How to get the biggest bang for your broadband bucks

I lived in Paris for five years before moving to San Diego at the end of 2012. During that time, I got used to the idea of having half a dozen choices for home broadband service, most with up to 100 Mbps of bandwidth and costing perhaps $30 a month for a combination of internet, phone, and TV.

So it was a rude shock to return to California, where one can easily pay five times as much for equivalent service, and where many people are lucky to have two providers to choose between. In my neighborhood, the only options were Cox (cable modem service) and AT&T (DSL and U-verse fiber-optic service).

Still, those two providers fight furiously to capture each other’s customers. Thankfully, I know a bit more about this stuff than the average customer. I did my research and picked the service that’s best for me. But even after I’d made my decision, I spent months saying, “No thanks” to the guys I didn’t pick; they persisted in the hard sell (and in the process distorted the facts). Had I been less tech-savvy, I might well have fallen for their sales pitch, even though it would have left me paying more for less. Here’s my story plus some tips to avoid falling into a similar trap.

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Running Windows on a Mac: Why I prefer VMware Fusion

My work requires me to occasionally use Windows and Linux, as well as older versions of OS X. Fortunately, as a Mac user, I have several ways to run multiple operating systems without switching computers. In addition to OS X’s Boot Camp, I have my choice of three virtualization products for Mac: Parallels Desktop, VMware Fusion, or Oracle’s VirtualBox. Using any of those three, I can pop into another OS as easily as launching an app. Each of these products has its partisans, and I’m not going to tell you definitively which one you should choose. But I did want to explain why I’ve settled on VMWare Fusion as my go-to virtualization choice.

(By way of disclosure, I should mention that I wrote books about Fusion versions 2 and 3; it’s now at version 6. I have also been a Parallels user almost since its very first release. I have no particular allegiance to one developer or another. I just want to get my work done in the most efficient way possible, with a minimum of distraction and complication.)

I’ve seen many comparative reviews, benchmark tests, and feature checklists for these products. In its last couple of comparisons, Macworld has concluded that Parallels and Fusion are virtually equivalent, the differences increasingly minor with each revision.

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What iOS 8, OS X Yosemite, and iCloud Drive will mean in the enterprise

[Editor's note: This article originally appeared on CITEworld.]

Apple’s WWDC keynote was an interesting mix of user-oriented features and developer-focused announcements. While Apple didn’t announce any new hardware (as some Wall Street pundits might have liked), Apple never does at WWDC: this is a software-focused event for develpers. The fact is, Apple introduced a number of revolutionary advances described during the event that stretch across the consumer, enterprise IT, and developer spheres.

One of the big questions is what happens when the consumer and enterprise spheres intersect, as they are certain to do in a world where iOS is the dominant mobile OS in the enterprise and where Apple is continuing to push for integration between its mobile, desktop, and cloud platforms.

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How to access iCloud files from your Mac

[Editor's Note: This story was written prior to the WWDC keynote, at which Apple execs outlined some upcoming changes to the way iCloud files are displayed in OS X and iOS. But until those changes take effect next fall, the advice below will still pertain.]

iCloud serves many purposes these days. (I’d actually say it tries to do too much, but that’s another story.) One of its main functions is document storage for the iWork suite (Pages, Numbers and Keynote) and other apps.

The problem with using iCloud for document storage is that it’s a black hole: Once you save a document to iCloud, you can only access it again with the same app, or its sibling, in OS X or iOS. If you have a problem with one of those iCloud apps—it won’t launch, say, or an update broke it—you may not be able to access your files at all.

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Four reasons to get a remote control for your iPhone

Your iPhone is smaller than many remote controls—and can function as a remote control itself. So why would you need a remote control for your iPhone (or other iOS device)?

A few months ago I would have thought the idea ridiculous. But it turns out that adding a Bluetooth remote control to my iOS devices has enabled me to solve some interesting problems and to make my iOS devices more useful. If you’ve never considered a remote control for your iOS devices, I’d like to suggest four uses that may change your mind.

Remote shutter release Long before anyone used the term “selfie,” people put cameras on tripods, set a self-timer, and ran back in front of the camera to appear in a group shot. You can put your iOS device on a tripod too, but the built-in Camera app has no timer. No worries: use a button on an easily concealed remote control to snap the picture (or many pictures).

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How to work at home with kids

My wife and I recently welcomed our second child, and our older son has just turned four. When we tell other parents that we both work from home, their expressions predictably turn from envy to horror in a matter of seconds. On the one hand, yes, it’s wonderful that we get to spend so much time with the kids at this age. On the other hand, the work we do requires extended periods of uninterrupted concentration, and those little bundles of joy are nothing if not distracting. How do we pay adequate attention to both our preschool kids and our work?

I don’t pretend to have all the answers, because every situation (and every child) is different. But I can tell you a bit about what’s worked for us.

Not for us

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Tools of the trade: Why I prefer Nisus Writer

Word processing isn’t the most amazing thing a Mac can do. But back in 1991, it was a word processor called Nisus that convinced me to buy my first Mac, because there was nothing like it for PCs. Nisus was my primary application for years, and now—after more than a decade in which it was all but useless to me—this app (now called Nisus Writer Pro) is back on my A-list. Here’s why I’ve re-adopted it, and why I think more people should consider it.

The everything tool

You could say I have a bit of history with Nisus Writer. After learning about Nisus in grad school, I became a user, then a fan, and then a trainer. I later got a part-time job working for the developer, Nisus Software, and eventually became the product manager for Nisus Writer. (So, disclaimer: I worked for the company from 1994 to 1997.) And my first real book, published while I was still an employee, was called The Nisus Way. It was written both about and with Nisus Writer.

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