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Sunday, February 08, 2009

Geek Day! 

Firefox on Mac (Top Left) Safari on Mac (top right)
Firefox on PC (bottom left) IE 6 on PC (bottom right)

It was a long day, but SO well worth it!

I had bought a copy of Parallels about a year ago. This software would enable me to have a Virtual PC environment on my Mac, where I could test my web pages cross-platform (ie: on both the Mac, as well as PC) and cross-browser (ie: Internet Explorer (both on Mac and PC), Safari (Mac) and Firefox (PC and Mac).

As a web designer, one of the most frustrating part of the process is making sure that the site works and looks the same on all browsers and on all platforms. You'd be surprised how different a site can look.

My previous solution was that I had one of Dick's old PCs, and used a switch between my Mac to the PC, so that the two computers could share the same monitor, keyboard and mouse - I'd just have to switch between the two.

This method worked fine for several years, but I started having problems with the switch reading my mouse and keyboard. I was going to buy a new switch, but the inexpensive version I was looking at didn't support my new monitor.

That's when I remembered that I still had a copy of Parallels that I had bought last year. I had tried to install it, but ran into several difficulties. It was pretty frustrating, so I kind of tucked it away for awhile, until I knew that we'd have some time to dedicate to it.

So, that day turned out to be today! It was chilly and wet out today, so Dick and I stayed in our pajamas all day, and holed up in the office, working on this all day.

Why did it take so long? The installation of the actual program wasn't a problem. Actually, it was made easier by the fact that an upgrade had just become available, so we upgraded to that, and were able to get rid of the old version that had given me problems.

The problem happened with the installation of the Windows OS. I decided to install Windows XP versus Vista - I really needed easy access to IE 6 on Windows. It seems to be the browser that causes the most problems for me. We installed XP, but then tried to install the service packs which contain many security updates. Long story short, we had to reinstall XP a couple of times, as well as reinstall Service Packs 1, 2 and eventually, 3.

After 6-7 hours, we finally got everything I wanted up and running! I'm now running Windows XP, Internet Explorer 6, Firefox and (bonus) Windows Live Messenger (PC version - It's so much better than the version available for the Mac).

The bottom line:

I'm able to test all of my web sites on 5 browsers all on the same computer (my Mac) at the same time! (Firefox, Safari and IE on the Mac, as well as IE 6 and Firefox on the PC) I can hop over to Dick's PC to test IE 7 - I'm running low on space on my Mac to install another Virtual Machine Version to add it.

It's super cool! I'm very excited about this. I'm working on 4 new projects at the moment, and have been having a hard time checking them out on all versions of all browsers. This is going to make my job SO much easier!

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