Parallels Update

August 30, 2006

It looks like I was not the only Mac Pro owner that was disappointed by the lack of Parallels support. TUAW has an article with a link to the Parallels blog. It also looks like a fix will be out “soon” according to Parallels own blog. Maybe I will finally be able to boot Windows XP Pro on my Mac Pro without a kernel panic. That would be excellent

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Let there be Dolby Surround Sound

August 29, 2006

I just received my new Griffin FireWave. I picked it up on Amazon for $60. It’s a pretty easy setup. After installing the included software from the CD, you simply plug in the firewire cable and then plug the surround speakers into the little shiny white peripheral. Voila…surround sound. All in all, the sound quality is pretty good. The included software has some very basic settings. There are three “modes” which include Music, Movie and Emulation (as shown). The speaker configuration is also pretty minimal. There’s stereo, surround and surround with sub. Not much else going on there. For an office or bedroom, this is an excellent (and cheap) surround sound option. For the home living-room I would go with the optical out (at least on the Mac Pro) to a high end component device. Fortunately, my Mac is in the study, so the FireWave will do great.

Picture 4

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Mac Tips – Deeper Quicksilver Cataloging

August 28, 2006

I have used the Mac for quite some time. Long before Apple got behind the idea of a flat directory structure (just take a look at your “Applications” folder). Needless to say, my “Documents” folder has received its fair share of spring cleaning. This usually amounts to putting documents in sub folders whose name makes since at the time, but I quickly forget…and lose the document. One of the nice attributes of a system running Quicksilver, is that you don’t need to remember where you put those files. Just invoke QS and start typing some info about the file. QS locates it and lets you launch it.

After using Quicksilver for awhile, I began to notice that not ALL of my documents were acessible. For some reason, the default for cataloging the documents folder is set two levels deep (with no option for changing it). A fix for this is as follows:

1) Go to the “Catalog” section of the QS preferences
Picture 1
(See, the “User” section only has a limited set of your documents)
2) Select “Custom” on the left hand side
3) Choose add (the plus sign at the bottom left of the screen) “File & Folder Scanner”
4) Choose where ever you keep your documents
5) Now select the “Source Options” sidebar (click the round info button on the lower right corner first)
6) Adjust the slider to however many levels deep you want QS to catalog
Picture 2

After performing this, my cataloged documents went from 520 to 32,000. Big difference. Now if you don’t need instant access to all of those documents, then there is no need to apply this change.

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HP Scanners are Mac friendly

August 27, 2006

I have had an HP Scanjet 4670 scanner since they first came out. It is one of those vertical see-through scanners. It works great. You can lay it on a book or use it vertically. It takes up minimal desk space. But the most impressive thing about it, is that it just works well with the Mac. HP provides some pretty useful software called “HP Image Zone.” It is composed of several smaller applications that handle fax, scan, photocopy, etc. They are all universal applications and integrate well with other software. For example, you can scan into a sort of clipboard that allows you to drag and drop a scan directly into iPhoto. How sweet is that. It can also be setup to maintain a library of your scans for you. I guess I’m going on about this stuff, because today I was catching up on scanning in all of my important documents and receipts. I was considering getting Readiris Pro, but the HP method is working so smoothly that I’m not sure if I want to mess with it.


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No battery recall for 17″

August 27, 2006

My battery has steadily lost it’s will to power my 17″ Powerbook. Granted, it is 2.5 years old now. A month ago I decided to give Coconut Battery a try to see how much more I could squeeze out of it before I had to invest in a new one. It’s a pretty nice little app. It doesn’t have any bells and whistles, but it does what it needs to do (which, frankly, is a nice change for an application). It tells you how many mAh your battery is delivering relative to what it did when it was new. I was depressed. My battery is only holding 54% of its original charge.

Coconut Battery

(Here’s a tip for owners of old powerbooks with old batteries: Turn off keyboard backlighting and turn down the screen brightness. My battery life goes from 1.5 hours to 3+ hours when I make these two setting changes)

Back to the main topic: when I heard about the battery recall, I was kind of hoping that I would be in for a new battery. But, to my disappointment, no such luck. Only the 12″ & 15″ Powerbooks are getting new batteries. Oh well. I figure I have another 6 months or so to scrap by with my old one.

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Will the Mac Pro ever get Parallel?

August 26, 2006

One of the biggest disappointments about the Mac Pro, is that it will not run Parallels. Oh you can install it and setup a VM, but if you try to RUN the VM then it just crashes. As most Mac users are aware, Apple Macs do have crashes. 90% of them are related to poor programing, not to Apple issues. This is one of them.

I’ve contacted Parallels manufacturer, um…Parallels. Each time I have been told that they are working on a patch. That still doesn’t solve the problem that I paid $85 for something that I was told by the Apple employees would work great on the Mac Pro and no where on the Parallels box or website does it even mention issues with the Mac Pro. I’ve also tried installing the Parallels Beta version in case I just need the bleeding edge of virtualization. Still no luck. I’m really kind of pissed. I don’t consider multi-booting with Bootcamp a desirable alternative. I don’t want it for gaming. I need some specific MS compatible programs. Besides, virtualization is just plain cool.

I suppose I should be patient for the patch, but with all of the press Parallels has received (especially from Apple) you would think that they would have been prepared/anxious for the fastest Apple Mac ever. Maybe I should give Q a try and see if I can get my money back for an opened software box.

WARNING: Parallels VM causes a grey-box-of-death crash. It immediately locks the entire system and forces a restart.

As a Mac user, this is rare and particularly unsettling. As a PC user, it’s just another day. Since I’m both, I just restart, sigh, and keep working.

Update: Paralles have released RC2 which now fully supports the Mac Pro. See this post. Most of the issues with kernel panics have been solved as of their recent beta release.

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LightZone versus Aperture

August 25, 2006

I was browsing through my local Apple store carrying around a copy (the LAST copy) of Aperture and “Apple Pro Training Series: Aperture (Apple Pro Training Series)” like I was ready to make the purchase. Now I’m no professional photographer. In fact I take pretty average pictures which is why I want some software to make them look better. If I was a good photographer I wouldn’t need touch-ups. A eventually stumbled upon LightZone. Now this seems much more useful to some one like me than Aperture. While I have a couple thousand photos in iPhoto, I don’t usually need to compare rolls of photos from a photo-shoot. There is also an apparent user base out there too. The negative info I could find was a review on VersionTracker that claimed the software was too slow because it was written in Java. I don’t know about that, but it did win Best of Show at Macworld Expo 2006. I still have not decided, but LightZone is looking pretty good right now. If I finally decide on a new Camera that supports RAW format, it might push me over the edge to plunk even more money down on some better editing software.

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