Related link: http://www.mac.com/
Yesterday, I opened a Mac magazine and, expecting with much apprehension to read a belated « what to buy for the Holidays » guide, I was pleasantly surprised to find a column about how wannabe webmasters and « Power Users » should pick their e-mail, hosting and online services providers — nothing really new here but always an interesting read.
To my great surprise, the author began the article by citing Apple’s very own .Mac services, explaining that, as good as they were, they were targeted at beginners and weren’t appropriate for power users — who, according to him should immediately look for SFTP and PHP capabilities…
Everyone seems to agree that .Mac is an amazing deal for new users, thanks to its perfect integration with iLife and Mac OS X in general… However, for some strange reason, the other, really serious and powerful parts of this service never seem to be acknowledged…
You’re not convinced ? Then read on to see how my life changed the day Apple introduced iTools — now known under the name of .Mac
After having worked for some time with accounts that require endless browsing through poorly designed web-interfaces or Telnet ( SSH would have ben « too expensive » according to the host’s support desk ) logins into remote servers, I thought it was time to actually use the web services I was paying for and have fun with them, in all seriousness — if I can say so.
Creating a neat-looking web site used to require minutes or hours of coding and the use of a third-party FTP agent to upload the finished pages. Backing data up used to require a special subscription to an online, remotely reliable, server that I could connect to in case I actually needed it. Now, it’s simply a matter of using HomePage or the Finder’s “Go to my iDisk” menu item.
Creating a file-sharing server meant setting up accounts on a remote Linux machine on which I didn’t even have root access. Now, all I need to do is open “System Preferences” and click on “Allow others to read and write”. ( I have nothing against Linux, BTW )
You know I am quite picky about mailboxes and mail services… I used to ask my e-mail provider who charged me $50 a year to allow me to use SSL and IMAP, to no avail. Now, I have all this, plus a webmail that syncs with my local Address Book…
Of course, all the third-party software I needed was to be bought or downloaded separately — unless I had a PC running an early DOS version to download some « free connection kits ».
I also had the most exhilarating experiences ever with technical support, talking to robots that looked for keywords in my mails and shot back pre-written answers :
– Me (slightly nervous ) : No ! I don’t want to renew, I want to quit ! Please, let me talk to someone ! I want to cancel my subscription, do you understand ?
– Them (always cheerful) : Dear customer, thanks for contacting our billing department. To renew your account, you will first need your credit card number…
Now that my Telnet and remote administration part-time job times are over, I have found myself doing things I never did before like setting up an actual website, a file-sharing system for brainstorming groups I am in, consolidating my contacts database… You know, the stuff you see in the ads but never actually do because you are not, after all, supposed to know how to recompile a kernel to backup your address book.
Sure, I can’t use my HomePage space for server-side scripts and on-demand MPEG streaming but what seemed at first like a limitation now seems like the key to freedom. Indeed, it allows me to reply on simpler, more straightforward solutions that, in the long run, let me be more creative and productive that ever before. I am actually beginning to like WebDAV, you know, especially since Panther introduced amazing speed improvements !
Fact is that, after painful years spent with some of the most important hosting companies on the web, both for myself and for others, it feels great to find a service that has everything I need and offers more than actually advertised ! (And, in case you wonder, it’s the most inexpensive solution that meets my needs as well)
You can get .Mac trial accounts, so why don’t you come in and look for yourself ? Wether you are an individual or an institution, .Mac may just be what you need.
Until next time, dear (dot)Mac users, enjoy thinking different !
And you, how do you use .Mac ?