Posts Tagged ‘computers’

Alas, poor Vista

Friday, May 9th, 2008

Just looking at my site statistics (using the really amazing Woopra, which you should check out if you have a web site), and I noticed the OS breakdown for visitors to my site. Here’s the top four systems:

  • Windows XP: 38.3%
  • Windows Server 2003: 36.9%
  • Mac: 11.7%
  • Windows Vista: 7.47%

Beyond my mild annoyance that they break down every type of Windows, but lump all Mac OSes under one number, I was a bit amused by the fact that Macs outnumber Vista. Two variants of Windows at least five years old collectively outnumber Microsoft’s new flagship product ten to one.

Of course my little slice of the web isn’t going to perfectly reflect worldwide statistics, but it is one more piece of anecdotal sadness for the Regents of Redmond. I saw an article a while back (probably Joel Spolsky) suggesting that if MS sat back and did nothing but bleed money keeping themselves open, it would take then ten years to go out of business. Despite that impressive buffer, they had better get on the ball and try something new — ’cause whatever they’re doing, it’s not working.

My first thought is: get rid of Ballmer — the man’s a bully. Microsoft has used its near-monopoly like a bludgeon, but as time passes they are once again more and more at the mercy of market forces and individual consumers. Clearly he is having a hard time adjusting to that reality.

Or you could just say that Vista is Microsoft’s Copland… but then, I always thought Windows Me was Microsoft’s Copland. Heh. Showoffs.


Thursday, May 8th, 2008

So the other day I decided to upgrade my hard drive. The ol’ 60 gig was getting cramped, and I was tired of removing stuff to make room for other stuff. I wanted my iTunes library back, among other things….

The tricky part is that I’m talking about my laptop, not a tower.

So first things first: If you ever plan on disassembling a laptop computer, go online first and find instructions — hopefully instructions for your specific model of computer. I was dealing with an old Mac Powerbook, and as Macs have some pretty obsessive fans, you can almost certainly find such a guide for any particular model. I did.

Next: before you start, read all of the directions.

No, really. Put the screwdriver down. Yes, you. Read the directions. All of them. Don’t you look at me like that. Read!

Why yes, Step five really does contain the words “This is scary”. Take a deep breath — It’s going to be okay. Yes, that is a lot of screws, and yes, you have to remove them all. Just keep track of what you remove from where. What do you mean you don’t have a screwdriver that small? What kind of geek are you, anyway?

You need a what? What the hell is a T6 torx screwdriver? Oh, those little star-shaped things? People actually use those? Where do you get one? (Answer: Home Depot or, if you’re lucky enough to have one nearby, Microcenter. See? Aren’t you glad you read the directions first?)

Two Words: Don’t sneeze.

It helps to have a good toolkit. For example, if you drop a screw, you’re going to need a skinny tweezers or a nosepicker1.

The really scary part is where you have to crack the two halves of the case apart. Some sections part easily, but others are quite happy where they are, thankyouverymuch. Screws are completely straightforward — prying something apart when you’re not sure what exactly is holding it together can be intimidating. Take your time, it’ll come.

Okay, we’re down to the drive. This is the easy part. Remove the bracket, pull out the plug. Good. Good. New one is in. Oh good, it does fit.

And the last step of course, is: “Now do everything you just did, but backwards (and in high heels)2.”

Finally, when you get everything back together, just plug in your backup drive, boot from that and restore it to the new drive.

Um, you did make a backup, right?

Oh crap.

1: You know, one of those things with the plunger at the end, and when you press it down these three prongs flex out of the tip — for grabbing small objects in tight places

2: Ginger Rogers joke. Sorry.

When is a Mac not a Mac?

Monday, March 3rd, 2008

Of the members of my immediate family, the majority of us are Mac people. Of the exceptions, one brother has a Windows machine because he likes games Pretty much all he does on it is play Everquest or online poker. Another brother has used Windows for years because obviously it’s a better computer. <Insert Mac stereotype(s) here. They’re not “real” computers. They’re too expensive. There’s no software for them. They’re no better nor more stable than Windows, just different….> If he ever overhead me talking to my Mac-using brother about some issue we were having, he would laugh and mock the fact that our “amazing computers” were actually having problems.

Recently, however, he broke down and bought an iMac, because his kids are in school now, and the school apparently is all-Mac. Shortly after this (right around Christmas) he and I had a conversation in which I revealed to him the startling fact that, yes, he can buy Microsoft Office for OS X, and that in fact, Yes, he can actually run Windows on the thing if he so chooses. He asked me a lot of questions, and I was happy to answer them.

He has installed Windows XP on the Mac, using Boot Camp — primarily to run Microsoft Money1. Since our conversation at Christmas, he has called me a few times for tech support.

Here’s the ironic part:

Every call has been a question about how to get this or that working in Windows. As far as I can tell the OS X part has been relatively trouble-free, because he hasn’t called me about any of that.

Welcome to the fold, Brother.

1: I will certainly conceded that one — OS X is lacking in really good comprehensive personal finance software. Quicken for Mac doesn’t compare to Quicken for Windows, and MS Money doesn’t exist for OS X.