Starting a voyage with Mac

I’ve been using DOS or Windows PCs since the first IBM PC appeared. Over that time Microsoft-powered computers have infuriated and annoyed me on a regular basis but I think that I am now inured to the ways of Windows. Perhaps this will change with the advent of Windows 8 and the wonders of the new Metro interface. We shall see.

Not everyone is so sanguine about Windows. Take my wife. A wonderful woman but one with no patience for dealing with the demands for frequent updates that Microsoft, Adobe, and other software vendors pop-up with ever-increasing frequency to annoy and disrupt her work. Of course, as the resident IT support department and help desk, it falls to me to answer all the queries of “why is Windows asking me to do this?” or “what does that message mean?” Being a husband of many years standing means that I have wonderful tuning capabilities when it comes to removing such demands from my consciousness but even so, some of the support queries get through. And if you’re not an IT type of person (some would say “nerd” or “geek” in this respect), the queries do become tiresome.

So the executive in me decided that change was necessary. The situation was accelerated when her (now rather elderly) HP dv2000 laptop decided that it didn’t want to work any more. My suspicions are that the graphic controller or motherboard simply gave up the ghost after four years hard work but I wasn’t going to pay a PC technician to tell me that I had the choice of paying several hundred dollars to resurrect the PC or roughly the same to buy a new one. A change is as good as a rest, or so they say, and a change from a PC is either a new PC running the latest version of Windows or, horror of horrors, a Mac.

No Macintosh computer had ever darkened our house but inroads had been made through several generations of iPods, three iPhones (but not the latest 4GS – yet!), and a first generation iPad. All were sterling examples of good design and had opened a crack in my defenses. And then I visited Greenwich, CT to teach a class with Paul Robichaux…

Paul is well-known for his love of all things Apple. He carts around a rather nice MacBook Pro and I have seen how content this computer makes Paul. On the other hand, I’ve also seen him swearing at applications that he develops for the iPhone so it’s not all wonder and light in the Apple world. Nevertheless, it was enough to persuade me that maybe a MacBook Air would be a good solution.

A visit to the local Apple Store was duly organized and two middle-aged nerds started to poke at the various models that were on offer, undistributed for once by the herds of blue t-shirt chad Apple salespeople that normally descend any time I walk into a store. Left alone, we were able to measure the 11 inch MacBook Air against the 13 inch and debate the relative screen size, keyboard, and weight. Both models are examples of engineering and design excellence and their lightness is unique, but overall I think that the Apple MacBook Air 13.3-Inch was the better choice and that’s what I bought (note: has keen prices for this model at present and offers the advantage of not charging sales tax, so that’s where I bought).

Apple MacBook Air

Apple MacBook Air

So far the experience with the MacBook Air is mixed. Setting it up has been relatively painless and the Microsoft Arc Mouse that we’ve been using with our PCs works well with the Mac. Printing is the big exception so far. I cannot make the blessed Mac connect to my faithful HP C6180 printer wirelessly (it will and has printed via USB). All of our other PCs (most running Windows 7) connect without a problem and this has been the case since the first day that I installed the printer. Much browsing of the net, downloading of patches, and viewing of YouTube videos has been done to no avail. It’s a wonder to me that Apple can’t make wireless printing as easy an experience as Microsoft obviously has. We shall see where this particular journey takes me as I figure out the magic incantation that printing obviously requires and then work out all the differences between Outlook 2010 (for Windows) and Outlook 2011 (for the Mac).

Fun and games all round,



About Tony Redmond

Lead author for the Office 365 for IT Pros eBook and writer about all aspects of the Office 365 ecosystem.
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7 Responses to Starting a voyage with Mac

  1. luke bourke says:

    Try adding the printer in CUPS on the Mac.

    • Hi Luke,

      Thanks very much for the tip. I did some further research to discover some details about CUPS and found some good information on the web (for example, I then:

      1. Launched Chrome (which I prefer to Safari due to the fact that I use the same browser on all platforms)
      2. Connected to http://LocalHost:631/
      3. The CUPS main menu was displayed. I selected Administration and browsed around to see what was already available. The USB-connected printer queue was present, so I selected “Modify Printer” and was prompted for a username and password, so I provided the admin username and password.
      4. I modified the USB-queue to use socket:// because I was dealing with a HP printer. Other printers use ipp://
      5. Confirmed the modification
      6. Printed from Outlook 2011 for Mac – RESULT!

      Thanks again for providing the essential printer and filling in a small but important detail in my Mac knowledge.

      – Tony

  2. Rich says:

    but Tony how are you going to install Exchange 2010 on your shinny new MacBook Air? 🙂 Im guessing you can run VMware on it? That would be quite compelling actually.

    • Ah Rich, you misunderstand… MacBook Airs are client computers that run client software (like Outlook 2011 for Mac). Exchange 2010 runs on server computers. I doubt that it would run well on a MacBook Air, even with VMware. The SSD that I have is just 128GB and I’d have to fit at least two Windows 2008 R2 servers to get an environment up and running (AD and Exchange). And then I’d irritate my wife because she’d never be able to use the blessed thing.


  3. Rich says:

    Good answer!

  4. Graham Pye says:

    The heavens will shortly open and a huge clap of thunder will be followed by a lightning bolt from the Microsoft gods striking the Redmond household asunder 🙂

    But seriously, the IT department in this household has just gone through the same process to upgrade the management’s computing requirements, however I decided that beautiful as Apple products are, I know too much about Windows to start learning another operating system now… Besides, Macs are pretty d**m expensive too.

    Now if you could (still) get a VMS laptop that would be different…

    Graham Pye

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