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PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2007 3:45 pm 
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jdroth wrote:
Especially to that last part. I, too, pay this $100/year. I admit that I do use the synchro-feature quite heavily.


Sync has always been the "killer app" of .Mac, as it was the one thing you couldn't do for yourself. Only someone finally did:

http://www.markspace.com/synctogether.php

Pay $50 once, never need to pay for .Mac again.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 29, 2007 5:20 pm 
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Thanks for pointing to this, jer. I've bookmarked it for later perusal. Have you used it before?


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 Post subject: Re: Reducing Computer-Related Expenses
PostPosted: Sun Apr 29, 2007 7:13 pm 

Joined: Sun Apr 15, 2007 9:14 pm
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brad wrote:
Every year I tally up what I've spent on computer and communications-related expenses and moan. I'd like to get these costs under control, so I'll start a journal here.

Hardware costs
Expenses in this category are large but infrequent, as I tend to keep my computers at least five years or more. However both of my computers are laptops and one option to reduce my costs next time I buy a new Mac would be to buy an iMac instead of a laptop. I hardly ever take my Mac out of the house, whereas I often travel with my Windows laptop for work.

Why do I have both Mac and Windows? I started working on a Mac and all my old archive files are in Mac format. Plus I love the Mac and have been using Macs since they came out in the mid 1980s (we used them in my office back then). I need to use Windows for work because my company's on Windows and quite a few of the programs I use for work are only available for Windows. Yes, I know I could just buy a MacBook Pro and run Windows on it with Boot Camp or Parallels, and maybe that's the solution. Still, even though it's more expensive, it seems simpler and more trouble-free to use a dedicated Windows machine for Windows and the Mac for Mac stuff.

[i]Goal: Reduce hardware costs, possibly by switching to just one machine (MacBook Pro) that runs both Windows and Mac OSX.


I agree that getting an Intel-based Mac laptop and dual-booting or using a VM seems the best way to do this. You'll have the added bonus of having access to all of your programs and all of your files wherever you go. I'm not sure why you believe that maintaining two separate machines is somehow simpler and more trouble-free than maintaining one. Either way, you're maintaining two sets of software, but with one machine, there's only one set of hardware to maintain and one drive to worry about backing up. Although the initial installation is more trouble, that should be a one-time event.

I can also recommend OpenOffice and the Gimp as ways to reduce software costs. I used OpenOffice a lot with some Word and Excel 2003 files recently when working from home and I never had an issue moving back and forth. Macros are really the major issue there. Plenty of other apps have open-source equivalents that are good enough if you're not heavily invested in one application's specific features. Perhaps it's time to consolidate on one OS as the place to do all of your work and get everything older converted to a more usable format for your new choice.

Andrew


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 29, 2007 10:09 pm 
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jdroth wrote:
Thanks for pointing to this, jer. I've bookmarked it for later perusal. Have you used it before?


Yes, I have it. It works perfectly to sync everything .Mac syncs, EXCEPT for the Keychain. It can't do Keychain sync because Apple bypasses the standard framework and does some behind-the-scenes magic to sync that. But for everything else -- address book, calendar, notes in Yojimbo, I have actually found it to work better than .Mac. Better mainly, I think, because you don't have to rely on an outside server being available.


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 Post subject: Re: Reducing Computer-Related Expenses
PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2007 4:07 am 

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Belandrew wrote:
I agree that getting an Intel-based Mac laptop and dual-booting or using a VM seems the best way to do this. You'll have the added bonus of having access to all of your programs and all of your files wherever you go.


Yeah, the more I think about it, the more I agree that this is the way to go. I guess my reluctance stems from the fact that Boot Camp (which I would use rather than Parallels, as I'll be in Windows most of the time and in Mac mainly during the evenings and weekends) is still in development and I've heard stories of people who've run into occasional compatibility problems. But those problems are mainly with hardware, and the only things I ever connect to my Windows laptop are a monitor, a REV drive for backups, and a jump drive. Shouldn't be any problem there.

It won't save all that much money to go with one machine, however. I priced out the MacBook Pro that I'd need (with a larger hard disk to hold my work-related files as well as all the photos and music that I keep on my Mac) and it comes out to over $3,000 Canadian, plus I'd have to purchase Windows XP on top of that. I might also have to buy a new REV drive, because mine is a first-generation one that doesn't work on a Mac; I'm not sure if it would connect through BootCamp or not. The REV drive is good for me as it's the best solution I've found for offsite backups; I can put 35 gigs on a disk and hand it to my girlfriend to store at her office.

One of the things I like about having two computers is that I always have a backup in case one computer dies or has to be serviced. But my girlfriend has an IBM laptop that I bought for her and I can use that as a backup. On a minor note there's also the keyboard issue: most of the time the laptop will be connected to an external monitor and keyboard, and I'm not sure how the mappings work if I use a Mac keyboard for Windows or vice versa. Does the option key on Mac translate to the Alt key on Windows? And what about the command key (the Apple key)?

When it comes time for me to upgrade Office--which won't happen for at least several more years, as I use Office 2003 and none of my clients or colleagues are planning to upgrade to the 2007 version--I will look into OpenOffice. There's no reason for me to switch now as I already have Office and it's not costing me anything.

Thanks everyone for the feedback and thoughts!


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 07, 2007 4:15 pm 

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A few updates:

1. Today, Apple announced that its .Mac service now comes with 10 gigabytes of storage, 10 times what it had before. This allowed me to cancel my Strongspace account, which I was using for offsite backups, and which was costing me over $200/year.

2. Not computer-related, but I discovered (way late in the game, 23 months into a 24-month contract) that my cellphone provider allows me to switch plans up to two times during the life of a contract. If I had known this at the beginning it would have saved me many hundreds of dollars. I'm currently paying $100/month for my plan, which covers calls throughout North America, because I thought I'd be traveling a lot for work. But in fact it turns out I haven't had to travel as much as I used to, and I rarely use my cellphone, maybe four or five calls a month. That means each call is costing me $20 or more. Now that I know I can switch plans without penalty, I'm dropping down to a $25/month plan, saving me $900/year.

3. A few of you recommended OpenOffice. As it turns out, I'm now working on a project with a client who uses OpenOffice whereas everyone else on the project (including me) is using Word, and I can definitively say that OpenOffice is not ready for prime time yet, at least not for complex editing jobs like the ones I work on. I'll stick to Word. Fortunately my clients rarely upgrade to newer versions of Office, so mine (Word 2003) is likely to serve me for at least another three or four years before I need to upgrade to a newer version. So it doesn't cost me anything to stick with it.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 07, 2007 4:36 pm 
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I was hoping Apple would do more with .Mac than just boost the storage. Boosting the storage does make it a lot more usable, though, I have to admit. I'm not sure what I expect .Mac to do, but it costs $100/year, so I want it to do more, that's for sure!


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 08, 2007 5:33 am 

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I think when Leopard comes out (the new version of Mac OSX) in a couple of months, there will be more integration with .Mac and maybe some new features.

I'm actually pretty happy with .Mac now that they upped the storage; I can't think of any other functionality that I'd need from it. The iDisk on .Mac also acts like a network drive when I'm on my Windows computer; I can drop files into it while I'm working or save them directly there, which makes it great for offsite backups.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 08, 2007 8:42 pm 

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I have to admit. I'm not sure what I expect .Mac to do, but it costs $100/year, so I want it to do more, that's for sure!


Hehe, this makes me laugh... i (just started last year) work as an engineer, and this sounds like a standard customer requirement. "I don't know what i want it to do... but i want it to do more!"


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2007 11:01 pm 

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Actually after a lot of research and internal debate, I think I've come to a frugal solution for my work computer: I'm going to buy a Windows desktop, and keep my ThinkPad just for travel or the rare occasions when I travel or want to work outside the office.

Buying a copy of Windows XP Pro to install on a Mac (I don't want to use Vista, I've heard way too many horror stories and my company is sticking with XP for the foreseeable future) would set me back $600 Canadian. I can buy a nicely equipped desktop PC, that is 4 times faster than my laptop, for less than that. And I already have a monitor that I can plug it into, because I use my laptop as if it were a desktop machine (I keep it plugged into a monitor, mouse, and keyboard).

This saves me a ton of money, because the alternatives I was considering were to either 1) buy a new 15" MacBook Pro with a 160 gig hard disk (to accommodate both my Windows work and Mac personal files), plus Windows XP Pro, all of which would cost me more than $3,000 Canadian, or 2) replace my old ThinkPad with a new Core2 Duo one with plenty of RAM and hard disk capacity, which would cost me at least $2,000.

I'm planning to buy the new (and http://gizmodo.com/gadgets/pcs/ultra+efficient-lenovo-blue-sky-a61e-pc-can-be-solar-powered-298899.php) Lenovo A61e desktop when it comes out next month. I'll keep my ThinkPad for occasional travel and for days when I don't want to work at my desk. And I'll use Microsoft's free synch tool, http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=E0FC1154-C975-4814-9649-CCE41AF06EB7&displaylang=en to keep my desktop and laptop synchronized; it works on either XP or Vista. Most software licenses allow you to run two copies of programs, one on a laptop and one on a desktop, so I shouldn't have to buy any new software.

This solution doesn't solve my "computer proliferation problem" but it's a lot cheaper than any of the other options I was considering. My ThinkPad should still have several years of life in it so I might as well hang onto it rather than replace it with a new laptop.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 16, 2007 6:08 am 

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An update on this:

In fact my decision to buy a desktop machine and keep the laptop just for travel instead of buying a new laptop has turned out to be not the smart financial decision I thought.

What I didn't take into account was the cost of all the new software I need to buy. Contrary to my recollection, only a few of the programs I use allow you to run two copies (one for a desktop, one for a laptop) under one license. And many programs today have software activation to prevent people from using more than one copy. I can't even get upgrade prices for most of the software I need, I have to buy the full new version.

So when all is said and done, it will cost me almost as much for this desktop machine and new software as it would have cost if I had just bought a replacement laptop instead, plus I now have the added aggravation of having to synchronize my laptop with the desktop so I have all my current files and email archives when I travel.

Dumb, dumb, dumb!


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 16, 2008 2:59 pm 

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Boy, did I blow this one in 2007.

I was just looking over my year-end financials and discovered to my shock that I spent more than $7,000 on hardware and software last year!

I bought three new computers: one for my girlfriend and one for her daughter, both of them laptops to replace their old laptops (which I had also bought for them some years back). The daughter's Toshiba was no longer working and was not repairable; my girlfriend's ThinkPad was six years old and glacially slow. I donated the ThinkPad to a computer recycling nonprofit and got a nice $600 writeoff for my taxes.

I also bought myself a new desktop machine, which (as I said above) was probably a mistake, but I'll keep it for now. I spent a lot of money for new software for the desktop machine, as I discovered that my copies of Microsoft Office and several other programs cannot be installed on more than one machine. I bought a new Airport Extreme wireless router to replace my slower and less-secure one from Microsoft. I also bought an EyeTV cable gizmo that allows me to watch and record cable TV on my Mac laptop, so we got rid of the TV.

About the only thing I saved money on is that I decided to not replace my aging Apple PowerBook (and I'm not even going to upgrade it to Leopard!), but will wait another couple of years before doing that unless it dies. I don't use the Mac for work, it's really for personal stuff, so I don't put a lot of demands on it.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 16, 2008 3:35 pm 

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i'd get rid of anything windows related..

i would get rid of your .mac account too..

keep riding your mac computers five plus years.. or til the wheels fall off

KEEP IT SIMPLE!


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 16, 2008 3:43 pm 

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kick_push wrote:
i'd get rid of anything windows related..

i would get rid of your .mac account too..

keep riding your mac computers five plus years.. or til the wheels fall off

KEEP IT SIMPLE!


Well, my PowerBook is just about five years old now (I bought it in 2003), and I think it's got a few years left in it. I've got everything safely backed up to a big hard drive, just in case.

Unfortunately I have to use Windows for work, there are programs I use every day that aren't available for Mac and I've run into occasional compatibility issues when I've tried using my Mac (I used Mac for work for many years). I actually like Windows, not as much as the Mac, but it works fine for me.


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