A Mac User in a Windows World

MacBook Pro vs ThinkPad

Yep, I am still using my Mac in a company that is 95% Windoze. I just can’t help loving my machine and being so glad that I am not stuck with ThinkPad quality displays and the boot times of >5 minutes. Of course, survival vis-à-vis IT is always a bit precarious – oh, the guy with the Mac – hang up quick! – and having everything working is always a challenge. Here are a few snafus and work-arounds I have found more recently with the experience

  1. Outlook 2011 – it isn’t bad. Unfortunately the ribbon on top isn’t customizable as it is on Outlook 2010 on Windoze but still the searching function is far faster as is the Move To feature with type-ahead. There are a few catches though: the webex plugin for creating meetings with WebEx details and registration doesn’t exist to my knowledge on the Mac so I have to revert to my ThinkPad clunker for creating those types of meetings. Other than that, the look is still a little less pretty than the Windoze equivalent to be honest but even the auto proxy support works so that I don’t always need a VPN connection at home to get to my email!
  2. PowerPoint 2011 – works OK too except for poor rendering of icons sometimes. The one thing I am missing here that I have on Windows 7 is the side-by-side shortcut when you move windows to either the right or left edge of the screen. For PPTX, this is an incredibly convenient feature that takes extra cycles on the Mac – more of a Snow Leopard criticism than a Mac one but if PPT offered a fit-full-screen possibility…
  3. Word 2011 – works OK as well. Comments are good. Formatting is relatively consistent and I like the full screen reading view so nothing to criticize here :)
  4. Communicator 2011 – really nice. The integration with Outlook’s address book actually works better than my corporate Office Communicator 2007 R2 with Outlook 2010 for finding addresses and so forth. I like almost everything about the Mac version and find it superior to the Windoze one.
  5. Excel – I am not an Excel jockey but find that the one in Windoze is slightly more readable and easier to use. Perhaps I am just too lazy but I have gotten into binds with the Mac version on several occasions and rarely use it anymore.
  6. Safari vs. IE9 vs. Firefox4 vs. Chrome – Already posted about this (one of my most successful posts ever in terms of getting found on search engines!) but just will mention the extreme annoyance at hitting IT sites that are IE-only. Argh. I am still in Safari (as now), IE9 on Windows and occasionally FFox 4 on Windows or Mac. No clear preference still…I don’t know but still can’t quite get used to Chrome for some reason…
  7. WebEx Meeting Center – this FINALLY works on the Mac :) The screen sharing works even with Spaces which always impresses the crowd. I found during a webcast today that occasionally the screen freezes when you go into slideshow mode – at least it was finicky in the morning whereas things worked in the afternoon. In any case, the GUI is even better for managing the calls and so forth. One bitch however is that the part of the window where the participants are listed isn’t resizable :(
  8. Ergonomy – hands-down the Mac rocks. Spaces to have Win7 on the first desktop, another VM or app on the second one, iTunes/iPhoto on the third and a plethora of web browsers on the 4th and I am set! There is also the awesome screen quality which is embarrassing for the ThinkPads. And then there is the 23-second boot time with my SSD disk drive…like I said it rocks.
  9. ConceptDraw – for a Visio-replacement ConceptDraw PRO is really nice. I also have tried Omnigraffle. Neither completely replaces Visio but both are much more competitively priced and until MS ships a Mac version of Visio (or includes it in Office 201x for Mac), I am pretty attached to ConceptDraw PRO.
  10. Project Management – here is the one place I have not found a satisfactory replacement for MS Project. I tried Merlin, OmniFocus and a few others but haven’t found anything really satisfactory. That being said, I mentioned already that I find Project incredibly cartesian and difficult for me to adapt to but the Mac replacements haven’t really helped me in that regard either.
  11. Screen shots – on my Mac I love Skitch – it is free and simple and very ergonomic. SnagIt is OK but hard to use sometimes, slow and occasionally bugs out on me on Windows.
So there you go. Folks always ask how I survive with just my Mac. I always think, and how do you stand still being on a ThinkPad? Just need a VPN now and I’ll be set…
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About mfinocchiaro

IT Architecture Guru for large PLM software company but dabbling in Web 2.0 and other stuff.
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3 Responses to A Mac User in a Windows World

  1. qbeukes says:

    Have you tried CrossOver office for Mac from http://www.codeweavers.com? If you want to see some screenshots of how well MS Office runs check out my WordPress blog for the CrossOver post.

    • mfinocchiaro says:

      Thanks! Actually, I got a free promo version of CodeWeavers a few years back but found it pretty buggy. I recall that on the Mac they made the poor choice of mapping the basic Windows GUI to Motif instead of Cocoa and it was awful. Had to urgently adopt VMware Fusion as an alfernative and haven’t gone back since. I have has recent issues where the VM gets extremely slow and requires repair but since 95% of my tools have some Mac native equivalent, no biggie.
      Nice nerdblog you’ve got there by the way :)

  2. Ed McBride says:

    I love my MacBook Pro. The only time I tried it at work was to test 3DLive for OSX, which worked pretty well BTW. Intriguing idea, but lacking MS Office on my Mac I don’t think this would be feasible for me.

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