Mac Mail – 1 month later

So it’s been a little over a month since I took the plunge and switched my email from Domino to Exchange.  All this time I’ve been trying to exclusively use Mac’s native tools for my email and calendar.  After being a Lotus Notes user for longer than I remember, using Mac tools was a bit of an adjustment.

The good thing about these Mac tools is that they all integrate seamlessly with Exchange: mail, calendar and address book — even free/busy checking.  Configuring and setting them up was a snap.  They all sort of just found the Exchange server and configured themselves.

The best thing I like about Mail is how it consolidates multiple accounts in one interface.  I have my Exchange, Gmail and the old Lotus Notes mailboxes all in one place.   I can drag and drop messages between accounts.  I can read an email from one account, but reply to it under a different account by just changing the From drop down list.   I can open an old message from Notes and reply to it through Exchange.  I even have different signatures configured for different accounts and by changing the From value, the signature automatically changes.  Being able to switch identities and reply to emails from different accounts was always a big problem in Notes.

I kind of like how Mail automatically closes the open email when I reply to it.  But if you hold the Option key when clicking Reply, the original email stays open.

Calendaring though is a little weak.  I miss having Richtext event descriptions and being able to edit them.  Any lengthy description in iCal just ends up being a long run-on text.

Scheduling events with people from outside the organization doesn’t work very well.  Schedule changes, information updates and meeting acceptances don’t always know which meeting they are related to.  A bit of a mess.  Guess that’s where Tungle could be useful.

Now, Address is a bit of a mess.  Not so much on the computer, but more so when it comes to BlackBerry synch.  For some reason I keep losing email addresses.  They are there in the application, but not there when the contact is synched to my BlackBerry.  It takes a few edits to the address to get it to synch correctly.

The best thing I like about all of these applications is that they do the simple task of email and calendar and do it pretty well, without extra overhead and complications.  They load fast.  Very fast.  They don’t generate silly error messages about failed provisioning.  And they don’t have a progress bar at the bottom indicating some odd background process doing something.

Apple in the Enterprise

Last week PSC was invited to participate in the global IT summit held by one of our clients.  We had a couple of hours to facilitate a discussion and to present our view on several topics.  One of the “hottest” discussions was centered around Apple in the organization.  Users (executives) want it, IT is afraid of it.

The ever expanding presence of Apple device in the enterprise cannot be denied.  And it is no longer just the creative and marketing departments that are using them.  People are increasingly becoming Mac, iPhone and now iPad users.  And if they have these devices available to them at home, they want to use them at the office.  When the company executives are asking to be able  to use them, the IT department is hard pressed to say no to them.

The IT response to Apple is fairly standard: we’re a Windows shop, we’re a BlackBerry shop, iPhone is not secure, I can’t join you to the Active Directory domain — in short, we don’t support Macs.  But that’s a position that is becoming increasingly hard to maintain, so I’m seeing more of my clients providing some form of support for Apple in their enterprise.

Once the IT gets over its initial fear of Macs, support for Apple devices generally come in two flavors: organizations either completely outsource all Apple support to a 3rd party Apple consulting shop or, if the Mac contingent is substantial enough, hiring staff dedicated to supporting Macs.

The one mistake a lot of IT departments make is trying to treat Apple computers the same way as they treat Windows machines, expecting them to require constant feeding and care, where the contrary is more of a case.  Macs generally don’t require a lot of maintenance and support.  Sure they experience occasional hardware issues, just like any piece of equipment would.  But on a day-to-day basis, Mac users don’t require a great deal of attention.  In fact, once these machines are setup and configured, they just sort of run.

Mac OS and software updates are much less frequent than those of Windows and are generally pretty safe, they don’t cause things to break.  Viruses are nearly non-existent in the Mac world.  Applications are easy to install and remove and they don’t step on each other, breaking an enterprise application with a newly installed piece of some freeware.

So unless you have a crazy power user who likes to poke around with command line parameters and explore hidden directories, having a few Macs in your organization is pretty safe and rather painless.

Macs are definitely not Windows and problems arise when you need Macs to run the same software, or you trying to make them function just like a Windows machine.  This happens  when you have a large number of Mac users and your software vendors offer none to limited support for them.  I’ve seen these situations with everything from common Microsoft Visio and Project products to SAP clients, IBM/Lotus Notes clients and Lotus Notes desktop managers (CooperTeam Desktop Manager and Panagenda’s Marvel Client).

When this happens you need to be prepared to offer your users compromises.  The options include the obvious of not buying software that doesn’t support Macs; running Windows (VMware Fusion, Parallels, Bootcamp) on the Mac; finding Mac-specific versions of software in question; offering Terminal services (Citrix or Windows) or, of course, simply not using a Mac.  Your particular answer will differ based on the situation, software or user in question.

In either case, you should be prepared that one day your users will ask to use a Mac at work.  And to keep your users happy, you should know how you’re going to answer that question.

My fan is driving me crazy

This is slightly dissapointing…  The right fan in my brand spanking new MacBook Pro is making noise.  It’s very low but very noticeable.  More so late at night when all is quiet and not even a mouse is stirring.  So I’m off the Apple store tonight.  Luckily there’s one right across the street of where I’ll be this afternoon.  Hopefuly they can do something about it and quick.

And in the mean time, hurry up, Time Machine.  Back this puppy up.

How to uninstall iStat Menus

In my quest for removing iStat Menus from my computer, I came across several forum posts asking how to cleanly remove this program.  Deleting it from the Applications folder didn’t do the trick.  Unlike most Mac programs, it partially stayed around.

The answer is simple.

  1. Download the latest version of iStat Menus from http://bjango.com/apps/istatmenus/
  2. Unpack the zip file and launch the iStat Menus program.
  3. As a part of the installer, there’s an option to cleanly remove/uninstall iStat Menus.

Much simpler than navigating Library folders for buried files.

How to Ctrl-Break on a Mac

A Lotus Notes user on a Mac for 2 years now, the only thing I miss about Windows is to be able to hit <Ctrl><Break> to stop/break out of whatever Notes is doing. And only now I discover the answer…

<⌘ Command><.>

Can’t believe it took me 2 years and paying attention to an Excel window to discover this.

My 3rd Taproot project

A few days ago I received an email from another Account Director at Taproot asking if I would be interested in working on another project.  This is yet another advanced website project for Gift of Adoption.  Of course, I said yes.  Now waiting to talk to the Account Director about particulars of the project.

As a side note, this will be my first true (significant) web development undertaking using my Macbook.  Looking forward to discovering available tools and what I can do on this platform.  Hope I won’t be missing Microsoft Visual Studio and Visual Web Developer.

What Mac applications are a must-have?

As a brand-spanking new Mac user I found myself a bit at a loss.  I knew what applications I always use on a Windows machine: there are the standard IM clients, MS Office, OneNote, Visual WebDeveloper Express, etc.  But what should I use on a Mac.  Jim, the same Jim who was the cause of my downfall from a Windows user, a long-time Mac user, gave me several applications that he uses.  So now I have Adium, iStat menus, Growl, AppTrap, Dialectic, MS Office for Mac. They work for me.  But I can’t help but wonder what else is out there.

What Mac applications absolutely positively you can NOT do without? What apps do you install on every Mac as soon as you login for the first time?

Me — a proud Mac user

What started as an idle curiousity question on November 17th if Apple ever has sales, thanks to Jim, responding with this Link to AppleInsider, ended as a trip to my local BestBuy store.  Long story short, I walked out of the store carrying an all too sexy little box labeled Macbook.  It’s been 2 weeks now and not once did I regret my decision.  Not only this 13.3″ laptop looks awfully terribly cool, it also works well.   In fact, it works so well and so intuitive, that at times, when turning back to a Windows machine, I find myself at a loss. (Why 2 fingers on the touch pad don’t scroll the page?)

I can go on and on about all the cool things about a Mac: from ease of use to all the out of the box features.  But I won’t.  Enough of that is said out there anyway.  The only thing I’ll say is that I miss the availability of open source and free software for Windows.  There is a ton of software out there for Mac, but, more often than not, you have to buy it.

And lastly, I don’t like that same applications that exist on Windows and Mac are often implemented just ever so slightly different on a Mac.  But I quickly forget about it every time I open the cover of my sleeping laptop and… Boom!…  it is on just like that and connected to my wireless network — no waiting!  Love it

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