Mac In The Office

Business Week has a great write up on Macs in the office. Apparently more and more companies are becoming receptive of a dual platform environment, and more and more employees are requesting better computers (yea, I said “better”).

I’ve found consistently over the years that they are just more reliable requiring much less effort to keep running smoothly for years on end. I can’t recall a similar experience even with Windows XP, which is clearly the winner of the Windows family. Less time fighting the OS is more time being productive. Not to mention the improved usability just allows for more efficiency (Exposé is still amazing).

I don’t think the reason for the rise in corporate popularity is so much about the usage of an Intel processor, but because of OS X. Most companies I’d venture won’t want to pay for dual OS (and emulation) since that bloats the cost of the workstation. Some obviously will, but not too many. The rise I’d say is mainly attributed to applications becoming more web based, meaning less proprietary software installs. All you need these days is an office suite (Office X, Google Docs) web browser (Safari or Firefox) and email (Entourage, Thunderbird, Apple Mail). Apple’s also made giant leaps in ensuring compatibility with other platforms such as NFS, SMB even Active Directory.

Linux is totally usable in the workplace, but lacks the usability and the sparkle to compete with Apple in this new open market thus far. Ubuntu’s made great strides, but it still doesn’t hold a candle to Leopard’s polish.

Apple does however sorely need a mid-range line to compete further, and to enhance it’s business and consumer sales. Essentially an iMac but trading the built-in display for some expansion at the same cost as the iMac line. The result would be a pretty impressive line up. It likely wouldn’t kill Mac Pro sales since anyone currently spending $2,500+ is likely still going to be willing to drop that cash for the top models. It would likely impact Mac mini and iMac sales slightly, though it’s a reasonable trade-off. Apple would still have a hard time pushing it’s display’s to accompany those computers, due to Apple’s rather high price as opposed to a more generic Samsung or Dell, but they could easily introduce a lower end for general office use, and make the current models a higher class.

It will be interesting to see how Apple decides to go after this market share.

Don’t Let It XPire

Seems everyone who tries Windows Vista comes to at least one of two conclusions (if not both):

  1. Please don’t let Windows XP Expire – There’s even a petition for those in this camp. And it’s getting press.
  2. Mac Time – Enough said. Mac OS X 10.5 isn’t perfect, but is anything? It’s about as close as anyone has gotten.

It will be interesting to see the fate of XP.

Bestselling Laptops

Mark Pilgrim has a great picture of the top laptops on Amazon.com right now. What I found interesting is that the first Windows laptop is #6 (and no it’s not running an Intel), The #1 and #2 goes to Mac OS X and Linux.

  1. Apple Macbook 13″ (2.4GHz)
  2. Asus Eee 4G 7″ (900MHz)
  3. Asus Eee 4G Surf 7″ (800MHz)
  4. Apple Macbook 13″ (2.4GHz)
  5. Apple Macbook 13″ (2GHz)
  6. HP Pavilion DV2740SE 14.1″ (2Ghz AMD Turion 64 X 2)

Taking a look at the competition it’s pretty clear why. The Times They Are A-Changin’.

That new 9″ Asus Eee looks pretty nice. What would be ideal is if they made the 7″ with a higher resolution and kept the price the same. 9″ is a little large for this class of mobile computing.

rsnapshot For Mac OS X

Lately I’ve been using rsync to keep two hard drives in sync. I’ve been thinking of switching to rsnapshot since it would give me with incremental backup which is much better. What I’ve yet to figure out is if it can handle resource forks (with Apple’s special flag in rsync), and HTS+’s. Google hasn’t returned much on the combination, so apparently there’s very little experience out there. As a result I guess I’m sticking with the more simple rsync until I see otherwise.

Resource Forks Suck

Dear Apple,

Please kill off resource forks. They add an unnecessary complexity to data archiving and management that’s unneeded by todays standards. Since Mac OS X it seems only a few places exist where resource forks are actually used. For example the older pre-Mac OS X “font suitcases” used a resource fork, while the modern “Data Fork Suitcase Format” as it’s name implies, does not1.

One could argue keeping resource forks is good for legacy purposes. But since Mac OS X 10.5 can no longer run Classic even on PPC systems, is there really a need?

If that’s really not possible, could you please make rsync suck a little less?

Ideally since rsync 3.0 looks like it will be a lot better, make it a high profile download for Mac OS X 10.4 and 10.5 similar to what was done to push Safari 3.0. That would be a nice stop gap solution.

I hope you’ll fix this since it’s a real pain in the butt for people like me.

Thanks,
Robert

1. 25251 Mac OS X: Font file formats

Mac OS X 10.5.2 Leopard Update

Apple released Mac OS X 10.5.2 weighing in at a hefty 343MB. Generally speaking, Mac OS X 10.5.3 is where the OS is really firing on all pistons. Before that, it’s similar to Windows before SP1. Still some rough spots. This release fixes a fair number of bugs, and adds some polish.

So far so good, it installed fine, rebooted and I’m up and running. Overall not to much changed for me, since my mini doesn’t support menu transparency (which you can now disable). The list view for stacks is a very welcome addition. I’m glad they decided to include that. For larger stacks it’s so much easier to browse.

I don’t have Time Machine running on my mini, so I’m really not sure why Apple decided to make the new menu item for it on by default. In my opinion it should be off unless you setup Time Machine. So I turned that off, and reclaimed a few pixels of valuable menu space.

Still not fixed is the Apple Mail issue I noted before where you can’t view nested mailboxes in IMAP. Maybe next time.

Apple Mail And Folder Management

I use Thunderbird on Windows, but from time to time like to fire up Apple Mail when on my Mac.

Why is it Apple Mail on Leopard doesn’t seem to allow me to view a few mailboxes nested under the inbox on an IMAP account? I haven’t tried under POP3, though I’d venture it’s the same limitation.

You would think they would at least show it linear if it couldn’t display it under inbox. Instead what it does is just not show it. Perhaps it’s important for me to be able to presort my inbox to make it manageable.

MacWorld SF 2008

Another year, another great day of news coverage. I’m obsessed with watching it evolve and monitor several sites throughout the keynote. As expected this was a pretty big one. I suspect this year will contain the most product announcements of any year for Apple. They have a lot of products due for a refresh and announcements expected. Even Steve himself said:

All of this in the first two weeks, and we’ve got fifty more weeks to go.

In all the keynotes I’ve followed, this was the most aggressive agenda. 2008 is going to rock for Apple products.

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ZFS On Mac OS X

Anyone with an interest in file systems, data management, large scale storage, and security has been keeping an eye on Sun’s ZFS for a while now. Apple looks like it will ship the first consumer-targeted OS to feature workable ZFS support. It’s in Leopard, but read only. Apple has now released binaries and source. It’s still not ready for prime time (not even bootable, and has some serious bugs), but it’s progressing.

While not in Apple’s implementation yet (it is however planned), ZFS supports things like compression and encryption. ZFS is also a 128bit filesystem, so for the foreseeable future, it’s enough storage for anyone. Dynamic striping and Snapshots are also extremely interesting. I’m curious to know how snapshots in ZFS will integrate into Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard with Time Machine. I wonder if complete ZFS support will make a 10.5 revision or if it will be read-only until 10.6.

I am however curious if they have given any thought to solid state storage. It’s pretty clear that’s where the future is headed. While ZFS targets size rather than performance (meaning the two won’t collide for some time as solid state storage won’t be practical for large storage arrays for a few more years), I wonder if ZFS would be able to do things like wear-leveling. So far I haven’t seen any documentation to hint that the feature exists (I’d presume it doesn’t). No idea if it would be something that could be added or if it’s nearly impossible.