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Blogger thanks Apple for making him switch back to Vista (Eh?) September 24, 2007

Posted by reverseengineer in Alternatives, Hardware, Microsoft, Oddities, Operating System, The Other Side of the Fence.

A blogger posted a big thank you to Apple for making him switch from Vista to Mac, then back to Vista. While on the surface this sounds like a back-handed compliment, it actually makes sense – I think.

Aviv Eyal, co-founder and VP of Grouper Networks (which was eventually acquired by Sony), and co-founder of Friskit, wrote in his blog that Macs made him appreciate Windows Vista, which had previously confounded him no end:

I was getting very frustrated with Vista on several of my PCs and laptops on a daily basis to a point that I stopped enjoying working on computers. On a clean Vista Pro install with just IE, Outlook and Office on strong Dell workstations and on a Vaio laptop, I kept getting hangs and crashes left and right. I now run Vista using the excellent Parallels Desktop for Mac software. It is worth every penny.

Eyal calls Windows the “light” side of the force, and Macs and OS X the “dark” side. He expounds further on this odd compliment:

With 4GB of RAM on a 2.4ghz Intel core 2 duo MacBook Pro laptop, I get very decent performance from Vista running virtually in Parallels, in full-screen mode it is easy to forget that you are not running Vista natively, so if I need to use word or powerpoint I just switch back to the dark side virtually on Parallels and if Vista hangs crashes I just quickly restore the virtual machine to a previous state while I keep working on my Mac apps.

Uh …ok. I think. At least this underscores that fact that there is no reason not to buy a Mac these days. Even if it’s for the wrong reasons.

Check out Eyal’s post on his blog here.

MacPic of The Day: All together now September 21, 2007

Posted by reverseengineer in Because You Can, MacPics, Operating System, Pics.
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What would happen if you simultaneously opened every single app on your Mac at once? Would it crash? Would it hang? Would it explode?

Someone named jeffseb tried it on a Macbook Pro that had a 2.33GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor and 3gb of DDR2 SDRAM by doing a Command-A on his Applications folder. It took 12 whole minutes (it took a bit long because some of the apps were trying to update from the web on startup), but the Macbook Pro managed it, and this it what it looked like:

I think of my IBM Thinkpad on Windows XP and the excruciating, molasses-slow agony it goes through just opening two apps. If you want a high-res version so you can peruse the screen in detail, click here. (Check out how many yellow triangles there are in the dock!)

Breaking News: Linux-less iPods September 15, 2007

Posted by reverseengineer in iPods, Issues, iTunes, Operating System, Rants.
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Reports have come out that Apple has tweaked the new iPods (Classic, Touch, nano) so that iTunes breaks when you use the Linux operating system.

Some folk who like Linux a whole lot (or dislike Apple in general) have repurposed the older iPods to run off Linux instead, but Apple seems to have inserted new code into the iTunes DB file in the player in the hidden i_PodControl/iTunes folder that disables the database and shows exactly zero songs on the player.

Knowing the usual suspects, this qualifies as a minor nuisance. After the iPhone, this should be a piece of cake. But still.

Hackers are at work on it already. Click here for more details on the issue.

(Cross-posted from Mobile Philippines)

Welcome to Leopard August 27, 2007

Posted by reverseengineer in Operating System, Video.
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It looks like the “Willkommen” intro video for Leopard, the one that greets you after a fresh OS install, has been leaked. Nothing really earthshaking, but cool nonetheless. Just swirling text on a moving spacescape. Watch it while you can; otherwise you’ll have to wait until the actual release of the new OS update.

Veddy British August 26, 2007

Posted by reverseengineer in Apps, Operating System.
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It’s always been a sci-fi conceit to have the computer talk with a perfect, natural-sounding speaking voice, and so far all we’ve had are the usual halting, phoneme-mangling robotic voices built into the operating system. There hasn’t yet been the smooth, soothing menace of HAL, the business-like LCARS computer voice of the Starship Enterprise, or the prissy Brit butler accent of C3PO. Instead we get Vicki, Bruce or Zarvox.

At least one company has been trying hard to accomplish this difficult feat, and they’re closer to it as anyone has been, and that’s Infovox iVox, from the Acapela Group and AssistiveWare. They have been providing wonderful voices, in many languages, for use with any software compliant with Mac OS X’s Speech Manager, like TextEdit, Preview or Adobe Acrobat, or even Tiger’s VoiceOver screen reader feature. Notable in iVox are the Lucy and Graham voices, which eerily sound like something you’d hear from a spaceship computer.

Well, the company is releasing a new British voice named Peter, which I imagine would sound real cool when it tells you the hour on the hour. This will be in addition to the many existing accented voices ranging from American to Flemish (eh?). Peter is included in the British voice pack which sells for 99 Euros. Existing owners get Peter as a free upgrade.

If you’re curious, there’s a fully functioning demo available here.

iPhone security too loose August 4, 2007

Posted by reverseengineer in Apple Inc., iPhone, Operating System, Security.
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The man who uncovered the security hole that led to Apple’s recent software update of the iPhone has criticized Apple‘s general platform security for the new cellphone as being largely poor, and their attitude “negligent”.

Charles Miller spoke at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas the other day and slammed Apple’s security practices. Quoted in a ChannelWeb report, Miller said:

Before they released the patch, I couldn’t really say that much because I didn’t want to give anyone enough to replicate the exploit. It was really frustrating, because a lot of people leapt to Apple’s defense without really knowing the details. Everyone said, ‘Oh, everyone gets bugs,’ and ‘Apple’s good on security,’ and ‘They’re better than Microsoft.’ When you look at the details of this bug, though, the reality is that Apple’s been negligent, I think.”

The criticism extends to the Macintosh as well, and Miller says that the problem stems from Apple’s inclusion of sections of older, outdated, less secure open source code in the newer OS X platform, leaving pre-existing vulnerabilities for hackers to take advantage of.

More on the issue from MacNN.

Heads-up: Buncha updates August 2, 2007

Posted by reverseengineer in Apps, Downloads, Operating System, Support, Updates & Patches.
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Aside from the aforementioned iPhone Update 1.0.1, a few new ones have popped up that Software Update should’ve told you about by now.

One is Pro Application Support 4.0.1, which is this:

This update improves general user interface reliability for Apple’s professional applications and is recommended for all users of Final Cut Studio, Final Cut Pro, Motion, Soundtrack Pro, DVD Studio Pro, Aperture, Final Cut Express HD, Soundtrack, Logic Pro and Logic Express.

Another is the James Bond update, Security Update 2007-007 (which incorporates 006 as well), which improves security for the following components of OS X:

  • bzip2
    Core Audio
    Quartz Composer

Airport Extreme Update 2007-004, which is recommended for all Intel-based MacBook, MacBook Pro, and Mac mini computers and improves the reliability of AirPort connections.

And lastly, Safari Beta Update 3.0.3, which fixes security holes in both OS X and Windows versions. More information can be found here.

Fire up Software Download from the blue Apple logo in the upper left corner of your screen, or go direct to the source here.

OS X on an IBM ThinkPad July 29, 2007

Posted by reverseengineer in Downloads, Hardware, Oddities, Operating System.
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Yes, it’s possible.

It’s also as buggy as hell, majorly complicated to do, needs a whole bunch of stuff and uses up a lot of geek brain coupons. Also, the wifi doesn’t work, plus it’s slow as molasses flowing down the side of your wall on a cold morning in December.

And it violates your EULA.

But it can be done. And has been. On a Thinkpad.

Tom Merritt of CNET and host of Buzz Out Loud shows us how he did it in detail on a post on his blog SuBBrilliant.

Some folk from the pearls-before-swine OSX86 Project have been at this for some time at osx86-project.org and they have a wiki on how to do it, plus a list of device compatibility. The legality and logic of actually doing something like this is pretty murky, and the only seeming motivation for doing it is similar to the one why canines will lick their privates – because they can.


Breaking News: iPhone firmware leaked; hacking proceeds apace July 1, 2007

Posted by reverseengineer in Downloads, iPhone, News, Operating System, Security.
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Not even 24 hours since its release, hackers are hard at work at kracking the iPhone from a 91.5MB iPhone OS System Restore Image now available for download on the internet, and sourced, apparently, from an Apple webserver.

Mac-A-Doodle will not be a party to this by posting a link to the Mac hacker forum where this download is available, although we will say that with a little, um, digging, it can easily be found. (Not that most of us can do anything with it; the DMG from the IPSW file is passworded, and even if you succeeded in decompressing it, is only useful to the precious few who can work the black magic.)

But boy, that was fast, wasn’t it?

The Big Experiment Part 4: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (Conclusion) June 29, 2007

Posted by reverseengineer in Apple Inc., Microsoft, Operating System, The Big Experiment, The Other Side of the Fence.
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I suppose it’s time to take a definitive stand, and this is as good a time as any.

I am a Mac user. The outcome of this experiment was never in any doubt, was it? But at least it comes with experience and authority now, rather than just unsubstantiated, uninformed tech bigotry and xenophobia.

Truly, Windows sucks. Without a doubt. Surprisingly though, not as much as I was expecting. But why does it suck at all?

Through no fault of the user, that’s for sure. If anything, the Windows user is complicit only because he tolerates the crap. No one should be made to go through the hoops that Microsoft requires its users. As Peter Finch screamed into the TV camera in Network: I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!

Fight back. Just say no. I think if enough people expressed that opinion Bill and Co. would comply.

It’s horrible that even the most basic things in Windows will screw up. Just booting up is an interesting experience. The simple task of opening or closing a window might bring grief, or installing a simple shareware app might cripple the system. To get the ball to just roll might require additional expenditure in terms of memory and storage, or of video ram; let us not even get into the complicated and arcane field of processor speeds or multiple processor cores. Think Vista, and experience despair.

Why does this have to be? I’ve mentioned this before in the previous post in this series. Windows is screwed up because it’s a step forward and five steps back; trying to live in (and for) their storied and profitable past is taking a major toll. Maintaining a relationship with that which should be obsolete might keep the revenue up and running, but at what cost?

The Gordian Knot analogy is apt. This knotted ball of problems is best cut in half, and starting over is the perhaps the only solution. This requires a penalty that Microsoft and its millions of acolytes mired in the glorious mess might not be ready to pay.

The ugly part is that Windows Vista users are doomed to work on a bright, pretty new system built partly on rotting foundations, akin to dollying up a cadaver with a wig, make-up and a nice dress.