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Apple + Tech

Hopping into the way back machine

Going back to old software and an old podcast provides two very different experiences.

Going back to old software and an old podcast provides two very different experiences.

Over the last few weeks I’ve overseen a major server upgrade at work. I inherited this responsibility after the vendors and equipment had been chosen – a recipe for disaster, yes – but the whole thing has gone relatively smoothly. It’s been all-consuming but quite good fun.

One of the features of the new server setup is that we now have a Terminal Server. I’d never heard of a Terminal Server before, but it promised to be the fastest, most-flexible and most-powerful method for remote access – a VPN on steroids. The user commences a Terminal Server session and all the computing is done on the Server rather than on their local computer (the Terminal). The only thing that happens on the local computer is that the screen refreshes. For an organisation who has fallen a bit behind on our hardware and software refresh program the Terminal Server also enables us to extend the life of some hardware that should have been decommissioned – this hardware becomes a Terminal that accesses the Server from within the office and thus has a more powerful computing experience than the hardware could otherwise offer.

As well as being the person now responsible for systems, I am also the only person who exclusively uses a Mac in the office. Most of my work is done using Apple software or Microsoft’s Office for Mac. However, I’ve also been using Parallels to run Windows 7 and Office 2007 for Windows – this is almost exclusively so I can use Windows Outlook with our Microsoft Exchange email server. Running Windows on the Mac is OK, but it’s a huge memory hog – my MacBook Pro never drops below 75% memory usage (I have 4GB RAM). So whilst it’s OK, it does slow down the machine.

More Mac-Like

The Terminal Server promised a fix. Using Microsoft’s free Remote Desktop Connection software in the office I would no longer need to use Parallels/Windows and thus my overall computing experience should be faster.

It worked. It’s faster. But … I am forced to use Outlook 2003.

I won’t explain why (@#$% Microsoft) but this is where the “way back machine” comes in:

I haven’t used Outlook 2003 for many, many years. And OMG I now realise just how lucky I have been.

This software is truly awful. Everything takes many more keystrokes than it should – categories in email are rendered useless when it takes 4 keystrokes to categorise. To save multiple attachments I have to save each individually. It can’t seem to format my signature with single line spacing. I can’t send a hyperlink to a file or folder on our server direct from Outlook. The whole thing looks ugly. I feel dirty just using it.

And Outlook 2003 is the standard at work. Everyone is using it. I’d previously been insulated from this experience, but now I know that I have to do something about it.

The Mac Observer

In contrast, my second entry into the way back machine this week was as absolute pleasure. One of the first Mac podcasts that I subscribed to was The Mac Observer’s Mac Geek Gab. Dave Hamilton and John Braun from The Mac Observer answer listener questions – some easy, some hard – in the way that I’d imagine Roy and Moss would if Roy actually cared about his job. They know their stuff. They share their knowledge. And they are entertaining.

The only reason I stopped listening to them was that after a while I felt that I actually knew most of the answers – the same questions tended to be asked and thus, the same answers provided.

But fast-forward a year or two and the questions are different, I don’t know the answers and this show is again back on my Podcast rotation.

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