Power Mac Woes, part II

If you’ll recall my last post, we’re experiencing some issues when trying to replace Windows XP computers with Apple Power Mac G5 computers in our Creative Services department here at work.

So far I’ve related the issues of:

  • Slow access to network file folders containing thousands of files.
  • InDesign’s import filter problems
  • Poor font management
  • Font tearing in the Mozilla products

Each of those is high on my list of “Stoppers”. That is, problems which would prevent the roll out of these very expensive machines.

Before I move on to the other, lesser, problems encountered, let me point out that I understand many of these issues I have related or will relate are not Apple’s problem. Many of these are with 3rd party software running on the Mac. However, these same programs are available on BOTH the Windows and Mac platforms and I have not had these same bugs creep up on Windows computers within these programs.

Also, I’d like to point out that I’m a huge fan of the Apple platform and I would recommend one of their Macintosh computers to anyone looking for an easy to use and safe platform for their home or office. Ultimately, I decided to blog about this not to bitch about Apple, but rather because I’m hoping someone out there will have answers to these questions … Especially the slow network browsing issue which really is holding everything up.

So with that all said, let’s continue shall we?

5) When using Terminal Services utilizing Microsoft’s client, the number pad on the Mac’s keyboard does not work. I’ve found no workaround for this.

6) Adobe’s Acrobat 7 Professional refuses to acknowledge that Mozilla Thunderbird is the default mail client. Or, rather, it acknowledges Thunderbird, it just doesn’t want to play nice with it. If I try to send (e-mail) a PDF file from within Acrobat Professional, I get the following error message: “The SendMail doesn’t know how to talk to your preferred mail client. Please select a different mail application to use.”

Okay, Sendmail is a mail transfer agent in the UNIX/Linux world. The Mac is using BSD Unix as its base. Is this the same “Sendmail” being referenced in Adobe’s grammatically suspect error message? If so, is this problem with OS X? Or perhaps Adobe Acrobat calling its own implementation? Or is it the fault of Mozilla Thunderbird?

To my knowledge, Thunderbird is recognized as the default mail client by all other apps, so the finger seems to point to Acrobat or Thunderbird. I’ve read somewhere online that the issue is that Thunderbird is not “Apple Scriptable.” However, Acrobat gives you no way to choose a default client if you wanted to so… any thoughts?

7) Mozilla Thunderbird on the Mac doesn’t recognize e-mail templates properly … or something. When everyone was using Windows, we could pass e-mail templates around the office like candy and they would work fine at each workstation. Now on the Mac, I can load the templates into the user’s “Templates” folder and we can preview it in the handy-dandy Preview Window, but if we open the template to create a new e-mail, all of the images are blank. The only workaround we found is to select “Display Attachments Inline”, but this is kind of a pain because then ALL attachments in ALL messages are displayed inline.

This setting is not needed when using Thunderbird on Windows.

8) “Phantom” folders in Thunderbird at the account rep’s station. I believe this has something to do with my bringing her Thunderbird Local Mail from a Windows computer to her iMac. However, mail files are just text and, from what I can tell, there’s no issue with what we brought over.

For some reason her Thunderbird likes to take one of her existing folders — usually the inbox, duplicate it and move that duplicate elsewhere within her local folders.

Strange huh? And since it’s a duplicate of her original folder, she can remove it with no consequence.

I keep hoping with each release of Thunderbird that the problem will be fixed, but so far, no dice.

Update 04.04.06: When the latest and greatest pre-release build of Thunderbird came out on April 2nd, we loaded that up at her workstation to see if the problem got any better. No dice. *ACK! Thbbbt!*

So there ya have it! My top 8 woes encountered when upgrading our creative department from Windows XP computers to Apple Macs.

Some will no doubt point out that by not utilizing the software bundled with the Mac — that is, Apple’s Mail client and the Safari browser as well as its built in PDF creator and Preview — I’m asking for it. That I’m inviting these problems into my workplace and I’ve no business complaining about it.

To that I simply say, the Mac is a superior operating platform to Windows, but their bundled applications, while great for a home user, don’t have the power and flexibility that other programs have. Yes, I’ve evaluated Apple’s Mail client and I’ve deemed it inferior to Thunderbird for our purposes.

In addition, by using different applications on OS X and Windows I make my job that much harder because now I’m supporting not only two platforms, but two mail clients, browsers, PDF creators … whatever.

But that’s what makes the Mac such a great platform … right? That I can choose to use OS X over Windows and, in doing so, give my organization better flexibility and security while still using the programs that I want to use. If I’m going to be locked in to a platform and its applications, then I might as well sigh, throw up my hands and use Windows … just like everyone else.

(Republished from ESC!Webs Blogitorials, March 2006. Some external links have been updated.)