Tag Archives: Apple

RIP Aries (October 2007-April 2012)

Aries

My 2007 17″ Macbook Pro has been a workhorse for me since the moment I bought it in October 2007. It has been my companion on visits to clients, late-night coding sessions on the couch, debugging code, and an occasional game of StarCraft 2 or Civ 5.

I don’t give a shit what people say about Apple’s pricing – for the amount of beating this thing took and the amount of work I did on it I probably would have gone through four or five PC laptops in the same time frame.

The only upgrade I ever made was installing an OWC Mercury Extreme SSD which literally made this thing fly like a brand new machine.

Unfortunately it finally succumbed to the dreaded logic board failure that this model was prone to due to the manufacturing issues with the nvidia 8600GT boards.

Oh well it was a great machine but time to shop for a new one, and to get a USB to SATA cable to get all my data off since I have not done a backup since March.

Cheers,
–Jon

iPad: Great New Device or Harbinger of Digital Confinement? (UPDATED)

Apple's iPad A few weeks ago Apple formally announced the long-rumored iPad and my first impression was that I HAVE to have one. I think the device is really a cool, neat toy that would be nice to use around the house.

Like any other Apple device it has generated a lot of buzz. Some early reviews have been quite positive and others were more measured.

The more I thought about it as a device though, the more I began to think of it as going down a path I am not sure I want to go down.

One of the things many of us take for granted with our computers is the ability to install what software we want when we want. You buy a Windows machine, a Mac, or a Linux box and you can go on the Internet, download freeware/shareware, or buy commercial apps, install them, etc.

Contrast that to a device such as an iPhone (and many other phones for that matter) that require applications to be digitally signed before they can install and run on the device.

In our phones this has been par for the course under the guise of it being in our best interests so that when we need to count on the phone it works (though it is likely in the interest of carriers to keep certain apps from interfering with their lucrative business.)

But for our actual computers this has never been the model. We have always had the “freedom to tinker” with our PC’s.

While some folks are quick to point out that the iPad is basically a larger and enhanced iPhone, the cynical side of me thinks this is a gateway device to Apple (or other large companies) being able to change the locks on our digital front doors.

What if the next generation of Macs and Mac OS X used an app store model and required signed apps? What if Microsoft Windows adopts a similar model in order to “keep us safe” from all the malware?

Of course this is all what if’s at this point, but there has been a trend with corporations like Apple, Microsoft etc acting more and more like gatekeepers of content and information. Look at what happened with Amazon’s Kindle. It had it’s own beacon of irony when they remotely removed Orwell’s “1984” off of users’ Kindle readers.

Even Apple’s app store is not without it’s own controversy. Many developers have cited Apple for their glaring inconsistencies in the approval process and in some cases exercising some behavior that seems to be anti-competitive such as removing applications from the app store for mentioning competitor’s services or in some cases denying approval to an app such as Google Voice.

Sure one could say this is all tin-foil hat territory and that I am reading too much into it but am I really?

Guess only time will tell. Either way I have to admit I do like what I see in the device from a technology and user experience standpoint. My only hope is that Apple is more open with the platform and more forthcoming with the application approval process than they have been with the iPhone.

UPDATE – Somehow I missed this when digging around but it seems the Free Software Foundation has some similar concerns.

–Jon

Two Years As A Mac User

Apple logoIt was a little over two years ago I made the “switch” to Apple for my main computer with the purchase of a G4 Mac mini and I have not really looked back. As a technologist, I pretty much keep my eyes open to every bit of technology out there. Until Mac OS X came out I did not give the Mac a serious look because in all honesty, the “Classic” OS sucked. It was slow and it seemed to struggle with multiple applications running concurrently.

Well, that is a long time ago now and Mac OS X is on it’s fifth cat now with Leopard coming out last month. Leopard seems like a whole other world when looking back at that shitpile they called OS 9. With Apple’s migration to Intel hardware it felt like it was a good time to upgrade and besides, I have been using the same Dell Inspiron 8000 laptop for about 7 years now so I decided to kill two birds with one stone.

Enter my new 17″ Macbook Pro that recently arrived. I named it Aries and it is a pretty sweet machine. I got this sucker loaded up with the 2.6ghz processor, 4GB ram, 200GB 7200 RPM hard drive.

A lot of my free time the past couple of days has been spent setting it up my way. You know how that goes, you get a new machine and you have to tweak the hell out of it, install your favorite applications, and iron out any kinks to reach that point where it feels perfect.

From my many many years using a Windows computer as my main machine I had a set of apps that I had grown accustom to and would always make sure they are installed. Well, on the Mac it is the same, except when I made the switch I had to spend some time figuring out what applications that did not have Mac versions and what replacements that were comparable to what I used on Windows. Luckily it seems more and more organizations are making their products multi-platform. I already have Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop, Thunderbird, and Firefox on the Mac, but not a day goes by anymore where you don’t read about other application being ported.

Here are some of my favorite Mac apps:

skEdit
On the PC I was a HUGE fan of UltraEdit – I still install and keep it updated on my Windows machine at home. skEdit is not quite as good as UltraEdit, but it is very close. When I first made the switch to Mac, I tried TextWrangler and a few others that had the ability to do editing/saving over SFTP connections. skEdit does the colored syntax, WebDAV, and even has a plug-in to work with Subversion repositories which is cool.

Adium
Adium is like the ULTIMATE instant messenger on the Mac or on any platform for that matter. The closest thing to it is Pidgin which is my favorite on Windows and Linux. It took me some time to discover Adium. When I first made the switch I was using AOL’s AIM client for Mac OS X which by the way sucks and has not been updated in YEARS. I kept seeing Adium mentioned on TUAW and decided what the hell and gave it a try. Good call – it is very customizable, supports pretty much every IM protocol, and is a very solid app.

Cyberduck
In the Windows world I never did find an FTP/SFTP client that really clicked for me. I often switched between WS-FTP Pro and SecureFX – both commercial options and both decent. Thankfully on the Mac I found free options that I happened to like better. I first started off with Fugu, but unfortunately Fugu does not seem to be maintained any longer and it still a PowerPC app. So I started using Cyberduck and it has proven to be a great little program. Not sure why but the Mac seems to have many more good FTP/SFTP options that on Windows. Perhaps it is because of all the web designers that work on Macs. Who knows?

What I am looking for now is a good replacement for HyperTerminal. Yeah I know it is not a great app, but when I need to connect via serial console to a router or firewall the options on the Mac don’t seem to be as mature yet.

Here’s to the next year of Mac goodness 🙂

–Jon