Paperless, and Apple Mac

I hinted at a bit of a technology change in my last post.  Several months on, I’ve replaced my PC technology with Apple, and I have to say I’m very pleased with the switch.  It’s been a bit more of an investment than I’d planned, largely because of finding some paid equivalents of free PC software that I’ve wanted to get, but for a lot of people, particularly those who aren’t power users, this could be done on a bit of a shoe string.

Copying the data over from the PC was painless enough – I just dropped the PC drive into a USB drive caddy and copied everything over.  About the only thing I know i lost was the iTunes Meta-data (track ratings, playlists, etc), and that was largely a conscious decision that with everything else that needed converting and moving I’d rather start from scratch.

Getting the new mac fully loaded with software was helped along with the MacHeist Bundle 4.  While I’m not going to use everything in that bundle, I’ve more than got my money’s worth.

So, what does my Mac software bundle look like?

Aperture  for photo management.  iPhoto just didn’t cut it with almost 30,000 photos to manage.  I should probably do a longer post just on this, but I now stand a chance of finding pictures I’ve taken in the past, and seeing them again. 

Google Chrome as my primary browser.  Safari is OK, but I’m used to Chrome and it plays the same everywhere.  I really should make the effort to switch to Safari, just for the integration across devices, but sometimes the comfort zone is just too comfortable. 

iTunes for music and video playback.  There are lots of other programs out there, but for integration with the other iThings, it wins hands down. 

iMovie for video editing.  I’d like to get something a bit more sophisticated, but I do so little video work it’s extravagant to buy a more expensive piece of software for now.

Handbrake for transcoding DVDs to video files to watch on the iPad

Microsoft Office – fortunately I work for a company who is eligible for Microsoft’s Home Use Program so I was able to get Office 2011 for a tiny fraction of the usual price.   I’m still tempted to drop the Apple alternatives – Keynote, Pages, Numbers on as well for comparison. 

GIMP and Acorn for photo editing.  I installed Acorn and haven’t registered it, largely because, well, I’m familiar with GIMP and I’ve not used Acorn enough to decide if it’s better or not.  It probably is, but I need to get over the initial learning curve first.   What I really want is something that will do PhotoShop-esque intelligent object selection, but I’m not prepared to pay PhotoShop money to get it. 

Scrivener.  The word processor for writers.  For putting together longer documents, and researching projects, this is an excellent way of working – far nicer than trying to do it in word.  Again, why Scrivener is different from both Evernote and Word, is probably something that deserves it’s own post.

Evernote  “Your external brain” they call it, and it’s certainly mine. Synced to all my devices, and used in conjunction with the Fujitsu ScanSnap scanner, this is the core of keeping paper off my desk.  Given the amount of non-paper cluttering the desk up, I do wonder why I bothered!

MarsEdit  Blogging client.  For writing blog posts offline, and managing them online.  I have several different blogs – this one, a separate one for amateur radio, and a third for a 4×4 Club, plus other websites I’m converting to use WordPress as  their CMS.

TextWrangler – because I can’t justify paying the money for BBEdit right now, though I probably will upgrade when I get into a serious programming frenzy at some point. 

DropBox to synchronise work in progress between the two macs, and also make stuff available to the iPad when offline.  For the amount of stuff I count as work in progress.

Backblaze for off-site backup of the primary Mac.  The laptop is backed up to a portable hard drive when at home, but I don’t worry about it too much.  I’m rarely on the road for any length of time. 

Freemind I’ve not found anything better looking as a paid app, though I love iThoughtsHD on the iPad.   This is my “thinking” program. 

Parallels to run Windows and Linux in a virtual machine.  There are a few applications I run under here, most of which are only installed on either the home Mac Mini or the Laptop – I don”t need them on both. 

Running under Parallels

TaxCalc – I get the upgrade every year for the pain it takes out of doing a Tax return.  

Quickbooks – looks like there’s a Mac version, but it’s not my money to upgrade with. 

Legacy – family tree software.  There’s probably a Mac alternative.  The learning curve is tough enough I’ll probably stick this one out. 

Ham Radio Deluxe and Minos for my Amateur Radio logbook.   HRD is going pay ware some time, so I’m probably going to switch to HamLoggerDX instead.   But right now, I don’t want to learn another logging program .

Various G4HFQ programs for radio handset programming, plus Kenwood’s program for the TMD72E.  I confess I haven’t tried these actually connected to a radio, but I remain impressed with Parallels ability to assign USB devices either to the host OS or guests on connection or permanently. 

Nanocom’s desktop software

And, for the hardware:

2011 Mac Mini with i7 Processor, 256Gb SSD, 750Gb Hard Drive, 16Gb RAM, two 22″ wide screen monitors, Apple USB keyboard and magic mouse.  I also have a trackpad which I find easier for some tasks, especially scrolling through documents while working on something else. 

MacBook Air, 13″ screen i7 processor,  8GB RAM, 256Gb SSD. 

Backup devices: QNAP NAS with 2x2TB RAID 1 array for backup of the Mini.  500Gb hard drive connected to the Mini to backup the Air.  None of these leave home under normal circumstances; I’ll use dropbox or a local disk for on-the-fly backup copies if needed. 

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