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Skills

Entry 467, on 2007-02-01 at 22:47:00 (Rating 1, Activities)

I have just completed a quite intense day at work and I am now reflecting on the variety of skills a Mac generalist requires to do the job properly today. The sophistication of modern Macs, and the range of tasks they can now do, is a difficult thing to cope with. Being able to run Mac, Windows, and Unix software simultaneously not only adds the requirement to understand a bit about all three systems, but it also means Macs are used in a wider range of situations than ever before. To show what I mean, here's a list of some of the things I worked on today...

First, I had to correct a bug in a web-based MySQL database. To do this I had to write HTML, PHP, JavaScript, and MySQL code, and I had to work with remote computers through AFP and SSH. These Internet projects have become common because of Mac OS X's Unix roots.

Next, I had to help someone with a Photoshop problem. This involved optimising the output from a scientific digital camera attached to a microscope so that the output to a laser printer was accurate and detailed. This is a classic Mac task because digital imaging has always been a Mac strength.

Then I had to install some memory into an iMac G4, and check that it was working properly. Most Macs are fairly easy to service, but I can still remember the tricky task of installing memory in the early iMacs. In that case they had to be half pulled to pieces. I really appreciate the design of the newer machines.

After that I fixed an Xserve which had been misconfigured and wouldn't start correctly. This was quite bizarre because the machine was in a hosting facility at the top of an old warehouse. I had to make my way through an ancient storeroom, up some stairs which looked like they could collapse at any moment, through a labyrinth of dark and dusty corridors, until I emerged in an office with a machine room containing dozens of servers. Rather surreal. Of course, the Mac's Unix core makes it a useful server platform.

Next I worked with a network problem I was having with a Parallels (Windows virtual machine) installation on an Intel Mac. I would really prefer to keep away from Windows completely - the more I use it, the more I dislike it - but realistically its something I need to be able to do in the age of Intel Macs. There are just a few Windows programs that need to work on Macs and I guess that means I need to know a bit about Windows. I'm not proud of it but, yes, I do Windows too!

Finally I needed to take my son to the pool so he could do his swimming training. I took my laptop and that's where I wrote this. Mobile computing has allowed me to do far more than I ever did before. In some ways this isn't good because I read less, listen to music less, etc, but with the laptop handy I always feel like I should be working on something!

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