Archive for the ‘apple’ Category

OS X Leopard

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007

You know…this is the first time I upgrade my MacBook Pro’s OS.  I ran 10.4 for about a year.  Never had any problems with it.  I was cautious regarding the OS upgrade, as in the Windows world, for years now….you’ve had to back up, then test all you applications, then figure out how to make things work, THEN maybe you could get back to work.

With the new OS, I just popped in the DVD, did the upgrade, and voila!  it all worked freakin great!  not a single issue yet!  been 2 hours, just launching my e-mail, and testing everything, but I’ll be damned that I can’t find a thing wrong.

My cynicism comes from me working with Windows 3.11, Win95 (version a, b and c), Win98 (first & second editions), WinME (for the brief 30 minutes I had it installed), Win2000 (all versions and all SPs), WinXP (gotta give kudos….XP was stable and had no REAL issues), and Windows Vista (who cares what version….it didn’t make it to the 30 minute mark for me) for the last 12 years.  I’m all set with Windows.So….for those of you looking for advice on upgrades….I’d do it.

I’ve heard that there is one application out there causing issues, but I didn’t have any issues with the upgrade.

Convert, damn you! convert!

amazing how an OS upgrade is kind of NOT a real big deal.  Given…had my backups prior to the upgrade, but don’t all geeks? 

Windows To OS X – The Conversion Part IV

Sunday, December 17th, 2006

Alright, so I’ve now had my MacBook Pro for about a week, and I’ve gotten so much done to/on it that I’m just flat out impressed. I’ve got a lot of thoughts that I’d like to put down, but I’ll try to keep things simple.


Moving my iTunes library without reimporting. I could have copied over all my MP3 files over to the new MacBook from my home PC, and then just did a discovery with the iTunes application to find all the music again, but I wanted to keep all my ratings, play counts, and other data that is kept by iTunes.
Amazingly enough…I copied over the iTunes folder from my PC to my Mac, and when I started iTunes…EVERYTHING was there. AND …. it all worked. I’m kind of amazed at this, but I’m very happy that this just worked like that.

Adobe Acrobat Reader and CutePDF

I can read PDF files with the Preview application included on OS X. I didn’t need (yet…) to download the Adobe Acrobat Reader. I also can print to a PDF file from any application. SWEET! I used to do this on my PC’s with an application call CutePDF…now its just right there on OS X.

Ahead Nero and MagicISO

I can use Disk Utility, but I think its kinda of lacking in ease of use to burn CD’s and DVD’s. I picked up FireStarter FX, which is Donation-Ware. Pretty good software, and easy to use. I can make CD’s and DVD’s with no problem, AND they are still readable from my PC. I can also make ISO files (or bin/cue if you want) right out of this application. (I’m still looking for an easy way to make ISO’s right from a CD-ROM/DVD though…some of this discs are bootable, and copying the data just won’t work). So I’m planning on throwing these guys a few bucks because I’m real happy with this software.

Daemon Tools

This was some freeware I use to install on my Windows PC’s. It created a ‘virtual CD-ROM’ drive, that could point to ISO files, and present them to the Windows OS as a real CD-ROM. This saved me a lot of headache, because I no longer needed to carry around all of my CD’s…I could just keep a file on my laptop/desktop and get to the data with a click or two. Well….if you double click an ISO in OS X, you can access it right in your Finder (the equivilent to Windows Explorer).

Gadwin Printscreen

I used to use this Freeware on Windows to help me with screenshots. I do a lot of this when writing my documentation, so I like something that can just make it easier than hitting Print Screen, (or now ctrl+shift+F3). I found a lovely Widget that I’ll be trying out called ScreenShot Plus. puts the files where I want them, uses the format that I select, and has different options for whole screen, active window, drag a window, or use a timer (unique….I like this one…).

InterVideo WinDVD

Came with my PC, and eh…it worked, but I never really used it. Playing DVD’s is supported right in OS X, so no new software was needed.

Logitech Harmony Remote

I’ve got an Xbox 360, and was looking for a universal remote, and ended up with this one. Personally, I’ve used a few of these universal remotes, and this is BY FAR the easiest one I’ve ever had to set up (including ‘learning’ commands). Currently, this software does not work with Intel based Macs, but IF I need to change the setting on it before they fix the software, I can always just connect this remote to a Parallels VM if I need to.

Macromedia DreamWeaver MX

I used this a bit on the PC, and figured I’d try to use iWeb on the Mac. Well, I don’t think it will work out, and I may need to shell out the cash for a copy of DreamWeaver on the Mac. We’ll see….

Microsoft Office

So I’ve used MS office for YEARS now. I’m definitely NOT an expert at using all of the many features that were included with the suite. I mean, ok, I know many people use the entire Office Suite together, but I’m not one of those. I figure the most work I do is using Excel for my timesheets and expense reports, Word for keeping track of all my day to day activities in a log, and used Outlook for the calander/contacts/e-mail management. It’s worked well for a while, but I mean….I just don’t use all the features.
OK, so I ended up using Apple Mail, iCal, and the Address Book that are built into OS X to replace my Outlook use. I ended up using some software from a company Little Machines call Outlook 2 Mac. It cost me $10 US, but worth every penny. I tried doing it for free using freeware, but I just kept missing a couple of things. Using Outlook 2 Mac, I got all my 1-GB of e-mail migrated, all 500 or so contacts, and kept my calender for the last 5 years of appointments (not because I really needed them, but because I could).
For Word and Excel replacements, I use OpenOffice 2. It’s free, and it does the job for me.
OK, now I do use a Parallels Virtual Machine (until VMware releases their VMware Workstation for OS X) to run a VERY limited number of Windows applications for my office, so….I’ve got Word and Excel there as a backup (you know…just in case). Not planning on using it, but IF I have a document from a client that has some kind of issue, at least I’ll be able to get things done in a pinch.

Microsoft RDP

Here’s a usefull utility to get a ‘remote’ display of some other Windows Server (XP, 2000 can also support RDP). No loss here…The software is available native for OS X, so I can go on using it.

Microsoft Visio

Well, I use Visio for documentation of datacenters, networks, servers, some project flow, and I only use it at work. Since there is no equivalent for OS X that I know of…I have to run this application in the Parallels VM.


I’ve stopped using Internet Explorer a while ago…I’m not really sure how long I’ve been a Firefox user, but I tried to use Safari. A couple of things I liked better about Firefox, so I just downloaded and installed it. Easy switch. Just imported all my bookmarks from my old PC.


In Windows XP, there is no native utilities to make SSH connections to remote devices (servers, switches, routers, SAN arrays, etc), so I use to download this utility and use it all the time. It is freeware for Windows. BUT since OS X is native *nix under the covers, the functionality I needed is right in OS X from the beginning. I did end up missing a couple of features that you just can’t get from the command-line (saved sessions so you don’t have to keep typing your connection information all the time), so I found iTerm and can get most of what I need through that.


I only use QuickTime once in a while, but I consider it worth $30 US. I did have to get a new key to work on the Mac, but that was pretty painless.

Symantec Antivirus

well, for now…don’t really need it on a Mac, but that may change someday….

VMware Virtual Infrastructure Client

A Windows only application that I use on a daily basis. This software manages VMware ESX Servers in the datacenter, and is required application.

VMware Workstation and Parallels

Both companies make great Virtualization software. Right now, I’m using Parallels, as VMware hasn’t released their Workstation for OS X just yet. I’m biased to VMware (as I have been using this for quite a few years), so I’m being up front. I use Parallels right now so that I can use my Windows specific software for work (but as you can see, that list is VERY small right now).

Windows Media Connect

Once again, I use an Xbox 360. I use to stream my my MP3 collection, photos, and such from my WIndows XP desktop at home. I found some lovely software called Connect 360 that plugs into iTunes and streams all my MP3s, photos, and video (the video has the same limitations for formats as Windows Media Connect on Windows XP). $20, and worth it.


Here’s some software I used to use on Windows XP so I could securely copy files over to *nix based systems in bulk. It’s freeware, so I used it extensively. I can do this natively from the command line in OS X, but I may end up trying out Fugu.


We’ve all used this in Windows to open archives, but now Windows can open these natively. I use to use this to make Zip files every so often with the Eval copy. Now, the ability to create and extract Zip files is native to OS X, so no problem there.

My Companies Custom Applications

Since these are specifically written for Windows XP, I must use the Parallels VM to use these applications. Can’t work around it.

Now that’s a lot of reading already, so I’ll chime in again later with my general praises of OS X at another time.

Windows To OS X – The Conversion Part III

Sunday, November 26th, 2006

So now comes the fun part, right? Gotta figure out how to do all the things that I’ve got to do on a Mac that I do in Windows. Well, the snag is, I’m still in preparations mode, as my Mac has yet to arrive. I’ve been researching lots of things to help me in my trasition, and this time, I’ll be writing about moving my iTunes library from Windows XP to OS X.

So here’s the situation. I have a 55-GB music library. I’ve ripped all of my 900 some odd CD’s, and have them as MP3s on my computer for the last 5 years. I have an iPod which I carry around my whole CD collection around on. I don’t currently use it for pictures, videos, contacts, or calanders, but that will change as I move over to OS X. The MP3s currently reside on my computer, ‘The-Doctor’.

Why not just copy over the files to the Mac, and then use iTunes to discover the files I’ve copied over? Well, I spent about 2.5 years rating all my music while traveling to customer sites. I did this so that I could always have ‘my favorite’ songs with me on my 20-GB iPod (which FINALLY died and was replace with an 80-GB model after 3 years of abuse), and so that I could figure out what I like to listen to a little more. So now that I’ve got 7000 songs rated, and some history about play counts and last play dates, I’d like to keep that information (not only that, but I pride myself on having kept all my metadata correct, and have tested this to the nth degree). If I just copied the files over to the Mac, and imported those songs, I would lose the ratings and play dates and times that I’ve been keeping track of.

So in planning my iTunes migration, I backed up the files that make up my iTunes directory on my Windows machine. Not the MP3′s, as those are already backed up, but the ‘iTunes Library.itl’ and ‘iTunes Music Library.xml’ files (these files make up the iTunes ‘database’. I moved my ‘iTunes Music’ folder to a different directory so that I could do some importing/exporting with the software and not ‘damage’ my MP3 files and their metadata. After the backup of those core files, which contain all the important data about my MP3 library, I’m ready to explore my options for moving around my MP3 Library. I deleted the files left in my iTunes Music folder, and that gives me a clean iTunes database

So I went into my iTunes preference (found under the Edit pull-down menu in Windows) and looked for some settings to tweak to see if there was anything to help me migrate my data. I found something in the ‘Advanced’ tab’s ‘General’ tab. I do NOT have the ‘Keep iTunes’ Music Folder Organized’ check box ticked. ‘I’ want to keep my folders organized (long story, but being anal retentive, I like to have all my Opeth albums under Opeth, not have some songs under Opeth, and some under Opeth & guest Star…). More importantly and relevant to the discussion, is the 2nd checkbox, ‘Copy files to iTunes Music folder when adding to library’. I put a tick in this checkbox to enable the feature and try it out with a SMALL subset of my data. I import the band 311, and some of my compilations (namely Star Wars Soundtrack, Raiders of the Lost Ark Soundtrack, and Judgement Night Soundtracks) because these compilations have ‘Various Artists’, and mulitple artists in their metadata. I was very happy with the results…it kept all the 311 albums under the 311 band folder…it kept all the soundtracks under the ‘Compilations’ folder and did NOT seperate or break them down by ‘artist’ which could have been a mess. the Judgement Night soundtrack has 11 songs, and they are all co-operative efforts between rap and metal bands, so the ‘artist’ metatag has 2 entries, like Biohazard & Onyx. The problem I had was that I lost ALL of my ratings, and other information that I use in iTunes (but all the metadata was right at least). Time to try another way. I clean out my iTunes directory structure, and try again.

So…under the iTunes ‘Advanced’ pull down menu, I found something interesting…’Consolidate Library’. This is actually what solved my problem…I think…
So before adding music to the fresh and clean library, I cleared the ‘Advanced’ tab’s ‘General’ tab, ‘Copy files to iTunes Music folder when adding to library’ setting. I added the same subset of music. I then went to teh ‘Advanced’ pull down menu, and did a ‘Consolidate Libray’ action. It stated…
‘Consolidating your library will copy all of your music into the iTunes Music folder. This cannot be undone.’
Not being concerned at this point about losing data, I clicked the ‘consolidate’ button.

The result was perfect. It maintained the directory structure I spent so much time creating…with NO issues! This leaves me with some ideas on how to migrate my MP3 data, the metadata, as well as the iTunes database with all its information. I’ve got the plan, so now, to see if it will actually perform in the way I expect it to.

The plan is to do the following…I plan to change the default ‘iTunes Music Folder Location’ to point out to my network share out on ‘Tardis’, do a ‘Consolidate Library’ action, and let all my music copy out to the network share. I’m expecting that when I move the iTunes files (the itl and xml files) over to the Mac after the ‘Consolidation’ to the network drive, that the files and their metadata will be absolutely fine.

Results will be posted…

I plan to keep this up on MY MySpace page as a blog as well, so for those of you interested, click the link above, and check out my page.

Windows To OS X – The Conversion Part II

Sunday, November 12th, 2006

Now for a little bit of my normal use of my computers, both work and home, as well as the setup of how my hardware is configured at both my home and in my office (without giving specific details of either network).

I’ll be discussing Virtual Machines a lot, so for those of you who do not know what they are, check out VMware, Wikipedia, and Virtual-Strategy Magazine.

My home world is easier to work with first, so let me start there. I have a computer at home call ‘The-Doctor’. This is the machine I use for iTunes, backups (both work and home), my simple web sites (check out if you care to) that I manage with Dreamweaver, editing home video with Quicktime, doing my surfing when at home using Firefox, and running Virtual Machines to test things out for work. I also use a Virtual Machine to do all my day to day work. The reason for this is because I’ve been using Windows long enough to realize that no matter how careful you are, you WILL catch a virus, or get some spyware, or some kind of stupid problem that means you have to rebuild your system…no getting around it. My old record, prior to Virtual Machines, was about 3-6 months using Windows XP Professional.

I have a 2nd system, call ‘Tardis’, which is a NAS (or Networked Attached Storage) device where I keep backups of all my data. The exception to that is that all my video is out on ‘Tardis’ because to keep it all on ‘The-Doctor’ would be a bit too troublesome.

Since we’re on the discussion of backups, what I do with backups…I run a full backup every month to ‘Tardis’, and then incremental backups every day to ‘Tardis’. This way, at the end of the month, I copy all the ‘backups’ to ‘The-Doctor’, burn them off to DVD, and start the process over again. Once things are backed up, I can be assured that I don’t lose any data (only someone who HAS lost data will do things to this extent, let me tell you!). Oh…and being SOOOO paranoid…I make 2 copies of each DVD that I create as a backup, one to leave at home, and one to leave at my office. I do this for both my work data and my personal data. It only takes a matter of a couple of hours to do this, while I’m doing other things, so it is not much of a time commitment, just a commitment to do the work every month.

At work, I’ve got my IBM ThinkPad T-42. It’s my 4th laptop in 5.5 years at my office. I would consider myself a road warrior, as I’m off on customer sites at least one-third of the time, up to one-half of the time. I use VMware Workstation a lot, Microsoft Office, Outlook for my e-mail, Microsoft Visio, things like Acrobat Reader, Winzip, Secure FTP, Putty, Magic ISO, Firefox, Thunderbird, and a couple of work specific appliations that require Microsoft’s .NET. I have a mix of physical machine use and Virtual Machine use to get me through the day at the office. I have a small insignificant problem when I travel away from home though, and that is my data does not go with me. This is due to the fact that I don’t really need or want to mix personal data with work data on a work owned machine. Really, it’s more of a ‘I don’t have the disk space to do so’ issue rather than a ‘I don’t want to mix the data on the same machine’ issue.

Now my goal is to be off Windows ENTIRELY in 2 months, so January 11th will be the deadline. I will be cutting over my work environment to the Mac sooner than that…I’m expecting the end of this month that the only way I’ll be using Windows at the office is SPECIFICALLY for things that I can not find a replacement for in OS X, things like my office’s home grown applications, specific web sites that REQUIRE Intenet Explorer, and other things that I’ll keep track of.

Some of the resources I’ll be using to help me through my trasition to the Mac. My buddy, let’s call him Ratbert. He’s been a Mac guy for a long time. Another Engineer at my office, let’s call him Dilbert. This is the kind of guy Unix/Linux loves. He can script, embrace, and communicate how to solve problems. Dilbert has a 2 week advantage over me, in that he got his new MacBook Pro ahead of me, but I’ve got an advantage over Dilbert because I’ve been looking into this for a year.

Ahh….the next chapter….coming soon to a web page near you…

I plan to keep this up on MY MySpace page as a blog as well, so for those of you interested, click the link above, and check out my page.

Windows To OS X – The Conversion Part 1

Saturday, November 11th, 2006

All right, so here’s the plan…for me to keep track of my transition from the Windows world to the OS X world. Keeping track of what I’ve done, software that I’ve used, things that I learn, how my data migration went, hardware components I used to do the migration, and hope to wrap up the totatl transition in 2 months. I’ve set a goal of 2 months, just due to the fact that I won’t be able to do EVERYTHING I want to do in a weekend, so I’ve set a realistic expectation of 2 months to NOT HAVE TO USE THIS WINDOWS GARBAGE ANYMORE!

Don’t get me wrong…I’ll still need to use a Windows XP Operating System for work (thanks to VMWare for providing the engine to do this!), but I’m must sick and tired of problematic things in the Windows world. Now with the appearance of Vista, I’m all set. Talk about double-talk and screwy licensing aggreements, and whatever they want to call that Windows Genuine Advantage On-Steroids thing. OK, so Windows don’t be gone from my world, but I’ll be using it at work for work specific function, and only when I have to. Oh…and I don’t plan on giving up my MCSE as I find it to be a valuable certification to have since I work in the IT world.

I’ve been seriously thinking about switching over to Apple’s OS X as my primary Operating System for about a year now. Seriously enough to have had a couple of Mac systems as a loaner to beat on for a month or so total. I had a Mac mini about a year ago for a couple of weeks. I liked it, but I just didn’t have time to dedicate to learning a new Operating System. I spent about a month running a developers copy of OS X in a VMware Virtual Machine. It ran dog slow, and had no internet connectivity. Even with those (major in my opinion) issues, I was still intrigued enough to hunt down a loaner system to try to use it as my main system for both work and home. In August, I borrowed a Macbook (not a Macbook Pro) from a friend for 3 weeks. It was the most painful experience for me to wipe it clean, and hand it back to my friend after my time with this laptop was up. (I would have bought the unit, but it had this ‘wierd’ random shutdown issue…hmmmm). Still…I noticed that my hand/wrist felt a lot better after using the Macbook for a few weeks. When I went back to using my IBM Thinkpad T-42, those wrist cramps started coming back.

Now, after using OS X for some time, I found myself longing for the system, as I was now without. To be truthful, the use of the Macbook during August was the turning point. So why wait till November to make the change? I was waiting for the 64-bit release of the MacBook Pro hardware. This way, my Virtual Machines, which I use on a daily basis, would be able to load the 64-bit versions, like Solaris 10 x86 64-bit. OK, maybe Windows Vista or Longhorn 64-bit too, but that will be to keep up my MCSE only.

I’d lay out the chapters that I plan to write here, but I’m gonna completely wing this one. I’ll add my notes to the blog as I go along. I do know that my next entry will have to do with how my home and office setups work, what I use a computer for at work, what I use a computer for at home, and the benfits that I’ll find when using a MacBook Pro as the only computer in my arsenal.

I plan to keep this up on MY MySpace page as a blog as well, so for those of you interested, click the link above, and check out my page.