In episode 2x 13 - Built with Alien Technology, there was a discussion about working with Macs in offices, especially offices that aren’t tech companies. If anyone is interested, I use a Mac at work in a very Windows first environment. I’m a systems librarian for a public library and it’s my job to take care of a thing called the Integrated Library System or ILS. An ILS is a complex software system that powers the day to day operations of a library. So stuff like checking things in and out, managing the library’s catalogue, managing library users, fines, library staff accounts, and the whole bit. Our ILS is so focused on Windows you’d think it was built by Microsoft. It uses the whole Windows Server stack with ASP.Net, SQL Server, IIS, Active Directory, Exchange, and so on.
And I do most of my work from a Mac.
I’m a Linux nerd, but like Jono, I like Macs for the hardware and the design. They’re lightweight, well integrated in software/hardware, and they fit my needs better than any other PC. I’m one of only two or three people in the office who use a Mac, and of them, I’m the only one using it almost full time. (I use a library issued Surface Pro as well… sometimes at the same time as when I’m using a MacBook Air.)
It’s easy to get away with it too. Our ILS has a browser based front end that acts as the customer service UI for the staff. If you have a browser, you can use 90% of the system right there. For system admin tasks, there is a client and it’s 100% Windows based. So I have an older, but reliable Windows 10 laptop sitting on my desk at work. It actually sits behind me and I rarely touch it, at least physically. If I need windows, I pull up the Microsoft Remote Desktop app for macOS and RDP into it. I can do any work I need to do in Windows through the RDP, and then dump out when I’m done. This goes for the servers too. If I need to bounce a server or tweak something, RDP does the job. (The Microsoft Remote Desktop Client for macOS is excellent. I’ve rarely had a problem with it.)
Email, while handled through Exchange Server, is also available via the web. And I find the web client more reliable than using a desktop client. The IT trouble ticketing system is web based, so is my Todoist, and so on. Because of all the web apps and web accessibility, I do much of my work through a browser. Even our reporting system for data and analytics is browser based.
In the end, it’s almost like my MacBook is a dumb terminal for the Windows environment. I can reach out to it when I need it, but I can operate outside of it otherwise. But all that aside, I’ve done Linux work within the library from my Mac because I designed and engineered a system wide digital signage system using a Linux server and Raspberry Pis. I wrote a central management system for that thing too. I wrote a PHP programme that created event slides for the website.
And I did all of that on a Mac, in Atom. Code is portable. Remote desktops work. It’s really getting to a point that you can do a lot of work on anything so long as you can get into the system. Heck, I’ve done a fair bit of my job on an iPad… but that’s a wholly different topic.