Sunday, June 11, 2006

Back on the Mac

After the 2001 crash that took out our dotcom (Pacifiq Technologies -- you can still find the old website at I spent a few years doing small gigs. There wasn't a lot of work in Minneapolis for ex-CTO's -- and there were plenty of us around.

So when our house was broken into in 2003 and my 3rd laptop stolen I had no specific reason to buy a WinTel machine. I'd always loved the Macintosh, and had started doing some Linux work -- so I decided to buy a G4. I bought the 1Ghz Powerbook. It was the last model that was made out Titanium.

Loved the machine -- most elegant laptop I've ever worked with. If you've never spent time with one on your lap you've missed out.

I also loved OSX. It was still pretty new at the time, but it sat on Debian and was rock solid. It took awhile to get used to where everything was. I've been on MS machines since DOS 2.0 and I can make any MS OS sing, and there were definately times when I felt lost on the Mac.

I was Mac only for a few years until we moved back to Seattle and I started my contract gig with the Fox team. After a year it was re-starting Alden Anderson -- and of course working in MS software exclusively. So the Mac became mostly a music machine; Itunes, Abelton Live and MAX-MSP.

So last week my Dell 5160 gave up the ghost. Power supply went bad, I'd already fixed it once and new another few hundred $$$ was a bad investment. But before I pulled the trigger on another Dell I thought long and hard about what I used my laptop for these days.

1) Email - Outlook... which is a pig, but is still the only email client that will let you tag a message to be reviewed for follow-up at a specific date/time in the future.
2) Onenote - Invaluable tool for documenting day to day client activity
3) Web browsing - Firefox
4) Remote Desktop
5) VFP
6) SQL Server
7) Visual Studio

Why are VFP, SQL et al so low on the list? I do most of my dev work remotely with RDC, if you've got a good connection it is a superior way to work IMO. Easier version control and much less exposure when the laptop suddenly disappears, again.

So, I decided to dust of the Mac. Installed my recently upgraded 100gb 7200rpm hard drive from the Dell, got the latest OSX release (10.4.6 or Tiger) and installed Virtual PC for the Mac.

Well, I love it. I've got VPC setup with VFP9 and SQL Server and the rest of the MS apps, installed Firefox Mac and other than that I'm using what ships with the OS.

Of course what I'd really like is a NEW Duo-Core Powerbook. With Boot Camp and Parallels it gives me the best of both worlds -- but a sudden $2500 hit on cashflow isn't in the cards, so I'll sit with my 3 year old Powerbook and enjoy working with a work of art on my lap once again.


Anonymous said...

I was in an Apple store the other day and was impressed with the notebooks. Regarding this software in particular:

5) VFP
6) SQL Server
7) Visual Studio

(and Frontpage)

Are you able to run VFP locally (not via RDC) on the MAC? with emulators?

-dta said...

You can run VFP, SQL Server and Visual Studio on a Mac with a few solutions.

OS Virtualization via Virtual PC for Mac will work with any OS/X Mac while Intel based Macs support both Processor Virtualization with Parallels and Native mode with Boot Camp.