Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Still here!

Yikes, it's been a while. And I've thought guiltily about this blog on and off for several months -- without doing anything. I could bore you with excuses -- ahem! -- reasons, but you don't want to hear them.

Instead I'll post an update on the MacBook saga:

It's still looking good. So far I've suffered none of the so-called horror stories. No overheating, no discolouration of the plastic, and only occasional shutdowns, which appear to have been fixed by the latest SMC firmware update (if indeed it was a problem on this particular MacBook).

I'm now using the Aqua Beta Intel version of NeoOffice, and have standardized on the Open Document format for my wordprocessing files.

I bought Audio Hijack Pro to capture RealPlayer output direct to disk (and a whole lot of other useful features that I've hardly explored yet).

I use Cyberduck for FTP server access, and Blue Harvest to stop OS X dropping '.DS_Store' files all over my employers' network.

The latest software addition is something I had expected to see eventually, but the reality of it actually running on the McB is just too amazing for words. At the MacExpo in London a week or so ago I bought a copy of Parallels Desktop for Mac, which is virtualisation software, allowing you to run other operating systems inside a window in OS X.

My original intention was to run a version of DOS, just so I can continue to use a couple of very old (but useful) applications from years ago. As it happened I didn't have quite the right disks in order to install MSDOS 6.2, or Windows 98 SE, or Windows 95 (any of which would have been suitable). I should be able to make the right set of disks, given time, but to test the installation of Parallels on my MacBook I decided to install Windows XP.

Installing WinXP in Parallels is a completely transparent and seemingly foolproof operation. XP looks better on the MacBook than it does on my desktop PC, especially as it recognizes the McB's wide screen.

The best thing about XP on the Mac using Parallels is that OS X continues to run underneath, so even using full screen mode for XP, things like Skype and Google Notifier are still running. When new mail comes in, the black Notifier window appears over the top of the XP desktop, in what appears to be a totally seamless manner. In fact the whole experience of running XP in Parallels in utterly charming.

I admit there's a certain satisfaction in watching Microsoft Windows XP running on what it thinks is a bog-standard PC, when in fact it's totally owned by a Macintosh application. And although XP is kept safely away from the computer hardware (so no viruses or other malware can stray outside the Parallels window) there doesn't seem to be much of a performance hit.

You want to buy a computer? You have a choice:

  • That one over there, which runs Windows (or Linux, or DOS);
  • Or this one over here, which runs Mac OS X (or Windows, or Linux, or DOS, or all of them at once).
Your choice.