Archive for the ‘Mac’ Category

Addicted to IM

Friday, April 18th, 2008

As an agent of change I continually invite you to look at what you’re doing everyday and say, “Maybe there a better and cheaper way.” I continually look at my everyday processes and think that. Well, today I’m going to address my changes with concern to my addiction to instant messaging.

pidgin.jpgtrillianlogo.jpg  When it comes to me sitting down doing mindless work I never want to be alone. Therefore, I sit down at a computer and fire up an instant messenger client. Here’s where I’m inconsistent. If I’m at a Linux machine I use Pidgin (it’s time to stop saying it but… “formerly called Gaim”). On a Windows machine I use Trillian. On a Mac I use Adium. Also, even though it’s known mostly for internet telephony I use Skype for those very few people that stay on Skype at work. Just for good measure I’ve added a new one to the flock. If I’m at a computer that isn’t mine I use to log into all my accounts.

I’ve been using Trillian for the longest and I’m finally going to have to end my many years with the program. It’s not that it did anything bad but it didn’t do anything really good. Pidgin however is open source and it’s great. It works on Windows and Linux/Unix/BSD (Amiga too reportedly). Since it is open source I’m looking forward to a OS X port soon but for now on that front I have to stick to Adium.

Here’s where the better comes in. Pidgin seems to be able to connect to every protocol imaginable. It does: AIM, Yahoo, MSN, Google Talk, Jabber, ICQ, Groupwise and believe it or not even Skype (with an easy to install plugin). Think that’s it? No. That’s only half the list that I know of. That’s the cool part of it.

Get addicted to Instant messaging again at home and in the office. Trust me, it’s a lot more productive than talking to people on the phone too. You can work and still keep in contact with all your friends. Let me warn you though, if you decide to use it from work you may decide to use the built in encryption or Off the record plugin (which also does make one for Trillian).

Chicken of the VNC Fullscreen exit

Thursday, March 27th, 2008

chicken-vnc.jpgI’ve just got to say, I really like the Macitosh Freeware program Chicken of the VNC. I recently had a little screen problem with my Dell laptop so, since I have CVNC on my wife’s laptops (in case they’re the closest computers to me). At my house I’ve got to have some kind of computing device within arms reach except if I’m in the shower (sounds like a hack I’m going to do doesn’t it).

Here’s the catch. Fullscreen mode. I went into fullscreen mode and was stuck! When you go into fullscreen mode there’s no logical way to get out. Just in case this happens to you, I’ve figured it out (and even posted it to a couple other blogs that talk about the problem).

Type in the key combination: [ctrl] + [alt/option] + [Apple] + [shift] + [`]

the twist is that sometimes taking out the [shift] works too so if one doesn’t work try the other.

Works like a charm. I still hate one thing about Macs though. The single button on the mouse. It really annoys me when I’m connecting to EVERY other operating system in the world from a Mac and have to improvise.

Is there a bug in the code?

Friday, February 1st, 2008

As of late I guess I may seem quite opinionated but I have found that I never find bugs or have to many features I really want that don’t come soon or aren’t thought of and just not apparent. I never have to file bug reports. I finally put in some feature requests.

I was just online and looked a a program called GOM Player that looks good however, I love my VLC. Then I find out that it’s only on Windows. I went to their forums to request a feature and found that they are already in the process of a Linux version but no Mac version. Since I really love my VLC I went to them to request the only real feature I liked in GOM which is Flash playback. It’s already in one of the nightly builds just needs more tuning. Thanks VLC. Just for the sake of it I told GOM that all the way cross platform is a good idea since I like all my clients and family sticking to the same interface.

However, it had me thinking. How do other people search through the bug report lists for programs and find so many that they need to request. I think I’m not critcal enough.

Going command line with OSX

Monday, January 28th, 2008

My dad is an old school electrical engineer. He worked on so many big aerospace projects and spacecraft when I was a kid that it was crazy. One thing he taught me is from a story he once told me. He said there are some thing that you learn in class that people don’t take very seriously. For example, I always had to know how to do the same things on paper as with a calculator. One particular situation that made him a star was when he was working on a satellite and their equipment failed. The rest of the engineers in his group just left and/or scrambled for another place to do their work.

My dad said that he stayed right there and worked it all out by himself. He relied on knowing the guts of how this stuff worked and having pen and paper. I took this seriously. I have found that this pays off in a couple ways. When I was building my office and when I’ve done construction on my house or someone else’s (something I love to do now) I needed geometry. Most kids now days learn enough about it to pass the class in high school and never look back. The postulates and theorems of geometry helped me when I lacked a tool or equipment.

This being said, the way I figure it, don’t call yourself a real administrator until you know how to go to the command line and wreak havoc in no matter what operating system you use. I appreciate the Mac for it’s user friendliness. However, I used to stay away from OS 9 and before because it’s lack of depth. Yes it was easy to do menial tasks but I wouldn’t advise a network rely on it or especially an enterprise.

I welcomed OS X to the modern world of technology with open arms. Up until it’s release I was a rare user of the operating system because I tried but didn’t really get that deep into Appletalk. OS X’s Mach kernel brought serious Unix thinking to a pretty interface.

So, you own a Mac? Let’s get you some street cred. You want to hang with the Linux, Windows, and Unix network admins and not be the red headed step child? This is what you do. First start with network troubleshooting from the terminal. Create scenarios for yourself to solve. My usual problem to solve is why I don’t have access to the internet from a machine that I know should have a live connection plugged in… The networksetup and serversetup commands are key and new to even hardcore Unix/Linux admins. I still use “ifconfig” out of unix habit though.

Here’s a couple of useful links that can help you. The first is this pdf file that is a “Mac OS X Server from the command line” file.

Next: “Top 15 terminal commands for hidden Mac OS X settings.”

Then for the Unix/Linux guys. Here are some command line programs that are specific to the Mac. “Unique Darwin commands.” Also, check out this blog:

Mac guys/gals. show your true geekness. Flip up a terminal window in front of you networking friends and even impress the Cisco guys.

The age of altruism or just business as usual

Monday, December 3rd, 2007

If anyone has been following the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) drama it really makes you think about perception.  Perception has always and will always be the key to marketing any company.  I’m finding that the newest drama is the competition from Intel and Microsoft over needy children.  The OLPC is supposed to bet the “$100 laptop.”  It is supposed to be a cheap way to get computers to deprived countries and children.  Their plan is to also offer it to the everyday person and when they buy it they a PC gets donated to a developing country.  A very altruistic goal to say the least.

Here’s where the sharks enter the pool because they realize there are a lot of guppies.  Microsoft starts talking about building a “Classmate PC.”


The real problem in Microsoft’s view is the fact that the OLPC runs Linux.  Microsoft couldn’t fear the growth of Linux more.  I’m sure that a million Microsoft zealots would love to debate that point but nothing helps Linux more than the idea of community behind it. It’s dripping wet with the altruistic mentality.  Linux taking over the server market slowly is almost acceptable but the desktop?  They already have enough competition from Mac on the desktop. Vista’s huge failure with anyone that knows better is fueling Mac and Linux.

Microsoft is no dummy though.  What do they do?  Jump on the bandwagon of “Let’s help the children.”  It gives Microsoft zealots a flag to wave.  It gives Microsoft the illusion of caring more about the people.  It also,  a good way to get the best marketing their is: Free marketing from the news.

History tends to repeat itself.  Right now we are heading for a 70’s movement developing hippies and flower children out of business men. Everybody wants to go “Green” now.  Automobile makers are thinking about how to save the planet through alternative fuels in the same way.  Big business wants to jump on board quick.

Don’t be fooled people.  For the same reason electric cars were always the ugliest cars Microsoft isn’t truly jumping into the classmate PC.  To care more about community would make them open the source code to some of their products.  It couldn’t hurt much.  They own most of the market.  Here’s an idea for them. Open the source code to something very off-beat like Visio.  It’s not a product that really effects the bottom line too much but it really makes it look like a serious effort. The average person doesn’t use it but after it’s free and open more people may want to outside of the networking community.

Trust me, I understand all sides.  I don’t mind Microsoft making it’s money.  That’s what America is all about.  However, altruism, community, and green living should be what humans are all about and that’s what open source and Linux are.  My mother was an art teacher so I grew up art and the joys of it so I understand how Apple thinks: Design and user experience are the joys of computing.  I get it.  However, if you’re going to pretend like you care… Please!  Really care.

MS Office is now the bullseye

Monday, September 24th, 2007

I’ve never smoked cigarettes but for a couple years now I’ve totally understood that addiction. I’ll tell you what mine has been: Microsoft Office. I’d do anything to get a hold of it in my past. I worked a deal a while back to buy some licenses from a vendor that I bought a lot of products through so I still use it. However, that was quite a few years ago and right now I’m seeing no compelling reason to upgrade to Office 2007. FYI, my wife’s new Macbook came with Office 2007 so I may play with it more there.

I’ve blogged a long time ago about my dependence on Microsoft Outlook and Access. I’ve been trying to find a way around them to little avail. Well, that’s what it would seem like but I actually have found solutions but I still have that Office monkey on my back. At home and for my consulting I work in Linux, Windows, and Mac and one of the major themes of this blog is working well in all three or whatever you’re given. Well, with my laptop I primarily boot into Linux, my desktop I primarily use Windows and and my wife is on a Mac. The rest of my systems are a mixture of the three except I run all Linux servers. So, for consistency at home and for offices I really want to run the same software throughout.


Calling all hackers… Please hack the iPod Touch!

Friday, September 14th, 2007

ipod touch

I’m definitely not an iPod fanboy. As you have probably read in a previous blog I wasn’t a big fan of the iPhone just before it came out but this is different. It’s beautiful like Apple’s other products but at a size of 4.5″ x 2.4″ x .46″ and 4.6 ounces, this one actually fits my need… Almost.

I say almost because right now I’m using an HP Ipaq as my PDA. I’ve loved it for about 5 years now. Now it’s time to move onward and upward. I’d love one that Linux ran on so I could use the small size of Linux apps on it for everything I need. Also, I’d love GPS. Seems like I’m talking about the Nokia N800 but Apple I’m giving you a chance here.

Nokia N800 The N800 is really nice too. The form factor is 5.7″ x 3.0″ x 0.5″ and weighs 7.3 ounces. However, at 5.7″ long it’s quite a bit longer than the standard 4″ wallet but justifiable in the standard inside coat pocket. Although the 4.1″ touch display that has a 800×480 resolution is really nice.

Let’s talk about GPS people? In this day and age where GPS is in so many things why isn’t it in either of these devices? You can get the GPS for the Nokia for about $250 more. Why? You could just get a Tomtom device or something for about that price?

Ok, my needs are simple hackers. Hack the iPod touch so I can install linux on it and have it function like an N800. That way I can use all that storage on it plus have the cooler look and smaller form factor. Plus, I want to run Thunderbird for email, VLC for video, rdesktop and VNC to manage other computers, and a couple other apps. Thunderbird does not run on the N800 I’ve heard. Email, contacts, syncing, and calendaring is the most important to me.

All right.  There’s your marching orders.  Help make me and everybody else happy.  Combine all these things into the iPod touch and I’ll be one extremely happy camper even though the iPod screen is 3.5″ and the N800 is 4.1″.  Some sacrifices can be made.

An macbook in the house and an iCar in the driveway

Thursday, September 6th, 2007

You might know by now that I just love technology and it doesn’t scare me. So I’m not a Mac, Windows, or Linux basher. Choice is good and I love them all in their own special way. Granted, I mainly use Linux and Windows multibooting on all my machines but there is a great amount of mac love. Ok, you got me, I did once say that mac owners usually do have a certain “I’m so deep, artistic, and not really a manly man” look but I’m cool with that. I’m a live and let live kind of guy.


Well, a week ago a new member joined my family. A beautiful little white macbook. My wife (check out her blog) went back to school for her masters and the program that she’s in gave them macbooks. Before you ask, YES, the tuition is that much where she really paid for it but that’s another story. Anyway, it’s like a new baby in our house that we’re adopting. I already have a G3 in the house but I see a lot of projects that I want to try with it. I’ll definitely keep you posted.

The one thing that I just heard in the rumor mill though is that Apple is working with Volkswagon to make a imac version of the new VW Bug. I can’t tell you how great that idea actually is. Volkswagon owners are usually the type I’d guess would have a mac. All the same stereotypes apply. My nephew is the only college football playing VW Bug owner I know of ( and that’s because his mother bought it) but I’m in California and the rules may be different elsewhere. VW owners rejoice. You iMac and your car will now be in sync.

Ride this computer till the wheels fall off

Friday, August 17th, 2007

I don’t know what to think of myself. I don’t like pack rats but I must admit to my one weakness. Trying to breath life into old machines. Believe me, I’m good at it. I’m the guy that has all these extra PC’s in my garage that I put together to see what I can do. I have a drawer full of old memory chips and I’m not afraid to use them.

The funny part is when people see my house or office sometimes. I have guests over and they naturally assume that I have spent tens of thousands on all my equipment but I haven’t. I’ve spent a tenth of that cost because most of these are computers that people either didn’t want or companies told me I could take home. Throwing Linux on these machines is like a fresh coat of paint that looks good. Windows and Mac people come and feel right at home based on what screen I give them. Of course I do have some pretty fast machines around too for the database and multimedia stuff but that’s not the norm.

Before you think about throwing out that machine you’re using figure out what you really need a computer for. What you’re running might just need a little cleaning up and it’s as good as new again. Windows and Mac computers just get a little slow because of all the bloated software that is or was installed. Backup all your info and then wipe your drive. Re-installing it with a restore CD you got with the computer and building it back up can most times make you fall in love with it again.

Confession of a virtualization junkie

Thursday, August 9th, 2007

I can’t say it enough but I’m just a junkie. I’ve been using Vmware server for a while and it’s great for someone like me. I continually try new stuff. I don’t have to risk blowing up my machine to do it either. I’ll install every operating system I can download. I’ve been through every trial edition. Tested out everything there is (well except games because Vmware’s virtual video driver can’t handle that). I can even show a company how the new software’s going to act by virtualizing their current hardware and trying out whatever I want on it. If it fails? So what do it again. No harm done.

If you aren’t riding this hot wave the you should. Go to every Linux distro you want and try all of them out. Use it on another machine as a backup solution. Your main machine goes down you can run on a virtual one from another computer in seconds. One day Apple will realize that they should make their software compatible with this but until then you too should become a virtualization junkie.