Saturday, June 11, 2005

Macinblogging

We here at Snabbyland try to be a multi-platform bunch, but it isn't always easy. I can't even remember all the platforms I've operated under, but I always enjoy seeing a new individual, group, or company's vision for what ease of use and utility should be in computing.

We have a Flower power iMac as one of our two PCs. The other is a generic Windows 2000 clone box (with room for Linux when I get around to it). All of my work and most of my time is spent on the Windows box (and some that work provides). However, the old iMac has been undergoing a couple things lately worthy of blogging about.

The first is that the monitor is slowly getting blurrier and blurrier. The fix estimate is between $250 and $300 (thanks to The Mac Store for the quote and good service) and, of course, there aren't any more flower power case designs coming out of Apple. Luckily, my friend Steve told me about Real VNC, a "free for personal use" remote control software program. Fortunately, it is open source...unfortunately, there is no quick-and-easy Mac solution at the site (the Java version doesn't appear to work on Mac).

Fortunately, there was OSXvnc from RedStone software. Now we can get a clear picture of our Mac screen on any VNC client (in our case, a PC). In addition, I can do Mac work from my PC. It isn't perfect, but you can't do much better for free, that is for sure.

(Geek Alert below!)

Also, DewKid is doing some amazing work bringing the Avalon Hill board game, Magic Realm, to the cyberworld in a manner that allows network play with the look and feel of the board game. DewKid's game is written in Java which means, in theory, that the game ought to run on any platform including Mac. Unfortunately, in the configuration required for the game, Java must be set up a certain way using command line parameters (think DOS here). DewKid programs on the Windows platform, so a batch file (.BAT) took care of the necessary stuff.

However, on a Mac, there is no batch file. In OS X, there are shell scripts which are very similar, but we learned that a Unix terminal session does not run in the directory from which it is double-clicked. No, no. Instead a user must run a scripting layer above the batch code to feed it the right folder. Luckily, the found someone named greggo at Mac OS X Hints that had the necessary code to pre-navigate to the right folder. His Applescript allows the Unix script to run the Magic Realm session correctly from the correct directory. Hopefully, DewKid's users will have as much success as I have.

(End of Geek Alert.)

With all that said, I am not confident about buying another Mac to replace our fuzzy-screened iMac. I don't like how Apple eschews backwards compatibility to achieve (supposedly) superiority in new technology. However, more seriously, I don't like Apple's participation in what I see as frivolous and potentially damaging intellectual property/digital rights litigation against companies and journalists. They've joined in something that I consider a circular firing squad for capitalism. We are going to replace the Flower Power iMac with a PC most likely.

The GOOD news is that I am contemplating doing my first ever computer mod. I really like the Flower Power case design and have read a couple of sites of people who have stuck PCs into iMac cases. If I do so, I will take some pictures for y'alls.

(Today's fun song: Oysterhead's Rubberneck Lions)

12 comments:

The Moody Minstrel said...

What a shame...just when I was starting to fall madly in love with the OS X-equipped G5 in the music department office...

Pa've said...

Seeing as how Apple has suddenly decided to drop their IBM chips in favor or Intel, you might as well buy a real Intel or AMD based PC anyway. I now have two AMD systems, one with Windows XP PRO SP2, and the other with Windows ME. Both are extremely reliable. Another thing I have done is switch from the old fashioned picture tube monitors and gone to a flat screen. The resolution and clarity of my flat screens far surpasses the clarity of any monitor I have ever seen.

Pandabonium said...

"...Apple eschews backwards compatibility to achieve (supposedly) superiority in new technology"...

...As opposed to Microsoft which just goes forward version after version carrying the baggage of an inferior idea on into infinity?

I'm not a geek or mac fanatic, I'm just a comsumer who puts a computer to work. I have as much emotion for computers as I do for automobiles - ZERO - just get me where I want to go. My opinions are based soley on how well things turn out.

I'm on my second mac (using OS X) and cannot imagine reverting to a PC. Mac has not been perfect, but PCs have never been good to me. To the contrary, they have always given me nothing but trouble requiring time consuming fixes.

If I did ever have a PC forced on me, I'd probably choose Linspire as the OS.

Of course if you want to use a particular form of software you might be forced to choose a PC. I think I'd drop the software before going back to Windows.

I agree that a lot of stupidity is exhibited by corporations (I am not a fan of that business model to begin with), but I'm not sure I would agree that Apple is worse than MS in that regard.

With my dreadful lack of expertise in this area, I may have misunderstood your entire post. It feels like I must be missing something here. Just my humble opinion.

The Moody Minstrel said...

Pa've,

That's the first time I've ever heard anyone use "Windows ME" and "reliable" in the same paragraph. Heck, I once had a Microsoft employee say "Don't bother" to me with regard to ME. I have to admit that I was quite happy with Windows 2000 and almost as happy with XP (which is really just 2000 with a whole lot of totally unnecessary gingerbread thrown in for effect).

Still...I do like that OS X-equipped G5. That is a cool machine. I also appreciate its dual-processor power when I'm printing up a whole stack of individual part music sheets while arranging a new score and conducting a search at the same time. I have not been able to slow that machine down.

For a while the English department was using machines equipped with Lindows (Linspire's earlier incarnation before MS lawsuits forced them to change the name). That was a pretty good system. It had a cool desktop, it was easy to use, and it was compatible with a lot of Windows software in addition to LINUX. The only reason our English department's self-appointed IT guru suddenly dumped it and put XP on all the machines was that he couldn't find any good, off-the-shelf secure networking solution packages for LINUX (i.e. all the local consulting outfits were strictly Windows).

That's one of the problems of working in Japan. Businesses don't cater to the consumer. Rather, they tell the consumer what s/he is supposed to want and get all flustered (or even insult you) if you ask for something different.

Don Snabulus said...

I think people should use what they are comfortable with. I guess I am comfortable with Windows 2000; not much with anything Microsoft that came out before or has come out since. There are many advantages to having a Mac (most obviously, security) that I didn't mention as I vented against the weaknesses.

I do believe Apple tarnishes their image by trying to protect it with lawyers. For all the legal proceedings Microsoft participates in, they certainly know how to take a beating without getting bent out of shape like Apple does.

(I believe the Pentium decision will be a good one for Apple and it will serve them well in the long run. The reasons Windows has problems has nothing to do with Intel or AMD.)

DewKid said...

I've heard that over and over about Windows ME, but as long as I used it (2 years), it never once gave me any trouble. I did switch to XP when it became available, however.

I think that without the iPod, Apple might not even exist today. That little marvel really saved their butts. I'm not sure what they hope to gain by switching to Intel, but it should be interesting!

Don, thanks again for your help with the AppleScript. I was pretty much sunk with the Mac users until you stepped in! Thanks too for the plug! :)

Anxious to see a Don-mod-box. Could be good!

DewKid said...

I thought this is funny:

"Apple also confirmed that they would not stop customers from running Windows on the Intel-based Mac, although the Mac OS will not run on another PC. "

Sounds like something Bill Gates would do...

The Moody Minstrel said...

No, DewKid, that is definitely Steve Jobs.

Remember, when Jobs ceased to be the chief of Apple, one of the first things the company did was allow licensed (i.e. clone) production. Suddenly a whole bunch of PC manufacturers were introducing lower-priced Mac clones with some interesting, new features, and Mac's popularity seemed to be picking up again.

Heck, Fujitsu even put out a really cool "hybrid computer" that had a dual-boot hard drive including both Windows and Mac and had ports and floppy drives compatible with both formats. I was really tempted to get one of those, but then Steve Jobs came back and immediately shut down cloning again. Mac's popularity sunk back down to "barely enough to qualify as more relevant than Amiga" levels.

Jobs has a serious attitude problem. So does Gates. Someone should spank both of them.

Some Monty Python Chick said...

Ooh, I've been very naughty. Spank me!

A bunch of other monty python chicks said...

oooooooo, the spankings! Yes, yes, there must be spankings!

Anonymous said...

Linux on a PC platform for me in the coming years. My fondness for apple stopped with the Apple IIe. I could care less about apple since then. Steven Jobs quote about the first Mac "buy it at my price or remain forever a loser" Illicited a basic "**** you" answer from me. I represent the people that like to build their own systems and platforms and I dont need Jobs or Gates dictating to me what I can or cannot have. I believein open source and open hardware, and apple never cared to support the software I run - only lame excuses *S*

Anonymous said...

Linux on a PC platform for me in the coming years. My fondness for apple stopped with the Apple IIe. I could care less about apple since then. Steven Jobs quote about the first Mac "buy it at my price or remain forever a loser" Illicited a basic "**** you" answer from me. I represent the people that like to build their own systems and platforms and I dont need Jobs or Gates dictating to me what I can or cannot have. I believein open source and open hardware, and apple never cared to support the software I run - only lame excuses *S*