iMessage Forces Hands

I love iOS 5 on my iPhone. iMessage is so dope. Totally beats BBM. #iPhone #iOS5 #apple #iMessage #BBM anyone else have it?

I’ve been a happy iPhone user since picking mine up on launch day last summer for the iPhone4.  With the announcement of the much anticipated and then slightly disappointing 4s I’ve chosen to not upgrade, there’s not enough bang for the buck and I’m still tied to my current contract for another 8ish months.  What I did do was upgrade to iOS5 though, curious to get some of the new features and functions; one of which is iMessage.

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Mac users taking over the world

OK not really the world, but the market share is up a good 40% from last year. Mac users, don’t get to excited, Windows still owns 91% of the marketplace. Yahoo news reported today,

Mac’s worldwide market share among Web users increased to 6.6 percent in September, compared to 4.7 percent a year ago

It’s been almost a month now since I bought my way into the cool club and ordered a Macbook, my Windows desktop has been fired up I think twice over the last month. There is still some photos and data, along with music and movies I need on it, but I don’t need them on the laptop. One of the primary reasons the laptop is getting more use then the desktop is because I can park my ass on the couch and watch TV and surf the net. Outside of that, it is merely a tool for me to use.

The learning curve for me has been pretty mild, simple stuff, keyboard shortcuts, working in terminal, stuff like that. Outside of that, most programs I use operate the same for me. I don’t love my Mac the way others told me I would, I enjoy the speed it has and the ability to do what I need when I need it, it is stress-free, that is what is important.

This recent spike in Mac users, like myself, is only likely to grow though. I’ve had my sticky fingers on Vista enough to know I don’t like it. I have to support it for work, but I still much prefer XP or even win2k. Most computer users now-a-days are not buying their first computer. They have time vested, programs they are used to using, things that work and don’t work and ways of working around the hardware not living up to what they thought it would be. In my case, buying a Mac was a matter of getting the most from a computer with the least amount of money. To equip a Windows powered laptop with the hardware to match that of my Macbook, the price was only dollars apart, for me it was a choice of operating systems and expandability, most of which I covered several articles ago. I still couldn’t imagine spending $2,500 or more on a Macbook Pro or even $1,500 on an iMac.

Apple could continue to grow its user base if, and only if, they continue to offer products that are financially viable for most users. The fact that Dell and HP offer desktop units that do what most home users need, email, internet, photos, etc for half the price of an entry level Mac desktop will mean that they will continue to dominate the home market. Not until someone has specific needs do they start to look elsewhere. It is also my belief that, with Vista being as shitty as it is, more average users will start to look into other operating systems like Ubuntu. Ubuntu offers what the vast majority of home users want and need, even though mine is currently dusty, as soon as someone figures out an affordable way to offer support and get some marketing behind it, it will grow.

For now I am a content Mac user who also utilizes Windows and likes to play with Ubuntu now and again.

Warning: I’m now a Mac user

As scheduled, the Macbook I ordered last week showed up today, I’ve officially bought my way into the cool club. With a bit of glee, I opened the box at work and plugged in the shiny white plastic covered notebook that so many swore would make me smile and love mac. After a few minutes, the laptop was configured and on the Wi-Fi at work and the mass downloads started for all the updates. Good thing I could let this run while I was doing other work, there was nearly a gig of data that had to come down.

With all the updates done and my lunch coming up soon, I looked forward to configuring the system and installing software. First thing I did was install Firefox, this proved to be a bit more of a hassle than I was anticipating. One of my first computers was a Mac Classic II back around 1990, about 5 years ago I had a G3 iBook for a while but got rid of it and I use Macs on occasion at work, but I’m not nearly as proficient in using software as I am with Windows. So I go on to download the .dmg file onto my desktop and double click it. I’m shown a funny screen that is the familiar Firefox icon and the Applications folder, a plus symbol between them. I click on the Firefox logo and it launches Firefox, but it’s still not installed. Not after some poking around did I come to figure out that I needed to now drag the mounted image into the Application folder in Finder. Great, first thing I do on a Mac and I feel like an idiot, and I’m a network admin. Now that I feel dumb, I move onto some other quirky things about the Mac that are, well they are quirky for a Windows users.

Now I’m not saying one is better than the other, but there are some really funky things to get used to. For me, I’m very dependent on the CTRL key in Windows for several things, the Command key in Mac does nearly the same things but is in a different physical location on the keyboard. While my touch typing hands are very used to striking the CTRL key with my left pinky, I now must figure out how to efficiently strike the Command key with my left hand, curling my thumb in seems to give me the best results thus far.

There is a lot of shit installed, nearly 18 gigs of data were installed upon first boot. Only two pieces of trial software, those are now ditched, tons of stuff that I’m still trying to figure out what exactly it does and what I’m supposed to do to work it into my daily routine. A co-worker tells me that he can clean a lot of this out, mostly the foreign languages and printer driver crap that I’ll never use

Turn the bloody screen brightness down! Holy shit, this is really bright, I feel like I need suntan lotion on my eyeballs from looking at the screen. I have every intention of doing a color calibration on the screen when I have some free time at work, until then I have some minor tweaking done and the brightness turned down to about 40%.

On a positive note, there is lots I’m very happy with.

  • The keyboard, although slightly off-center, is really a joy to type on
  • The mag-charger is such a stupidly simple design, works so well
  • Although bright, I’m very impressed with the resolution of the monitor
  • Software installs are fairly quick, once I figured out how to do it
  • I’ve only bogged down the system once, got to love Core-2 duo
  • After installing the CS3 suite, I opened it all at once, it all opened!
  • 1GB of RAM is actually very impressive
  • The hinge. I’ve loved the hinge design since the original iBook, it makes so much sense
  • Spell check built into everything by default
  • Bluetooth works great with my cell phone, although I haven’t tried to sync with iCal
  • Touchpad has right click! Granted it is not the traditional way of doing it, but it works. Two finger scrolling is also pretty dang nice

There are also a few things that I’m still scratching my temple about.

  • Dashboard. Yes there are a lot of cool applications, not sure how often I’m likely to use it though
  • TextEdit, the program I”m writing this in is nice, but I think I’m going to look into Open Office or another rich text editor
  • It’s so white. I’m almost afraid that I’ll have to carry hand wipes with me just to keep it clean
  • It’s so soft – the case that is. I’m very afraid that this thing is going to scratch, badly. My G3 did the first day I had it.
  • Is a remote really needed? Yes, very cool and seems to work well, but I doubt it will get any use outside of showing non Mac users what it does.
  • The Delete key really is a backspace key, there is no dedicated Delete key, which I often do use in the Windows world.

Overall, I have about 2 hours logged in actual time on this. I’m writing this article from my couch, in front of my TV with Bella, my dog, trying her best to snuggle on my lap under my arms between me and the Mac to sleep. Hopefully I can start to utilize some of the other features and functions that are in this laptop, I didn’t buy all this extra power just to surf the web. Until then, it will be sitting comfortably in the Crumpler Considerable Embarrassment messenger bag (full review coming soon) that I bought to transport it in.

I bought my way into the cool club

For the last few months I have been shopping for a laptop. Knowing that I have rather specific requirements for what I wanted from the hardware and within a certain budget, I’ve been pretty picky. All this, and I told myself I would either wait until service pack 1 of Vista was released or try to pickup a refurb Dell unit still running XP. Since I wasn’t in too much of a hurry, I could take my time and really get a feel for what I wanted. This usually meant playing with whatever laptops the big box stores had while I was there for some other purpose and looking for deals online. From a tactile feel, I’ve always liked Sony Vaio laptops, however they are way over priced for what you get. HP seemed to have everything I wanted, however their 15.4” models only run a screen resolution of 1280×800, I wanted better than that from a 15.4” and they didn’t offer much in the 14” and smaller line that was anything near affordable. Back to Dell. Dell offers some sick screen resolutions on their 15.4” lines, but the price goes through the roof when you add the video card to drive them, and they don’t come with bluetooth or a web cam by default, they are about a $100 add on. I can live without the web cam, who would want to see me anyway, but I want bluetooth for easy synching with my phone and for a wireless mouse. The added video card and bluetooth put me over the budget I had of around a grand.

My hardware requirements are:

  • Intel Core 2 duo
  • At least 1GB of RAM installed
  • At least a 120GB hard drive
  • DVD burner – double layer doesn’t much matter to me
  • Extended battery
  • Bluetooth
  • Under 5lbs

Looking at a refurb site, I thought I found a 13.3” Vaio that fit my needs and an older 1.83 core 2-duo processor. It had everything I wanted and a few things that were nice add-ons, but only came with a 90-day warranty. The company selling the laptop offered a 3-year on-site warranty for an additional $99, but it was done through a third party, something I’m not fond of. I was still very interested in it though and asked some co-workers their opinion on the hardware setup. All agreed that it was a lot of computer for the money, but asked if I looked into the Macbook refurbs, there was one that was about $50 more but had a 1-year warranty.

Reluctantly I went to the Apple site and clicked on the refurbished section. Sure enough, they had a 13.3” Macbook with a better, 2.15 Core 2 duo processor and everything else on my want list. Black would have been my first choice, but they only had white in stock. The next 2 hours really had me pondering what to do. A co-worker has been running Tiger on his new (refurb) 15” Macbook Pro with VMware Fusion, allowing him to also run Windows and Ubuntu all at the same time without rebooting. This sounded great, although I can only think of one application that I have that is Windows specific that they don’t have a Mac version for. At least the option to have Windows is there.

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not a fan of Macs, most don’t understand why though. I think OSX is a great operating system but I don’t like the overpriced hardware one needs to buy to run the operating system. Up until this point, one can almost always buy more hardware for the money and run Windows than OSX, I still feel this is true with most of the desktop units that Apple offers. In my case, laptop to laptop, the refurb Macbook is in the same price range with the same features as Windows based ones and the ability to run Windows and Ubuntu on it is very attractive.

The laptop is supposed to arrive tomorrow, we’ll see if FedEx ground comes through or not, but several of my friends that know its coming are more excited to me. In telling a few Mac using friends that I ordered one, their first question back to me has been nearly identical, to the word, do you love it?

I can’t say that there is any proper way to answer that, even after I get it and start using it on a regular basis. I’ve never said, Wow, I love Windows! Nor can I say that about nearly any product I use on a regular basis. What makes Mac addicts so into their hardware? Some of these friends who know it’s coming bought a Mac because it looks pretty, which in most cases, it does, some are programmers and designers who have been using Macs so long that they are just more proficient with them. Where does all this supposed love come from though? Why do Mac fans get all excited in the pants at the announcement of a new keynote speech by Steve Jobs?

My main computer uses are

  • Internet
  • Email
  • Photoshop (most RAW processing digital photos and adjusting for output)
  • Minor coding (usually in Dreamweaver or Scite)
  • Writing / blogging
  • Bittorrent

My hope is that none of these tasks are drastically affected as I make the transition to a Mac. I have no intentions of moving entirely, my XP based desktop is still plenty fast and will serve for grunt work with specific Photoshop work that requires a higher resolution than my laptop will provide me with.

Expect updates on how my introduction into OSX goes as well as other learning curves, widgets, and other Mac anomalies go. Wish me luck!

Ubuntu is now dusty

Way back in March I installed Ubuntu onto a spare computer, mostly to play around with it, partly because I was intending on using it for a PVR. The computer was up and running on my [only] monitor for about two days, then I needed to access files on my Windows computer.

Since that day, the computer has not been booted up, four and a half months later. I just can’t find a convincing reason to switch totally and my efforts for building a standalone PVR have been put on hold because my Internet connection is garbage at my home.

As it stands, I still really like the operating system and think it has a place, just not in my home right now. I will be pulling the hard drive from that computer and installing it as a slave on my main Windows computer to use as a secondary place to store files and will re-explore PVR options when I have a more stable connection to the internet.

On a brighter note, my work is slowly upgrading some of our workstation computers; the older units in some case are 7+ years old and just can’t function in productive ways for our company anymore. Some of these older units are running Pentium II and Pentium III processors, 256mb of RAM and 20GB hard drives, nothing to be proud of. The company does have a need to run a simple terminal piece of software and browse the internet in certain locations of the store, this is where Ubuntu comes into play. I will be installing Ubuntu on at least one computer sometime in the next month for the sole purpose of running terminal software and browsing the Internet. Ubuntu tends to run faster than Windows based operating systems, like Windows 2000, on these older pieces of hardware. This will hopefully get my fingers using the operating system more frequently and get me to possibly consider dual booting my home machine.

I’m interested in feedback from anyone who has either:

  • Made the switch from Windows to Ubuntu (or other distro of Linux)
  • Is in the process of switching
  • Tried to switch and went back to Windows

Please share any speed bumps, hassles, workarounds, etc. that you have dealt with in your decision making process and final switch.

Dell to ship computers with Ubuntu installed

UbuntuThere is still no official statement or press release on this, but word hitting the blogsphere right now is that an insider from Ubuntu has leaked the information. Dell will be offering computers with the Linux distro Ubuntu preinstalled.

I’ve played around with Ubuntu and really like it, but admit that I haven’t fired up my Ubuntu box since installing it close to a month ago already. What this should mean for everyone though is a lower priced, rock solid computer from Dell, even if the customer support is a bit wishy-washy.

Without having to pay the bloated price for Windows (Ubuntu is free), it should drop the price of an average home computer by at least $75. This is also a great solution for people who want to get their parents or grandparents who need to do nothing more then email, get on the Internet and look at their digital photos.

Ubuntu isn’t the answer for me yet; no Photoshop, no Dreamweaver and a few other programs I use are still Windows only, so I won’t be making a full switch anytime soon. This is really exciting news though and should really make Microsoft wake up and figure out some of the Vista bugs that still exist.

Source: Gizmodo

When Windows isn’t enough, load 6 operating systems on a Dell laptop

I use Windows on a daily basis at home and work; I am one of the few who admits I actually like it. Recently I have played around with Ubuntu however it is still lacking some core things I need to do on a daily basis. Until the price of Mac computers comes back down to reality, I won’t even consider spending 5 times the cost of a comparable Windows based computer for what is an otherwise great operating system.

So what do you do when Windows isn’t enough? Someone has decided to take a brand new Dell core duo laptop and load it up with 6 different operating systems, simply boot into whichever you prefer. Are six really necessary though? What on earth can anyone try to accomplish with one version of a Linux distro that they can’t in another? Whatever, to each there own.

eBay auction here.

Coming to you live from Ubuntu Linux

Ubuntu LogoThis is the first post on Randomn3ss that I am writing from my first install of the Linux distro Ubuntu. I’ve been playing with Linux here and there for the last 8+ years, starting with early versions of Mandrake and then moving to Red Hat, however they never did what I wanted them to, or at least not without a lot of configuration. The nice thing about Ubuntu is that is everything most Internet users want and need all on one CD and can be installed in less then 15 minutes.

Most computer users need to:

  • Browse the web
  • Use email
  • Store files
  • Create text based documents
  • Edit images
  • Chat on instant messenger

Ubuntu does all of this, right out of the box. It includes some of the most popular applications:

  • Firefox
  • Open Office (very similar to Microsoft Office)
  • Gaim (chat client, similar to AIM)
  • Gimp (similar to Photoshop)
  • +even more fun stuff

I won’t bother linking you to the Wikipedia pages for each of those items, you can find the information on all of them on the Ubuntu homepage.

In the last 30 minutes of playing around I’ve installed most of my favorite Firefox extensions, played with Gimp and been browsing the web. I should also mention I am on computer that is nearly 5 years old, an AMD 1.2ghz box with 256mb of RAM and everything is running smoothly. This box is my test bed and over the next week or so will become my PVR.

So why am I not running Ubuntu as my primary operating system? Simple, there are still many Windows based applications that I need that are not yet available to Linux based computers, such as Photoshop, which is essential for post processing RAW files from my DSLR camera. My mother wants a computer to pay bills online, surf the web and look for recipes, a prime candidate for a Ubuntu as she isn’t computer savvy. She is getting a similar setup that I have laying around and I’m pretty sure that I’ll be installing Ubuntu on it instead of Windows 2000. I won’t have to worry about her getting a virus or any of the other things that can be quirky in Windows. At this point, I am extremely pleased with how it runs and the functionality that it provides.

I’d recommend that anyone looking for a Windows alternative check it out, download and burn a CD, you can run it on it’s own without installing it (called a Live CD) and play around with the setup. There are a few quirky things once it is installed, however the documentation is amazing and there are a good number of forums dedicated to Ubuntu fans.

Ubuntu Desktop
Ubuntu Forums

First impression of Vista

A new computer was needed at work and yesterday the big brown truck dropped off a shiny new Dell computer for me to configure. Now mind you, this is my first experience with Vista because I never got around to actually loading any of the beta releases that came out. Out of the box and up and running it is nice and pretty and round and all that crap, but there are some ups and downs for it.

First and foremost, I’ll complain, that’s what everyone always does anyway.

  • It needed an Internet connection to do anything
  • I can’t control the user account Administrator at all
  • It locks computer after about 30 minutes of being idle, requiring a password to be entered
  • Stupid pop ups asking if I really want to create a new folder on the desktop
  • Using 800mb of ram just to sit idle
  • Dumb way it handles logging into the box itself or a network domain

I’m sorry, but it is a memory pig. This one has the Business flavor installed, which comes with Office 2003, but it is not active. It’s just there and wants you to call and get a registration code for a fee. The logging in thing is stupid. At work we have a domain, we log into it. Traditionally on Windows you will hit Ctrl + Alt + Del and enter a username and password and from a drop down menu select the network or the local computer. For Vista, if you want to log into the local box you must type it as COMPUTERNAME\user and then your password. Dumb! It also seems to lock the computer after about 30 minutes of being idle, requiring reentry of a password.

There are some good things about vista, I’m not sure what they are yet, I’m still getting used to it, but if I find them I’ll do a follow up post. This may put a damper on my plans for a new notebook; I’m not overly thrilled with the power consumption or the idiosyncrasies that are vista as of yet.

Vista upgrades got you confused – me too

The Vista launch, by all accounts was blah, at best. No real big surprises, most people who wanted it have been using one of the many beta copies available on the Internet for months already.

Vista is supposed to offer several new and grand things to the end user, however I have no reason as of yet to upgrade from my XP machine. All the fluff that is coming with Vista is also confusing the hell out of consumers, including myself. Which version do I need, how many versions are there, do I need to find my XP key, What if I want to do a fresh install of Vista, do I really have to install XP first? These are all valid questions; sadly most did not have a clear answer until a few weeks ago. To make it worse, the Apple ad campaigns are making it seem like Mac is the best solution, more simple if you will. My opinion of Mac has been the same for years now, great operating system with bloated hardware costs.

Personally, I have no plans on upgrading my home computer to Vista, not even long term yet. I do however plan on buying a laptop in the next 6 months, but will be waiting until service pack 1 comes out to fix whatever holes need fixing in Vista that couldn’t be done prior to the rollout. My recommendation to others would be the same. Give it a few months, wait for some updates come and then consider making the move. If your computer is more then 2 years old, I’d highly suggest buying a whole new computer. Vista will cost you between $125-300 depending on what version you get, a quality, fully loaded Dell desktop costs around $600, including Vista and bigger and better everything.

For no nonsens answers on what the different versions of Vista are, what minimum requirements are needed and just about everything else, check out this computerworld.com article.