Monday, September 30, 2002

A good article on the Linux/Mac OS X switch wars at The Boston Globe is food for thought for Linux on the desktop. I don't think Mac OS X (in the form of OS X Server) poses a great threat to Linux as a server. Linux is just too freely available and, once configured, rock-solid. Did I mention it was free?

Speaking of Linux, I downloaded and tried installing the Linux distribution known as Lycoris (some may remember this as "Redmond Linux") within Virtual PC 5.0 on my home G4. The installer was available on a s l o w FTP server on a link buried a bit within the main site. Once download (512MB) was complete, I took advantage of one of Virtual PC 5.0's new features: Capture CD from ISO image. This feature allowed me to make a virtual mounting of the CD, where Virtual PC could boot from the CD as if I had burned a disk for it to use. Very cool timesaver.

Lycoris had no initial problem in installing, but, after I returned from placing VPC in the background while setting up a blank virtual floppy (in the same manner that I mounted the ISO image) for a rescue disk, my cursor would not return into the Lycoris workspace. I managed to use the keyboard to navigate a bit, and start up of the OS was fine, but I could not get the cursor to function in the workspace.

So, I created a new image (leaving the original, as it was fine except for the cursor loss) and tried again. This time, Lycoris couldn't properly set up screen resolution and size as before. The mouse functionality was still off, as the cursor moved but only at the top of the screen, submarining along jerkily and uselessly.

From what I did experience of Lycoris, this comes pretty close to what Linux should be on a desktop. It tries very well to pretend its like any version of Windows (specifically XP), and its beauty is very good for any distro I have used before. Lycoris uses a beefed-up and stylized KDE install and appears to have everything a geek or basic user would need. I really want to play with this more, so I need to see if anyone else in VPC land has tried Lycoris. More on this tidbit later on.

Lycoris is not the only Linux distributor that realizes that getting a consistent, friendly interface is key to desktop acceptance. This article about Red Hat's efforts on CNET News.com to make KDE and GNONE desktop interfaces look more alike for consistency. Strange, and not as creative as Lycoris' solution.

Did You Know? ...that crash logs are recorded in Mac OS X 10.2? If you've used other *NIXes, this isn't news. One new feature of the Console application (in the Utilities folder of Applications) is that it also records kernel panic logs. I have to look into this, but I'm sure someone recently documented it. To activate crash logs, open Console's preferences, and, under the Crashes tab, check both boxes you find there.

Friday, September 27, 2002

...And speaking of levity and joy on a Friday...

Star Wars: Jedi Knight II for Macintosh has reached Final Candidate status! In two to three weeks, my at-work and at-home productivity will drop to all new lows! As the young gamers say, "w00t!"
Let's play with the light side of IT today, shall we?

The computer world sometimes takes itself far too seriously, but it has quite a few places to visit online for some levity. It is, after all, a Friday. Kick back and live a little.

Some of my favorites:

Mac Hall deals with the collegiate hijinks of some artist/gaming types. Once in a while, someone might mention their computer choice, but usually there's plenty of Star Wars references.

Penny Arcade is arguably one of the most popular online comic with lots of commentary and parody on the gaming life. Don't visit this site if your workplace scans for word content. The language can get a little salty, sometimes.

While the ever-popular and well-written As the Apple Turns un-news site was on hiatus due to a new baby, I discovered the Crazy Apple Rumors Site. Today's rumor says it all about the well-contrived humor: "Apple Open-Sources Its Pants."

One of the best-drawn and very humorous (I think) panel comics with a Mac bent is Geek Culture's Joy of Tech site. I have got to get one of the t-shirts: Tubes Rock! (I'm showing my age...)

Finally, you have to drop by GameSpy's The Daily Victim. Again, gaming humor, but with some absolutely f*****g ingenious tech humor. Need the best laugh of your day (especially if you're a sysadmin)? Start here, here,, and and here.

Mac OS Prose is not responsible for spitakes or nosers. Drink the beverage and swallow first, then read.

Thursday, September 26, 2002

More switcher stuff from a recent Slashdot article on "Flirting with Mac OS X." The tide of interest for Mac OS X, if not outright switching of many Linux desktop users to the operating system, doesn't appear to be slowing down very much.

A new toy is waiting for you if you're interested in Mac OS X but can't run it because you own a PC. Darwin, the core of Mac OS X is available in a new version. Darwin for x86 runs only on a sliver of various PCs (AMD systems are NOT one of these), so read the documentation before losing your mind. It comes as source or as an ISO image. Of course, versions are available for Power Mac systems as well--but why would you run this, really?

Another article from Newsfactor (that bastion of objective reporting) [on OSOpinion] talks of how Linux is doing. I think Linux has a strong, happy future, as do most UNIX operating systems, now that Apple and Linux distributor Lycoris have shown some ways of how UNIX can be tamed for the masses.

Wednesday, September 25, 2002

Been working on a project with XDarwin and chewing on a migration-to-PC dilemma.

I've armed a Mac OS X workstation with XDarwin and, with the help of our local sysadmin for several IRIX workstations, pointed the OS X workstation to display the X display of an IRIX box in XDarwin. It works, simply put. Sees the IRIX desktop and manipulates it just fine. Sure, I hadn't updated the window manager so it was using the butt-ugly twm default manager, but it did operate properly.

The reason I'm playing with these gee-whiz things is to prepare information for and against a possible consolidation of computers for my client. They have a mix of Macs and IRIX systems, with a few PCs running Windows 2000 or NT. They're considering reducing the number of workstations so that there's only one workstation per desk.

As a Mac guy, this disturbs me, but I'm trying not to get all zealous about keeping the Macs there. The problem, as you might guess, involves applications. The IRIX boxes run Alias/Wavefront Studio, a powerful 3-D tool. It's available for Windows 2000, Linux, and IRIX, but isn't available for Mac OS X. (Don't confuse Studio with Maya, which is available for OS X, but is designed for animation and isn't the same tool.) The current PCs may also handle a couple of tasks that work only on a Windows platform at the moment.

The common wisdom would be to move to a PC workstation for all functions. I can understand the financial logic, but my experience feels that a move like this would hurt their productivity. PCs are deployed in most businesses with Microsoft Office and left alone. Help Desks for these companies are generally equipped for Office and troubleshooting questions, but not much else. Could my client's help desk handle the "How do I?" as well as the "Why can't I?" questions that will plague them from a W2K user when handling a multitude of graphic applications? Most desks can't--they aren't trained in these applications. Hell--they can't answer the same questions posed by the Macintosh group.

Are they really saving money by using PCs? Load up a PC workstation to the same hardware features that a Macintosh workstation comes with as standard equipment, and you'll have little difference in cost between the two systems. The performance and consistency on the PC, however, will likely differ. Windows 2000/XP is a stronger OS, but it is still Windows and it is still running on hardware prone to conflicts, resource problems, and the like, especially when you load it with hardware that didn't come with the computer.

My worry is that I haven't stronger material to debate against the logic of moving to a PC-only framework for these particular clients. I'll have to think about it more.
I've got to stop being cheap and update my blog with some links and stuff. I like Blogger, so maybe I'll upgrade to a Blog*Spot account.

Until that time, for more Mac OS related chat, try this site for new switchers to Mac OS X: Forwarding Address: OS X.

Tuesday, September 24, 2002

Great link to a Linux switcher article, and a few more non-professional thoughts...

Not that I think Linux is dead on the desktop (just immature and inconsistent, but Windows was that for a time, too), try this article from Byte (I thought this magazine was dead) about a Linux user's decision to move to a PowerBook.

Every good tech needs a break from their work. Try this article from Inside Mac Games on making the switch to OS X and keeping your games working. This is important stuff since moving to OS X can really break most games since they are more tied to the video card in OS 9 and other features that are usurped by Mac OS X's dominance when Classic is in operation.

There have been quite a lot of vunerability reports for UNIX on SSL that could affect any UNIX system, so be sure to update your security patches. While OS X users have less to worry about if they do not use SSL or SSH or Apache, it does pay to run the Security Updates that can be found in your Software Update system preferences.



Monday, September 23, 2002

Young Padawans of Mac OS X would do good to feel the UNIX forces within Mac OS X.

You'll find quite a few resources on UNIX on the net (duh!), but fewer resources on the Mac OS X specifics of its BSD implementation are online. Still, you'll be far from left out in the cold.

For people that need to carry around a good reference, I'd recommend Learning UNIX for Mac OS X from O'Reilly. Their MacDevCenter site is among the strongest web sites that talk of the hinterlands of OS X, especially in regards to programming.

Curious about using UNIX applications with OS X? Start with The XDarwin project. XDarwin is an application that allows you to run UNIX applications that rely on the X Window graphic engine (that's quite a few apps!). Mac OS X has its own graphic interface engine that's essentially PDF-on-screen, but does support traditional UNIX graphic support. Links on these sites will direct you to information on compiling source code to create your own applications. Here's a link to a site that shows XDarwin at work, running a very popular Photoshop-like UNIX app called GIMP.

Once you get going in the UNIX underpinnings, drop by Mac OS X Hints for great tips on handling every little nuance of the operating system.

Friday, September 20, 2002

Some general comments regarding some articles.

This article from experienced computer writer Kim Komando left me with an interesting point: Windows users continue to equate speed with power. Her article was fairly written, given that she doesn't seem to use the Macintosh long enough for a sufficiently significant opinion.

She's right. Many aspects of the Windows XP interface are snappier than Mac OS X. But there's a downside to that. Window's graphic interface is no more complex than the UNIX X Window environment. Mac OS 9's interface is as responsive as most versions of Windows, but that's the yardstick now. Consider that Mac OS X's interface is a Display PDF, and you can give Apple credit for making the interface as fast as it is.

Many comments Ms. Komando has are subjective and understandable as people have their own opinions and preferences for how a computer should work and look. The article also misses the target of the Switch campaign and shows it in this comment:

So, if you're struggling with Windows and you think that an iMac will allow you to focus more on your business and not on computer issues, should you switch? I vote no.

Don't get me wrong. The iMac does its job well. But it is no more intuitive than Windows XP.


The iMac is designed for home use, not business, so her test system was not meant for that group. If Kim wanted to judge matters based on stronger performance, she needs to use a PowerBook or Power Mac G4 system, both of which have stronger abilities. I would have to disagree with her on intuitiveness, but it is a small point. There are lots of things to tweak from the Windows 2000 interface, and even more from XP if you switch down its rather ugly primary colors interface. Users can click one menu to activate a program, sure, but ask a user to make changes to computer settings, and they'll get lost, fast. In comparison, the Mac OS (pick one) has tended to be easier for me to help users walk through when making setting changes.

I wonder how the iMac crashed as the article noted. Application crash? Those are common. I've got OS X on about 10 systems that have been running for about a year now. There have been 4 kernel panics (a full system crash that requires a reboot), and all of them hardware related. No kernel panics were reported in the past 8 months. Still, stable is stable, and I have good reports of XP's strengths here, as well.

I think I've talked enough about the differences in cost, and why. Apple doesn't throw commodity crap, but the creame de la creame of commodity hardware. That integration and quality (inside, not out) gives the higher prices. A PC consumer may buy a cheaper machine, and odds are that it will work satisfactorily. But if problems occur, they are going to be significant, and time consuming, if not costly. PCs are not at all easy to troubleshoot for a general user. And that is where a home Macintosh user holds the trump card. The business Macintosh user has a slightly different scenario.

"No floppy drive. I know 3.5-inch floppies aren't used much anymore. But the need does arise occasionally. The iMac should have a floppy drive.

A floppy drive? A floppy drive?! What the heck for on a Macintosh? The last time I've seen any Macintosh software packages with a floppy drive was over 5 years ago. Vendors literally do NOT generate floppy disks for Macintosh software any longer, and this note from the article indicates how infrequently Ms. Komando uses these computers. The only three reasons you would need a floppy drive on a Macintosh are: (1) Swapping files when you don't have any other means between PC and Mac (not sure if Ms. Komando knows that Macs can read PC floppies without additional software, although the reverse is not true), (2) When using Virtual PC, where software installers still arrive on floppies for Windows software, and (3) if you have a Sony Mavica camera that uses floppy disks for film (I own one). That's about it.

And if points are still needed on the confusion that Microsoft causes in its operating systems, try David Coursey's comments on wireless networking on Windows. See his archive on articles about scary uses of other so-called "intuitive" products. In my opinion, about the only intuitive thing that Microsoft has made recently has been their IntelliMouse optical mice. They're great.

Thursday, September 19, 2002

Just installed the 10.2.1 Update, and haven't noticed one change whatsoever.

When your Macintosh was running perfectly before the update, that's typically how updates fare. Otherwise, you'll usually notice how faster/smoother/creamier things are. For some, its a placebo effect.

Come to think of it, there is one thing I've noticed: There was a lag in typing text in 10.2, but, as I type this in, the lag appears to be gone.

Very cool news on my Microsoft Outlook replacement search: Microsoft Entourage's IMAP support for Exchange servers that run it also provide a very good feature called Office Notifications. Essentially, this feature allows appointments and invitations used on the Outlook client to work with messages received with Entourage. The Entourage calendar appears to be a separate beast with no collaborative features from the Outlook calendar, but at least you can keep track of meetings and invite people. So far, things are pretty good, but it needs more testing before I give it the go-ahead for my client.

More on the 10.2.1 experience (or lack thereof) later.

More Bad/Questionable Writing that Ticks Me Off: This annoying article from Newsfactor. Here's one snippet:

"But even though Apple has produced many new technologies that lead the industry, the company still needs to sell its story more effectively to corporate markets, analysts said. If it cannot do so, it will be unable to reclaim market share from rival Microsoft, which now rules the operating system space with Windows."

Why would Apple need to reclaim market share from Microsoft? Isn't there market share that Microsoft does not own? Ah, yes, there is. And that is the whole challenge to running a business--not only targeting your competitors, but reaching for users that neither side owns. The language implies that Apple has to win an OS war. They don't. Apple already lost, long time ago. Now it's just business. I do agree with the first sentence on selling better to businesses--that is, if the businesses found that using Macs for their particular work was appropriate and cost-effective. The article doesn't get the point that, frankly, Macs aren't the best fit everywhere.

The rest of the article, particularly the comments from the analyst from the Yankee Group, is generally on-target. Again, I'm getting sucked in by the inflammatory tone of the headline, I guess.

Wednesday, September 18, 2002

You may likely know about the problem that may cause a SuperDrive to go dead if you use high-speed discs for burning. Don't try anything with these disks until Apple presents a fix.

Some goes for the new Mac OS X 10.2.1 Update, just released along with a bug fix for iTunes 3. Early reports indicate that the Mail application may be rendered dead. This might be a case where users have moved the Mail app from its original location, a common problem when updating software in Mac OS X since moving apps in Mac OS 9 wasn't usually a problem. More information about the update can be found at this location.

Here-here to writer Bob Levitus on his take on the Gateway Profile ads.

Tuesday, September 17, 2002

Never completely believe the ads, even Apple's. Case in point: This review by the Arizona Central on the Gateway Profile vs. the iMac flat panel. In Gateway's ad, you see the computer doing hops and jumps to show how "flexible" and "powerful" it is. This review points a different picture. The Gateway doesn't completely suck--it just tries to squeeze performance and versatility limitations behind its market spin. It's not that Apple is above the fray--but today, it's Gateway that got caught. To contrast, John Rizzo (of MacWindows fame), wrote a fair and not-too-overly-fawning review of the 17" iMac.

A good read on the stubborness of Mac OS 9 users to moving to Mac OS X comes from fellow author Gene Steinberg's blog, entitled, The Jaguar Report: How Can You Dislike It Without Using It?"

An interesting bit of professional switching comes from France in this article.

[It may be of no surprise that I love MacSurfer as most of my links come from there. I have my own spin to put on the links I select, but attribution should still go to him. Since my site does not (and is not designed to) make me one dime, and his does, I'll plug his site more often to encourage you to make it one of your daily reads. Oh, and click on all the little ads there, too. They'll like that.]
It's "Xserve Return Day" for me, after spending about 3 weeks with a loaner from Apple.

Overall, the box is a pretty rugged computer. On the other hand, if Apple is serious about placing these in large businesses, they absolutely must have stronger, more technical documentation that's proven, tested, thorough, and ready to use when a customer receives their box. No "our team is working on the documentation" mess.

Even with the Admin Guide, I experienced problems in configuring Workgroup Manager for user accounts with home directories. I could not get the clients (also running 10.2) to connect. Maybe this was a problem on the local end in our test environment, but I cannot be sure.

Mac OS X Server 10.2 is a good OS, and it is far more versatile than its 10.1 counterpart. The problem that 10.1 users will experience is that 10.2 is totally different in terms of system management. What you know is all wrong now. I hope that Apple does not change this Workgroup Manager/Server Settings app combo again, now that they have a stronger directory services model (thus the change; LDAPv3, in the form of Open Directory, replaced NetInfo as the dominant external service if you allow it).

In other news: Here, here for this article on Apple's mice. Sure, you can replace it with something better, but why can't Apple get over this form-over-function thing with the most used piece of hardware on their systems? When Microsoft makes better hardware than Apple, then you have some issues to figure out.

Just got Quake 3 Arena reinstalled and upgraded for OS X. With a GeForce 4 MX card, I have to turn down settings just so my eyes can keep up. I think this will keep my twitchiness to a minimum until Jedi Knight II shows up in a few weeks.

If you like a good laugh, I find The Joy of Tech one of the better geek (and most Macintosh-tilted) comics. I really need to order my "Tubes Rock!" t-shirt...

Looks like our first 10.2 update is almost here, given that Apple's already placed the Read Me for this update on their support site. Mostly bug fixes, but a few support changes, including more 3rd party CD burner support. I would certainly hope so if Apple is selling systems that can accept a 2nd ATAPI CD drive.

Here's one last funny on the future demise of Mac OS 9 booting.

Monday, September 16, 2002

Just in case you thought about it, building a Mac from scratch isn't all that practical, and certainly not cost effective.

An article on Slashdot talks of some person who has a tutorial on building a Macintosh from spare parts. Basically, the person obtains older or refurbished boards and other components that aren't sold by Apple (or meant to be resold) through third-party vendors.

For a budget hacker, this isn't a bad thing, but I wouldn't trust the thing. For one, building a Macintosh from spare parts seems to me like building a 2002 Thunderbird from scrap parts from cars that have been wrecked. Reburbished parts are definitely a no-no in my book. When a Macintosh has a hardware problem, my experience tells me that the problem is a permanent one--a Mac is either a good system or a lemon, and they can pose very nasty problems that can stymie the most experienced tech. Also, as many posts in this article noted, the cost of assembling this Frankensteinian beast may cost more than buying a new Mac.

Here's an entertaining, provocative (but, in my humble opinion, wrong) article arguing that Mac OS X is not UNIX. I have a simple rebuttal. You may be right, but then neither is Linux or BSD. Mr. Pot, meet Mr. Kettle. Just because OS X isn't UNIX defined doesn't make it (or Linux) or less valuable or powerful, or even better. Unless, of course, you need to run Microsoft Office. Or play a game other than Quake 3 Arena. Sounds like a callage kid that's grousing more about why Linux isn't more popular or getting more airplay at the moment than Mac OS X. It doesn't help his case that he tries to debunk Tim O'Reilly, a person in charge of a company that knows quite well what a UNIX and a Linux is. They also know what works best for them. The latest news I've heard is that O'Reilly and Associates is moving most, if not all, of their computer workstations to Mac OS X.

And speaking of O'Reilly, this is a nice article from MacDevCenter on using PC accessories with your Mac. Not a lot of big news here, but it may answer your burning questions about PocketPC PDA support in Mac OS X, among other things.



Thursday, September 12, 2002

There's increasing flack on the net on Apple's announcement that the next Macintosh systems will not be able to boot Mac OS 9. Here's a good commentary on MacFixIt about this issue.

I'm split about it for professional and personal reasons, since I own a new G4 now and have a sizeable investment of software. For one, at the workplace, getting rid of OS 9 booting helps with system security since Apple does not allow 3rd-parties to make their installer CDs with an Mac OS X install for booting. On the other hand, since there isn't an alternative for CD booting if your computer can't boot OS 9, what becomes of diagnostic CDs such as DiskWarrior and Norton Utilities that must boot from their CD to effectively make repairs?

Another matter: games. Most games built in the past 5 years do not run properly in Classic since the video requirements and implementations use Classic components that are largely ignored or surplanted by OS X. In other words, Mac OS 9 games are out-and-out dead on these new systems, and anyone with an investment of these games have practically zero options.

There are users with Classic apps that must run natively in OS 9 and will likely not be ported for various reasons. What do we do for these users?

I wonder what Apple hardware will gain from no longer supporting OS 9 as a boot medium. Will OS X run better as a result of the change? Or is this just a change designed mostly to push developers more to OS X?
Been considering ideas for collaboration and better Exchange e-mail support lately. A recent article on Slashdot reflected my thoughts on it.

Microsoft Outlook 2001 was a welcome update to the client. It's previous versions were buggy and incompatible with the new calendar features on the servers. However, the Happy Place I held for this app soon faded when I realized it had a bug that had to show up just for me. I live in Indianapolis, one of the few places in the United States that does not change its clocks at all during moves to and from Daylight Savings Time (Arizona and Hawaii are also holdbacks). So, in the spring, Indianapolis is effectively Central Daylight Time (same as Chicago) although we never move from Eastern Standard Time. Yep, this pisses off the locals rather intensely, but it's how its been for years. Confuses the hell out of vendors who call from out of state.

Outlook runs fine in Mac OS 9. But, when running in Classic, Mac OS X controls the system clock, not Mac OS 9's Date & Time control panel. When Outlook runs in Classic when DST is in effect, meeting times that you accept appear one hour ahead (EDT) in the Calendar, and the text header in the message shows the correct time. So, Outlook cannot see OS X time zone information, and the features are otherwise incompatible. For people who want to do lots of meetings, this is a pretty awful issue. MacWindows has a great report on this problem. There are some workarounds: Run Virtual PC and use Outlook in that environment, use a terminal server like Windows Terminal Server (the new Remote Desktop Connection app looks very, very nice) or Citrix's Metaframe offerings. These aren't the greatest ideas since working with attachments (especially with Citrix) is a pain to manage. A user would have to have Outlook 2001 open for attachments but use the emulation/terminal environments for calendars. Ick.

Since my customer has IMAP working with their Exchange server, this opens a few alternatives. One could use the Entourage e-mail application (part of Office v.X) for the e-mail, and go with Apple's new iCal application for scheduling. That doesn't help the invitation features, which right now requires you to use Apple's Mail app with iCal.

Maybe I should just wait: MacWindows has a terse statement from Microsoft indicating that they are in the early stages of yet another Exchange client, ostensibly for Mac OS X.

Tuesday, September 10, 2002

And while I'm at it, avoid forming opinions from Mac-specific web sites, including this one.

Every human has an opinion. And I might be unfair and unethical in saying that some news sites give "bad spin" or "good spin" when it comes to Macintosh news. It's not the point of this site to be a Mac cheerleader. Still, you do get tired of bad writing, and I was just venting because of it. So, maybe avoiding News.com as a whole is better for your blood pressure, no matter what articles they write. For unabashed opinion on tech stuff, my personal favorite is Doc Searls, a Linux guy who also enjoys Mac OS X a great deal.

In any case, don't be a pundit for any computer technology. You can have your personal favorites, sure. (Guess what my favorite computer is.) In a business market, particularly a larger enterprise, IT professionals can't afford to cheer and jeer--a point that I occasionally forget. We must test and determine if a particular technology works best for a particular area. Can Mac OS X make a useful file server for a large group of Windows users? Sure. Would that configuration hold up to support and technical matters in relation to connectivity? Don't know--better test it.

OK...if you really want to avoid bad tech journalism, avoid SpyMac (a.k.a. The URL that Dare Not Show Its Link).
If there's any computer news site that you can probably avoid when it comes to Macintosh spin, it's CNet's News.com.

This article today on News.com used the headline on the front page of "Apple Harvest In Jeopardy? Mac OS maker boosts emphasis on software and services in a bid to stem slowing sales. " The article itself shows the neutral, less inflammatory headline, "Apple launches latest "i" software," reflecting the introduction of iCal, its calendar application for Mac OS X 10.2.

The problem I've had with News.com is that they write almost all Apple articles in the same, banal way. See if you can find the pattern in my tongue-in-cheek example below.

Apple announced today that CEO Steve Jobs has grown a third eye in the center of his forehead in an effort to gain greater vision for sales strategies for the company. "I think the new eye is quite a change. Already it sees new ways to increase the company's overall sales, and my driving has never been better," Jobs said in a recent interview.

While a third eye is a useful addition to any CEO's arsenal, many analysts believe that the third eye will not aid in increasing market share and will lead to adaption problems with Mac OS X. "Jobs has three eyes now, yet he still does not see that lower priced Macs are a stronger bet in the marketplace," says Joe Schmoe, analyst with Dewey, Cheatham, and Howe. "Maybe Jobs should poke out all of his eyes to hear that lower prices are what drive PC sales."

Apple could not be reached for comment.


OK, maybe I'm a little oversensitive about this. I'm just annoyed at the "buts" added to an Apple article that belittle their successes or overly magnify their failures, especially when the article appears geared to simply blabber on, using analysts that may know the stocks, but couldn't distinguish a computer chip from a potato chip.
Mac OS 9 is not quite dead yet, but a press release from Apple has placed the venerable OS on life support. With new systems arriving in 2003, OS 9 is taken off life support.

To understand this, you have to understand the Dark Side of using Macintosh workstations in terms of operating system support. To a tech like myself, this isn't anything surprising, even during this transition to a new operating system. As Apple introduces new hardware, they always tweak the OS and the hardware (they're integrated, remember?) to run best. That typically means that older versions of the Mac OS cannot run a relatively older version of the operating system. For instance, my recently sold Blue & White Power Macintosh G3 computer arrived with Mac OS 8.5.1, and cannot run Mac OS 8.1 under any circumstances because the hardware cannot understand it. That system can run Mac OS X 10.2, the most recent OS "reference release" (full OS version) and will likely run one or two more reference releases before it becomes impractical or technically impossible.

Same is true for my new dual-processor G4. It can run Mac OS 9.2.2, but only the version that came with the computer in its Classic disk image (other 9.2.2 versions do not boot the system). It also arrived with Mac OS X 10.2 install disks that are slightly tweaked to handle this new hardware.

This move is a Big Thing for some as Mac users are very, very stubborn in what they like to use. Professionally, this means that if you have applications with hardware dependencies (such as scanners, TV tuners, and removeable drives) running on Mac OS 9, you had better get software updates to mech that hardware to run in OS X, stick with your existing computer and never upgrade again, or give up that item and buy something to replace it. I see this OS change really affecting the educators and a few graphic designers who have OS 9 apps that really don't run well or at all as Classic.

Obviously Apple is trying to light a fire under developer's patootie to get these peripheral OS 9 apps ported and to concentrate exclusively with OS X, but I see a lot of resentment building to this move.

Thursday, September 05, 2002

Here's one Mac OS X 10.2 review to read that's typically the Mother of All Reviews.

Go read John Siracusa's no-holds-barred, highly technical review of Jaguar. John has reviewed OS X since the Public Beta and has been one of OS X's strongest supporters and critics. This is a must read.

Part of my Xserve woes certainly involve the peculiar test network. So, bye-bye network. I'll connect the Xserve and my test workstation with a Cat 5 cable. Crossover, did you say? Nay--Macs armed with Gigabit Ethernet don't need one.

Wednesday, September 04, 2002

The fight with the Xserve goes, well, weird.

I had enough of a fight with the 10.1 Server operating system and its nonfunctional LDAP components (well, nonfunctional to me, anyway). Today, I installed 10.2 Server and everything I knew became wrong.

Mac OS X Server 10.2 added many new features and switched around a plethora of stuff. In particular, the features of the Server Admin application in 10.1 (which controlled user administration as well as file, print, web, and e-mail services) is now the Server Settings application, which only manages the services but no longer user administration. That job has gone to the Workgroup Manager, an application that reminds me of a couple of Windows 2000 Server tools in terms of its complexity.

Apple's directory services is now more LDAP based but also supports its old NetInfo roots. The result is damned confusing to me, however, until I digest the Administration Guide for 10.2 to get a good grip on it. To put it simply, this Mac OS Server is not particularly easy to understand. I guess that means that Apple has graduated to an enterprise level state. I know that also means that my headache will not subside anytime soon.
The new G4 is really, really nice. How's that for a technical assessment?

Got a lot on my plate today with my final tests with the Xserve I have from Apple on loan, so posts, rants, and reviews will be at a premium this week.

After the letdown I experienced with LDAP to Active Directory configuration last week, Apple has pulled through again (albeit at the last relative minute) to get me an advance copy of 10.2 Server for these tests. I'm skeptical that it will work any more than the 10.1 LDAP configuration, but at least they promised the help of an Apple system engineer to walk me through the configuration since their documentation on doing this is apparently very, very bad.

Jaguar has some warts, but it is otherwise a very welcome upgrade. This tech note from Apple's Developer Connection details some bugaboos, particularly that point that SMB browsing is limited to your subnet. I figured that out when launching Jaguar for the first time on my client's network. I don't see most of the domains and only a portion of the total servers on my primary domain. That doesn't make SMB useless at all: you can still connect to anything by typing in an SMB connect string, and I'm sure there are other ways to skin a cat on this, so to speak.

Upcoming reviews on the 867 dual G4 I received plus Connectix Virtual PC 5 for Mac OS X. I've used VPC for years, but this is the first time with it on OS X.