Posts tagged with macbook - page 5

MacBook Pro the ultimate developer machine?

I’ve been using my MacBook Pro now for about a month and think it’s the ultimate developer machine. You really are spoiled for choice and everything you might want is at your fingertips.

Mac OS X + Cocoa

Every Mac ships with the Xcode developer tool set. This gives you the native preferred Mac development platform called Cocoa which uses Objective-C at it’s core. The actual tools are based around the GCC 4 compiler and GDB debugger with a rather nice Xcode IDE and Interface Builder GUI designer from it’s NextStep origins.

Out of the box these developer tools include compiling for both Intel and cross-compiling for PowerPC and support C, C++, Objective-C and Java.

Windows + Visual Studio / .NET

Windows is at your fingertips either via Apple’s Boot Camp dual-boot solution or the virtualization through Parallels Workstation 2.1 for OS X or VMware’s forthcoming MacIntel solution. Both virtualization products are helped by Intel’s Core chips having hardware virtualization features.

This gives you the ability to install whatever Windows developer tools you want such as the heavyweight Visual Studio 2005 or freebie Visual Studio 2005 Express C# Edition.

Linux + GCC

While I’m not a fan of Linux these individuals have a live boot Linux CD for the MacBook or you can run Linux under Windows or OS X using your favorite virtual machine.

Mono’s .NET

The Mono project support many platforms but their recommended IDE, MonoDevelop, is still quite far off being able to run on Windows. Either way you can test your app on Windows, Mac OS X or Linux.

Mac OS X + *nix command-line

It’s no secret that OS X is built on various BSD technologies and Apple include a bunch of the developer tools. For those tools that are missing grab Fink which will let you add everything important that’s missing as well as providing newer updated versions of the tools Apple include.

If what you’re looking for isn’t covered by Fink as default, try switching to the unstable packages. If that fails then try downloading the tarball then ./configure and make.

Mac OS X + X11

Apple provide an X11 implementation as an optional installation with appropriate library headers. Another base covered.

Web development with *AMP

OS X ships with Apache installed as default and you can add the MySQL and PHP elements if you so desire. Then you can choose between LAMP or MacAMP ;-)

Web testing

For testing web applications the Mac has you spoiled for choice.

On OS X you can test in Safari to exert your app against the KHTML+WebKit engine, Firefox or Camino to test compatibility with the Gecko engine, IE for Mac or Opera’s Macintosh offering to name but a few.

Switch to Windows and you’ll have your IE6/IE7 engines at your fingertips as well as checking with the Windows versions of Opera and Firefox.

For running stress or penetration testing Mac OS X means you can get your hands on Nessus, NMap, Snort, Hydra and other Linux based tools.


Hardware hacking the MacBook movement sensor

Developers keep finding new and unexpected uses for hardware and software – seemingly never more so than on the Mac and OS X.

Whether they’re using the iSight camera to scan bar codes into your Delicious Library or turning the Apple Remote into a alarm key-fob in TheftSensor there’s always some novel hack around the corner for the latest bit of kit.

Current attention is focused on the motion sensor added to MacBook and MacBook Pro’s that is used to park the hard-drive should sudden movement be detected.

In true Apple fashion rather than add a simple yes/no movement sensor the device can detect tilts and both the X and Y axis as well as the current level of force.

With a little imagination those enterprising third-party developers have come up with…

Sudden Motion Sensor

Amit Singh is a man with a mission – which is just as well because he doesn’t have a MacBook or a MacBook Pro. So quite how he’s written a bunch of fun apps and a useful command line motion sensor tool is another matter.

Amit includes some technical coverage of the sensor and how it works over the I2C bus Apple also use for temperature sensing, fan control etc.

He also has a useful command-line tool and some fun hacks such as showing a MacBook Pro in 3D oriented as yours currently is and a window that self-adjusts itself to always be horizontal. Alas, at least on my MacBook Pro, the X axis seems to be inverted and the invert X axis didn’t work so the effect fails to impress.

More interesting is his page on using the motion sensor as an input device. While not as advanced as the Nintendo Wand – it doesn’t support detection of position – it still holds some promise as he illustrates.


With the sensor sporting a force level it was only a matter of time before somebody used that sensor magic to come up with something like MacSaber.

The sole purpose of this app is to make your $2,000 laptop hum like a Star Wars lightsaber as you swing it dangerously around the room with a satisfying tzzzzum and sheuw.

Just don’t rely on the midichorians to stop your MacBook slipping through your fingers…

SmackBook Pro

You might be thinking this sensor is nothing but a curiosity but SmackBook Pro illustrates a rather novel use to desktop switching.

Desktop switching is one of those problem areas for short cuts. You might be using any one of tens of apps and finding a good shortcut that’s not taken by any of those applications could really be a problem.

SmackBook Pro’s solution is to tap the side of your machine to switch desktops and the way the new desktop flies in from the side is a great visual indicator of what has just happened as the video illustrates.

I’m not sure constantly tapping the side of an LCD is good for it’s health.

Many more hacks to be found at Raul’s blog.


Apple MacBook released – cheaper than comparable Dell

Apple have released their MacBook to compete on the low-end with similar PC laptops. I thought I’d compare it to a very similar Dell offering by using the Apple and Dell web sites…

  Dell Inspiron 640m Apple MacBook
Processor Intel Core Duo Intel Core Duo
Processor speed GHz 1.83 1.83
Operating system Win XP Pro Mac OS X
Warranty 1 year 1 year
RAM size MB 512 512
RAM speed MHz 553 DDR2 667 DDR2
HD size GB 60 60
HD speed RPM 5400 5400
Optical 24xCD-RW
Screen size 14.1″ 13.3″
Screen res 1280×800 1280×800
Modem Yes No
Bluetooth No Yes
Wireless Mb 54 54
Battery Whr 53 55
Ethernet Mb 100 1,000
Height mm 38.6 27.5
Width mm 333 325
Depth mm 243 227
Weight kg 2.5 2.36
Audio-out Stereo jack Optical + stereo jack
Audio-in Mono jack Optical + mono jack
Video-out S-Video Mini DVI
Camera No Yes
Extras Works 7
iLife 06
Apple Remote
MagSafe power
Price – VAT £642.34 £637.45
Price + VAT £754.75 £749.00

That’s right, the Apple comes out at £5 cheaper.

In Dell’s favor is a .7″ bigger screen, modem and a card reader.

In Apple’s favor is Bluetooth, iLife 06, media center features, remote control, web camera, DVI and optical outputs, faster networking, bigger battery, faster RAM and a smaller and lighter package.

No doubt the anti-Apple brigade will find something to whine about but it certainly can’t be that it doesn’t run Windows.


Apple introduces 17″ MacBook Pro

Apple have announced the 17″ MacBook Pro at their US Store that should be shipping within the next 7-10 days (early May).


The machine is almost identical to the 2GHz models of the 15.4″ MacBook with the following differences;

  • Processor is no longer an option – Core Duo 2.16GHz only
  • Screen resolution changes from 1440×990 to 1680×1050
  • FireWire 800 port
  • USB 2 ports up from 2 to 3
  • Battery power increase from 60-watt-hour to 68-watt-hour
  • Battery life increase from 4.5 hours to 5.5 hours
  • Hard drive options are limited to 100GB 7200rpm or 120GB 5400rpm
  • Superdrive recording for DVD-R and DVD+R up from 4x to 8x
  • Superdrive can now burn double-layer DVD+R
  • Width and height increase to accommodate larger screen
  • Weight increase from 2.54kg to 3.1kg


It’s good to see the FireWire 800 port make a comeback which should quiet some critics of the 15.4″

The larger resolution doesn’t share the same aspect ratio as it’s smaller sibling – adopting for a much wider display – indeed the 17″ only boasts an addition 60 vertical pixels against the horizontal increase of 240.

The battery life is interesting – there’s no way I get near 4.5 hours on my 15.4″ MacBook and Apple had been very quiet on battery life with little or no mention until recently. I’m hoping that the batteries for the 17″ will be compatible with the 15.4″ to perhaps boost up from my current 2-2.5 hour battery life running just simple non-3D apps.

The hard drive options still lack Seagate’s 160GB Momentus option – very strange when you consider they already use the Momentus line and the 160GB has the same physical and environmental attributes. Unlike the previous Titanium PowerBook models it seems replacing the hard drive is not a do-it-yourself task and would, I imagine, invalidate your warranty.

Still you can’t argue about the price – the Apple US store currently puts the price of the standard 17″ 2.16GHz/120GB model at just $300 more than the 15.4″ 2.0GHz model.

Upgrade the 15.4″ 2.0GHz model to 2.16GHz/120GB and it’s actually $100 more than the 17″… despite being a smaller screen, 4x Superdrive and no FireWire 800…

Oh well, perhaps I’ll upgrade to the 17″ when it gets the 64-bit Merom. Unless my MacBook is already 64-bit