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I got my Bag of Crap

Posted on : 03-23-2007 | By : Andy | In : fun, pop culture, random, tech


Today has been a great day. Well, it has since I wooted my first Bag of Crap. I’ve been desiring one of these collections of pure trash ever since I started wooting a long time ago, and now that day has finally arrived. As they say, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure!

Oh, yeah, and I watched “Stranger Than Fiction” tonight. It’s a really good show. No, really, it is. Not your typical Will Ferrell.

Mac-i-fied. Do I spend the extra dough?

Posted on : 03-22-2007 | By : Andy | In : fun, tech


No one tell my wife I wrote this, because if she hears me say “more money”, I’ll end up with one of those $100 laptop-for-ever-child jobbers this fall.

My dilemma is this: I’ve been using my Mac Mini at work for over a week now, and I kind of like it. The benefits are pretty intangible, but I just feel like my computer is somehow more “refined” than ye old PC. Unfortunately, that leads me to this demise: if I get a Mac, it’s going to cost me more.

Yeah, yeah, save all the stuff about pricing being close, because the hardware side of things is pretty even. My cost comes in when you factor in software. You see, I’m headed off to seminary, and there’s a few programs that I’ll need working this fall: e-Sword (or the alternative, $350 Bible Works), and MS Office. Because e-Sword requires a PC to run, I’d have to buy a copy of Parallels ($70) and XP (~$90). So now, the extra ~$100 that I’d pay for a “better” laptop has become ~$260. Not too horrible, but remember: I’m going to seminary, not law school. I’m already going to have to buy Office 2003 ($100 student version), and this is starting to become more and more of an investment.

No, I can’t pirate the software (hello, seminary!), and no, I can’t just run Office 2004 on the Mac (well, I could, but it costs more, and I wouldn’t be able to install it on my PC as well, using their nice 3-PC license). <sigh> Why can’t things be easy? I was just starting to like OS X… Maybe that Dell Latitude D520 wouldn’t be such a bad deal after all.

An Apple a day…keeps me blogging. (Day 3)

Posted on : 03-15-2007 | By : Andy | In : fun, tech, work


Ah, each day with the Mac gets a lot smoother. It was a rough transition, but I think I’m finally starting to settle down. (Lord, help me to not turn into a fanboy…help me remember how much it sucked trying to get accustomed to this thing) It’s been really nice having the support of a few thoughtful commenters along the way, and my friend Matt from work has definitely provided some useful and much-appreciated advice–albeit, still from a perspective that makes me think he’s wearing Apple-colored glasses.

The biggest difference I’ve noted is that using OS X makes the OS seem a whole lot more apparent to the user. With XP, it’s largely transparent. You do what you do in the apps, and ignore the surrounding framework. With OS X, you’re forced to immerse yourself in a slick, (at times cartoony) animated interface at every turn. Zipping back and forth between apps isn’t a sterile Alt-Tab anymore, it’s a F9-click transition that’s smoothly animated and somewhat addicting. After three days with this thing, I find myself reaching for the F9 key even on my PC–even though I personally feel that hitting Alt-Tab was way better.

You get accustomed to things though, and use your desktop a lot more, especially given the one-key access to all the stuff on your desktop. In XP, you have to hunt for that little “Show Desktop” icon. Vista did the right thing in including the desktop as a window in their little Flip-3D thing, and I’m sure if I ever go the Vista route, my desktop will take on an entirely new role. (My XP philosophy is that desktops are meant to be neat, clean, and sparse)

I’m still not that big a fan of the Finder, and my RAM situation has forced me to just give up on attempting to use Fireworks on my Mac, but that’s OK. I’ve still got a PC on the KVM switch that needs to be there for some pretty expensive analytics software, so I can co-exist. I just hate switching back and forth though, and I must admit that I’m liking switching “back” to OS X more and more each time.

I must say, though, that while I’ll probably end up loving this OS, I don’t ever want to forget what the transition was like. I don’t want to turn into some zombie that walks around making people feel inferior for using a Microsoft operating system. I’d hate to have to teach my mom to use a Mac, and I can’t imagine the nightmares that would happen if work tried moving everyone to a Mac. If it took some people a month to figure out how to print, what would it be like trying to teach them different habits?

PC: 3
Mac: 1

Mac me, day 2: getting better.

Posted on : 03-14-2007 | By : Andy | In : fun, tech, work


I kicked around on the new mac mini all day today, getting much more work done than yesterday. It only took me an hour or so to hack together a printer solution using Gutenprint and a mismatched PPD–at least it prints now.

Some stuff I’m starting to like: Spotlight was useful in a case or two, I’m getting used to hitting the [Windows] key instead of control, and the F9 reflex is starting to set in. I got some networked folders to show up every time I boot (something that’s more involved than it is on a PC), used Terminal for the first time, and and installed FireFox. I also hit the menu button on the remote, and that’s pretty dang slick. Of course, I have no media on that beast to use it with, but it’s a pretty slick implementation nonetheless.

I still had trouble on the following:

  • Safari froze up multiple times. (I guess 512MB of RAM and a dual-core proc isn’t enough for 5 apps at a time in OS X after all)
  • Fireworks 8 is slow as crud if I try to use it with anything else running
  • I still keep sacrificing system resources to apps that continue running even after I’ve closed all the windows
  • Mail bogs down horribly every time I try to read an email with big images attached
  • I realized that my “60GB” Hard drive already had 20GB of space used up. (Even Vista, with its gobs of legacy code, uses only about 12)
  • All the anti-aliasing doesn’t look so great on my LCD, and gives me a headache. (yes, I tried adjusting it in Sys Prefs) Switching to my windows box is like a breath of fresh, crisp, clean, air.

Other than all that, OS X does have a very polished, schnazzy feel to it, for lack of a better word. I’ll at least take it out of the negative for the relatively painless day I had with it today.

PC: 3
Mac: 0

My first printing experience with a Mac: horrible

Posted on : 03-13-2007 | By : Andy | In : fun, tech, work


Prior to printing with my new Mac Mini, my Mac experience had been frustrating (Monitor didn’t work) and slightly disappointing (my mac isn’t all it’s cracked up to be). Nevertheless, I still maintained some high hopes for this guy. After all, I hate to admit I’m wrong, and I was beginning to believe that OSX was possibly superior, and I had definitely spent a lot of time in hopeful anticipation of the Mini after I ordered it. After successfully connecting to some shared folders and even printers on a Windows network, I was beginning to think that most of the old Mac incompatibilities were history. (Excepting, of course, the fact that my LCD monitor does not work with my mac!)

I had made it through an entire day with the Mini, getting some work done, getting OpenOffice installed, and squinting at my 2″-smaller replacement monitor. It was nearing time to leave, and I just had to print out a 1-page .pdf file. The networked printer (a pretty fancy multipurpose copier with all the options) had been “installed”, and so I let ‘er rip.

I make it to the copy room, and some jerk has this huge job printing out… I wait for it to finish, but my .pdf doesn’t show. Hmm…I examine the huge job a little more closely. It appears that it’s one page with some gibberish about Adobe-pdf-something-or-other, and about 35 blank pages. Wait a minute, that’s my PDF! (A little devil pops into my head, saying “Hi, I’m a Mac!” and laughing)

I trek back to my computer, remembering how easy it was to make that printer work with my PC when I installed it, and headed off to the manufacturer’s website. They’ve got some file there that’s a psuedo-driver for OSX, and so I download it, and go to install it.

Hmm, that’s odd, this weird .hqx file doesn’t seem to have a file association. Wait, OSX doesn’t include an extraction utility for zipped (bin-hexed, if you want to be precise) files! Even Windows XP does that! So much for out-of-the-box usefullness. Now I’ve got to go to some other website and download and install Stuffit Expander. By this time I’m cursing the day Steve Jobs was born–but wait, then Bill Gates wouldn’t have had all those great ideas to steal and make practical.

So I install Stuffit Expander, install the PPD or PDD or whatever file it is, and reconfigure my printer. Finally, some productivity will occur! I hit “print”, and run over to the copy room.

You guessed it, more gibberish, and 35 more blank sheets. <sigh> No wonder no one in the corporate world outside of artists uses OSX. I finish my day by opening the .pdf on my PC and printing it out.


My first full day with a Mac: questionable

Posted on : 03-13-2007 | By : Andy | In : fun, tech


OK, so today I took the Mac Mini for the first real test drive. I had to trade my nice big 19″ LCD to a co-worker for a 17″ model that would actually work with the stupid thing, (my standard VGA monitor wouldn’t work with my mac mini) so that’s one strike against it. (hopefully, my eyes will adjust eventually)

Thankfully, it works with the USB functionality of my KVM switch, (which suprised me) so that kept me free from the annoyance of having to use an extra keyboard and mouse. I spent a fair bit of time importing files and such, and trying to get a hang of the weird apple key combinations. The interface seemed reasonably responsive, but not as much as I would hope. (My Athlon 2400+ notebook with the same amount of RAM running XP Pro seems to perform about as well with multiple apps–and this is vs. a Core Duo 1.66 GHz) Minor annoyances included the horrible default key-repeat rate and the fact that you can’t Apple-Tab to windows that have been minimized.

I’ve heard a lot of great things about Safari, (and again, cross-browser testing was the main reason I got the Mini), so I took it for a test drive. I just couldn’t figure out how to get a new tab… it took me a lot of (some key)+t tests before I finally gave up and Googled “Safari tabbed browsing”, to find that it does exist. I poked around in the preferences, and found it disabled by default. Now that, my friend, is just plain stupid, and not as user-friendly as I expected from Mr. OSX.

Widgets–they’re completely useless to me at this point, though I suppose I might pick them up sometime. Expose–overrated. If I could Alt-Tab my way into the email I’m composing instead of having to squint at 10 open windows to find it, I would much prefer to do that. As it is, Apple-Tab is an inferior replica of Alt-Tab functionality. (And what the heck is up with Finder always hanging around there? I don’t want to see that every time I’m tabbing around!) Spotlight–now this is genuinely cool. I like it. It would not sell me on OSX though alone, and so far it’s pretty much alone.

I hate the way the Home and End keys won’t take me to the beginning or end of a line. I hate the way that an Application will remain running (and using bits of my precious RAM–even if the are small) even after I close all my windows. And installing new applications isn’t any easier than doing it on a PC.

PC: 2
Mac: 0