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OS Quest Trail Log

The OS Quest Trail Log #3

Upgrades – Patches – Please Stop the Madness

It seems like all I did this past week was patch and upgrade. I already mentioned the iWeb ’08 update.

Microsoft released 9 security updates so it took awhile to patch my VMs.

Apple also updated Boot Camp to version 1.4 and I got around to updating it this week.

VMWare Fusion also moved out of beta recently. I’d been running the beta version on my MacBook and finally got around to upgrading it to the final release. I haven’t upgraded to the latest Parallels version yet so it’s not really fair to compare, but I’ve been very impressed with VMWare’s Fusion. The Parallels upgrade is on tap for this week.

CNet’s Crave blog has a comparison of Parallels Desktop for Mac and VMWare Fusion, along with Boot Camp and CrossOver Mac 6.0. From a pure performance perspective VMWare Fusion came out on top although their conclusion was:

All that said, if you all you need to do is run more pedestrian Windows applications on your Mac, such as Outlook or Excel, you are not likely to notice significant performance differences between any of the virtualization options mentioned here–for less resource-intensive applications, the performance of any of these virtulization applications is probably fast enough.

Then there was the iLife ’08 upgrade. So far I’m not overly impressed with the update to iPhoto. I use it mainly as a organizer, not an editor. Some of the features improve organization but at the price of performance. The pinwheel makes a frequent appearance when I’m using the upgraded iPhoto.

I also installed iWork ’08 and fired up Pages enough to know it at least presents a nice clean screen for typing and doesn’t force me into page layout mode.

A couple of other programs I use have prompted me to let me know they have upgrades available too. But so far I’ve held off upgrading them so they’ll be some more upgrades next week too. Wonder if I’ll have time to actually use some software this week?

MacMozy

The last update to MacMozy is still causing me problems. It has a habit of getting stuck in a “Backup started…” state with no files processed. It hasn’t been too much of a problem because I’ve been turning off my iMac during the day when I’m at work and MacMozy usually runs fine between reboots. It’s also fine on my MacBook which gets shutdown after each use. It’s on weekends like this, when my iMac stays on, that I have problems. I’m hoping the problem just goes away with the next update.

News

  • The addition of Numbers to iWork ’08 won’t kill off Microsoft Office, but it does appear to have claimed Apple Works as its first victim. The AppleWorks page is gone from Apple, www.apple.com/appleworks redirects to the Support page for Apple Works. So it appears Apple has killed off Apple Works. Apple Works came with my first Mac Mini and as much as I wanted to like and use it I just couldn’t, so I can’t say I’ll miss it.

Links

Software Links

Links to software I’ve come across but haven’t had a chance to try out yet. Post a comment if you have any experience with them.

  • FastApps – Automator actions for Apple software. FastApps includes: FastBackPic, FastMusic, FastDVD, FastWebSite, and FastSlide
  • Lifehacker brought a link to OpenProj. OpenProj is a free, open-source project management application intended to replace Microsoft Project.
  • Lifehacker has a Mac link this time with Drive-In, a DVD ripper for the Mac. It’s currently free in beta form but may stop being free when it leaves beta.
Categories
OS Quest Trail Log

The OS Quest Trail Log #2

It’s only been four days since my last log entry but I want to get on a weekly cycle with these and weekends seem to be the best time to do it. So here goes…

Google Apps

I continue to use Google Apps and like it. Really all I use it for is email, but it’s allowed me to consolidate all my email addresses into one mailbox for delivery. I finally got the hang of using search and labels (aka tags) rather than folders and it makes things much quicker and more efficient.

I never thought I’d see the day but I no longer use a desktop email client, it’s all web based. That does scare me a bit so I’ll probably set up Thunderbird or Mail.app to suck down the email on a regular basis so I have a local copy.

MacMozy

My Mozy Mac backup software had been a solid performer until I updated to the latest version on the 9th. Today the backup hung up in a “Backup Started” mode. It’s been that way for 10 hours. I just clicked cancel and it’s still hung up. If this is the same problem I had several version ago it’ll stay that way until a reboot (or I manually kill and restart all the processes.)

Blog at WordPress.com

My new blog is going along well. Looks like I haven’t been wasting my time and will probably make it public next week. Because WordPress.com hosts the blogs they are restrictions on what can be changed and added. The boundaries are good for me as it keeps me from going down the ratholes of themes, plugins and widgets. This blog is for the ratholes.

.Mac Returns

I subscribed to .Mac again. It’s one of those things I couldn’t stay away from. Now that I have a laptop that I use a lot it’s beneficial for me to sync with it. Standalone Sync software costs $50 or so. .Mac is an extra $30 or so (don’t buy it from Apple unless you get it bundled with a new Mac). The extra disk space, now 10GB, helps a lot since I can use it as a data directory for just about everything I want on the laptop and it will automatically be backed up and synced with my iMac. I’m still liking Yojimbo and will probably keep it so the .Mac sync for Yojimbo is a real plus.

New Software

My copies of iLife ’08 and iWork ’08 arrived late in the week. I haven’t had a chance to really dig into the software.

For iPhoto ’08 the Events seem to be simply rolls renamed. Except now they make sense and the new features make them more useful. Of course I was burned. Rolls were so useless that I simply combined all my photos into about a dozen rolls of over 1000 photos each. Getting them into events may be more trouble than it’s worth. I haven’t had a chance to dig into anything else.

For iWork (yea, I broke down and bought it) I like Pages now. It seems more accessible to someone like me who just needs a simple document every now and then. Numbers seems really cool. In typical Apple fashion they seem to be emphasizing looks. There’s 18 templates most of which are heavy on the eye candy. The UI elements that stand out are related to styles and formatting.

Bits and Pieces From the Web

Power Replacements for Built-In Windows Utilities (Lifehacker) – All free

Microsoft has released Vista Performance and Compatibility updates – But not through Windows Update yet.

Wired has a BitTorrent starter Guide.

iMovie ’08 Users Can use iMovie ’06 (TUAW) – Some people don’t like the completely rewritten iMovie ’08. Apple has a download available for them so they can also use iMovie ’06.

How have your travels along the PC trail been this week?

Categories
OS Quest Trail Log

The OS Quest Trail Log #1

It’d time to introduce the “Trail” to the OS Quest blog. It seems like the type of thing that should be done on a weekend, or maybe just once a month, or maybe whenever I can fill a post. (I’ve really thought this through) I’ll recap the things I’ve been working on and the things I’m thinking of working on in my little world of personal computers. I’ll also throw in tidbits I’ve come across but don’t warrant their own post (or I don’t have time to do them justice).

Blog “Re-envisioning”

This is just a fancy way of saying I’ve been looking for a way to keep blogging and computers interesting by changing things up. So the Trail Log is one way to keep blogging regularly and to be able to move among different projects depending on what I feel like doing at the moment without feeling the need to finish up something so I can post about it.

And less face it. By keeping track of things as I move along, rather then at the end I’ll be able to answer the question “What the hell was a thinking?” six months later.

Google Apps (formerly known as Google Apps for Domains)

I started considering Google Apps mainly as a family email solution. For better or worse I decided to jump right in and committed to it. Bluehost does provide email and I’ve been using that primarily. But two things concerned me. The first was the lack of SSL or other secure connections (this can be remedied at added cost) and the second was that really didn’t really want to be my own email support if I added family members.

Naturally I made it a little more complicated than it had to be but I ended up where I wanted. I’ll provide more details in a future post.

While some of the things Google does creeps me out I basically trust them as much as my ISP (AT&T/Yahoo) and other email choices. Google shows me more respect using their free product than I get from AT&T/Yahoo as a paying customer. I took the Premiere free trial so I could use their email migration tool but I’ll probably go back to the free version. I have three domains pointed to Google apps for email (like I said, more complicated than it needed to be.)

WordPress.com

WordPress.com is the free blog hosting service offered by the WordPress people. My motivation here is two-fold:

  1. Due to the whole “blog re-envisioning” thing I’m considering doing another more general blog and I don’t think I want to make this one more general.
  2. Along with family email there may be some family blogs or websites in the future so I want to get familiar with it and the best way I can do that is use it.
  3. (yea, I know I said two-fold) A minor reason is I don’t want to add the full support for another website or blog at this time.

Photobucket/Flickr/Picasa

Keeping with the general trend of webs services that family can use but I don’t have a lot of support issues. At least not issues specific to keeping software going. In addition, WordPress.com seems to lend itself to hosting media on one of these sites.

I’m leaning to Photobucket but haven’t decided. Any suggestions or potholes?

Google Reader

I’ve also switched to Google Reader over the last month. When Google Reader first came out I didn’t like it and I guess just didn’t get it. I’d been using Yahoo’s web email client to read some feeds and then using the Mac specific Newsfire (received with Macheist bundle). I never really liked either one of those. I tried Google Reader since it was browser based and I could get to it from anywhere, unlike Yahoo (my company block web email so the built in RSS was collateral damage) and Newsfire. After a couple of weeks of forcing myself to use Google Reader my brain cells lined up and I got “it”. The “it” being the benefit of RSS over visiting the sites from my blogroll links. The couple of weeks time-line isn’t fair to Google Reader, I’d frequently just go to the website instead, especially the first week where it was more not using the old reader than using Google Reader. But now I’ve gone from a handful of subscriptions to 78 and I’m more efficient.

What RSS reader are you using? Any experience with Google Reader?

Yojimbo

I’ve started using Yojimbo (a Mac info organizer by Barebones Software). I was going to look at various options before picking one but I decided to save time and go with Yojimbo. It doesn’t have the longest feature list but it seems to be the easiest to use. I don’t make a living doing research, I’ll give up features for ease of use. I’m still in the trial period and only have a few records entered but unless I find a problem I’ll be buying it.

Bits and Pieces from the Web

Lately I’ve been reading a lot of articles that annoy me and find that AT&T is at the root. In another case of AT&T disrespecting their customers CrunchGear has an article about AT&T raising rates and cutting service to customers using legacy systems. Come on AT&T, wanting them off is fine, send them a letter saying the service is ending by XX/XX/XX. Maybe even show good faith and offer a special deal to upgrade. Instead you screw them.

During last Tuesday’s Apple event TUAW.COM posted an article about someone who noticed a new icon was on Steve Jobs PC and they speculated it was for Numbers. I realize Apple is the master of hype but is it really a scoop and all that important to try a “break” news during an event that will make the announcement?

Kudos to Talino.org for posting an article on how to delete the U3 partition from USB thumbdrives that have them. I had to do it once and I couldn’t do it from a Mac. The article tells us how to do it when the software’s been broken by a reformat attempt on a Mac. Guess I was lucky, windows was handy for me. U3 is such a bad idea, I avoid buying USB keys with it even if I pay a dollar or two more.

Since I’m bashing AT&T I’ll end with one more anti-AT&T mention. AT&T made news by saying no one wants $10 DSL. They say their not hiding it, although others say it’s hard to find, and even they admit it’s not shown as an option until a phone number is entered.

That’s all for the first Trail Log. What have been your experiences this week?