Switcher Software Questions

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by feakbeak, Feb 8, 2005.

  1. feakbeak macrumors 6502a

    feakbeak

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2003
    Location:
    Michigan
    #1
    This post will be long, sorry in advance.

    First off, I'm not a true Switcher. I've been a power user on the wintel platform for a long time and develop wintel software for a living. So, you can count on finding an ugly beige box near my desk for the indefinite future. I've wanted a Mac for as a second machine for a while now, but I hate all-in-one's and PowerMacs are too expensive for a second computer (IMO). So, yes, I was one of “those people” clamoring for an affordable headless Mac. For those of you who complained that “us whiners” better buy these things when the Mac mini was announced... well, I did, so there! :)

    I just ordered tonight – 1.42 GHz, 80 GB HD, 512 MB, Combo Drive, with AE/BT options. I also bought the Dell 2001FP 20” 1600x1200 LCD monitor. Between their sale and a promo coupon I found on the net I was able to pick up the 2001FP for $529. I’m so excited about my Mac mini, I’m not sure if the PC or Mac should get the nice new monitor. Probably the PC since I do some gaming (Battlefield ‘42/DC/Nam and FarCry mostly). I’m sure I’ll have to hook up the new LCD to the Mac mini just to check it out though. But the mini will be getting my current PC monitor, a 19” Trinitron CRT, so it’s not getting completely screwed.

    Being a power user on the wintel platform I've become used to having a variety of apps to choose from for most any task. I mostly wanted a Mac to play with OS X and iLife. Those are my major reasons for buying it. Plus I'll be able to get more use from my 20GB 4G iPod with iSync and iCal. I know there will be some things I do on my PC that I won't be able to do, or do as well on my Mac mini, but I'd like to try to be able to do as much as I can on both platforms. So I'm looking for advice on any Apple or third party programs that will do essentially the same thing on the Mac platform.

    1. Browsing - I currently use Firefox exclusively on my PC, except for when I'm running Windows Update or some other stupid site that is coding to IE rather than to the standards. I know Firefox is available for the Mac. I'm seeking feedback from those who have used Firefox and Safari on the Mac. How do they compare, which do you prefer?

    2. Email - Is there anyway to hook up the built-in mail client (Mail I believe) to work with Hotmail. I know, I know... I'm planning on ditching Hotmail as soon as Gmail comes out of beta. Gmail has free POP3 support and will probably work fine with Mail. Hotmail can only be used natively with the Outlook or Outlook Express email clients on a PC. However, I found a program called Hotmail Popper that allows you to use Hotmail with any POP3 client. I have been using Thunderbird for many months and don't want to go back to the web interface for Hotmail while waiting for Gmail to go gold.

    - Is there any program like Hotmail Popper for Mac OS X? (I'm guessing no...)
    - How does Thunderbird compare to Mail?

    3. IM - I have been using Trillian on the PC for years and love it. They don't make a version for OS X, so is there any equivalent program for Mac? Am I stuck with iChat?

    4. Web/Database server - I'm currently running a phpbb board with IIS/MySql in the back-end on WinXP Pro. I own a domain name and use a utility program to keep my dynamic IP address updated with my DNS service host. It's a low traffic site, my college buddies and I use to keep in touch in a public forum, post pictures, etc. I have some static pages up there too, but nothing big. I'm wondering if anyone has experience running dynamic websites on OS X and WinXP Pro and if they have any advice about which is easier to maintain. I'm assuming it would probably be a bit more secure on OS X just because it is a smaller target for hackers, but Apache still has its holes that need to be plugged -- which is easier to keep up-to-date with security patches? Keep in mind, I’m very familiar with IIS (even coded some IIS administrative utilities for work) but I have never used Apache.

    Another concern I have is if the server's performance would take a big hit running on a Mac mini, if I were also using for daily tasks, iLife, etc. Like I said this is a low traffic, personal site, but it is running message boards and a database server. It has about 20 users, rarely more than 3-4 simultaneous users on the board. My PC has much better specs than the Mac mini. Can the mini handle it?

    Thanks in advance to all of you for your advice/opinions. I've been following these boards for a while now, waiting to get a Mac, this is a good community. I'm proud to join the ranks. Although, I still have to wait 2-3 weeks for my mini to ship!
     
  2. Gee macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2004
    Location:
    London, UK
    #2
    I've used both Safari and Firefox, and they're both pretty good for the most part. Prefer Safari just because it looks cleaner, interface-wise.

    There was a freeware plugin for mail that allowed this, but microsoft stopped POP access to hotmail about 6 months ago, so it no longer works. You now have to upgrade to the paid version of hotmail to get POP access. I would have thought this goes for the PC as well as the Mac.

    iChat is very cool, especially the video chat thing. I've heard people talk about Adium, and of course there's MSN (not great) and Yahoo messenger (slightly better). A good place to look for all types of freeware and shareware is www.versiontracker.com

    No idea about servers, but I did see an article a while back from Macromedia about setting it up on a Mac,
    here

    Cheers
    G
     
  3. HexMonkey Administrator

    HexMonkey

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2004
    Location:
    New Zealand
    #3
    I mainly agree with Gee, but I'll add a bit more information.

    I prefer Safari because of its interface, as Firefox doesn't fully take advantage of Mac OS X technologies (eg it doesn't use system-wide spell check, uses its own password manager etc). Having said that, I think Firefox is certainly a comparable browser which has advantages over Safari and I often use it for pages that don't work or are slow in Safari. Also, Firefox 1.1, which is due in June, should have better compliance with Aqua.

    I haven't tried Thunderbird, but to use a Hotmail account in Mail you can use the httpmail plugin. Although I haven't tried it myself, recent VersionTracker reviews state that it still seems to work with free accounts.

    There are a number of multiclient chat programs for the Mac. I use Adium. Although a few features are missing (audio/video chats, file transfer interface etc), it is open source and has a good team of developers working on improving it. It also has some great features like tabbed chats, highly customizable appearance etc. However, if you are only using services that iChat supports, you might prefer it as it has a great interface and some major features that Adium is missing.
     
  4. Gee macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2004
    Location:
    London, UK
    #4
    The httpmail thing was what I was referring to, which stopped working for me back in October when POP access got turned off. However, looking on versiontracker, it seems it's still working for some people, so I don't know whether some hotmail accounts still have pop access, or whether the author came up with a work-around. So, thanks, I will try it out again tonight...
     
  5. russed macrumors 68000

    russed

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2004
    Location:
    London, England
    #5
    Good choice!! congrats on getting a mac!

    i personally use safari, firefox and mainly camino. i use camino on a daily basis, its very quick and looks more 'os x' like than firefox, i think its a bit cluncky on mac at the moment. i use firefox for the rss and just every now and again when i feel like being true to apple i use safari, but it is slower i think than the other two (at least until its updated), but it does look nice to use.

    as with firefox, thunderbird is a good programme, but i just dont beleive it is better than mail. mail looks very nice and does everythin i want very very well. on windows, thunderbird and firefox are difinatly the way forward, but not as much on mac as what apple offer is very good already.

    ichat is nice especially if you either use .mac or AOL (does anyone!), but particuarly for me, most people are on MSN, so i use Adium x (www.adiumx.com) its so much better than the MSN client that microsoft put out for us on mac. there is only one window (its kind of like tabbed chatting) and it doesnt dissconnect like messenger does. also it can connect to many different clients at once.
     
  6. feakbeak thread starter macrumors 6502a

    feakbeak

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2003
    Location:
    Michigan
    #6
    They still have POP3 access for the premium (pay) Hotmail accounts. I pay like $20/yr for extra storage and to ensure my account never becomes inactive if I don't use it for a while and for continued POP3 access. I'm very happy to hear I'll be able to access Hotmail within Mail using this plug-in. Thanks for the info.
     
  7. feakbeak thread starter macrumors 6502a

    feakbeak

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2003
    Location:
    Michigan
    #7
    Thanks for the feedback everyone, I really appreciate it. I'll have to play with Safari, Firefox and Camino and see which I prefer. Considering the httpmail plug-in for Mail, I will probably just use that since the UI does look really sharp. For IM, 99% of my contacts are AIM, so I can probably just use iChat without any issues. You all seem to think it's a rather good IM client. I hate the AIM client on Windows, so I've always used Trillian, mostly becuase it's a better client than becuase of the multi-network support. iChat looks really cool though, but I still might check out Adium, as I hadn't heard of that before.

    Still waiting for anyone that has had experience running websites on both platforms...

    Thanks again!
     
  8. bubbamac macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2003
    #8
    I don't have any specific responses to your software questions, but I'll offer a generality:

    In the Windows world, there are lots of programs to choose from, and fewer in the Mac world. But! While for any given application, you might have 100 or more to choose from in the Windows world, only 2-4 are actually worth using. In the Mac world, you might only have 5-10 apps available to choose from - but you've still got 2-4 worth choosing from.

    Regarding any other software issues you might have, here's a couple of links:

    Free software thread

    All software thread
     
  9. Xenious macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2004
    Location:
    Texas, USA
    #9
    I'll add that for mutil IM chat I use Fire - http://fire.sourceforge.net/ this is an excellent program and has many of the same features in Trillian 3 (except for audio and video which are "coming soon"). It also has a few extra things like collapsing users accounts with the same IM name (i.e. for a friend with MSN, AIM and ICQ accounts this shows up as a collapsed list when you rename them the same) and letting you just click on the collapsed list to chat. It picks the service in a pre-determined order you specify.
    -jim
     
  10. wordmunger macrumors 603

    wordmunger

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2003
    Location:
    North Carolina
    #10
    I'd suggest posting the server question in a separate thread with a more descriptive title -- something like "Apache on Mac or IIS on Windows--what's better?" You'll probably get more answers that way. There are so many "newbie switcher question" threads that you're likely to get missed by the people with real expertise.
     
  11. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2004
    Location:
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    #11
    Just to chime in on the httpmail and mail.app topic...I have a free hotmail account (which I barely ever use) and the httpmail client still works for me. There was a period at the same time as that announcement where the hotmail interface changed, and it wasn't working for a while, but after I downloaded the latest version of the plugin after that, it has worked non-stop ever since. :)
     
  12. Jeromie macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2005
    #12
    Are you waiting on Gmail because the beta moniker frightens you away or because you don't have an invitation? If the issue is the latter, I can remedy that.
     
  13. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2004
    Location:
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    #13
    Yeah, G-Mail doesn't really seem to have any major beta limitations... And you get free pop/imap (or at least pop?) and smtp. And it's an excuse to walk around saying G-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-Unit! :) Well, okay, I didn't really need another excuse to walk around saying that. But its still nice. :)
     
  14. abhishekit macrumors 65816

    abhishekit

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2003
    Location:
    akron , ohio
    #14
    Regarding the server/database question, I have MySQL running on my pb.
    I don't have any experience running dynamic websites, but at one point I also had apache installed for experimentation. You can get Apache 2, MySQL, Tomcat etc from www.serverlogistics.com. It even installs a preference pane in the system preferences, so you can do many of the administrative tasks through gui. So you can check that out.

    Secondly if you are really looking forward to playing with iMovie and iPhoto, I think you will have to bump your ram a little bit.

    cheers
     
  15. feakbeak thread starter macrumors 6502a

    feakbeak

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2003
    Location:
    Michigan
    #15
    I already have a Gmail account and it has been reliable. However, I get email reminders to pay several of my untility bills online and since it is still in beta, I'm sure they reserve the right to take it down whenever. Anything could happen any time, but I guess the beta moniker does worry me slightly. I'm a programmer, I know what can happen with betas. But I do realize Google is a huge company and this is a big undertaking for them, I'm sure all would be fine. Call me paranoid...

    Plus, it's a good excuse to put off changing my email address with all my online accounts, frineds, family, etc... I've had the same Hotmail account for about eight years now, from back before M$ bought it out.
     
  16. feakbeak thread starter macrumors 6502a

    feakbeak

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2003
    Location:
    Michigan
    #16
    Thanks for the info about Apache 2 and MySQL. I'm not familiar iwth Tomcat, I'll have to check it out. A GUI in the System Preferences sounds nice.

    As for iLife, I do not own a video camera, so I won't be using iMovie much. Eventually, I plan to get a video camera, but probably not for a year or two. I recently got the Canon Powershot A95 and plan to use iPhoto, but I figured 512 MB would be sufficient for basic photo organization and editting. I'm not a hardcore photographer or anything. If it runs too slow and bugs me, I'll buy a 1 GB stick and replace it myself, but I didn't want to pay Apple prices for the 1 GB. I thought $75 for 512 was very reasonable and should provide solid performance.

    wordmunger -- I'll probably repost my IIS/Apache/MySQL questions in a new thread with a more specific title... that's a good idea.
     
  17. Gee macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2004
    Location:
    London, UK
    #17
    Top stuff - it's working again!
     

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