Skype, Writely, and GMail Notifier for Mac

Three tech updates for you:

1) Skype. It rules. But you knew that. I’m all up on it. Finally got a headset and mic and am no longer pussyfooting around. So hit me up VoIP-style. My Skype ID is newleypurnell. (And yes, I know I’m like five years late with the whole calling-over-the-Web thing, but still.)

2) Remember Writely, that sweet Web-based word processor that I told you about back in December? Yeah, well, Google seems to think it’s pretty good, too. Memo (composed using Writely) to my product development friends in Mountain View: stick with me. We’ll go places. (FYI: WebOS, here we come.)

3) Speaking of Google, they recently released the Gmail notifier for Mac, so that you can receive Outlook-style alerts — complete with snippets of text that pop up on your screen and screw up your workflow — when you receive a new email (or should I say a new Gmail?). I’ve had some connectivity issues, but the application looks promising.


My Thoughts on the Mac Experience

Here’s a topic I’ve been meaning to address for some time.

Back in late February, I purchased, for the first time ever, a Macintosh computer. I needed a notebook machine, so I went with the 12″ iBook. I’ve affectionately dubbed her iRene.

In no particular order, here’re my thoughts as a lifetime PC user with minimum previous exposure to Apple computers.

–Ironically, one of the major factors that influenced my decision to purchase iRene was decidedly low-tech: Apple had a store in the area. And I needed to have a computer in my hands in less than 10 days, when I was leaving the country. I called Dell, and one of their sales guys told me, with palpalble disdain, that there’s no way they could get a machine to me by the time I needed it. I’d been to the Apple store before and liked what I saw, and the fact that I could walk out of the store with the computer of my choice appealed to me. (I picked the 12″ iBook because it’s the cheapest notebook computer Apple makes, and I knew I’d be using it mostly for word processing, Web surfing and light Web development, and minimal audio minipulations.)

–Right out of the box, you can tell that the folks at Apple take their product design seriously. And I believe that’s an element–creating something pretty and nice to look at and nice to put your hands on every day–that the big PC manufacturers overlook.

–I’d been intersted in buying a Mac for a number of years in part because Mac users tend to be evangelistic about their devotion to Apple’s products. I wanted to see what all the fuss is about. And…

–…most Mac lovers say they like their Apples because they “just work.” And that’s true. iRene’s operating system, OSX, is incredibly stable; in seven months of heavy use, she’s only crashed once.

iLife, although all this “i” crap really is getting silly, is a concept that I’m really beginning to believe in. The idea is that all your digital media is integrated with Mac’s applications like iPhoto (an excellent image management tool) and iTunes (the really cool music manager that powers iPods). My various stuff–photos in the form of prints and image CDs, audio CDs, Word files on floppy disks, etc.–fits together quite nicely within iRene’s interstices, and I like that. It’s all at my fingertips now.

–Cost. No getting around that issue. Mac’s are more expensive than PCs. But so far, I’d say my extra couple of hundred of bucks have been well-spent.