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valmont's Journal: My Migration from a Dell win2k laptop to 400Mhz TiBook G4 4

Journal by valmont

I am a web applications developer. I have been doing this for about 6 years. In the early stages of my career I was a die-hard mac-user working on fairly simple projects ranging from static html sites to FileMakerPro/Lasso-powered database-driven web applications. As I moved to a bigger company in a large, highly-structured, thoroughly-policied corporate network environment, i've found myself ultimately working out of a DELL laptop so i could travel, work at home and at the office. Plus until OS X came out, i could not justify a "mac laptop" as a serious solution for advanced development needs to my boss. "it's a mac. it's cute. it's not really for developers, it's for graphic artists, you can't run cygwin on it".

The thing first ran windows NT. Fairly unstable. The hardest thing was to deal with multiple network environments: switching between home local area network, and corporate IT LAN. It just wasn't built for that. I did manage to buy and install an 802.11b wireless card on that thing. But the drivers for it were incomplete. It worked partially (WEP encryption had to remain disabled). And it made my switching networks even more challenging. Then I upgraded to windows 2000. While it was more stable, its networking was still not as reliable as I would have wished. The thing still wouldn't go to "sleep" and wake-up flawlessly. The operating system would often panic. I'd have to reboot the machine to change networks. I've always *hated* the network configuration interfaces under windows. But I dealt with it ... just like a bad relationship you're too scared to break out of. ... That is until the operating system would start choking on me more often than I would have cared to. The mouse would stutter then stop moving, until the whole machine would come to a complete freeze, forcing me to hard-reboot. A repeated number of those maneuvers started corrupting my hard drive and key files of my "windows profile". I lost countless hours of work as I tried to re-build my user environment.

I believe all this was caused by a combination of poor hardware quality and bad operating system design. Who was at fault for my lethal loss of productivity? Dell? Microsoft? Hard to tell. But I am sure both companies would be eager to engage in finger-pointing sessions.

As I was dealing with those woes, my boss had gotten himself an early Titanium Powerbook G4 model and subsequently upgrated to OS 10.1 after test-driving 10.0.x for a while. As a manager, he had less immediate "power-user" requirements, it was a perfect platform for his day-to-day activities, and a smoothe transition from his OS 9 desktop environment. He also happens to be a geek and skilled web designer and developer. He started exploring all the things he could do on OS X, and pointing out nifty things to me: "oh look the developer package comes with a CVS client, emacs, and a slew of other useful unix tools". "hey check this out i compiled and am running Zope on my os x laptop".

As my DELL box was rapidly turning into a door-stop, i started backing-up files ranging from text, image, video, office documents, zip and much more, to remote locations for further migration to ... A Titanium Powerbook G4 of my own!

That's right. My boss felt my pain and put me out of my misery.

I fell in love with the OS right away. Got my mac.com account. I started working right away. I became immediately more productive than I ever was on the DELL:

The underlying unix environment allowed me to set-up a comprehensive web application development framework using OS X's highly reliable and performant built-in support for Java 1.3.1. I installed Tomcat and NetBeans, easily set-up tcsh shell "aliases" to make my life easier, and quickly set-up some basic shell scripts to automate common tasks. I'd start firing-up a slew of terminal windows, leveraging every inch of my nifty super-wide LCD screen.

The friendly and intuitive user interface gave me quick and easy access to all the applications and documents I most often used, found the "Dock" to be a very intuitive , powerful and effective application-launching and context-switching tool all-in-one.

And, yes *all* my "windows" files opened-up flawlessly under various OS X applications. Dot zip, dot xls, dot doc, dot ppt, dot pdf, dot you-name-it. All happy in Microsoft Office for OS X and other compatible applications that came bundled with the OS. I managed to migrate 3 years of corporate e-mail that was stored in my Windows Outlook as well as on my Mac Outlook Express from an earlier desktop mac, into Microsoft Entourage for OS X (Note that i did use the word "Migrate" versus "Import" as the process of importing mail from a microsoft product under windows to another microsoft product under a mac is far from being straightforward, but it *is* possible and i'll try and put-up a complete walkthrough on how to accomplish this). I gotta hand it to Bill, Microsoft's Mac guys *do* build great software for Apple :).

Small things I enjoy:

I never ever shut-down or reboot my laptop. Only for system upgrades.

I close-down the laptop. It goes to power-saving sleep right away, smoothely. I unplug it from its network ethernet jack at work. I drive home. Wake it up from sleep by opening the lid. The display comes up right away as I had left it. It instantly picks up my home wireless network, makes a dhcp request to my DSL router, and within two seconds my e-mail starts downloading in Entourage.

I plug my Sony Digital camera to one of my TiBook's USB ports. I never installed any of the software that came with it. I just bought the thing and plugged it in. It fires-up iPhoto. Click. All my pictures are imported. Clickity ... hi-res pic of my girl sitting in front of hawaiian waves crashing on the beach is now my desktop background. Click-n-drag ... my screensaver is now an animated slide-show of my favorite pictures. Click-drag-export-save, i've got an on-line photoalbum.

I'm camping with my girlfriend at the Malibu RV Park which overlooks highway 1 and a beautiful view of the ocean. It's at night. Everything is dark. The tent is small. We sneak out to the parking lot, into the back of the car, set the TiBook between the two front seats, pop-in the "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" DVD and enjoy our own little "wide-screen" movie theatre.

Work. Fun. This thing does it all.

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My Migration from a Dell win2k laptop to 400Mhz TiBook G4

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  • I briefly considered buying a Mac laptop to run OS X recently, but alas, as a student, I couldn't afford one that would run OS X decently. So I'm going the opposite direction with a Dell laptop that I bought off of eBay, which I will install Windows 2000 on upon its arrival. Wish me luck :-)

    On a different subject, do you or any serious web application developers you know use Zope for production sites? It seems that, being written in Python, it would be awfully slow. I'm writing a web application in C as a module for AOLServer right now, and some of the sites I've seen written in Python just crawl under heavy load (whatsbetter.com [whatsbetter.com] being a prime example).

    • I would not run Zope for any mission-critical site in a heavily-loaded production environment, on top of the load issues you mentioned, i'd be worried about security issues as it is a fairly young application server which does not run off of some virtual machine like java app servers do.

      With that said, you can build and maintain a site using Zope behind a firewall/private network, and subsequently set-up various processes which "mirror" a static version of the site to a production machine running something like Apache, provided you don't need to leverage any of Zope's powerful cgi functionalities and your site is mostly static/editorial. The Zope site does give you pointers on how to accomplish that ... i forgot exactly where though :)

      There are many grey areas where Zope does make a lot of sense ...

      who knows :)

  • You should consider sending this story to Apple. They have a web page for that sort of thing: http://www.apple.com/switch/tell/us.html [apple.com]

    Great story. Glad you're happy with your PowerBook.
    • yeah actually I did. That's what i wrote it for. But i didn't want to just send if off and lose it forever, so i captured it in my slashdot journal. This way I can help spread the joy. hehe.

      The other journal entry i have "Why OS X Rocks" was also an earlier submission to their OS X feedback thing.

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