MacVSPCOkay.  I’m probably spark some controversy here.  Or at least amongst the Mac fanboys.

I’ve now been using Macs for over well over six months, and have recently started to use one for our new business.

Here’s what I think.

Window Mayhem.  Even with all the flashy dashboard and expose stuff, I still find myself feeling really cluttered when I have lots of windows open on the Mac.  I don’t know what it is, but I can have twice as many windows open on my PC and I still don’t get bogged down.

Quicksilver Rocks.  I’ve mentioned this before, but Quicksilver truly adds a productive edge to finding, launching and processing common files and applications.  ENSO is pretty good for windows, but only as a launcher.

Office beats OpenOffice (or NeoOffice).  No matter what you say, for anything other than the simplest docs and spreadsheets, Microsoft Office still kicks ass.   I find the windows version easier to use, but perhaps that’s years of conditioning.  Given that the Office for Mac roadmap is not clear, this could play a major factor with Macs in the workplace.

Web Development.  I find web development on either the Mac or the PC to be about the same.  PSPad is my trusty editor on windows, TextMate for the Mac.  Both good.  One pain in the arse is that Microsoft have discontinued IE on the Mac.  So you still need a PC for testing no matter what.

Filesystem Navigation.  The windows explorer interface wins hands down over the Mac finder for productivity.  I watch others use their Macs and often see them struggle as well.  So it’s not just daft me.

Searching.  Spotlight and Quicksilver combine to forge a very power search capability on the Mac.  This more than makes up for the poor finder app.

Multimedia.  No surprise here then.  I really do find Macs come into their own when it comes to music, video, images, dvds, etc.  Although I have to admit, I am still struggling to find a good quick and dirty image editor to rival my golden oldie version of PaintShopPro4 (yes 4)

Overall.  To be honest, I’m probably more productive on a PC at the moment.   But I enjoy using my Mac a lot more.  I think it for me that it boils down to over ten years of using a PC and learning all the lifehacks that make life so much easier.  I’m getting there with the Mac.  But I still think it will be a while.

The ads hold true – for true “office” work I think PCs really do excel.  The same goes for Macs and multimedia.

Maybe it’s time for Parallels.

BandAidAs an ex-operations manager, “production” spreadsheets used to really nag me.

You know what I mean.  A mission critical business function developed in Excel using botched together macros and datasources (if you were lucky).  Often meant to be a short term thing, but end up being around for eons.  These are usually developed by the spreadsheet gurus that, whilst far more intelligent than I will ever be, don’t know how to make these “production strength”, or appreciate why they need to.  Inevitably they move on, taking all knowledge of their spreadsheet mission critical business function with them. Either that or no-one know where the spreadsheet is.  Lots of other problems.  Duplicated data.  Users having freedom to write their own queries.  Drivers stop working.  Passwords change.  The list goes on.

So why is the production spreadsheet phenomena so widespread?  It’s usually one or more of the following:

  • Poor response times: A request is made to IT, who say that it will take at least a couple of months before they around to it.
  • Too expensive: IT respond and tell the business it’s gonna cost millions.
  • Two left hands: IT is not in partnership with the business.
  • No visibility: “IT?  Who?.”
  • Short term view: “It’s the easiest thing to do in the short-term”

With todays web technologies and frameworks there is simply no excuse for production spreadsheets.  Anything that is performed on a regular basis should be part of a system, not part of someones personal drive.

Particularly with web apps, moving production spreadsheets online reduces risk,  provides easier ways to share information and allows for automation.  Long term benefits.  It’s a no-brainer if your IT dudes are on to it.  Which is not always the case, unfortunately.  It’s our responsibility as IT professionals to sort this shit out.

So for those suffering production spreadsheet mania, I challenge you to step up to the plate and replace them.  Banish Thee!