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Switcher Hangout The place for switchers to discuss their new machines, and how to work with OS X. General support can be had here for newbie stuff, like "How do I restart my new iMac?" :)

Pondering a conversion to Mac


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PeterJP

 
Member Since: Mar 23, 2011
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Hi,

I have a decent PC but ever since I got rid of my Psion PDA, my organisation is all over the place. For that reason, I'm considering a maxed out MacBook Air 11: it's tiny, so doesn't get in the way. But I can hook it up to a large screen and use it as my main machine when required.

I would use it for the following purposes:
  • Organisation: the Mac would become my main machine that I use to organise everything. All address data, calendar info, family budgets, planning for my freelance activities, and so on would go on there.
  • Work: I mainly write documentation & sometimes do some minor lay-outing for brochures and the like.
  • Fun: surfing, playing a game of go online (Java client), ... from the couch
  • Photography: mostly organisation of my current mess, a bit of processing, probably some web publishing

For the organisational bit: my administration is currently in a horrible state. The amount of administration is currently increasing as taking up more freelance work. In the late '90's, I used to have a Psion 3mx, a 5, then a 7 that were perfect for this sort of work. They were really easy to use and instant-on. Sounds like a MacBook Air could work in the same way. I still need to figure out which programs I want to use for all this, but I'll start with the standard MacOS X ones + Numbers and see where I get from there. Some sort of linking between the programs would be nice (e.g. link a spreadsheet to a contact for facturation).

Work: I currently use mainly Word, OpenOffice Writer or Scribus if I need to do some more lay out work. The issue with Scribus is that it's not compatible with Word. Pages sounds like a very nice application. Suppose I switch to Pages, how compatible is that when doing lay out work (simple brochures with some graphical elements around the page) ?

Photography: I need a DAM solution to regain control of my photography. My collection is small (maybe 1000 photos, RAW+JPEG of max 12MP cameras), but I frequently have many duplicates of the same photo. The way I work is this: on the road, I copy my SD card to a portable storage device (Nexto) that doesn't do incremental backups. So, I end up with several directories that are nearly identical, but with different time stamps. The Nexto's advantage is that it is pocket sized, so it is much easier for field work than dragging a Mac everywhere (I usually have no need to process & publish photos the same day). But I do need a solution to clean up the duplicates. When I have that, I will need to start organising. I was considering Aperture for the organising part, particularly at the price in the AppStore. Would it also help me with the clean up of the duplicates, or is there another program that's better ?

Backup: I have a NAS that I will reconfigure to have a TimeMachine partition. I found a few articles on how to do this. Will this copy the Aperture database as well ? How much space would I need to foresee for that partition ?

Having had to live with my current admin & photo mess for a few years, I'm not particularly in a rush to start reorganising my life. But it is exciting to read about the Mac. The first Mac I ever touched was a friend's Mac SE around 1988. I loved HyperCard, it had a large influence on the way I think about documentation. Print quality was also an eye opener, even though I don't think my friend was using a LaserWriter. Back then, there was no way I could afford such a setup. Now that I am looking to buy one, I want to think carefully about which one to get. I have read about the possibility of Sandy Bridge MBAs in summer, which would be close to the Lion release. Those two together would be quite an upgrade (faster Mac + no Lion license to buy) and I will have to consider if I'm willing to wait until then to get in.


Thanks,

Peter.
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RavingMac

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PeterJP View Post
Photography: I need a DAM solution to regain control of my photography. My collection is small (maybe 1000 photos, RAW+JPEG of max 12MP cameras), but I frequently have many duplicates of the same photo. The way I work is this: on the road, I copy my SD card to a portable storage device (Nexto) that doesn't do incremental backups. So, I end up with several directories that are nearly identical, but with different time stamps. The Nexto's advantage is that it is pocket sized, so it is much easier for field work than dragging a Mac everywhere (I usually have no need to process & publish photos the same day). But I do need a solution to clean up the duplicates. When I have that, I will need to start organising. I was considering Aperture for the organising part, particularly at the price in the AppStore. Would it also help me with the clean up of the duplicates, or is there another program that's better ?
I use Aperture but I am not sure about the duplicates on import. I know that iPhoto will take care of this, but since I switched to Aperture haven't had the issue so I don't know that it does (but I believe so).

For existing photo libraries, there is a free (I think) APP called Duplicate Annihilator (versions for both iPhoto and Aperture).
It has been a few years since I downloaded and used it, but I believe it was a free APP.

As far as the brochure editing question with Pages. Pages is actually more of a desk top publishing APP than word processor IMO so your brochures should be right in its sweet spot.

I've always wanted to be smart, handsome and modest. But, I guess I'll have to be satisfied with two out of three . . .
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Mac Mad

 
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id go for a regular macbook or macbook pro as you will miss al the ports, disk drive memory on a macbook air

by Mac Mad
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PeterJP

 
Member Since: Mar 23, 2011
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Hi,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Razormac View Post
I use Aperture but I am not sure about the duplicates on import. I know that iPhoto will take care of this, but since I switched to Aperture haven't had the issue so I don't know that it does (but I believe so).

For existing photo libraries, there is a free (I think) APP called Duplicate Annihilator (versions for both iPhoto and Aperture).
It has been a few years since I downloaded and used it, but I believe it was a free APP.
Duplicate Annihilator looks interesting, I'll have to look at how I can integrate it into some kind of workflow. It seems like it makes sense to let Aperture manage everything, but to export JPEGs to iPhoto for browsing, slide shows, web publishing, and the like.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Razormac View Post
As far as the brochure editing question with Pages. Pages is actually more of a desk top publishing APP than word processor IMO so your brochures should be right in its sweet spot.
Yes, Pages sure looks great for what I do. I was just wondering if I can export a nice layout in Word format. Several of my customers insist on doing some finishing touches themselves. Of course, with Scribus, this is a problem. And with Word, I don't have enough layouting capabilities.

Can I make it in Pages, then export it as-is to Word ?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Mac Mad View Post
id go for a regular macbook or macbook pro as you will miss al the ports, disk drive memory on a macbook air
You have a good point, but I will have to make this compromise. I have a big 15" laptop and it's way too bulky. I've checked the 13" measurements, they're too close to the 15". Also, the MacBook(Pro) is heavy. I'm used to a netbook but I want something much more capable. The MacBook Air is the only one that fits the bill. I think the 128GB will be okay and the ports will only be missed when I work at a desk, where I can use an USB hub if needed. Messy at a desk, but practical when standalone.


Peter.
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Pages can export in several formats including Word and PDF

I've always wanted to be smart, handsome and modest. But, I guess I'll have to be satisfied with two out of three . . .
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didymus

 
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For what it is worth: if you've been accustomed to Word, you'll probably find Pages rather clunky by comparison and there's a learning curve because the two programs do things rather differently. Of course, you can have Word on the Mac, but my experience is that Office software is the only stuff that falls over on my iMac :-) As for Aperture and iPhoto - I've ditched both of them because they work by taking control of your files and, in effect, hiding them in their own databases - I like to keep control of my pics myself, even if my directory structure is a bit of mess. Both Ap and iP need a lot of work on naming and tagging files if you are going to get the most out of their organizing capabilities - life's too short and I have too many images!

Given what you do, I have difficulty in figuring out why you would want to switch, and switching simply because you like the look of things, etc., isn't a very good reason. You'd be letting yourself in for a lot of learning and, potentially, a lot of hard work to achieve something that is not likely to be much better than what you have now.... and I'm an enthusiast for the Mac :-)
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Pages in LAYOUT mode doesn't convert easily to Word. This is because Word is a HORRIBLE layout program (but it's a perfectly fine word processor). I do *beautiful* work in Pages' layout mode all the time, but I send it to printers/clients in PDF form and make changes they request myself. For LAYOUT, Pages isn't really compatible with anything but Pages. For WORD PROCESSING, Pages is as close to 100% compatible with Word as anything I've seen.
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PeterJP

 
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Hi,

Quote:
Originally Posted by didymus View Post
As for Aperture and iPhoto - I've ditched both of them because they work by taking control of your files and, in effect, hiding them in their own databases - I like to keep control of my pics myself, even if my directory structure is a bit of mess. Both Ap and iP need a lot of work on naming and tagging files if you are going to get the most out of their organizing capabilities - life's too short and I have too many images!
No matter what DAM program I use, or even if I do it manually, I'll have to spend a lot of time. Aperture can also use the files by reference, I understood, so that may be an option in case I want to keep my directory structure. But frankly, I prefer having a really good program that takes over my files. I have no emotional attachment to the way the photos are structured now, as I have no structure and multiple copies to boot

Actually, I wouldn't mind using 2 programs: one for sorting and one for editing. If that improves the overall ease of use & ease of finding back photos (e.g. I want any photo of my dad in the last 3 years). But I don't have the cash to pay for Adobe Creative Suites or other programs >500.


Quote:
Originally Posted by didymus View Post
Given what you do, I have difficulty in figuring out why you would want to switch, and switching simply because you like the look of things, etc., isn't a very good reason. You'd be letting yourself in for a lot of learning and, potentially, a lot of hard work to achieve something that is not likely to be much better than what you have now.... and I'm an enthusiast for the Mac :-)
Sure, but learning is part of the fun, no ? I've had plenty of different computer systems since I started in 1984 and if I would've had the money, I would've had several more (Mac, Atari ST, Acorn Archimedes, NeXT, to name a few).

A more rational reason: MacOS ships with several practical programs out-of-the-box: there's Address Book and iCal, but also several more advanced like Time Machine and iPhoto. When I had a PDA, I could boot up the machine and start working immediately. Unfortunately, no PDA ever gave me decent surfing/word processing/photo editing capabilities. I tried to replicate this with a netbook, but they're too limited. I looked at a lot of tiny laptops, but I know that it'll take me a long time to replicate on Windows what I get out-of-the-box with MacOS. Also, the really decent PC hardware is usually the same price or more expensive than the MacBook Air 11.

I'm not claiming I know in advance that everything will work out great immediately. But I've gone through a sufficient amount of new systems to realise that I should learn how the Mac works before ditching it. Most well designed systems have a certain elegance to it and it's actually rewarding to dive in and find out how certain things are implemented.


Quote:
Originally Posted by chas_m View Post
Pages in LAYOUT mode doesn't convert easily to Word. This is because Word is a HORRIBLE layout program (but it's a perfectly fine word processor). I do *beautiful* work in Pages' layout mode all the time, but I send it to printers/clients in PDF form and make changes they request myself. For LAYOUT, Pages isn't really compatible with anything but Pages. For WORD PROCESSING, Pages is as close to 100% compatible with Word as anything I've seen.
Ah, the layout bit is a shame. But I guess it's normal. Because Word is just a word processing package and not a layouting program, it makes no sense to expect any real layouting to expect to Word. It's like expecting Word to export to plain text with all features retained


Peter.
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RavingMac

 
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It sounds to me like you have done your research and your reasoning is pretty good on making a switch.
The one other thing you may want to consider is timing. The MacBook Pro line was just refreshed with a major part of the upgrade being the Thunderbolt data port. The current MacBook Air was released in Oct of last year and is probably about midway through the life cycle.
No one knows for sure outside of Apple, but I would suspect we may see an update of the MacBook Air later this year, and if so it may add the Thunderbolt port (there may be technical reasons I am not aware of why this may not happen, but if you are set on the MBA and have the time it may be worth waiting to see).

I've always wanted to be smart, handsome and modest. But, I guess I'll have to be satisfied with two out of three . . .
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PeterJP

 
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Hi Razor,

I have been doing a bit of research, indeed. My netbook is getting frustrating and it's no fun sitting with a 15" laptop in a couch.

The MBA upgrade would be highly appreciated, but it's very uncertain. I'm also quite sure that Lion would be a big help in using the MBA as a PDA: full screen applications, the Launchpad (similar to many PDAs' start screen and to my netbook's Jolicloud start screen), ... I am in doubt whether to wait until summer or not. It's not only a matter of whether I need it... can I control my fingers itching to click the order button ?


Peter.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PeterJP View Post
Hi Razor,

I have been doing a bit of research, indeed. My netbook is getting frustrating and it's no fun sitting with a 15" laptop in a couch.

The MBA upgrade would be highly appreciated, but it's very uncertain. I'm also quite sure that Lion would be a big help in using the MBA as a PDA: full screen applications, the Launchpad (similar to many PDAs' start screen and to my netbook's Jolicloud start screen), ... I am in doubt whether to wait until summer or not. It's not only a matter of whether I need it... can I control my fingers itching to click the order button ?


Peter.
I know the feeling.
The present generation MBA is a nice machine. If the itching gets to be too much, then go with it and enjoy. Especially since future updates are only a SWAG at this point.

I've always wanted to be smart, handsome and modest. But, I guess I'll have to be satisfied with two out of three . . .
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