This is Part Two of “Why We Went Mac, and Have Never Looked Back….”, a Guest Post by my friend, Randy Juip, which explains why his former firm converted to Macs. If you want to read Part One of his Guest Post, which addressed their firm’s hardware considerations, click here. Otherwise, I hope that you enjoy Part Two:
Software, Calendar, Mail and Other Stuff
We purchased a copy of Microsoft Office for Mac 2008 for each station, which provided us with the basic software necessities — word processing and spreadsheet mainly. If you keep your eyes open, you can pick up copies of this software on discount from time to time. Since I prefer to use Apple’s iWork suite (Pages, Numbers, and Keynote), my partner and I have copies of that software as well.
To work and play well with the Federal Court ECF system, we use Mozilla’s Firefox 4.0 browser instead of Safari as our default browser. I use a neat little add-on called X-Marks to sync my Firefox bookmarks to Safari (which, in turn, syncs my bookmarks to Mobile Me). The process is then repeated in reverse at home.
For those stubborn, PC-only programs (like our timekeeping package, Sage’s TimeSlips, RealLegal’s .ptx transcript viewer, and Corel’s WordPerfect), we have installed Parallels 5.0 running Windows XP (we’ve recently moved on to Windows 7). I have no reason for using Parallels over VM Fusion other than I’m used to Parallels now, and don’t have the time (or desire!) to switch. Boot Camp was not an option because our workflow requires switching between the PC programs and their Mac counterparts. There have been great posts on this topic in the past.
Each employee has a MobileMe account, which was a simple, efficient, and quick solution to our remote access and mail needs. We use Mail for our email and iCal for our Calendar. To make the calendars work nicely with each other, we invested in BusySync licenses at each station — this software allows us to share iCal calendars over our local area network (LAN) without needing to set up a server or the like. I understand that the publisher of BusySync has recently released a replacement program, BusyCal, which supposedly does even more amazing stuff. However, BusySync is working so well for us now and I really don’t see the need to fix something that doesn’t need fixing.
So what’s the other stuff? For me, it’s all the other programs that I use to make my life easier. I have come to rely on DataViz’s MacLinkPlus Deluxe for converting old WordPerfect files into Word Files. I am committing myself, more and more each day, to integrate Evernote into my workflow. I can not live without DropBox, which I’ve had for years. In my mind, DropBox is the single greatest utility ever created, and I frankly can’t understand people who still use thumb drives. Really.
Backup and Networking
One point which I think deserves some discussion is Time Machine. This may be preaching to the choir, but I can not tell you what a frustration computer security and back up in a PC environment can be. I’m not speaking about any firm in particular, but any PC environment — through a combination of technological ignorance, bad habits and practices, and inherent flaws in the Windows system — is asking for expensive IT support. I know firms that spend, literally, thousands upon thousands of dollars every year on security, firewalls, and, of course, IT support to rebuild and restore affected systems. This is a near constant headache, and for a sole practitioner or small-firm attorney, is not financially sound management.
It’s odd, then, that many older generation attorneys insist on PC’s over Macs, especially when they’re the least capable of dealing with the constant onslaught of PC-specific malware. “Yeah, Macs are nice,” an older Judge told me a this year’s ABA TechShow, “but at some point you have to grow up and get a PC.” Whatever.
Each of my key workstations has a 500GB or 1TB external drive attached to it locally for hourly time machine back ups. Our central file storage server is a Netgear ReadyNAS NV+ which has 4x1TB drives with RAID, so we have 2.7TB of effective central file storage which is mechanically secure. If one HDD fails, I can hot-swap it for another, and the entirety of our data is unaffected. It’s small, quiet, and powerful for our purposes. I understand that Netgear’s ReadyNAS Pro is even faster, with more RAM and Gigabit ethernet, but to date, our office has not run into any disconcerting issues in that regard.
Our mission-critical documents and files, in turn, are backed-up offsite using Mozy, which I’m not totally satisfied happy with, but which does the job. We chose Mozy over other worthy competitors (like Carbonite) due to Mozy’s support for Networked Attached Storage.
Time Machine, RAID in the ReadyNAS, and Mozy — all of this means, to me, that I really don’t spend much time thinking about Viruses, Malware, etc… I don’t know if some crazy 13 year old is holed-up in his parent’s basement working on a blockbuster Mac virus or not, but what I do know is that if we get it, we’ll just rewind things an hour or two using Time Machine and our offline backup. Don’t misunderstand me — I’m not completely unconcerned, but the worst case scenario is really not that bad with a Mac.
The Other Benefits
Aside from the Mac’s unmatched business functionality, it’s aesthetics, and it’s reliability, there are a number of other benefits to Mac users. If you use a Mac in your personal life you already know that the iLife programs — iMovie, iPhoto, iTunes, etc… — are must-haves. The integration of your business life and your personal life is just one added benefit to taking your office Mac.
Don’t forget, either, the iPhone and the iPad. I hope it’s safe to say that the iPhone has established itself as the go-to smartphone for busy professionals. It seems to me that people who use other smartphones either don’t know better, are too close-minded to consider the alternatives, or more likely, have no choice. I don’t want to dismiss the alternatives out of hand — everyone likes competition, but its clear that the iPhone competitors are trying hard to emulate the iPhone’s appeal, design, and capability.
And, no one even knows how the iPad will infiltrate our workflows and professional lives, but the smart money is that it will, in a big way. Although PC’s can integrate with iPhone and iPad, they don’t do it as seamlessly or as nicely as a Mac does.
In the End…
The short of it is this — I can’t tell you how simple my and my practice manager’s jobs are not having to worry about the technology in the office. Our technology does what it is supposed to do — it works and lets us work to serve our clients. We don’t spend valuable time working on getting out
technology to work. While there have been a few headaches, are significant only in that they are the exception, not the rule.
To each their own, I think. There are so many close-minded attorneys out there, who don’t understand how Intel chips forever changed Macs into business-friendly machines; but they’ll never get it. For my part, you should not hesitate, even for a second, to take your firm Mac. Besides, people will think you’re cooler then.
Randall A. Juip is now a partner with Foley, Baron, Metzger & Juip, PLLC, and he focuses his practice on professional negligence defense, business litigation, civil rights law, and public relations work (including risk management, crisis management, and public representation).