does not load to the cloud. Flatten the computers and lose the data that is overage. Ouch for those not in the know.

I use iTunes for my music management as I also use a company provided iPhone. I am very fortunate that I get to test out a goodly number of mobile devices and portable computers. IMO iTunes works as well as any other media management app. I am a generalist in my music and media usage and as such my needs are pretty basic.

For remote connectivity I use a Sprint Novatel USB Broadband dongle. The software is Mac and Windows compatible and runs well. On the Mac, it places an icon in the menu bar that I can initiate a connection from. In Windows 7 it is simply recognized by the OS and is an option on the connect menu under wireless once you install the drivers. No 3rd party software required.

For note taking I had always loved what I consider to be the best in the field: Microsoft OneNote. On a Mac however, not so much, as there isn't a version available. I sometimes think (believe strongly) that Microsoft decided to take their three most popular productivity apps (Outlook, Visio and OneNote) and omit them from Office for the Mac just out of spite. Since I needed an app that works across Mac, Windows and iPhone if possible I have been using EverNote. EverNote is wonderful and almost as well done as OneNote. There is also a Windows Mobile and Blackberry version.

Posted on Friday, July 10, 2009 3:33 PM | Back to top


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