While I fully understand the pros of a web-based “cloud” solution, I also consider the cons. These being: 1) if our internet connection goes down, so does our database, and 2) less data security as the database would be stored on someone else’s server. We could still copy data over to laptops for use away from the office – it just wouldn’t be updated/synced with the office database until return.
p>I really really really encourage you to examine the online CRM options, such as SugarCRM, and the ones listed in the Google Apps marketplace (which is where I look to find services who are keeping up with the Joneses).
Online apps are, without question or doubt, The Future. I cannot state this strongly enough. The services being designed now make both life and business transactions so easy and flexible. Businesses who don’t buy into this future are wasting money and productive time — consider the cost, time, and often frustrating effort of designing a custom database from scratch, on an expensive platorm for which you have to buy a seat for each workstation. With the online apps, there’s nothing to install or update, and you can use it outside the office. User training is way faster.
I started using an online invoicing solution called Freshbooks recently, which has changed my life; check out the list of online CRM add-ons that integrate with their service.
I understand the reservations about internet going down and such, but that brings up the larger issue that, just by dint of email, if you have a single internet connection, and it craters, it’s likely to bring your business to a halt, or at least a stall, anyway. Which is why everyone should have at least one backup connection, preferably starting with an iPhone or Android phone. The second one could be something like a MiFi, although some of the Sprint phones let you turn them into a wifi hotspot for a few computers, which is awesome.
You knew I was going to say the next thing, but the most amazing and satisfying alternative second internet connection is an iPad with 3G. I’m very excited about how iPad and Android tablets are going to change the landscape, and online, cloud-based, Software-as-Service solutions are big, snow-peaked mountains in that landscape.
What do you think about “Clean My Mac” from http://www.macpaw.com/?
It seems like an impressive app that could do a little too much in the wrong hands. I’m on a laptop and could use a little cleaning up and like the idea of dumping excessive language files and PPC binaries. Would love to hear your thoughts.
In answering, I’m going first to name, but not spend time defining, the various tasks involved in maintaining Mac OS X. Then I’ll discuss the software that I use to perform those tasks.
Oh yeah: PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE backup your entire hard drive before doing any of this. Heck, even before you read this article.
Before anything else, it’s important to know that, since Panther and even more since Tiger, Mac OS X does most of its essential maintenance in the background. It runs the daily, weekly, and monthly Unix maintenance scripts on a more fluid schedule, remembering to do them even if your Mac was asleep when they were officially scheduled. Also, ye olde venerable “disk defragmentation,” familiar to many 90′s-era Mac and PC users, is somewhat automated but mostly much less necessary, for reasons Apple spells out in this kBase doc.
One task that used to be more commonly recommended to fix lots of issues with OS X is “Repairing Disk Permissions.” I used to use Disk Utility to run this when someone said their Mac was running slow (and they had clearly adequate RAM and processor), but because developers have had time to become savvy about OS X’s file-permissions scheme, the task is less likely to do or fix anything. Still, I usually turn it on as an option when I run the software that I’ll describe below.
Also in Disk Utility one will find “Repair Disk,” which since Tiger can be run while a machine is booted — all other activities are halted — to tell you if the volume data on your startup disk is screwed up.
Finally, a step that still seems relevant to keeping a Mac running smoothly is deleting cache files, specifically the Font, Kernel, and Application Caches. I have found lots of miscellaneous, weird problems — from apps crashing to fonts not rendering — resolved by a cache zapping. Also, since the dawn of the World Wide Web, web browsers have occasionally needed their caches cleaned. Safari features Empty Cache as a menu item in its “application menu,” i.e. the menu to the immediate right of the Apple, which in Safari is called “Safari.”
This is a more nebulous topic, since different people need different things on their hard drives. Also, as drive capacity has increased, now to way more than most of our clients need, many drives wear out with plenty of unused space. But of course, the idea of removing unneeded 0s and 1s from your storage is always appealing. It’s gratifying to let slough away PPC binaries, the OS 9 System Folder, Previous Systems, obviated applications, additional language support and fonts, yadda yadda yadda.
Maintenance and Cleanup Apps
Several programs have appeared over the years to automate these maintenance tasks and more. The crucial thing to know about these applications is that they are only graphical interfaces (GUIs) to the very simple Unix commands that make the tasks happen. I learned back in 10.1 to type:
sudo periodic daily weekly monthlydiskutil repairPermissions(note the capital “P”), and
(that last from single-user mode, accessed by booting while holding down Command-S).
Those commands accomplish much of the aforementioned tasks, and do it without installing, much less buying, anything. The apps save one from having to remember this stuff, but as the tasks are rarely required, paying $15 for an app seems kind of weird. That said, many apps will let you run a full-featured trial.
(An aside: I wonder if some Mac developers could benefit from the iPhone App Store model and start looking at $1-$3 tags for certain smaller desktop apps; would sales go up?)
A search for “maintenance” at MacUpdate.com yields the most established titles. Of these, I actively used Cocktail for a while, but since the free Maintenance and Onyx from Titanium Software came about, I have seen no reason to use any other tools. Maintenance is the simplest thing going: one window with a few checkboxes; turn on the ones you want and hit go. Onyx takes the hood off a lot of system services and features, and lets you run the same tasks as Maintenance to boot. They will both wisely ask to run “Verify Disk” before they do anything else. That takes a few minutes, but it’s well spent.
This is a good point to mention that, if Disk Utility’s Verify or Repair functions find something that they cannot fix, you will need to pick up an application such as Disk Warrior or TechTool Pro. These are each pricey but rock solid, and they repair the dramatic damage or corruption of your volume information that can cause data loss.
To bring your Mac to a space- and performance-saving English-only state, I’ve always liked Monolingual. A MacOSXHints user posted an Automator script for 10.4 that strips the languages and also PowerPC code from applications, but I want to examine it before I use it in 10.6. Here’s another, also older, article and another app for removing PPC from Universal Binaries.
Regarding CleanMyMac specifically, I haven’t used it, and with a 200MB cleanup limit on the trial, I have little need to put $15 toward that. (I’m not knocking the developer’s price, just… well, see above.) Monolingual should do the language diet for you, and to maintain stability, I would greatly encourage you to download Intel-only versions of your apps. Remember, too, that Snow Leopard is itself Intel-only, so the Apple apps are not Universal.
You will backup before running these apps, right?But I had nothing to do but wait.
Developers will have access to seven multitasking services, which will allow tasks to be performed in the background while preserving performance and battery life. So you’ll be able to make a Voice over IP call while playing a game or checking email, find a restaurant on Urbanspoon while listening to Pandora, and more.I have an earlier post on the subject, but thought I'd expand a bit:I'll say the less positive stuff first: Unless one's iPhone is unlocked, the AT&T $6/month World Traveler plan, which drops per-minute charges a bit, is an iPhone owner's only option for over-the-phone communication.Unlocking happens through a hack, as described in this Wired article. Unlocking and jailbreaking — alowing non-Apple-sanctioned apps — are doable and ultimately not that hard, but we recommend against these hacks on phones that are still in use as primary phones (as opposed to being sold or converted to an iPod touch).Now, AT&T has some good recommendations for travelling overseas with your iPhone, including something I just found out, and wish I had known for my South America trip last year: their Data Global plan. This might come in handy; there was a lot of travel research I wanted to do on the fly.But my bestest tip for people travelling internationally with their iPhones is still Wi-Fi! It's so awesome to have a great, little internet device in one's pocket. Whenever I'm travelling, and have a moment or a need, I scan for free wireless. Café-sitting is one of my favorite touring activities, anyway. I was happy enough with this for email and chat, but now you can make free iPhone-to-computer voice calls with the Skype app [iTunes link], and supposedly one-way video chat with Fring [iTunes link].If you don't get the World Traveler plan, do read those AT&T instructions for turning off roaming, or you can wind up with a huge bill. Even if you do buy the plan, it turns out that you get charged for any incoming calls, whether you answer them or not(!), and voicemails, even if you don't listen to them.My technique was to leave the iPhone in "Airplane Mode," and then turn on only Wi-Fi and scanned for open networks when I needed one. I had no surprises when I came home.LG wrote:So, about the iPad.Can’t wait!Can you back up the data, same as with a lap top?Most of the data on my iPhone is synced either over the internet (email, contacts & calendar, notes, passwords, clipboards, bookmarks) or over a cable with my Mac’s iTunes and photo management app (music, photo, movies, voice memos). Beside that material, iTunes backs up all my phone service settings and app data whenever I plug in the cable. So I just need to make sure my Mac is backed up.What are the biggest cons?Right now, this is mostly anybody’s guess. I could list the major gripes of Apple’s not including Flash support, which I have resolved not to miss, or a bloody camera, which decision Apple can roll up and choke on.Cost?Less if you wait a few months. I don’t think they’re gonna make the mistake of dropping the price in 3 months like they did with the iPhone, but eventually used and refurbished models models will be on the market.2010 is set to be pure mobile fun. The recent massive success of Google’s Android operating system, now proliferated on dozens of phones, means that the iPad won’t be the only decent tablet for very long. New features, lower prices … good times!Protecting the screen?Don’t click on this pretty funny link if you’re easily offended. There are going to be enough cases on the market to make your head spin, but any i-anything owner needs to be ready to pay for screen repair.In other words, good luck!I’m thinking of one for my college student.I wish I had had one in school. I’d go for the $499 one. It’ll be plenty. (I’m going to buy the $629 model with wifi and 3G.)I'm no artist, but since the iPad announcement, I have gotten excited by the creative image-manipulation possibilities opened by touch-on-a-tablet. What a cool portable canvas!
I addition to mobile apps, some very impressive browser-based applications have come online, so to speak. All of these options give us the chance to express ideas digitally without necessarily having a computer around, or an expensive program whose myriad features we might barely tap.So I just wanted to name some of the good ones I know and see if anyone wants to add to the list:Brushes has been on the iPhone for a little while, and was made famous by the artist who created a cover for the New Yorker on his phone.Sketchpad – Online Paint/Drawing application: My browser couldn't do this before. And it ain't Flash.Aviary.com: Just heard about this on This Week in Google. Aviary used to cost, but they just slashed the price clean off. Image editing, video effects editing, vector drawing, image markup, sound editing… None of the individual components of this incredible suite of tools would, by themselves, replace their desktop-installed competitors. They're kind of sluggish, and lack ergonomics like shortcuts. But it's a boon to have them available whenever, wherever. And they have a plug-in for Google Apps.SketchBook Mobile [iTunes] by Autodesk: Looks like the best sketching tool for the iPhone. I like the layers feature a lot. Autodesk is the developer most entrenched among architects, and SketchBook comes in way handy for marking up drawings in the field.There are tons of photo-manipulation apps for the iPhone, like Photoshop Mobile and TiltShift Generator (both of which, by the way, also have web apps here and here), but I'll just leave off here or I'll be hunting and testing all night.