Re: Laptops, Mac-to-Windows

Subject: Re: Laptops, Mac-to-Windows
From: Michael Blair <mjblair -at- TOTAL -dot- NET>
Date: Mon, 1 Mar 1999 09:16:00 -0500

On Sun, 28 Feb 1999 12:15:17 -0800, Leslies <lesliet -at- PROAXIS -dot- COM>

> Fellow Techwhirlers,
> I am just starting out as a free-lance technical writer and editor. After
> years of writing and editing as a captive employee (first as a journalist,
> then as a technical writer), I've decided to go it alone. I have a
> considerable investment in Mac software, so I'd like to continue using one.
> Specifically, I've got my eye on a PowerBook G3.
> I would like to hear from other free-lancers who use laptops exclusively in
> their work. I'm curious whether the benefits of mobile computing outweigh
> the ergonomic limitations. Simply put, can a laptop be used successfully as
> a free-lance technical writer's sole computer?
> I'd also like to hear from free-lancers who use a Macintosh (either desktop
> or laptop) exclusively. How painful are the cross-platform conversion
> headaches, and is it worth it? (Please note that I am *not* seeking
> comments on the merits of Windows and Mac. I use both daily. I'm simply
> seeking input on Mac-to-Windows conversion problems, an area in which I
> have little expertise.)
> Thanks to all.

I am a Macintosh-based tech writer whose clients are almost exclusively
PC-based. I and my clients work mostly in Word 97/98. The ONLY problems
I've had regarding cross-platform movement of files is that the Mac OS and
Windows seem to treat line spacing somewhat differently, occasionally
messing up pagination. Windows seems to insert more space between lines.

This also sometimes happens on Mac-to-Mac or Windows-to-Windows moves, so
it likely has something to do with printer drivers.

I have a PB 5300 and a PPC 7200/120. My "partner" (a freelance graphic
designer and fashion illustrator who just bought a G3) and I just upgraded
our home network to Ethernet. I haven't yet received the Ethernet card for
my laptop, but I'm confident it will let me hook into my main client's
network when necessary (they have a few Macs in their graphics department)
to print. And you can get Novel drivers for Macs.

I've been working with the Mac since 1985 and have found that it matters
less and less what kind of computer you use as long as it allows you to
use the software your clients use (Word, PageMaker, FrameMaker, Photoshop,
Illustrator, etc are all more or less cross-platform compliant).

Once of the advantages of using a G3, however, is that if you need to use
an exclusively Windows-based program from time to time, you can run
Windows on your G3. In fact, I've heard rumours that Windows 98 actually
runs _better_ on a G3 than on many Intel machines.

As for using a laptop (of any flavour) exclusively, I wouldn't want to.
The keyboards are just too small and clunky for my liking (I use an
ergonomic keyboard on my desktop machine). On the other hand, another
advantage of a Mac laptop (Ok, I don't know for sure you _can't_ to this
with a PC laptop) is that you can connect an external monitor and

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me off list.

Michael Blair
Blair Technical Communications Tel: (514) 989-8713
106 - 3500 Atwater Avenue Fax: (514) 989-7521
Montreal, Quebec CANADA H3H 1Y5 Email: mjblair -at- total -dot- net

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