Thursday, April 19, 2007

Moving on Up

Not to the East Side, mind you, but to the Intel iMac. Yes, I packed up the 2.0 DP G5 tower and 20.1" Formac display and moved up to the 24" iMac 2.3 GHz Intel Core-Duo. The transition was almost completely painless. Although it took about 3 hours to transfer my 120GB worth of data from my previous machine, it accomplished the task flawlessly and without my intervention. Since I had to spend a certain amount to get the maximum rebate from my AABA account, I also sprung for the higher processor, larger drive, more memory and the external USB modem, in addition to the wireless keyboard and Mighty Mouse.

Yes, I know, if you were paying attention, I did mention in an earlier posting that I thought wireless peripherals were unnecessary with a desktop system. But it's one of those situations where actual experience does seem to make a difference. I did immediately go out and procure a set of rechargeable batteries, to salve my conscious somewhat.

So now I am on this spanking new machine. It has given me back my desk, since the easel stand on the Formac required more space, it has cut down on cable clutter, it has removed the 50 lb. tower I kept banging my knees into, and it has removed the speaker system I used, since the speakers on the iMac are decent and right on my desk. I can even vacuum under my desk! Amazing. It very well may cut my electricity usage since I don't have as many external peripherals going.

As for the actual running of the machine, it works great. Another posting of mine touted the usefulness of DragThing and again, it surprised me with it's versatility. It marked every application icon that runs under Rosetta in its palette with a little "R." How cool is that? So I can see which apps (unfortunately too many) run under Rosetta. All my Adobe apps, QuarkXPress, FileMaker, BBEdit, Dreamweaver, Fireworks, etc... but that story has a happy ending, too.

The Adobe CS3 suite of apps is 2 days from being on the shelves and already available at Adobe's website. All the apps are now Universal Binary, which means native on Intel and PowerPC machines. That includes all the previously Macromedia owned products like Dreamweaver, Fireworks and Flash. That about takes care of all my mainstream apps in one fell swoop. I can't wait.

What else? Boot Camp. Now that I have an Intel Mac, I was able to check out Boot Camp. Through this beta software provided by Apple, you can partition your drive and install the Windows operating system (I know, "yuck"). Now normally, as a Mac user, I would never support my friends and clients doing this. But since I have pretty much always owned both Macs and PCs, it is nice to be able to do what little needs to be done on a PC without having to boot another machine up. For example, I receive a newsletter in Publisher format every month that I need to open and convert to PDF. Now I can do it from my iMac.

The only thing I dislike is having to shut down and reboot to use Windows. Since I do so little in Windows, it seems a waste of time to have to restart my Mac every time I want to do something that usually takes only a few minutes. Enter Parallels Desktop. Now this is cool. It allows you to run Windows in – you guessed it – a window. Right within OS X. You are not limited to Windows, either. You can install what are called Virtual Machines, that allow you to run many different operating systems, including Linux, all within their own windows, share your network connections, peripherals, even files in some cases. I tried the 30-day demo, and it works very well. It even is smart enough to let you use your Boot Camp partition as the Windows VM. So you only need install Windows once (whew!).

If you want full hardware performance, than boot into Boot Camp. But if you are using Windows to do the odd task or use a productivity app not on the Mac, or even leverage your investment in PC apps for those coming over to the Mac for the first time, then Parallels Desktop is for you.

That's it for now. More revelations on the iMac, associated software and hardware to come. It's finally sunny after what seems to be weeks, I'm going for a walk.