My thoughts on OSX

So here I am, typing this post on a bloody Macbook Pro 13″. Who would have thunk it? My Brother-in-law bought a new Retina one and I bought his current one off him. It’s a machine I know pretty well, as I helped him upgrade the RAM and put a hybrid HDD in it a while ago now. My experience hasn’t been bad so far. I have to say that it’s been kinda fun having a new set of problems to overcome to get it set up how I like it, and my experience with Linux has been fairly helpful.

When I first got it I had to completely reinstall the operating system from scratch because it wouldn’t let me just reinstall 10.9, as I didn’t have an Apple ID with that assosciated with it. I had to go back to the version that came with the device (10.6) and then update to 10.6.8, finally getting to the “App Store” and purchasing the free upgrade to Mavericks, then waiting the number of hours while it did it’s reinstall. The beginning was a little messy, but since then everything has gone fairly smoothly. I installed all my standard applications, such as Chrome, Google Drive, Steam, Battle.Net and KeePass (which might warrant an entire blog post to itself, it’s so cool) and am really starting to get it set up how I am finding I like it.

The best advice I can give anyone looking to move from another OS to OSX is simply, Command+Spacebar. This keyboard shortcut opens a “Spotlight” search which can be used to find applications, documents, settings, everything. It’s like hitting the Windows key in Windows 7 or later, but it’s actually a bit better than that, as it gives you some context on the results such as which application or folder they are found in. Secondly, get to know the gestures. I love using full-screen apps, and with a three-fingered-swipe, I can switch between them. It’s almost as easy as alt-tab (or Command+Tab).

Something that OSX does really well is backups, and if you can use the Time Machine to get network backups running, it’ll keep hourly, daily and weekly backups for a long time, all incremental which you can jump back to at any stage. This took a little bit of doing (read: forcing with a large, digital hammer) as I have a Windows Server which I wanted to back up to. Normally Time Machine only backs up to a portable hard drive, or an apple-based NAS. I followed a guide online which allows you to use Terminal command lines to create a dummy-disk, format it, move it to a network location then mount it so that Time Machine doesn’t know any better. There’s nothing quite like pulling the wool over a computer’s eyes!

Another really, really cool thing which the Macbook lets me do is Steam In-Home Streaming. Because I now have two computers on the same network with Steam installed, it allows you to run you game collection on one device (my desktop, with the better hardware) and “stream” the resultant output to my Macbook, which controls the user input. It’s pretty crazy! It means I can play all the latest games I have bought on the laptop without running it hot, or having to turn the graphics down to Low.

I’m pretty excited about this. Hopefully I don’t decide I need a better one anytime soon!

Galaxy S4 and my Android Homescreen

Four days ago I upgraded to a Galaxy S4 on Virgin Mobile. So far, it has been amazing. I just wanted to share how I have my homescreen set up, now I am fairly happy with it.

Screenshot

As you can see, I have gone for a dark, patterned background. This helps save battery, and it also makes the white icons and text easier to read. I have a picture of my wife on my lockscreen, and various widgets and other icons cluttering up my other screens, but I try and keep my homescreen as clean as I can.

My homescreen was made using ADWLauncher Ex, Zooper Widget, and the Minimalist Theme icon pack

As for the phone itself, I am really loving the size, weight and high-res screen. I have noticed a few things are a little fuzzy when they aren’t designed for the resolution, but all-in-all, it’s worth it. I have picked up a S-View cover, and am waiting on a Qi wireless charging coil for it. I’m really excited about that one!

 

Mobile Computing Just Got Srs

For those who are not part of the internet, “srs” is short for Serious. “Seriously” is how much Patrice and I were excited about getting new laptops. When my tax came back we worked out that we would have enough money to get one each.

I did my research, and once I had worked out what Patrice needed in a laptop, and what I wanted in some serious mobile computing usage, we decided to go with the Samsung NC110-A06AU which came in at the incredibly affordable $312 each. JB HiFi were having a sale! The unfortunate thing was there was only 1 in Ipswich, so I had to wait two days to get one in Brisbane, while Patrice had hers and was rubbing it in.

Here are a quick rundown of the specs:

  • Dual-core Atom N570 (1.66ghz, hyper-threaded, 64bit capable)
  • 1gb (quickly upgraded to 2gb of RAM)
  • 250gb 5400rpm HDD
  • 6-cell li-ion battery
  • 10.1″ screen, at 1024×600
  • Multi-touch touchpad

The first thing I did (before I even turned it on) was format the hard drive, and install Windows 7 Ultimate 32bit. It came with Starter Edition, which just doesn’t cut the mustard. (Mustard is being able to change your wallpaper. You can’t in starter) I only installed the 32bit because Samsung only supplies 32bit drivers. Also, I think 32bit is a little lighter on the memory, and with only 2gb, you have to be careful!

Upgrading the RAM was one of the easiest things I have done in a laptop. They take DDR3 SODIMM, which as I found out, is about $20 for 2gb. I took a trip to uMart to pick up two sticks, and ended up with Kingston (cringe) 1333mhz sticks, for $23 each. I was wanting to get the G.Skill ones, however they were sold out. The actual process is about as hard as making toast.

After swapping out the RAM, installing Office 2010, all the drivers, the latest Windows Updates and running Ninite I have to say, I’m more than a little happy with the results. It’s snappy, useful, light, and looks pretty damn cool. The keyboard is even really nice. The only bit about it is the placement of the page up/down keys, and they lack of actual Home/End buttons. I use them ALL THE TIME.

I’m planning on putting basic Adobe tools on it as well, possibly Photoshop and Dreamweaver, so that I can web-work on the run.

All in all, I highly recommend this netbook if you are looking for something quick and easy to take with you. Definitely do yourself a favor and get a real copy of Windows 7 for it though. Starter is not awesome.

p.s. I am putting secrets in my blogs from now on. If awesome webcomic writers can have hidden text, so can I!