July 5, 2007

Apple Mac: it just works … my ass!

Filed under: belous,osx — SiKing @ 4:47 pm

BSOD by Mac

The first computer that I ever worked with was an Apple II (the “Darth Vader” one). Even after I discovered the IBM PCs and clones, and other machines, I still kept returning to the Apple. I was impressed that it just worked right out of the box. When you powered up the Apple in those days, you were greeted with a prompt and a functioning machine within a minute or so, because it had an OS and BASIC built right into the ROM. The alternatives needed at least twice as long to go through their POST during boot, and they needed to load an operating system from a disk in order to be of any use. In those days I dreamt of owning an Apple IIc+. Then reality set in: the Apple cost at least twice as much as the clones, the operating system could not be upgraded, and the hardware was difficult and expensive to upgrade as well. I never looked back after that, until …

My SO wanted to get a new computer: “a pretty laptop”. She is not interested in how a computer works she only interested that it does work! Being the geek that I am, the first conclusion that I jumped to was Linux. However, the more I thought about it the more I realized that this would not be the right choice for her. She wanted a complete solution, that just works right out of the box. She wanted a Mac! I first had to convince myself: one-button mouse (how difficult could that be?), the OS is built on top of a BSD kernel (how kool is that?), comes with all the apps that she is interested in … a no brainer.

While she now enjoys playing around with it, I only get stuck with fixing all the “it doesn’t just work” stuff! How the fsck do you configure anything without a right-click? Aaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

First thing that blew me away, it doesn’t even have Czech localization! All the free apps that I suggested she install had perfect localization, but Apple could not be bothered to localize the OS?!?! The hardware, BTW, did have the localized cs-qwertz keyboard – to this day I cannot find how to configure two different keyboard layouts.

Next was that struggle trying to get it to boot from the CD, followed by the nightmare trying to get it to boot back from the internal drive! Followed by plenty of other screw ups that didn’t just work. I gave up on trying to get the piece of crap to connect to my wireless modem using WEP. Can someone explain to me why OS X comes preinstalled with a utility that handles .zip compressed files, but not with “the most common Mac compression format” .sit? I don’t get how a non-technical people can live with this shite!?!?

Today was the topper, though. We will be travelling over the coming weekend, and we figured that we would take “bělouš” (whitey) along, and watch a couple of movies in the evening. The Book comes with this fancy looking charger, where you can just replace the end that goes into the power supply, so how difficult could it be to make one end that plugs into the car’s cigarette lighter? Apparently, freakin’ impossible for Apple! Check this. The Book comes with a power supply, that according to Apple’s own store costs US$79 or €89. Now right away, WTF is with that price conversion? Now if you want to actually travel with your portable notebook, you also need to buy the US$39 / €39 universal power outlet adaptor kit. We now got US$118 / €128 worth of accessories, and you still cannot charge your Book from a car lighter! The Apple store recommends a third-party US$69.95 / €79.95 “only currently available product (other than an Apple power adapter) you can use to charge MacBook and MacBook Pro notebooks”. They fail to mention it is the only one that will charge from a car outlet.

As someone pointed out today: it’s just Mickeysoft in sheep’s clothing. Anyone wanna start a lawsuit against Apple for false advertising; I’m in!

May 16, 2007

I think I’m turning into a Luddite

Filed under: belous,cyberspace,etanol,thetao — SiKing @ 10:22 am

IT Virus Life Cycle
copyright Russell Kightley,

Lately, technology just hates me. Either that or I am a walking computer virus!

etanol is further deteriorating. More and more shit just inexplicably stops working: spell check in MS-Word for one user (out of four) does not start up, opening MS-Word files downloaded from the Internet for (a different) one user does not work, one user’s personal documents do not appear under the Administrator computer menu. Then there are the explainable, but still absolutely mind-boggling things like some user programs need to have administrator access to the machine, other programs that must have write privileges to the C:\Program Files hierarchy. This one got me really good: my bank has security certificates for signing in and for sending any kind of payment. I had no problems signing in, but for like half a year I could not send any transactions. The errors that their application was throwing did not give any kind of hint as to the actual problem: Windows one day started shipping without any Java engine! The best is, that the x64 version of I-Explorer cannot even see that a Java engine has been installed! Not to mention all the small things that have stopped working, which I have now just come to accept as normal MS-SNAFU. I have now completely given up on etanol until this summer, at which point I hope I will be allowed to reinstall him. I will be upgrading to Windows 2000 for the benefit of harmony with the people that I must cohabit with and Linux dual-boot.

A while back I convinced my GF to get a Mac – my first exposure to it. Number one reason: it just works! What the hell are they talking ’bout? First off: no localization to Czech; all the free software that she got for it NeoOffice, Thunderbird, FireFox, all with perfect Czech localization. The multi-billion dollar company apparently thinks this is not worth their effort. Next, I could not get the thing to connect to a wireless modem using (default) WEP authentication; I am now running my household on WAP. For no reason whatsoever, it will not download mail from Yahoo! Speaking of Apple’s mail, that has to be one of the most unintuitive applications that I have seen so far on a Mac – it is next to impossible to discover how to make it use SSL, which today is almost a standard. But by far the best one: one night my GF is not home, the MacBook is lying on the table, I got a Knoppix CD in hand… The thing is supposed to have an Intel processor inside, so I thought I’d give it a try. Took me around 10 minutes to figure out how to boot it from a CD – “just press the Options button” BS did not work, tried it several times. Eventually I found something in the control centre (I think it is), where it asked what do you want to boot from – one of the options was CD. Tried that, and Knoppix booted up perfectly fine, and completely in Czech. Showed it to my GF, who was not impressed. Well, this is Knoppix I though, just take out the CD and reboot the machine, everything is back to original. After reboot, all I got was a text message on an otherwise black screen telling me that there is no bootable CD. No shit Sherlock, I’m thinking, I just took it out! The thing would not default to the internal hard drive. There was several very tense moments, of my GF watching over my shoulder and me struggling to figure out how to convince an unresponsive MacBook, that there is in fact an internal hard drive that it can and should boot from. Eventually, I tried the OS X install DVD – I immediately quit the install program, and it asks I you want to reboot from the DVD or perhaps the internal hard drive. I am now forbidden from coming anywhere near my GF’s MacBook. “Just works” … my ass!

I seem to be the only person (or at least in the minority) for whom the Browser Sync plugin does not work. This was just another very kool idea, executed poorly.

Then I found another very kool plugin. I consider myself a bit of a power user. I am always interested in increasing my productivity in OOo. After reading this article, I just had to get the Tabbed Windows Extension. This ended up as just another disappointment. After crashing OOo twice in one day, I was looking only for how to uninstall / disable it. Not to mention that since OOo version 2.0, I can longer edit HTML, because on my installation the HTML source button seems to have disappeared.

Knoppix, one of my favourite Linux distros, is giving me a hard time!

I prematurely posted an entry here on my latest achievement: finally installing Gentoo on thetao, only to discover on rebooting after the post that I screwed up something – kernel panic. Took that entry down PDQ. I was absolutely beside myself when I found out a few days later that the next version of Gentoo was released. Downloaded the live CD and first thing tried it at home. I was fully expecting issues with my disks. The first surprise: it found all the disks correctly on the first try! The second surprise: from the messages flying by, it seemed to have detected that I have an ATI X300 graphics card – not very high end stuff – however, X server had no idea what to do with it. Back to installing Gentoo via Knoppix.

As much as I would like to help out, I simply don’t have the time to be filing bugs and tracking down every single failure that I find in every application that I try. I actually get paid to find bugs in shit.

Man, I’m already pondering my retirement. I am definitely going to read a lot. I discovered the joy of reading very late in my life (when I was in my early 20’s), and recently I do not have anywhere near enough time to do it. Oddly enough, I have a huge (well, I would estimate it at about hundred pieces) collection of books that I have never read. I am going to sit someplace on a beach, and drink those drinks with umbrellas in them. But most importantly: no computers anywhere in sight!

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