Intel MacBook with OSX 10.5
Multiple Uses, Multiple Accounts
I use three user accounts to switch between the three different ways I use my MacBook. It’s like having three different computers.
Web surfing and chatting, school and work, and creative/artistic/photography stuff – all three have their own programs on their docks, different configurations, different shortcuts menus, etc.
I moved the Shared user folder to the dock as a shortcut on all my toolbars so I can move files between accounts. I also permanently keep frequently used files there, like course syllabi and schedules.
So far it has been helpful in keeping me focused on school stuff when I need to be.
OneNote (Windows-only) on a Mac
I installed Windows XP Professional and Microsoft Office on my MacBook. The only reason I did it is because I wanted to use OneNote to take notes.
I used to watch jealously as my fellow classmates took notes on their HP and IBM laptops with OneNote. They effortlessly paged back and forward between notes from different classes and different days using the tabs and dividers. Whenever an idea popped into their head halfway through a lecture they could just start typing new notes in the side margin.
I’ve tried numerous Mac note-taking applications last year but they just didn’t compare (although Circus Ponies Notebook was pretty good).
This year my solution is an ingenious app called Parallels. It allows you to run Windows (or just about any OS) without having to reboot. It gives you three ways to run Windows: Full screen (yuck), within a normal Mac window (better), or coherence mode (awesome) in which open Windows windows appear on your Mac desktop and can be stacked with open Mac windows.
With Parallels I can use OneNote as if it were a Mac program (which I wish it was!).
Overall this approach isn’t cheap (I had to buy Parallels, Windows XP, and Microsoft Office), but in my mind it is worth every penny since it has improved my in-class note-taking skills tremendously!
2L Essential Collection
- Preview for viewing, highlighting, and adding notes to PDFs – check out the tools->annotate menu for the built-in highlighting and notes features
- DeskUNPDF for converting PDF to editable text
- Little Snitch for outbound firewall (not included in Mac’s built-in firewall)
- iTunes for streaming audio, mp3, and syncing my iPhone + Shuffle
- Parallels for using Windows apps without any need to restart, or even leave OS X
- Windows XP Professional because they don’t make OneNote for Macs
- Microsoft OneNote for note-taking
- Microsoft support for “save as PDF” for saving backups of notes
- Circus Ponies Notebook 3.0 for brainstorming
- Notebook cooling station (hardware) – I saw this in a Bed Bath and Beyond catalog the other day for $19. It’s thin and USB-powered with two fans to cool your computer from beneath. I’ve had previous laptops get so hot on me before that I’ve actually put them in the refrigerator to cool down. It actually works!