Dr. Jerry Pournelle

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Computing At Chaos Manor:
April 9, 2008

The User's Column, April, 2008
Column 333, Part 2
Jerry Pournelle jerryp@jerrypournelle.com
www.jerrypournelle.com
Copyright 2008 Jerry E. Pournelle, Ph.D.


Windows and Mac OS X

If you want to run Windows under OS X, there are several ways to do it. The first is simply to follow the instructions that come with Mac OS X and install Boot Camp. This creates a boot partition on which you install Windows; I recommend Windows XP rather than Vista for this.

Now you can boot your Mac into Mac OS X, or into Windows XP. These will appear to your network as two separate machines, and neither can be on when the other is. The Mac is an Intel computer, and it does XP very well. You could, if you wanted to, run it that way forever: it could be a Windows main machine, and never know it was also a Mac. I'm not sure why you would want to do that, but you certainly could.

Once XP was installed on the Boot Camp partition, I rebooted into Mac OS X, and installed VMware Fusion. When I invoked that it offered to run the Bootcamp Windows XP, and when I had it do that, XP came up. XP wanted the usual XP user name and password for my network, not the MAC user name and password.

I had some severe networking problems. They were part of a larger package of problems, and it's not necessary to go into that here. Eventually I discovered one of the problems was that while I had activated XP under VMware, I had not activated it in the Boot Camp partition. The remedy was obvious: reboot in Boot Camp, bring up XP, and attempt to activate. "No! This copy has already been activated! Drop Dead!" saith Microsoft.

I had other things to do so I didn't get to this for a while, but last Saturday night I booted up XP under Boot Camp, and opted for a telephone activation. I got a bored young woman in what I presume to be Bangalore or Bombay, who listened to my story: this is on the same computer as the activated copy, both being on a MAC. She went away for a while and came back with a very long number which I painstakingly wrote down, and hung up before I could actually enter the number into the computer.

It worked just fine. XP then went into a perfect orgy of updates, taking over an hour. I then added Microsoft Live One Care, and about an hour and a half after I started I rebooted into MAC OS X and invoked VMware. XP came up just fine. Everything works, the networking problems have vanished, and Office 2007 Ultimate installed, activated, and worked just fine. Everything is crisp and natural, and it's impossible to tell the difference between Word 2007 under XP under VMware as a MAC OS X application and Word 2007 over on Roxanne, the Vista system. Moreover, I can leave a document on Roxanne and work on it over here on the iMac — indeed that is happening now. This document physically resides on the Vista system; I am working on it under Word 2008 in MAC OS X; and if I like I can close it, invoke XP under VMware, and open the same document in Word 2007.

It all works seamlessly, and it's pretty cool.

iPhone

I continue to like the iPhone as a pocket computer and wish it worked just a little better as a phone: that is, it doesn't get as many bars as my older phone did, and it sometimes drops calls which my old one — also on AT&T — never did. I am looking into boosters. Griffin makes a combination case and antenna booster that may do the trick. I'll know in a week or so.

Meanwhile we had an unexpected and unplanned trip to Bakersfield Sunday, and I was able to make use of the iPhone map function to find the San Joaquin Community Hospital where our granddaughter was born at 5:30 PM Sunday, April 6, 2008. I was also able to find the nearest Trader Joe's store on the iPhone. The interesting part is that I had never even tried to use the map function before; it wasn't entirely intuitive, but it wasn't that hard to figure out. The iPhone interface has been well thought out.

The real trick is to know that the little icon in the lower left corner will allow the iPhone to find itself on the map. There is no GPS, but it can use the cell phone towers to come quite close to locating itself. Once that is done, it's easy to get directions to somewhere else, like the hospital, or the nearest Trader Joes, or a Chinese restaurant (there are some decent ones in Bakersfield).

There's another good feature to the iPhone: notes. I always carry a ScanCard folder of cards on which I make notes; novelists generally carry some kind of note taking system, and I have found ScanCard convenient. Lately that hasn't been getting as much use as in former days, because the iPhone has a notepad that's fairly easy to use. The more I use the iPhone, the more used to typing on it I get, and, I think, the more used to me it gets: at least I find I make fewer mistakes. Again the notepad isn't entirely intuitive, but all it really takes to learn it is to use it a lot.

iPhoto

Naturally I took a lot of pictures in the Bakersfield hospital. I used the Sony DSC T-100 because that was the camera I had with me. The Panasonic Lumix was out in the car.

Now I have a bunch of pictures. I usually deal with them on a PC, and in fact I have already copied them into a folder over on Roxanne the Vista machine. I know what to do from there. The question is, if I had to do it all with the MAC OS X and iPhoto, how would I proceed? It seemed time to find out.

Fortunately, I have iPhoto '08, The Missing Manual (O'Reilly) which explains it all. Actually it does more than that: it starts with an introduction to digital cameras. There wasn't a lot I didn't know, but the refresher course was useful.

In fact, though, I could get by without the iPhoto book; like most Apple programs, iPhoto is pretty intuitive. It takes some fooling around, but you can learn, and it's very hard to do anything permanently bad.

It's better to have the book, particularly if you are not feeling adventurous, since it tells you precisely what to do. Either way, there's no real point in my describing what I did; if you need to use iPhoto you'll figure it out.

The program makes "virtual albums" meaning that it doesn't actually copy photographs from wherever they are on your disk to the new "event" or other entity you have created. This means that if you are working with pictures from a networked computer or server, you will probably want to make a physical copy on the local disk of the MAC running iPhoto; otherwise if you lose contact with the other machine, there won't be any pictures to look at.

You can choose a picture from one of the events, and click on the mail icon at the bottom of the window. Things will happen automatically after that, and you end up sending pictures by email. It's really simple.

Indeed, iPhoto is another example of Peter Glaskowsky's maxim that with a MAC everything is either very easy or darned near impossible. In this case it is all very easy.

It's also easy to publish photographs to a web site that Apple will create for you, but finding out precisely how to do it would take a lot of fooling around, or having someone who knows walk you through it. Better to have the Missing Manual, which makes it simple. Once done, you may publish the web address, allow others to upload to it, and in generally control it as you would a web site you created on your own. It's pretty nifty.

iPhoto comes with the Mac, and if you do a lot of work with photographs and albums, it's darned near worth the price of a Mac just to get the program. Another good reason to consider using a Mac for all your computer work...