Archive for August, 2006

Apps for a Windows User on OSX

August 29, 2006

No, I have not slipped back into bad old habits and stopped blogging. I’ve been out of the country and have not had access to the ‘Net except from my mobile. That’s how I saw that Joe in a comment to one of my posts, asked me if I knew any news readers for OSX. I thought that would be a good topic to blog about, not news readers per se, but what applications do I use on my MacBook coming from a Windows environment.

First of all, news readers; when I switched over I searched for a news reader for OSX. On the Windows platform I used XNews and I searched for one with the same capabilities. I found a couple, but all were fairly crappy, no, let’s re-phrase that and say they left room for improvement. So I ended up using the built-in news reader in Thunderbird. It’s not XNews by any means, but it works OK.

So what am I using:

  • Adium – IM client with MSN support. The rumor has it that next version of iChat will support MSN. That would be so cool, I could then use the built-in iSight web cam.
  • Adobe DNG – I’m doing quite a lot of phot work as a hobby, and I shoot in RAW. This is an app to convert from RAW to Adbes DNG standard.
  • Adobe Lightroom – my workflow app for photo. Absolutely fantastic, still in beta – but will be worth whatever it’ll cost at release.
  • Adobe Reader – for PDF’s.
  • Chicken of the VNC – VNC client against my Windows servers.
  • CyberDuck – FTP client.
  • ecto – blog client.
  • Emacs Tiger – Emacs, need I say more?!
  • Firefox – No Safari here, my browser.
  • Google Earth – To see where I am.
  • iCal – Calendar and scheduling app. Comes as part of OSX. I initially used Google Calendar and Sunbird from Mozilla, but as the Google calendar app doesn’t allow to update the calendar from other apps than Google Calendar itself, it didn’t work for me. I could have stayed with Sunbird, but I need to print my calendar’s now and then and the print support in Sunbird is almost non existent.
  • JAlbum – Even though Lightroom has a web module, at the moment I use JAlbum to create web albums of my photos.
  • KeyNote – Apple’s slide presentation app, PowerPoint ++.
  • Neo Office – Office productivity. I use it for word doc’s and spreadsheet’s. Built based on OpenOffice and understands MS Word and Excel doc formats.
  • Paralells – The Virtual Machine app, so I can run Windows as virtual machines. Absolutely excellent. The only major drawback is that it doesn’t support Vista yet; i.e. I can not have a Vista guest VM.
  • PathFinder – What Finder (OSX file explorer) should have been.
  • QuickSilver – Application launcher tool and so much more.
  • SharePoints – One of the things where OSX has major room for improvement is mounting shares. SharePoint takes a lot of the hassle out of the work, and allows you to do more than Apple’s tools without having to resort to command line.
  • SmartSVN – Subversion client
  • Subversion – Version control, easier than CVS and miles better than VSS.
  • SuperDuper – Invaluable app which allows you to back-up your system to an image, which you then can restore from. Saves you tons of time if you are doing frequent re-paves.
  • Thunderbird – My email and news-reader client.
  • Vienna – RSS reader.
  • VLC – Media player
  • Whitch – allows me to ALT – Tab between applications and individual windows of a given app.

After each re-pave I also install the latest release of Mono, beta release of X-Develop (a great development IDE) and Apple’s XCode. As can be seen from the above I use very few Apple “native” apps (actually only iCal), and I try and stick with open source applications as much as possible. That’s nothing religious however, I choose the apps that works for me.

So what do I miss from Windows? First and foremost (and probably the only big thing) is a desktop mapping application. I used MapPoint a lot for various reasons, and I haven’t found anything equivalent in the Mac world (I need offline capabilities). However, it is not a really big deal – I have it installed on a VM so i can pretty easy get to it if I need.

That’s me guys (and girls). For you that have made the switch (or are “native” Mac users) what are you using, what are you missing??

Thoughts about the Apple WWDC and Development for OSX

August 24, 2006

As a recent Mac convert, I try to follow what goes on in the Mac space through various blogs. The other day I came across this article talking about Apple and its place in the enterprise. The article set me off thinking (steady now, thinking is dangerous).

Anyway, the Apple World Wide Developer Conference took place in beginning of August and I tried to follow the keynote in “real time” by reading various blogs, and afterwards looking at the Quicktime video Apple supplied. The thinking that the article started me on was how different the keynote at WWDC was compared to a keynote at Microsoft PDC (Professional Developers Conference). Listening to the WWDC keynote, IMHO, you wouldn’t know this was the major developer conference for Apple (once again comparing to a PDC). In my opinion, there was very little at the keynote that had anything to do with developers and development; Jobs spoke about iChat and new templates for Apple Mail for god sake. There was only a, very, brief mention about the new XCode version. I would assume that from a developers perspective that would be a very interesting topic. The few things, once again IMHO, that was development related were topics that are very “artsy fartsy” – Core Animation etc.

So where am I going with all this? Well, according to the article above an analyst says that Apple will never be anything else than a niche player in the OS market, especially in the enterprise space. The analyst may be right or wrong about that, and I have no opinion about that particular issue. However, if you want to be a player in the enterprise market, enterprise applications, “bread and butter” apps, should run on and be developed for your platform. I can not see that happening for OSX, a lot of the things you see being developed on and for OSX are more “creative” type of apps. Where are the “boring” database applications, the sales force automation applications, the … applications? Furthermore, where are all the developer forums, newsgroups, hard-core development blogs covering topics related to development on the OSX platform?

Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with being a “creative” platform, but has Apple “painted” itself into a corner with its creativeness, you no longer develop “ordinary”, “boring” enterprise applications for OSX?!

Comments as always very welcome.

Mac Eye a for a Windows Guy

August 24, 2006

Back in May I posted on my old blog, of how I had decided to switch to Mac and OSX from Windows. The urge to switch was mostly due to dis-satisfaction with the state of affairs in the Vista beta (i.e. more or less unusable at that stage), and the urge to try something new.

Since then I have taken delivery of a MacBook and I have now used it as my main machine ever since. So what are my experiences:

  • The MacBook (mine is the white model) is an extremely sexy piece of hardware. That in itself makes the switch worth-wile.
  • OSX is a really nice operating system – but it is just that; an OS. It is not a religion, it does not cure cancer – and I so wish the Mac fan-boys would remember that. Why I bring this up is that when you come in as a new user you tend to trawl the forums/newsgroups etc in search for help, tips and tricks, and so on, and I must say that quite a few Mac users come across as religious zealots, more so than for other OS:es.
  • As I earn my living in the Windows space – doing research and training, quite a few of my colleagues assumed I was going to use BootCamp and dual boot. That is not the case, I am instead using Parallels and I run my Windows machines as VM’s. This works extremely well; when I bought the Mac I upped the memory to 2Gb and switched the hard drive to a faster 7200 rpm drive. This gives me plenty performance, and without having any benchmarks it feels that my VM’s run faster in my Mac than the VM’s I used under VMWare in my ThinkPad.
  • On the host I have made an effort NOT running MS software – or locking myself in with Apple, so I use NeoOffice (based on OpenOffice) for my word-processing and spreadsheet needs, and Firefox and Thunderbird for browsing and email. It goes without saying that I also use Emacs.

So far it seems everything is just bliss, any negative things:

  • Windows users tend to dislike the File Explorer in Windows. Compared to its OSX equivalent, (Finder ), File Explorer is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Finder is absolutely brain dead – for example; if I connect to a share on a remote server by mounting the share from the Terminal, the chances are pretty high that Finder won’t see the new volume (without having to re-launch Finder). Fortunately I have found a Finder replacement in Path Finder, an excellent piece of software.
  • Above I mentioned that if I did it from the Terminal Finder had issues. This is another thing, it seems that when you use OSX you are supposed to do everything from the GUI: drag and drop, point and click. Understandable in one way as Apple was really the first GUI (apart from Xerox Parc), but still. OSX has a great underlying Unix core, but trying to get information how to do things using the Unix core from the Terminal is very hard to come by. Quite often the reply you get is that: “this is not the way you do it in a Mac …”. Well, excuse me but I thought Apple and Mac was all about having a choice.

Anyway, I am a happy camper using OSX, I’m looking forward to the up-coming Leopard release to see what that brings to the table. I haven’t had any chance yet to do any dev-work on OSX, but I’ll try to play around with Objective-C and Mono as well.

SQL Server 2005 and DMV’s

August 23, 2006

One of the first thing I usually do after having installed a new version of SQL Server is to snoop around at the system tables to see what new tables there are and what they can give me information about.

As you may know by now, in SQL Server 2005 the system tables are not longer visible. The information from the system tables are instead exposed as Dynamic Management Views (DMV). These DMV’s gives you a lot of information about the state of your SQL Server, the problem is how to interpret the view’s and what view’s to look at when you try to solve a specific problem.

Fortunately Slava Ok from Microsoft is planning to post a series of blog entries about DMV’s where he emphasizes on what actual problems the DMV’s can be used to solve. The first installment is now up, and you can find it here. Happy reading!!

Blog Client

August 22, 2006

One of my “favorite” pastimes, during my blogging periods was to test out various blog clients. Seeing that I am now back in blogging and have changed the blog back-end, I obviously have to test a new client.

From a very basic search on the ‘net it seems that the favorite blog client for Mac’s is ecto, so this is now the first post to my new blog using the ecto client. So far so good, it looks like I can insert links (if the links to ecto in the previous sentences works).

What I haven’t figured out yet, is if I can use this client in offline mode? I guess I’ll find out sooner or later.

Just as a matter of interest; if you guys (and girls) can comment on what is the preferred blog client out there?

Rebooting the Blog

August 21, 2006

I’ve been blogging on and off (mosly off) for a couple of years now, and blogging has been trying to quit smoking – but the opposite: you keep it up (blogging) for a while but then you fall back into the old habits (not blogging).

I have decided to give it a final go; I’ll try to blog with some frequency, if I can not do that for a sustained period I have told myself to give it up totally. In conjunction with trying to get back to blogging I have also decided to move from a blog hosted on my staff web site at DevelopMentor to a wordpress.com hosted blog.

In this blog I’ll cover (as before) topics regarding databases (SQL Server in general), data access technologies (ADO.NET, LINQ etc). As I have recently switched to Mac and OSX I may also write about the experiences switching to Mac after having been a Windows user for a looooooong time.

I’ll try and do a re-direction of the feed from my DM blog to the feed here, but I can not guarantee that I will succeed in doing that.