Sunday, June 18, 2006

A Quick Comparison of Operating Systems

From the "This Made Me Late for My Show" Department:

*I plug an ethernet cable into the computer:*


Computer: Ah! An ethernet cable! *Prints a message in a log somewhere*

Me: *Fires up a shell and executes a command to start the ethernet interface.*

Computer: Roight-O! *Starts up ethernet adapter and connects to the network as configured, falling back on DHCP if there's no configuration*


Computer: Ah! Ethernet cable! *Sets up connection the same way the Linux box does, but without requiring any user input whatsoever.*


Computer: Dum de dum...

Me: Uhh... could you connect to the network I just plugged in? Please?

Computer: Hwuh? Wha? Oh, that. Well, you don't have the ethernet cable plugged in.

Me: What the hell are you talking about? I just plugged it in! Hell, your light's even blinking on the switch! Don't tell me there's no cable plugged in!

Computer: Nope. No cable. *Goes back to thrashing the hard drive*

Me: AAAAARRRRRGH! *I go through the entire Windows control panel, looking for any way possible to get this thing to recognize that yes, I did indeed plug in a network cable. When this fails, I fall back on the old Windows standby of rebooting the entire machine and hoping that knocks some sense into it.* Now can you connect to the network?

Computer: Huh? Oh, I've disabled that network interface.

Me: What? How the hell did the interface get disabled?

Computer: Well, you didn't have a cable plugged in the last time, so...

Me: AAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRGH! *I once again go through every single network configuration option on the system, all the while cursing Bill Gates and wishing that I had sprung for the Powerbook instead.*

After about 25 minutes of this, I finally got it to recognize that yes, there is indeed a network there, and I managed to get my files transferred by 3:55. That left me a grand total of five minutes to pack my stuff into the car and make the seven-mile drive to the station.

Note that this was after I had already spent a half hour trying to get Windows to connect to the wireless network for longer than thirty seconds at a time. Also note that I end up having problems like this every single time I'm in a hurry and have to deal with Windows. And people wonder why I always seem so stressed out.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Blowing Rasperries at your Heaven

FuzzyFlakes screenshot

So XScreenSaver (an excellent collection of screensavers for UNIX-ish systems, including Mac OS X) has this saver called "FuzzyFlakes", created by Barry Dmytro, which features multicolored flakes wafting around your screen. Originally, these were pink flakes on a green background, to match the end credits of Azumanga Daioh, which were the inspiration for the screen saver. A few versions later, the ability to specify different or random color schemes was added. However, the new color selection scheme made it impossible to get the original Azumanga-inspired colors anymore. So about a year ago, I posted a patch at the end of this post that would re-enable these colors.

The Azumanga Rave

Anyway, the patch no longer works with the recently released XScreenSaver 5.00, so I've made a new patch to go along with it. I've also included a universal binary for Mac OS X, for those of you who are into that sort of thing. For the patch, you'll need the source code for version 5.07 of XScreenSaver, which is available here. Mac users need to have Mac OS 10.4 or higher. Windows users can go suck Mr. Tadakichi's tail.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Ever Closer to the Dark Side

Mac Desktop Image

So I've been finding myself using the aforementioned Mac more and more lately, to the point where I can now almost consider it my main computer. Despite the fact that I have two much faster computers sitting here.

Is this because of OS X's power, usability, and all-around design? Ehh, maybe a little.

Does this have anything to do with the fact that my Windows box consistently suffers total lockups every time the temperature in my room rises above 70° Fahrenheit and now has to be mothballed until October? Or the fact that every time I run a software update on my Linux box, all of the 11,476 media players on it completely cease to function for at least two weeks until the people maintaining those packages get them fixed up? YES! YES! A THOUSAND TIMES YES! PLEASE, FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY, GET ME OUT OF THIS HELL!

So yeah, it's pretty much either this or the laptop. And despite the fact that the laptop can theoretically run all three of the operating systems involved (albeit one of them with questionable legality and functionality), I kind of value my wrists, so the Mac it is. Heil Jobs, and all that.

Still, it is a pretty good system to work with, and I'd probably have no problem switching for good, except for one little annoying fact. You see, the model that I have now is an ancient PowerMac, which has been Apple's top-of-the-line. When this machine was manufactured in 1999, it would have cost $3500. As it is, I paid about $250 for this thing on eBay back in January, which is actually pretty low considering that slower systems with much less memory were going for about $250-300 at the time. If it weren't for the Buy It Now price, this one probably would have went for about $350-400.

The reason I mention this is because, for a couple hundred dollars more, I could have just gotten myself a brand now Mac Mini that would have been faster, had iLife and all that other good stuff installed, etc, etc, etc. There's just one little catch: If you ever, for any reason, want to do something silly like... ohh... add another hard drive, put in a better graphics card, or anything like that, you're SOL. As somebody who enjoys tinkering with hardware, and who is offended by the idea of a disposable computer (which is essentially all it is), this prospect irks me to no end.

Then there's the iMac, which not only commits the cardinal sin of integrating the computer with the monitor (Keeripes! A few dead pixels and the whole thing's useless!), but also requires that you be a qualified brain surgeon just to get the case open. Thanks, but no thanks.

So that leaves the Pro line, which, when new, is always way out of my price range, and more computer than I could ever justify buying for myself. Hell, even the refurbished models bottom out at $2000 for just the tower. The only option left for people like me is to buy older machines secondhand, and forget any hope of warranty coverage, packaged software, support for newer features (802.11g... oh, sorry, *ahem*... "AirPort Express™"), and so on. Not to mention that they've been around the block a few times, and have their share of wear, tear, and annoying little problems (Mine wouldn't sleep until I yanked some SCSI cards, for example).

It would be nice if they offered us a lower-end tower that's easy to upgrade as one's needs grow. Judging from the amount of people trying to coax OS X onto non-Apple hardware, there certainly seems to be a market for such a system out there. That prospect even got me interested in the project for a while last year. Of course, Apple, being a hardware company (depending on who you ask), doesn't seem too likely to introduce anything with a lower margin and a longer life span, but a nerd can dream, can't he?

Feh. If anybody needs me, I'll be over here teetering at the edge of the Dark Side, looking fearfully over the ledge. But now, a picture:

Graffiti of Mayor Quimby
...Why Mayor Quimby?
(graffiti from a train car parked on the bridge over Spruce St. in downtown Scranton)

Finally, because I've somehow managed to go an entire page of blog posts without a gratuitous reference to them, here are some actual, 100% true facts about CLAMP:

  • In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth. After that, he was stumped, and had to ask Ageha Ohkawa for advice.
  • Mokona can draw over 150 pages in the course of an hour. She can draw over 500 after she wakes up.
  • CLAMP are such accomplished manga artists, that they can miss a deadline three weeks before it even occurs.
  • The ending of Cardcaptor Sakura is the only thing that has ever made Chuck Norris cry. Ever.

Alright, that's it for tonight. Be sure to tune in next time, when we'll have John Goodman, Amy Sedaris, and that guy who won the latest American Idol series. Does anybody remember what his name was? Better yet, does anybody still care?

(Fun Fact: The word "blog" is not in the Blogger spell checker.)