Best Tools for the Job
is an attorney in Los Angeles, California, who has been using PCs since 1981 and Macintosh computers since 1993 - usually more than one of each. His most recent project has been designing and implementing a cross-platform business network for his small law office using technologies usually reserved for large corporations.
Fishkin's column was called "The Mobile Mac" in 2006, but has changed as the focus of his work and articles has shifted.
Best Tools for the Job
- MacBook vs. HackBook: You get what you pay for, 2010.03.09. You can buy a used PowerBook or a hackable netbook, or you can buy a notebook with enough computing power to do real work.
- Fresh Air: Why a MacBook Air is my newest notebook, 2009.06.16. In the end, the light weight and close-out pricing made the MacBook Air the right complement to my ThinkPad T400.
- 13" MacBook Pro a practically perfect replacement for the 12" PowerBook, 2009.06.15. Except for being an inch wider, the 13" MacBook Pro surpasses the 12" PowerBook G4 in every respect.
- Vista can offer comparable performance and reliability to Mac OS X, 2008.12.17. Windows PCs are usually hobbled with inefficient antimalware apps and crapware. Remove them, and Vista can hold its own against Mac OS X.
- Watching DVDs from different regions on your Mac, Andrew J Fishkin, Best Tools for the Job, 2008.12.04. Hardware and software solutions for watching DVDs intended for a different region.
- The very best Macs: Sometimes Apple just nails it, 2008.12.01. Apple has produced lots of good Macs, a few dogs, and some 'best of breed' models that stand apart from the pack.
- The long term value of a high end Mac, 2008.11.21. Low-end Macs are more affordable up front, but the flexibility and upgrade options of a top-end Mac can make it the better value in the long run.
- New Unibody MacBooks provide some reasons to buy an earlier MacBook Pro, 2008.10.27. While the new MacBook line offers some improvements, Rev. A fears and the lack of a matte display can make the previous design a better choice.
- Migrating my law office from Windows to Macintosh, 2008.10.08. By switching to Leopard Server, everyone in the office will be able to move to a Mac - but which ones will best meet their needs?
- The cost of moving to Small Business Server vs. moving to Leopard Server, 2008.10.06. Upgrading the existing SBS 2003 Server would cost less, the the server will run up against hardware limitations long before a Mac Pro does
- Why I'm switching from Windows Small Business Server to Leopard Server, 2008.10.02. Windows SBS 2003 has served very well, but with SBS 2008 just around the corner, it's time to reconsider that choice. Leopard Server has a lot to offer.
- Why one Mac user chose BlackBerry over iPhone, 2008.05.08. The advantages of OS X, Safari, Mail, and iSync don't outweigh the familiarity of BlackBerry, its excellent software, easily replaceable batteries, and a camera-free option.
- Mac again: Picking the right MacBook, 2008.02.27. The 5-year-old PowerBook needed replacing, but is the MacBook Air or the regular MacBook the better choice?
- Mac again, thanks to Microsoft, 2008.02.27. It was Microsoft Exchange Server that drew me away from the Mac, but now Office: 2008 lets me back into the Macintosh world.
- Is the MacBook Air this road warrior's dream machine?, 2008.01.24. A longtime ultraportable user and 12" PowerBook G4 fan looks at the compromises in Apple's lightweight notebook. Will it become his next ultraportable?
- Fast, compact, light, quiet, cool, long battery life, large screen, affordable: You can't have it all, 2007.12.05. Notebook design involves trade-offs. Small, light, and quiet means a smaller screen, lower capacity batteries, and a slower, cooler running CPU.
- Cross-platform computing: Better than it's ever been, 2007.11.13. Macs can read PC media, both Macs and Windows PCs play nice with each other on networks, and emulation makes it easy for Intel Macs to run Windows apps.
- The ultimate writing machine: Quiet and free of interruptions, 2007.09.20. For creative writing, turn off messaging, use a quiet computer, and reduce clutter on your screen. An old computer may be your best choice.
- Region free DVD viewing on Macs and Windows PCs, 2007.09.07. There are three ways to get around region restrictions on your computer's DVD player: software, hardware, and extraction.
- Comparing Apples and Dells: Only you can make a fair comparison, 2007.09.05. Sure, you can configure a $400 Dell so it costs more than a Mac mini, but would you really buy it that way?
- A longtime Mac user reflects on 8 months with Vista,2007.08.24. After eight months using Vista on three different laptops, the author finds it better than Windows XP even on older hardware and more secure out of the box. But it's still Windows.
- I love the Mac mini, no iPhone in court, no region-free DVDs on MacBooks, and more, 2007.07.31. Also 15 years of ThinkPads, reliability and all-in-one devices, and thoughts on upgrading operating systems.
- Ready to give the MacBook a second chance?, 2007.05.14. After three bad experiences with the original MacBook and a subsequent switch back to Windows, this lawyer is considering the Core 2 Duo MacBook as his next computer.
- QuickTime 7, Vista, and Toshiba's Tablet PC an example of what's wrong with computing today, 2007.04.10. "The moral of this story is that computers remain far more problematic than they should be."
- The $700 portable mobile office with Internet, 2007.04.04. Yes, you really can buy a rugged notebook computer, battery powered printer, bus-powered scanner, office supplies, and storage box for $700.
- Empower your notebook computer with a dock, 2007.03.27. The key to good dock use is consistency: Have the same monitor, mouse, keyboard, and other peripherals at each location.
- SimpleShare's $99 250 GB NAS and print server a good value, 2007.02.21. This 250 GB networked drive and print server is very affordable, as fast as can be expected, and has some latency when printing from Macs.
- The annoying white iMac, 2007.02.15. From a design standpoint, the iMac is brilliant, but the massive amounts of white plastic can distract you from what's on the display.
- How does Vista compare with Mac OS X and Windows XP?, 2007.02.06. Vista easily beats Windows XP, but for the most part Mac OS X 10.4 "Tiger" is the better operating system.
- Problems with device drivers on Macs and Windows, 2007.02.02. Bad drivers may refuse to install, crash on some hardware, slow things down, and even remove features your computer already supported.
- Wireless Networking 101: Speed and security, 2007.01.31. The old 802.11b is fine for sharing Internet access, but you'll want faster and more secure options if you're sharing files over your network.
- Just how bad is a $300 Windows PC?, 2007.01.29. Mac users tend to laugh off sub-$300 Windows PCs, but for most users most of the time, they're all they need.
- Choosing the right computer for home, office, and field use, 2007.01.25. Picking a good computer for the technophobe, office worker, student, and shared use at home.
- Microsoft's sturdy, low-cost wireless keyboard ideal for typing, 2007.01.23. If you're looking for a good keyboard for typing on, the $50 Microsoft Wireless Optical Desktop 1000 keyboard and mouse are probably the best you'll find for the money.
- iPhone and Apple TV just miss the mark, 2007.01.18. Apple TV and the iPhone are impressive, but they have a few shortcomings that will hurt them in the market.
- IBM Model M: The best computer keyboard ever, 2007.01.15. Most of today's keyboards are cheap, mushy crap that won't hold up over time. Compared to them, the 20-year-old IBM Model M keyboard must come from a completely different universe.
- Who needs a home server?, 2007.01.11. Simple file sharing can be a lot simpler and more cost effective than setting up a dedicated home server or network-attached storage.
- Why Mac vs. PC price comparisons are never fair, 2007.01.09. It realy is an apples-to-oranges comparison to pit a Mac against a Windows PC based on specifications, software bundles, and ports.
- Mac and Windows: Different but equally productive, 2007.01.05. Each platform excels in some areas, but in general you can be just as productive on a Windows PC or a Mac.
- Switching back to Windows after 3 years with Mac OS X, 2007.01.03. Sometimes the Mac is the best tool for the job, and sometimes it's Windows. But for one task, Windows wins hands down.
The Mobile Mac
- The best OS for your hardware: Linux, Windows, or OS X?, The Mobile Mac, 2006.12.13. Why you should run the latest version of OS X or Windows when you can - and Linux when you can't.
- Watch out! Getting notebook design wrong, The Mobile Mac, 2006.12.07. Some notebooks have just the right mix of design, quality, and features, but others fall seriously short of the ideal.
- Getting notebook design 'just right', The Mobile Mac, 2006.12.05. Some notebooks have just the right mix of design, quality, and features, while others fall short in one or more categories.
- Why Microsoft OneNote is the best digital scrapbook, The Mobile Mac, 2006.11.15. StickyBrain and Yojimbo are fine, but the winner is OneNote on a Tablet PC - for lack of a Mac tablet.
- Improving value: Cost cutting done right, The Mobile Mac, 2006.11.10. Sometimes a lower price means a cheap product, but sometimes it's the result of sensible cost cutting that increases product value.
- Cheap is as cheap does: A crappy cable cripples a capable display, The Mobile Mac, 2006.11.08. Both Viewsonic monitors looked great with DVI input, but with the included VGA cables they were simply unusable.
- Why a 7-year-old Power Mac G4 replaced a Mac mini, The Mobile Mac, 2006.10.31. There's a lot more to productive computing power than CPU speed. The old Power Mac lets you add a second video card, a fast hard drive, and lots more that the Mac mini can't.
- Better laptop performance: What's the best upgrade?, The Mobile Mac, 2006.10.09. Memory, CPU, bus speed, and hard drives all impact performance and battery life. Which upgrades will give you the most up time in the field?
- Tablet computing can improve productivity, The Mobile Mac, 2006.10.05. By letting you work where a laptop just doesn't make sense, a Tablet PC can keep you productive when you might otherwise be unable to work.
- Reliability can't wait: Reflections of a MacBook guinea pig, The Mobile Mac, 2006.09.15. Lesson learned from using a PowerBook 145B, PowerBook 5300c, Toshiba Portegé 4000, and MacBook: "let someone else buy the bleeding edge."
- Region free DVD viewing options for Intel and PowerPC Macs, The Mobile Mac, 2006.09.12. Several hardware and software options that will let your view 'wrong region' DVDs on your PowerPC or Intel Mac.
- Apple Remote Desktop easily worth the price, The Mobile Mac, 2006.08.10. "What's impressive isn't the number of features, but how easy they are to use. There is no printed manual, and I didn't even look at the PDF one."
- MacBook repair saga: Botched and botched again, but third time's the charm, The Mobile Mac, 2006.08.07. After 2 weeks at Apple, the MacBook came back running hotter than before. The first replacement MacBook ran cooler but had its own issues. The third MacBook, however, fulfills all expectations.
- Icons, status symbols, and the MacBook, The Mobile Mac, 2006.08.03. The MacBook combined the best of PowerBook and iBook designs in a fresh new way that's nearly perfect.
- MacBook pleases, but two weeks for repair is excessive, 2006.07.25. The 13" MacBook has replaced 12" and 15" PowerBooks and makes a very nice Windows gaming machine, but nobody should have to wait 14 days for Apple to fix their new computer.
- Using low-cost laptops as 'not so thin' clients in the Mac office, The Mobile Mac, 2006.07.11. "...it's because of the outstanding Windows support built-into OS X that I can even think about using Windows machines in my Mac office."
- Can Apple's consumer MacBook really replace two PowerBooks and a ThinkPad?, The Mobile Mac, 2006.07.06. One user's experience replacing a 12" PowerBook G4, 15" PowerBook G4, and IBM ThinkPad X32 with a black MacBook.
- Why I want Apple to make an ultralight notebook computer, The Mobile Mac, 2006.06.29. The 12" PowerBook is nice but heavy. And while Apple practically invented the ultralight category with the PowerBook Duo, it has long since abandoned the market. It's time for a comeback.
- How and why a 1998 Windows CE device found a place in one 'Book user's bag, The Mobile Mac, 2006.06.26. Although a bit of a disappointment in 1998, this HP Jornada 680 has found new life as a backup note taking system.
- Make your Mac region free for DVD viewing, The Mobile Mac, 2006.06.23. If you travel to different parts of the world, it can be helpful to have region-free DVD playback. Here's how you get it.
- Pimping my 15" PowerBook G4, The Mobile Mac, 2006.06.19. You can add a faster CPU, but the more cost-effective upgrades are more RAM, a bigger/faster hard drive, and a better SuperDrive.
- Improving the 12" PowerBook with a faster hard drive, more RAM, and a better SuperDrive, The Mobile Mac, 2006.06.16. Although you can upgrade to a 1.67 GHz CPU, that's a small boost for more recent PowerBooks. Putting in a faster hard drive and more memory is another way to speed things up.
- Upgraded PowerBook vs. new MacBook: Which makes more sense?, The Mobile Mac, 2006.06.12. Especially for serious gamers, the older PowerBooks with their graphics processors and dedicated memory run circles around the low-end Intel GMA 950 graphics of the MacBook.
- Power strategies for using your 'Book in the field: Batteries and AC adapters, The Mobile Mac, 2006.06.05. One or two extra batteries and at least one spare AC adapter can be essential when you're traveling and need to get hours and hours of use from your 'Book.
- Less is more: 12" PowerBook still a lawyer's best friend, The Mobile Mac, 2006.05.31. Weighing all the pros and cons of the MacBook, the 12" PowerBook G4 remains the ideal field computer for this user.
- What's the best 'Book for my needs: MacBook, MacBook Pro, iBook, or PowerBook?, The Mobile Mac, 2006.05.25. You need to balance size, weight, price, power, and processor to find just the right 'Book for your own needs.
- Picking the right laptop in 2006, The Mobile Mac, 2006.05.23. You need to balance size, weight, price, power, and battery life to find just the right notebook computer for your own needs.
- Swimming upstream: Using Macs in the law office, The Mobile Mac, 2006.04.18. Macs are not mainstream in the legal profession, but they're just right for this law office. Here's how they're used.
- Windows, PowerPC Macs, or Intel Macs for the law office?, Andrew J Fishkin, The Mobile Mac, The Mobile Mac, 2006.02.21. The Mac vs. Windows decision is the easy one, but choosing between the tried-and-true PowerPC models and the new Intel Core Duo models takes more thought.
Low End Mac Reader Specials
Cult of Mac
Shrine of Apple
The Mac Observer
Accelerate Your Mac
The Vintage Mac Museum
Mac Driver Museum
System 6 Heaven
System 7 Today
the pickle's Low-End Mac FAQ