Tough Questions

A typical conversation with Bryan, my three-year-old….

Me: Bryan, Look. It’s raining.
Bryan: Why is it raining?
Me: Because there’s too much water in the cloud. And when there’s too much water in the cloud, water drops fall and becomes rain.
Bryan: Why is there too much water in the cloud?
Me: Because water evaporates into the air and eventually end up in the cloud.
Bryan: What is “evaporate”?
Me: ….
Bryan: Why is water falling from the sky? Is there a big hole in the sky?
Me: …. Um, no.
Bryan: Is the sky hard (as opposed to soft)?
I need to visit some science 101 sites for kids….

MacBook Pro Battery Replacement

About a little over a month ago, my MacBook Pro would just randomly shutdown when running on battery power even if the battery was still at around 60% charged. That really pissed me off because I really hate the process of having to restart and set up everything again before I can dive into work, not to mention the mysterious shutdowns was really getting me worried about data corruption (like it did to my Lightroom catalog).

Unfortunately I couldn’t really part with my computer for work reasons, so I hadn’t taken it to the Apple store because it might mean I’d have to leave my laptop there for a few hours (or even days). And I’d have to go through the motion of backing up everything again… But I decided to call Apple today anyway because it’s ridiculous that my less-than-one-year-old battery can now only stay unplugged for less than 1/2 hour on a full charge!

Apple told me was that batteries are “consumable goods”. And the tech support told me that an average battery life is for about 300 charge cycles, and mine was reading 463! I told them it’s understandable that a battery would ultimately become less chargeable over time, but for its capacity to drop so drastically within a period of less than two months is unusual.

They agreed. And a replacement battery is on its way courtesy to Apple.

So my MBP will soon resume its role as a portable again. Yay!

UPDATE 03.10.2008: My replacement battery arrived the next morning via DHL! Grace then called them to pick up the replacement unit the next morning; they came within a couple of hours… Wow.

Apple Mail RSS Reader — For the Critical RSS Feeds I Can’t Afford to Miss

After the last mishap in missing the California editions of The Secret Workshop, I’ve decided to make use of Apple Mail’s built-in RSS reader for a change. See, I don’t really get the time to follow all the RSS feeds that I’d like to. So I keep on missing out on stuff. So now that It’s in my mail client, every time I check for emails I’d be able to get an update on the latest openings of The Secret Workshop…

The only caveat is, I go to bed at weird hours. And those workshops get filled up almost immediately within half of a day of a workshop location being announced. So unless I am diligent in checking my mailbox every 4 to 6 hours, I could still miss out on the next convenient location…. 🙁 This is when an iPhone would be a sweet device to have!

Crazy for the iPhone

I express mailed an iPhone for a good buddy of mine in Thailand last week. Even though the phone isn’t officially supported there, he Jailbreak’ed it in no time upon receiving the phone (incidentally, his favorite American TV series right now is “Prison Break”!). His only regret? Not getting the iPhone sooner… He owned a HTC Touch just prior to the iPhone and hated every minute of it.

So what does his Windows-owning sorry butt wants to do next? He might be getting a Mac for the next computer purchase. Hah hah!

It just gets easier to get people on board to use Macs every year. And nobody ever turns back.

Purring Leopard

Where do I begin?

Leopard upgrade couldn’t have been easier. I backed up my entire home directory and did a clean install (ditto, Murdza!). And then I manually moved preferences for the apps that I still wanted to keep around back to Leopard and tested each one to make sure nothing burns the house. That took longer than the Leopard install itself (about 45 minutes for the installation).

I have some gripes on a couple of my favorite apps not being supported on Leopard yet. But other wise I’d say the whole thing went pretty well except for a couple of stupid mistakes I made here and there.

Typically on Windows, whenever I upgraded to a new OS to a current hardware spec, the new Windows OS inevitably would slow down the hardware. But on the Macs, at least for the past couple of revisions, everything has felt snappier than the previous version (unless the hardware is really old and Apple just won’t support it outright).

Let the good times roll! (Thanks Jason!)

Why I May Have Taken Macs for Granted

Sometimes I wonder if life with modern computers (as in after 2005) running Windows XP and Vista has gotten better over the years. I’ve known about PC vendors including trial wares on their boxes to earn a few bucks (which to me was incredibly annoying because as a systems administrator, I had to go through each box and uninstall each one of them every single time, which is really a waste of my time). But maybe, I told myself, it’s gotten better.

Another huge problem I had when supporting Windows running on PCs was drivers — often when I reinstalled Windows on any machine, the first thing I had to do was to go to the PC vendor’s site to download drivers. That was painful sometimes because they weren’t always clear on which drivers you had to use (yeah, part numbers and version numbers are really helpful… NOT).

Today I read a funny post on the experience of dealing with a Sony Vaio. Sony’s one of the computer vendors I absolutely hate to support for the reasons explained on Steve’s blog… but that was during 2000 and 2004. I can’t believe people are still stupid enough to keep buying computing crap from Sony as if they were really superior products. “Idiots!” I say.

I’ve told quite a few people that running Windows on my Mac has been a much pleasant experience than it is on an actual PC box designed with Windows in mind. Steve’s experience pretty much reflects that of my own (as do a few dozen comments left on that entry). Too bad BioShock is probably never coming to the Mac… But it’s good to know that at least Windows boxes are good for at least something other than doorstops.

Parallels v.s. VMWare Fusion

Ever since Mac’d gone Intel, a number of virtualization options have opened up for us Mac users. Among them, the biggest names are Parallels Desktop 3.0 for Mac and the much anticipated VMWare Fusion. I’ve also tried lesser known contenders CrossOver Mac (except it was the Linux version that I used) and Wine. But the results were less than satisfactory. So I am not going to bother with them.

This CNet article covers some pretty basic benchmarks for using Parallels and Fusion v.s. Apple’s Boot Camp. My own experience echoes that of CNet’s results.

Pros: Nice touches on providing Windows Task Bar when in Coherence mode. I find myself needing access to the Windows desktop from time to time. I also like the fact that I can access the full “Start” menu from the Dock. Boots and runs fairly fast.
Cons: Somewhat awkward to use when Mac’s Exposé is invoked. Fusion does a much better job at this; seems to slow down the overall performance of the machine somewhat. But I can’t prove it scientifically.

Pros: Excellent integration with Exposé — each window that belongs to Windows actually scales! Supports both cores of my MBP! Virtual Appliances can be really helpful!
Cons: Poor implementation on giving user access to the Windows Desktop or the Task Bar when in Unity mode. Awkward “Launch” tool bar — I wish I can make the damn icons smaller. Instead of the “Applications” menu, Fusion should implement what Parallels does, full access to the “Start” menu from wthin the Dock.

It was relatively easy to enable my MacBook Pro’s iSight to use it with Windows Live Messenger (I hate it) on both softwares. But I did have to get iSight’s driver for Windows (stripped from Boot Camp) to get it to work.

Overall, my experience on both Parallels and Fusion is a pleasant one. Windows seemed to install faster on my virtual machines than they ever did when I had a real PC hardware to play with. Actually, it took longer to get Windows Updates to run and complete than the initial installation process. Oh, the ironies… I hope Microsoft continues to crank out crap ware like this for as long as they can afford to. The world just loves more crap ware shoved down its throat.

Jason Taking the Leap

So Jason finally did it. He finally got a Mac. And it’s not just “any” Mac… It’s an 8-core Mac Pro (as in 8 processors)! For someone who always tried to quarrel with me on the age-old issue of “Mac v.s. PC”, he certainly took a big leap of faith in a completely different direction.

In college, I always got calls from Windows/PC friends for support (we had no choice; the only 3D apps worth our time were all on Windows/Unix); but very rarely from Mac people. And then slowly, over the years, people started getting Macs. And the weird thing happened — Once I help them get over the initial “culture shock” of the way the Mac OS works, I rarely get any support calls from friends/families anymore… EVER! Sweet.

But I still miss the “support calls” sometimes… They also served as “what’s up” calls as we got busier with our professional lives.

Testing Localhost Developments in Internet Explorer via Parallels on Mac OSX

Developing web applications can be a frustrating job solely because so many people still use various versions of Microsoft Internet Explorer — possibly some of the worst browsers compared to most of the other modern browsers in terms of adherence to web standards. But I can’t just not test my applications against them simply because I hate them… So the war continues…

One of the problems of testing web apps under Parallels with IE is, instead of testing development URLs such as


, usually IP addresses have to be used, like such


, to reach OSX’s localhost server (because


on Windows would entail having an actual web server running under Windows). The problem with that is that some applications such as WordPress need to have a full absolute path in order for it to work properly (especially when dealing with themes). I’ve tried a couple of workarounds, but nothing is as simple as using Apple’s own Bonjour technology.

I found a post that explains how to set it all up. Even though his example deals with running Ruby on Rails, the idea is exactly the same for other development environments such as PHP and Java (enable port 80, 443… etc). Now I am a happy camper…

via [the naked brain]

Awesome Check Delivery Status Widget

Developers who write apps for the Mac OSX Platform never seizes to amaze me with their innovative approaches to how things ought to work…

The Delivery Status Widget is one of those apps that’s just way cool. This is something I’d never expect seeing having written on the Windows camp (the snobbish Apple side of me speaking)… On Windows, I used to hate having to install unnecessary applications because you just have no idea what it’s doing to your system (“fantastic” DLLs, “awesome” registry keys… etc). Sometimes uninstallers even screw up the system… But of course, that was back in 2004, how much has changed… Now Windows is more stable than EVER before… (yeah, right).

Delivery Status Widget

Speaking of widgets, it seems like Vista has some cool stuff going on albeit being just copies of the Mac OSX Dashboard widgets in looks and functionalities. But it’s like this… what do you expect out of Redmond nowadays anyway. Chee-hoi claims that “under the hood” Vista is going to really kick ass. That may be the case if whatever Microsoft promises can be fully materialized before people just start walking away and do themselves a favor by getting a Mac…. that or before Microsoft’s bloatware and vapor ware just implodes. 😉

Yeah, I know… It’s Wednesday… and my snobbish Mac side has already taken over… Bad Mac, HEEL!

via [Gizmodo]