Last week, I had one of those, “I’m so glad I have a Mac moments”.
Stick with me, this isn’t another my O/S can beat up your O/S posts (although those are fun). There’s a point at the end.
I don’t consider myself a fanboi, but I do like my Mac and will never willingly go back to a host (i.e. not a VM) Windows system. I run Linux on my work-issued Dell because it’s there, and otherwise, it would collect dust.
I like Linux a lot more than Windows, but not as much as my Mac.
That said, I have to have Windows for work because there are a few critical web apps that require IE. Don’t act all shocked. This isn’t a rare occurrence at a decent-sized company.
Anyway, Paul wanted me to grab some screen captures of a web conference he couldn’t attend. Don’t get me started on why we didn’t go the recording route. Anyway, a fairly simple and common request. I can’t imagine that it’s too far-fetched.
Here’s where it gets dicey.
I run an XP VM to attend web conferences because IE is a requirement for the app. The web conferencing app captures bitmaps (I know, fail), which I saved locally to my XP desktop.
I took a lot of captures, about 50. At 3 MB apiece, I was looking a lot of post-processing.So, the fairly easy ask became a possibly time-consuming one. Somehow get those 50 captures (150 MB) into a format that Paul could easily consume.
The latter part is key. A manifest of 50 image files uploaded to a server somewhere wouldn’t be very easy to consume.
In the past on Windows, this is the type of problem that really would have eaten up some time.
Not so on my Mac. I moved the files from the VirtualBox XP VM to my Mac desktop, via shared folders.
Then I opened one of the bitmaps in Preview, saved it as a pdf, opened all 49 of the other images in another Preview window, selected them all in the window’s sidebar and dragged them into the pdf window’s sidebar.
Save and voila, a 9 MB pdf file with 50 pages, easy for quick viewing on any platform and small enough to attach and send by email.
I suppose I could have used Dropbox to share it with Paul, but that’s just showing off at this point.
The whole process took about five minutes, whereas on a Windows machine, I can’t imagine it would be as fast. If anyone out there wants to run a test on Windows, let me know.
The kicker here is that I did all the post-processing in Preview, which comes with OS X. On Windows, you’d have to identify what software can solve your problem first because it’s not included. So, hello, Acrobat, which retails for $299.
You could use a freemium product like PrimoPDF or an open source one like PDFCreator, but either way you’d still need more software, and beyond the generic claims, I’ve no idea how well that would work in this scenario.
So, what’s the point? Well, this is a) an example where the Mac just works and b) where it comes with the software I need, no hidden TCO beyond the low price tag.
Mac critics, like friend of the ‘Lab Michael Krigsman, like to point out doodads and pleasing graphical effects as Mac’s calling cards. These are the words of someone who hasn’t had an “it just works” moment.
Now for the big finish. Problems like this one are the seemingly mundane hurdles facing information workers that become ratholes, consuming hours of wasted time.
That’s why, “it just works” should be the new mantra of the information worker, and why Macs are creeping into the work place.
This problem could easily have been Paul’s rathole, if I’d simply uploaded 50, 3 MB bitmaps to a web server and provided him a link. Imagine what fun that would have been surfing through 50 images.
The bottom line is that neither one of us gets paid to exchange this information. We get paid to analyze it. So, every minute spent on the exchange is a wasted one that either is lost productivity or more likely, is made up by working more.
This problem seems simple, but it’s made complex by the tools.
That’s why “it just works” is such a powerful phrase.
Add your thoughts in the comments.