My Favourite Mac Software – Part I

January 13, 2009

Five in Edinburgh

Working at Terinea I use a mixture of different computers and software. Windows XP/Vista/Server, I use everyday at work for user and server support. Linux is the main work horse behind most of our clients systems and software, but my main computer is my Apple MacBook Pro.

Since making the switch to Mac in April last year I couldn’t see myself ever going back to Windows. As I’ve not blog much about Mac’s since getting one or should I say not blogging very much at all in 2008 I thought I would share some of my favourite Mac software that I have discovered over the last 9 months, some even run on Windows!

  • Chicken of the vnc – VNC viewers aren’t the best on the Mac compared to Windows but this one appears to be the best one.
  • Deeper – Additional System Preferences (Control Panel) Settings
  • FileZilla 3 – FTP Client for Linux, Windows and Mac.
  • Quicksilver – Hard to explain, replacement for the docking bar and spotlight to quickly launch programs.
  • Transmission – P2P/torrent download for downloading Linux Distro’s of course!
  • TextWrangler – I don’t like the built in text editor on the Mac
  • Remote Desktop Connection – RDP client from Microsoft
  • KeePassX – Password Database
  • OpenOffice 3 – Microsoft Office replacement. I’ve tried the others from Apple and Microsoft, and I feel this is the best for the Mac, although I still think Office 2007 for Windows is the best office application.
  • FreeNode – Mind Mapping Software (Freemind for Windows)
  • Fluid – For making web applications into dockable icons, for example I have one for Basecamp.
  • Virtualbox – Open Source Virtual Machine from Sun MicroSystems for Windows and Linux
  • Zenmap – Network Port scanner for Apple (Nmap for Windows)
  • Default FolderX – Helps to make saving files to suitable directory a quick process.
  • Adium – Instant Messenger application that supports a wide range of protocols (MSN, Jabber, Gtalk)

A good resource for additional Mac software is
http://osx.iusethis.com

What’s your favourite Mac software?

Author: Support @ 11:54 pm
Category: Apple,Software




Friday Humour – Mac Air v ThinkPad

May 2, 2008

The video they don’t show on TV.


Credit to tuaw.com/

Author: Support @ 8:00 am
Category: Apple




Blue on Windows Vista

April 2, 2008

Photo0194

I came into the office this morning to see that Blue had some opinions he wished to express about Windows Vista.

"In 1999 Microsoft gave us Windows ME, seven years later they gave us Windows ME 2 (Windows Vista)" – Blue

J: What do you mean Blue?

B: Well do remember Windows ME back in the 1990s? That was one poor excuse of an Operating System, built on not much better Windows 98 before it!

J: Yes I do, it was terrible, specially when you consider Windows 2000 Professional was available at the same time for business people. But surely Vista isn’t as bad as Windows ME Blue?

B: Your right, it isn’t, its worst that Windows ME! Vista is like a bad Sequel after XP, think Star Trek V, Sting 2, Star Wars 1, Speed 2, Batman & Robin, Jaws 4, Spiderman 4.

J: What, they are doing another Spiderman film?

B: Yeah!

J: So what is so wrong with Windows Vista?

B: Well you got a new machine the other day after your last Vista machine couldn’t repair itself and to be honest was a little under powered anyway (2.8 GHz 1.5 GB RAM and 128MB Video) . You also had a clients Vista machine that couldn’t repair itself either that week!

J: Yes and yes, but now my old Machine has Linux Ubuntu 8.04 on it.

B: I know, it feels like a new machine does it? And with 3D desktop enabled it puts Vista and Mac visual effects to shame?

J: Your right, it does Blue. But I think that’s a topic for another day

B: Well here is my list of complaints so far…

1. Forget about speed unless you have a 2.0GHz Duo machine and then I’d be looking at Quad Core if you can stretch to it

2. Control Panel mayhem, I can’t find anything quickly

J: Ah, but your meant to search for everything in Vista, programs, email, documents etc, that’s the thinking behind Vista

b: True, but try searching for "Windows Updates" and nothing will appear because you didn’t type it "Windows Update", that’s just laziness on Microsoft part

J: Okay, next

3. Coping files over network has only been fixed with Service Pack 1, why would they ship an OS with a problem like this?

4. Service Pack 1 actually slows down Vista, forget about it speeding things up or adding any new features

5. Mapped Network drives in a Workgroup environment never remember your passwords

6. How many ways do you need to shutdown the computer? Sometimes it doesn’t actually shutdown, it sleeps and even that doesn’t work correctly on your new desktop computer, remember this morning you wasted 20 minutes?

J: Okay, okay we are getting the picture, so what do you suggest?

B: Not much choice, Microsoft will stop large computer manufactures from ship XP machines in June, Windows 7 won’t be around till 2009/10. Linux debate always comes down to the choice of applications you need to run and isn’t as easy as Windows or Apple, although this is improving. Apple operating system has MS Office and Adobe applications going for it, but they are expensive compared to the specs of a Windows machine and if you’re a large company, Apple Servers are ludicrously expensive bit of kit, £3,000 for a basic server. What do you think Jamie?

J: Well I think if your out for a new laptop or desktop which will run Vista, 2 GB of RAM, 2 GHz Duo Processors and separate video card which doesn’t steal system memory or is what you should be aiming at.

Author: Support @ 8:00 am




A year on from Windows Vista

November 26, 2007

Mike at Digital Agency noticed this clever advert from Apple promoting bad press Windows Vista has received. Which prompted me to think about what features I like and dislike with the operating system. Check out the video if haven’t already seen it first.


The Good

  • The new Start Menu – I like the way you search for applications and documents within the start menu.
  • Snipping Tool – A simple tool makes my life a lot easier when it comes to screenshots.
  • Printer – Setting up a printer general seems like an easier affair.
  • User Friendliness – I suppose in area’s it a lot easier for the average joe to use, for long as they aren’t upset by the poor performance.
  • I’m struggling to think of anymore.

The Bad

  • Sync Center is not scalable – A small client of ours has recently grown from 2 to 7 machines within a space of a year. Windows Sync has proved it is not a 100% fool proof. Maybe it will work better when we switch to a Domain environment in the new year. I’d like to keep this for the Laptop users.
  • Control Panel Overload – If you switch to classic view the control panel is a complete nightmare.
  • Visual Effects – Both Apple and Windows are behind on this front when you look at Ubuntu.
  • Backup Software – Has had features removed so you can’t define just a directory to be backed up, no it has to be whole drive or nothing.

The Ugly

  • Hardware Hog – I’ve purchased decent laptop with 2GB of RAM and dual processors, yet it still seems to take a day to boot up.
  • Wireless Cards – I have had a couple of issues where Vista decides its going to forget the password for the wireless network.
  • Shutdown – Far too many shutdown options for the end user to choose from.
Author: Support @ 9:00 am
Category: Apple,Windows




Apple’s new operating system, Leopard

October 29, 2007

When working in IT it is always important to keep up with the latest technology, even if you have no plans to use that technology. Although the nearest thing I have to Apple Mac is my old battered iPod, I decided to take time out and watch a series of video’s on Apple’s new operating system, Leopard.

Video One

Video Two

Video Three

Author: Support @ 8:00 am
Category: Apple




12 Ways to backup your data

August 8, 2007

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Everyone knows backing up your documents and files is something we should do on a regular basis, but quite often this task gets pushed to the bottom of the todo list. You might already have a system in place but would it fail if your office was in a fire? When was the last time you checked your backup’s actually work?

Over the coming weeks I will cover a range of topics on backup solutions to make your life easier. This weeks post is about the various types of backup solutions currently available. 

Still not convinced you need to read this post? Check out the story behind the picture above!

  1. Online
    Online backup is quickly becoming the most popular form of backup for individuals and small businesses. A backup program constantly monitors your document and files. Any changes to these files are copied, compressed, encrypted and then uploaded to the backup solution provider via your internet connection. 
    Example : http://www.jungledisk.com/
  2. Local and Online
    One of the draw backs to online backup is what happens when you need to recovery all your data quickly. Even with 8MB broadband connection it can take well over an hour to download one gigabyte of data. Some companies provide you with a small backup machine that takes a local backup and then uploads. If your data is lost you can restore it from the backup box. If your server and the backup box are destroyed the service provider will send an engineer on site with a replacement box with a copy of your data that was last updated.
    Example : http://www.datafort.co.uk/datafort_deluxe.asp
  3. Backup Media

    Tape technology has been around for over 50 years and is still widest used form of backup for businesses. Although the initial outlay can be expensive, tape drives still offers the quickest and cheapest way to backup large amounts of data. Currently the largest capacity tape is around 800 GB, but if you need something bigger, a tape library system can combine a series of tapes to provide a massive 80TB (80,000 GB’s) of data. Tape backup solution also provides an easy and cheap way to archive large amounts data for legal requirements that many businesses face. A typical tape solution will start from £300 ($600) and with tapes cost anything from £5 ($10) upwards depending on the capacity. 
    http://www-03.ibm.com/systems/storage/tape/ts3100/index.html

    CD/DVD media are generally quicker and cheaper than tape technology. Although the average business will backup well over 8.5 GB capacity of DVD media can currently handle. Yeah you can span data over multiple CD/DVD’s but as I will mention next week, Keep it simple. You might want to consider DVD media for monthly archiving for a companies that utilise an online backup system.

    HD-DVD and Blu-Ray media is another option that offers up to 50 GB of storage, but until the technology matures I wouldn’t consider this viable backup solution just yet.
    http://www.blu-ray.com/ | http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HD_DVD

  4. Peer to Peer, online backup 
    Another online backup solution is Peer to Peer or P2P technology. Your data is encrypted, compressed, split into many bits and then uploaded to multiple locations all over the world. You can backup as much data as you’d like, but for every megabyte you want to save you need to provide another ten megabytes of space on your local PC for other people’s backups. In principle your data is backed up ten times!
    Academic Paper : http://www.mit.edu/~cbatten/work/pstore-tr02.pdf
  5. Peer to Peer, local backup
    Instead of your data being distributed all over the internet the same concept can be applied by using spare hard drive space available on your desktop machines within your business network. 
    Example : http://www.peersoftware.com
     
  6. Backup Buddies 
    Similar concept to P2P backup, but instead of backing up to multiple anonymous locations, you and a friend backup each others data over the internet. Again your data is secured through encryption, compressed and transferred via your broadband connection. You can have more than one backup destination which can be a local PC, another PC over the internet or you can use solution providers servers.
    Example : http://crashplan.com/
  7. Portable Storage 
    USB hard drives and keys are one of the most common forms of backup for individuals and small businesses. Most operating systems come with some type of backup software that allows you to automate the process.
  8. Internal Hard Disk
    Exactly the same as the portable storage but the hard drive is inside the computer. Such a solution can often be cheaper, offer greater speeds and can configured for disk mirroring (RAID technology).
  9. Network Attached Disk (NAS)
    NAS drive are very similar to your USB drive with the added advantage that they don’t require USB connection to your machine. Instead, you connect them to your network and set them up as a mapped network drive on your machine. All users of the network (Linux, Mac, Windows) can place data on this storage space. This type of storage offers small businesses an excellent backup solution. Prices start from as little £100 ($200) for 200GB capacity NAS drive.
    http://www.whatpc.co.uk/personal-computer-world/features/2166311/living-nas
  10. Storage Area Network (SAN)
    Similar system to to NAS drives aimed at backup Terabytes (1000’s GB) of data for large enterprises.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Storage_area_network
  11. Shadow Copy
    Some operating systems such as Windows Vista allow you to enable a feature called Shadow Copying. The system takes snapshots of your files when changes are made to them. This allows you can roll back to pervious version of a documents and files without the need to implement the recovery process from your backup solution. This should be in addition to your backup solution, not the backup solution!
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shadow_copy
  12. Offline Synchronisation
    The operating system takes a complete copy of all the files available on your shared network drive. When your away from the office or your file server is unavailable you can continue to working on your documents and files. When your network drive becomes available again your files are synchronise back to the file server. Again like the Shadow Copying this should be in addition to your backup solution.
    http://support.microsoft.com/kb/312171

 

Author: Support @ 8:00 am




Plan your projects using Mind Mapping software

July 31, 2007

mind map software

Last night I was speaking to one of my clients about their ideas for software system they would like developing. Although my client had done an excellent job of laying out her ideas using Excel and Word, I feel that actually with all it’s features Microsoft Office had let her down.

Yeah you can use some of the organisational charts in Word and PowerPoint, but they lack certain features and to be honest, not very inspiring from a creative point of view. Microsoft does have a program called Visio which is very good, but again I feel it could be a little more inspiring, easier to use for non-technical users and then there’s the price, £200 for the standard version and £400 for the Professional!

Mind Mapping

An alternative application which might of helped my client when planning her software system could of been Mind Mapping Software. You start with a centralised idea and branch out ideas and as you formulate your project the map grows. The idea is not be accurate or too formal, just a quickly way to get your ideas recorded. 

image

There are a number of commercial applications such as MindManager and IMindMap, but I would suggest you start off with FreeMind an open source Java based program than can run on Windows, Linux and Mac.

image

Just recently I came across Mind42 which is an online Mind Mapping application that runs via your web browser. Once you have produced your map you can then import it into other Mind Mapping programs, Microsoft Word or insert it into your website or blog. You can also invite other people to collaborate with you while you develop the map. If that’s not enough Mind Mapping software, check out peterussell.com.

I should of mentioned these two programs in last months post, “Plan Your Website, Save Money and Time” as this would proven useful way to map out your website.

Your Apps

What planning/project/sketch-up programs do you use? Are there programs that you get your clients to use because it gently guides them to think in a more systematic approach?

Update

Mindomo Is another online Mind Mapping Software, thanks to Greg for this one

Author: Support @ 8:00 am




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