My beloved .Mac

by Francois Joseph de Kermadec

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 ?


16 Comments

anonymous2
2004-01-20 04:01:22
Nice job!
Hi,


I for my self did the same decision after being a former iTools user. Of course I was annyoed first to spend 100$ for something that was free before. But after I found out how useful stuff like the iDisk are if you want to have some documents available whereever you are, on what system you are.


Thanks F.J.


Volker

anonymous2
2004-01-20 05:33:10
Yes, but...
Ok .Mac is wonderful but where is your homepage on it? you don't share any files?
F.J.
2004-01-20 05:39:01
Yes, but...
Hi !


The account you see at the top of the page is an e-mail only account.


I currently do not have any *personal* site although I am working on it : the site I am talking about in the blog has been designed for a group project.


F.J.

anonymous2
2004-01-20 07:51:52
Couldn't Care Less...
about anything "techy" (my wife that is) but she would never part with her .mac!
anonymous2
2004-01-20 08:05:42
Long Live .Mac!
You can see what great things others are doing with .Mac here:


http://dotmac.info


See you there!


xyzzy-xyzzy
2004-01-20 08:25:54
Nice to hear the positive side
I signed up for .Mac right away, and I recently renewed. I agree -- the convenience of .Mac is the important point. I can't tell you how great it is to take a roll of pictures, send them from iPhoto to .Mac, and let my extended family know where they are. Beats the heck out of sending them via email.
If I want to share a quick file, I can put it in my iDisk and have a web page for downloading it.
I keep smaller important files backed up to my iDisk, so I can grab them away from home if I need to (which saved my hide once or twice already).
And my wife has her own email piggybacking on my account, cheaper than any other non-free service I personally saw.
anonymous2
2004-01-20 10:55:07
not convinced
Hi,


I like your article, but am not convinced. You talk about power users taking a second look, while at the same time professing you aren't comfortable with the power user tools and not needing power user services.


I'm not saying anything against .Mac, it's clearly a great service that does what Apple always does: empowering non-engineers. That's truly great and deserves all the admiration we can give.


But I am a power user (not by choice) and so I use powweb.com, which offers incredible features and real tech support and real power user options and caters to macintosh/windows/linux/unix users without prejustice.


It's not .mac, which is a pity, since I'd love to have an iDisk and all the other goodies (thinking stupidsimple blog here, wow!), but which is also good, since I have a website with loads of pictures (+2000), AAC's (+100), Quicktime and other niceties, all pasword protected of course. They also offer excellent mail service - and I read my mail in erm Mail.


All this means I'm a power user of sorts, but actually I do all my work with the simplest and friendliest of Apple-compatible apps, eg. iPhoto, iMovie, Transmit, ... See, I'm not trying to show off my (ailing, limited) brain capacity, I'm not saying .mac isn't for the likes of me, it's just not enough for power users. I don't mind, .mac is wonderful value for most users, and damn, let them have their great blog tool without the hassle, see if I care ;-)


The point being: while .mac offers powerful features, it's not for your everyday power user. Not because it's too simple, not because it doesn't have a wide feature set, but because it doesn't offer enough oomph and specialized support.

restiffbard
2004-01-20 11:00:05
love .Mac
I am a power user I suppose but I love .Mac. If only for the tight integration with everything else in Panther. The only thing I wish you could get with .Mac is CGI and MySQL. Its not a deal breaker for me though. I like to think I'll be using .Mac the rest of my life. But, CGI and MySQL would quiet many of the .Mac naysayers. Those two capabilities might also bring more folks over to the Mac from the geekier side of computing. Geeks are coming in droves already but I think for some CGI and MySQL in .Mac would push them over the edge. I'm rambling. :)
anonymous2
2004-01-20 11:15:57
love .Mac
I have used .Mac since the days of iTools and have been more and more impressed with it every year. It is a great value and integration with Panther is unbelievable. I am not a power user but I have a couple web pages and a blog that I don't update very often.


What are CGI and MySQL? LOL .Mac is perfect for users like me.:)

anonymous2
2004-01-20 13:55:46
Member since day1. No regrets.
I signed up with itools the minute steve would let me. It is nice to have the tools and the transfer ability. If I had a big file i just posted a link.


As for the whining that it costs too much. The other cheap hosting I have runs me more than my .mac. It just seems cheaper because I a little every month rather than a lot all at once. Sure there are other things that It does that .mac doesn't but the perks that show up continually in .mac are well worth it.

anonymous2
2004-01-20 14:17:20
Looks nice
I've had experience with some other hosting services, and .Mac looks like a nice fit for me, but I would like to see Perl and CGI supported for stuff like Movable Type (www.movabletype.org). Does .Mac have a blog tool included? I don't remember reading about that anywhere...
F.J.
2004-01-20 14:24:12
Looks nice
Hi !


Although there is no blog web interface or Apple-written service currently, .Mac is compatible with many blogging applications that allow you to easily publish your blog on .Mac.


F.J.

jameshowison1
2004-01-20 22:32:46
.Mac mail with custom From domains
My one requirement before putting down the cash for my whole family to join si that .mac mail allow sending from addresses other than name@mac.com


I think this is a common requirement for small companies that have their name.com addresses. Just that one thing would be so very simple I can't understand why they don't go for it.


Anyone know if it is in fact possible or have an inkling why not?


The address book synchronization and integration with webmail is worth the price of admission.

F.J.
2004-01-21 02:34:42
.Mac mail with custom From domains
Hi !


Setting up domain name services and dedicated servers is usually a lot more costly when you have to do it on a large scale.


However, you can rely on a service such as DynDNS to create your very own domain name. Then, the MailHop and WebHop services will hide your true addresses and make it look as if you had your own server system.


The only difference would be that your true .Mac e-mail address would be revealed when you reply to your correspondents.


F.J.

kavka
2004-01-21 11:59:50
Looks nice
Yes, iBlog is given free to .Mac members (I think it's usually $19) and you can blog directly to your HomePage.
Tommy
2006-05-06 05:32:09
Great reading. I use a Mac in a sea of PCs and was ridiculed by my boss UNTIL I put together fantastic internal use utilities that let us locate circuit boards with ease, something we could never do before. My PC was frustrating to the point of being useless so I gave up trying and ran back to my Mac. New my boss wants to buy a Mac to replace his extremely slow, malware attacked, virus infested PC. I have not used .Mac but I'm sure it is all you say it is. I think when anyone has missed out on the Mac experience it is a very sad thing.