Macs Better Than PCs In An All-Windows Environment?

Some work-from-home solutions involve setting up a Virtual Private Network (VPN) that sends all your internet traffic via your connection to the corporate network. And since big companies like to lock things down, this means you can’t access your private email server, Flickr account, instant messaging app, etc while you’re connected to work.

A better way to do this is for them to use “split tunnelling”, where traffic to goes via the VPN and all other traffic goes via your normal ISP. Not all companies get this, though. These companies are often also the ones that only allow Windows PCs to connect remotely, not Macs or Linux boxes.

Using a Mac running Windows via Parallels is, in a twist of irony, often a better solution than a Windows PC in this kind of situation.

When you connect your Windows virtual machine to the corporate VPN, it is only locking down your Windows environment. Your Mac apps can still reach blocked sites, access your private mail server, access IM, etc.

Using a Mac provides you with the best of both worlds!


Another nice thing about running Windows in a virtualised environment is that you can easily backup the image by simply copying it to an external USB drive or burning it to a DVD-R. If you screw something up in that environment, you can be back up and running in minutes by simply restoring the image.

Also, you can have one Windows image for working remotely, and a separate one for your normal Windows needs. If your employer wants you to install crazy VPN software, antivirus software, patches/updates, etc, or somehow restricts the versions of software (e.g. they need you to have an old version of Microsoft Office installed), you can do so in just that Windows image. You can install all your other software, games, tweaks, hacks etc in your other image without fear of breaking something work-related.


July 16th, 2007

DNA Art?

Here’s the ultimate in personal gifts – give someone some art made out of DNA.

The question is, whose DNA would you use? Your own? Isn’t that a little arrogant? And how creepy would it be trying to get a sample of the gift recipient’s DNA without them knowing?!

There’s probably a market here for some celebrities to sell artwork made from their own DNA.

At least it’s easier to understand than some of the other things you could do with DNA.

May 21st, 2007

Searching For Things Without Knowing They Exist

Sometimes it can be hard to find information about a product or category of products, especially when you don’t know what the “golden keywords” are for the topic at hand.

Here are a few tips to make Google cough up some useful information.

If you know of a product that’s kind of what you’re after, but not quite, try searching for terms like “better than blah”, “cheaper than blah”, “sort of like blah”, etc. That’ll turn up lots of alternative products for you to research.

If you know of a product and would like to learn more about its competitors, try some search terms like “blah vs” or “vs blah”. Also try “compared to blah”, “compared with blah”, etc. That should turn up lots of comparison articles, reviews, shootouts, etc.

Once you’ve found a product you think you might be interested in, double-check your decision by searching for terms like “problem with blah”, “blah sucks”, “blah problem”, etc. There’ll always be a few people who have problems with any product, but if there seems to be large numbers of genuine-sounding problems and the supplier isn’t providing support, tread carefully.

Please add your own tips in the comments below!

May 21st, 2007

Copilot 2.0 – Control Other PCs or Macs Over The Web

Fog Creek Software has just released Copilot version 2.0.

Copilot lets you remote-control another PC, much like VNC or RDC, with the advantage that it requires zero configuration, works through firewalls, and leaves nothing installed when you’re finished. Great for family tech support!

And get this – it now supports OS X. So you can control PC to PC, PC to Mac, Mac to PC, or Mac to Mac.

From a Mac point of view, it seems to be getting decent reviews:

I know, you could do this with VNC. But if you haven’t set that up in advance or it’s not currently working, Copilot will get you out of trouble for just $5 for a 24-hour license. Not bad.

January 28th, 2007

Wisdom Lost

Well, my four wisdom teeth came out this morning. Ouch. I wasn’t able to talk for the rest of the day because of swollen and numb bottom lip, jaw and tongue. That makes it really hard to be around inquisitive/talkative one- and three-year-olds! Grace seems to be the only one who understands my grunts :-).

All is going well. I have to pop all sorts of pills for the next couple weeks. I won’t be eating much for the next few days, but everything should be back in good working order for Christmas feasts!

November 21st, 2006

Apple MacBook Pro Update

Apple has just updated their MacBook Pros to the new Intel Core 2 Duo processor. It’s probably a little earlier than many had predicted, but it’ll certainly be a well-received upgrade.

The new MBPs are slightly faster (clock-speed-wise) than the previous model, have Core 2 Duo, HDD options of 100GB (7200 rpm)/160GB (5400 rpm)/200GB (4200 rpm), RAM up to 3GB (1x2GB + 1x1GB), FW800 and dual-layer SuperDrives.

I’ve been trying to decide between getting a 17″ MacBook Pro or a 13″ MacBook with a Dell 24″ LCD (I can salary package a new laptop each year). The two setups would work out to almost exactly the same price.

The MBP obviously has a larger built-in screen, is faster, has better graphics, and a few more ports and things. However, the MB + 24″ LCD offers better portability and a huge screen for when I’m working at my desk. I’m leaning towards the MB + LCD at this stage, but I’m hoping for an MB upgrade early next year (I need to make the purchase before April).

Which way would you go?

October 25th, 2006

August 2006 Photos

Just a quick update to show off some recent photos…

Grace in school uniform Hannah reading a book Hannah enjoying Dr Phil over lunch Hannah doesn't really handle a spoon yet Sarah in the patting zoo Cheeky little Tigger Grace in her award-winning Noddy costume Doing the Noddy dance Daddy and Noddy Sarah on the slide

1 comment August 28th, 2006

WMA to MP3 Converter For Mac OS X

You wouldn’t think it’d be hard, but I couldn’t find any free OS X software to convert WMA files to MP3 or AAC files so I could listen to them on my iPod. After about half an hour of searching, I went back to a $10 application I found early on in the process and bought it – EasyWMA.

It works great. Just choose between mp3 or aac, set the options how you want them, and drag your WMA files onto it. EasyWMA converts them, and spits out the new files into the same directory as the originals.

Why is it that we’d spend hours searching the net for a free piece of software, just to save a measly $10? I have no answer for that.

40 comments July 26th, 2006

Wedding Speech – Stuart Campbell

Here’s a great short video of Stuart Campbell from Scotland, who at 16 was thrilled to be best man at his brother’s wedding.

I’ve seen a lot of wedding speeches when photographing weddings, and this would have to rank up there with the best of them! I love that Scottish accent, too.

6 comments July 5th, 2006

QuickSilver Tips

I use QuickSilver on my Mac all the time. It’s one of those indispensable applications that I just can’t do without – I really, really miss it on my Windows XP PC at work, but I can’t find any Windows equivalent.

There are always new tricks you can learn with QuickSilver. Here are a couple of useful pages of tips:

Feel free to add any extra tips to the comments here!

July 2nd, 2006

Next Posts Previous Posts