E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

From the blog

Finally Joining the *Expensive* Mac Side!

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A couple of days ago Dennis Howlett commented over at his blog AccMan on a recent post I created myself over here myself where I was mentioning how it was finally about time that I joined the Mac side and he was not surprised that I have made the move a few days back already and so far I am really enjoying the Mac experience. Certainly, to the point of not going back any time soon! And how spot on he is!

Yes, that is right! So far I am really enjoying the experience quite a bit. There certainly has been a bit of a learning curve, I am not going to deny that, but once you are over it, you come to appreciate one single aspect that I didn’t think of for quite some time while I was making use of different Windows machines: simplicity! That is probably how I could describe the last few days of working with my MacBook Pro: getting the job done with a lot less hassle and without having to figure much out! Good stuff, indeed!

However, over the course of those few days that I have started to make heavy use of my MacBook Pro I have found out that there is a price associated with it. And I am not just talking about how pricey the overall machine is (A whole lot more expensive than most notebooks and laptops out there!), but talking about the software applications available for it.

One of the things that I have come to notice is the fact that most of the applications I am heavily using on a Windows environment are not available for free on the Mac. On the contrary, they cost money and they aren’t cheap! That is how I have found out that I need to upgrade to iLife08 by paying a fee, if I would want to have a similar experience to Picasa (My favourite default app. for managing large amounts of photos). Or how I would need to pay for ecto, if I would want to have an offline blogging experience similar to Qumana, if not better. Or how I would need to pay for another tool called endo, if I would want to have an aggregator I could remotely compare to Omea Pro, my default offline RSS / Atom feed reader.

And all of that without even considering iWork08, which I am not sure I will be going for in the end, since I am anxiously awaiting in anticipation for the GA release of Lotus Notes 8, which includes the super fine IBM Productivity Tools that I am currently making heavy use of in my Windows machine. But more on that later, when I get to detail how I am successfully transitioning most of my work apps. into the Mac environment and enjoying every minute of it!

However, one of the major disappointments that I have been confronted with so far is one application that I make use of rather heavily in the Windows environment and which, apparently, hasn’t got a Mac version for it: Camtasia. Yes, that is right, I make use of it to create screencasts and I have been told that not only isn’t there a Mac version for it, but the only capable option offering similar functionality is iShowU, for which I would also need to pay a license fee (Thank goodness it is not as expensive as Camtasia’s is!).

And that is just some of what I am seeing at the moment while I am starting to consolidate my list of essential tools that I keep using in Windows and which I would love to make use of in the Mac. Well, it looks like I may need to adapt myself to the new needs and continue to pay for some expensive software, and hope that tool developers would think once and for all that to create a state of the art application for everyone to use you need to figure it out and make it OS independent, pretty much like in the Web you focus on creating applications that follow Web standards, instead of being browser dependent.

Thus yes, it is a completely new experience and one I am probably not going to walk back from any time soon, as I have mentioned above already, but I am hoping that over the next few days I will be creating a number of different weblog posts on how I have made of my MBP my default work machine without having to pay much more money for it, specially for the software. Thus stay tuned for some more to come, because I feel it is going to be a fun ride and if you have got some hot tips you would want to share with me from your experience … I am all ears 🙂

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21 comments

  1. Hmm. I feel partly responsible for recommending a bunch of these tools!

    First thing to say is that I’ve never been averse to paying for software, and I have to say that most of the Mac software I’ve bought has been very cheap – $10-$20 usually. Given the quality, that’s very fair. It also results in near-impulse purchases!

    I share your frustration about the iLife upgrade price – worse for me having bought iWork only a few weeks ago. That’s the one seriously negative part of my Apple experience so far.

    In terms of software:
    – I have not found another blogging tool as good as ecto. It was recommended to me even before I bought the MBP. I did try some others (I think there is one called MarsEdit or something like that) but ecto wins hands down.
    – newsreaders… I didn’t intend to pay for endo. I was using Vienna, which is free. I just gave endo a try, and in the end was pleased by it, and it was by the same guy that does ecto, and the price seemed OK.
    – iWork – the cost compares very favourably to MS Office, although clearly there are only the three tools in the package. Frankly I was happy to pay the cost just for Keynote 06! You can get NeoOffice (OpenOffice which is more Mac-like) for free, and that would give you the equivalent of the IBM Productivity Tools.
    – screencasting – we talked online yesterday about Jing, which might be an alternative to iShowU. I did buy iShowU for a couple of small screencasts I had to do, and again I tried it first, it worked, and the price was OK.

    In general you *can* find a lot of stuff for free, and particularly Linux ports. Gimp is free, for example. Check out the lists that people in your blogging network are posting. Ask for advice for particular software for particular tasks. Don’t always go with one person’s recommendation 🙂

  2. Hi Andy! Thanks ever so much for dropping by and for the extensive feedback comments. It is greatly appreciated all of the thoughts you have put together to help ease the Mac experience. Thanks for that! No need at all to feel responsible for this since most of the folks I have been talking to have been making the same recommendations 🙂

    I must say that I am not aversed either towards paying for software, as long as it is worth while and I am planning to continue making extensive use of it. Take, for instance, the example of Camtasia. I got my private license and unless I run Windows now I will no longer be able to use it. And that for a several hundred $$$ I paid a while ago. Not the best use of my money if I would want to fully switch over to the Mac, right. Yes, I know about VMWare, Parallels and some other options, but that means I would need to pay some more for using a Windows piece of software I bought originally a while ago. Nothing against paying for software. Just saying that I wish developers would catch up with today’s world of cross platform apps. That is all.

    I haven’t paid for the iLife upgrade yet, since I have found out that I cannot order it online from where I live. Doh! I would need to go to the computer store and find out what is going on. Not the best, nor the most useful of experiences either! But I agree with you that it is a bit painful.

    REgarding your comments on the software, I am sold on ecto, although I haven’t blogged much about it just yet, but Qumana does a fine job, too, and it is freeware. I guess I will need to make up my mind on that one. And endo may be helping out in here, because you can buy both of them for a very reasonable price so I may as well do that anyway. Just testing endo at the moment and see if it would meet my needs for feed reading.

    As mentioned above, on iWork08, I am going to wait for IBM Productivity Tools since I am not an extensive user of the Office suite, if it meets my very basic needs I am not planning on the upgrade to iWork08. We shall see.

    And with regards to screencasting, that is one of the areas where I am researching the most, for sure, and I still haven’t figured out what I would be doing. Jing is pretty cool, indeed, and I am surely looking forward to play some more with it, and I may try iShowU, since a couple of folks recommended as well that I give it a try. So we shall see.

    I agree with you that there is plenty of freeware for the Mac. One just needs to dig in further and find what you are looking for, but like it happened when I first came to Windows, all of the licensed software that I would be interested popped in way before most of the free tools I use at the moment.

    Oh, as I said, nothing to worry about follow just one person’s recommendation. I very much trust your judgement and all of the hard work you have put together for your own Mac experience. And I do appreciate the advice and further commentary. We both work in a similar environment so your experience would probably translate to most of mine, so I am happy to go with that, but, like I said, not to worry, I have been reading lots of stuff lately on the subject from multiple folks, getting lots of great advice and it is getting there!

    Again, appreciated all of the great feedback and helpful comments ! Thanks for those!

  3. The Camtasia thing is a bummer but there are decent alternatives. You could alway invest in VMWare or Parallels and then have the Mac as a dual Windows/Mac computer.

    On the acquisition cost – I’ve found that a similarly specc’d Dell is about the same price as a MBP 15 inch so while you can get cheaper, can you get better?

    Increasingly I’m finding that more apps are Mac/Win which has to be good for the longer term.

    But the real point has to be this – would you go back? I wouldn’t and I’m saying that after 24 years of Wintel.

  4. One more thing – about your comment that there are

    (A whole lot more expensive than most notebooks and laptops out there!)

    While on one hand, that is true, (you can easily find an off-brand laptop for $699), how about one with like specs? For comparable hardware, of late, Apple’s been pretty competitive. Screen size, weight, hard drive size/speed, ports, etc.

    From my perspective, Apple’s biggest laptop weaknesses are probably in ports – typically fewer USB ports built-in, no docks, and no built-in media readers. And yes, for those who want to jump on me, I know that I can easily buy a USB hub, or a USB media reader. But why do I have to?

  5. Have you checked out Snapz Pro? When I was doing screen shots it worked beautifully for me and I think it’s $49.

    I think your problem is not so much with the software being expensive, but that you have to buy it all at once to be immediately productive. It sounds like the cost of Camtesa alone is more expensive than the bundle you’re being encouraged to purchase for your Mac, so I wouldn’t call it all that pricey.

    Apple overall is somewhat more expensive than windows, but if you look at the overall construction quality of your Mac Pro, you’ll know where most of the money’s going. Everything I’ve noticed over in the PC laptop world looks cheap and cheesy by comparison.

    Hope that helps.

    D

  6. Hello folks! Thanks much for adding further up into this particular weblog post with some really useful information details on the subject. It surely is making my own experience a lot easier and resourceful than whatever I could have imagined. Here are some additional thoughts based on some of your feedback:

    Aditya, thanks for sharing that link to LifeHacker. It is just what I needed and wished I had thought about it from before, because I have been following the one for Windows for some time now. I have gone through it and have found a couple of lovely tools I will be making use of as time goes by and in an upcoming blog post I will comment on them. Thus, thanks again for sharing the link over here! RE: your experience with the Macs, you need to try it out. It is a completely different game and something you would enjoy, I am sure. At least, I have, which brings me into the next set of comments…

    Dennis, I think I may be going into Parallels after all, specially given some piece of news I have been exposed to today and which have brought some disappointment, but more on that later. However, talking about disappointment, regarding Camtasia, yes, I know there are different alternatives, but a few months back I paid an expensive amount of money for a license that you would expect had a counterpart for the Mac. To be honest, I didn’t know back then I was going to make the switch, but if I would have known no way I was going to pay that amount of money for just one single piece of software that ties me into a specific OS, whichever that may well be. And the same is going to happen with the MBP.

    RE: the acquisition cost, I can tell you that my Lenovo 3000 N100, which has got higher specs than the MBP (i.e. screen resolution, for instance) was nearly 1,000 Euros cheaper!!! And that is a lot of money. In fact, a whole new Windows computer! I am not sure if I am going to get any better, since I am still doing the transition of all of my work apps. into the Mac, but I tell you, if it doesn’t cut it and run into problems after making heavy use of the Mac machine, let’s say I am not going to be a happy person. I am not at the moment with the Lenovo 3000 N100 notebook, but, at least, it wasn’t too bad on my pocket. We shall see how the MBP would play in, say, about six months from now.

    I do hope as well that more and more apps. are developed and created OS independent so that we are able to enjoy a seamless experience, regardless what OS we are in. Some of my favourite ones (Upcoming blog post on that, by the way) are both available for Windows and Mac so I cannot see why some others would join the bandwagon.

    About your point on “Would I go back?” Probably, the answer is “No!”, but then again only time will tell. If the MBP can put up with all of the workload I am currently doing on the Windows machine without a glitch, there is no way I am going back, but if it isn’t putting up with it, I think it would be a good time for me to move back. As I said, time will tell, and my work apps. too, of course, but that is another story…

  7. Greg, thanks a bunch for the comments! As I have just mentioned above to Dennis’ comments, the Lenovo 3000 N100 machine I have is very much on the same scale as the MBP 15”4 (Higher screen resolution, 100GB hard disk, 2GB RAM, CD and DVD burner, four USB posts vs. two from the Mac, etc. etc.), yet it cost me about 1,000 euros less, and if it weren’t for the fact that the LCD display is broken (Currently awaiting to take it into repairs) in just about one year after I bought I would have been totally delighted with it. It has been so far the best machine I have used so far in the nearly 10 years I have been using ThinkPads, notebooks and whatever else. The MBP would have to prove itself in a business environment, and not just as a regular end-user. The Lenovo did prove itself for one year, before it cracked, but I am hoping to have it fixed soon, so that I can continue making use of it for those apps. where there is no Mac counterpart or equivalent.

    I actually agree with you big time on the issue of having to buy additional stuff for the Mac as opposed to make use of it out of the box for some of the stuff. This has always been one of the big selling points from Apple, yet, it just doesn’t work like that. You need to upgrade software, or purchase software to do something else, or even install some more free software. With my Lenovo 3000 N100 I only needed to install the work apps. and I was up and running on that same day. Oh and the same thing happens with the iPod or the iPhone, for instance. Why would I have to buy a case for each of them, specially for the iPod, just because the screen itself can easily scratch? I didn’t have to do that for the Nokia N95, but unless you want to give some character to your iPod, you are off to buy a case and whatever else. And for the iPhone same story with the earphone plug convertor. Why? Isn’t that enough already as is? 😉

  8. Hi Luis,

    Congrats with the new MBP. Love to have one myself, but there’s a time and place for everything. Anyway, my old trustworthy G5 PowerPC will be traded in for a new Mac Pro in the coming months.
    Well here’s my recommendations. First of all: there’s a program on Apple’s site where you can upgrade your ‘old’ iLife ’06 that came with the machine for $10 to the all-new iLife ’08 (shipping included if I remember correctly).

    Second: invest in either Parallels or VMWare, as Dennis said. That way you can use your Windows software for some time to come, so you can wait till a decent Mac version is shipped or a viable alternative comes along.

    Third: watch the feeds of MacUpdate Promo and MacZot. Both sites offer one-day-software discounts: both sell software (new, fun, productivity software, system tools etc) for about half the prize. Thing is the software can only be obtained for that price during one day. So you gotta act fast (well, within 24 hours anyway).

    T

  9. David, WOW! Thanks a bunch for Snapz Pro!! It looks like that is just what I need! Really! Fantastic find! Thanks for sharing it over here as well! It does certainly do screen shots, but also video, which is what I am most interested in, and with audio. Just perfect! That is going to be one of the pieces of software I am surely going to explore further! Thanks for that!

    RE: “I think your problem is not so much with the software being expensive, but that you have to buy it all at once to be immediately productive“, I couldn’t have agreed more with you on that statement! Yes, that is right, the bundle of software apps. is certainly a lot cheaper than Camtasia, what I am disappointed about though is that once I make the move to the Mac for good, which I am sure is going to happen, seeing how things are going, I would feel like I have wasted my money by having purchased a licensed I am not going to be using much more. Totally the opposite of what I am going through at the moment.

    I tend to agree with your comments, and from what I can tell as an end-user you are absolutely right, however, from the perspective of a knowledge worker I have yet to push the Mac to the limit and see if it would be able to meet my needs. I am keeping my fingers that it will be, but we will just have to wait and see what happens. Thanks again, though, for the helpful comments and for the hat tip!

  10. Hello, first welcome aboard! I’ve been using Macs and PCs side by side commercially since 1986. I strongly recommend using Parallels or Crossover (WINE based, no Windows OS needed) to ease the transition. Oddly I did a search on the WINE site to see about Camtasia compatability and nothing came up. I have seen someone in our office use this program and I would have thought it would have been submitted on the WINE site for testing. Maybe you could be the person to test it out using Crossover. You can download a 30-day trial.

    http://appdb.winehq.org/
    http://www.codeweavers.com/products/cxmac/

  11. Thanks for the kind comments, Ton! Really appreciate the superb tip on the upgrade for iLife06. I have now taken a look into the local Apple site over here, and it looks like things are not going to be that easy! I couldn’t find that program and what is worse when earlier on the week I tried to upgrade anyway to iLife08 I found out that they will not be able to ship it over here where I live, i.e. The Canaries, something I was surprised about, to be honest, but that is what I got from the Web site. So I would probably have to give a call to the local Apple store and see what they say. You see, I didn’t have this problem with most Windows software. Could just order online, grab the code, install it, insert license key and off I go. Not sure I am going to like hanging out at the Apple store much, to be honest, but we shall see. I will mention the tip you mentioned though.

    I am inclined, indeed, to go for Parallels as I feel it is perhaps one of the most powerful options and I am not too much into VMWare, since I am not planning on reusing the images for Linux or whatever else than Windows.

    Really appreciated as well the tips on MacUpdate and MacZot. I have now subscribed to them and I must say that I think I am going to enjoying them quite a bit! Although they are not as good as Giveaway of the Day, a super handy Web site I follow quite regularly as well to find some really good looking licensed Windows software for free.

    But, still, thanks again for the superb feedback comments! (And good luck whenever you get your hands on your next Mac!)

  12. Hi Lantz! Wooohooo! That sounds like something I would be very very interested in, indeed! I have now taken a look into the site and it looks very promising, indeed! I am certainly going to have a look into the trial version for a little while and see how that would go, but if it works like it is described on the Web site, then I think we have got a new winner. This would all what I would be looking for, indeed! Thanks ever so much for sharing your feedback with us and for the hat tip! Awesome stuff!

    I will have a look and as time goes by I will let you know how my experiences go on this particular subject. I may be able to create a blog post or two on it as time goes by.

    Thanks again for dropping by and for the kind comments as well!

  13. evening luis.. I’d also say get parallels or fusion and run camtasia in coherence mode. it *should* then capture the host OSX environment.. I use parallels alot on my macbook, and the mini mac’s although the G5 is ppc still so cant run it there..

    others have already pointed you to some alternatives to some of the software, I’d also concur that the mac software tends to be alot better in quality than the pc stuff, namely free applications and open source seem to be better supported (without spyware).

    Yes some applications like ecto, need to be paid for, but the mac version of ecto is far better than any blogging client I’ve found on the pc, openoffice as andy says is a possible alternative for ‘real’ office.. iLife 08 may be within your period for upgrade for $10 to the iLife 08, failing that, iLife 08 is not as expensive as you think..

    even the price of the paid apps on the mac seem to be reasonable, only the ‘pro’ apps like CS3 (photoshop, illustrator etc), lightroom, final cut etc fall into the higher price range..

    if you looking for IM and chat applications AdiumX rules the roost (and is free!)..

    downsides yes, ilife always needs to be brought again at the new version.. but.. at a maximum of £55, it’s cheaper than many single apps on the PC..

    if you need any help, please just ping me… I went mac many years ago, and haven’t looked back.. I’m even seriously considering dumping windows completely at work in favour of the IBM openclient, or a macbook with parallels for windows apps and the mac versions of notes etc.. (now I know mac’s are allowed on the internal network!!)

  14. Welcome to Mac! If you think your initial experience has been mainly positive just wait — it gets better.

    “But the real point has to be this – would you go back? I wouldn’t and I’m saying that after 24 years of Wintel.”

    Wow! Now that’s an endorsing testament!

  15. Hi Andrew! (a.k.a. Naquada)

    Appreciated all of the help and support provided thus far. I am already starting to notice some of you have just said when you mentioned that Mac software tends to be a much smoother experience than the Windows one. In fact, I am already starting the hang of it and certainly enjoy the new way of working through the different applications. And as I move more and move of my work apps. into the Mac I am starting to notice the productivity boost, which is good.

    I knew about ecto for quite some time now and to be honest I wasn’t very keen on having to pay for another offline blogging client. So for a number of months I have been using Qumana and it worked like a charm in Windows. I am hoping that would be the same experience on the Mac, too. At least, I would not have to worry about it since it works pretty all right with the Mac (Massive thumbs up for those apps. that are OS independent. They rock!)

    Still not sure what to do about the Office suite, so will have to postpone commenting on that one. However, what I can say is that the upgrade for the iLife08 is not going to be as easy as I thought. Apparently, the Apple Store online does not allow you to order the upgrades for The Canaries, which means that I would need to go local. I have been on the phone with the local Applie store over here and I have been told they can help me upgrade to iLife08, but it will not be happening till September because they haven’t received the disks yet. Go figure. We are, after all, in the middle of the ocean. Anyway, very shortly I am going to be travelling again, so I may actually go ahead and upgrade to it while on the road. The thing is that the upgrade is going to cost the nearly 80€ I was told at the beginning. No chance for anything else.

    So far I am not complaining about the price for some of the Mac software, what I am a bit weary about though is to actually buy the license for software I will use for a week or two and then realise it has not met my needs and therefore will not use it any longer. I know that is what trials are made for, but then again, it is not the same experience, as I have found out with endo, for instance.

    For IM, I think I am going to be ok with Skype and anxiously awaiting for when Sametime 7.5.1, deployed internally, can work through the Gateway and connect to other popular IM clients. No longer a need to have multiple software installed.

    I am surely glad to hear you will be joining us in trying to make the move of the work apps. into the Mac environment. That is surely going to be fun and I am almost ready to get some serious testing going on. But more on that later…

  16. Ed, my goodness! That *is*, indeed, the kind of Web site I have been looking for a while. Excellent find! Thanks for sharing it over here! I have gone through it and there are some really nice pieces of software that not only was I using already in Windows, but that I am glad they have been put together with some other ones I am planning to investigate further. But certainly that link is just what I wanted! Thanks!

    Tedious, WOW! Very good links as well, for sure! Perhaps the one from PimpMySafari I think I am going to skip it for the time being as I already got my selection of my default Web browser(s), but more on that later … 😉 I knew as well about VersionTracker since I am getting the daily updates for the Windows software, but didn’t realise about there being a Mac version of it. Cool stuff! Thanks for the tips!

    Ton, as you would be able to see from the comments I shared above for Andrew, naquada, I am afraid that things over here are not as simple. In fact, I will not be able to upgrade from the Web link you sent out since they will not ship it to The Canaries. Funny, eh? And the price is the full price, even though I got the MacBook Pro just a couple of weeks back. I am trying to get something sorted out with the local Apple store over here, but apparently that would have to wait till mid-September. We shall see…

    Neil, you can say that twice! The experience is getting better and better by the day and I am just starting to think why it took me so long before I made the final move. I should have done it a long while ago and I am surely glad that is happening now.

    And on top of this all, perhaps the thing that I am really enjoying the most is the Mac community and how helpful everyone has been all along to make that experience a lot easier and enjoyable. And it has surely helped. I was not expecting and it surely makes you feel like you are at home enjoying the Mac experience with friends, which, in the end, is what really matters, I guess. So a special thanks to everyone out there who has been able to help out a bit providing insightful comments and some really great links! It is greatly appreciated!

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