Apple and Intel roundup

More on this massive announcement

So everyone is weighing in on this and I’ve been reading tons of commentaries. Here’s some of what I thought were the most insightful.

First of all, Apple has Steve Job’s keynote up so you can watch it for yourself. The one thing I got from that which I hadn’t seen covered yesterday was the fact that Apple has more PPC machines in the pipeline. What this means for those of us trying to decide if we want to get one of the last PPC powerbooks is that we might want to wait a bit longer to see if there will be one more performance boost before the Pentium-based machines show up. The other thing that was interesting was that the Pentium-based machine Steve was demoing on was using a “standard-issue” Pentium which might put to rest some of the speculation around a custom intel chip. Also, the responsiveness of Steve’s demo machine which was using a 3.6 GHz Pentium didn’t seem that much better than my 867 MHz PB.

eWeek’s article about how the transition will affect developers was interesting, but could have had more depth. Steve made it sound like most of the OS X developers had already made the switch to Cocoa and X-Code, but what he neglected to say was the majority of the developers using Metrowerks and Carbon are the oldest developers for Macintosh, with the largest codebases. Don’t expect too many new big features in your favorite mac apps releasing in 2006.

SiliconValley.com has a nice article on some of the other potential benefits for Apple by moving to a processor family with more vendors and options.

Dan Farber has his own summation of the techno-pundits on his blog.

David Berlind has got some great insights in his blog

Thomas Claburn of Information Week has confirmed that while Apple won’t let OS X run on non-Apple hardware, it won’t prevent other OSes from being loaded on Apple hardware. This is a pretty important detail. Imagine being able to dual-boot XP and OS X on sweet Apple hardware… I don’t think Apple should try and become an OS vendor since one of the reasons that OS X is so much more stable and secure is because of it’s limited hardware surface. Some insane percentage of crashes in XP systems is due to driver issues according to Microsoft. Apple has avoided this with their strategy and I think that is a major part of Apple’s appeal.

Peter N. Glaskowsky at eWeek presents a very interesting perspective on the whole deal.

Apple and Intel. Official.

The good and bad

I’ve never been a fan of Apple because of the processor, it is the OS that I like. This is going to be interesting.

the good:

  • Macs should get cheaper. Thanks to the economies of scale, Intel chips are cheaper than PPC chips because they make a lot more of them. This should make macs using Intel chips significantly less expensive than they are right now.
  • Macs should improve faster. Since Intel is developing chips for both PCs and Macs, Apple will get the benefit of the R&D that is done. Since the PPC chips were such a small part of IBM’s business, they weren’t as dedicated to improving them as Intel is.

the bad:

  • This transition will be full of FUD for both users and developers alike. As a OS X developer, I’m now forced to transition my projects to X-Code which I’ve been avoiding until now. X-Code is improving, but it has a long way to go to being a first-class IDE. Not that I’m a big supporter of Metrowerks either. I don’t link having choice be taken away. As a user, I was contemplating getting a new Mac PB this year. Do I wait for the new Intel-based machines next year, or do I get a new one now and hope that apps will still run on it once the transition to the Intel-based macs is complete? If I decide to get a PPC-based mac, do I wait for the inventory clearing sales? Are there going to be any more improvements to the G4 Powerbooks, or are they going to be frozen until the new Intel-based ones come out?
  • Is OS X going to be forced to take stuff that Microsoft is forcing into the hardware level? Microsoft has been trying to push more and more security features into the hardware in recent years to try and circumvent the virus writers and the music pirates. Is Apple going to be forced to support these things? I definitely hope not. Having OS X get dragged around by Windows is the last thing mac users and developers want.

Trying to switch… 99% there

The final (for now) entry on switching my business to the mac

So, I’m almost there. I’ve got my records and accounting in FileMaker Pro, I can create and manage invoices and expenses there. The most interesting thing about the process was figuring out how to translate how my business works into FileMaker. I never realized how complicated my business was. I have direct sales, consignment sales, digital sales, and then consignee sales (I sell CDs from some local artists on my site). Additionally, I have to pay royalties from all these sale types and publishing as well. Then I have expenses related to releases and general expenses. It was some hard work to capture all this, and it gave me some real respect for the consultants who do this for a living. It took about 40 hours of work to get it all done and I still need to figure out how to make the reporting work so that next year at tax time it will be easy. The best part of it is that I pretty much don’t need Word or Excel at all any more.

The one thing I haven’t dealt with yet is how to get my database up on my website. It is an NT server and I figure I can do it using ODBC and something exported from FileMaker, but it will take some work. I’m going to wait on that until I have to.

Aside from that, I can definitely recommend the switch. It has been all systems go.

Where I’ve been

I’m here, but I’m not blogging because I’m not using the computer with iBlog on it right now

and their instructions for moving iBlog between computers doesn’t work for me…

Got a lot of stuff I’ve been itching to post though. Not enough time tonight. Will try to do ASAP.

Trying to switch… Part Trés

Embracing FileMakerPro

I’m adjusting easily to doing e-mail and general stuff on the mac, but now is the bonus round, the business stuff. As I’ve said previously, on the PC, my workflow was pretty lame. I had my customer, supplier and promotional postal mail addresses stored MyMailManager. My invoices were generated using a custom Word template. My finances and inventory were all stored in Excel files. This was a major pain. When I got an order I would have to enter the data several times: once in the mailing address database, twice on the receipt (billing and mailing addresses), once on the excel file for each release ordered and then finally onto my yearly sales spreadsheet so I could track sales volume and do my taxes. Additionally, I had an access database with a lot of this information doubled for my online store. None of these programs were talking to each other. Of course this led to a lot of problems. With so many steps, I would often miss one or two. Every year at Tax time, I would spend a weekend reconciling all my records and making sure that they were correct.

I knew that using Visual Basic for Applications I could tie all the applications together. The office applications anyway. I could store most of the information in Access and use it to generate invoices in Word with the data filled in and then also generate reports in Excel for my accountant. The problem was getting into it. Programming doesn’t scare me. I do it for a living. It was learning a new programming language and then trying to figure out the idiosyncrasies of each of the applications to make the whole thing work. Every time I would sit down to start working on it, it would immediately feel like more work that it was worth.

Of course, I knew that there were other applications designed to address these needs for a small business directly: Quickbooks, MS Money Small Business Edition, etc… I evaluated several of them, but none seemed to be able address my needs directly and none were flexible enough for me to extend myself. Eventually, I just gave up and resigned myself to continue the status quo.

Now that I’m on a new platform and am forced to replace MyMailManager, I decided to re-assess the issue and try FileMaker Pro. I’d heard of it, of course. It has been around for ever and I know a lot of people on both platforms use it. So far, so good. It is much easier to use than Access: making tables, relationships and views is much, much simpler. However, it isn’t as powerful and there are some quirky ways of doing things. I hit a lot of little FileMaker Pro workflow snags, but I can usually get past them quickly after a few seconds in the on-line help (I haven’t even cracked the book or tutorials yet). With a few hours put into it, I’m pretty convinced that I’ll be able to replace my inventory, CRM, order and bookkeeping workflow with Filemaker. I also like that I can export from it in several formats so that if I ever move to another DB, I can import my data. So far, I’ve got a table for my addresses, and a form for invoices. Next is getting my inventory going. Once that is done, I’m all set. If I can do all that without having to write any script, I will declare FileMaker Pro the all time champion of local databases. It will never replace SQL, mySQL or DB2 for me to use in a server application, I’m way to addicted to writing my own SQL statements and stored procedures, but to use locally and simply it rocks. So far at least…

Trying to switch… Part Deux

Embracing Entourage

Part One

This morning, I checked to see if anyone had answered my question on the Thunderbird support forum and no dice. Frustrated, I started searching the web to see if there was a way that I could export from Entourage 2004 to a plain text mbox format. And lo and behold, I found this entry from Jim Roepcke’s blog. It turns out that Jim had the same concerns that I did and one of his readers revealed “Note that the archive format that Entourage may look proprietary, but if you delve into it (via “Show Package Contents” in the Finder), then e-mail is actually archived to mbox files inside the package.” This made up my mind for me and I gleefully decided that the Mac Business Unit at Microsoft were truly the rebels they are portrayed to be and that I would support them by using Entourage 2004. It got even easier when I found this page (see step 3) which told me how I could get the mail I imported into Thunderbird into Entourage.

Finally this is starting to feel more like a real possibility. Also, even though some of my word documents are really old the Mac version of Word seems to open them OK (it complains a lot and the formatting is a bit messed up, but I can still read them). And the Excel documents work just fine.

Now onto figuring out how to replace My Mail Manager and Access…

Trying to switch…

Trying to make the PC -> Mac switch and hitting some snags

I’m fairly platform agnostic. My first computer was a TI-99/4A, which was followed by a Mac SE, then a Powerbook 100, then a half dozen different PCs. I develop software for a living and have done so for IRIX, linux, Windows 95, 98, NT, XP, CE and now OS X too, so I know what I’m doing around computers.

I also do a lot of music and video stuff and even run a little indie label. A few years ago, I inherited a Titanium Powerbook 450 from a company I was working for that went under. It sat around my house for a while until one day when I was getting really frustrated with my main PC. I was trying to do some music editing on it and it was just not working. The audio was stuttering, it was crashing. This was an XP machine that I’d tuned for audio. I didn’t connect it to the internet, it wasn’t on a network and I almost never installed software on it. Yet one day it just stopped working right. I spent days trying to update drivers, check for IRQ conflicts, I even went out and bought a new firewire card. Nothing worked.

I spied my long ignored powerbook sitting on a table. On a whim, I hooked up my audio interface to it and installed the drivers (this was OS 9 days) and BOOM, everything worked! Most of the software I used was cross platform already, so I decided that my next computer would be a new powerbook. I decided to wait until everything I used was OS X compatible (I’d had my share of issues with OS 9). Finally, that day came and I bought the 12″ PB that I’m writing this on now. It works. Always. No problems. I run a ton of video and audio software on it, I connect it to lots of peripherals, and it never complains. I’m convinced that this is the superior platform for multimedia authoring, hands down.

I still was running a business though, and I was running that on my old Vaio P3 450 MHz laptop, but I was using that machine as little as possible. A major reason was that I used it to download my e-mail and occasionally surf the web which required me to have virus software that slows it to a crawl and makes it really painful to use.

This week, all three PCs in our house that are still plugged in stopped working. All for different reasons. I decided that I’d had it. I was tired of spending hours figuring out what was going wrong with the PCs in our house. I was going to switch off that old Vaio laptop for my old trusty Ti Powerbook. If I could do that, then I’d switch my wife too.

Now theoretically, it shouldn’t be that hard. The only software I use on my home PC is Outlook, Word, Excel, Access and My Mailing List Manager (an old postal mail list manger I use for my version of CRM). I already had a copy of Office 2004 that I’d purchased but not installed. I figured that it would take care of the e-mail, Word and Excel, which would be the majority of what I do.

Here is where it gets interesting…

This is currently no way to import Outlook PST files into Entourage. Microsoft is promising a tool, but it doesn’t exist yet. By searching the web, I found the way to do this:
1) Install Thunderbird on your PC
2) import your Outlook mail into Thunderbird
3) copy that folders that Thunderbird creates to your mac

Step 4 would be to import that mail into Netscape Mail or Apple Mail and then import that into Entourage, except right here I realized something very important: Maybe it is a bad idea to use a mail program that makes it hard to get your mail out of it. I’d learned a similar lesson months ago when I got an iPod and had to re-encode all my WMA files into MP3. So right here is when I decided that maybe I’d just use Thunderbird on the mac instead of Entourage. So step 4 for me is to use Thunderbird.

Using thunderbird would be awesome if it worked, but, for me, it just doesn’t. See my post on the thunderbird support forums if you care. So after trying to make Thunderbird download all my mail unsuccessfully for a while, I just gave up. I’d already set up entourage to pull mail from one of my accounts. I decided that if I could export the messages that I’d already downloaded into thunderbird, then I would just use Entourage (which is a pretty good mail program). Yeah, so I couldn’t. Entourage will only allow you to export mail in their own proprietary archive format. That is fucking stupid and extremely lame. That alone means that I won’t use Entourage 2004. I’d never tried the Mail program that comes with OS X. I started it up, set it up, immediately hated it and vowed to never start it again.

So now I’m stuck. There are other mail clients for OS X, of course, but they aren’t free and I don’t feel like installing each of them so that I can test them out. I’m hoping that someone will help me out with Thunderbird because I think that is the app I want use. I’m just bummed that it doesn’t work for me.

More later as I progress on my own personal switch campaign.

Jahshaka

An open source video editor

Via Robin Good:

Jahshaka is a pretty cool looking open source video editor. Unfortunately the mac binaries are really old compared to the windows and linux ones, so I’m not gonna install it just yet. If you’re on windows and looking for an inexpensive video editing solution, it is worth a look.

Free Frame

Finally, a video equivalent of VSTs

I’ve been on kick about this for a while. Having an open, standard, format for plug-ins has made it possible for tons and tons of DIY audio plug-ins. Now with more and more people working with video, it makes sense to finally have a standard for video effects as well. Enter the good open source developers working on Free Frame. Godspeed gentlemen and ladies!