Posts in category apple - page 4

Boot Camp 2.1, VMware Fusion 1.1.2 and MacBook Pro firmware

Boot Camp 2.1

Apple have released Boot Camp 2.1 which finally includes official 64-bit support on Vista and support for Windows XP Service Pack 3.

This update may mean that 3D games will play without locking up or installing Nvidia’s own drivers and that the track-pad functions correctly again (broken since Boot Camp 1.x)

MacBook Pro Firmware 1.5.1

Apple’s MacBook Pro Firmware Update 1.5.1 applies to all recent MacBook Pro’s including the ones with MBP31.0070.B05 firmware that the 1.5 update failed to upgrade leaving 17″ owners on MBP31.0070.B07.

The new firmware does not fix a problem where track-pad input would become jerky after suspending/sleeping and turning Airport off would make matters worse. 10.5.3 has fixes for Airport after sleeping which might solve the issue…

VMware Fusion 1.1.2

VMware Fusion 1.1.2 is just out and includes a host of fixes and improvements including:

  • Windows XP Service Pack 3
  • Network and USB compatibility
  • Time Machine compatibility

Now that VMware lets Time Machine backup the VM image file and that Time Machine backs up modified files in their entirety you might want to exclude ~/Documents/Virtual Machines it unless you fancy loosing several gigabytes per hour whilst using a VM. Of course if you have your VM running off it’s own partition to allow Boot Camp too then that’s not an issue.

With any luck VMware will figure out a way of Time Machine backing up changed individual files within the Windows file-system…


Four Windows apps for home-sick Mac users

Libra (like Delicious Library)

Delicious Library is a DVD, game and book organization tool I’ve been using since my PowerBook G4 and a 2.0 version has been dangling from Wil Shipley’s mouth longer than I care to remember.

Windows users however will find Libra a very interesting clone and it features some of the same great features such as bar-code scanning via a web cam, tracking loans, a rendered virtual shelf and fast queries.

Unlike Delicious Library 1.x it also features sharing your library on-line, tweaking the types and rendering and a more advanced query engine and is available free for non-commercial use.

E Text Editor (like TextMate)

TextMate is a programming editor for the Mac that can be extended through the use of Bundles to provide additional syntax highlighting, menu options and command processing. It is fast, feels lightweight and therefore incredibly customizable all of which contribute to it’s success.

E Text Editor is a Windows clone of TextMate that doesn’t just mimic the user interface but also provides compatibility with TextMate bundles allowing you to take advantage of some of the many great enhancements available and at $34 is almost half the price although it doesn’t feel as snappy as it’s Mac counterpart.

Digsby (like Adium)

Adium is my instant messaging client of choice allowing me a single app to manage MSN, ICQ and Google Talk (I wish they would get basic Skype support in there too).

Digsby provides similar functionality whilst also throwing social networking (Facebook, Twitter) and email notification (Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo Mail etc.) into the mix.

Dash (like Quicksilver)

QuickSilver provides a quick keyboard-based entry system for performing a wide variety of tasks and selections within Mac OS X and what it doesn’t do can often be added with plug-ins.

Dash achieves a similar effect on Windows but I have to admit I’m not really sold on either yet. I think the movement from keyboard to mouse and back every now and then must be a good break for your hands if not for your productivity…


What being open means to Apple & Microsoft


Former Apple engineer Jens Alfke believes Apple’s external image has been polished until featureless. The restrictive staff blogging policies, the veil of secrecy around future plans and a carefully orchestrated three-person spokes-team of Jobs, Schiller and Ive lead to a very impersonal closed business.

It certainly wasn’t always this way. The original Mac team appeared in Rolling Stone magazine with credit in about boxes, a practice that was continued at NeXT but abolished by Mac OS X Beta. Jobs makes regular comparisons between engineers and artists and touted individual thinking in the Think Different campaign and artists like recognition with signatures on art and credits on film.

Conversely Apple’s Mac OS X operating system is built on open software and standards. The kernel is derived from open elements bundled up as Darwin which Apple provides back along with compilers, debug tools, programming language, command line tools, Bonjour, device driver kit and a bunch of drivers. All are open.

The web rendering technology in Safari (WebKit based on KHTML) is also open and changes rolled back to the communities often reveal unannounced insights into Apple’s plans (e.g. Safari for Windows).

And yet how many engineers write or talk about Apple? Do you know the names of any product managers? Could you find any out with Google? (LinkedIn doesn’t count ;-)

These aren’t academic questions, what if you have a great idea for a feature you’d like to see added? How can you discuss how a product could evolve to fit your needs? What about a simple bug report or advanced access to technology? (The answers are “send it to and don’t hold your breath”, “you can’t” and “join the developer program”)

Heaven forbid you do actually find out what their plans might be – you could find yourself talking to their lawyers like the ill-fated ThinkSecret site that featured rumors, speculation and the occasional insider info.


Jens makes a passing mention to Microsoft’s relaxed blogging policies.

Microsoft is a company that rarely provides the source, never ships or builds upon existing free software and yet not only discusses plans and road-maps but actively solicits feedback in the design process through conferences, user groups, forums, mailing lists and even on-site review teams. Employees such as Scott Guthrie and Brad Abrams have become quite well known within .NET communities often being the first to break announcements and provide quick feedback through their blogs.

The center of this effort is engineering thanks to sites like Channel 9 providing regular interviews, Microsoft Research providing experiments to play with and CodePlex hosting open projects.

But they aren’t the only ones reaching out.

Microsoft’s HR & recruiting team and individuals are also putting up interesting insights and thoughts on how the company operates and head of the Xbox Live! is so active in this area that the name Major Nelson is known to any serious 360 owner.

Being open

How strange that Apple embraces open technologies yet keeps communication closed and Microsoft’s technologies are still quite closed yet communication is very much open.

What does it mean to be open and where will each company’s approach lead them?


What’s in your laptop bag?

Since my new laptop arrived I’ve been fine tuning my accessories in search of the developer-on-the-move setup. Here is my current contents complete with shameless Amazon Affiliate product links where applicable ;-)

Brenthaven Pro BackPack

My parents bought me the Brenthaven Pro 15-17 Backpack for Christmas. It has a great number of sections and compartments yet can still be thinly packed with the padding contributing to a comfortable wear. The only negatives are that the finish seems a little rough in places and that the rigid laptop protection area seems to be designed to hold a laptop almost twice as thick as a MacBook Pro despite claims of being ‘Designed for a 15.4″ MacBook and 17″ MacBook Pro’.

Of course the dream laptop bag would have an external USB port that would power and charge various devices within ;-)

RadTech sleeve & protector

I’ve owned RadTech sleeves for all three of my Apple laptop’s to date and they’ve all been excellent. Snug fitting, soft but hard-wearing and well-made they keep the machines clean and scratch-free. Now available in a multitude of colors but call me a traditionalist I’ve stuck with aluminum-grey. I also recommend grabbing a screen protector that sits between the keyboard and screen that doubles up as a cleaning cloth.

OCZ Rally 2 4GB USB stick

Another gift I received is the ever-useful USB memory stick for those odd file transfer tasks. The OCZ 4GB Rally 2 USB 2.0 Flash Drive can double up as a Vista ReadyBoost cache (providing you are booted natively, neither Parallels or VMware Fusion emulate it fast enough) and is housed in a small black metal enclosure the size of my little finger. Minor downsides are the easily-lost cap and the green led that casts an eerie glow over the geek at the keyboard.

Microsoft Wireless Notebook Laser Mouse 600

I’ve been using mice with laptops less over the years as my comfort with track-pads has grown and i have found myself without desk space for a mouse. The Microsoft Wireless Notebook Laser Mouse 600 works quite well however and the battery seems to last for ages. It is quite light and possibly a bit too small to be comfortable and if I was to replace it I’d go with something Bluetooth to avoid the dongle (which clips into the mouse when not in use).

iPod Nano

I purchased a iPod Nano 8GB 3G late last year after my 60GB iPod died. The device is incredibly small with a good battery life and fantastic display. Not convinced that the screen or control is suited for video or games but it makes a great little music player – I’m just hoping the flash models have a longer lifespan.

Philips Earbuds

These Philips HN060/37 ‘Noise-Canceling’ Earbuds are pretty good considering the price, size and battery life. Whilst they don’t cancel noise out the combination of the in-ear mechanism, volume booster and the active circuity does help suppress noise levels somewhat and I have found them particularly useful on flights. Some people find the high-pitched white noise the circuitry generates annoying and others find in-ear plugs irritating however. Personally the only problem I have with them is that the rubber pieces tend to come off and get lost quite easily but you can buy generic replacement packs from many airport/music stores.

My Book Pro 500GB External Drive

Leopard’s Time Machine combined with a Western Digital My Book Studio 500GB External Hard Drive provides me with a simple backup strategy that is lightning fast via FireWire 800 (800 Mbps) and still speedy over USB 2 (480 Mbps).

The Studio drive I linked to also provides eSATA support (couldn’t find mine on Amazon). It isn’t always in my backpack but does make a regular appearance.

Cables etc.

The bane of every techie’s life. Currently includes 1m USB extender, a USB to mini-USB cable that connects my TyTN, PSP, BlackBerry and Canon EOS 400D to my MacBook Pro and the Apple DVI to VGA adapter for presentations. The Apple-supplied remote also sits in there for exactly that purpose.


I like to keep a Moleskine pocket notepad tucked away, ruled by preference until they make a graph-paper version. This is normally coupled with a Pilot G2 at the moment which is comfy and smooth but takes too long to dry and is still too thick in the 0.38mm ’05’ version. Without sounding like a pen obsessive I’m going to try a Uni-Ball Signo Bit 0.18 next! There is also a nondescript mechanical pencil and large eraser.


Yes, there is still room in this TARDIS of a laptop bag for reading material. At the moment it is alternating between Designing Type, Managing Humans: Biting and Humorous Tales of a Software Engineering Manager and The Art of Intrusion all of which were Christmas gifts :)

That’s it! would love to find out what other people keep in their laptop bags and hear suggestions on some of my weak spots. I wish I could fit a full-size tactile keyboard in it but I guess I’ll live!