After a week of using the MacBook Pro that NICTA bought me (strictly for work purposes, of course), I gotta say, I love it! The MacBook Pro will be replacing my Windows desktop at work, and it’s also for taking back and forth between home and work and for taking to conferences etc. I’ve been working on a publishing and reviewing system, and up until now, although it’s NICTA’s IP, it was all being done on my own Linux box at home – not the optimal state of affairs. The sub-optimal nature of this arrangement was made crystal clear when my Linux box started to fail (it’s quite old). So, I asked for a laptop such that I could work on the SAFE project stuff at work as well the publishing and reviewing stuff at home. Somewhat to my surprise, NICTA duly obliged. At least now if something goes wrong with the laptop, all the code is on a NICTA machine and hopefully I won’t be culpable. Of course, it’s much easier to lose a laptop or to have it stolen than a desktop…
The loser out of all this is Linux. I bought a Dell to replace my home machine, and it’s got Windows Media Centre (with free upgrade to Vista) and Office on it. Karen and I need at least one up to date copy of Office between us. The Dell machine is very nice, but I’m a bit disappointed that I seem to have settled into using Windows at home, a day I thought would never come. I’m not a fan of dual booting – I’m generally too lazy for that kind of thing. To my chagrin, in my current job I really do need to use Office products quite frequently, and I’ve never been happy with any of the Open Source Office replacements. I’m still thinking this is only a temporary backward step, and that sooner or later I’ll be back on Linux, or I could even run Mac OS X on the Dell; now there’s an idea!
But one must give Microsoft credit where credit is due. My MacBook Pro has MS Office for the Mac installed on it and I’m using Entourage for mail. So far Entourage has left me with mostly positive impressions. I like it a lot. The Project Centre inside Entourage makes it easier to implement GTD, and it’s generally nicer to use than Outlook, and in my view it’s even nicer than Thunderbird. I haven’t tried Apple Mail, but my feeling is that those Mac users who don’t have a militant aversion to Microsoft products use Entourage in preference to Mail, iCal etc. I only wish that you could customise some of the properties of the mail folders in Entourage, like telling it to display a count of all the messages in the folder rather than just the unread ones. This is one useful feature that Outlook has which other mail clients don’t seem to support. I’ve been using this feature on my PC at work to help me implement my GTD system, and it works very well.
Oh, and here are my favourite Mac ads:
Actually all the ads are great.