The big Email migration

August 24, 2010

Email has become a very important part of our lives, for both past, present, and future. I’ve got years of emails archived in MS-Outlook which I often search for from time to time. Thus, I can’t just abandoned my old email files when moving from the PC to the Mac.

So how am I going to get my MS-Outlook emails from the PC over to Apple Mail? Unfortunately, Apple Mail can’t read the PST file format that MS-Outlook uses to store the emails, so I needed a way of converting my Outlook emails to a format compatible with Apple Mail. After doing a brief Google search, I came upon two possible solutions: (1) Use an intermediary email client app called Thunderbird to import the emails from a PST file, and then export them as a MBOX file for Apple Mail, or (2) Use a commercial app called Outlook2Mac which will convert the mail in the PST file to MBOX format.

I opted to pay the $10 US for Outlook2Mac and do the conversion directly, as I didn’t trust Thunderbird to handle the in-and-out conversion. So after several minutes of processing I had my emails from Outlook in a several MBOX files and was able to import them into Apple Mail. Yahoo!

It took me a while to clean up my emails and get them organized into folders, but that task was completed in very short order.

Day two with my new iMac

August 24, 2010

Today is my second day with my iMac, and I’m totally consumed by it. I mentioned to my wife that I feel like I’ve been transported 10 years into the future as the iMac with the OS X operating system seems so streamlined and futuristic. I’ve spend most of the past two days searching and installing apps which are equivalent to those I’ve used for years on my Windows PC machine. Here’s what I’ve converted to with going to my iMac:

Email: MS-Outlook to Apple Mail

Apple Mail is a very streamlined email client which on the surface seemed too lite for my needs, but in time I realized that it was totally sufficient. For a while it was a toss up between Apple Mail and the 3rd-party freeware called Thunderbird. Both apps look very similar, but the Thunderbird app had many more plug-ins and “themes” to help customize the application. In the end, I decided to stick with Apple Mail since it is designed to be integrated into the Apple OS.

Calendar: MS-Outlook to Apple iCal

I use my calendar for very basic stuff, so I didn’t need a “power” calendar app. What I did need, however, was a way to have 2-way syncing with my Google Calendar in the Cloud. With MS-Outlook on my PC, I needed to have a small background app running continuously to sync my Outlook Calendar with Google Calendar. Fortunately on the Mac, iCal can handle this two-way syncing automatically.

Web Browser: Firefox

I used Firefox on my PC and fortunately I could do the same on the iMac. All of my favorite plug-ins were available, however, the theme I was using on my PC wasn’t available on the iMac. Apple’s Safari browser is good, but I really like using the plug-ins from Firefox. And best of all, Firefox is still free!

Office Suite: MS-Office to iWork

Although I do have MS-Office for the Mac 2008 installed on my iMac, I prefer to use Apple’s iWork suite of products. For $49 US (after the $30 rebate), the iWork suite seems to be a good deal compared to MS-Office. Pages is the counterpart to MS-Word, Numbers to MS-Excel, and Keynote to MS-Powerpoint.

Palm WebOS Development: VirtualBox, Eclipse, WebOS

For my Palm WebOS development work, I’m using the exact same software as I did on the PC platform. So no changes there.

Text Editor: Notepad++ to Text Wrangler

I really loved using NotePad++ on my PC for code editing, and was lucky to find a similar product with Text Wrangler for the Mac. In fact, the Mac counterpart looked much better and fuller featured than NotePad++.

Media Player: Windows Media Player to VLC

VLC is a freeware video player which does a good job playing various windows formatted video files such as WMV. I tested it with some of my Zune-formatted WMV files and it worked great.

Notes Clipping App: EverNote

EverNote is the same for the PC and Mac, so this was a no brainer move.

So that’s a short list of the major apps I had to deal with during my Mac transition. I also installed apps for file compression (zip), remote desktop connection, screen capture, WiFi scanning, and cloud storage (DropBox). So I’m now at the point where I can be productive again.

In addition to all my apps, I also copied over my documents and files from the PC to the Mac. This was my chance to clean house a bit, and spent a few hours deleting old files which I wouldn’t need on my Mac. So I’m feeling good now with all of that over with, and I can now focus on exploring and learning how to use my new iMac!

The Mac Switch After One Day…

August 23, 2010

I’ve had a chance to work with my iMac for about one day, and here are my initial impressions. Note, that I’ve never used a Mac at great length before (other than my Great Mac Experiment), so this is all coming from a Microsoft Windows user’s prespective.

My 27-inch LED Mac screen is probably the best feature of my new iMac. It’s HUGE (2560×1440), vibrant, and very clear. It’s so big, that it can replace my dual LCD monitors (both with a 1680×1050 resolution) quite nicely. the iMac is a completely integrated system, so all I currently have is the power cord to deal with (as the keyboard and mouse are both Bluetooth wireless, and the iMac has built-in WiFi).

The most difficult thing in the transition is getting use to the Mac OSX environment. Here are a list of things that stood out for a PC user:

  • Finder is similar but slightly different than File Explorer on the PC. It works fine, but took a bit of getting use to.
  • The application title bar and menus are not at the top of the application’s window, but rather at the top of the screen. That took a bit of getting use to, as I often thought the app just didn’t have a menu bar.
  • The fonts on the display are rendered differently than on the PC, and they look a bit fuzzy to me. I knew to expect this (see The Great Mac Experiment posting), but the super high-resolution monitor seems to minimize that effect for my eyes.
  • The Mac mouse does indeed have a right-click button feature, but it is not turned on by default. I needed to go into the system preferences and activate it.
  • Clicking the “X” button at the top of the application’s window doesn’t exit the program as with the PC, but rather puts it in the background. You need to issue a “Quit” command to completely exit the application.
  • There is no “Start” menu button, but rather an “Applications” folder on the main dock (at the bottom of the screen) where you can access the installed apps by clicking on their icon.
  • Highlighting a file in Finder and clicking the “Return” key on the keyboard will initiate renaming the file, not opening it.
  • You can’t delete a file by highlighting it in Finder and pressing the “Delete” key. You must right-click on it and select “Move to Trash” or drag the file to the trash can icon at the bottom of the desktop screen.

Now, none of the above listed items are a big deal… it just takes getting use to. It’s like driving a new car and having to figure out where the door lock buttons are, adjusting to the brake pedals, etc. Now, here are some features that I really like in Mac OSX:

  • When highlighting a file in Finder, I can tap the spacebar and get an instant preview of that file. It can be a jpg image, pdf file, text file, html file, etc. This works really well and fast!
  • By default, you can print to a pdf file with any application.
  • The system setup for the Bluetooth keyboard and mouse and my home WiFi was a breeze. No complicated questions in dialog boxes or long waits for searches… it truly just works.
  • The integrated system is whisper quiet, and I don’t hear the internal fans or hard drive.
  • The system is very fast, and responsive. I can open most applications within seconds.
  • The small wireless keyboard is great and easy to type on. The new Magic Mouse is great also, with the top surface being a gesture area where I can flick my finger up and down to scroll a web page or document, and swipe it left and right to change pages in certain applications (e.g., Safari and iPhoto).
  • The iMac comes with basic applications for mail, calendar, and address book. It also has more full-featured apps such as iMovie, iDVD, iTunes, and iPhoto.
  • The Mac OSX comes with a built-in dictionary and spelling checker, as well as speech voice synthesis which can read highlighted text.
  • The calendar app (iCal) easily connected with my Google Calendar account and has 2-way syncing (no need for 3rd-party apps running in the background).
  • Spotlight is the indexed search feature in Mac OSX, and it works great. Windows 7 has a similar feature, but I could never get it to work and it just seemed overly complicated.  With spotlight, I just type in some words and the system quickly displays a list of apps, files, emails, etc. that matches my search string. Works great!

So after one day I’m happily exploring the features of the Mac OSX system, realizing it will be a while before I will feel comfortable with the new apps and environment.

I’ve spend most of today wrestling with transferring my emails from Microsoft-Outlook over to the Apple Mail application, so next will be the transferring of my files and documents. Wish me luck! 🙂

Switching to an Apple Mac

August 23, 2010

Yep, I switched from a Windows 7 machine to an Apple iMac yesterday. As such I plan to write several postings explaining why I made the switch, and how I’m handling the transition. So if you’re interested, come back to my blog on a routine basis to see how everything is going.

But first I need to answer this question: Why does everyone who switch from a PC to a Mac have to blog about it? Very good question, as this seems to be a true statement. If you do a Google search for “switch to Mac” you’ll find lots and lots of blog postings and YouTube videos documenting the movement to the Mac platform. The majority of these postings don’t really give a definitive answer to why people made the switch, but rather vague statements like, “… it just works!” or, “… it works much better”.

As for myself, my Intel Quad-Core Windows 7 machine was working just fine and I didn’t have any major issues or problems using it. I’m a pro at tweaking PC systems, so my machine was running in top form with no major delays or slowness. I primarily used my PC for the following tasks:

  • Email (MS-Outlook)
  • Calendar & Tasks (MS-Outlook)
  • Internet browsing (Firefox)
  • Web site development
  • Smartphone (Palm WebOS) development
  • Some Microsoft Windows app development
  • TV video recording and processing for my Zune Media Player
  • Light document editing and minor spreadsheet work

So what compelled me to switch from something that was working just fine to an Apple Mac computer? It was a lot of little things that added up over time and that forced me to take the plunge into Apple-land, which I’ll  try to summarize:

  • While attending a Palm WebOS developer conference, I noticed that all of the Palm presenters were using MacBook Pro machines. None of them seemed to be using a Windows-based laptop or machine. Their presentations (made with the app called KeyNote) looked great, and they seemed to be running various apps very quickly and painlessly.
  • I’m an old UNIX user who really liked the power of UNIX shell programming. Since the Mac OSX is based on a UNIX kernel, opening a terminal window and issuing UNIX commands was readily available.
  • My wife recently switch from a desktop PC (running Vista) over to a MacBook Pro and just loved it. I was able to play with her system a bit, and saw how easily it integrated with her iPod Touch and iPad devices.
  • My wife also uses a Virtual Emulator called Parallels which allows her to run Windows apps on her Mac very painlessly and rather quickly.
  • While traveling on business trips, I noticed that a lot of people are using MacBooks at hotels, coffee shops, and airports. There must be a reason why this is the case.
  • I’m a big gadget freak and like to investigate the latest technology.

So you can see from above I didn’t have any HUGE reason to change from a PC to a Mac. I really can’t complain that Windows 7 OS was slow or crashing a lot. Nor can I say I really hate my Windows machine. My biggest reason for switching is that I wanted to try out the latest technology and work with something fresh and different. I was actually getting a bit bored with Windows 7 and wanted to try something more exciting. Of course I could have switched to a Linux OS with very little expense, but I wanted to stay with a some what mainstream OS and not have to deal with video drivers, etc. that I would certainly need to do with a Linux OS (as I’ve experienced in the past).

So why am I blogging about my switch? Well, I find switching a very interesting adventure and think that others might want to read about my experiences in the switch. I certainly like reading other people’s blog posting regarding their switching, so I thought I’d return the favor. As such, if you’re interested on this topic just stay tuned for more postings as I explore the Mac universe!