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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?" :)

IT Consultant looking to Switch (software analogues)


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stsanford

 
Member Since: Feb 01, 2008
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After hearing how amazing, reliable, wonderful Mac is, and seeing the MacBook Air ads, I think I'm going to take the plunge...

Here's the software I use, I'm hoping for some pointers in replacements. See to me, getting work done and having applications that make me more productive is the important thing. (See, my XP machines don't crash, could have something to do with the fact that I know what the heck I'm doing, but the Mac commercials don't really fit my experiences with PCs too well)

So, I'm looking for software analogues to the following critical applications I use daily:

GoldMine CRM My #1 Main Application.
Quotewerks Quoting program which integrates with CRM and QuickBooks
QuickBooks (know that there's QuickBooks for Mac)
Quicken (Know there's Quicken for Mac)
E-Mail Prog. that interfaces with Exchange for e-mail & calendaring.

Some sort of VNC / RDP / PCAnywhere aggregator. Currently I use SmartCode VNC Manager which works extremely well.

If I can do the work I do day-to-day, I will switch. I have no issue with learning new software or even adopting new processes or mindsets, but I just cannot afford to give up functionality or productivity.

Thanks in advance,
Scott
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The Vindicat3d

 
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Sorry that it has taken so long to get an answer, I personally do not have any answers for you but check back tomorrow this forum is a great place for the kind of info your looking for the right people just aren't on right now... hang on there!

Use the Rep System!!

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theonegod

 
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You wont find any good exchange compatible email programs. Microsoft's own olution won't support MAPI connections either OR RPC over HTTP. OWA works well in firefox though.
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PerryLynch

 
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Entourage is decent enough in a properly-supported Exchange environment, but the interface itself is nowhere near as smooth as Mail. I just installed Entourage 2008 today, and it does have a nice feature or two. Microsoft has an RDP client for the Mac which is very good.

If you also have a licensed copy of XP, I'd suggest VMWare Fusion as a solution for the other tools. You can run Fusion in Unity mode and access those applications as you always have.

I switched in September, and I'm using XP less every day, it seems.

Perry

Perry M Lynch, CISSP CISA
Mac Newbie, Security not-so-newbie
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Aptmunich

 
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You could check out CRM alternatives here, but if that's an app you rely on daily then you're probably better off maxing out your RAM and running your existing app in Parallels or VMWare.

If you stick 4GB of RAM in your Mac then your virtual windows machine will have more than enough RAM and you shouldn't notice much speed difference at all.

Plus the VM software makes the whole experience really seamless now, so it's almost as if you're only running one OS.
http://www.smallbizcrm.com/crm-apple-macintosh.html
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stsanford

 
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To all that have replied, I thank you for your time. I appreciate your open dialogue.
Though, I was afraid of this.
While Mac seems to be cool, hip, arguably more reliable (I've always felt if you use 1st tier PC brands and components, your reliability rivals Mac) it doesn't have the depth of software content for business.

So.....

What about a MBA running Parallels?
Enough RAM?
My Vista Laptop has 2GB or RAM and runs my applications pretty decently, however I'm not running any virtual machines at the moment. When I do, it becomes a bit sluggish.

Thanks again for hearing me out.
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walkerj

 
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I'm a UNIX type geek, and the Mac platform on Intel, especially in Macbook/Macbook air form factor is the best of about nearly every world you could possibly think of. Here's why:

Obviously, it's a Mac, and runs very good high quality software for many business, and a whole slew of personal management stuff all while being stylish and pleasant to look at. It's form factor is perfect, and coupled with Spaces especially it's screen is perfect for just about anything you would need to do, while still small enough to consider taking it with you everywhere. If you want to try out the stereotypical Mac user hang out at Starbucks looking erudite and pick up hippy chicks (because after using a Mac for a number of months, you're gonna want to do that despite what you might think now) since it's a bona-fide Mac, you are allowed to do that. In fact you have to do so as part of owning an Apple product that isn't a music player or phone. Apple will give you the orientation when you go pick up your unit. So that covers the Mac OS X world.

It's a UNIX that is not a home-rolled open-source got-a-problem-better-ask-a-forum to figure out what .conf file you need to modify to get what you're trying to get working up and running. But if you're into that, it'll satisfy that need, and if there are a bunch of scripts you may have written that do really Useful Things back when you were a Linux head in the '90s, this will still run them. Also once Terminal is fired up it's a nice comfy, command line to settle into if you're comfortable with that. Don't want to hassle with that just now? Well, it's a Mac, so you don't have to. That covers the powerful UNIX work station world.

It's an Intel PC which can run Windows. Any Windows. Either with dual boot or virtualized. Personally I think virtual is the way to go. At my former job I managed a server running Linux that hosted several VMware virtual machines running Windows 2000 Server and ran a Windows only application with Oracle that required quite a lot of horsepower, both in terms of CPU compute-bound aspect, and I/O shifting a lot of data around aspects. Virtualization is quite mature, and is 'There yet'. This means with a Mac and either Parallels or VMware, you're set with whatever software the business world thinks it needs while suckling at Microsoft's monopolistic, Ballmer-crazy teat. So that covers the "I'm a businessman, and Bill Gates being one of the most successful businessmen out there I need to run his onerous software and equip every desk in my cube-farm with his digital crap" world. Otherwise known as the Windows world.

They're also not a whole lot more expensive than quality stuff you'd buy from Dell or HP if you spec'd them out. Quite worth it, especially if your time is billable to a client or fifty.

Oh yeah, one more thing I forgot to add. Mac OS X I have found is really not something that you can intellectually explain to someone why it is so awesome, for some reason. It's really something you have to live with for awhile, get used to it's idiosyncrasies and reasons why certain design decisions were made for you to really be able to understand why it's superior to everything out there for what it does. We'd all like to go out to Gartner's website or read some column to get the succinct, tangible, metric-capable, buzzword reason which will finally convince us that we should just drink the Kool-Aid® and go with a Mac. We can't though. You just have to buy one and see for yourself.

It's kind of like marriage, because a Mac is like a woman. A very sexy supermodel woman that does things for you and to you without you asking, and without the nagging and hormones. And it costs money.
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stsanford

 
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WalkerJ,
Thank you for your humorous as well as informative post. I'm getting a good feeling about this.

Do you think an MBA would be sufficient for an IT dude such as myself?
TIA
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walkerj

 
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Okay, I'll step back from the rhetoric for just a moment for a serious, informed, and positively dull response based on my experience:

A Macbook Air is about the most sexy computer you can buy right now. It is unfortunately, however, targeted squarely at the same people who, back in the day, would have bought a Toshiba Libretto: The tech company CEO/CIO/CFO etc. You know, the type of person the IT department served. And by serving I mean at beck and call type of serving. Good gig if you can get it, quite lucrative, but there's a price. A personal price.

For an IT person intent on getting actual work done, not necessarily defined by attending meetings and talking on and on about synergy, relationship leveraging, and other marketing drivel, you're going to want to start out with a regular old Macbook. If you want to be different, spend the extra $150 or so and get the black one.

A Macbook is almost as sexy as a Macbook Air, but considering you're going to want to possibly do the all three worlds type things I mentioned in my previous post it's just going to be easier to have the crucial peripherals available that the Macbook Air lacks: A DVD drive, firewire port, and extra USB. You can get it done without those things, but I would advise that if you are going to jump into the Mac world, you do so with a machine that you'll a) be able to do everything analogue to what you know your Windows laptop is capable of, b) won't have to jump through some hoops (installing Windows either virtual or native comes to mind) c) experience the full Mac OS experience without any limitations, thus minimizing potential frustrations and d) the Macbook is not a whole lot bigger or heavier than the Macbook Air while still getting you into the Mac OS X that we all know we're going to end up with.

Or I could put it like this. A Macbook is a smaller investment to get into a new and, because this is a Mac board I'll blatantly say superior platform. Were I in your position (as opposed to my own position two years ago where I was in your position and went a different way to where we are now) I would buy the Macbook to get the experience an subsequently make the money to later buy the Macbook Air. Once you know what a Mac can do, you can then go with the svelte, awesomeness of the Macbook Air, but for First Mac? IMHO, you need to get the machine that makes you go "Man, this thing is awesome! I'll never have a machine that runs anything Microsoft as it's primary OS again!" first so that later you can go "Now let's take a quick look at those sexy Macbook Air specs again. What am I giving up now? Okay, I can do without that, or that, or that, $1800? Geez....well, okay it's just so sexy."

Okay, so maybe that wasn't so dull. Hopefully it will have been informative.
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stsanford

 
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Quote:
For an IT person intent on getting actual work done, not necessarily defined by attending meetings and talking on and on about synergy, relationship leveraging, and other marketing drivel
Jeez man, you jump in my head or what!

Actually I did own a libretto back in the day and loved it. I took that 40GB Hard Drive out, bought an adapter and imaged the crap out of that sucker. Good thing too, I had 2 HDDs fail on me. I've been through the mini Sonys too (TR2AP was my last one)

If the hoops to be gone through are Lack of DVD and Peripherals, I should be okay if I get the ext. DVD drive. I imagine a mini USB hub would be good too.

As far as my main Windows software that I must run, It probably totals 10GB, I was thinking of Parallels especially since I'm a VMWare dude from the beginning, so it's a familiar paradigm to me (my exchange server is a VM as are images of most of my critical client installs)

My main concern is whether running Parallels and WinXP with my main apps. (GoldMine primarily) will cream the processor / RAM too much to be an enjoyable experience.

The thing about the MBA is that after you see / hold one you really don't want anything else...

So you mention that you went a different path than what I'm looking at doing, what, may I ask, was your route to Mac Mecca?

Thanks again for your pearls of wisdom,
Scott
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walkerj

 
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Sorry about the synergy thing, 20 years of my own experience in the business has left me jaded and cynical, especially when it comes to corporate politics. You know, the Dilbert effect.

Anyway I can understand the appeal of the Macbook Air, I'm sure when I get around to going over to our local Apple store I'm going to want to fondle one.

My story on moving over to the Mac side is that prior to his Steveness going back to Apple, Macs were indeed over priced, and their OS was getting cruftier by the year. I didn't consider going with the first Macs, cool as they were because of the whole cheap clone running DOS, then Windows thing. At the time I used the powerful Sun work stations running UNIX mostly, so that's what I considered a 'Real Computer', but could never afford to actually own one, much less a Mac of that era. So with the clones I went. Fast forward to '95, a time which I consider Windows to be an actually really innovative thing that could at least make my feel like I was using my own Windowed, multitasking work station. It was perfectly adequate, and I could afford the computer on which it ran.

Then I discovered Linux, actually by way of discovering FreeBSD. I needed to run X to run a database defrag GUI tool that worked on Windows, but crashed a lot with the win32 version. Found that the one that ran natively on the database server (which was a Dec Alpha running Dec UNIX) with the GUI displayed back to an X window on a remote machine running Linux was rock stable, and allowed me to actually do the thing we bought the tool for. This led me to rediscover the world I was in back when I was lusting over NeXT machines, which nobody could afford. Now I could really afford owning a Real Computer, as described in the third section of this post.

Macs still stayed off the radar even after Jobs rejoined Apple and basically started selling NeXT machines that were made way better. Hardware still too pricy. I knew that Mac OS X was a UNIX, but Steve hadn't finished cleaning house of the arrogance of pricing the hardware competitively with commodity hardware. It's still up there, but the gap isn't nearly as wide these days, which brings me to the one best decision that Apple made ever, IMO.

They introduced the Mac Mini.

And the timing was perfect. By then I had built a whole bunch of computers by purchasing/scavenging/recycling all of which ran some or other flavor of Linux, and I had settled into a nice routine of home-grown scripts that supported my little music recording hobby and other things. I had built my wife a machine which ran XP (she's a "layman", and for non-tech types I recommended at the time that they just run Windows XP on Intel.) My employer supplied me with a Windows XP laptop which I used for corporate apps, but for my own personal computer, it was Linux all the way. I was thinking about this the other day, and the last Microsoft OS that I ever purchased with my own money that didn't come with the machine was Windows '95 on 13 floppy disks no less. Anyhow I was getting tired of building my own machines and being 'systems support' both at the office and at home. So I thought I'd give this new Mac Mini a try to see if it could meet my needs. Keep in mind this wasn't an Intel, thus Windows didn't come anywhere near being an option for me back then. So I bought one but had the Linux box nearby in case I needed to chuck this thing over Ebay once I transferred all my data over to it.

It was an unqualified success.
I essentially had my lusted after NeXT machine, with about a decade of improvements that made it even better. All my bash scripts ported over. I could use Terminal for that Command Line experience.

My wife had a Mac Mini on her desk 6 months later. Experiment II.

It was an uqualified success.

Six months after that we got a nice little inheritance, and within one week of each other I had a Macbook (white) and my wife got a Macbook (black). Now we were mobile in addition to using the best notebook computer ever.

I shipped the Mac Mini to my parents, to convince them to come over to the light side. They haven't yet but their upgrade cycle is much slower than mine.

I have two gig in my Macbook, and Parallels takes up one of those, and didn't really impact my ability to do other things. I created a Parallels VM to run XP to run all the corporate apps when I needed to travel light and didn't want to carry two notebooks around but still needed to work while out and about. My wife spent a good number of weeks in a big city hospital, so I used it for that quite often since we live rather far from this city. I'd be out in the parking lot glommed onto someone's WiFi checking email and answering tickets. My wife glommed onto someone's WiFi from her hospital bed so we could iChat with each other. Video iChat even. She loves her Macbook, and when I say that I'm kind of jealous about it. Good thing I have my own. I have a bluetooth keyboard and mouse though, and a widescreen external monitor. Nyah!

Anyway, there you go. If you get an Air, I'm sure you're going to love it and it's going to be quite useful and pleasant for you. About the only thing that might impact performance would be the fact that it uses a rather pokey disk, but Mac OS X is very good with memory management, so you are probably going to be able to stay within that two gigs of RAM and not swap too much even with the VM running. Also VM's (at least Parallels does, I'm sure VMWare has a similar feature) are very easy to suspend, pretty much instantly and at will. When I used my VM I would not boot it for weeks, but boot it, do what I wanted with whatever Windows app I needed, then suspend it. When I needed it again I'd make a click or two and it would pick up right where it left off. Suspend it, and it's an 8 gig file on disk that takes up only that space and the RAM/CPU is free for other things. Just like the Macbook itself, which are the only notebooks I have used that I feel comfortable 'sleeping' and at that by just closing the lid, and I'll be confident that it'll wake up right where I left off wherever I might be.

Okay, let's see how much of a novel this is going to look like...preview button...wow. Got a lot to say. Good thing I type at something like 80WPM.
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stsanford

 
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:-)
Visited the Apple store. $2500 less in my pocket. MBA in my possession plus Parallels and Apple Care and a SuperDrive.
Woo Hoo!
I look forward to working with this. I'm currently trying to get one of my VMWare Virtual machines over to the MBA for some reason, it's just giving me trouble on file copy. Some sillyness I'm sure. Will save that for tomorrow.

Thanks again for your help and advice. I do appreciate it more than you know. I like to see the history of why people have chosen what they use. It helps to build a framework of expectations I believe.

Best regards,
STS
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Thedspeth

 
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... sounds like this was well thought out and you have a very nice setup as a result. I'm new to Mac myself, but it seems like those who know what they are doing are able to keep from panicking at the first sign of a problem. I've found that OS X isn't perfect %100 of the time but it is far, FAR superior to my experience with PC.
Good job getting the applecare. Now you can enjoy your mac without anxiety.
have fun and let us know how you like the MBA!
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stsanford

 
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I'm very happy with the MacBook Pro and am seriously using the heck out of it.

I'm going to have to post an image of what I'm doing with it!

I am just about maxing out the memory, only about 18MB free RAM when I'm cooking!

Thanks to all.
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walkerj

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stsanford View Post
I'm very happy with the MacBook Pro and am seriously using the heck out of it.

I'm going to have to post an image of what I'm doing with it!

I am just about maxing out the memory, only about 18MB free RAM when I'm cooking!

Thanks to all.
You might actually not be maxing it out as much as you think. I am currently running five actual apps, those being Safari (with four windows; about three tabs each) Mail, iCal, Snap 'n Drag (screen shot application), and of course Activity Monitor. Activity Monitor is reporting that I have 16.21MB 'free'. I have 598MB 'inactive', and I'm pretty sure from what I've researched regarding how Mac OS X uses RAM, that's the RAM that would be taken from should any application require more. So I'm only using 1.3 or so GB out of my 2GB total, and only swapped out to 14MB.

Anyway, there are all kinds of arguments to be found on the internet regarding what all these numbers mean, but I'm pretty sure it means that I'd be cool with firing up my VM (which actually, I've only allocated it to be a 256MB of my RAM given to Windows) and still have plenty of RAM to allocate to other things before we really begin swapping.

I know people like to get a bit performance happy when it comes to specs but you're probably well below the thrashing threshold. How's the 'felt performance' of things while you're "cooking"? My usual test is to fire up Parallels, and the other apps I usually use, then play some cool music on iTunes and use Exposé and Spaces to swap around the GUI to. Usually "When Smokey Sings" by UK '80s pop band ABC then go to town switching between apps seamlessly while the music plays. Great for demos. Too bad my job isn't selling Macs, I'd probably be pretty good at it. Have to look into that. Nah, that'd make it less enjoyable.

No hiccups, it's 'snappy', and indicative of what happens if you're doing some kind of fast-paced thing. I have yet to bog the thing to a halt, and I've tried real hard.

EDIT: I just repeated this experiment playing the song, swapping around, running the visualizer and zipping around with Exposé and Activity Monitor reported my free RAM increased from the aforementioned 16MB to 86MB with Inactive not changing much with a tiny (comparatively speaking, that is) increase in swap. I really have to make a video of what I do to show what I'm talking about.
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