Monthly Archives: April 2006

switch — the video

Update: Now with a soundtrack!

Just amazing stuff. Here’s a demo using VirtueDesktops to switch between OS X and Parallels with lots of eye candy. This is the solution I was hoping for back when the Intel announcement was made, only it plays much cooler than I anticipated.

Everything that I had an issue with before is now fixed in Beta5:

  • full-screen 1440×900 resoulution
  • guest can now see shared folders on the host
  • near-flawless mouse tracking (in the Parallels Tools, no tweaks needed
  • more than adequate performance

The only issue left is the ability to grow the drive-size past the original setting. There are a number of work-arounds for this, but I hope that a utility will be provided with the final release.

No need for Boot Camp any more—at least not for me. It’s time to buy pre-order a copy of Parallels Workstation.

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Posted by on April 27, 2006 in fribble


boot camp vs. parallels — conclusion

I haven’t booted into the Windows partition in over two weeks. The Parallels Beta4 is simply amazing. It now supports full-screen mode at least up to 1280×1024 (as much as I can handle on my secondary Dell LCD). I’ve been able to do everything I needed to (run web applications on the client network in IE, connect to others via NetMeeting, use the client’s Jabber network, etc) without any issues.

The irony: my largest “switchâ€? experiment failure is related to the OS X side of life. I have to do my graphics heavy lifting in Windows.

What? You have to switch to Windows for your most intense graphics work? Isn’t that why you got a Mac to begin with? Better graphics, right? What in the world can’t you do with 256MB of graphics power?

There are still no universal binary nor native x86 (if there is such a thing yet) solutions for editing PNG files. When I use Fireworks on the OS X side (via Rosetta emulation) it chokes on large files. By large, I mean a large canvas. One sign I was working on was only a 500KB PNG file, but it was 5400×3600 pixels (36×24 inches at 150 ppi) large. Fireworks beachballed when opening, and it crashed during printing or trying to print preview. This evening I plan on installing Fireworks in the Parallels VM to see if it handles large files better.

I’m dismayed that Adobe (Macromedia) is not going to release neither binary universals nor native apps until their next regularly scheduled versions. I hope Adobe doesn’t abandon Fireworks, as I have always preferred it to using both Photoshop and Illustrator. It does the best of both worlds (vector and bitmap manipulation) without the bloat of features I don’t need. If anyone reading this has a recommendation for a nice PNG editor (besides Gimp in X11) please share them in the comments for this post.

So for my needs, Parallels works great. It allows me to perform a few Windows-only tasks on my Apple OS X machine without rebooting into Windows. I’m convinced now that I’ll delete the 20GB Windows partition, and maybe reinstall it with 5GB or 6GB just incase I need it in a pinch. It’s a cool party trick to boot into Windows completely. Well, at geek parties anyways.


Posted by on April 25, 2006 in fribble


basic elements for visual design

I’ve had “write post on elements of visual design” on my “someday/maybe” list for the past two months now. After a visit with Glenn a few weeks ago I decided to elevate it to a new project.

Writing that post now would be redundant considering Mike Rundle’s article published last week on Vitamin. I’ve used Robin William’s C.A.R.P. (or other memorable anagram of those four letters) for years when teaching developers and clients about the basic elements of visual design. It’s an easy means to understand why effictive designs work.

I recommend reading Mike’s article if you are a developer. It’s a good overview of the four basic elements. Using these principles in your own form and screen layouts will increase the value of both form and function.

I might still write a short series that goes a little more in depth on each. But for now, it’s back on the someday/maybe list.

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Posted by on April 21, 2006 in fribble


Scrolling Trackpad

Hands-down (pun intended), the design feature with the largest impact for me on the MacBook Pro has been the scrolling trackpad.

I have disabled the trackpad on every notebook computer I have owned. I was looking for the setting to disable it on the MBP when I found the “Use two fingers to scroll” setting on the same pane. I checked, tried it, and I will certainly not be uncomfortable without a mouse on the MacBook Pro again.

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that the company who brought us the solid state touch pad of the 3rd generation iPod scroll wheel (the one that didn’t have to move, it just sensed where your finger went) would bring an innovation like this.

Update: It drives me crazy now when I switch back over to the Dell to grab a few files that were left behind. I don’t have a mouse plugged in over there, so I use the track-pad. It drives me nuts when I drag two fingers down and it doesn’t scroll for me. I appreciate this new feature more and more each time I switch back to the old machine.

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Posted by on April 11, 2006 in fribble



boot camp vs. parallels — early findings

UpdateIt seems the unresponsive mouse issue has a very simple fix. Simply trun down the acceleration a notch as described below. I tried it quickly today and it seemed to improve the performance. I’ll try it out for a day to see if it it’s enough for an everyday environment or not.

In XP, go to Display Properties, Settings, Advanced, Troubleshoot, and slide the slider down one notch, things speed up considerably, particularly mouse tracking and menu hiliting.

Here are two pics snapped with the Treo to satisfy the obligatory “pictures of Windows running on the MacBook Pro.”. Nothing that you haven’t seen in the past week already, but this is a significant milestone in computing, and it’s fun to be a part of it.

Windows will make the MacBook Pro faster and more reliableAs I mentioned in the previous post I had no issues with the installation in either Parallel’s virtual machine nor on Boot Camp’s new partition. Boot Camp was slick, creating the driver disc automatically. And I fully support the marketing claim that Boot Camp offers the “most elegant hard drive utility ever” to create the new partition.

This message during the installation cracked me up during both installations: Your computer will be faster and more reliable.

Windows Partition Option
Apple provides many disclaimers along the journey that this isn’t a supported product. But those are the only hints that this isn’t ready for prime-time. The experience exceeded my expectations on how easy the task would be.

After installing Windows I inserted the Apple drivers CD and everything installed quickly and easily. The only effort required on my part was the continual reasurance that it was OK to install these drivers that weren’t signed by Microsoft. After all the drivers were on board, everything worked as I hoped it would. It took forever on my Dell to get the Bluetooth PCMCIA card to work, but it was only a few clicks to get the MacBook Pro to recognize a Bluetooth mouse. The wireless almost instantly recognizes my router at home, whereas the D800 can take up to 2 minutes to get an IP address after it finds the signal. Performance has been great. The only downside is the inability to see the OS X volume on the same drive.

Parallels Virtual Machine Option
After increasing the RAM to the highest recommended level of 616MB (this machine only has 1GB) the sluggish mouse response disapeared. The speed was actually much better than connecting to servers remotely. The problem is that the rest of the environment became sluggish and when it started to bog, so did the VM. Maybe with another stick of memory inside it could handle both loads simultaneously.

Ebony and Ivory live to gether in perfect harmony side by side on my MacBook Pro

I need to spend a little more time on the Parallel forums to see if there are other tips to creating a stable environment. My true needs in Windows are really only to get to Exchange through Outlook (webmail is no good for those of us that practice GTD and need to empty our inboxes efficiently into local folders) and test our web apps in the IE browser. I’d much rather do all my development work in tools back here in OS X.

Until a tweak is discovered for the settings in Parallels, I’ll continue to live a split life between partitions.


Posted by on April 10, 2006 in fribble




The switch is in progress …

MacBook ProI purchased a MacBook Pro today and I’m in the process of moving in. If you follow my “noteworthy” feed, you’ll know that I was just waiting for the Windows XP dual-boot (or even better VM-ware like) solution to become more stable than a hack. Anyone interested in such things has seen the promising news on both fronts. The ultimate goal is to use a MacBook Pro at home and at work in the Windows-dominated environment of my clients.

So tonight I am just getting settled in on the Mac side; setting up email, moving my iTunes library, and installing all the essential applications. Then this weekend, I’ll take on evaluating the differences between Boot Camp (the dual boot option direct from Apple) and Parallels (the WM-ware option from third-party Parallels). In a perfect world WM-ware would be great as I could live in OSX and just tab out to Windows when I needed to. But I’ve read about performance issues in Parallels (which makes sense). And I have less confidence in a beta from a third-party than I do in a beta from Apple.

I’ll post my findings this weekend. But there’s no need to wait for me. There’s lots of folks out there that have done this testing already.

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Posted by on April 6, 2006 in fribble