For Mac Noobs

Posted in Apple, Tech at 1 pm

So a friend of mine recently got his first Mac. A 17″ MacBook Pro and he’s figuring it out for the first time. He’s been stuck on Winders for a long time and had taken the plunge but wants to find some good software. Here’s what he’s looking for and my recommendations.

1 Text Editor for developing websites

I’m old school but in this department, BBEdit has always been the way to go for me. Other popular editors are TextMate and SubEthaEdit. I’ve seen Taco talked about here and there and it looks decent. The one thing that might really trip someone up about BBEdit, coming from the Windows world is that the keystroke for indenting and unindenting a block of text is Command-[ and Command-], rather than the common tab/shift-tab that I’ve seen in lots of Windows editors. The other difference is that the GREP search and replace is robust, effective, efficient and predictable. Regex is your friend and BBEdit has Regex in spades.

2 FTP tool for uploading said website pages

“And now these three remain: [Fetch], [Interarchy] and [Transmit]. But the greatest of these is [Transmit].” First Macinithians 13:13.

3 I-tunes – To move my music, just load to an IPod and drag it off on to the new machine?

Not quite. Couple of things here: 1) iPods for Windows are formated FAT32 (Maybe NTFS?) iPods for Mac are formatted as HFS+. This can cause some problems when switching over from one platform to the other. The transferring you’re talking about works best if you don’t use iTunes. Enable the iPod to come up as an external drive, drag all of the music files onto the iPod using the Windows File Explorer interface. Plug the iPod into the Mac and enable the same access. You should be able to copy the files off the iPod and then drag them into iTunes. Remember the iPod philosophy: the iPod is simply a local cache of iTunes. iTunes is where you manage all of your songs and playlists. the iPod is a slave to that.

4 Can I load I games like Diablo, Starcraft, etc for the PC?

Yes. You’ll need either BootCamp or Parallels Desktop. Entering the world of running Windows on Apple hardware is a strange place where up is down and black is white. Prepare yourself.

5 If so, is there anything special I need to do to play them?

You’ve just bought an Intel-based laptop. You can install Windows XP and use it as such. Nothing else is needed to my understanding.

6 How do I find other computers via our “network”? Does she have to “share” a drive or something for it to be visible?

Yes, you enable File sharing via the Sharing Pane in the System Preferences. Once you’ve turned on Sharing, everything that’s put in the Shared folder should be visible on the network. If you connect to the remote machine with an admin user name you can mount the whole drive as if it were a local drive. If you want quick access to that machine later on, I suggest dragging it to the Dock or making an Alias (c.f. Shortcut) and keeping that around.

If you start sharing stuff, you might flip on the Firewall as well.

7 I tried to install InDesign 2.0, but it said I had to have a “classic” environment. Does that mean OSX is just too advanced for that version of InDesign?

So InDesign v2 came out in early 2002. It ran under the ‘Classic’ environment, which meant it was great for Mac OS 9 and could be run poorly under Mac OS X, as long as you had a PowerPC machine. Apple, for some reason, decided that Mac OS 9 (aka Classic) an operating system that hadn’t been updated in 7 years and had been replaced entirely, didn’t need to be ported to Intel machines.

That said, there are some work arounds but I can’t say I’d recommend them. I’d really suggest getting an up-to-date version of InDesign. Adobe has made a lot of big improvements to InDesign over the last few releases.

8 We need a printer. We’d like high quality color print ability. do you have one you’ve had good luck with, and is networkable?

Virtually all of the printers out there are ‘networkable’. Windows and Mac both have Printer Sharing capabilities. If you’re looking for a printer that has built-in Ethernet or WiFi, there are a lot of options out there. I don’t have a broad range of experience with printers in recent years.

HP generally has good Mac drivers, and I’ve heard good things about Epsons as well. The best way to find a good printer is to see how they print. I’d recommend a trip down to Best Buy and see how they all fair. CompUSA has a good range as well. For more product reviews, check out MacWorld or maybe C-Net.

Amy’s been wanting me to find a good photo printer. That’s on the list for the new year.


A Nice Letter

Posted in Apple, Tech at 12 am

URL: PS2->Mac->WiFi

Thanks for your great how to page! After 2 days of internet searching and trying to configire a network adapter, I ran across your page, and got my son up and running in 5 minutes! You have saved my sanity!

Every once in a while I get a thank you note about the stuff on my site. A lot of people have problems with the direction on that page, which I mention quite clearly. It’s nice to see that some people can get it to work.


Rails for the Rest of Us

Posted in Tech, Web at 11 pm

Nick just let me know about a great article at Digital-Web: Ruby on Rails for the Rest of Us:

Rails also includes a technology called scaffolding that will create a skeleton application. The scaffolding contains the models, views, and controllers. Models are the objects you are working with: a user, a real estate listing or a city. Controllers contain all the actions that your application perform. A scaffolded controller creates the basic actions to add, remove, edit, update, and show whatever type of model you are working with. Views are the actual pages that are shown to your users. They are a mix of HTML and Ruby code. It’s similar to mixing HTML with PHP includes. In fact, if you’re a designer who has built web sites using PHP includes, the process should be familiar when developing Rails templates: You are still doing the same sort of work, but with a little difference of syntax.

Great stuff!



Posted in Tech, Web at 1 pm

Looks like whocalled.us is a great tool for dealing with unwanted phone calls:

The phone is ringing, and I don’t recognize the number,
All Caller ID says is, “NAME UNAVAILABLE”.
Please help me figure out who is calling and what they want

Googling a few phone numbers has brought this up. Nice to see that this is starting up. Again, it’s one of those things that should be pretty obvious once you start watching what people are searching for.


Zoom Revisted

Posted in Apple, Tech at 12 pm

Remember way back when I added 512 megs to my trusty iBook and noted my ability to breathe easier? Of course you don’t, but I do–and it was like night and day. The ability to go back to a machine and drop in some RAM a year later has both financial and mental benefits.

The financial benefits come from falling RAM prices. Of course RAM will always get cheaper. But if you can wait a year, you can see a substantial drop in prices. 20%… 50%… I wish I had noted the price of the 1 gig RAM cards back when I got my PowerBook G4, but I have no doubt that the price had dropped at least 40% in the past year.

So now the price is down, but I’ve also become accustomed to the speed of the machine, psychologically. One year later, I can anticipate when the wait is coming, whether it’s that extra fraction of a second to get to Camino when it’s running Flash ad banners in three or four of the 12 tabs I’ve got open or it’s the 90 seconds that Illustrator takes to open up. Anticipating the wait actually makes the wait seem longer for me. But with the RAM upgrade, my PB (named Ono-Sendai) no longer waits that extra amount of time, so I get to feel the full mental benefit of that extra RAM.

Sure I could have beeen slightly more productive in the last year if I’d had the RAM in there, but them I would have had a reason to feel like I’ve still got a great machine, even in the face of the latest Intel Chip-Based Macs (ICBMs) with their fancy shmancy Cores and Duos and such.

My iBook lasted from July 2002 to August 2005 or 3 years plus change. At this rate, I’ve got till September 2008 to ride my PB, and I’m gong to make the best of it. RAM upgrade today… perhaps a speedier HD sometime in the future? Going from a 5400 RPM drive to a 7200 RPM drive would give me a great speed boost.

…but in the mean time, adding a Mac Mini to the entertainment center in the living room would be quite nice.


Better communication thru Russian

Posted in Design at 12 pm

I don’t always agree with the ideas presented but they are always thought provoking. Mandership by Artemy Lebedev has an average of a post per month and they are qute enjoyable. A nice one recently was in regards to single-dimension scaling of type, where the rule of thumb presneted was to stretch the type along with an image, suggesting the Mona Lisa was a good one. The article has a Flash demo that shows how this works. Nicely done.

It’s fun seeing the design issues pointed out in a language I can’t read, and often using characters that I rarely see elsewhere.


PDX Web Group

Posted in People, Tech, Web at 7 pm

This was fun: PDX Web Innovators, though it was a bit surpriseing who showed up. Most of the people there knew of or attended WebVisions, or in the case of Tom, actually worked on my crew one year.

Ooh, and it looks like WebVisions is going to be in May this year. I hope it doesn’t conflict with other things…


Recent writings

Posted in Career, Life at 11 pm

So in the last couple of months Amy and I went on vacation, Planar purchased Clarity Visual Systems, the Home Theater business unit launched, I had my 32nd birthday. In place of the journal entries that should have been coming from these events, You’ll have to settle for the three articles I posted: http://www.ordersomewherechaos.com/rosso/articles/.

More news coming this weekend.


The Gravity of the Situation

Posted in Tech at 12 pm

So I’ve been reading Five Equations that Changed the World (Purchase at Powell’s, but I don’t recommend the book.) which is a little pop-sci book on a 5 men, with… let’s say embellished biographies and fact-checking worthy of Wikipedia. (Plus the author gives me he willies.) That aside, it has brought me to a thinking place, the kind of place I rarely visit these rat-race filled days.

So my thought is, what happens if we reconcile gravity and electro-magnetism? That’s the big disconnect in the Theory of Everything, right? (Or I guess it’s more Gravity vs everything else.) But with EM vs G there’s a specific imbalance that continues to seem… odd? inelegant? and that’s the lack of ‘polarity’ in gravity.

I really think we may have gravity all wrong. The famous visualization for gravity is the rubber sheet, with the big ball in the middle weighing things down and the small ball “orbiting” via the slope of the sheet surrounding the big ball. I can easily think of this in the requisite three dimensions with a lattice structure being pulled inward, but there’s still a missing piece.

Why isn’t there anything to “pull up” on the sheet? If the lattice can be pulled in, why can’t it be pushed out? Where is the opposite of gravity?

To a certain degree, it’s unfortunate that science fiction has made ray guns and anti-grav boots and devious AI’s stuff of mere stories (and often ridiculed for the lack of literary quality). These questions of “why” and “how” and “why not” get lost, repressed, and stifled as the stuff of fantasy.

Cheers to the amateur, the lone adventurer, the crackpot with the crazy. In the age of information, we’ve seemed to have lost the age of wonder and the will to be personal explorers.

In an era of increasing religous fervor, we may need to think ourselves out of this.


Webvisions: Day 1, Portland

Posted in General, Tech, Web at 10 am

So Thursday and Friday were kinda busy:

Web Strategy by Jeremiah – Webvisions: Day 1, Portland: “I can hear the chatter from Ross, one of the event coordinators on the squak boxes –these guys mean business and are well organized.”

There’s more of that from this post too.

Hey cool, that’s me. Nick did a great job organizing the “webvisions06” tag for everyone to use. A simple google search comes up with a bunch of stuff.

It was a great conference this year. The crew of volunteers that were helping out really f’ing rocked!