Recently in Macintosh Category

January 17, 2008

I'm happy with my MacBook - no Air for me

My experience with the the Mac Mini I bought in October has made me a convert.  Even though I built a new AMD-based Windows system at the same time that's faster than my Mini, I like the Mac environment.  And for those Windows applications that I can't live without, VMWare Fusion works just fine.   So since October, the Mac has been my primary environment. 

I've never spent my own money for a laptop.  I work in IT, and since 1996, every company I've worked for has provided me a Windows laptop.  But it seemed unlikely that a company would buy me a Mac laptop.  So in December the bug bit me, and I bought a black MacBook. 

I was never really in the market for a sub-notebook, and the specs on the air don't attract me.  1.6 Ghz processor vs my 2.2.  2 gig of ram vs the 4 gig I put in mine.  (From Fry's - only $90 with rebates!)  No DVD.  80 gig 4200 RM drive vs my 160gb 5400.  Higher res screen on the Air - that's nice - but not worth the extra money.

The lower weight and sleekness isn't necessary for me.  The Macbook is already thinner and lighter than the other Windows laptops I've had.   I like it a lot.

November 12, 2007

Leopard's built-in VNC server doesn't quite work

Mac OS 10.5 has a VNC server built in to allow remote access back to your Mac.  Many sites have claimed that standard VNC clients will work with Mac OS VNC.

Well, that may be true for some people, but I haven't been able to connect  back to my Mac outside of my local network using Apple's built-in server. 

It worked fine from a Windows machine on the local network.  But outside my network - no go. I tried opening port 5900 across my Buffalo home router.  I tried RealVNC and TightVNC, both from a Windows XP system, and both would let me get to a password prompt, but then died promptly. I tried tunneling port 5900 across an SSH connection to my Mac. I tried squinting and chanting "Apple is my friend."  Nothing worked. 

My solution was to download the Vine Server VNC server from Redstone Software.  I configured it to use a different port to avoid conflicting with Apple VNC server.  Vine Server is free.

It works very well. Vine Server also pays attention to other VNC options that Apple's server doesn't - it will work with 8 bit color, for example, which is important for speeding up the connection. 

I also went in and turned off the Dock animations.  (I wish there was a way to do that automatically when logging in via VNC.)

It still doesn't work as nicely as Remote Desktop does for the PC, but it's a good start.

November 4, 2007

If Emacs is broken under under Leopard, time to reinstall

I bought a Mac Mini a few weeks back.  I bought it just one week shy of Apple's release of Leopard, knowing that I'd have to do the upgrade myself and pay an extra $10 for the DVD, but the siren call of pretty new hardware was too strong to resist.

I did the upgrade the Monday after Leopard came out - a straight in-place upgrade - and everything seemed to be fine. 

But all was not well.  Emacs was my canary in the coal mine; when I fired up a terminal and started emacs, I got the cryptic message " Fatal malloc_jumpstart() error"

This discussion convinced me that something broke doing the Leopard upgrade in place, so I went back and reinstalled Leopard using the archive and install method.  Problem solved.