August 28, 2003
Switch!

I'm posting this from my new PowerBook G4. I've finally made good on my promise to myself to switch back to a Mac after five years on PC's.

A brief chronology of my principal personal computer:

1978 - 1982 Apple II
1982 - 1987 IBM PC, XT, AT
1987 - 1997 Macintoshes, lots of them
1998 - 2003 IBM ThinkPads, lots of them
2003 - Back to Mac

It's been harder and more traumatic than I thought, but I think I see my way out of the woods. The problem is I'm VERY particular about my computing environment, and getting all of the little nuances just the way I like them takes time. It was a huge triumph today when Chao Lam (Chandler Product Manager) sent me a link to a utility called DoubleCommand http://doublecommand.sourceforge.net/ on SourceForge which lets me execute my Word macros with one finger function keys – without having to press the function key modifier on the keyboard. In OS X, the default behavior if you just press a particular function key is to do something like raise or lower the speaker volume, not pass the key through to the app which registered the event. In OS 9 you could reverse this in a control panel. DoubleCommand also lets you disable the Caps Lock Key and map Shift-Delete to a forward delete, which is otherwise absent from the Mac keyboard. Strike three more nuisances off the list, about two dozen more to go.


Why?

1. I think it’s good to use different platforms. Gives you perspective.
2. Lots and lots of fun, interesting new software on the Mac.
3. I’m tired of Windows.
4. Hoping some of the elegance of the Mac and the iApps rubs off on this old software designer when he works on chandler.

Biggest problem?

Shared calendar requirements has had me tied to Outlook/Exchange. Temporary solution: My extraordinarily gracious assistant Esther Sun is keeping iCal and Outlook in synch manually for the time being. I can use iCal and the others who refer need to refer to my calendar and are on PC’s can still use Outlook. Can you spot the flaw in this arrangement?

Surprises?

How good the spam filter is on Eudora 6. It’s beta software though and has many other annoying minor problems like the drawer opening and closing seemingly with a mind of its own. One can only assume the bugs will be fixed in time. Eudora doesn’t seem to be using anti-aliased fonts. I’m tempted to try to move to Mail.app[, especially as the next release (in Panther) is rumored to be a big improvement.

Tricks I learned along the way:

For $10 I bought OutlooktoMac to convert my calendar and contacts.
www.littlemachines.com/redir/o2mfeatures.php

I used the freeware “Linebreak” to convert PC Eudora mailboxes to have Mac-style line endings. http://www.versiontracker.com/dyn/moreinfo/macosx/13491

I bought a copy of File Buddy to set the proper file type and creator for my converted Eudora mailboxes. I later found but did not use a free utility to do this.

My Key applications:

Eudora
Microsoft Word
Safari (going to try Camino though)
iCal
Address Book
Snak (IRC client) – OSAF does a lot of its community work via IRC

This weekend I will work on moving all my photos to iPhoto and getting my music organized (it’s been in iTunes for quite some time now sitting on a separate hard drive).

Total Microsoft dependence significantly reduced, though not eliminated.

A footnote: Apparently, the Moveable Type button to insert a URL into an blog entry being created doesn’t work properly in Safari. It's late, I'm bad at typing HTML so forgive the formatting.

Posted by mitch@osafoundation.org at August 28, 2003 09:16 PM
Comments

For calendars, I (a) share my calendar onto a WebDAV server (easily created on any Apache server) (b) offer access via PHP iCalendar ( http://phpicalendar.sourceforge.net/nuke/ )

An alternative is to invite people to use Mozilla which has an iCal viewer available, http://mozilla.org/projects/calendar/

Oh, and welcome to the Fellowship of Switchers :-)

Posted by: Simon Phipps at August 28, 2003 11:28 PM

If you really need Exchange calendaring you can now use Entourage (part of Office for Mac OS X) with the recent release of the Entourage Exchange Update:

http://www.microsoft.com/mac/products/entouragex/entouragex.aspx?pid=exchangeupdate

Posted by: Matthew Walker at August 28, 2003 11:40 PM

Try using iView Media Pro for organising your photos, if you have more than a few hundred pictures: iPhoto is not so good with large albums.
http://www.iview-multimedia.com/

I really like launchbar, a very Raskin way of approaching filesystems, bookmarks and documents.
http://www.obdev.at/products/launchbar/

I have also heard great things about mailsmith and omniweb now that it is using webcore for html rendering.
http://www.barebones.com/products/mailsmith/index.shtml
http://www.omnigroup.com/applications/omniweb/

Posted by: Timo at August 28, 2003 11:47 PM

Mitch, You might want to also consider using/buying NetNewsWire

http://ranchero.com/netnewswire/

Posted by: Yusuf at August 29, 2003 12:45 AM

Welcome aboard! Now, Mac OS X has its own SIP VoIP software. Check it out at http://www.xten.com/ . I am only mentioning it because I think this was one of the lacking software for Mac OS X.

Posted by: Eddy Young at August 29, 2003 12:48 AM

Another thing you might want to do is set up an IMAP server on your Mac and store all your mailboxes there. That way you can easily switch between Eudora, Mail.app, Mozilla Mail/News, Mulberry, Pine, Chandler, etc. and not need to hassle with converting your mailboxes. UW IMAP is pretty easy to set up and supports Unix mbox format (as well as many other mailbox formats). Cyrus IMAP is what Panther ships with so you might want to use that since that's probably what a lot of Mac users will be using soon.

Have fun with your new Mac,
Nancy
another switcher!

Posted by: Nancy McGough at August 29, 2003 01:53 AM

Regarding MT bookmarklet,

Google: bookmarklet safari mt && You should feel lucky today

Best regards,

Posted by: Pedro Melo at August 29, 2003 06:02 AM

For mail apps, you really can't beat Entourage on Mac. I don't really like giving kudos to MS, but honestly, Entourage is the best one out there. I used Mail for a while, and I've used Eudora in the past. I've also used Outlook on Windows, and Evolution on Linux. Entourage is the best of any of them IMHO. The spam filtering is good, the UI is great, the multiple account handling is better (not much, but it is) than Outlook and others. And, as someone else mentioned it should tie right in to your Exchange system (I don't use this myself). I'm typing this for a Ti Powerbook, have a G4 to my left, a WinXP box to the left of that, and to my right are Linux boxes. But the TiPB is my administrative machine of choice.

As for browsers, also check out Firebird (the lighter weight Mozilla). I use Firebird across all my machines, and it allows me to keep my bookmarks in sync. Safari is great too, but there are a few things in Mozilla that I love (e.g. like the ability to just type "/" and some text to do a search). I have a CVS server running on this same Powerbook and keep my bookmarks in sync across all machines via that. Have fun...

Posted by: Chris at August 29, 2003 09:38 AM

Hi Mitch: good move, good reasoning.
make life easy:
Launchbar at:
Cocktail :

get the mac editing swiss army knife:
BBEdit:

grock:
SubEthaEdit:

Posted by: chuck brownstein at August 29, 2003 09:56 AM

LaunchBar. You must use it. After a few minutes you'll never happily go back to a PC.

iPhoto is very enticing, but broken in a fairly profound way (doesn't scale beyond about 2000 images). Alas, at the moment Adobe's PhotoAlbum product on Windows has pulled ahead.

There's no real alternative to Word on either platform. Too bad, I dislike Word.

iTunes is amazingly well done. Buy an iPod for it.

iCal is pretty bad. You may find this is the deal breaker for you! You need to be able to work with Exchange server. Be interesting to see what works.

Experiment with the Mac client for Microsoft Remote Desktop. You may be surprised how well it works.

Posted by: John Faughnan at August 29, 2003 09:56 AM

I wonder how well Virtual PC runs on a G5... I would like to use a Mac at work (I have an iBook at home). If running VS .NET under Virtual PC on a G5 is painless, I would make the switch...

Posted by: Robert Stewart at August 29, 2003 10:43 AM

i have read that Virtual PC won't run on a G5. Its almost as cheap to just buy a PC to run winapps anyway!

Posted by: chuck brownstein at August 29, 2003 10:49 AM

Forward delete on MacOS X :

CTRL - D

or

fn - DELETE

Note that there is more than CTRL-D, try to find some more (hint : CTRL-E)

Posted by: JY at August 29, 2003 11:21 AM

Check out Bochs and MacBochs as an alternative to VPC

Posted by: Stingerman at August 29, 2003 11:22 AM

Just wanted to say

Welcome Back!

Posted by: Mez at August 29, 2003 02:29 PM

Also take a look at X-Chat Aqua(http://xchataqua.sourceforge.net/) as an alternative to Snak.

Posted by: Anode at August 29, 2003 02:32 PM

Certainly sounds promising for Chandler; you've got to presume there'll be a bit more of a focus on an OS X release!

I too am trying to get over the 'Exchange hump'... Apple Address Book can search Exchange as an LDAP server, and of course the latest Entourage update claims to offer Exchange compatibility (tho I've had no luck, wrong server config.)

Check out http://www.snerdware.com/, for their tools to sync with Exchange.

AddressX, is free, and allows you to download your Exchange GAL (global address list) and Groupcal, which is in private beta, promises to allow you to use iCal to view and share Exchange calendar schedules.

Looks (well, sounds!) promising.

Posted by: Marc at August 29, 2003 06:18 PM

Thanks (to Mitch and people who posted comments) for providing information about software for the Mac and solutions for moving from Windows to the Mac platform.

I switched last year and am so glad I did, especially after the last Blaster worm disaster.

I use NetNewswire from Ranchero Software as my RSS reader and find it to be an excellent piece of software for posting to my blog. The Movable Type interface does not work on Safari - the buttons for bold, underline, italics and the URL link do not show up :( I still have a Windows laptop so sometimes I use it to update by blog.

Also if you want to send faxes straight from your Mac, try Page Sender (from Smile Software). It's easy to use and works from within your word processing software. It's inexpensive, too.

Posted by: Esme V at August 30, 2003 01:38 AM

I agree with LaunchBar, can't live without it. Xnippet opens up the Services menu (file/services) and is something I can't live without either. All little clippings I collect from the net end up in that useful little application.
iPhoto is still my chice for pictures., Since I have about 10K pictures I divided them with the donationware "iPhoto Buddy" that lets you divide up the pictures into as many libraries as you wish.
Good luck switching back!

Posted by: Svinto at August 30, 2003 04:06 AM

I had similar issues with Calendaring: in the end, I started using MS Excel to keep my schedule and wrote some Python scripts to load it to Outlook (as CSV), to Exchange Free/Busy, to an iCal server (as ICS), to my PC as screen saver (CDF + HTML), to my boss as status reports (HTML), to my current employer's timesheet system every other week (automation of an IE window) etc... Helps me quite a bit since I'm on different machines (and different OSs) all the time - spreadsheet seemed to be the common format possible :-)

Posted by: Babu at August 30, 2003 06:24 AM

As a long time fan of Agenda, and one looking forward to Chandler, I am also enamoured of the DevonThink and DevonAgent -- in partciular, if you only have time for one, try DevonAgent, just release in public beta:

http://www.apple.com/downloads/macosx/internet_utilities/devonagent.html

Posted by: Rohn at August 30, 2003 09:30 AM

Here's the revised MT bookmarklet:

javascript:d=document;t=getSelection();void(window.open('http://www.excelsis.cc/cgi-bin/mt.cgi?is_bm=1&bm_show=category,convert_breaks&__mode=view&_type=entry&link_title='+escape(d.title)+'&link_href='+escape(d.location.href)+'&text='+escape(t),'_blank','scrollbars=yes,width=400,height=530,status=yes,resizable=yes,scrollbars=yes'))

Posted by: pavi at August 30, 2003 10:59 AM

I second the Launcbar and Netnewswire votes. Also try Mozilla Thunderbird for mail (just about to hit .2 but way more stable than the number indicates). You can add the Calendar extension (http://mozilla.org/projects/calendar) to get calendaring and it can be synced to a compatible iCalendar server (there are a couple on Linux that serve as Exchange replacements).

Posted by: rick at August 30, 2003 12:08 PM

PithHelmet is an excellent content filter for Safari.

Posted by: sjk at August 30, 2003 03:45 PM

For the one or two must-have Windows apps, run Remote Desktop Connection to a networked Windows XP machine. Very fast on a wireless or 10/100 network. Better solution than Virtual PC if you work in a networked environment.

Posted by: Jamie at August 30, 2003 08:41 PM

To regain the functionality of that little button you mentioned in MT that lets you add hyperlinks and format text, try Firebird - it works with Typepad, and can save you a lot of time...

Posted by: Liam Page at August 31, 2003 03:11 AM

NetNewsWire Pro is wonderful - I post to TypePad from it as well.

OmniWeb is the most beautiful browser I've seen if beauty is important.

Other very cool apps you don't see elsewhere include Notebook from Circus Ponies and SubEthaNet (until recently called Hydra). Both are experience altering pieces of software.

___

10.3 will arrive one of these days. iCal and Mail are both seriously improved, but they may not be what you are looking for...

Posted by: steve at August 31, 2003 01:06 PM

"Notebook from Circus Ponies"

Also check out NoteTaker by AquaMinds.

The two apps are fraternal twins. Their developers worked together on the original NoteBook application for the NeXT.

Heck, buy them both. ;^)

Posted by: Jon H at August 31, 2003 01:34 PM

Many suggest alternatives to Virtual PC such as RDC and buying an entirely different machine, but neither of these address the usefulness of having a complete Windows VM on a laptop. You can't take your cheapo winderz box on a plane with you, and backing up a winderz box is difficult. With VPC, it is a single file. Just copy it back.
Check out Mellel- an up and coming replacement for Word.

Posted by: moon at August 31, 2003 02:43 PM

Enjoy the switch, Mitch...
(Hmm. Isn't that a line from a Paul Simon song?)

Two more aps to look at: Userland Radio as an rss aggregator and weblog editor, plus Mozilla Firebird for wysiwyg.

My own switch history:
1983-86 Osborne 1 (CP/M)
1983-90 TRS-80 Model 100
1984- AT&T 6300 (DOS)
1988- (still working!) NEC Ultralight V30, CP/M & DOS (1-2-3 ROM card)
1986-98 Many clones-n-Windows
1988-96 Mac Plus
1996-now many Powerbooks, SoftWindows (Win3.1); 1999-iBook; Virtual PC (Win98)
(Slow, but adequate to archive old DOS/Win aps and test Web pages with Win browsers)

Posted by: bob stepno at August 31, 2003 06:03 PM

I moved from Eudora to Entourage to Mailsmith, and was happy at each step. Eudora was mostly a text email reader with HTML plugged in, and missing global regular expression pattern matching that worked in any reasonable way. I switched to Entourage for better HTML email reading and much better filters. But Entourage corrupted my mail database, and Microsoft's only solution for my 500 Mb database was to export each mailbox (I had hundreds), delete, rebuild, etc. (The built-in rebuild option, both basic and advanced, failed each time.)

So I moved to Mailsmith. Mailsmith keeps mail in individual Unix mbox format wrappers and creates indexes of the contents. Searches are fast and powerful. Filters are simple. Mailsmith 2 is integrated with Spam Sieve, a Bayesian filter. Mailsmith 2 is integrated with PGP 8.

Even better, Mailsmith is a text email reader with all the power of a text editor: it's from the Bare Bones (BBEdit) folks, and they have built in most of the goodness of BBEdit inside Mailsmith.

If I want to view HTML email, Mailsmith automatically converted HTML email to a fake attachment. I double click the attachment and view it as God and Kibo intended: in a browser window. About 99 percent of the time, I don't need to look at HTML email.

Posted by: Glenn Fleishman at September 1, 2003 01:21 PM

Hey, cool. As an Outlook replacement you may want to consider Entourage which recently learned to speak the Exchange WebDAV protocol. Apparently that is also supported by OpenGroupware.org - so you may even remove Windows on the server ;-)

Posted by: Urks Uff at September 2, 2003 02:03 PM

My one indispensible aftermarket utility is FruitMenu (http://www.unsanity.com/), which enables a fully custom Apple menu. It makes painful things pleasant again.

I'll also enter another vote for Entourage.

. png

Posted by: Peter N. Glaskowsky at September 3, 2003 04:46 PM

Mellel is turning out to be a really nice word replacement:
http://www.redlers.com

It can read and write RTF format, and it supports many more languages then word.

If you want to open word files in it, use antiword services:
http://www.devon-technologies.com/freeware.php

and you can always print to pdf and send nice looking PDF files to the rest of the world

Posted by: Xslf at September 4, 2003 08:07 AM

Until Chandler is ready, you may want to consider ZOE for organizing your emails:

“Next Generation E-Mail”
— Volker Weber, August 24 2003
http://vowe.net/archives/003555.html

Mandatory Screenshots:
http://guest.evectors.it/zoe/itstories/story.php?data=stories&num=23&sec=2

Posted by: Zoe at September 5, 2003 05:00 AM

Hello Mitch,

I am switching to a PowerBook G4 also, the 12-inch SuperDrive model. I'm just 9 days away from the paycheck that makes it all happen! :-)

My current main computer is (this is no joke) a five-year old Quantex Pentium 2 266 MHz laptop, with a still-from-the-factory Toshiba 3.4 GB hard disk, 576 MB PC100 RAM, running SuSE Linux 8.2 and Ximian Desktop 2. My main apps are OpenOffice.org 1.1, MozFirebird, Ximian Evolution 1.4, and GAIM.

Obviously I haven't been running this from 5 years ago. I had a VA Linux service rep as next-door office neighbor in summer 2000, and he convinced me to switch from Win98 to Red Hat Linux back then.

This laptop had a massive carbonated drink spill to the keyboard and trackpad electronics a few months ago, which I've fixed by opening the case and disconnecting the keyboard and trackpad from the motherboard, and attaching a PS2 MS Natural keyboard and a USB MS trackball. So it is no longer a laptop, hence the purchase of the new PowerBook G4.

I want this PowerBook to eventually become my main computer, relegating the old laptop to Linux server duty. The main problem I foresee with switching to OS X is finding a free/open source email client for OS X that I like.

MS won't get a dime from my pocket for its Office apps. OpenOffice is more compatible with Windows Office than Mac:Office is, anyhow. I REFUSE to use Entourage, even though it will look more like Outlook and Evolution than any other OS X email app.

(Age of Empires 2 and Age of Mythology are nice, though. I have a separate gaming PC, which nowadays dual boots SuSE Linux 8.2 and Win2K. Windows-only games are the only reason I use Windows at home nowadays. Windows at work is another issue ...)

As far as I know, Ximian Evolution 1.4 hasn't been ported to XFree on OS X yet. But both Fink and GNU-Darwin have Evolution 1.2 for a download. I just practically upgraded my Linux box to Evolution 1.4 this summer, so downgrading to Evolution 1.2 to run it on OS X is a good compromise.

Fink has most of the GNOME 2 APIs in testing right now. So I won't have Ximian Evolution 1.4 immediately, but I'll start helping out with the Fink ports of GNOME 2 and Evolution 1.4 as soon as I get the G4.

And then you'll have the Exchange calendaring compatibility you need. :-)

PJ Cabrera, aka PowerMook

PS - Isn't Ximian Evolution 1.2 compatible with Exchange already? Mitch, have you tried Fink and Evolution 1.2? Give Miguel de Icaza and Nat Friedman a call and have them set you up! :-)

Posted by: PowerMook at September 6, 2003 09:43 PM

One must admire Steve Job's marketing tactics .. Owning a mac is probably every PC user's secret desire .. It is mine too ... But cant afford it right now :(

One of these days, I am going to, though ..

Posted by: anand at September 7, 2003 06:48 AM

Hello Mitch et al,

Seems I jumped the gun a bit. Evolution 1.2.4 is still in testing in Fink. It's not a stable Fink release.

But since Evolution is what I prefer to use for email, once I get the PowerBook I'll start testing and working with the maintainer to get Evolution 1.2.4 into Fink stable. And then we'll tackle Evolution 1.4. :-)

(This is all asumming I don't fall in love with Mail.app. We'll see. :-D )

In the meantime, I'll probably keep the old Linux box around for email. That inconvenience will probably motivate me to get Evolution tested and ported to OS X.

Hopefully someone other than me will care. :-)

PJ Cabrera, aka PowerMook

Posted by: PowerMook at September 7, 2003 04:17 PM

Have you tried Linux ?

Posted by: Low Kian Seong at September 9, 2003 02:09 AM

Welcome back Kotter!

Now, if you'd just instruct MT to render your font in a darker color everything would be keen. Crisp writing calls for crisp fonts.

Another vote for iview mediapro -- 2.0 is just out and it works for anything up to 128,000 images per catalog. If you have more than that, you need to regroup anyway.

Posted by: Van der Leun at September 10, 2003 05:31 PM

Fully agree about the recommendation of LaunchBar. On Camino, I still prefer regular Mozilla or Firebird.

Posted by: Miguel Marcos at September 15, 2003 01:38 AM

Mitch,
for quite some time now I have been contemplating the move from my PC back to Mac. Everybody keeps telling me that there are no real compatibilty issues, i.e. that I will not encounter problems collaborating with the PC-world. Now that you have completed the move, what are the little things that no one (at least within the Mac advocates community) talks about? There must be some downside, or else everyone would be switching to the more stable and more easily usable Macs...

Posted by: cjaugey at November 2, 2003 05:39 AM

well, i guess i can jump on the powerbook
bandwagon then :)

Posted by: exchange at November 22, 2003 09:33 PM

Don't know about the expensive Macs...
Linux would be an alternative, wouldn't it!? :)

Posted by: Rill at December 8, 2003 03:30 AM