Thursday, October 31, 2002

Great financial moves by Apple lately, but is that the Ninth Gate I hear creaking open...?

Seriously, the announcement that Dell will sell the Windows version of Apple's iPod MP3 player was a pleasant shock for most, myself included. But I also felt it was a brilliantly executed move. Combined with the news that Apple also scored with Target stores to sell Windows iPods, this really covers the bases for Apple in terms of shoring up sales in product that has a bright future. It might be a harbinger of more consumer-cross-platform products from Apple, although I doubt they will stray from making anything that can't be attached and used in some way with a Mac system or any computer. Here be dragons in that philosophy.

It's Hallowe'en, and I'm typing this while dressed as a Jedi Knight at work, complete with a lightsaber replica from a popular saber replica site (but not the official). This week, starting today, gets exciting for me personally, if I may digress a little from the professional fare and talk above myself for a second or two. Today, the second Star Wars movie premieres at a local IMAX theatre, with lots of digital clarity. On Saturday, Apple opens a new retail store in my hometown. I've changed my mind and decided to go Full Geek and wait in the cold for the AM grand opening, if nothing more than to hope to score a first copy of the new Jedi Knight II game, if they've received a shipment.

So, excuse me while I get my Geek Card punched up for exhibiting Exemplary Geek Chic and polish up my lightsaber.

Wednesday, October 30, 2002

Apple does offer new and existing technology with creative or ease-of-use flair. But how well do they sell it?

Business Week's Charles Haddad weekly column talks about Apple's expanding scope of supported technologies and how they've appeared to break their old "Not-Invented-Here" syndrome in terms of other computer technologies. An interesting read, but it makes me want to hark back to my recent posts on how Apple is doing a pretty poor job at selling to the enterprise. I know they can sell more. But for Apple to continue its growth in the business world, it has to learn to sell it. Apple is so 1990 in terms of their sales model.

Tuesday, October 29, 2002

I had to rip Apple a new hole in a customer feedback call I received today.

I've asked Apple to help demonstrate their wares for my client over the past few months to experience what benefits Mac OS X, Mac OS X Server, and the Xserve could bring to my customer. Sad to say, the server component wasn't to be: Apple doesn't have an understanding that enterprise sales are solutions-driven, not product-driven.

So I told the Apple rep who helped me initialize this new relationship--well, pretty much everything I've logged here over the past few weeks. The strongest point I could've made to Apple was not to show up at a vendor's door with a dog-and-pony show, with lots of substance but no solution. Study your enterprise clients. Realize that it is next to impossible that a business will chuck their Windows servers (or any servers) for an Xserve solution. Find out what the customer does and where an Xserve (or ten) would outperform a competing solution. Then write up a proposal and send it to the customer's IT contacts for a meeting. This may not guarantee a sale, but certainly is more informative to the customer to Apple's abilities. After all, a customer is more likely to be interested if Apple has something interesting to say. With my latest visit from Apple, it was exactly the opposite.

I wasn't mean or impolite in the call, of course, but it was professionally scathing. The Apple rep has heard much of what I've told him from other customers, so hopefully this advice migrates up the Apple channels and changes are made.

Despite their stumbling, Apple server efforts appear to be gaining fruit, in a raw audience sort of way. Not a lot of companies sell servers, but those few do sell a lot of them. Apple managed to get on this list with only a few thousand servers. But that number reflected a tripling of server sales over the past year. As Apple polishes up the Xserve and Mac OS X Server's abilities, the future looks brighter for these boxes.

Linux may be 10 years old, but Mac OS X Server is a feisty little toddler.

See this article from Byte.com's Moshe Bar that compares performance of Mac OS X Server 10.1.5 versus SuSE Linux for PPC. Both ran on the same hardware: an Xserve.

Linux ran circles around OS X in terms of overall performance, but OS X Server did hold its own pretty well for a 1-year-old. An interesting read.

Monday, October 28, 2002

Despite my computer experience, web stuff hasn't quite been my can o' beans.

I just never got around to it. Mac OS Prose is the first web site I've created that I've actually published and maintained, and that was only because it was a canned, type-it-and-publish experience (thanks again, Blogger). Until recently, I just never had anything substantial to rant about (online, that is).

It looks like there may be a faint glimmer of light for moving my site to a web host available from my ISP's cable modem access. At least two web sites I've found hosted there appears to imply that my ISP isn't one of those canned web hosts where customization is practically impossible.

While Moveable Type looked really flexible, I think I may start with Radio UserLand first, and see how it goes.

Sunday, October 27, 2002

After my blog host was hacked, I'm reconsidering where I'll reside.

Last Friday, 10/25, Blogger was nastily hacked to the point where the entire site was taken offline to restore matters.

I chose Blogger as my site for a few simple reasons:

--It was free.
--It was easy to create
--It was easy to maintain
--It was compatible with Macintosh browsers, well--as long as you used Internet Explorer. The complex scripts used in generating the Blogger interface don't appear properly at all from OmniWeb (my choice of browser), and barely work in Netscape 7.

After the crack, and after looking at a recent successful move by the lovely and outspoken blogger Dawn Olsen to Moveable Type, I've considered a move myself.

I've really wanted this site to have a few more significant bits and not just have me wailing and blabbering about, and building a site with more complexity with Moveable Type or Radio Userland, which looked really nice in the Mac blog from Apple board member (I think) Ken Bereskin. Radio Userland comes as a software package designed for Mac OS (including X) or Windows, and appears easy to create and maintain a site. Moveable Type requires more intermediate to advanced skills in CGI scripting, but isn't impossible to learn.

The catch: Moveable Type is donationware, but harder to assemble if you're not an HTML whiz. Radio is a versatile canned solution, which means it's not free, but not expensive either ($40). Both appear to require you to find a web hosting server, however, which is my problem. Most ISPs do provide some web hosting for their customers, so I'll be looking to see if I can add my own content (code) in place of their stock templates. This should take care of things in the long run unless I post something really interesting/controversial and get overloaded by hits from a particularly cool geek community chat board.

I've really appreciated Blogger and would recommend it to anyone who wants to get started on a blog, but technically, it's probably time for me to move on.

Thursday, October 24, 2002

There's always a dull period of news after Apple announces earnings. But the future may be bright.

Still, there are a few morsels that strike my fancy. One of them, which I haven't bothered to read just yet, is a forum topic on The Mac Observer that asks "What Do You See in Apple's Future?"

Cool question. Since I have my own forum here, I'll take a stab at it.

Look for Apple's market share to continue its slow but measurable progress. If Apple keeps its collective technologies maintained and updated in their current mode, good things can happen through simple reputation. Mac OS X is the nexus of Apple's new refreshed look among 'niche' industries such as the scientific and video communities.

The Apple Stores will continue to swim and rarely sink with Apple marketing.The "Switch" campaign appears to be doing its job, but it can use a new twist, especially for the holidays and for businesses on the brink of considering Mac OS X technologies as an accessory or replacement for failed, antiquated, or redundant Linux or UNIX processes in their workplace.

If Apple doesn't start basing its enterprise sales on vendor research, they're screwing themselves. Apple cannot simply parade their boxes to businesses, who search for a specific technology to fill a specific need. Apple must approach vendors after asking specific questions and tayloring their sales approach. Almost every major computer company offers a server. Apple has to focus their server to what it does best, or present solutions that match what the business wants, not what Apple presumes. The age of the "one box does it all" approach to selling is over.

Mac OS X application availability will increase.Mac OS X has many new fans that have not touched Macs before. Many of these new fans are developers, and application ports from UNIX and even Windows is on the rise. The staple business and graphics applications will still be there, but expect some vertical market applications to make major moves. A dark-horse prediction: Alias/Wavefront may port their Studio application to Mac OS X.

Games are one good measurement of application or platform success for Apple.The performance of many games under Mac OS X is very promising, with fewer bottlenecks than under Mac OS 9. Since OS X has greater integration with many game technologies and is developing into an interesting programming platform for some, I expect to see more and more games developed for PCs and consoles available for Mac OS X almost immediately after the PC software release.

Look for stronger desktop iron in 2003.Apple built the "Windtunnel" G4s for a reason. Its technology seems to support a stronger processor than was used. The collaboration with IBM on further PowerPC development may make some big waves if the companies keep their focus and interest. Motorola isn't in the picture in my mind.

Tuesday, October 22, 2002

Lots of retrenching and power plays lately.

Of course this can refer to the in-fighting with Apple and IDG World Expo. It can also apply to the strange moves by Quark in the United Kingdom and sales/support of QuarkXPress.

On a personal note, I'm still recovering from some wisdom teeth removal on Friday, and it's more of an ouchie than the last time I've had this done. The lack of wisdom here could be explained by my increase in pain, so be patient as I dig up more drugs and more news and commentary.

Two things that have picked me up the past few days: I picked up Return to Castle Wolfenstein and enjoyed giving virtual pain to Nazis and undead while receiving my own from the dental surgery. A must-buy for gamers. And, yes indeed, I did hear the great news that Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast for Macintosh has finally reached gold master status. I might be in touch with the Force before the month is over.

Friday, October 18, 2002

Is Apple making another bonehead move?

Probably not, if you're talking about their abrupt decision not to participate in Macworld Expo 2004, to be relocated in Boston. Apple, which does not operate Macworld (IDG World Expo, which is part of the IDG conclomerate that includes Macworld magazine, does), hasn't really explained in full why they don't care to go, but a few good possibilities have risen to the surface.

1) It's become too expensive for Apple to participate in two trade shows, especially having to move lots of people and equipment across the country, rather than just up the street, relatively speaking, for the San Francisco Macworld show.

2) Apple has been trying to break the pattern in their buyers who wait until Macworld announcements before they buy anything, in anticipation for something new.

3) Apple may see more market capitalization from the Big Apple than Boston.

In any case, I think that IDG should keep the show running as planned. Macworld is still a huge draw, and a fresh change might be interesting without Apple's direct (and to some, overwhelming) influence on a third-party exposition.

In other news, Apple is providing copies of Jaguar free to teachers in the U.S. This is a critically great move because K-12 educators are the weakest migrators to Mac OS X for several reasons: Older hardware that can't run OS X efficiently or at all, Software incompatibilities, and the cost of the OS or training to use it. Need more information?

Wednesday, October 16, 2002

OK. So I was off a little.

Apple posted a $45 million loss for this quarter. The good news in this loss is that it involved expensing out one-time costs (likely involving losses that the company suffered in its own stock investments with other companies that fared much worse in the market), the company would have met Wall Street profit expectations of $.02 per share, or around $7 million.

Of course, most computer news groups will take this in a bad way, and probably so will some stockholders. However, Apple is still quite solvent, with cash on hand of $4.3 billion, and plenty of good news in their products, so long as they learn how to offer their products with the audience in mind.

What does interest me is that the number of Macs sold this quarter is pretty off. About 734,000 systems were sold. The average number is around 830,000. It's effective evidence that Apple is nowhere close to immune to the computer sales slowdown. It's a ripe time for Apple to "invent" a new idea that makes the computer industry abuzz. Last time it was the "digital hub." That idea appeared to take off pretty well.
Quarterly financials for Apple this afternoon. Should be fairly good news. Too bad I can't give them much from my clients.

As Apple is a publicly-traded company, they are obligated by SEC regulations to publicly report if earnings fall short of expectations. I don't remember hearing of any such warning, so Apple scores yet another quarterly profit. Stability is good. The last time Apple got a soaking was in December 2000 after they had to take it on the chin for the brillantly designed but ill-fated G4 Cube. What audience was that thing for, anyway?

The only question that remains is: How much profit was gained this quarter? If memory serves, while Apple's obligated to report bad performance, they don't have to mention good performance in the same manner. So, given the good sales of Mac OS X 10.2 Jaguar, the new "Windtunnel" G4 towers, and 17" flat panel iMacs (with perhaps an iPod or thousand), today should be a nice day for the stockholders. Apple may give a very happy overdelivering surprise. If I could, I would buy a little stock. Only Dell and Apple are profitable with personal computer sales, and the news can't get any worse in this sector.

In other news-like stuff...

Recently met with sales representatives from Apple to discuss...um...the company's available wares, I think.

When IT staff meet with vendors, the purpose is typically a problem-solution meeting. Before such a meeting, the vendors are expected to do their homework about the company and their architecture, ask questions about their needs, wants, desires--that sort of thing. This exploration is sometimes aided by the inquiring company itself, which may provide questions to answer for a particular technical matter. Once the studies are done, the vendor meets with the IT staff of the company, summarizes how they make their living, and jumps right in how the company's problem and how they, the vendor, can define solutions--using their products, of course.

I was disappointed with Apple by how they simply tried to sell the box, rather than selling a solution. The Xserve was presented at the meeting (a device of which I've had the pleasure of testing) but not much was given on how the box met the company's specific technical need. I felt as if I had returned to the late 1980s where computer shops would sell computers with all the flash and glitter but gloss over the computer's shortcomings. "Hey--it's a computer! You need this! Everyone does!"

I don't work for Apple (not to say I haven't tried once) so I can still skewer them for this incredibly bad performance. Apple must learn, when speaking to most businesses, not to talk about the box, but of what the box can do for the customer's specific tasks and issues. The Xserve is a nice box, but most companies have Windows servers and have no logical reason to migrate to anything else. If anything, these vendors would choose Linux solutions over Apple for obvious reasons, such as direct compatibility with their existing hardware, and because Apple is still looked upon as an outsider in IT and unknowledgable or unsupportive of enterprise technology.

I know this isn't the case from other matters that Apple handles, such as their open-source support and technical capacities present in their OS and hardware. There's plenty of testimonials, reports, studies, and businesses who have reintroduced or reinforced their Mac OS technologies. The problem for Apple is the way they communicate. For education and home customers, the song-and-dance of "Our computers are shiny, compatible, and do everything well digitally" works fine. For businesses, take the time and energy to ask the customer what they need or have, and learn about their existing architecture. There's not a company in this world that will drop what they are using for Apple products with the sales pitch I witnessed (despite the point that it contained useful information for those not familiar with the company or its products). Apple has to learn to simply fit in, rather than take the old "we-present-ourselves-in-hopes-you-can-find-some-room-for-us" presentation mode.

Monday, October 14, 2002

...And to wrap that all up...

Zing!
Microsoft more or less admits to a bit of marketing trickery. Actually, it wasn't quite trickery, as there really was a person behind the article. However, by being a contractual employee of Microsoft while making this article, it's really a paid endorsement. The article notes the point questioning Microsoft's truth in representation (after all, they have created composite people before to try to pass them off as actual people, unless you read the fine print, if any). At the time of this writing, Microsoft pulled the page.

What I didn't get from the article involves the Mac setup of the PR person. First off, in PR and advertising, Macs are king. I still smell a rat about this conversion. However, if the woman had a ratty old Power Macintosh 8600 or something, the switch would make sense. Anything would be better. That's really my problem about the article. While Apple's Switch site doesn't go into great detail about the PCs the switchers used, at least the systems were relatively modern (my guess: 2-3 years). Windows XP can put a lovely face on many a PC user's issues from prior versions.

Oh, well. That was amusing, but this isn't a Microsoft-bashing site. They make tools, and my purpose at this site is to say if they work, or don't.
An amusing follow-up to Microsoft's new "Switch" campaign.

So far, it appears to be blowing up in their faces. Slashdot has recently posted an article regarding the marketing, to the bemusement of all. It's a great read--people are picking the article apart.

One Slashdot reader made a great catch: While the article is supposedly written by a freelance writer (who is uncredited on the page), the picture used in the article is from a stock photography image catalog. Another poster joked about the fact that the image comes from a competitor to the Corbis image catalog, which Microsoft owns.

I think it's a composite of a person, at best, but evidence seems to point to the likelihood that this is not a real person at all, and merely a marketing tool. That's too bad, for it shows Microsoft in the very bad light that Apple's Switch campaign attempts to provide. If your product has advantages, there shouldn't be any problem in fighting fire with fire (as opposed to fighting fire with a simulated fireplace). Microsoft seems to think that many people aren't savvy enough to compare or choose, or at least see a poor marketing piece for what it is.

Microsoft appears ready to strike back at Apple's Switcher campaign. It's a little lackluster, however.

This article appears to be a marketing piece showing that Mac users can move to PCs running Windows XP. Wow. Not that this is a revelation or anything. The reason Apple's been pushing their Switch campaign is because Microsoft has been so successful in getting some Mac users to make the move to PCs.

The problem I note with this article is its lack of information on technical specifics. Contrast it to Apple's extensive Switch web site, complete not only with their hyped testimonials but also instructions on how to switch technologies and data, and it's clear that Microsoft's effort here appear isn't particularly convincing except to those who have already switched.

What interests me is how relatively flat the Microsoft article appears. Typically, Microsoft's marketing machine is quite powerful and swift, if not late to the party. This article doesn't seem like the monopoly we know and, um, use.
New PowerPC Chip for Macintosh? I'd put money on it.

Numerous articles on the 'net point to a practically-confirmed report that Apple and IBM are testing a 64-bit PowerPC chip design for use in a later Power Mac system. This makes sense on many levels, particularly with the points that:

1. Apple has a big investment in PowerPC architecture. Moving to Intel would cause far too many bumps.
2. Motorola has all but lost the ability or desire to ramp up the existing PowerPC chip architecture.
3. IBM knows that they can use these new chips in other projects, so they have a stronger interest, as well as the capital necessary to burn the necessary R&D cash to make things work.

Here are some links (courtesy, as always, to MacSurfer's Headline News) regarding the news from here,, here, and here.

Want an iMac but couldn't afford the cash? Keep an eye out at retail warehouses such as Sam's Club (WalMart's warehouse wholesale stores), where older or discontinued iMac stock frequently migrates. I bring this up because a recent tidbit suggests that the 15" flat panel iMac is being discontinued as Apple pushes the more refined 17" flat panels.

Don't forget to drop by The Joy of Tech for your daily Mac-oriented funny. (Trust me, Mac neophytes--these get funnier as you immerse yourself more in the Mac culture.)

As some of you know, I posted a review of UNIX author Dave Taylor's recent book, Learning UNIX for Mac OS X. Thanks to Dave, I received a copy of Teach Yourself UNIX System Administration for a future review. I've had time to scan through it a bit, and it's pretty juicy. The book discusses administration in the most popular UNIX-style operating systems, including Red Hat/Linux, Solaris, and Mac OS X, with lots of detail on handling the admin needs and the idiosyncracies of each. More to come, probably on Slashdot first, then here.

Here here to Gene Steinberg on his short but succient point in a recent article, pointing out that you don't have to master UNIX to use it.

Wednesday, October 09, 2002

Incredible Cosmic Power (or, I got more RAM)

Just added an additional 512MB DDR RAM to my Windtunnel G4, bringing it up to 768MB. Oh, the power. Additional RAM definitely improves Mac OS X performance. It cost me only $126 from Crucial.com, and it came next day although it was marked as 2-day. An excellent purchase. I strongly recommend at least 512MB for Jaguar, 384MB minimum. If you like Virtual PC, just max your system (2GB on the new G4s). The more RAM you can add to the PC environments you run, the more helpful it gets for running the OS. Notice how I avoided the use of the term "speed." More RAM does help speed, but there's not a quantum increase in performance--just a useful one. Red Hat and Windows XP were very happy with 256MB.

Charles Haddad makes some damn sensible conclusions about Apple's marketing in this recent article.

If you're developing Java Swing apps for OS X, a recent article from Slashdot may be of interest to you.

Has anyone been dealing with many crashes in Microsoft Word lately since a Jaguar upgrade? I've got the service pack installed, but while saving or opening, it bombs. I strongly suspect bad fonts, but see the previous post about how Norton Utilities is probably worthless and dangerous prevents me from finding out. Maybe I'll just do the ol' trash the Fonts folder trick to see.

Tuesday, October 08, 2002

Mac OS X and Linux/OSS: A Symbiotic Relationship.

This article has gotten the ire of a lot of Mac OS X fans lately. The article provides some stern criticism about OS X and how it doesn't provide a better alternative to Linux because OS X isn't open source.

Hogwash. Many posters to the article agree with me that Linux and Mac OS X aren't competitors. They're compatriots, and Linux doesn't have to squeeze out one dime for all the free publicity that OS X stirs up with its UNIX underpinnings.

Apple is helping to popularize OSS by supporting many projects that work with OS X, typically in the XDarwin/XFree86 mode, but some fully revamped to work natively in Aqua. Sure, Apple is trying to make a buck, but some OSS zealots are wrong in their belief--just because OSS is free doesn't mean that making money from it or other more proprietary implementations of OSS is bad.

Both Linux and Mac OS X have an audience. Just pick one. What improves in one platform may likely make its way to the other. With that logic, Apple has a lot to be thankful for from the Open Source community.
Norton Utilities 7.0 for Macintosh has achieved the level of the mundane.

Serves me right for not doing my research thoroughly. In the past, Symantec's Norton Utilities for Macintosh has been the strongest third party Mac OS diagnostic and repair tool. That, however, has changed, primarily with the introduction of Mac OS X.

Suddenly, companies like Symantec have suddenly lost the ability to code, or at least lack the understanding necessary to make a strong repair tool. I picked up NUM yesterday to fix some minor issue with my new G4. That was the first mistake: Version 7 was designed with Mac OS X 10.1 and Mac OS 9.2.2 in mind. My new "Windtunnel" G4 runs its own Mac OS 9.2.2 hack and cannot boot from the NUM CD. Install NUM's OS X version on your Jaguar system, and it installs a handful of kernel extensions. Restart your computer and wait a very, very long time until (or if) your computer boots. My computer didn't, and there are plenty of other users who've experienced the same thing.

First off, in Mac OS 9, NUM installs a handful of system extensions there, some of which should've been retired long ago as Things That Are Unnecessary And Always Crash a Computer, such as Disklight (stupid and useless) and FileSaver (dangerous, stupid, and useless). NUM's real tools consist of Disk Doctor (its repair tool) and Speed Disk (disk optimizer/defrag tool). The Mac OS X version tries to emulate this extension function by adding kernel extensions in Mac OS X. Symantec obviously doesn't understand that OS X is not OS 9. NO APPLICATIONS should ever install kernel extensions. Yet NUM does, and directly violates Mac OS X's stability as a result. There are certainly better ways to add the functionality needed, Symantec. Pick any one but kernel extensions.

Second, NUM 7 is nearly worthless because I don't know if I can trust it with an OS X volume. There are plenty of reports from users where serious and catastrophic data loss has occurred. The most popular disk repair utilities (TechTool Pro and Drive 10, from Micromat, NUM, and Alsoft's DiskWarrior) all report different problems. All of these utilties are beginning to be mutually incompatible with not only each other but with Mac OS X as well.
I probably shouldn't put DiskWarrior in this list since it repairs file and disk directories, nothing more, but it is very, very good at what it does.

NUM 7 repaired my OS 9 volume as I expected. But do I dare unleach it on Mac OS X? I don't think so. I'll have to review this. My growing suspicion is that, since Mac OS X is UNIX, the features of this OS have removed these companies' ability to write code that really works. Mac OS 9 was quite hackable, but Mac OS X will have no part of that. So, utilties that had carte blanche with disk repair in OS 9 now has to figure out had to circumvent Mac OS X's permissions and privileges in order to repair things. My information indicates that neither Drive 10 (a TechTool-like version for OS X) and NUM aren't very useful and can even be destructive. DiskWarrior fixes directory damage but can't handle other repair needs.

The only tool I respect right now is Disk Utility, which can't run on the startup disk while it's running. So, boot from your OS X disk that came with the computer and go. Heaven help you when you get the new Macs in 2003 that can't boot Mac OS 9 CDs--Apple has not approved or licensed the use of a mini-version of OS X for third-party book disks. This whole move to OS X makes the diagnostic elements for these systems very, very problematic. I know that Mac OS X needs little in terms of maintenance, but still, something will break that fsck or Disk Utility won't handle. What then?

Sunday, October 06, 2002

Interesting Stuff, Red Hat.

Installed it successfully yesterday. One caveat I avoided on my second install attempt from Friday: Don't test the video mode for X Window with Virtual PC. Just pick the settings it selects for the video modes. So long as it detects the S3 video "card" properly, it will provide proper and compatible settings.

Red Hat works great. It is more responsive than Windows XP with the same memory allocation (although that's not saying a lot), and it appears that the GNOME interface has actually simplifed matters for running it. Haven't run OpenOffice (it's installed) or tried WINE (yes, run a Windows emulator within an Linux environment running in a PC hardware emulator), but I will as soon as I can.

Here's a somewhat clueless article on whether Apple will survive, again. The point missed in this article is that Apple isn't going away because their target markets are aimed more at the consumer market, not the business/enterprise market. Sure, it's good to get sales there, and segments of Apple do concentrate on this, but this isn't as important to Apple as home users. Besides, it doesn't seem that computer sales aimed primarily in the business market is helping the sales of any company right now, except for Dell.

And I'll say it again: Forget about the Intel chip move. I'm not against it, but Apple has many advantages to the PowerPC chip that are leveraged in Mac OS X. Apple may prepare for it (and that is a reasonable thing to do), but they won't make that move unless the business model with Motorola and IBM dramatically changes. For now, IBM will likely make the chips if Motorola fails--and since IBM is the creator of the PPC architecture, they'd have no problem getting the chips in the quantity and speeds or power that Apple desires.

The chip/speed issue is the only problem that Apple must face in the coming future. Everything else, from their new systems, Mac OS X, the Switcher campaign, and the about-face in interest with those in the scientific and programming community is working very, very well.

Friday, October 04, 2002

The Great Linux Experiment Begins Again.

This time, as I write this, I'm installing Red Hat Linux 8.0. What makes this different that most users who are installing it is that I'm installing it in Virtual PC 5 for Mac OS X.

The installer is much cleaner than the last time I touched Red Hat many, many moons ago, and its installer picked up on all the virtual hardware without problem. Red Hat has really, really cleaned up their X Window interface for installation. If the installer looks this clean, I can't wait for KDE to switch on. So far, the cursor remains usuable, unlike my problems with a Lycoris installation I tried a week ago. (It involved a known bug that affects real PCs as well.)

Linux is nice with Virtual PC in so far that it does not really usurp my computer's (a PowerBook FireWire 500MHz) total power nearly as much as Windows 2000 or XP does. And now, with my increased UNIX knowledge from playing with Mac OS X, I expect to get a better appreciation of Linux again and see just how close they have gotten to giving this OS a better fit with the desktop, home users, and Windows compatibility.

The fun part in this is that I'm "racing" a coworker with an actual PC in getting Red Hat up and running. I suspect more success, especially after how much he fought with Linux Mandrake. More later.

Thursday, October 03, 2002

Yet Another Virus that Mac OS X Users Need Not Worry About.

Wired and a handful of other sites has a report on the "Bugbear" e-mail worm. The method of delivery is nothing new, but it tries to record keystrokes and e-mail them to the virus maker.

Mac OS X and OS 9 users may receive messages infected with this worm. However, your systems cannot be infected as Mac OS systems cannot process x86 instructions natively. You can be infected IF you run a PC emulator running Windows, such as Virtual PC. Infection will limit itself to the PC environment, but hey, you should be running antivirus software in Virtual PC just as you would on an actual PC.

If I haven't mentioned this before to new Mac OS X users, you should definitely keep your ears peeled for any vunerability reports for Linux and UNIX, including recent worm reports. While these worms are probably based on x86 and cannot run their payload, a Mac OS X system may be able to act as a "Typhoid Mary"-style carrier. Apple and other companies apparently have found that spitting out security patches within a few days after a vunerability announcement is tres' chic, and you should install these Security Updates as they arrive from Apple if you use Apache, SSL (all secured web sites for purchases use this in some form), or remote logins with SSH.
Well, I guess that UNIX book review is posted now.

At the time of this writing, it's the most recent and front page article on Slashdot.

You can find it at this location.

Wednesday, October 02, 2002

Picked up a copy of O'Reilly's Learning UNIX for Mac OS X a few days ago.

I submitted a review to Slashdot a few days ago, but it is still marked as "pending" in the submit story queue. Since then a review turned up on the site on another upcoming O'Reilly book, Mac OS X for Unix Geeks.

I had saved a copy of the review but it appears I've trashed it this morning while fighting drowsiness. (Mac OS X can't save you from your own stupidity.) Here's the nutshell of the review:

>>Small size (139 pages)
>>Not a lot of depth or coverage on common UNIX tools such as cron or shell scripting
>>Nothing on compiling UNIX code or XDarwin, the X Window application for a XFree86 installation
>>Not as much information on the specialties or differences of Darwin vs. other BSDs
>>Good, basic information for newbies, but more experienced UNIX users should steer clear and get the forthcoming books

Tuesday, October 01, 2002

Wired is throwing out FUD today, but don't sweat it.

For more, see this latest article on how Apple isn't supporting GUI hacks for Aqua. Good thing, too. While these things were cool, Mac OS 9 hacks like Kaleidoscope were frequent pains for me in troubleshooting a computer. When I found a computer with problems, Kaleidoscope was the first item I removed.

Just because a Macintosh invites users to dolly it up doesn't mean you should support it in a business environment where a user's overzealous adjustments may cause loss of time and productivity, or even data. Mac OS X's UNIX roots help minimize casual user installations, and Apple knows that hacks like GUI shells were among the offending products that made Mac support a pain sometimes. There's also the obvious interface guidance where the Aqua interface should stay consistent for ease of use. And, trademarks--if bastardized versions of Aqua were turning up, how can Apple prove in court that they didn't let the changes make their Aqua interface "generic features" for any other operating system to use?

In other news, I discovered that Lycoris works for me as it does for many users--there is a big bug in its mouse support where PC users running the OS would--you guessed it--lose cursor control identically to how I experienced it in my Virtual PC implementation. Too bad. I was looking forward to seeing how many emulators I could run within my Mac. While I was toying, I accidentally opened a Windows app, and WINE tried to start up. (WINE is a Windows environment emulator.) Could be fun.

I'm going to try emulator stacking sometime. I know already that you can't run Virtual PC for Windows within an emulated Windows environment running in Virtual PC for Macintosh. Someone tried this on the net and found a bit of humor from the Connectix programmers in the form of a simple error message indicating that you can't do this, and the words, "Nice try."

I really have to find where I read that on the net. It was probably on Slashdot.