Re: Pc v. Mac

Subject: Re: Pc v. Mac
From: Sarah Stegall <stegall -at- TERAYON -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 30 Jun 1999 14:44:12 -0700

Bill Fetzner wrote:

> of this, platform chauvinism aside, is to look at my local environment.

Agreed, although as I said earlier, I'd look to your own needs and
experience. One thing you should ask management (who seem to be pushing
this change): what is more valuable to them, your time spent writing
documents or your time spent on converting them. The first activity
generates revenue, the second one does not.

> my case, that means looking at the IS support for Macs (poor at my company),

I have had the same problem everywhere I went. However, I've never
NEEDED technical support for a Mac. It's called "plug and play".
However, you might want to sit down with the head of MIS and ask him/her
directly what the concerns are: crashes? file compatibility? access
across platforms? Many IS managers are simply ignorant and don't
understand Macs. Once you explain the ease of networking and
maintenance to them (no network cards to install, no video cards to
install, no sound cards to install...yadda yadda) their concerns might
be eased. You have to work with them just like you'd work with any SME.

> compatibility with other elements of the company (R&D is exclusively pc),
> vendors (while translators favor pc, our Docutech vendor thinks Mac).

What does R&D do that you need to do? I have run Virtual PC on a Mac,
which networked with a Wintel network to let me run a network management
package I was documenting for a company I once worked for. I had no
trouble running the program, which was designed exclusively for Windows
95, on a Mac running Virtual PC. I could run the network, get my screen
shots, test the commands, and capture screen output just as I would on a
PC. All our engineers, R&D included, wrote their technical
specifications in MS Word, which was 100% cross-platform compatible.

Consider carefully this question of "compatibility" between
departments. I use FrameMaker to write technical documentation. The
engineers all use Word. Are we incompatible? Not at all. They don't
have to read my raw documentation (review copies are PDFs). Likewise,
many of them code on Solaris boxes. Do I have to have a Solaris
computer? Of course not. I don't need to see undocumented code. The
only time R&D and I have to be "compatible" is when I am testing a
software product, and I solved that as noted above.

>One of
> the best criteria I've seen from both public and private commentators is the
> time it might take to convert older documents from Mac to pc.

Exactly. Is management willing to sacrifice your time to this effort?
How time critical is your present project? There's nothing more
disastrous than switching technologies in the middle of a project. It's
guaranteed to set you back.

> Does anyone have any experience or firm figures on performing such
> conversion for Frame, Page and Word documents? Some have suggested that
> there is no reason to worry about compatibility between platforms for these
> applications today, but what about older versions? How old?

Word 98 for the Mac reads everything I've ever written in Word,
including documents created on a PC in Word 5.1.

Don't get me wrong: I'm not evangelizing for the Mac here. I'm just
pointing out that many of the "compatibility" issues that may be driving
your management are chimeras. They just don't exist. You can save
yourself a lot of time and headache by sticking to the platform that has
worked for YOU, no matter what that is. Forced platform homogeneity is
one of those bugs that management get up their collective butt from time
to time, that wastes everyone's time and doesn't enhance productivity a

Sarah Stegall Senior Technical Writer
stegall -at- terayon -dot- com Terayon Communication Systems

"I love being a writer, what I can't stand is the paperwork."
-- Peter DeVries

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