Posts Tagged ‘free’

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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Now it is most definitely winter.

Now it is most definitely winter.

Yesterday I fell upon a link to a MacHeist software giveaway. And I love free software.

By signing up you get free copies of Synergy and Enigmo 2. Synergy is an iTunes extender program that I did not really care about, Enigmo though is a casual puzzle games and I thought I would try it out.

First I downloaded and installed Synergy. Since it normally cost money I figured that there must be some inherent value to it, it also downloaded faster then Enigmo 2 so I had some time to kill. 

Turns out to be a useful little program. It is active as a preference pane and a background process (4% CPU (G4) when used and 20MB memory). When a song in iTunes changes a transparent display pops up listing the new song, artist and album artwork. The size, transparency, duration and location can all be changed. It also automatically sets some iTunes hotkeys. While these can be set through the normal preference panes (Keyboard -> Keyboard Shortcuts) I never thought about doing it before. It also adds three buttons in the menu bar for previous, next and play/pause. So far a simple and handy program.

Enigmo 2 is a 3D puzzle game with the goal of getting dripping beads, lasers or plasmas to their respective location through the use of drums, mirrors and other tools. It feels slightly reminiscent of Lemmings. While an entertaining game with moderate difficulty there is some major problems with it. It could be that I am using a trackpad but the camera controls are really bad. I may be spoiled from using the control schemes of programs like 3D Studio Max and Wings3D but I cannot get the hang of the controls. The second problem is the minimal preference settings. There are little options to change the camera controls and no settings to adjust music and sound (if you wanted to play your own music in the background). The last one is that if you want to play in a window it is limited to the default window size (about 800 x 600 I think).

Getting past these problems the game is fun, especially for the price of free. 

As the second part of the giveaway there are two more free programs that will be available Christmas day plus two more if you refer two friends. So on Christmas there can be a total of four more free programs.

I like this Christmas spirit.

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