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

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Running genealogy programs on my iMac

I don't do software reviews. I have a good reason. I use too many different programs for too many different purposes. It wouldn't be fair for me to say, "I like this genealogy program better than others so I am giving it five stars" when I can see all the problems with the program and use a completely different program to complement those problems. Also, I run all the PC software on my iMac. I use Parallels Desktop, but I am fully aware of other alternative programs that people find just as suitable for their purposes as I find my programs for my own. I deal with massive amounts of data. It recently took me eight hours to make a partial backup of my files to a new 3TB hard drive. It took another six hours to complete the backup. I am sure that if I spent even more money I could speed up that process immensely, but I have to make choices of incremental speed as against my cost. I spend the optimal amount because I have more time than money.

If find genealogy to be highly complex, although no more complex that computer programming, practicing law or any other activity that takes a long time to learn to do well. The analogy is that you may drive a car, but I take the car apart and redesign it and put it back together. You get one review from a person who drives cars, you get a completely different review from one who deconstructs cars and redesigns them. I use a variety of software programs the same way I use different wrenches for different repair jobs. A program is tool. I do have an opinion about what makes a good wrench, just like I have an opinion about what makes a good genealogy program. But my opinion isn't worth much to you if you aren't dealing with the product in the same way I am.

When I read reviews of cars, I am always amused by the negative criticism of the reviewer when he (it is always a he) says, this car drives like a truck. At the same time the best complement the reviewers seem to be able to make is that this truck drives like a car. Well, I want a truck that drives like a truck and I don't happen to care if my car also drives like a truck. I have been driving trucks for about fifty years and I am quite used to them. Thank you. What I don't like is a cheap tool that doesn't work i.e. do what it is supposed to do. I caused quite a stir recently with a TechTips post about running genealogy software on my iMac. I guess I offended the die hard Macintosh true believers.

I use Macintosh computers, even to run my Windows 7 compatible programs, for a simple reason. It is a better tool than any PC I have ever used. Now, don't go out and buy a Macintosh, just because I said I liked my iMac. Are you really ready to run Mac OS X Lion and Windows 7 at the same time on the same screen with no visual clues as to which system is running what program? One of my friends was getting so frustrated trying to figure out how to run both operating systems, she junked her new MacBook Pro and bought a PC laptop. Which, by the way, she still can't figure out. There is nothing simple about a computer operating system whether it is Windows 7 or Mac OS X or Linux or whatever. I have Mac OS X Lion running on both of my Macs and I haven't had time to even figure out how to get some of the very annoying things to quit happening, like rearranging my icons at random times and the whole screen sliding over to the dashboard when I am brushing the top of the mouse absentmindedly.

I had a couple of posts on the problems I had with loading Family Tree Maker 2012 into my virtual machine, and I admit, that one almost had me stumped. But now it is running fine and I can move onto the next huge project. The reason why I put up with all this extra complication is simple, I can run all the PC software on my Mac, but I can't run any of my Mac software on a PC. Using a PC is like owning a small car when you really need a truck. I need a truck. The iMac may have its own set of problems, but they are truck problems not skimpy little two door coup problems. I also want to spend more time doing genealogy than I spend trying to run my computer. PCs have a huge amount more overhead than Macs. I spend more time working on the PCs than I do working.

What will I do if something better comes along? Make sure it is actually better and then buy it.

Now I certainly recognize that owning a computer is like politics and religion, everyone has their own opinion. This is my opinion and I don't expect anyone else to agree or disagree. As for me, I think you need to use computers as a tool not as a religion or a political party. Learn how to use the tool, pick the best tool possible for what you are willing to pay and go with it.


  1. Couldn't agree more.
    I'd like to add that all those people who are "for" system "A" and "against" system "B" are forgetting the power of competition. (And both sides are equally vociferous.) If personal computers were limited to one platform, computers probably wouldn't have come so far since 1984.

  2. I have purchased the disk. Could not get it to load on my computer running Windows 7 Home Premium 32bit. Managed to install FTM 2014 on my desktop running XP but not on my acer 473p-5602 laptop with no luck.