First I went to work at Webmail.us where I ended up bringing my own computers, network hub, and even an Internet phone. Since I was one of only a couple of Mac users, I ended up figuring some of the printing and other technology issues with only a little help. I actually wrote about that on Applepeels in the post, "Heterogenous Apple nirvana, well almost." Then we moved the Webmail.us outside sales office to Roanoke, and I ended up setting another office for myself.
Since I do a fair amount of web work, I usually need three machines to survive, a Mac desktop, a Windows box, and a Mac laptop. When we got a place in the fall on the White Oak River near Cape Carteret, NC, it was obvious that I needed another office. I decided to leave a Mac at home in Roanoke to drive my big Epson printers, but I felt that I needed my dual G5 and my Dell desktop. My youngest daughter confiscated my Dell laptop for her business classes at UNCC.
I actually enjoy technology when I can make it work. I'm usually persistent enough to eventually achieve that. I can move pretty easily from Mac OSX to Windows XP to Ubuntu Linux. In fact when I want to procrastinate I will often lose myself in technology challenges. I spent a lot of time in 2004 getting Linux up and running, and experimenting with SUSE and Xandros distributions before settling on Ubuntu as my standard. When I recently did some upgrades on all three operating systems, I was convinced that Ubuntu was as easy if not easier than Mac OSX.
For my coastal office printers I went with an Ethernet equipped Brother 5250N and a HP AIO Photosmart C6180 which also supports Ethernet. I installed a router with firewall and four ports, one of with goes to an Airport Express and another to a small hub. We are using a cable modem hooked to Time-Warner. I also have a Vonage Internet phone to go along with our land line. We are using an AT&T two line wireless phone system which works great.
So far everything seems to be working fine. The biggest challenge was the HP AIO which I wrote about in the post, "HP AIO Photosmart C6180 and Mac OSX." Last night I got the fax working. Unfortunately I first tried to set it up using the Mac. That turned out not to work. I used the Dell to get it going. The Windows Wizard had another setting which seemed to fix things. I had already confirmed that the printing works, both text, color, and photo. Still the HP software for the Mac seems very intrusive.
The HP scanning does work. However, other than the feature to scan directly to iPhoto, which I like a lot, I felt like I was missing my good friend VueScan which I have used in Roanoke to drive my Epson scanner since Mac OSX came out. I tried to see if VueScan would see the HP C6180 scanner on the network but it did not, even with the most recent version. Tonight I read through the HP manual to make certain there was no reason to not use the USB port on the AIO while the Ethernet port was active. I could not find any warning so I hooked up my MacBook using the USB cable from my recently deceased Sony camera. VueScan saw the scanner and I was in business.
The only thing left is to try is to see how well the printers work with Ubuntu. There is no rush on that. That might be a good winter project for a lazy Saturday.
One of the interesting things that I have run into is that it seems every that every hardware manufacturer, including those who do printers, computers, and cameras has its own suite of consumer digital photo tools. They're all similar, and it gets a little weird with all the choices of how to manage your photos. Once you throw in Adode, Apple, Google, and Microsoft, you have to wonder if the market can support this many solutions. Actually my guess is the market will figure it out. The support people might rightfully view this proliferation as scary. Just imagine a Mac running Parallels Windows software. You could have Nikon, Sony, HP, Apple, Microsoft, Adobe, and Google software all fighting for control of the same photos.
Invariably, client based software doesn't seem to work nearly as well managing photos on the web as the true web based solutions like Flickr and Picasa Web Albums. Even iPhoto which used to work very well with .Mac albums ends being tethered to one computer. For a long time .Mac from Apple was the easiest way to do digital content on the web. Apple has lost its early lead on easy web content creation. I see no indication that they will get it back.
I am not sure why the companies are spending so much money on this segment because printing the photos at home is getting easier and easier. My guess is that there will be some shakeout, but that's the subject of another post.
Right now I am proud of my new office, and I would recommend all of the products that I am using. The only exception would be the Parallels Desktop software which turns the MacBook into a Windows box. The problem is probably caused by the measly 1 gig of ram on my MacBook, but I doubt I will spend the money for extra ram since I have my Dell box running.
The office even looks good since I even ran the cables through the desk. This is the neatest office that I have ever had. I must be mellowing with age. Just getting it working used to be the most important task and often the only thing that mattered. Just do not ask my kids about my old cable tree.