This is the third installment of a series of pieces that I have been writing about my experiences with my new Apple iBook and MacOS X Panther having been a long-term Windows user.Editorial Notice: All opinions are those of the author and not necessarily those of osnews.com
The first piece described my initial impressions of the iBook and of Panther along with the networking problems that I faced. The second rather controversial piece described my opinions about sections of the Mac community. In other words, it was a personal rant about Mac zealots. In this third piece I aim to present a more objective view of whether it is possible to use the Mac productively in the academic environment in which I work.
Before I start, I should acknowledge the multitude of digital artists and creative professionals who quite obviously get serious work on their Macs every day. If I were such a person, the answer to question in the title would be a resounding yes. However, I am not a creative professional, so are my needs adequately met by the Mac platform?
I am a physician specialising in pulmonary medicine. I am currently taking time out from hospital medicine in order to concentrate on research. When I sit down at a computer at work, the applications I use are mostly the same as any office worker: Outlook (as a MS Exchange client) for e-mail, contacts and diary, Word for writing papers, PowerPoint for presentations, Access for patient databases and Internet Explorer for web browsing. For statistics and graphing I use GraphPad Prism although a lot of same the same functionality could be achieved using Excel. There are a few other more specialist scientific applications the details of which I won’t go into. Overall, the majority of my professional computer use is with everyday applications that are used by most people in most other professions so my needs are in no way esoteric.
As you can see, Microsoft plays a rather important role in my computing life so the first step in introducing my Mac to the workplace will be installing Microsoft Office v. X. Thankfully, I can install a copy of this for free onto my iBook under the Microsoft Campus Agreement with Work at Home Rights. No problems so far. Virtual private networking is essential for all those mornings that I want a lie in. Windows XP has the simplest of VPN Wizards that make the setting up process a breeze. Can Panther compete? It most certainly can. I set up a VPN connection to my University network from home without a hint of a problem.
I have a couple of gigabytes of space on the departmental servers at work which I regularly have to access from home. With the multitude of problems that Panther has with SMB shares (including a persisting inability to browse my own home network – even with 10.3.3), I had little hope that this would work. Amazingly, it did. I was able to browse SMB shares from my iBook for the first time ever. Unfortunately, this was not problem-free. I found a rather consistent way of completely locking up Panther by attempting to open any large file stored in the share. I could work around the problem by copying the file from the shared directory onto my Mac and then open and work on this local copy. When finished I would then have to copy it back into its original shared location – rather inconvenient but not a huge issue. Despite this minor SMB sharing success, I am still unable to access shares from my own Windows desktop PC at home. This may well be due to an idiosyncrasy with my home network setup but it’s a problem that I am unable to remedy. Needless to say, other XP machines have no problems networking with my home PC.
Right, let’s get some work done. My first task was to write a presentation for a weekly meeting outlining my research findings. I opened up some old PowerPoint presentations that I had written on Windows machines to make sure that the Mac version of PowerPoint was fully compatible. Unfortunately, I came across a rather fundamental problem. My presentations contain many graphs. These graphs have been created with GraphPad Prism and then cut and pasted into the PowerPoint presentation. The graph file is stored in the PowerPoint presentation as a Windows metafile. When you open these presentations on the Mac, the Windows metafiles have to be converted in a Mac-friendly format. This conversion is far from perfect. Vertical text (which is used to label the Y-axes of the graphs) becomes garbled in the conversion process. To be fair, most users are unlikely to ever come across this problem, but for me it makes the Mac version of PowerPoint a non-starter.
My next PowerPoint task was to write a presentation for an audience of physicians describing a few unusual and difficult-to-treat cases of severe asthma. The presentation consisted mainly of slides of text along with a few jpegs (no windows metafiles), so I took the gamble of writing it on the Mac. After spending a few hours on the presentation, it became clear that both PowerPoint and Word on the Mac are incredibly sluggish applications. It’s hard to believe that an application that spends 99% of the time waiting for the user’s input can feel sluggish but Microsoft has managed to achieve this on the Mac. How much processing power can it take for a character to appear on the screen promptly after it has been typed on the keyboard? Nevertheless, I completed the presentation and stored it on a Zip disk (yes, we still use those things in our department!) ready to be displayed on the Windows PC in the departmental lecture theatre. Due to the ‘do it at the last minute’ philosophy that I employ in most of my work, I forgot to try out the presentation on a Windows machine. The potential consequences of such an oversight did not dawn on me until a few minutes before the actual presentation was due to start. Looking inept in front of an audience of international asthma specialists due to a PowerPoint presentation not displaying correctly would not have done my career any good. To my huge relief, there were no such problems. The presentation ran entirely correctly on the Windows machine and my career prospects remained intact.
Word has the same metafile conversion issues but is otherwise very usable and I have not come across any other incompatibilities. Microsoft Access is not available on the Mac and I am not inclined to buy myself a copy of FileMaker Pro to see if it can read my Access databases. So far my ‘use my Mac at work’ experiment has not been particularly successful but the worst is yet to come….
I was not a Mac user when Microsoft first introduced Office v. X but I sincerely hope that there was an appropriately vociferous outcry at the replacement of Outlook with Entourage. Having installed the update that supposedly adds support for Microsoft Exchange, I attempted to access my e-mail, contacts database and appointments diary while connected to the network at work. Things were promising at first: I was able to access my e-mail folders without problems. I then tried looking at my contacts and appointments but Entourage refused to play ball. A quick call to the IT helpdesk offered no solutions, although they were kind enough to laugh at me for even attempting to get Entourage to work. I also tried out Entourage via VPN from home. Again, there was no joy with contacts and appointments but this time there were also problems with e-mail. I was not able to access my inbox folder but was able to access all the other e-mail folders (including folders nested within my inbox) – bizarre. Why on earth would the Mac Business Unit replace a robust, functional MAPI client with a castrated, bastardised excuse for an e-mail solution. My heart sinks at the thought of Entourage continuing its reign of terror in Office 2004.
So, can you get serious work done on a Mac? Unfortunately, I can’t. My iBook has not entered my workplace for over 3 months. However, I now use my Mac for things far more important than work. I use it to organise photos of my family, to edit videos of my baby daughter and to store my music collection – things that it does better than any other computing platform.
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Are typical for Microsoft. You cannot blame Apple in this regard.
Lets point this out from a physicians point of view, what Microsoft does is user lock in, basically what they do would be the same as drug companies make you addicted to their brand of drugs and lock other companies out so that a switch to another drug with similiar effects is painful.
What happened with Entourage is that you ran in some undocumented stuff from Exchange. The Exchange server uses documented protocols for their mail exchange but for the rest people have to reverse engineer.
I´d say either live with it, move to another groupware suite which is more open (a nono probably since you have to rely on somebody else) or find a reverse engineered exchange plugin, which should be possible (others… Ximian the producer of a similar groupware client, have done the job)
Ah yes btw. good luck writing bigger papers and books with Word, I don´t know the Mac version but the Windows version is known to choke on big documents. Although it might be a little bit tough try to move to LaTeX in the end you will save weeks of pain, caused by corrupted documents, weird layouting problems and other stuff Word related.
I have had some recent successes and failures in my own attempts to use a Mac in the Windows academic world.
Success – just as I was staring lecture notes for a new course, I saw that MathType 5 has come out. This allows me to add non-inline equations (in color if I choose) to my PowerPoint presentation and still be able to edit the equations later, unlike LaTeX-based solutions for the Mac. Before I was trying out TeXpoint on Windows running in VirtualPC!
Failure – just today I learned that ArcGIS, a program we license, is only available on Windows. I guess I will have to get a PC…
Success – I was playing around with my CDMA phone and found that bitpim now has a Mac version.
Failure – I downloaded the PalmOS 6 (Cobalt) simulator, which only runs on a PC. I got it to work slowly on Virtual PC.
Good news – the next version of Office for the Mac will use the PowerPoint presentation screen if your laptop supports external monitoring, like the Powerbooks do.
In my line of real work there is no such thing as software written so as the user can use a MAC…..its all done with DOS or Windows…..which happens to make everybody happy by the way because it just works !!
While Apple continues to sprial downwards, it is even less likely that anyone will take up the challange.
I’ve been considering a Mac for a while now, but it seems I always end up reading stories like this one that make me hesitate.
As far as the Office problems, I’d rather use OO.org but, it isn’t my choice with all the formating problems when converting to MS office. Of course, MS Office is the approved corporate program for our business…
It looks like either way, it would be a lot of problems, that I don’t want to have to deal with. I’ve usually got enough to do in the day to make me hesitate about spending hours trying to get OO or Mac Office programs working right…
Guess that is what happens when the user numbers are against you…
Again, I fail to understand how all this related to being able to do some “serious work” on the Mac platform. For example, let’s look at this:
> Failure – just today I learned that ArcGIS, a program
> we license, is only available on Windows. I guess I
> will have to get a PC…
Now, let’s look at it from a Mac user:
Well, I was wondering if I could get some serious work
done under Windows. You see, i rely heavily and exclusively on Keynote, the Apple presentation software. After hour and hours of trials and errors, i came to the conclusion that Keynote is not avalaible under the Windows platform, and that powerpoint would not open my Keynote files! This is just the proof that no work can be done with Windows…
Sounds stupid isn’it? But yet, this is what we always hear from Windows user. What they fails to realize is that they have been locked. But still, instead of trying to break free, they locked themselves more and more.
Anyway, that was not a bad article, but the question, IMHO, is really badly formulated. The article should rather be: “Can *I* make some serious work with Mac, *while at the same time* still use all the wonderful apps that have locked me in…”
And yes, I do realize that this provocative title was mildered in the body of the article.
I am geophysician and i make very often presentations using Office on mac. I alwats got my job done, although Office has few bugs and performance problems that Microsoft really don’t want to fix.
Besides that Office mac is fine, i would even say that it is better than the pc version regarding to the interface and some mac only features.
I think that the title of this article is too general. I have the feeling that the author had a bad experience with Office and automatically conclude that the mac is only good for photo, video and music activities.
A mac is naturally designed for serious work, I use the mac every day and i get serious work done every day. I make all my complex simulation, i write all my papers, and i prepare all my presentation using the mac.
And the question of the article was “Can you get serious work done on a mac?”, and yes i can!!!
Did you update Office X with the 5 (five!!!) patches from Microsoft? They make a lot of difference!
Don’t want to use a Mac? Don’t use one.
Want to use a Mac but can’t get the apps you need? Don’t use one, or use one but stop being such a whiner.
Lots of people get lots of work done on Macs. I’m sorry you didn’t have any luck.
I dont own a Mac, but I love Panther installed on the Mac in our lab … there are so many cool things to play around with. It’ll be a while until the excitement dies down, and I start getting serious work done on it
I don’t like Mac so i don’t use it but i don’t blame to Mac, but i hate that the most of the Mac users tell i don’t use a PC because i don’t like Windows… ¬_¬ PC is NOT only windows, we’ve a lot of Operative Systems, for example BeOS (this O.S. comes from Mac but now it’s only for PC’s and it rocks ), UNIX (thanks to it we have internet), QNX… and many others. So please if you don’t like Windows don’t say you don’t like PC because PC is the hardware and Windows is the O.S. is the same i compare MacOS X with the older versions of MacOS, by the way MacOS X is based on UNIX… well the last thing that i can say is that if you want Mac use it if not don’t use it, the same for PC’s. Greetings.
I am using an iBook G3 in my daily Office live without any problems so far. I use Word an PowerPoint on the Mac, no probs with that. If you have problems with *Microsoft* Office for Mac, than send them some bug reports (Btw I will def. buy Office 2004 for Mac..). We have a network of 30 Sun Workstations, 200 Windows PCs, some Linux PCs and sometimes one Mac(:-)). So far 10.3 never choked on me while using SMB shares, but we are using Samba on Solaris for the main fileserver, and Windows Server for the Windows profiles. All I can say is that my iBook has some flaws, but nothing so serious that I can not use it at work. Even Matlab runs as advertised.
But really I can not find any reasons to write three lousy articles about it. Perhaps you should write about Microsoft Office problems on different architectures..
Considering the fundamental problem you have, I’m suprised by most of your success. Your workplace is deeply entrenched in Microsoft hell and all of your frustrations are caused by Microsoft’s proprietary applications, protocols, and filetypes not playing well with the rest of the world.
Is it surprising that Microsoft’s apps on the Mac are less robust than on Windows? Of course not! If Microsoft’s apps worked better on the Mac then people would switch… not good for the monopoly!
I’m not sure what political agenda Microsoft has, but there’s no excuse in not allowing the Mac Business Unit at MS to write a proper Exchange component for Entourage. Maybe they like the fact that Windows IT guys laugh at Mac users who cannot connect to their “castrated, bastardised excuse for an e-mail solution”
If it were not for these Microsoft vendor lock-in problems, you could get a lot of serious work done on your Mac. Virginia Tech, Genentech, Pixar, NASA, the US Navy, and many other scientifc centers of academia have proven that it’s not only possible, but practical.
I realize that in a perfect world it would be great to use the same application in multiple operating systems. I’d say that almost all the time, there’s an equivalent application for the windows version. Sometimes the mac version is better, sometimes is not. Sometimes it’s easy to move data from mac to windows, sometimes is not. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world and if you want to do serious work in a mac you have learn to use the mac equivalent. Now, to the real question? Can you really do serious work with a Mac?? Yes… Can you still communicate 100% efficiently with the Windows World?? Maybe not… You choose….
I work in the graphic design industry..
and I use both Windows and Macintosh extensively. in *all* my experience we spend more time maintaining the Windows machines then we do actually working on them. This is *not* flame bait- this is real life.
We have some serious deadlines, large projects and short amounts of time to achieve the best results we can. I steer clear of windows when it comes to real work. I just want to execute my ideas without having to problem solve the OS on the way.
Point and case today- a colleague using Win2000, designing a website- had Adobe illustrator open, and decided he needed to restart after some issues ( don’t know what they were) so he quits illustrator, only to have his files disappear, and all the close, minimize and maximize widgets turn grey, and therefore unusable, and unable to properly quit illustrator. He spent most the afternoon fixing the problem.
Meanwhile, I looked on in disappointment as I could see his frustration levels rising. I was working on a PowerMac and dint have any problems, and haven’t had any problems for.. well to be honest I don’t remember the last time we had any issues with that machine- nor any mac we have.
Not to say Macs never fuk-up, but I can say with absolute confidence that 98% of the time Macintoshes are extremely reliable in a fast paced and heavy work load environment.
further- imo MS Office work isn’t really an intensive work load & if there were some problems with entourage etc- try looking at the maker of the Software- not the Computer it runs on
thx for the article nonetheless.
(btw- I really didnt like OS9 and found windows more reliable- but as both have matured, I can’t stress how well OSX + Apple hardware has become. I wont go back to Windows just because of this very reason. I wont go back to working on my work load AND the OS. Nowadays I work on my work)
I work in IT and have used my Powerbook G4 at work for a couple of years now since I “switched” from Windows XP and I have to say I love it – I hardly use my 3GHz P4 desktop. I use Mac Office for all my documentation, I have a huge range of unix tools available to me, I love the iApps (I think Entourage sucks as it happens) and frankly, I have not used Windows for anything other than games in over a year. The mail client integrates with our exchange server at work (using imap) and I much prefer iCal as a calendar to the one in Entourage/Outlook. The other useful thing about the iApp suite is their seemless integration with bluetooth phones (even Nokia ones now). My friends and colleagues who have attempted this on Windows do not have such an easy time.
When I got my Mac it was a risk – I didn’t know anyone who had one – but I had read great things about OS X, I loved the idea of a Unix workstation that looked better than Windows and I wasn’t disappointed. There were problems with earlier versions of OS X but 10.3 is amazing – it felt like I was getting a new laptop, that’s how much faster it felt and on day to day activities (not involving raw number crunching) it feels every bit as responsive as my 3GHz PC (over 3 times the clock speed of my 800MHz powerbook).
Cutting and pasting a picture into powerpoint is a very very bad idea. I used to work in tech support for my university in my undergraduate years, and Powerpoint has untold problems with handling images that have been copy-pasted into it. The strange thing is, that it works usually, fails occasionally. We had so much trouble trying to figure out what was wrong, and finally, the only solution was to tell users to insert pictures by doing Insert->Picture from the menubar.
I use Word and Excel daily on my powerbook 12″. I’ve never encountered any of the problems Dr Rubaiyat faced. Without knowing how much RAM he has, my guess is that more RAM will help.
But as others have mentioned already, most of his problems stem from the fact that his workplace is deeply entrenched in Microsoft technology. SMB, Windows metafiles, Office documents, Outlook/Exchange.
On my Powerbook, I use TeXShop for writing LaTeX documents, BibDesk for Bibtex documents, lots of MATLAB, the usual office worker stuff like Office, emails and browsing the web. I rarely program in Java or C++ these days, but I used to on my Powerbook.
What I’m trying to say is, it is possible to get serious work done on a Mac, even if you aren’t a graphics person. I’m doing research in computer science, and it works for me. But, as you’ve discovered in your paper, your mileage might vary.
I made the switch and yes it was a little bit frustrating in the begining. I used Approach (great App. that IBM killed). Since there was no Approach for the Mac I bought FileMaker and had to bulid up a new database in import the old stuff. I just Smartsuite and Office on the PC no problems at all tom make them Work with Office on the Mac. When Keynote came out I bought it, it don’t have all the future as PowerPoint but it makes your presenation look really good, so if your presentation counts it is worth the time to make them on Keynote.
The article is like I don’t see the forrest beacuse of all the trees.
Everyone have to make a choice, and of course you can make serious work on a Mac as well as on a PC. But with the difference that your work on a PC with Windows is exposed to 100000 viruses, that is reasons enough for me to use a Mac.
Unless I can press Ctrl+Alt+F<x> and get to a terminal where I can use a text-mode editor, I don’t consider the platform productive. Only Unix lets me do this with high-res terminal windows w/o additional setup. Although, you can set up an SSH server and then do a full screen terminal on Mac or Windows (yes, I know that Mac is Unix now but not in this case).
Is it just me or does anyone else hate typing something important with all of these icons, menus and buttons all over the place. In that sense, I do miss the days of DOS (but not its low-res text-modes) and non-WYSIWYG word processors.
“I’ve been considering a Mac for a while now, but it seems I always end up reading stories like this one that make me hesitate.”
Why did this guy buy a Mac in the first place? His first article started off like this
“I have been using Windows in its various guises for the past 10 years. I am comfortable with Windows. It has served me well. ___I am a happy Windows user___.”
He says in the first article he thought macs were pretty. So he was a happy windows guy, thought macs were pretty, and then is upset that his new mac doesnt work perfectly with microsofts closed protocols etc.
Honestly whats the point of this article? Page hits?
You didn’t indicate whether you had applied the Exchange Update for Entourage X. If you haven’t then you should.
GraphicConverter will probably deal with your Win metafile graphics and you can do a batch conversion!
And there are some suggested ways of adding shares that overcome large file access performance problems – see Apple’s KnowledgeBase for more.
Access is a bit of a problem. But its rather like not changing autos because you like the stick-shift on your current car so much. Sometimes you just need to move up to something better – and FileMaker is better!
SMB and CIFS is a Microsoft monopoly. It’s not a fully open protocol. The SAMBA guys are always playing catch up…
XP introduces some additional security to the SMB protocol (which may have been there in Win2K too come to think of it). This additional security screws up SAMBA unless you have a *really* up to the minute version of it – I’ve no idea how frequently Apple update it.
Another point; in my experience, as soon as you turn on Active directories and/or non plain text passwording (turn off simple networking) it becomes pretty impossible to get SAMBA to talk to XP machines, though it often works in reverse (XP talks to SAMBA..) Again, the version of SAMBA you are using greatly improves the chances of it actually working.
… of locking you into your Windows environment. So a round of applause for Billy Gee, please
On a more serious note, I feel genuinely sorry for you that you were not able to achieve the results you wanted on your Mac. Its such a nice plattform to use, and always gets the ‘Ooos’ and ‘Aaaahs’ from colleagues
Personally, I also work in a predominately Windows bias environment, but my job is programming Java, and that can be done with no problems on the Mac. Thankfully we also deploy to Solaris machines, which again is absolutely no problem from a Mac.
Anyway – just my 2¢
A majority of the folks who worked at the NWA SOC (System Operations Control at MSP), including flight dispatchers and other critical personnel, used the Mac as their primary desktop platform. Most of them didn’t have Windows boxes at all, though there were some Solaris boxes as well.
That’s a critical area for the entire airline, as its the nervecenter for the entire company’s flight operations.
The ASD (Aircraft Situation Display) was Mac-based, the Meteorologists did much of their weather reporting to the aircraft using Macs (including the drawing of Turbulence Plot regions), and even some of the file servers in that area of the airline were Mac boxes.
They’ve been using that platform at NWA in that area since something like 1991 (the original Mac desktops were Mac IIci’s running MacOS 7.01 with a pair of 20″ monitors — take a guess at the cost of those puppies at that point in time! :-))
This article feels like pure FUD. Didn’t anybody at OSnews bother to explain the Facts of OS Life to this poor doctor? I also know a doctor who rants about Macs being bad because he gets borked powerpoint files from a department that works with Macs and MS office for mac.
It’s Microsoft that is responsible for this mess! Proprietory file formats, bad converters, no graceful handling of copy-and-paste. Macs work allright. Microsoft doesn’t.
when being so bold as to use an other platform than Windows?
No, you can’t.
You will encounter problem after problem, not created by necessity, but by MS on purpose.
It doesn’t even work when you use the only other platform some MS software runs on.
A truly sad state of affairs, but certainly nothing to blame the Mac for.
…and the same can be said for my 100+ customers who ALL are using OS X 10.2 and 10.3 while running anything from Photoshop to Open Source apps plus playing games anything from UT2003 to old pre OS X games like Monkey Island 2
Their Macs are anything >=iBook 333 to Dual G5s…
One more time, YES I CAN! So, there… :p
So, can you get serious work done with Microsoft products? Unfortunately, I can’t.
Take a good look at the software you’re trying to use, then at your problems, and think about where the problems lie. It’s this sort of unthinking attitude that’s let Microsoft dominate for so long with such mediocre products. I find it hard to believe that you’re complaining about a word processor and presentation program, when there are thousands of other ones out there which will do what you need and more, on many different platforms. The fact you’ve chosen two of the few which lock you into their own binary formats seems to escape you. I’m sure if someone had suggested a word processor with a binary file format 20 years ago people would have laughed.
Next time you write an article perhaps you could consider a less inflamatory title which comes closer to describing your argument. Despite your caveat in the first para, you are indeed implying that the millions of people who use OS X don’t get ‘serious work’ (whatever that means) done with it. This was to be expected I suppose after the previous article tilting at ‘Mac Zealots’. At least you chose a fitting date for publishing it.
Why on earth would the Mac Business Unit replace a robust, functional MAPI client with a castrated, bastardised excuse for an e-mail solution?
Why indeed; perhaps to dominate the market by leading gullible users to believe that there is only one way to do things (on Windows, with Microsoft)?
fter hour and hours of trials and errors, i came to the conclusion that Keynote is not avalaible under the Windows platform, and that powerpoint would not open my Keynote files! This is just the proof that no work can be done with Windows…
Sounds stupid isn’it? But yet, this is what we always hear from Windows user. What they fails to realize is that they have been locked.
I can’t help but wonder if the Apple Keynote program has an open file format? And if not, are they not guilty of what everyone accuses MS of, lock-in?
So what we’ve established is that it is possible to do serious work on a Mac, except MS won’t play nice. If the API’s were documented, I guarantee that there would be multiple Exchange clients on every platform. If a company doesn’t agree with an open source approach, they should at least document their interfaces. Especially on a tool as important as Exchange, just think of how many businesses and government organizations rely on it. I promise, if the US and other governments started requiring documented API’s, things would change. To be honest, I can’t imagine a good reason they don’t already.
Until that magic day comes when we can all communicate with our software any way we chose, this sounds like a case of using the wrong tool for the job. I get lots of serious work done on my Mac, but my programs are gcc, perl, bash scripts… serious tools for serious work. The most serious work my Win2K box gets is Neverwinter Nights. If it weren’t for that, I wouldn’t even have the thing.
can’t help but wonder if the Apple Keynote program has an open file format? And if not, are they not guilty of what everyone accuses MS of, lock-in?
Keynote uses a XML format. You can find description of this format on the Apple developer site…
In my opinion Apple is trying to work with other platforms and has a good attitude towards OSS etc.
O BTW I’m a developer and switched to OS X (when it was at 10.1.5) and I can get my work done just fine.
Just my 2 euro cents!
Guess it depends on the type of “real work” one wants to get done. Plenty of “real work” gets done on Macintosh sytems in the creative industries.
I’m rather surprised at the level of hostility that some posters are expressing at my article. This isn’t intended to be a piece of anti-Mac propaganda. It’s an honest account of my experience of using a Mac in my workplace – a very Windows-centric environment. Clearly, many of the problems are the fault of Microsoft rather than the fault of Apple. If there are any non-Microsoft products that do the job better AND retain full file compatibility (I think that a lot of you don’t appreciate the importance of this in the real world) then please tell me about them. OpenOffice.org unfortunately is not quite there yet.
I work in the area of biomechanics which means that I work closely with orthopaedic surgeons. One such surgeon uses Macintosh almost exclusively. He uses a Macintosh notebook at the hospital and has several Macs at home. He has recently authored a book using the Mac, he writes papers and presentations on the Mac, and even interfaces with medical databases on the Mac. I myself use Linux and easily transfer files with this doctor. Another collegue is a died in the wool Windows user.
That said, I expect that your own issues with using Mac to be productive are exactly that – your own issues. Arguing about which OS allows you to be more productive is pointless as everyone has their own preferences and habits.
— “Unless I can press Ctrl+Alt+Fx and get to a terminal where I can use a text-mode editor, I don’t consider the platform productive.”
Its worth pointing out that software is in fact available for OSX that gives the same functionality, and although I don’t use it myself, I hear works just fine.
Plus, if you really want to go pure console, you can always log into OSX with ‘>console’ in the username and no password. It’ll dump the GUI entirly and leave you at a standard UNIX login prompt.
I get plenty of serious work done on my PowerBook and Linux workstations. When forced to use Windows, I find it to be less useful and less productive.
I would have to agree with others on this. Why are you blaming apple for 3rd party software problems? I see this all the time in my department as a graphic designer. PC zelots (and there are alot more of you than mac ones) when theres a problem with Illustrator or Photoshop the first thing out of there mouths is stupid macs. I would like to hear a story about a graphic designer switching over to a pc. I am shur they would find the same problems.
The comments are hostile (so was mine!) but this is OSnews, not the Clueless People Gazette. Before I condemm a platform as you did, I would get informed. Microsofts practices regarding file formats are common knowledge, and it would have been fairly easy to find out before writing that article just by asking a few people here in the forum. How would you react if somebody called all doctors in your hospital incompetent for no good reason?
— “I’m rather surprised at the level of hostility that some posters are expressing at my article. This isn’t intended to be a piece of anti-Mac propaganda. It’s an honest account of my experience of using a Mac in my workplace – a very Windows-centric environment. Clearly, many of the problems are the fault of Microsoft rather than the fault of Apple.”
The problem is that this is not what the article says. The title is especially poorly chosen, as the article is not at all asking wether serious work can be done on a Mac. It only asks “wether a windows user in an all microsoft environment can use a mac as a drop in replacment without any trouble”. I knew the answer was no already, as would most. Frankly, you hardly put any effort into trying to use your mac. Solutions to the exchange and powerpoint issues are possible with a little work and flexability.
— “If there are any non-Microsoft products that do the job better AND retain full file compatibility (I think that a lot of you don’t appreciate the importance of this in the real world) then please tell me about them. OpenOffice.org unfortunately is not quite there yet.”
OpenOffice.org does a pretty good job. Once again however, you aren’t looking for an alternative for anything. You’re looking for drop in replacments. They will never ever ever exist, because microsoft will do anything they can to make it impossible. Its business sense, and to not do so is negligence on their part, and the stock holders would be rightly displeased. If you want to open and view proprietery MS formats perfectly, you need MS software running on MS Windows. By design.
If you really want alternatives, it will take some real effort and real flexibility. Its worth it though, really.
Can I get some work done on MacOs. You can’t generalise people’s work. It is that simple
This one was too funny. I work for the largest Microsoft customer in the world. I use the fastest machines available to complete my mission. I’m writing this on a G5 1.6, networked into the largest LAN in the world. I read about the problems people are having in the civilian community and I have to smile and shake my head. Your system administrators are letting you down if you can’t get a machine running 10.3 on a LAN. If you can’t do “serious” work with a Mac, then I doubt any OS is going to help. I use BOTH platforms on a daily basis. Each has it’s own merits. To perform my mission on a daily basis, based on reliability and capabilities, my G5 outperforms the Dual 2.4 PC I also have. Within my work center, I have 10 Mac work stations, an Xserve, and 4 iBooks. I do all the system admin work on all those machines. They all WORK. I also have 6 PC work stations that we use whenever they work, none of which have EVER been working at the same time. Despite the fact that we have over 60 trained and certified system administrators assigned to my squadron. Virus alerts, patches, updates, I just have to smile and shake my head.
Ha! You write an article about macs that doesn’t end up with wondrous praise and you expect friendly responses?!
I’ve got news for you: Mac users are blind fanatics (well, just some, not all).
I’m so tired of reading these stories. Why not spin it and write an article about Can I do serious work in Linux? Like some of the replies stated above, you have locked yourself into the programs you use. No every windows app is available for the mac, BUT there are alternatives. Do a little homework before you buy your next computer.
Make a list of your needs, and buy for you, not for everyone else. I use Fedora, OS X and XP everyday. We all got older computers laying around, they don’t all need to be new. I use AutoCAD everyday on XP, and everything else in Fedora or OS X. You don’t need to live in a one world OS people.
My iBook has given me the best computing experience running OS X, but I get other uses for using XP and Fedora. There’s no AutoCAD for Linux or OS X, but not going to write an article about staying with Windows only. Live a little, and learn some. For most users who need the basics, there’s no excuse to use other operating systems, everything works. It’s professionals like me, who need to decide to switch CAD applications and stick to one OS, or jump around and use others at the same time.
Just my 2 cents, guys. These stories are just to much anti-mac which you can switch to anti-linux if you really wanted to. I love all the OSes I use daily, each one has a greater purpose for me. We are not all the same and do the same job or have the same needs. Just remember that when ‘you’ go buy a new computer, list your needs and don’t read all this BS and scare yourself to stick to Windows. If you’re open minded to everything, why not your OS platform?
” I also have 6 PC work stations that we use whenever they work, none of which have EVER been working at the same time”
That’s your problem, not a problem with the PC platform in general. Unless there is something seriously wrong with the hardware, they’ll work fine. I’ve certainly seen enough Macs sporting the “sad Mac” icon over the years…. including one that would crash upon using the scanner.
Your system administrators are definitely letting you down.
If PCs functioned as poorly as you say, then no one would ever get anything done on them. That is rather obviously not the case – especially for higher-end work. The equipment in your unit was certainly not *designed* on a Mac.
BTW, you really ought to patch your Mac too.
“I use it to organise photos of my family, to edit videos of my baby daughter and to store my music collection”
This statement is so patronizing.
This article really blew. I really can’t understand why these ppl get press space. I’m an IT pro of 10 years now, and I recently converted. I do nearly all of my work on my 17 inch Powerbook. Lets see, I’ve got the most of the best Windows software available, all of Apple’s great software, and just about anything from Linux as well. For me its like the best of all worlds. Thats without mentioning the peice of mind in not having to worry about security, virus, worms, popups, spyware, and adware. OSX as come further in 3 years than Windows has for over a decade.
So, can you get serious work done on a Mac?
I do nearly all my work on a Mac these days, serious or otherwise. Of course, I don’t consider “serious” work to be making my Mac act like a Windows clone. I consider “serious” work to be the research I do. Maybe I will write an article about it, since articles like this one are getting tiring.
All of the programs that I run are available for both platforms, and I try hard to make sure they are.
For cad don’t use autoCAD it is too hard to use. I use vectorworks which is available for Mac and PC. Archicad, FormZ, Sketchup are all crossplatform and are what Autocad will be in 5 years. Programs that were designed for the MAC and later were brought to Windows are the best programs. Should I make a list.
Photoshop, Word, Excel, Vectorworks, RealBasic……
Programs that are windows only tend to suck.
A: No, I tried to use it with the screws I have left over from my last building project and it didn’t work too well. Hammers are a total disappointment
Can you get serious work done? I would think the work completed by grahic design studios and advertising agencies is proof enough. What about the new agencies using Apple hardware/software. The only complaint I’ve had is no pro graphics for 3D artists. Gaming cards are not considered an alternative for highend studios working in film, broadcast or games. It’s ironic that when Nothing Real owned Shake they only supported highend cards but since Apple took over they only support gaming cards on Apple hardware. Shake for Linux lists pro graphics hardware. Makes you wonder what’s Apple’s logic in all of this?
“Lock-In” has been and issue with Apple as well as Microsoft. Both limit you in some respect. Those that claim it only happens to Windows users must have not had their morning cup of java or not enough experience with either platform.
Last is asking why OSNews considered a Pharmacist’s review of Apple newsworthy? This guy obviously is a newbie to networking systems let alone using Apple hardware/software. I would of trusted an article from an experienced IT Admin than this guy.
The only thing this article is showing is that Microsoft products suck, thats all. It has nothing to do with Mac but just with Office. Why is this even up? or is this the April fool??
I am sorry that you have given up on using your Mac in “a real work environment.”
It occurs to me that when making the decision to purchase an iBook, you approached the issue in the wrong manner.
Instead of asking yourself what applications you want to run on your iBook, you may have been better served by asking yourself, “What do I need to do to get my work done, and what applications are available for the Mac to do my work?”
You seem to be aware of the applications that are available for doing the job on a Mac, but you dismiss them out of hand. i.e. Filemaker Pro
As has been stated above, many researchers get a lot of work done on the Mac, and they do it USING APPLICATIONS THAT WERE SPECIFICALLY DESIGNED FOR THE TASK OF DOING RESEARCH (LaTex for example)
I wish you luck. If you’re looking for file compatibility with your colleages, it can be done with or without MS software, but I admit, the learning curve will be steep.
“Editorial: Can You Get Serious Work Done on a Mac?”
“I derive a rather perverse pleasure from Mac apologists being shouted down and humiliated.”
“there is something about the Apple experience that I really dislike: other Mac users.”
I though OS News maintained higher standards than ZDNet…
All I can say Dr Rubaiyat Haque is:
Why are you advertising these surprisingly juvenile emotions to the planet?
As for other Mac users – they are one of the principle reasons I use the OS. Dip a toe into the unproductive juvenilility, & unpleasantly crude vulgarity that regularly pervades PC fora & newsgroups & it is a breath of fresh air to get back to the Linux, Unix & Mac ones.
While I congratulate you on recognising your perversion I do feel that the PC fora are a better place to find kindred spirits.
I use Gentoo Linux at home, Windows2000, and Mac OSX on a regular basis at the Minnesota State University Moorhead (Yeah Slackware!), and can go back and forth pretty easily, but I’m not an ordinary end-user. (Setting up Gentoo isn’t exactly point and click.) Therefore, I do think that one person’s anecdotal experience of switching from Windows to Mac isn’t a adequate comparison. It’s difficult to get used to only Windows and then jump into Mac OSX, and vice versa. Same goes for switching to Linux–it takes a little work.
Similarly, switching to Mac just to use Microsoft programs sort of defeats the purpose of going to Mac, in my opinion. I would much better like to hear his experience after working with both Mac and Windows for three years, switching and upgrading both, rather than, “It doesn’t work like Windows does. It must not be productive.” What about using Keynote? How about using Mozilla or Safari over the long term? Any problems with viruses or worms? etc. etc.
PowerPoint presentations? Outlook contacts and appointments? Doesn’t look like serious work to me. Just a bunch of playthings meant to waste time.
It also looks like you haven’t tried very hard even when it comes to PowerPoint. Let me give you some insight:
->You have an iBook. You can bring it wherever you want and connect it to external displays with adaptors costing next to nothing.
->You have a Mac. There is much better than PowerPoint: Keynote (http://www.apple.com/keynote/). It costs less than Office also.
Finally: *I* am getting serious work done on a Mac. A most pertinent question would perhaps be: How can you get anything done on a crashing, freezing, jamming, slow, inflexible, bug-ridden, worm-infested Windows PC?
Mac is wrong only for M$ adicts like the guy of the article. If you thinking to run M$-only applications of course Mac, Linux, BeOS or any OS will be the wrong way.
I do all serious work on my linux box and I don’t need Windowd for nothing.
“If there are any non-Microsoft products that do the job better AND retain full file compatibility (I think that a lot of you don’t appreciate the importance of this in the real world) then please tell me about them.”
As for the mass ad hominem, I fully appreciate the ‘real world’ importance of file compatibility. It has been critical to my businesses.
Microsoft doesn’t even retain “full file compatibility” within their own products. Transferring files between offices with different versions has often resulted in having to reformat the entire document. Having to use exactly the same version on the same version of the OS is not full compatibility.
Being able to exchange documents is very important to us, which is why we avoid MS formats whenever possible in favor of PDF.
Maybe my problem is that I don’t do ‘serious work.’ Ignoramus.
In my line of real work there is no such thing as software written so as the user can use a MAC…..its all done with DOS or Windows…..which happens to make everybody happy by the way because it just works !!
While Apple continues to sprial downwards, it is even less likely that anyone will take up the challange.
Dos never just worked until I switched to DR-DOS. As for Windows just working, isn’t that an oxymoron? Let me say I used DOS/Windows since the beginning and so I have a bit of experience in this area.
And riding the downward spiral of a system that really does just work sure beats staying on the Windows nag that, while working sort of, requires much care and feeding to keep it going. I find myself doing things on my Mac that I never had the time to do in Windows. Mainly because on the Mac I can figure most things out without having to resort to a trial and error process.
There are some things you can do in Windows but not on a Mac and vice versa. I have found that most things that you can do on either system are easier on the Mac. I have three PC’s and a Mac in my computer room and I find myself using the Mac almost exclusively. Would I go back to Windows? Only if Apple goes out of business and my G5 dies because I can no longer get parts to keep it running. I actually like not having to spend time fixing the every day problems that always cropped up with Windows. And for the firs time in a lot of years I am actually having fun with a computer again.
I do have one good thing to say about Windows. It provides me with a bit of pocket money fixing problems for a lot of people who still run it. 🙂
You can get a lot of serious work done on an Apple. I worked for Microsoft for about a year – would have worked longer, but let’s just say we conflicted on a number of key issues
Anyway, I had my Windows workstation and I usually brought my PowerBook G4 from home in also. Looking back on my year with the software giant, I was able to successfully do my job, without any problems all from my PowerBook! There are many ways to work around software that isn’t written for OS X. Microsoft was very nice to make Remote Desktop available for OS X, so I was able to just Remote Desktop use the software I needed and be on my way. Personally I’d rather go through those loops, I just enjoy working on my PowerBook more then a regular old workstation.
So if you know how to workaround somethings you’re able to get a lot of work completed just using an Apple computer. Shoot I did it in Microsoft, where they HATED people working on competitors, at least in my department! Darn Microsoft!
How is it that y’all can’t get ‘serious work’ done on a Mac with all its applications and compatiblity while I can get *ALL* my serious (and some paid) work done on an even less used platform.. BeOS ?
When I need to interpolate with Windows machines, I translate to a common supported format.. primarily PDF.
In BeOS I can use any application with printing support to create perfect PDF documents, and in Windows PDF editors and translators and utlities and tons of other junk to make or modify existing PDFs.
In fact, I can do the same with Linux as in Windows, and I’d imagine the same with Mac machines.
The problem here is that M$ users are trying to do things the same old way on essentially new platforms. Don’t get a mac to the same old things you have been doing since you can ever remember if you have always done it in Windows, you will not be impressed.
Instead, find a common media in which to encapsulate data. Microsoft’s Office for Mac helps a great deal with being able to do things pretty close to the old way, but I have heard of its performance problems thousands of times, so perhaps you should use a more neutral document.
I often find myself just using image editing apps and layers to do all my work, then simply saving an image or printing a PDF from the image. Image Editors will often allow great flexibility.
Usually, data is collected and stored and moved around primarily for others to read, those who need to modify the data can be taught the new way fairly quickly.
And I’m assuming a much lower level of compatility than what the Mac platform offers.
Get off your high horses and use your brain to do some pre-adapting instead of post-adapting. Modify the format on the creating machine so that the viewing machine has the fewest possible issues. PDF is the way to go for simple presentations… and sometimes maybe just make a video presentation (video format).
Just work peeps, just work!
Wether people like it or not, when you walk in to most businesses, academic institutions or homes today, chances are you will find some sort of a windows environment running as the main computing platform.
I use XP and also use Libranet. I have used a mac previously for work (genetics related software in a biotek company). It was okay for the most part, with issues every now and then.
One thing I have learned is there is no perfect OS out there. But bottom line is every other OS out there, be it OSX or any version of Linux is always trying to coexist in a windows dominated world because the fact of the matter is you have to, if you want to get any real work done. Any experience has shown that nothing ever works as well as the original, be it office or anyother program originally designed for one platform and then ported to work on others. If it is originally designed in Windows, Linux or OSX then it will work best and trouble free only on that particular platform.
Thats why I use windows when I need to “just work”, and when I need to mess around and have some fun, I explore other OS’s out there be it Linux or OSx,mostly Linux in mycase.
Like the guy said, he did his presentation on OSx and then was presenting it on a windows platform. Sure it SHOULD work, but then again how many times have we heard that before.Why waste time doing it on mac and then testing it on windows, why not just do it right the first time. Thats why I personally use windows for work and serious stuff, and then Linux for fun where the cost of losing data or time is less destructive.
I don’t like Mac so i don’t use it but i don’t blame to Mac, but i hate that the most of the Mac users tell i don’t use a PC because i don’t like Windows… ¬_¬ PC is NOT only windows, we’ve a lot of Operative Systems, for example BeOS
A zealot is a zealot is a zealot, no matter what the OS or architecture. You can’t convince someone with a closed mind, Mac or PC, that there are merits to the other side. I have three PC’s here in my computer room and none of them have Windows installed at the moment.
The article is interesting and this person has concluded that for his situation he can’t get any serious work done on the Mac. He may not have looked hard enough and he may not have really had the time to invest in finding solutions to his problem.
BTW, I fully agree with your comments on BeOS. And BeOS is the biggest reason I dislike Bill Gates. Of course helping to kill off BeOS was just good business practice on his part. It had the potential to make substantial inroads on his bottom line.
I have a real problem with the title of this article:
“Can _YOU_ Get Real Work Done on a Mac?”
Uhmm.. yes I can, and I do every day (even at the Windows-dominated law firm I work for).
This article should be called, “Can I Get Real Work Done on a Mac?”
or “My Experiences Getting Real Work Done on a Mac.”
This is about one person’s experience with Mac OS, he doesn’t come close to representing the whole.
I should also note that Microsoft formatting issues exist between different versions of the Office, not just between Mac OS and Windows. Open a Office XP document with Office 2000, or an Office 2000 doc with Office 2003, sometimes they’re fine, sometimes they get all messed up (especially with the tricky formating in legal documents). Most companies have several different versions of Office runnig, since MS releases new versions all the time (read: too often). They all have cross-version issues on Windows, its not a Mac/Windows problem, its a Microsoft/Microsoft cross-version formatting problem.
I have to agree that Microsoft Remote Desktop Connection is a wonderful piece of software that I use everyday at home. It allows me to work around the home networking problems that I’ve had with Panther. More importantly, since using RDC I can do all my home computing on the iBook without having to sit down at my desktop PC.
In defense of Mac users, when they talk about not liking PC’s, “Windows” is what is meant by PC. The truth is that the overwhelming majority of x86 hardware computers (“PCs”) use Windows operating systems, so associating PC with Windows is not too far off.
“PC” has always been an odd term, “Personal Computer.” Well, a Mac is a personal computer too, and in fact, the Apple II was arguably the first personal computer. PC comes from the shortened “IBM PC Clone,” but its really an odd word to call x86 hardware. The word itself just begs for debate.
Anyway, I’m a Mac user. I have a PC as well, but it runs Linux exclusively. I enjoy many of the non-Microsoft PC operating systems, and I was a big fanatic of BeOS before Be Inc’s dissolution.
I have to agree with other posters…..
The Good Doctor pointed out some of his own problems (and bias) in is article.
The problem is using the available programs correctly and understanding that the OS issues bring out some problems with jumping from one to the other (network, formatting, lack of comp. programs, and the dreded “lock in” issues).
I spend my work day providing support to graphics professionals (and graphics newbies) for the print industry, our products work hand in hand with complicated output divices, graphics programs designed for professional output (Illustrator, photoshop, Quark, InDesign, and others) and I can tell you from my 13 years of providing support in the graphics industry that I would rather spend the 30 min. of support for a newbie with a mac than the three to six hours of support for the newbie with a windows OX. (And part of that problem is caused by the type of customer who even after strong suggestions to create Mac OS “islands” for the graphics production – assume wrongly that windows boxes will do as well and cost less – delay just ONE medium to large print job and the THOUSANDS of dollars lost in just that one problem far outclass any beancounters desire to shave off $50 to $100 per user box!)
I noted as others did that the good Doctor was pointing out some of his own problems and not even noting that his use of the programs was PART of his problems. I am not roasting him for having problems but rather his rather snide and condesending remarks when he unknowingly pointed out that many of his own problems were caused by his own improper use of a few programs that are known to be buggy and bloated regardless of the OS used.
Can I drive on the highway with a Dodge or do I have to have a Ford? An Apple computer is a computer which means it can do everything a computer can do which is whatever you tell it to do whis is the only thing any computer can do. Apple computers are not for creative proffessionals they are for anyone who needs a computer for any reason. I am a long time computer user on multiple platforms I have never seen a real difference in usability from one to the other, Unix is just as usable as Windows is just as usable as Mac os. I can do “artsy stuff” on any of them or “business stuff” on any of them. Marketing has no basis in reality and the author of this article should be ashamed of himself for buying into the hype and the powers that be at osnews.com may want to re-evaluate his worth as an employee.
You talk about zellots in a previous article…and that who is complaing here.
What a retarded analogy. Yes, you can drive your Ford on the same highway as Dodge. If you infer this to mean that you can have transparent data transfer between a PC running Windows and Mac running OS X without taking extra precautiosns, you’re sadly mistaken. More like, can I put this gas from an 18-wheeler in my Ford Focus? Will these tires from my Dodge fit on my Honda? Maybe! Doubtful.
An Apple computer is a computer which means it can do everything a computer can do which is whatever you tell it to do whis is the only thing any computer can do.
Wow, what an insightful argument. My computer runs windows drivers, so an Apple, also being a computer must be able to do that as well.
I really dislike macs myself. but then I’m prone to having 4 or 5 or even more terminals open, at which point, without some sorta decent taskbar, switching between them all becomes sorta a nightmare on a mac. I guess running a remote gnome terminal with tabs and whatnot sorta solves the problem, but not really if I’m wanting to do something locally on the mac. Anyway, that’s my two cents on mac usability. Course windows, talk about 10 times worse…without 3rd party apps of course.
The only thing I can add is that the doctor did try things and they didn’t work; however he seems to be saying that his experience is the end result.
There are many problems in his series of articles of this nature where he states things but seems to lack complete understanding of how something works. For example, the panther networking problem in the first article, as I have seen, is that sometimes the shares aren’t visable when browsing. However, one can always connect to them via the connect to server menu item. I’ve had the same problem on the PC side from time to time. Additionally, he states that he can’t browse to the Mac, but doesn’t state if the workgroup is correct. Also, of the PC can’t see the Mac is that the PCs fault or the Mac’s fault? In my experience doing the same is that the Mac worked fine and so did the PC or I just had to modify the workgroup on one of the machines.
I’ve certainly seen enough Macs sporting the “sad Mac” icon over the years….”
Funny, I haven’t seen a single sad Mac in years — because MAC OS X doesn’t have a sad Mac icon. Your statement alludes to the probability that you’re basing your argument on Mac OS 9 or older. OS X is a completely different beast. It’s an awesome combination of industrial strength with ease of use.
And my scanner works, perfectly.
As for the author’s comments, he was definitely taking liberties by asking “Can YOU get serious work done with a Mac?” If HE had problems, that doesn’t mean that everybody does, or that his needs are similar to everyone else’s. And other people in related fields to his have replied that they do their “serious work” on a Mac with no problems.
Having said all of that, if Microsoft intentionally hobbles Office/Mac, and that this can cause problems with Macs integrating with Windows systems IN SOME SCENARIOS OR CASES, then yes; the blame SHOULD be laid at Microsoft’s feet… but the shortcoming exists on the Mac platform in these cases, nevertheless
Oh, and Word/Mac is a slug, to be sure. I did a search/replace in the SAME 70,000 word document in both Word and Appleworks, replacing the word “the” with the word “these”. Word took around 24 seconds, whereas Appleworks took under 7 seconds (on a G4/450 running Panther).
We get plenty of paid work done at our all digital recording studio without ever having to so much as look at a Windows box. Get a clue, please!
This individual wrote a perfectly good April Fool article. And got a lot of people to bite.
I mean, c’mon, people. Click on the email link. “r.a.haque” indeed.
I have owned chevys my whole life. I love them. I have a full garage full of parts for all my chevys and also have technical tools that I use that are specific for them. Recently I watched a James Bond film and saw him drive one of these cool BMW sports cars. I was intrigued, so I bought one to try it out. Its a beautiful car but I couldn’t help but notice problems with it imediately compared with my chevy avalanche. First of all my chevy avalance can easily carry 6 people in it with no problem but when I tried to do this in my BMW sports car it just failed the task. Worse, when I bought a refrigerator at home depot, there was no place to load the refrigerator on my BMW. Now if this is not bad enough, the other day I decided to some work on my BMW. You see this should be no problem because I have a full garage just loaded with parts. But for some reason this lame excuse for a car just won’t work I use my good old reliable chevy parts. Heck I can’t even open the door of my BMW with chevy keys. Clearly the BMW is an inferior car and just doesn’t let you do what you want to do.
Well, I just think that the title of this article should change to “Can I, Dr Rubaiyat Haque get some seriously job done on a Mac?”, because you simply can´t generalize your personal problems to the rest of the people.
PS: I´m not a Mac User. Here in Brazil they are really really expensive.
The title for this article really should be “Editorial: Can You Get Serious Work Done on a Mac in a Windows-centric Environment?”
That quibble aside, I think it’s a fair account of the trials and tribulations that minority/alternative platform users often face.
I simply do not understand why the Mac Business Unit hasn’t included decent MAPI Exchange support in Office v.X (and, from all accounts, continues with better but still incomplete support in Office v.X 2004). It borders on the conspiratorial — Apple should be placing pressure on MacBU to offer real Exchange support, and/or reverse-engineer it into Mail in 10.4.
I have not got any work done today on my mac! I am too busy reading sites like this and slashdot on April fools day!
By the way. Dr. Haque, did you apply all of the latest updates to your version of Office v.X?
Supposedly the v.10.1.4 update to Entourage improved Exchange support. I’ve heard mixed results, unfortunately…
That is not what Macs are for!
My business supports probably around 500 users. Most of them on windows. Here is the typical sophistication level. The following example completely negates the parent article. Why? Because, the author is knows just enough to be dangerous. And this is typical of many semi-wintel-literate users. Though not typical of your average wintel user. If I were to come over to authors house or work environment, with my XP laptop, I could find countless things that are NOT GOING TO WORK. Pure and simple. So the author found some quirks. It worked before and now it doesn’t. Welcome to my world buddy. Except most of the time, when I’m helping clients, there isn’t a Mac in the equation, it’s all windows. And the clients and I, could write a hundred of these articles with the exact same tone.
the author is not a typical wintel user, and knows just enough to be dangerous. the following IS A TYPICAL windows user:
joe windows user(over phone): “uh Rob, why won’t my file run”
rob: “what file”
joe windows user: “this one here”
rob: “uh…your gonna have to help me partner..i can’t see what you are seeing”
joe windows user: “it’s my presentation.”
rob: “oh…i see. PowerPoinnt? Nevermind. Do me a favor, right click…yes..use the right mouse button and click on the the little picture. when you get a menu, choose ‘properties’…tell me the size information”
joe windows user: “it says 749Mb”
rob: “ahhh. ok. Been inserting a few pictures have you?”
joe windows user: “well, yea….not very many though! I made them smaller to help save space. Is it too big?”
rob: “(quiet chuckle)..uh perhaps. so when did your problems start?”
joe windows user: “well, after i got home and connected my puter with my Dee Ess ELLL line”
rob: “ahh. gonna do some web surfing today mr. user?”
joe windows user: “uh. well that too. but i needed to get my file”
rob: “ohhhhhh. so you vpn’d in and are trying to double click on your 700 megabyte powerpoint presentation…i’m very clear now.”
and on and on and on….
Too bad you didn’t spend more time looking for software alternatives. Graph Pad makes Prism for the Mac and I use it all the time. You can even download a trial version to see if you like it (you will).
As for graphics files in Office documents, in my experience, the best format is png. It seems to work nicely in Mac and PC versions. Jpegs and Tiffs and of course PDFs are fine as well.
Here is a tip for copying from PDFs and pasting, copy the PDF at 400X, paste it into Powerpoint, and then shrink it. The picture will look a lot better.
I would also second the comment about maxing out the memory on your Mac. Microsoft’s programs are memory hogs. Also, ALWAYS turn off the fast save option in your office documents. Fast Save is an evil relic that should have been removed long ago.
If you spend some time and learn what the Mac has to offer, I’m sure you’ll come around. I am an academic scientist and I have been using Macs successfully for many years. They really do ‘Just Work’.
you wanna sell your mac to me?
I work for “a” cancer center in San Antonio Texas.
We have nearly one hundred staff that would be considered at the highest echelons of education.
Medical doctors, physicist, oncologist, phd researchers, etc.
I can tell you that this group is the ABSOLUTE WORST when it comes to technology. These are good people, smart people, but here’s there problem:
1. They are incredibly busy people. They don’t take time to learn anything new.
2. They consider themselves “incredibly bright”, and so assume that they have this whole technology thing “pegged”. It should work they way they think it works.
3. They find it difficult to take advice/instructions from the ANYONE in the IT department. Well how could they? The IT department staff cannot be as smart as them.
4. If they read an article written by another doctor, about some fabulous new gizmo or technology, then we have to have it too. It doesn’t matter if the other site put in 2 years of foundation/infrastructure to make it work. He wants it up and running next week…and it better be “doctor intuitive” so that they can make it work the way they think it should work….sans training.
for the record, we have nearly 20% Macs. Powerbooks are popular.
We have no problems with people accessing SMB shares. We have no problems with our Cisco VPN.
We do have problems with the Exchange server…like it’s going down once a month…but I’m not the exchange admin.
This site describes the #4 ranked supercomputer, a cluster of 1100 Apple Xserve G5 machines that does one hell of a lot of work for researchers. Interesting problems like oil resevoir modeling, weather simulation, climate simulation, computational chemistry to model protein folding, etc. occurs on many different kinds of computers, most running Unix or one of its siblings, and yes, even Macs.
There is more to life than PowerPoint presentations and Unreal Tournament. Apple sees technical computing as an emerging market and is devoting considerable effort to courting this market behind the sceens. It won’t make them rich but they can make a good living serving this space just like Sun and SGI did. See http://www.apple.com/xserve/cluster/ and related links.
The Apple Xserve is an excellent machine for small to medium simulations and clusters can take on large problems that can be parallelized on a cluster.
By the way, the BigMac cluster runs Mac OS, not Linux like you might expect. You can hack around with Garage Band while you are waiting for your case to finish!
Wow! So far I have been called juvenile, arrogant, patronising, condescending, egocentric, a clown, an ignoramus and worst of all…… a pharmacist! It’s amazing that an account of my experience of using a Mac can stoke up such emotion.
Anyway, thanks to everyone for the comments, both positive and negative. To DD, I know about Prism on the Mac and did approach the department to see if they have a license. Unfortunately, they do not and are unwilling to purchase one just for one user.
I just recently “switched” from my 2.5Ghz 1gb PC3200 DDR machine to a 400Mhz 512mb Powerbook. Why you might ask? Well I’ll tell you.
I am in my 4th year of computer science and run a small web design business on the side. If anyone should have difficulty switching I figure I should definitely be up there. I tried using Linux as an alternative to Windows for the longest time and had moderate success in doing so but it all boiled down to two point. Does it have photoshop? Does it have dreamweaver? Can it run office natively? I used to find myself constantly restarting. Once in a while I will have a large java program to develop and although I have not tried programming java on the mac I’m sure it’s little different than windows. For me those are the three programs I use most in productivity. I can’t stress enough how valuable the iApps are as well. Your network admin must be a retard if you can’t get your system running stable on a network. I’ve NEVER had any networking issues with my mac and I have it sharing files between a windows xp machine, a windows 2003 server, and a fedora box. Apple’s implementation of samba interfaces great with all of them and I’ve had no problems so far. Also I use the remote desktop protocol MS makes available to the mac to tap into my 2003 server and perform remote admin tasks. If I really need to do something in windows I do it that way. Its just beautiful. Osx in my opinion takes the best aspects of Linux and blends it with key apps from Windows. I now have photoshop, dreamweaver, and a fully featured office suite all running native. You do not deserve to run a machine as beautiful as this… and I recommend you sell your ibook to someone who will use it… like tomcat!
If you like tabed terminal try this:
It really works well. I used KDE on mac before I discovered iTerm. Apart from that you can intall Gnome on Mac as well. No problem, just check:
As far as using Mac’s is concerned I have to say that for me it’s the best OS I have used so far and I use/d a few (Solaris, Wins, Linux and OS 9). OSX is stable and ‘smooth’, but then again – it’s personal.
When you leave your “all digital recording studio” at the end of the day and walk out into the “rela world” if you look hard enough you might see a few windows boxes out there.
If you read what I said carefully enough, without just skimming through it and assuming it is an insult you might have realized that, all I was saying was in general public situations in big institutions and most homes for that matter it is a windows world where other OS’s wether mac or linux have to play nice.
Of course in your “all digital recording studio” I am sure the Macs perform well, and thats great. But you are not the general public out there that is living in a mostly windows world. Where more often than not, most likely due to the proprietary nature of MS software, co exisiting with windows is not the easiest thing, but it needs to be done. So in this case unless you have a very specific need that needs to be fulfilled by a mac like in your case, I dont see the point in gettin gone and than running ported software from windows and expecting everything to work just fine.
“Wow! So far I have been called juvenile, arrogant, patronising, condescending, egocentric, a clown, an ignoramus and worst of all…… a pharmacist! It’s amazing that an account of my experience of using a Mac can stoke up such emotion.”
I’ve got no intention (or reason) to insult you, but I must critise your choice of title for the article. Anyone can see it’s flame bait, and reading it highlights almost all of your problems are caused by…Microsoft software.
Yes, you CAN get serious work done on a Mac. You can get serious work done on a PC and Linux. The fact that Microsoft have done a poor job with Office v.X, especially with document conversion, is not Apples fault and has no relevance on whether or not you can get serious work done. You said yourself, you made a medical presentation on it (serious enough for me) and that it could have damaged your career. If you genuinely believed you can’t get serious work done on a Mac, you wouldn’t have risked it.
At the end of the day you did, and it worked. Serious work done on a Mac by a new-user.
I understand so far your experience hasn’t been great, but with the current title I can’t help but see this article as more than FUD.
Perhaps you might be more successful with Office 2004 for Mac, one of the features I think you’ll find most useful is the inbuilt compatibility checker, with “fix” facility. I’m glad you find iLife useful and productive.
Does an article like this ever do anything but rile up the Mac users?
“Can I get work done on a Mac?”
Depends what you do. Most operating systems support apps that will get 90% of normal office tasks done without any drama. Windows, Linux, Mac — whatever. Virtually all computers can create and edit simple text documents, handle email, open a spreadsheet, and access the web.
If you’re a graphics pro, a Mac is probably your first choice. Most of the pro apps started as Macintosh programs, and that’s what the majority of people know. In some cases, these programs are optimized for Apple boxes.
If you work in a shop that creates a lot of complicated text documents, spreadsheets, and presentations in MS Office, you’ll need Windows or Mac. Open Office is great, but its compatibility with Office is far from perfect. That isn’t good enough for an office full of power users.
My experience with MS Office for OS X has been good. I swap lots of complex doxuments with Windows users, and have never had a problem. Entourage works fine with Exchange. Excel spreadsheets look precisely the same on Windows or Mac.
If your company is tied to proprietary Windows applications, you probably want to be using XP or something. At the same time, many Windows apps run well under emulation (VMware on Linux; Virtual PC on a Mac). Depends on whether or not you mind trading-off some speed and convenience.
If I were starting a business from scratch, we’d probably be an all-Mac shop. In my experience, OS X is better behaved than most flavors of Windows. There are fewer viruses to worry about, and I think Mac is a better user experience. But that’s a subjective opinion.
Questions like those posed by this article are essentially pointless. You can do almost anything on any modern platform. Circumstances vary from workplace to workplace, but — ultimately — the “best” operating system for a given user depends more on what they are willing to tolerate and their personal preferences. I like Macs. You might like Windows. Keep your virus tables up to date, and I’m sure both of us can get whatever it is we need to do finished in time for a beer at 5:00.
Also, anybody who submits an article to OSnews, especially if it’s critical of an OS, really ought not read the comments. Not unless you crave verbal abuse (or is it eAbuse)…
Of course you can do serious work on a Mac. First of all, you complain about performance issues with a Mac running MS Office. Fair enough, but unfortunately you are trying to run it on the absolute bottom of the Mac line, the iBook. If you are a true professional, you should at a minimum be using a Powerbook, which has a more powerful processor, better video outputs, and more backside cache.
Second of all, if you ever saw a well crafted Keynote presentation, you would immediately want to delete Powerpoint from your harddrive. I too am a physician, and after mastering Keynote and using it in presentations, I almost cannot stand to look at another pixelated, jaggy, 2-d cartoonish Powerpoint presentation again. So go plunk down $99 and learn Keynote. Your presentations will look so stunning, your audience will be blown away and will be asking you how you did it.
I guess the gist of your experience is you tried with only mixed success to wedge a bunch of mediocre square peg MS applications into an elegant Apple round hole. You would be far better off for once in your computer life starting to think outside of the Redmond box and realize that there are usually better options for software on the Mac side anyway, and in most cases you do not have to maintain you addiction to MS products.
People complain about “Microsoft lockin” but the real problem is that when you, or your company, pick a platform – any platform – they are locked in. You can’t move very freely from any platform to any other platform.
Yes, it’s possible but integration is always problematic on the best day.
Moving from platform A to B means you have to find the best apps on that specific platform. The apps that are cross-platform like Office, Photoshop, etc do not behave the same way on both platforms because the underlying platforms have different philosophies. Even if an app is available on all platforms, it doesn’t behave the same on all. Each platform has different save dialogs default save locations for instance. Going in with the expectation that you will have all of the same functionality with all of the same apps is silly and naive (on the polite side).
The best apps for any given platform are almost always optimized for that platform. When you migrate, you might as well ditch your whole workflow and expect to buy or dl new apps. And then you live and work in that paradigm. If you try to live half and half, it won’t happen. Sort of what the Bible says about people of 2 minds being the most miserable in the world. I use multiple platforms at work and home, but every box has its place.
This is why purchasing decisions on both hardware and software are critical and why IT depts need to be the ones making purchasing decisions, not Joe User. You have to purchase a whole paradigm too.
Anybody who read this and then complained about the title is just being a jerk. Obviously no title which uses “you” can refer to every single person in every single context who reads it. And then people STILL use the title alone as an excuse to moan about Windows and Macs…
The author even has a disclaimer of sorts which should have made you all shut up:
“In this third piece I aim to present a more objective view of whether it is possible to use the Mac productively in the academic environment in which I work”
Just some more fanaticism? I think so.
Yes, there are flaws in Office v.X. But there are also flaws in Office for Windows. There are countless examples of compatibility problems with Office for Windows (and all other software) between different PCs. Flaws in Mac software seem to be perceived as reasons to dismiss Macs but flaws in Windows software are just accepted as part of the unavoidable problems of computing.
I’d like to think that I am a bit older than most osnews readers, and of course a bit wiser. For the life of me, I’ve seen Microsoft’s products behave poorly from the very first day that they appeared on my computer. I even hear my office mates scream in horror when Microsoft’s code-work mangles their labor. They just give in and do it again. Punishment from God, but like the biblical Jobs, they accept their damnation without hesitation. They say “I’ve must have done something wrong to deserve this treatment.” I console them and say, “no my son, you’ve done nothing wrong.”
I bought Excel when it first came out, but quickly sold it to a USENET user so I could get WingZ instead. What’s really weird is that WingZ has long died off commercially, but its elegance remains alive on a Dual 2 GHz G5. WingZ started its life on my Mac SE, then onto a Pwerbook 100, Centris 660av, PowerMac 7200 and now the G5. Yes, I’ve gotten use to using Excel, but I can not help but think how much Microsoft’s culture has influence people’s judgment. Personally, I long for the days when software was well written.
Now, I just need to sit smugly behind my monitor and hope that the powers-that-be don’t force me to standardize on the Lowest Common Denominator that is know as Microsoft. However, fortunately they’re so damn busy in IT with getting things to work that they don’t even bother with me anymore.
how would you know? you don’t use one.
i wouldn’t trust you to give me an accurate picture of what windows or linux is capable of…much less a mac.
– an xp, slackware, os x, and freebsd user.
ArcGIS runs on UNIX also,not just windows,or are my eyes deceiving me on this Sun Workstation?