Archive for Apple

Laptop landscape now. Where too?

Going though and cleaning up some old entries. “Mac Forums – 1.5 vs 1.67 PBs – maccentral suggests little difference” is probably still worth posting:

Mac Forums – 1.5 vs 1.67 PBs – maccentral suggests little difference

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: the final version of a product is often its best, most reliable rendition. It seems to me that these are the last of the single-core G4 AlBooks. The next bid release will issue a new era, complete with new design issues, bugs, real-world failings, etc. I predict that these current AlBooks will be considered very durable and desirable, even when the new systems come out.

Given that the new iBook is still not out and Mac is moving in Intel, I think this comment is still on target. I’ve been working around things and I’m planning to put off my laptop decision until August/September now. Although I think a Mini-Mac with NX to a Linux/KDE server is going to be my primary desk workstation. I’m not swinging either way with regards to a laptop. WinXP again with NX is definitely workable. Fundamentally power saving in the biggest issue with Linux laptops at the moment. Using WinXP or OSX means you don’t have to worry about this.

When I look at the prices of the new IBM R52s at roughly 2500 for a 15″ P-M 1.8Ghz with 512Mb and DVDRW or an iBook 12″ with similar specs (need to add bluetooth, and more memory) for about the same price. The Thinkpad is very tempting. For the same price you get either better hardware or better software. That said the NX client works much better on Windows. I think regardless I’m not interested in a Powerbook. At 15″ PB seems pretty much the same spec as the R52s, but for twice the price. I’ll just wait until next year and buy a Mactel PB.

Bottom-line. I’ll try out the MiniMac/NX combo and see how my workflow functions. At this stage I’ll probably restrict myself to larger fast response 20″ screen, vs the 17″ the MiniMac current has.

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NX, OSX and the ALT key

In OSX the ALT is mapped to Option. When running a X11 application like the !M NX client, things like ALT-TAB, or ALT-MENU wont work unless you add the following to dot-Xmodmap.

Basic method:

keycode 66 = Alt_L
clear Mod1
add Mod1 = Alt_L Alt_R

More complicated method:

! Make the Alt/Option key be Alt_L instead of Mode_switch
keycode 66 = Alt_L

! Make Meta_L be a Mod4 and get rid of Mod2
clear mod2
clear mod4
add mod4 = Meta_L

! Make Alt_L be a Mod1
clear mod1
add mod1 = Alt_L

In order to get this to load automatically, you need to to add something to dot-xinitrc or similar. I still haven’t comfirmed the exact details for this. The more complicate method link about also has a discussion about Customizing Fullscreen X11 on Mac OS X. There also some useful tips about keyboards and mice at these two sites. This guy is also running a similar setup with OSX and FreeNX. I think I probably need a larger screen, as well, to improve the combined Ubuntu-NX/OSX experience. 😉

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Upgrade to Tiger by getting a Mini

Upgrade to Tiger by buying a Mini. I’ve been thinking that this is the best option as well. Helps that I want a second mini for desktop use when I shift to the UK.

However I’ll probably hold off, and not buy into the hype. Let some other people beta test Tiger.

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Home and End in OSX

Here is a good tip for one of the things I find annoying in OSX:

Create a file ~/Library/KeyBindings/DefaultKeyBinding.dict with this content:

/* Home/End keys like Windows */
"\UF729" = "moveToBeginningOfLine:"; /* home */
"\UF72B" = "moveToEndOfLine:"; /* end */
"$\UF729" = "moveToBeginningOfLineAndModifySelection:"; /* shift home */
"$\UF72B" = "moveToEndOfLineAndModifySelection:"; /* shift end */


"^\UF729" = "moveToBeginningOfDocument:"; /* control + home */
"^\UF72B" = "moveToEndOfDocument:"; /* control + end */

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Powerbook, another comparison

Here is a another tip bit from my research. In Mac Forums – 1.5 vs 1.67 PBs – maccentral suggests little difference there was the following interesting comment by plinden about the relative performances of Powerbooks (and thus G4) vs IBM Thinkpad P-M:

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My Apple decision

After the discussions I had with my friend, I realised that a iBook+Mini combination was the most effective. I figured that for the price of an 15″ Powerbook, I could get both a 12″ iBook for travelling (light and long battery life) plus a Mini for the desk at home.

So straight away on Monday I went down to Magnum Mac and got a Mac Mini/1.42GHz Combo unit and then combined it with a Viewsonic VG712s from one of my wholesale accounts. For almost a third of the money saved getting the Combo over the Superdrive I also picked up a external dual layer USD2 DVD+RW burner. However, it looks like the burner doesn’t work natively in OSX, so I’ll have to get some third-party software. It might only work out at only half as cheap. This actually is the Mini I was planning to get for my mother anyway to replace the PC that she uses. Since I’m not going to be around as much, I wanted to find something for her that doesn’t require as much admin work. Still its a good exercise for myself to learn if the Mac is really want I want.

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Virtual PC and G5

Went down to Magnum Mac today. Both to get out of the office for a moment, plus to have a look-see at the powerbooks. Unfortunately they didn’t have the newer Powerbooks on display, but I did get a chance to feel out the older models.

Anyway, I was also playing around with a large Dual G5 Powermac with a 30″ screen (very nice). Later I noted to a friend that on this machine Virtual PC had been very laggy. VirtualPC will probably be important to me, as I have a few business applications that need to run on a x86. Its unfortunate the Crossover Office is not OSX compatible. 😉

He pointed me to this: Virtual PC and the new G5.

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PowerBooks and External Monitors

Some detail from Apple about External Monitors resolutions.

When the flat-panel display and an external video monitor are operating at the same time, each is allocated 32 MB of video memory in 64 MB VRAM systems or 64 MB of video memory in 128 MB VRAM systems.

Seems the desktop spanning is built in by default for the Powerbooks. The question is, does having only 32Mb allocated to each screen make a difference?

Update: According to this page:

WHAT ABOUT QUARTZ EXTREME? Some of my programmer friends theorized that the extra video memory should speed up Quartz Extreme functions. I disagreed. I argued that graphics processor speed is the key, not graphics memory size, since Apple’s documentation states you only need 16MB of video memory for Quartz Extreme functions.

I saw an interesting graph on Apple’s Quartz Extreme Page from a benchmark called “Window Move.” I was able to get a copy of a similar application that creates hundreds of buffered, semi-transparent windows in various sizes, shapes, and locations.

This test showed no difference.

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Gesture Keyboard

Both these Ergonomic USB Keyboards with Intuitive Gesture and Pointing Builtin from TouchStream look like very clever. Plus there is a model, MacNTouch, for Powerbooks

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Steven Johnson’s Tool For Thought

A research work flow look at DevonThink an interesting OSX application: Tool For Thought.

One of the things I’ve wondered about tools like this with Related or See Also search mechanism, is extending their use by Bayesian word analysis. Similar to what is done with spam detection, but as a way of finding related groupings of concepts. Extending this further and allowing local library of tagged information to sync with remote libraries. You might find ways to grow more interesting search tools that look for concepts rather than keywords.

Of course being a professional write its easier for Steven to take notes and key then into his research tool. Seeding his locally tagged concept space. Some times I think it would be nice with one of the various paper books I was reading, of me to use point at a passage, vocalise some notes and have it store itself automatically some where.

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