The Switch V: Living with it.

But enough of the gimmicks and shiny toys - day to day, how’s it going?.

The shine is wearing off a little, and it’s time to figure out how the change of system works with the things I use a computer for everyday: office stuff, web and email, blogging, photographic work.

Taking the last one first, I doubt I’ll be using the laptop for working with photographs. But if we make the jump into an Apple desktop I’ll let you know then…

Up to this point blogging has been a totally web-based experience, using the control panels of the various blogging systems I’ve tried (I’m currently using WordPress), which is pretty OS-independent. But following a tip from TSK I discovered ecto, which is a very nice offline blog editor. Makes it much easer to manage and compose posts, very intuitive and pretty. Costs a little bit of money, but well worth it. I tried the Windows version, but didn’t take to it the same way.

Email is easy. Quite a while ago I ditched Outlook for Thunderbird, for which there is an OS X version available. Slightly different kinks in the Mac version to the one I was used to, but I will still recommend it as an excellent and powerful mail client. Similarly for the web browser, many people people these days love Firefox, but I find Opera to be far superior whatever the platform - Windows, OS X, even my mobile phone. Opera is slicker and more polished (version 9 vs. version 1.x), and just as standards-friendly. And since a while ago it is now free without ads, too! So no change there, then.

But browsing is only half the web story. Site creation and coding is another matter. In Windows-land my text editor of choice is the excellent SciTE with its handy code-highlighting and -editing features. Unfortunately it hasn’t (and probably won’t be) ported to OS X. It’ll probably be a while before I settle on one to take its place, but for the moment I’m trialling Smultron, and it seems to be filling SciTE’s boots pretty well. CSS editing is easier again: Style Master is on the Mac too. My previous FTP client was Bullet Proof, but again no Mac version. Instead, I’m discovering why Transmit is so popular.

Finally, office work. Boot Camp means I can use my existing copy of MS Office rather than shelling out for an OS X version. Good in that it saves money, and good because the current Mac version doesn’t run natively on the Intel Macs (runs slow and nasty) and only Microsoft when it will. That said, switching between the operating systems is no fun. OpenOffice isn’t bad and is getting better, but is only recently available for Intel Macs so I haven’t tried it yet [sets download running the background]. Also, it doesn’t run natively in the GUI (needs X11 hanging around to work). The folks at NeoOffice are working on a Java-based version that fits into Apple’s Aqua GUI in OS X: I’m running an alpha build and so far it is pretty good. Again, it hasn’t got the polish of MS Office, but the OpenOffice system is getting good, fast. Version 2 was a big jump. I may not buy MS Office for the Mac.

There you go. I’m still getting the hang of things, and discovering a lot of new software, but so far I’m pretty satisfied and the good experiences out-number the bad.