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Misc.

IBM’s Enterprise Mashup Video

Below is a nice little video from IBM explaining enterprise mashups succinctly and in a language that non techies could understand. Enjoy.

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Apple MacBook OS X ThinkPad

Apple MacBook vs. Lenovo ThinkPad – Part 3

I’ve had my MacBook for over two months now. The more I use OS X, I really like it. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts here, here and here, I like the simplicity, I like the ease of use, I like the *nix foundation underlying the pretty user interface, I like the choice between commercial and open source applications and I love the stability.

I’ve been using my MacBook quite a bit the last few weeks working from cafes, Starbucks, parks, and other places where a wired Internet connection isn’t available. The MacBook has been connecting to the Internet just fine. However, the laptop gets way too hot to hold on my lap for more than a few minutes. The other day, I had to put a piece of wood under my MacBook to protect the plastic table cover from burning.

The sharp edge right below the trackpad…. Ouch! The more and more I type, I find my hands getting chaffed by the edge. It’s fine if i’m sitting on my bed and the laptop is also on the bed (craning my neck downwards becomes a different issue). If I’m sitting at a table or at a desk, and my wrists are resting on the edge of the MacBook, the laptop becomes less and less comfortable on the hands. I’m longing more and more for a ThinkPad running OS X. People have gotten OS X to run on ThinkPads and people are discussing it here.
I might decide to keep my MacBook for non-strenuous short uses and I might decide to either get my ThinkPad T40 fixed, or get an X series to carry around. Not sure that I want to spend the money on a new laptop right now since I just bought the MacBook. I will probably do some research to see if I can get a T60 motherboard with a Intel Core Duo 2 GHz chip put into the T40 chassis. I have no idea what that’s going to cost to do.

Lenovo, if you’re reading this, give Steve Jobs a call ad get him to license OS X for the ThinkPad!!!! You’ll probably wind up selling more ThinkPads than IBM ever did 🙂

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Apple Mac Mini MacBook OS X

IBM/Lenovo Thinkpad Vs. Apple MacBook Revisited

I’ve been using the Apple MacBook on and off for a little over a month now.Disclosure: The MacBook isn’t my only computer. At the office, I have a Dell now running Ubuntu 6.06 and at home, I removed the failed IBM Deskstar drive out of my Dell, installed Ubuntu from scratch. At some point, I’ll reinstall Fedora Core 5 on the free partition. My main computer at home is my 1st generation PowerPC based Mac Mini. Hence, I use my MacBook when I’m not at the office or when I’m not sitting in the basement.

My use of the MacBook, though not constant, is considerable. I have come to enjoy most aspects of the hardware along with the software (OS X). I was asked to discuss my thoughts on the following aspects of the MacBook.

  1. Sturdiness: I haven’t traveled with the MacBook yet. I have only carried it with me to the local Starbucks and to the office on several occassions. It feels like a fairly well built machine but I can’t vouch for how it would react to a few falls like my old T40. I would be very surprised if it continued to function as well as my T40 after the serious falls it took.
  2. Productivity:
    • Though I am still no fan of the Apple Trackpad, I have configured it well enough that it doesn’t annoy be as constantly as before. I still think the Thinkpad keyboard/Trackpoint combination is the most productive I’ve seen on any laptop or desktop (see my review of the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic 4000 keyboard).
    • The feel of the MacBook keyboard is pretty good. I don’t miss my ThinkPad in this regard. Though, it’s a bit different, it feels nice.
    • I also miss the Thinklight that exists on the Thinkpads. This is incredibly useful when you’re trying to type in the dark (e.g. late at night in bed, on an airplane, etc). Considering the prices that some Thinkpads are available at, I hope Apple puts a lit keyboard or a Thinklight-like feature into future MacBooks.
    • The built-in iSight on the MacBook is a very useful feature if you use Skype, IM, Video IM, or just like to take pictures randomly. I am using the MacBook to create an audio diary of a project I am working on. I might turn it into a podcast at some point but not just yet. I’m also using Skype for phone calls in the US while it is free.
    • The wifi piece of the MacBook has been acting pretty flaky recently. At Starbucks, I had to reboot the laptop a few times before it would reconnect to the AP. At home, it is disconnecting from my Linksys WRT54G very often in spots that it worked fine just a few weeks ago. I think a similar problem has been reported on the MacBook Pros but I have yet to call this into AppleCare.
    • Battery life has also dropped significantly. I was getting 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 hours of battery life on a full charge, with my settings optimized for battery conservation. The same settings are consistenly providing me no more than 2 hours and 45 minutes of battery life. I have tried calibrating the battery as per the manual but no luck. I am in the process of recalibrating for the 4rd time right now before I call AppleCare.
    • Apple OS X is pretty good in terms of productivity. I would like it if I could configure keyboard shortcuts for everything and maybe I can, I just haven’t tried hard enough to figure it out.
    • Apple ships the MacBooks with a decent amount of software for productivity. (Quicken 2006 for the Mac doesn’t compare to the Windows version).
  3. Applications: I am pretty happy with the applications on OS X. I’ve been able to get lots of Unix opensource applications running, including Postgresql, NeoOffice and OpenOffice, along with Perl and a good amount of the Perl modules from CPAN. The MacBook ships with a trial version of iWork and Microsoft Office for Mac. I didn’t find a need to use either of these applications and had not installed them when I reinstalled OS X. OS X is pretty good at sleeping, though I would like to see a hibernate function. It is just as stable as Linux from my use of OS X Tiger on my PowerPC Mac Mini and on my Intel MacBook. It’s probably much much mroe stable than Windows on anything.

I haven’t completely ruled out buying a new motherboard for my old T40. If I can buy it and get it installed, all for $200, I’ll probably do it. Anything more than that, I won’t. I guess that means that though I really like the MacBook, I am really used to my ThinkPad T40 running Linux and I miss.

The MacBook is a fist generation computer whereas the Thinkpad T series is tried and true. The MacBook is very good for early adopters and those that aren’t afraid of a little tinkering. It’s also a very cost efficient way of playing with OS X and being able to see first hand how things “just work”. The MacBooks do get pretty hot so be careful to keep the laptop on your lap for very long.

If anyone has any additional questions, please drop me a line.

Apple – MacBook
Lenovo – T Series

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Apple MacBook OS X

MacBook Vs. ThinkPad Redux

I’ve now had my MacBook for over a week now and used it pretty much in just about every real world scenario I have used my ThinkPad (other than while traveling). I’m getting more used to using the TrackPad but I still crave the ThinkPad Trackpoint. The trackpad gets easier to use with some configuration playing but it still isn’t a natural extension.

Copying a Home DVD

I had a home movie that I had to copy to give to a friend. It definitely isn’t easy to get OS X to copy a DVD that has no encryption. I found that I could probably buy some commercial software such as Roxio Popcorn 2 to burn a copy. I also found a few free tools to do this though I wasn’t able to get any of them to work under the time constraints I had. I would prefer to use an open source alternative. On Linux I used dvdbackup but as I don’t have a usable Linux machine with a DVD drive at the moment, I hate to tell my friend that I will mail him the DVD when I figure out how to copy it.

Sound Volume

I’ve found it a bit annoying that I cannot blast the sound on my MacBook as I could on my ThinkPad. I have pushed the volume in the “System Preferences” panel to the maximum and also done the same within iTunes but the volume is only at respectable levels. I am sitting in my kitchen with the door open and no one in sight and want to blast the music. On the ThinkPad, I could do this without external speakers.

Battery Life

The battery life on the MacBook is GREAT! I had the battery on my T40 replaced after about a year since I couldn’t get more than 1 1/2 to 2 hours on a full charge. Even the “new” battery never gave me more than 2 1/2 hours. The MacBook has given me as much as 5 hours and 15 minutes on a full charge and as little as 2 hours and 40 minutes when I’m really taxing the machine, e.g. Running iTunes on full volume, wireless connection, full brightness on the screen, transferring files and periodically using Skype.

Built in Mic

The built in mic is very good at recording sounds. However, when using Skype to call a landline, there is a great amount of feedback. I have tried this in small, furnished, carpeted environments, as well as larger rooms with no carpeting. I am still not able to determine if there is a problem with the mic or where/how I am using it. I have had no problems recording using GarageBand and the mic so perhaps it is Skype that has the problem.

The sharp edge of the MacBook under the trackpad is still annoying but I have adapted my hand positioning to make it less painful.

Here’s a few other reviews on the MacBook and ThinkPads:

  • http://www.notebookreview.com/default.asp?newsID=2946
  • http://www.blaptops.com/ibm/lenovo-thinkpad-t43-review/
  • http://www.zatznotfunny.com/2006-05/macbook-drops-keyboard-irks/

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Apple MacBook OS X ThinkPad

Transcending boots

Unfortunately, Doc Searl’s IT Garage blog had some issues with posting comments so below is my comment on Doc’s Transcending boots post
Doc,
I’ve been a faithful Linux desktop/laptop user for about 7 years with no Windows at all. My most used computer was a ThinkPad T40 running Fedora Core 3, 4 and now 5 with a dual booting into Suse 10.0.

My TP recently had a few too many falls and the system board is damaged. I decided to take a foray into the Mac laptop world after configuring a new ThinkPad that was comparable in spec to the MacBook but almost $750 more. The new and affordable MacBook (Not the PRO) is absolutely amazing, with a few minor issues. I miss my ThinkPad a great deal but what I miss most is Linux.

I am using Q (an OS X port of QEMU) for Fedora Core 5 and am considering Parallels once I up the RAM to 2 GB.

My point is, that you are 100% correct. Apple won’t officially support other platforms but until they make OS X available on a ThinkPad, the MacBooks are great for the price (as long as you’re not a 3D gamer) and now give me the option to run multiple versions of Linux using virtualization or dual booting. Apple is primarily a hardware company and they can definitely sell more hardware if they at least maintain some openness to other operating systems. I just wish they would have added a two button mouse to the MacBook along with a ThinkPad style Trackpoint.

Pankaj

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