Better is NOT Perfect

April 28, 2007

WWDC07 Rumor: VirtualBox + BootCamp = Migration Assistant 2

[NOTE: This post was originally published April 28, 2007 @ 10:00 on my personal blog. It has been moved here to consolidate all my Apple-Related rants in one place.]

Anyone who has set up a Mac is familiar with the Setup Assistant. It’s the first thing that runs when you turn on a New Mac. During this process, if you have an old Mac, you can connect it via firewire and it will tell your new Mac everything it needs to know. You can transfer your accounts, settings, preferences, applications, documents, and data. It gives you the option of not moving old applications if the new machine has a newer version so you never have to fear that you are “downgrading” your new machine.

Users of Mac OS X 10.4.0 or later got the sister application Migration Assistant in their Utilities folder. Migration Assistant works just like setup assistant. You hook the computer you want to grab an account from to your Mac, and it grabs it.

I hear switchers and potential switchers out there saying “What if your old computer is a PC? I’d love to Boot Camp into my old setup.” (I’ll forgive my imaginary readers for verbing the noun Boot Camp, if you’ll forgive me for verbing the noun verb.)

Current the answer is no, for two reasons.

First, Migration Assistant 1.0 depends on Macintosh’s Target Disk Mode. It’s a hardware thing, programmed into the EFI on new Macs (and the OpenFirmware of every Mac made for the last decade), but not into the BIOS of any PC. No manufacturer demanded it so it simply isn’t there. Sorry.

Second, Migration Assistant 1.0 officially supports only Firewire, which has been standard on Macs for a decade but is a relative latecomer to the PC world, and still doesn’t appear on most low end and mid-range PCs. MA1.0 unofficially supports external USB drives, which hints at the direction Apple is heading.

Solving both of those problems is a small application, let’s call it PC Helper, running on the PC. It takes control of 1 firewire (or USB) port and emulates a Firewire (or USB) drive.

Migration Assistant 2 will have Boot Camp built-in. If your old computer is a PC, instead of moving accounts and settings, it will fire up VirtualBox.

VirtualBox is an open source, cross platform VM. Thanks to PC Helper, VirtualBox can grab the contents of your PCs hard drive and Boot Camp can put it on your Mac.

As with all rumors, take with an appropriate amount of salt.


April 15, 2007

Another Linux to Mac Switcher

Filed under: I Love Apple Software — Gerald @ 4:47 pm

[NOTE: This post was originally published April 15, 2007 @ 16:47 on my personal blog. It has been moved here to consolidate all my Apple-Related rants in one place.]

From Slackware to Ubuntu, Linux was his OS for a decade, but three weeks ago he decided to take the plunge. Figuring “when in Rome”, he tried thinking differently and went all Cocoa apps. He learned that the Mac, and the Mac Community wasn’t quite what he thought it was from the outside.

You’ll learn that Mac users aren’t people that just want to be in some elite club, which I thought before I learned otherwise. Mac users are just like you and me… no really.

Like many of us, he’s wondering why he didn’t do it sooner.

April 13, 2007

Switching From Mac to XP Home: Day 3 – Uncontrollable Mouse and an iTunes Dilemma

Filed under: I have issues that you don't care about — Gerald @ 4:52 pm

[NOTE: This post was originally published April 13, 2007 @ 16:52 on my personal blog. It has been moved here to consolidate all my Apple-Related rants in one place.]

After a three day hiatus from the switch to prepare for my big move, I was finally ready to get AVG installed.

Upon boot up, Windows reminds me that I do not have AV software and that five more updates were available for my computer. The updates took about 90 seconds to download and 30 to install. Reboot.

Windows reminds me once more that I do not have AV software. So I begin downloading AVG. While it downloads, I add a new tab button to Firefox and set the tab bar to always show.

Then the mouse drifting started. Remembering last time, I plugged in a USB Mouse. Everything returns to normal for about three clicks.

The pointer resumes drifting very hard to the top-right but the eraser can pull it down.

I struggle with the eraser to pull up Dell’s website and find the “Alps GlidePoint/StickPointer Driver”. I give up on the pointer and hit the tab 47 times to downloaded it.

For no reason, during the download, the external mouse gained control of the pointer so I opened a few tabs. I started downloading Adobe Reader, Flash Player, and iTunes before losing control of the pointer again. AVG was still downloading.

One by one they finished, except AVG. Pushing the eraser with all my strength, I ran the pointer driver installer. I switched over to keyboard to do the actual install.

It needs to reboot. AVG is still downloading. I hit Pause and start to close Firefox, which tells me if I close I’ll have to start my download over. I make a mental note to find a “resume download” plug-in, and quit.

Reboot. Before windows even finished loading the pointer was moving up and right.

Two more reboots to disable the trackpad in the BIOS (it was a cryptic choice and I guessed wrong on the first try) and the USB mouse was working like a champ, but the network went down leaving me without internet access.

This is not the fault of the laptop, but of my landlord. It’s still down as I write this.

When it comes back up, I still need to figure out what I’m going to do about iTunes. I have about 60GB of iTunes on my Mac. I backup the internal 160GB drive to an external 160GB Firewire/USB drive with SuperDuper on a pretty regular basis. The Inspiron 8200 has a firewire port. Is there a freeware way to use the Mac formated drive with this Dell? If so, is there a way to share the iTunes library? Can I sync my iPod to a shared library if they are on the same iTunes account?

I didn’t think setup would take this long. My Mac goes in a box in two weeks and the Dell isn’t even close to being ready to use. Will I be ready in time?

Leopard Delayed: A call for 10.4.10

[NOTE: This post was originally published April 13, 2007 @ 16:23 on my personal blog. It has been moved here to consolidate all my Apple-Related rants in one place.]

Apple announced yesterday that the next version of the Mac operating system, OS X 10.5 Leopard, is going to be delayed by 12 weeks.

Today, I’m answering with a request: Issue 10.4.10 to fix what 10.4.9 broke.

Specifically, dropped frames in Final Cut Pro 4.5 during capture, resulting in failed captures. Final Cut Express 3.0 users are suffering the same bug. I simply don’t have the money (or the RAM or Hard Drive space) to upgrade to Final Cut Pro 5.x to fix this problem. Using iMovie is not a suitable workaround.

If the politics of explaining that numbers do not have two decimal points is keeping you from releasing 10.4.10, I suggest calling it or 10.4.9a.

April 9, 2007

Switching From Mac to XP Home: Day 2

Filed under: I have issues that you don't care about — Gerald @ 11:31 am

[NOTE: This post was originally published April 9, 2007 @ 11:31 on my personal blog. It has been moved here to consolidate all my Apple-Related rants in one place.]

After a nice Sunday Brunch at Ivar’s on Peir 54, I spent most of the afternoon window shopping with my lovely bride so I didn’t get around to the laptop until 8:00pm again.

I pressed the button and the Dell-Inspiron-8200-with-a-fresh-install-of-XP-Home-and-Firefox came to life. As soon as the cursor appeared on the screen, it began to drift. Very slowly it drifted up and to the right.

Windows finished loading, but it I had no control over the mouse… and then, I did. Weird.

I opened Firefox and typed Ad-Aware into the Google search box. There goes the cursor, again. Drifting very slowly up and to the right.

The touchpad got me nowhere. The “eraser” became a fight. As soon as I stopped pulling it down, it would drift. Every click was a click-drag. I kept moving icons and drawing squares.

After a two minute battle, trying to get to the Start Button, I shutdown and restart.

After Windows loaded the second time, the cursor was acting normal. I moved it over to Firefox, tapped the pad, and it loaded. I typed in and tapped the pad again.

I enter my username and password, click the left mouse button – and the cursor ZOOMS down and to the left. Nothing I do will pull it more than an inch from the corner.

I attach an external mouse and have a battle royale with the Dell. Eventually, it relinquished control of the cursor, but not before I lost my patience with the whole thing.

Twenty-one days until my Mac goes in a box.

April 8, 2007

Switching From Mac to XP Home: Day 1

Filed under: I have issues that you don't care about — Gerald @ 12:07 am

[NOTE: This post was originally published April 8, 2007 @ 0:07 on my personal blog. It has been moved here to consolidate all my Apple-Related rants in one place.]

At 8:00pm, I started reformatting the 28GB hard drive on the Dell Inspiron 8200 that was given to me, figuring I’d be done by ten.

The XP Home installs, then reboots.

It recognizes everything except the modem and the wireless card. Not bad.

Then the Automatic Updates start. It downloads 29 updates, and reboots. It downloads 19 more updates, and reboots again.

At this point, it seem to be finished. It’s 10:15pm.

I downloaded Firefox, installed it, then Automatic Updates told me SP2 was ready to be installed.

Click… Microsoft Genuine Advantage. uhh, ok…. click.

I guess I pass because it then began downloading SP2. Downloading? I thought it was already downloaded, but that was just the downloader that downloaded. Now the downloader downloads and installs SP2, and reboots.

Windows tries again to find drivers for my hardware, and succeeds for my modem.

I shut down, flip the Dell over and unscrew the piece of plastic holding the wireless card, jot down the model number, replace the shield and reboot. A quick trip to Intel’s website and the wireless card woke up, found my network, and asked for my WEP.

Why didn’t Windows work this well when I was using it? I thought to myself. It would be the last time.

I decide to do a cold reboot. During the shut down process, I get the message: Windows is installing updates. Do not power off or unplug your computer. Computer will turn off automatically. Installing 1 of 19. Ten minutes later, the 8200 turned off.

I rebooted.

Then Windows Update starts downloading 51 more updates. At #51 it stops and asks for my Windows Genuine Advantage Executive Washroom Key again, then starts downloading and installing IE7.

Then it reboots again, then downloads two more updates, then reboots again.

It’s now after midnight and I still don’t have ad-aware or AVG Free installed, but it will have to wait. For now, I’m hugging my Mac and going to bed.

April 7, 2007

Switching Back to Windows After 2 Years on the Mac

Filed under: I have issues that you don't care about — Gerald @ 7:47 pm

[NOTE: This post was originally published April 7, 2007 @ 19:47 on my personal blog. It has been moved here to consolidate all my Apple-Related rants in one place.]

I will soon have to pack my Power Mac G5 away. For the first two weeks after we land, we’re staying in some kind strangers home until our cabin is ready.

The cabin is only accessible by golf cart.

…and by ready, I mean “has a toilet”. The bathtub is outside, which I guess is OK for spring and summer – but I will have to do something about it eventually, but I think a new fuse box is top priority.

It will be a while before I unbox the Mac.

A good friend was kind enough to give me an old Dell Inspiron 8200. The hard drive is blank, but it has a Windows XP Professional license and product key on a sticker on the back. How handy.

Unfortunately, when I tried any of the XP Pro installation disks we had laying around, it said that it was an invalid code, or a stolen code, and I should contact Microsoft immediately to buy another one.

No thank you.

I checked Dell’s website for disc image downloads. I figured it couldn’t hurt. No dice.

I have an old dusty copy of XP Home that was a gift from my mother-in-law in 2002. I was a beta tester for XP and had been running one version or another of Pro for two years by then, so I just smiled, said thank you, put it in the filing cabinet and forgot about it.

Feeling justified in my pack-rattery, I pulled it out tonight and my hard drive is reformatting now.

After five years, it’s about time I used that license.

In three weeks, this Dell becomes my only contact with the outside world for the foreseeable future. I hope I can get it ready in time.

WWDC07 Early Prediction: The Return of the Cube

[NOTE: This post was originally published April 7, 2007 @ 15:18 on my personal blog. It has been moved here to consolidate all my Apple-Related rants in one place.]

WWDC is still nine weeks away… which means Rumor Season starts soon! The oldest rumor of all, The Return of the Newton, came semi-true at Macworld this year with the introduction of the iPhone, and took the Apple-branded Cell Phone Rumor along with it.

I think the Apple-branded Plasma Rumor might return, in an iPod Hi-Fi kinda way. But the big one will be: The Return of the Cube.

Steve Jobs can’t build a 32′ glass cube and not resurrect this rumor.

Rumors have legs of their own, with specs showing up quickly. It’s mostly wishlists with a dash of pragmatism. Here’s my stab:

It will have 1 CPU (available in 2-core or 4-core) and have one of its two expansion slots filled with the video card. They will not be the latest bleeding-edge type slots, so the Slashdot crowd will poo-poo it, and it will cost more than a 17″ iMac, so the Digg crowd will poo-poo it.

It will also have some weird esoteric Macism that doesn’t affect 99% of users, but the tech press will echo it endlessly, like a 4200RPM hard drive or an under-clocked GPU. A thermal image of it will show up on Flikr within 48 hours.

Oh, and it will sell like hotcakes.

The name of this new cube? The Macintosh.

What’s your prediction for the Rumor Mill? Will it be outragous, like The Nike+ Bicycle or The iCar, or is this the year of The Touch Tablet Rumor?

Microsoft Dies, No One Cares.

Filed under: I have issues that you don't care about — Gerald @ 1:57 pm

[NOTE: This post was originally published April 7, 2007 @ 13:57 on my personal blog. It has been moved here to consolidate all my Apple-Related rants in one place.]

Paul Graham writes:

I’m glad Microsoft is dead. They were like Nero or Commodus—evil in the way only inherited power can make you. Because remember, the Microsoft monopoly didn’t begin with Microsoft. They got it from IBM. The software business was overhung by a monopoly from about the mid-1950s to about 2005. For practically its whole existence, that is. One of the reasons “Web 2.0” has such an air of euphoria about it is the feeling, conscious or not, that this era of monopoly may finally be over.

He asks for comment, but not before making this prediction:

I already know what the reaction to this essay will be. Half the readers will say that Microsoft is still an enormously profitable company, and that I should be more careful about drawing conclusions based on what a few people think in our insular little “Web 2.0” bubble. The other half, the younger half, will complain that this is old news.

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