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Mac OS X & Windows

Mac OS X & Windows

It’s been a long time since I had to use Windows servers, probably ten years and six operating system versions. Back then I dealt with Windows shares not as an admin, but a normal user. I ended up writing utilities in bash or Perl that would delete .DS_Store files and “dot underscore” files being written to Windows shares by Mac OS X. Now that I am again dealing with Windows shares (again, not as an admin) I thought I should dust off my old scripts (one of which is dated 2002.)

But it seems the world has changed in the last ten years, and now I can deal with “dot underbar” (the proper name) using dot_clean, which is built into Mac OS X. I’ll also be using dot_clean on DOS formatted thumb drives and SD cards that are going into other operating systems.

There’s still those pesky .DS_Store files, which I do not want littering any of the Windows shares at work. It seems you can prevent .DS_Store file creation on network volumes by using the following command:

defaults write com.apple.desktopservices DSDontWriteNetworkStores true

That should make for neater volumes and file shares when I move things around… Now if only I could deal with the other annoying Windows server stuff. Often I cannot rename or delete a file or folder on a Windows share. Sometimes I’ll try it from a Windows machine instead of from Mac OS X, and occasionally it will work, but often I’m only able to move all the files out of a folder and then can’t delete a folder. If I can rename an empty folder, I end up renaming it “delete me” but I still cannot delete them. Does everyone have these sort of Windows issues? (Again, I am not an admin, just a normal user.)

Sometimes I really miss of the Mac OS X-based servers I used to run. (Well, every time I have to use a Windows server, actually.)

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Hard Drive Woes

Oops!

Last week was a bad week for hardware… On Saturday I opened up my MacBook Pro to wake it from sleep and start using it (which I do multiple times per day) and it was a no go. It did not wake up. I restarted it and got the old blinking system folder, as if the drive was gone, or corrupt, or something. It was a hard drive I didn’t fully trust, and even though I thought about replacing it just weeks ago, I didn’t.

The first thing I did was assumed the drive was shot, and got on Amazon to order a replacement hard drive. I ordered on Saturday and it arrived about 24 hours later… on a Sunday. (Thanks, Amazon!)

Meanwhile, I pulled the drive out of the MacBook and put it in an external case. It worked fine. Damn. This told me it was probably a hardware issue with the MacBook, not the drive. I’ve been through this one before… twice actually, and I’m really wishing Apple would make better hardware!

I ran from the external drive until Wednesday, when I took it to the Apple Store. Oh, in the meantime I had put a replacement drive in the MacBook after I installed a fresh version of 10.9 onto it. (I figured I had to show the Apple Store the issue and I really don’t like them having access to my data.)

They fixed it the same night, and it was all good. (Replaced the hard drive cable/bracket assembly.) We booted it up in the store, it worked, so I went home and I went to sleep. The next morning I woke up at 6am, and swapped in my original hard drive. This is where things went to shit. Did you notice I forgot to shut it down? Yes… I highly recommend you do not try to hot swap the hard drive in your MacBook Pro while it is in sleep mode.

When I opened the Mac to start it (and it was already on) it showed the desktop from the drive I pulled out… probably not a good sign. A reboot later everything was gone. No good on the drive. But like we all know, even if you can’t see your data, it’s probably still there.

A quick Google search for destroyed partition table mac brought me to the blog post Repair a Mac OS X HFS+ Partition table.

I pretty much did everything [PERR0_HUNTER] suggested, and BAM! just like that my partition table was back, and the drive was as it was before I completely screwed it up. I immediately used the ‘Donate’ link on the site to send [PERR0_HUNTER] some money.

The rest of the story is pretty boring, involving running restores and more backups and going through eight hard drives I have in the office. But hey, I’m back up and running… All good. Thanks, [PERR0_HUNTER]!

And the lesson is, don’t swap your hard drive before 8am.

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You say you want some resolution?

QuickRes

I’m thankful for my recent discovery of QuickRes.

My 2009 MacBook recently died so I replaced it with a newer MacBook, and while I was considering the Retina models, I ultimately decided against them. It was mainly the resolution of the Retina MacBooks that interested me…

So when I connected my new MacBook to my old projector, I got nothing. Nothing! The old projector maxes out at 1024×768, and this fancy new MacBook only had two resolutions. What?

QuickRes

Wow, so many choices! 1280×800 and 1024×640. Why would you ever need more than two resolutions!?

So just to test the MacBook I grabbed a Mini DisplayPort to HDMI dongle and plugged it into the nearest television. I saw what appeared to be 1920×1080 not just on the television but also on the built-in display. What?

QuickRes

So after installing QuickRes, here’s a look at the resolutions that are now available. Sweet! I’ve been using the higher resolutions for certain tasks, and the lower ones for things like old projectors. So the real question is, why does Apple not want to make these available without a third-party hack to reveal them?

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Still Macin’ (for now)

MacBook Pro

The phrase “I am no longer Apple’s Target Market” is one that I can identify with… and the blog post of the same name makes a lot of good points.

I’ve been using computers (mostly made by Apple) for over 30 years. Maybe I’m just a curmudgeon at this point, but I actually like being able to see the file system, and I don’t want or need some specially curated “App Store” or procedures to protect me from naughty applications I download from the big, bad Internet. I’ve been doing fine for nearly 20 years. As for people who do need such things, I understand the need, but I hope I’m not further restricted due to others and their (lack of) knowledge.

I’ve said this before, and I’ve said it again, there’s a learning curve to using computers, and I’m fine with that. There’s a learning curve to operating a motor vehicle, or a table saw, or a pencil sharpener. There should be. That’s part of life. Learning should not be looked upon as something that is a bad thing, and hey, I’m sorry, but you might have to actually learn a bit to use a computer, or table saw, or kitchen appliance. I’m not saying some things don’t need to be easier, but there’s a middle ground between ease of use, and restrictions of freedoms we once had. And easier? Hell, it’s a million times easier that it once was. Why, when I was a kid you turned on your Apple II and got a blinking cursor. No icons. No menus.

I use Apple hardware, and I use a lot of Apple software (and a lot more non-Apple software.) I also use Linux a lot. Linux has never been my desktop OS of choice, but for servers I love it. I do run some Linux desktop machines though, and they’ve improved much over the years. The work I do though, does at this time require Mac OS X.

I have a first generation iPad. I love it. It’s a great device for what it is. It is not a computer. Sometimes I wish it was a computer, but I find it very enjoyable to use as it is. I wish it were more open though. (But I wish that about a lot of things.)

Mac OS X is still my favorite desktop operating system. Is it perfect? Nope. Has it gotten better or worse over the years? Probably both. I’ve always got a terminal open with multiple tabs, which is something 95% (?) or Mac users probably don’t do.

Anyway, it’s December 2012, and I’m still using Macs (a lot) for business and personal use, and most of the time, they work well for me. I’ll let you know where I’m at some time in 2013.

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Review: Windows 7

Windows 7

Since there will be a point in the future when I upgrade all my Macs to Lion, I figured I should start getting ready, and in order to get ready, I usually need to upgrade my virtualization software. I use VMWare Fusion as well as Parallels Desktop on my Macs. My main use of Windows is for browser testing, though now that I spend time at the Milwaukee Makerspace I also use a few Windows-only applications like CamBam.

My VMs were all running Windows XP, so I figured that it was time to move up to Windows 7, and my old pal Larry Clarkin suggested that I’d like it much better than Windows XP. So in the interest of science (?) I figured I’d review Windows 7.

(Note: This review will be heavily biased against Windows, because I don’t like Windows.)

OK, here’s the deal: I don’t like Windows.

Windows is ugly.
Maybe the interface is customizable, maybe you can skin it, or theme it, or whatever, but I find the default user interface just plain ugly. I’m a Mac user, and I’ve gotten used to a good looking operating system. I’m a Linux user, but I tend to use the command line mostly, but even when I did use Linux on the desktop, it looked better than Windows.

Windows isn’t UNIX.
I mean, Linux isn’t UNIX, but it’s close. Mac OS X is UNIX, or at least it’s very close to being UNIX, depending on who you ask. Windows 7 isn’t UNIX, and I find that annoying. 90% of the time I’m using a Mac I’ve got iTerm running, and I either using it on the local machine, or ssh’d into another Mac or a Linux server.

Windows has little value to me.
As I said, my primary use of Windows has been for browser testing. Specifically, Internet Explorer testing. So pretty much the only reason I used Windows was to test 2 or 3 different versions of the worst browser out there, which, oddly enough, a lot of people used. (Luckily that’s changed.)

Now that I need to use Windows-only software like CamBam, I may end up using Windows 7 more than I used Windows XP, but it’s still just a matter of being forced to use Windows because there isn’t a Mac OS X version of a specific application. There is no joy in Mudville.

So ultimately, Windows 7 may be awesome if you’re a Windows user, but as a long time non-Windows user, it doesn’t entice me, and my primary use is in situations where I can’t use Mac OS X. But remember, this is just my opinion, and my point of view. I know dozens of people use Windows every day and tolerate it, and some even enjoy it. Kudos to them!