When I left Apple I fully expected to have to adapt to the Windows world that I knew was out here in the world. My less than warm and fuzzy exit from Apple even pushed me towards the dark side and the world of Linux. I am actually glad that I took the time after leaving Apple to get familiar with Windows and Linux. That time and effort has actually paid off by giving me some survival skills that have served me well in the battle to keep using my Macs.
While working for a government contractor, I carried a Windows laptop for a while, but I did not abandon my Apple laptop. When I went to work at Webmail.us, I found almost no Mac users, but with a little help, I ended up writing a post, "Heterogenous Apple nirvana well almost," which pretty well summed up my experience there. I could use my Mac, but it didn't bring me any special advantages.
Last summer, I started transitioning to the world of real estate. Everyone told me that I would have to give up my Macs, use Bootcamp, or Parallels software. I had a lot of experience dual booting systems when I got my Linux experience. It does not fit the way I use computers. I am pleased to report that not only have I been able to resist using Windows on my MacBook, but I have also been able to turn my Mac skills to an advantage in real estate.
That is not to say that I am getting rich selling real estate, but immediate success just does not happen in real estate. My expectation is that my Mac skills will let me be successful sooner rather than later.
I will admit to having a Dell desktop at home, but it really has not seen a lot of use. We use two MLS Systems, the Carteret County, NC one and the one in Onslow Country, NC. Fortunately the Carteret County system is our primary system. I have yet to find anything on it that does not work with a Mac. We do use a SmartCard to access lockboxes, but we have one Windows system in our office which has a SmartCard reader for weekly updates so I do not have to worry about that. I have been able to do tax address exports without any problems on the Carteret system. The Onslow system which uses a securid device for log on also is not a problem for most uses with a Mac.
The biggest problem that I have had with the Onslow system is tax address export does not even work correctly on a Window machine. I have been able to copy and paste the addresses into a Windows based Excel spreadsheet which I send to my Mac. I take the spreadsheet and open it in Nisus Writer Express and strip out all of the funky characters. Then I open it as a CSV spreadsheet on my Mac, do the data sorting and save it as a merge document to be used with Word and to import into Filemaker Pro for printing addresses. The combination of the Windows machine and the Mac lets me do something others are having a hard time doing.
Today with the help of my wife, we put together a mailing to 185 individuals. It included a personally addressed form letter signed by me. A flyer about the real estate services that I provide. Each letter also had one of series of five very cool post cards that I have designed and printed. We even put stamps on them so someone could easily ask to be taken off my mailing list. The typical postcard had a scene like this Golden sunset with my signature.
If you look at the tools that I used to put all this together. It's pretty amazing, and even more exciting that they all work with my Mac. First there are my cameras, the one I use the most for real estate is my Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX2. Then there are the various printers that I use, the HP AIO Photosmart C6180, my HP Color Laserjet 2600N, an Epson C88, a Brother 5250N, and recently the big Konica C250 color laser copier-printer in our office.
The hardware does not do much without software. To get the mailing out, I used Microsoft Word and Excel, Pages, Filemaker Pro, and InDesign.
On a regular basis, I use Photoshop for preparing photos for the web. Dreamweaver, ShutterBug, Rapidweaver, and Fetch as my web tools. My photo library is in iPhoto. I use Adium to communicate with colleagues, and Meebo as as web client for customers to reach me from the web when I'm online and they want to remain anonymous. Firefox is my browser of choice. Vuescan runs my scanner, Apple Mail is my mail client when I am not using a webmail interface. I also use Ultralingua as my dictionary, Google Apps as my calendar and writing tool. A published iCal calendar is also used on my Realtor® site.
I think the suite of tools that I use will make me successful without being having to become a card carrying Windows user.. The only place that I have seen the need for Windows is in the tools designed to help real estate agents do what I am already doing with my tools. Both Point2Agent and eNeighborhoods really require you to use a Windows machine and IE for full functionality. A couple of other tools are also Windows specific, but I think that I can survive without any of them. At least I am going to give it a try.
ActiveRain is one of the real estate tools that I have found that does not require a Windows machine. Mapwing is another tool which is friendly to Macs. I do extensive blogging for real estate. I almost always use my Mac to write my posts on Typepad.
The skills that I have learned while using Macs and working at Apple are serving me well. While I might run into something that pushes me off the Mac, I do not see it on the horizon.
The photo sites of homes that I have created have been admired by many agents. The ease of working on images with a Mac is pretty hard to beat. Data portability between applications on the Mac also helps greatly. The fact that I have been to use data directly from a Windows machine with no problems is also great. I think having a webmail interface available has also helped others be more accepting of attachments from Macs.
While using a Mac initially looked like it was going to be a liability in the world of real estate, well designed access in our home MLS system, the wide variety of tools available for the Mac, and strong data portability has proved that not to be the case.
We have a couple of Windows users who continue to have wireless problems. My MacBook continues to work well as a tool to help differentiate me from other other Realtors®, some of whom are still struggling with computers.
As long as Firefox and Camino work well with Typepad, I will continue using my Macs with great success. Macs have helped me do some wonderful things including all the photos that I have on the web.
Being a Realtor® is a challenge given today's market, but at least I haven't had to give up my Macs.