My XBox Live Gamer Card
Tuesday, November 11. 2008
I bought my new MacBook Pro on Sunday night. I opened it, took a look at it and started it up to make sure it powered on. I didn't do anything else other than admire the new magnetic latch mechanism (which really is no mechanism at all).
Monday I took both my PowerBook G4 and the new MacBook Pro to the office to copy all the data over. I knew I should be able to use Migration Assistant to move data from the old machine to the new machine via Ethernet. Direct connecting from one Ethernet port to the other didn't work. I wasn't too surprised as I was able to setup an IP address by hand on the G4, but didn't appear to have any ability to do that on the MBP. Once I realized that wasn't going to work, I broke out a router that has a DHCP server in it and plugged both machines into that. It took a couple of tries, but eventually Migration Assistant on the G4 popped up with the "Please Enter Your Authentication Code" dialogue. I did and off it went with "Preparing Files." I left my office, returned and found the MBP had fallen asleep, woke it up and unsurprisingly the process had died. Vowing to stay in my office and keep both machines awake through the process I started it over. Once again it failed with an "I have lost my connection" error on the MBP. I decided to try once more and once more it failed. I was disappointed, but knew I had other options available to me.
I've never used Firewire, never had a need for it, don't even have a cable. It took me a few minutes to realize that the G4 has both FW400 and FW800 ports. So I stopped looking for a 400 to 800 converter and hopped on the bike and rode to the closest provider of Apple computers (which is very close). Picked up my first ever Firewire cable and returned to the office. I plugged the two machines together, and followed the instructions for setting the G4 in Firewire mode. The first time it failed, but after a power cycle it worked exactly as it should have.
I was stunned when the Migration Assistant on the MBP said it would only take one hour and twenty-one minutes to do the copy. It blazed along and for a while looked like it would take less time than that, but then slowed down toward the end and eventually, when the progress gauge was all the way full. I got an error telling me that the network connection had been lost. I clicked the "Retry" button and it worked for another long period of time but then came back with the same error again. I looked at the gauge, did a moment's evaluation and clicked the "Cancel" button, which immediately placed me into new user setup. I created a new user named test and completed the initial setup.
Logging out as Test I saw that my account from the other machine was there. I logged in, and aside from a couple of minor window placement changes, everything worked exactly as expected but much much faster! I was thrilled. Where the CPU monitor on the G4 lived almost constantly at the top of the graph. The CPU monitors on the new machine were barely above a flat-line. Everything worked and everything worked faster. I'm thrilled.
Things I like about this machine. I love the uni-body construction of the case. it is extremely stiff, and extremely solid, and feels very rugged. The G4 was a wonderfully solid machine. This one ups the ante significantly. The rubber feet on the bottom are another wonderful addition. The G4 was missing one of it's tiny rubber feet. The stresses of sliding across desks and tables and countertops for four years finally became too great and one of them pulled off. That won't be a problem with the new feet. they're big and wide and have a lot of surface area, both in contact with the bottom of the computer and the desktop. Backlit keys are fantastic. I prefer working with the lights off, so the lit keys are a wonderful thing. In addition the new keyboard should get much less crud in it than the G4 keyboard did, the aluminum webbing between the keys should prevent the vast majority of hair and lint from dropping between the keys (the keyboard on my G4 got a bit gross after being in use for a long time). The sound quality is also much better. Even at maximum volume I could often barely hear the G4. Now I have to keep the volume very low. The iTunes control keys are also a nice touch. I've been using them a lot.
The much talked about trackpad is something I neither love nor hate. For the most part it works as expected. I think after several more days of use I will be tweaking some of the settings, but I'm not sure. It does so much that re-teaching myself how to do things like scrolling and activating Expose are taking a bit of time. Some of the gestures I just don't get, likely because I am not involved in computing. In areas where those gestures get a lot of use.
The screen is marvelous. It's bright, clear, and easily readable, but, it is also glossy and a fingerprint magnet (despite the included iMicrofiberscreencleaningcloth). I loved the matte display on the G4. I'm having a bit of a difficult time adjusting to the glossy screen on the MacBook Pro. We'll see how/if I adjust over time.
Apple will certainly be glad I purchased the new machine. I'd quit buying music because the 60Gb drive on the G4 was at 99% capacity. With 250Gb of space I should be able to invest in a bit more music now.
The aluminum wrist wrest on the G4 became pitted and discoloured due to some sort of chemical reaction with my skin. I will be buying some sort of protector for this machine, unfortunately Marware doesn't have their's available yet.
All-in-all, I'm very pleased with my experience with the new machine.
Tuesday, October 21. 2008
My amazing PowerBook G4 just passed it's fourth anniversary with me. For a notebook computer that gets almost constant use, and is powered on for 20+ of every 24 hours it has been incredible.
On Sunday I faced my first major crisis since my hard drive failed shortly after I bought the computer. My disk is almost full. The 60Gb drive has about 3.5Gb free when I restart, and hovers at slightly less than a 1Gb after about a week of use. Sometimes something pushes it further and I get a warning "Your startup disk is almost full." When that happens, I shut down all my apps, reboot and all is well with the world.
Saturday night I got the message. Restarted the machine then left it to watch some TV. I wastched it reboot from across the room and didn't think a thing about it until I tried to unlock the screen on Sunday Morning to blog about my experiences at the Apple Store and at the theater with Jennifer. The screen wouldn't unlock. All I got was a spinning beach ball. This has happened to me before, sometimes I can wait it out, other times I've had to power off and then power on. This time I had to Power off and on.
The machine wouldn't start.
I went online to figure out how to eject the CD that was in the drive (Cmd+Option+O+F then "eject cd") got the CD ejected, then booted from my Leopard install DVD. I ran permissions repairs, I ran disk repairs, nothing worked. My machine still would not boot. I booted into single-user mode, and saw a message "Waiting on Window Server" I found others who had had the problem, but my Google-fu was not up to finding a solution.
The next step was a re-install. I wasn't too pleased with that, but I'd done it one other time to no ill-effect. So proceeded to attempt the installation. The DVD got partway through the validation stage (a very long process on my PowerBook) then died. I cleaned the drive tried again and again it died. The third time all went well, with the validation, but the installer died almost immediately with an error. That wasn't a good sign.
By now I was about four hours into the ordeal and starting to think a new MacBook Pro might be in my future earlier than I expected (if you follow my Twitter feed you saw those tweets). When Jennifer got home from church I told her that things were looking bad. She suggested that maybe I needed to be prepared to get out the credit card. Finally, on my seventh attempt at an install, everything worked correctly. About 5:00pm I had a working system.
Monday I picked up my external drive (the one Time Machine uses for backups) from my apartment, took it all to the office and attempted to use Apple's Migration Assistant to recover my data. I discovered a few things along the way. I use a hack to allow Time Machine to backup to the NAS drive. That hack makes it a bit more difficult to use Migration Assistant to find a Time Machine backup. To get everything working I had to do the following:
I logged out of the temp account, logged in under my old account, and everything was back exactly as it should have been except my printer settings and possibly my album art (the album art screen-saver isn't working though I DO have album art on the machine).
Time Machine worked exactly as I had hoped it would work. It backed up all by itself, and allowed me to restore the data I needed when I desperately needed it.
Wednesday, April 26. 2006
I wrote earlier about how easy it was to add support for py.test to TextMate While it worked effectively it was really ugly as it used a deprecated feature of TextMate. TextMate's default interface to Python is called PyMate. It gives very nice, very readable output from the Python interpreter. I thought that if Python output could be so pretty and readable, it should be possible to do something similar with the output from py.test.
My efforts to create such a tool are located here PyTestMate. Please be aware that while this is quite usable for me, it may or may not work for you! There are no good installation instructions yet, and you will have to configure the bundle command yourself.
Of course all the unit tests for PyTestMate were written using PyTestMate!
I would love any feedback, good, bad or indifferent. I'll enhance it as time permits, and if you have suggestions please let me know so I can add them to my todo list.
Tuesday, April 25. 2006
I've been using Vim for at least six or seven years. I love it, and can't imagine life without it. However, a month or so ago I discovered a little OSX text editor called TextMate from MacroMates. The first time I downloaded it and played with it I wasn't very impressed, it didn't, at first blush, seem as complete as TextWrangler. But I kept hearing little things about it, so decided to check it out.
I'm working on a little python project and do all my development work using Test Driven Development. So I loaded up my files into TextMate and started to explore. I discovered that TextMate supports python's unittest framework, but for this project I had decided to experiment with py.test. TextMate doesn't support py.test out of the box, but it turned out to be a ten minute exercise to add py.test support to TextMate.
Digging into the code, TextMate handled all my needs, while I'm still not as fast in it as I am in Vim, I can accomplish quite a bit in a short period of time, and as I learn more every day, my speed is increasing. TextMate's "bundle" -- generally languages, but sometimes interfaces (e.g., to svn) -- support makes it easy to extend the functionality of this wonderful little editor (I'm not sure why I call it little as it's incredibly capable, it just feels little!)
Monday, June 13. 2005
...on the hard drive of my PowerBook. (With apologies to William Blake)
I've been running Tiger on my 15" Aluminum PowerBook for just over a week now. The second thing I noticed is that it actually isn't burning, Tiger seems to run much cooler on this computer than Panther did. I can't explain it, it just feels cooler to my hands, and considering I sit at my PowerBook 12+ hours a day, I trust my hands!
The first thing I noticed is the speed. Holy smoke is it fast! I don't know what the engineers at Apple did, but whatever it is, everything feels faster. Not just a bit faster, but a lot faster. For a new version of an operating system to be faster than than the previous version is a major miracle. It was almost as if I had a new processor installed.
I'd like to use Spotlight, but most of my work is done with email, and Spotlight can't yet index Entourage, so my usage of the feature is a bit limited. Dashboard is interesting. I have a couple of widgets I like to use already. I don't believe it's a "can't live without it" feature, but it does what it does and does it fairly well. I've read complaints about not being able to use the widgets on the desktop. I would absolutely hate having those widgets on the desktop. I like my wallpaper far too much!
Thursday, June 9. 2005
I bought my first Power Book last October. I love this computer! Apple Computer really "gets it" It's small (even with it's 15" screen), light, has exceptional battery life and just works and works.
However, since I bought the machine I have had one problem that has driven me nuts: the screensaver security lock has never worked. I live on my computer, and it's running most of the time. For that reason I much prefer that it locks when I'm not near it. However, this PowerBook did not like returning from the screensaver when I had "Require a password" turned on. I would get the nasty spinning beachball of death, and no password dialogue.
Every time Apple released a point release of Panther, I would eagerly download it and test again to see if my problem had been fixed, and sigh when I discovered it hadn't been. No one on the Apple support boards was able to give me a solution to the problem, so I just lived with it. Then came Tiger. I upgraded and everything worked the way it should...for two days, then the old behaviour reared its ugly head again, and nothing I tried could fix it.
I've always thought of my AppleCare as hardware protection. However, It dawned on me that it probably covers the OS as well, so I called Apple to see what they had to say about the problem. They weren't any help on the first phone call. We reset the PRAM and the PMU, and neither of those had a positive impact. He asked me to boot off the DVD and run a Disk Repair. I didn't have my DVD at work, so that had to wait. The Disk Repair didn't solve things, so I called back a couple of days later for more input.
For some reason this tech got hung up on the fact that I had only Verified the disk, and not Repaired it. I asked him repeatedly what doing a Repair would do when the Verify showed no problems and he couldn't answer that question. Anyway, once I made it clear I was not going to run an unnecessary Repair, he had a couple of interesting ideas, though no clearcut solutions. The first was to change the Hot Corner for the screensaver, and the second was to create a new user, log in as that user and see if the problem duplicated.
I did both, logged in as the second user, and there was no problem with the screensaver at all. Logged back in as me and all of a sudden, I wasn't having screensaver problems as me either! I have no idea which of the two things fixed things, though I'd put my money on the second account.
Anyway nine months after I got it, I finally have a slightly more secure PowerBook, and for that I'm very grateful.
Friday, February 25. 2005
As I start learning about OS/X and working with Python on it, I keep turning up odd little things. When I'm playing with libraries I dump them willy-nilly into a directory in my home directory, and I have the
Yesterday I was attempting to import a library, and nothing I did worked. I checked all the settings and they all looked correct, but the value of
Wednesday, February 23. 2005
Before I moved to my PowerBook, I ran Gentoo Linux on an IBM ThinkPad. I have a Creative Nomad Zen Xtra MP3 player, and found some software that ran under Linux and worked with it. However it doesn't work like I do, so I started tinkering with Python, PyQt, and Python-libnjb, working up a bit of an interface that sorta-kinda started to look like what I wanted. However, that project got put on hold when I moved to my PowerBook and Mac OS/X. There's some very good software XNJB that I've been using to keep my Nomad up to date, but once again, while it works very well, it doesn't work like I do.
That all sounded like a great excuse to break out the Project I'd been working on. Getting everything to work correctly was an interesting project in itself. One of the beauties of Python is you don't have to be an expert at compiling or linking to make great use of it. Building libusb and libnjb on my PowerBook was fairly easy, but getting Python-libnjb to build caused me all sorts of grief when it came to linking. Eventually thanks to some help on the Python mailing list I got the library to build correctly. The linker command in the Makefile should look like this:
ld -bundle -flat_namespace -undefined suppress\
This built the library without any errors. However, when trying to load it in Python I got the following error:
Python 2.3.3 (#1, Aug 23 2004, 20:06:57)
I have yet to find a good solution to the above problem. At the moment the solution is a horrid kludge, creating a symlink from /lib to /sw/lib.
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