Category Archives: Apple Existence

My journey away from Windows, and into the light.

I Didn’t Buy a Dinosaur!


eWeek is reporting that at the Apple developers conference this morning, Steve Jobs demonstrated a Power Mac… running on a 3.6Ghz P4.


Yup, Mr. Apple has indicated that future Macs will be running on Intel hardware. The Apple Skunkworks has been working on this for five years, and it looks like it’s paying off.

So I just bought an obsolete box, right?

Well, not so quick with that. It’s still two years until the transition is complete, and frankly, that’ll be about the right time to start looking at the state of the Mac union.

And truthfully, Apple’s not gonna make OS X run on just any hardware. They can’t. If they did that, then suddenly they’d have to support every Itchy & Scratchy brand of mouse, joystick, hot dog broiler and anything else that can connect to a commodity-based PC. That’s not their gig, and I don’t think they can be successful doing that.

So where do they go?

The same place they are now — a carefully controlled configuration, requiring some specific and special hardware in order for OS X to work. It’d probably be hardware you won’t easily be able to piece together at home, and I think that’s good.

If Apple puts OS X on any ol’ PC, then the advantage — and significant revenue stream — that is delivered with the hardware vaporizes, and Apple as we know them will be dealing iPods, and competing with the million-pound gorilla of OS… Microsoft. They can’t win that fight.

So all the developers are hosed, right?

Wrong. The current codebase will be able to run on the new hardware using a cool new tool called Rosetta. So, at least for a while, you can develop for the G5 platform, knowing that it’ll run on the new Intel-based boxes. That’ll give developers time to move code over, recompile — allegedly real easy to port from G5 to Intel — and get their products out.

Is it inconvenient? Sure. And yeah, there’s gonna be a sunset date out there for my shiny new iMac G5. Then again, with any hardware, that’s true. The sunset date for some is just better defined than others! 🙂

So, no worries here. I think the Mac OS will survive, despite the hardware change. And I don’t think that Apple will wither because of this change. At the end of the day, I think it’ll be a good thing, delivery faster hardware, perhaps a skosh cheaper, and still a rock solid performer for the kind of work I do.

Browser Wars

Well, on my desktop anyway.

As I’ve been re-Mac-ing myself (clever, eh?), I’ve been trying to find best of breed components to go along with my digital makeover. I’ve asked Mac users at work to give me a list of the five best things they have or use (hardware or software) with their Macs. Browser conversations inevitably come up.

I’ve been a big fan and supporter of Firefox since before it GA’d. On Windows, that was an easy choice, as IE has more holes than a big ol’ block of Swiss cheese. On the Mac, that choice doesn’t seem quite so cut and dried. Safari is the native browser, and it seems to do a good job. Firefox is also out for the Mac, and seems to do a good job. So who wins? For me, the jury is still out.

Well, one of the Macfolk I talked to indicated that his decision to let Safari wither on the vine was the inability to examine security certificates within the browser. That’s a big one, although I have to admit that I rarely look at those unless the browser barks about there being some discrepancy.

I guess that sorta flies alongside Apple’s apparent paradigm with their environment. It’s almost an arrogance that dictates that Apple knows what’s best, and will let us know if there’s an issue. It really reinforces the Mac as an appliance, a means to an end, rather than something to constantly be working on. Kinda like a chef having a toaster that he can focus on making toast with, rather than constantly focusing on rewiring the heating coils. Nothing wrong with any of that, but it is really a mindset change for me.

However, I’m ready to hang up my sysadmin gloves at the house. I do enough of that kind of work at the office, and it’s time to focus on my digital lifestyle (to borrow a phrase from Apple), and not so much on how to get there.

The State of My Mac

The last week has found me making subtle additions and deletions to my Mac-world. I think it’s starting to settle out a bit.

Last Monday, I added a set of Altec Lansing 2.1 Speakers. It was a tough choice, as the 5.1 speakers are really cool, and offer some fantastic capabilities. Add to that the optical out from the iMac, and the combination seems pretty sweet. However, I use my iMac for photoediting, and listening to music whilst I do it. A surround-sound system doesn’t buy me much for my usage habits, so I didn’t go down that path. The Altec’s are great, and really have some big ol’ punch to them.

I’m a bit of a keyboard snob, and for better or worse, harken back to the old days of a clicky IBM keyboard. It’s the touch I like best, and the Apple keyboard supplied with iMac just didn’t cut it. I bought a Kensington wireless keyboard and mouse combo last Monday, and finally decided that it just wasn’t quit the feel I was looking for. It also seemed to drop a character every now and then, perhaps due to my touch-typing style or possibly the keyboard had a problem. Either way, after a few days of using it, I elected to bounce it back to Best Buy.

So, from CompUSA came another Kensington keyboard, and this one has a great feel to it! A short stroke, good click and very Apple-centric. The only complaint I would have is that it doesn’t have USB ports on the back of it like the Apple keyboard does. No biggie, as I found a solution for the USB ports quickly dwindling on the back of the iMac.

Wanting to spread my cash around, I travelled to Circuit City to pick up a USB hub, again from Kensington. This is a seven-port hub, shaped like a little dome, designed correctly with the ports and connections on the back, status lights on the front. The best part of the design is the weight added to the innards. This thing is stout, and stays right where you put it, despite a gob of cables dangling off the back of it. To sweeten the deal, it also came with a little “flylight” — a USB light that you can plug into a USB port on top of the dome. The light’s neat looking, but offers little real use. It’s too blue (too my colorblind eyes), too weak, and is more cutesy than functional. Free is free though.

With the demise of the wireless mouse, I moved the Logitech gaming mouse over the iMac. However, my mousepad from NRAO was starting to show wear from all the mousing over the last year. So lastly, I bought a mousepad from Allsop. This thing is a beauty, and built like a tank. The frame and base are heavy metal, with a nice charcoal surface, and a non-skid backing to keep it in place. Someone did their homework on designing this thing, and have come up with the perfect mousepad for me. Very cool, and looks good on the desk.

Some function, some fluff, but all cool add-ons for my digital makeover. Now if I can just find a Dasani dispensing machine for my office, I’ll be in great shape! 🙂

Turning a Corner

As of about 7pm last night, I turned a corner in my hobbiyist life. I turned off my laptop, and for the first time in close to a decade, I no longer have a Windows box running.

I have made the switch to the iMac, and have enough things running there to handle my world — email, browsing, etc. I also turned off the gargantuan Linux server, having replaced it with a little Shuttle box, but that’s really smaller news by comparison.

So what have I observed in this migration?

Well, the Apple keyboard and mice are atrocious. Smushy keys and no scroller wheel…. well, let’s just say I’m off to Best Buy this morning to buy replacements.

Upgrading the memory in the machine was a piece of cake, and the instructions included with the iMac were dead on accurate. Very cool. The one thing I didn’t see mentioned anywhere, except in a tech note from Apple, was that mismatched types of memory cause a degradation in DIMM to DIMM performance. That would’ve saved me an extra trip to CompUSA to buy a matching 1Gb DIMM!

I don’t like the included mail client. I haven’t yet figured out how to do subfolders and rules. The Smart Mailbox appears to only be a filter for the things in the Inbox, and doesn’t seem to give the kind of functionality I’m used to with Outlook folders and rules. The mail client does a pretty good of figuring out junkmail though. That’s cool. Now if I can just figure out how to import my Outlook mail….

Last night we went to Borders to get a book or two on OS X Tiger, to try to help me get over the hump — perhaps a “So You’ve Moved from Windows…” book. Nada. In fact, most of the small Apple section was filled with books on Jaguar and Panther, and without knowing how far different Tiger was, I was hesitant to buy books for the older OS. And it’s then that the enormity of the Microsoft sections hit me — rows and rows of books on XP and other Microsoft products. I feel the long missing crazy-man-on-a-hill voice coming on…. the same one I heard when I was such an OS/2 zealot in the mid-90s.

This time though, it’s about more than just the architecture — it’s also about my usage. The iMac supposedly will do more and better photoediting than I’ve seen with my Windows boxen. That is what I’m looking forward to, and now that all the migrations are complete, I can play with that today! 🙂

Hardware Moves


I think tonight I’ve finished up the last of the hardware moves, all driven by the arrival of the iMac.

And, I set a record. It was 48 hours before I had the covers off the iMac, proceeding to do work to do it. That’s a neat looking piece of hardware on the inside — smartly put together, with well labelled pieces, and easy to install user options (memory or harddrive). I upgraded my memory today from 512Mb to 2Gb, which is the system maximum. The system seems a bit snappier, and that’s a good thing.

Originally this afternoon, I had purchased only one 1Gb DIMM for the beast, but I started looking around, and read a tech note from Apple that indicated that the bus width would be cut in half by using mismatched sizes and types of DIMMs. So, back to CompUSA this evening, and another installation, and the little guy is at 2Gb. Can’t wait to try Photoshop on it!

Of course, I’ve got a few files to move around before that can happen. Those file copies are happening right now, and should be done by the time I’m up in the morning. At that point, I think I can turn off the old server, and start parting it out. To get the little server up and functional took about eight hours of work, and by my standards, that’s not too bad.

So, lots of batch stuff going on tonight, and with a small window of time before the racing double-header later today (Indy 500 and CocaCola 600 — a Memorial Day weekend tradition for me!), I doubt a whole lot gets done today.

If you find a bump in the road, let me know!

Mac as Art


With the new iMac, and trying to move the server code to another box, my corner desk looks like something out of Star Trek: 15″ LCD panel on the new server, 17″ LCD panel on the laptop, 19″ LCD panel on the old server, and 20″ LCD panel on the iMac. There’s a lotta glow from this room!

The more I look at the iMac compared to the other hardware in my office, the more I appreciate its graceful styling. It’s a thing of beauty, and sits like an inspirational beacon on my desk, beckoning me to create and develop.

But… (and there’s always a but)

What crazy monkey designed the keyboard and mouse? The mouse is a single button mouse — no scroll wheel, no right click (without assistance from the keyboard), and no textured feel in your hand. It really is like holding a bar of soap with a cable attached. Is it cool looking? Yes. It just doesn’t give me the function I want.

So, I brought out my old Microsoft Bluetooth mouse and got it configured with the iMac. And then I remembered why I didn’t like the Bluetooth mouse. Whenever it goes to sleep, it takes an 9.5 earthquake to wake it up again. When I reach for the mouse, I expect it to respond, and my Microsoft Bluetooth mouse is a bit sluggish to get out of bed. 😉 It’ll go back in the “for sale” pile.

The keyboard that came with the iMac is another beautful work. Simple, small, and has the keys you need to do work — no fancy shortcut keys, volume control, or anything else extraneous. The feel of the keys though is horrible. Back in the old days, I measured my like or dislike for a keyboard by the “click” of the keys. The more clickey it was, the more I liked it. Nowadays, the clicks aren’t there audibly, but most keyboards have a tactile click, and that’s good enough. The Mac keyboard is just plain mushy. I have a tough time touchtyping with it, as I can’t tell when I have or haven’t hit a key hard enough to make an impression on the app I’m running.

So, I think today will be yet another run to BestBuy, or CompUSA, or somewhere, to get a Apple-centric wired mouse and keyboard. My apologies to the iMac designers — the mouse and keyboard are art, but aren’t suited to my work!

Once Bitten


Yes, I’ve taken a bite, and I’m not referring to the Jim Carey movie of the same title.

Tonight, I bought an iMac from the local Apple store.

I’ve been trying hard to figure out where to go on this decision. I knew I wanted a Mac — the photoprocessing capabilities are legendary — but I was having a tough time deciding between a dual G5 workstation or a PowerBook laptop. Then I saw a note about the iMac, took a look, and was sold. It has 512Mb RAM (which I’ll upgrade soon), 250Gb hard drive, 20″ integrated LCD monitor, 2.0Ghz G5 processor, 8x dual-layer DVD burner, USB 2.0, Firewire 400, 10/100/1000-BaseT network, 802.11G network…. all built into a 2″ deep chassis, and all for a great price. The decision became very easy!

Heath, the Mac guy at the Apple Store, gave me a tour, and 30 minutes later, I was walking out of the store with a 25 pound box of Apple. I gotta say though, that the whole Apple culture is waaaaay different from what I’m used to. It seems like a culture and technology bent on creativity, not so much on the gear itself. That’s an appealing change.

Back at home, unpacking was a snap. Keyboard, mouse, power cord, and the unit itself. Plug it in, turn it on, and it begins to configure itself. I answered a couple of questions, configured my e-mail, and inside 15 minutes, I’m on the local network, hitting the internet, and being functional. Man, what an easy experience to deal with! I know I have a learning curve, but I’m excited about it.

Twenty-plus years ago, I can remember Rich Morehouse showing me his Apple II, when I had gone down the TRS-80 path. I was impressed with the Apple, as it seemed to do more than my TRS-80 gear. Now, all these years later, I have my first Apple, and I think I’m gonna love it!