Moving to Mac: IRC

Ok, technically I’ve been doing IRC on my Mac Mini for quite awhile now, but I have to say that it’s a great experience.

I used mIRC for many years, but a couple MacUpdate bundles ago, there were too many good apps to be passed on. One was Linkinus, a great IRC client for the Mac. It basically does for IRC what iChat did for IMs. Color-coding, scripts, and GROWL notifications… Oh, my.

You can catch me (and other helpful folks) in #flex on EFNet, and #cfflex and #coldfusion on DALNet.


Moving to Mac: SVN

I loved TortoiseSVN. I miss TortoiseSVN. I’ve found a great tool for the Mac that does a very poor impression of TortoiseSVN, but is still useable. scplugin is a Finder contextual menu item that exposes most SVN commands. It’s worked like a charm, so far.

Wanting to also see some GUI stuff, I downloaded svnX, which is a great tool, also. The combination of the two I think will suit me just fine.

Yes, I have subclipse installed, but just like on Windows, I don’t like using it. The only reason it gets installed is so .svn directories don’t get copied over as assets when I compile my Flex projects 🙂


Moving to Mac: Text Editor

So notepad.exe was my bread & butter on Windows for doing text editing. Not very powerful, but it got the job done. While attempting to play with various config files (more on that in subsequent blog posts), I came across the program TextMate. It’s got all sorts of neat text-editor features, but the best one, by far, is the ability to use the GUI text editor from Terminal. Just type in something like “sudo mate /private/etc/apache2/httpd.conf” and it opens right up in TextMate. Hit save, and it prompts for your password again, but is otherwise very very slick.


Moving to Mac: Installations

Greetings from my new MacBook. I ended up picking up a refurb for a $850, and threw in 4gb of ram ($110) and a 320gb Hard Drive ($165).

I’m going to chronicle the journey of ditching my Windows laptop for my MacBook, the good and the not-so-good. Starting with the difficult.

First thing I did was rip out the standard 80gb drive and put in the new 320gb drive. I re-installed everything from the restore disks, easy-as-pie.

If you want to install OS X on a non-formatted hard drive, boot from your OS disk and go to the Utilities menu and open Disk Utility to format the drive.

The next thing I did was open up the BootCamp Assistant, and partition 100gb for Windows XP Pro. Like most, I didn’t read the requirements, and it bit me in the butt. I tried to do an install from an Upgrade disk. In the install process, it asks me to prove that I qualify for the upgrade by entering the qualifying installer media. Unfortunately, there’s no way to eject the CD to put in the other one during the install process.

To eject a “stuck” CD/DVD, restart your Mac, holding down the mouse button until the disk ejects

I ended up deciding that the likelihood that I’d need to actually boot into Windows rather than just use VMware on my MacBook was going to be impossibly small, and ditched my BootCamp partition by just running the assistant again.

I seem to be having a bit of trouble getting ColdFusion 8 running. I got through the installer and replaced the Apache connector with the 64-bit version, but I get a 500 Internal Server Error when I try to go to the administrator. More on that when I figure out the problem.

I’ve so far been able to install everything with ease, and I’ll skip most programs that I’m using (they’re cross-platform, so nothing special), but I will do separate reviews for some apps that I evaluate to replace essential Windows-only software, such as TortoiseSVN.


Never ever EVER ever take your computer to a retail store for repair. Ever.

I’m a big fan of The Consumerist. Usually twice a day there’s a story about someone who took their computer to Best Buy (Geek Squad), Staples, or any other number of retail giants for repair, only to have their equipment disappear, get even more broken, over-charged, upsold useless junk or worse.

Now, I’ve only been subject to Geek Squad idiocy once, two years ago. When I first started at Webapper, I needed a laptop, fast. Living in Janesville “middle-of-nowhere” Wisconsin, The only stores that even sold computers at the time were Best Buy, Sears, Staples, Office Max and WalMart. The only store that had a mostly-high-end machine with some of the best tempered glass pc cases was BestBuy, and I grabbed a HP Pavilion dv8000 series computer from them.

Now, after using the computer for three days, it was obvious that something was wrong. Sometimes the keyboard wouldn’t pick up what I typed, and sometimes it repeated characters at random. At first I thought that I was bumping the trackpad with my wrists as I typed, and this was my fault. One day, I got fed up with the problem, and disabled the trackpad. To my surprise, the issue continued. I then booted into Linux, and experienced more of the same problem. Obviously a hardware problem, and being only a few days old, I wanted a new replacement, not to send it off for warranty repair. I went through HP tech support (I’m omitting about 4 hours of being on the phone with them…. that part of the story is too infuriating to even recount), and eventually strong-armed them into admitting it was a hardware problem.

I lumbered over to BestBuy with all the original parts, packaging and receipt, and waited in line at Customer Service. They told me that someone from Geek Squad would have to confirm the problem (fair enough), but they’d be happy to swap out my laptop for a new one if the problem existed. So they took my laptop, and I proceeded to wait for a long, long time. I had no interest in shopping, so I stood at the Geek Squad counter, watching the Squad members chatting with each other, and occasionally doing some work. Eventually, one of them got to my laptop. His first problem, of course, was that when he turned on the laptop, it needed me to log in to XP. Luckily I was standing there, or he would have just walked away and started doing something else. I went behind the counter to enter my password. Then, the true genius of the the Geek Squad started shining through.

First thing he did was bring up the Task Manager. He took one glance at it, and said “You have too many processes running. Must be a virus or spyware.” I had to spend the next few mins explaining that I’m a professional application developer, and everything that’s running is running for a reason, and that I knew what I was doing. I also had to explain what the problem was, and that it was obviously a hardware problem. “Don’t worry, we’ll find it.” he says.

He proceeds to pull out a GeekSquad USB thumb drive, and runs their in-house hardware diagnostic tool. This takes a painfully long time, and, predictably, it shows no errors. “It’s not a hardware problem.” he says. I then proceed to explain my 4-hour ordeal with HP, all the steps I’ve gone through to prove that this is a hardware problem (including using a completely different operating system), and so on. He then opens up notepad, types in two words, and doesn’t see the problem. So I take over, and start typing everyone’s favorite every-letter sentence, “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” over and over. As a programmer, I basically type for a living, and as such I’m also quite fast at typing. At first, he questioned my typing skills. Then he says I might be bumping the trackpad, which I then turn off and repeat the demonstration.

Eventually he gives up, and slightly mockingly says “Ok, I see the problem” and tells the new customer service person (the original one must have gone on break, or, more likely, her shift was over since I’d been there for so long) to exchange my laptop.

Now, seeing all the hassle I had to go through just for a simple exchange that I’d PRE-CONFIRMED with the manufacturer to be a hardware problem, spending hours of time diagnosing the problem before I’d even gotten to the store, I can’t imagine how the average not-so-savvy person could possibly stand a chance walking in there.

If I had been an average Joe, I would have been sold some security suite and probably more ram, and sent on my way, problem unsolved.

Let me conclude with a snippet from a great poem I just read:

The lesson of the story is, in so many words.

Geek Squad is laughable. They’re not real nerds.

So unless you feel like wishing you were dead…

Don’t go to Geek Squad, find a REAL geek instead.

— Kristi Lynn Cobden