Geeky/Programming Life

Dell Dies, And In Its Place..

A MacBook Pro. Yes, and it is awesome.

So the story, my Dell laptop was humming along fine, but then recently I heard some clicking, and was like WTF? Asked Emily “Did this fall on the ground or something”… “No… but I dropped a glass on it”… Oh man, and you know, one month after the warranty expires, as usual.

So this weekend I went to the Apple store and spec’d out a sweet MacBook Pro. 4 GB ram, High Res, everything. Picked up .Mac cheaper since I was getting a machine (soon to be MobileMe).

Right now I am running Vista in a virtual machine, giving it 2 GB, and it flys. This is probably the sweetest machine I have ever used 🙂 I am using VMWare Fusion instead of Parallels like by MacBook, figured Fransen said it was good, so I would try it. I like it.

I really like the light up keyboard. What else? Like they say, everything just works. Take for example my Verizon EVDO card. In XP or Vista, you have to install the connection manager, hope it works, hope all the drivers install, and then hope it launches. You run into admin issues, and just a ton of other stuff. In the MacBook? I plugged in the card, 2 seconds later, connected. No install, nothing. Just worked. God send.

So I think I am an Apple Guy now. iPhone, MacBook, MacBook Pro. Mighty Mouse (wired and bluetooth) and a bluetooth Keyboard. And on the 11th, I will get the 3G iPhone. When I think about it, all I need Windows for is Visual Studio 2005, 2008 and SQL Server stuff. Everything else I can do on the Mac, and with Virtualization, it is almost seamless. I like it.

What’s next? AirPort Extreme, AppleTV, Time Capsule…

I don’t think I will go back, unless something totally changes with the machines and the OS…

Geeky/Programming Ramblings

Windows Vista vs. Windows XP Debate. Who Wins?

I have been using Microsoft’s Windows Vista since it came out RTM, Oct 30 2006. I had it on a Dell desktop, which worked fine. Some driver issues before January 2007, but it still worked. I have had it on my main Dell laptop since May 2007. I use this laptop for work (read: Visual Studio 2005, 2008, SQL Server, Office 2007 etc, etc)

I started using XP the same way since it came out in 2001. Even though, at work, I was forced to use 98/2000 for a while, but I had XP running at home, and ran it all they way up till I installed Vista fresh.

Now XP SP0, was very buggy, driver issues. Same with Windows 2000, SP1 came out and a lot of issues were fixed and it was more stable, yet insecure. SP2 fixed most of the big problems and it was very stable, mature OS, and now SP3 is RTM which adds a few hidden features, as well as all the security patches since SP2. Good deal, yeah, XP is stable, mature and works. Guess what? So is UNIX. It doesn’t mean we want to use it on our machines.

Vista is the new OS in town from Microsoft, and it works just fine. Great almost. Yeah, you heard me right. It works, it doesn’t suck, and yeah, it is better than XP.

Anyone who says otherwise either

a) Doesn’t know how to setup and work Windows

b) has hardware that they can’t get working

c) has an OEM machine full of bloatware slowing it down

d) doesn’t know how to tweak a machine for performance.

e) they haven’t used Vista (because of work reasons or whatever)

Yes, XP works, it works well, for people running Compaq Pesarios or HP machines that are 5-6+ years old. It works well for Linux geeks who really don’t know how to work Windows. It works well for Mac people that need Windows every now and then.

But Vista, just works. My desktop was purchased in Nov 2005. 2 GB of ram. Vista works like a champ. Laptop in May 2007, once again, runs like a champ. Even my MacBook with 1GB runs Vista very well using Apple’s Boot Camp.

Vista IS more secure. You can run it without added bloat of an antivirus/spyware in my opinion. And if you are behind a router, you don’t need a firewall. Now, in XP’s case.. you probably need all three, just because XP is more vulnerable, and when by chance it does get hit by malware, it makes it MUCH harder to get it off XP (I know from helping people) compared to Vista.  Vista has built in tools to identify rouge programs, processes, and things that just shouldn’t be there. It gives you more insight into what is going on – the control panel has tons of options to monitor everything, and, Vista is locked down by default.

Yes UAC is a pain. I disable it, I am a power user. You don’t even need to be a power user, just a smart user. Don’t install crazy things, use Firefox, things like that.

I have been using Mac OS 10.4 and 10.5 now for about 6 months. It is OK, it works, depending on what you want to do. If I wasn’t a Windows developer, I could get by on Mac. I could get by on Linux (I have used it on and off for 8 or so years). But could an average user get by on Linux? No. That is why Linux will never become mainstream for end users – it is too difficult. Even Mac/Windows (and pssst Linux) geek’s give up on Linux because it is just too damn non-user friendly sometimes. No, I shouldn’t have to recompile my kernel to get wireless working. No, I shouldn’t have to edit config files ANYWHERE to change settings, not as an end user. As a power user, yea, that’s fine.

Back to XP vs. Vista – the petition to keep XP alive is just like trying to keep VB6 alive – it will always fail. VB.NET is superior to VB6, Vista is superior to XP – it just is. Vista MCE is much better than MCE 2005, just a ton more options and features, and it works, I could just keep going on and on listing feature comparisons, but it isn’t worth it.

I can say from experience, that Vista wins this war with XP, and until someone can convince me, that is how I roll 🙂


Salon Transcripts (STX) – Using Remotely – Opening Ports, Port Forwarding

A little background: Salon Transcripts (STX) is a Salon Management program for Mac’s. It is used by salon’s all over the country, small and large shops. The site they have is basically for sales. Tech support is 18 dollars per call/email, etc. They don’t have much for documentation, much less connecting remotely. I was tasked with getting it working remotely.

My first step was get remote access to a machine inside the network. For this I did 4 things.

1) Install DynDNS client for Mac

DynDNS (Dynamic DNS) allows you to create a faux domain name for an IP behind a NAT, and the little client will update DynDNS service so it is always up to date. Basically make a dynamic IP static. I installed this on a computer at the salon that is always on.

2) Install Vine VNC Server for Mac

Vine is a VNC server, I installed this on the same computer as the DynDNS client on the internal network

3) Install Chicken of the VNC for Mac

On the client computer (laptop) I installed Chicken of the VNC (love the name). Read somewhere this was the best VNC client for Mac, so I went with it.

4) Port Forward Port 5900 on the AirPort Express to the Machine Internally

Using the app in the Utilities folder on the Mac internally, AirPort Utility, I forwarded port 5900 (vnc port) to the computer with Vine and DynDNS

So far so good. I could then connect to the server on the internal network, change any settings, open more ports, etc. I could just use STX on the server machine, but it was really slow over VNC. Initially I was going to just have them use VNC and then FolderShare or email PDF reports back to the laptop so they could print them remotely, but just to slow.

I decided to get STX on the laptop to connect remotely over the Internet to the server on the internal network. Since there is NO documentation on this, I had to do some digging. First, what ports does STX use, and what is the STX server IP internally? Getting the IP is trivial, there is a setting in STX->Preferences->System where you can set the IP, so I had that. Finding out the ports, I fired up Terminal on the server, and ran

netstat -na | grep ESTA

To see what connections were established


As you can see there are 3 ports that were going the server (the server was – 9090, 4000 and 20260. These are the 3 ports you need to open up on a router and use port forwarding to the server to connect STX remotely.

Once again, the ports to use Salon Transcripts (STX) remotely are:

Port 9090
Port 4000
Port 20260

Those 3 tidbits would have saved me some time 🙂

After port forwarding those to the server, I tried connecting the laptop client over the net to my DynDNS host and it worked!

One thing I noticed though is running reports is VERY SLOW over the Internet, almost locks up STX.


HowTo: Get iSight Camera Working in Windows XP through Parallels 3.0 on MacBook

So, I use Pidgin for IM. It is like Trillian, but I like it better. No webcam support. I don’t webcam really, but I wondered today what I could use to webcam if I wanted to. I found a site, tokbox that lets you do just that, through the web – cool!

Anyway’s, It works fine on Vista with my webcam hooked up on my Dell, but I tried it on XP on Parallels on my MacBook and it couldn’t find a cam, WTF? So I did some digging and this is what I found, it will work, you just need to set it up!

In the MacBook, Parallels menu->Devices->USB->Built-In iSight which will enable it for use in XP..but no drivers. Here they are – iSight Drivers For Windows XP.

When going through the driver wizard in XP, point to the extracted drivers from that zip and it should work! Happy web camming! 🙂

BTW – I am on tokbox now (, so if you want to chat, audio/video, give me a "call". I haven’t tried it yet with anyone.

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Geeky/Programming Life Product Reviews

MacBook Battery X Problem

The other day I turned on my MacBook (thanks Reena! – still waiting for the “real” power charger…) and noticed the battery had a black X in it. I had it plugged in, it wasn’t charging. I unplugged it, and the MacBook shut down. Dang.

I unseated the battery, put it back in, and plugged it in, tried again. Same thing.

I did some digging on Apple’s site..

I tried Resetting MacBook and MacBook Pro System Management Controller (SMC) .   That didn’t work. They talk about battery update 1.2 (which I already had) was supposed to fix this problem, so that wouldn’t be the issue.

I then found another link,

Looks like the jackpot. Free battery replacement outside of warranty for this issue. Looks like I am heading to the Apple store in the West Towne Mall, to see if they actually go for it. I am going to print off the page and see.

Update: I went to the apple store, and signed up for the genius bar. They had a wait, the guy was like ” why don’t you sit through the iPhone getting started training. Ok I said, what a joke..  But as far as the battery, I got a new one for free. She was like “let it drain once a month” – which is what caused the problem in the first place, ugh

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Breaking News! Steve has a MacBook!

So, last night I picked up a used MacBook from a friend. I will tell you, much different. The interface to me is sometimes just not intuitive to me. We will see. It is like a 13 inch so its much smaller than my Dell laptop. Good for just hacking around and testing Mac stuff out. Don’t worry, I’m not moving to the Dark Side.

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