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Posts Tagged ‘apple’

Performance Update

Day 2 of Rain: got wet going to the bus stop. Sunny on the way back.

Day 2 of Rain: got wet going to the bus stop. Sunny on the way back.

Today Apple released Performance Update 1.0 for a swath of recently made computer. Mine was one of them. Hopefully this update will fix the problems I have been having and trying to fix. After twenty minutes everything seems to be running better. Though it might be a placebo effect.

The update notes state that the issue was related to the hard drive which would explain why I had more hang ups while having Matlab process and save a bunch of data.

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It is easier to transfer files over for a new typewriter.

It is easier to transfer files over for a new typewriter.

Before I received my new laptop I had to make a decision: rely on Migration Assistant to move everything over or do it myself. I had a large library of photos so I decided to do it by hand.

With a large hard drive at hand I had to decide what to move over. Aside from the obvious such as documents, music and such I went through the Libraries (User and System) along with applications to see what I could move over. As well as what would actually help.

I grabbed what preferences seemed important and some application support files (Doom 3 keeps the save games in the User/Library/Application Support) and a handful of other I thought to be useful (RSS reader, Safari folder). What I forget to grab that turned out to be important: Keychain. I have a lot of useless websites with passwords saved and it is just easier for the computer to remember these.

Mail did not like being transfered over through a direct copy. In the end I just re-setup three of my e-mail accounts on the new laptop and archived the older folder. Luckily all of my accounts are IMAP so it just required a massive download (I don’t really clean or organize my e-mails).

The other tricky bit was Time Machine. I wanted to just plug it in to the new laptop and have it resume where it left off. No dice. I even tried to change the MAC address based on this Mac OS X Hints article and that did nothing.

I did find out that option-clicking on the Time Machine icon allows one to access other Time Machine’s on the give disk. This let me go into my Powerbook’s TIme Machine, delete some things taking up space and start a whole new Time Machine for my MacBook Pro. The only disadvantage of this system is that the Powerbook backups will not be deleted to make room so I need to keep an eye on it myself.

So far nothing was missed, then again I tended to keep an organized system to begin with, no personal documents outside the User file except for some save games in the applications folder.

We will see in a week or so if anything critical was left behind.

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There are a lot of windows out there.

There are a lot of windows out there.

With my new fancy x86 process I went and installed Windows on my MacBook Pro. I was unsure of how I wanted to go about doing this and in the end found a good method.

First my needs: I wanted a system that could run Windows programs alongside OS X and I wanted to be able to boot into the system to play games (Fallout 3). I thought that I would have to make two installs, one through Boot Camp and the other through Parallels. To my fortune I found that Parallels can run a Boot Camp partition as a virtual machine while still allowing a person to boot into it when the need arises. I was set.

The only concern with this is that it sees it as new hardware every time the boot method changes, luckily there is a workaround through Parallels to avoid this.

I created a 32GB FAT32 partition through the Boot Camp assistant for my Windows XP install. The only tricky bit is that when the XP installer asks if you want to format the partition you must say yes. The install failed my first time through.

Booting into the fresh Windows install I used the OS X install DVD to get the drivers and some boot camp software. Those helped as my resolution jumped quite a bit and the trackpad started to work better (though not perfectly). First thing I did was run windows update and install AVG Free Edition. With those completed and running smoothly I switched back to OS X.

Now the moment of truth, I started up Parallels. It instantly recognized the Boot Camp partition and started to convert it to one parallels could use. After what seemed like an hour it was ready and I started the virtual machine up. I installed Parallels Tools just to make things easier. I then booted into Windows to check if it still worked, it did! So back to OS X and the virtual machine, I installed a line of basic (free) software every computer needs:

  • AVG Free Edition – Anti-Virus, fairly non-intrusive and runs well
  • VLC – Video player
  • iTunes – Music player and internet radio
  • Firefox – A web browser to use instead of Internet Explorer
  • Lavasoft Adaware – For removing ad-ware when things start slowing down
  • Flash – To play all of those addictive flash games
  • 7zip – Unarchive .rar, .zip and all of the various archive formats out there
  • ImgBurn – For burning CD’s and DVD’s
  • Dropbox – A good way to keep files synched between computers and OS’s.

With those installed happily I moved on to customizing the Windows install to get away from the blue theme with rolling grassy hills in the background. For this I relied entirely on the Lifehacker article on customization.

I should also mention that my Parallels Virtual Machine settings are:

  • Half the System RAW (2GB)
  • One processor (at 2.8 GHz)
  • Half the dedicated video RAM (256 MB)
  • Assigned to Space 4 (I use a 2 x 2 grid for Spaces)

In the end when I am in OS X this is what my Windows space looks like:

My Parallels window of Windows.

My Parallels window of Windows.

Overall I am very happy with how Windows is running on my new computer. Planescape: Torment runs well in Parallels and Fallout 3 runs superbly in Boot Camp. Eventually I will try some other games and other programs. Until then I will enjoy a smoothly running system.

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Spotlight

The San Francisco Academy of Sciences, on the edge of the rain forest sphere.

The San Francisco Academy of Sciences, on the edge of the rain forest sphere.

Spotlight in 10.4 was an excellent addition to an operating system. Once used I utilized the quick search functionality for launching applications, finding documents and opening folders. I realized yesterday that I have stopped using it; slowly since my install of 10.5 I have been using Overflow for most of my programs and documents. Since then I installed Quicksilver and exclusively use it to launch applications.

This left Spotlight devoid of any use aside from the calculator and dictionary lookup. The main reason being it is now so very slow to operate. Typing immediately starts a search, that is fine, but continuing to type changes the search, on my system this does not work. Spotlight freezes up, goes slowly and if I mistyped something I have to start again since editing a word it too slow.

I procrastinated yesterday by looking into a solution; they ran from re-indexing to people saying how it works fine for them. I believe that it works for them, however I have a larger hard drive then the stock (I am using 190GB out of 250GB). It then hit me, Quicksilver is terrible at find documents and folders, Overflow I have stopped working: change what Spotlight searches.

I changed the privacy settings so only my home folder sans library are searched by Spotlight. While not the blazing speed I had in 10.4 (well maybe not blazing) it certainly has sped up searches.

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Rain is coming again to Santa Barbara.

Rain is coming again to Santa Barbara.

I just read that my laptop has been added to Apple’s vintage and obsolete product list. I believe I can still get parts if needed as I live in California and there is some state law or exception requiring parts to still be available. I think at least, to be honest the article is not really clear.

Overall though I am quite happy with the longevity and reliability of my Powerbook G4. When Apple shifted to the MacBook Pro line and left the PowerBook line my computer still felt new as the case did not undergo a change. That combined with taking good care of my laptop makes many people think that my laptop is new, they are shocked to find out how old it actually is (I love metal over plastic for that reason). 

Sure there are some missing parts, namely I don’t have two feet and I am missing a screw on the side. A bit of painters tape replaced the feet and a single screw is not that important. In the last year I maxed out the RAM and the upgraded the hard drive which really gave it enough to last until the end of this year.

I will have to upgrade though, not because it is not fast enough (well maybe a little) or because it is broken but because the processor is the wrong architecture. I need an intel processor so I can run various Windows only lab software like AutoCAD programs, FPGA programming software and probably MatLab.

Until the day I need to upgrade eventually comes my PowerBook and I will keep on going.

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Macworld 2009

 

Stacks would greatly help with HDR organization.

Stacks would greatly help with HDR organization.

I always look forward to Macworld, it one of the small bright spots in the sudden deluge of winter quarter. This year I was not hoping for much, I was not interested in a new Mini or iMac nor the new Macbook Pro.

What I wanted was a new iPhoto. A new iPhoto was released as part of iLife ‘09 but it did not go in the direction I wanted. I wanted a slightly more robust photo program along the lines of Aperture. A loupe feature, better editing (like being able to input numerical values), the ability to compare two photos side by side or more importantly stacks. If Stacks became available for the iPhoto I would buy it as soon as I possibly could.

But it does not. Instead iPhoto went towards online sharing with Facebook and Flickr (I use both so admittedly it would be nice). Some neat features sure, but not quite what I would use.

Something not really mentioned but I love is the small new feature of iWeb to upload to an FTP site instead of MobileMe. That tempts to buy iLife ‘09, except that I found a substitute through Flickr and even WordPress to some degree.

I can always keep dreaming.

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Good graveyards in Europe.

Good graveyards in Europe.

A little bit ago I did a review of iPhoto Print Service, Snapfish and Shutterfly. I mentioned how my first set of photos from Apple never arrived. Well they came today. They were printed on October 7th and took a month and a half to arrive.

Not the best of delivery times.

Instead of being the smallest possible (4×6) these are the larger 5×7 prints. I did not think that an inch in each direction would make such a difference but it really does. Of those that I ordered and liked in the smaller format they looked a lot better slightly larger. One of the ones that turned out alright on a 4×6 really improved as a 5×7 since more details could be made out.

It tempts me to order a set of 10×14 photos from one of the three services.

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