Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Monday, April 5, 2010

Genealogy on a Mac?

It has now been a number of months since I junked my PC and went back to working almost exclusively on an Apple Macintosh iMac. I say that my work is almost exclusive because I still own a PC Laptop from HP. I use the laptop to run my scanning station. I mentioned from time to time that I am running a program called Parallels Desktop. I have worked on literally hundreds of computers and owned dozens and I can say without reservation that the 2.66 GHz Intel Core i5 is the absolutely fastest and best computer I have ever owned. Now, that probably puts me right into the camp of the Apple fanatics (MacHeads) and technophiles in some people's view, but I believe that I am more into the computer-as-tool category.

Here was the problem over the years. Beginning about 15 years or so ago, almost all of the genealogy software programs were only available on the PC based systems. So despite the fact that I was highly into Apple products, I switched my primary machine to a PC/Microsoft Windows based machine. It also contributed to the change that my law office was completely PC based and I used Remote Desktop to telecommute. I upgraded my PCs various times but we always kept a second computer, a Macintosh, so we could work on a real computer from time to time. It also helped that we also ran (and run) a graphics design business which was and is entirely Mac based. Some of my Apple friends thought I had become a hieratic.

Meanwhile, Apple made the big change when they went with Intel based processors. Shortly after the change, Macs became more than compatible, they were essentially the same machines as PCs just running different software. Also the Mac OS became Unix based, making it more compatible with network services than the PCs which were still running Windows operating systems. (A lot of my friends and family switched to Linux, but that is another story). Eventually, all of the parts fell into place, the Macintosh computers could seamlessly connect to my office network with Microsoft Remote Desktop on the Mac and the computers themselves finally got fast enough to run an entire PC in emulation in a virtual machine environment (i.e. Parallels Desktop).

With all of those factors coming together, including the decrease in memory costs so that I could have a huge internal storage capacity, it only made sense (to me of course) that I could finally ditch the PCs and go back to a Mac only environment.

Now, how are things going? I won't say that running two different operating systems is an easy task. It is a little like juggling, a skill you need to cultivate. Fortunately, I can keep everything straight and I have only a little bit of trouble now and again with incompatibility. However, I attribute most of that incompatibility to the Windows 7 Operating System.

I would be very hesitant to recommend an iMac to anyone who want to run PC genealogy programs unless they are pretty far along in their understanding of computer operating systems. It is way more difficult that running either an Apple OS or a Windows environment by itself. All of the genealogy programs I have tried so far seem to run pretty well with a very few exceptions. If you want a computer to work on and you like graphics and other related subjects, you can't do better than a Macintosh. The genealogy programs available for a Mac only environment are very good. Even if you know little or nothing about technology and want to keep it that way, you may find yourself happier on a Macintosh. But if you are a single program person and that program is Personal Ancestral File, just keep working on your PC.

1 comment:

  1. After fussing with Windows based PC's for more than 20 years - I'm ready for an easier experience. Can you create a more detailed post/comment about the different Mac based genealogy programs that you've used?