IT in the Ad Biz

Aug 7 2008   5:13PM GMT

Dual Platform Issues

JohnWilder John Wilder Profile: JohnWilder

Yesterday wasn’t a great day in my migration to the Mac platform. I was doing a couple things yesterday which seemed to present some challenges for a dual-platform machine, and it highlighted some of the difficulties this presents. While these difficulties are manageable (but no less frustrating) for the IT Director, it still concerns me with regard to turning average users loose with this sort of setup.

I spent a day where I was doing quite a bit of work using Microsoft’s Remote Desktop, connecting to several servers at once and jumping back and forth between them and my own desktop. The issues became evident when one of my admins joined me in my office, and we attempted to fire up an external screen which I attached to my laptop. I immediately started running into difficulties with screen resolution, to the point where I was completely unable to access the menu bar on some of my windows. I was stuck having to use keyboard shortcuts in order to get out of trouble. Once I disconnected the external monitor, I continued to have trouble and finally decided it was time to reboot the VM session.

I had similar network troubles in the afternoon when something tripped a circuit breaker in my part of the building. The Mac handled the network interruption without too much trouble, but I had to reset the virtual network adapter on the Windows VM. At another point I lost the sound completely on the Windows VM, and the only fix which seemed to work was a complete reboot of the Mac.

This stuff didn’t cripple my efforts to work, not by a long stretch. But it did serve to highlight some of the issues which can crop up. I’m also not blaming Apple, VMWare, or Microsoft. When you think about what’s happening with this sort of configuration, it’s pretty darn amazing that it works at all. This stuff isn’t easy, and when we start screwing around with external monitors, screen resolution, and sudden network interruptions, I’m not the least bit surprised when the trouble starts.

The bigger issue is what happens when the user is an Account Executive connecting to a projector for a presentation, or trying to make a connection to a wireless network. It’s possible to do all this stuff, but it’s also not possible to provide a set of instructions for every situation which might arise. For now, I’m convinced that this sort of setup would be difficult to manage for most average users. I’d only consider for end-users who were extremely comfortable in dealing with these kinds of issues, and those users are few and far between.

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