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Feb. 26th, 2006

Laptop, Apple

[Apple] Selling Pixel?

If my aunt doesn't want it (haven't heard back from her yet), I may be putting Pixel up for open sale. ('cause I don't really need two Mac laptops, much as I love Pix.) For the record, Pixel is:

Titanium Powerbook G4, 1Ghz CPU, 1 gig RAM, 60 gig HD
* Powerbook G4 system restore (Jaguar) disc
* Powerbook G4 Hardware Test disc
* Panther (OS X 10.3) install discs
* iLife '04 install discs
* iWork '05 install discs

I'm figuring I'll wipe it clean, install Panther (and probably iLife and iWork), do all software updates, and then sell it. Trying to decide if it'd be best to eBay, Craigslist, or just take it to the Mac store to trade in as a refurb. Opinions?

And yes, I'm still in pain, since I know folks will otherwise ask. Vicodin is my friend, but I tried to skip a dose of it since I know how addictive it is. I discovered why the doctor told me I Really Would Want the painkiller. Gonna try to sleep before it wears off again.
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Feb. 23rd, 2006

Laptop, Apple

[Apple] MacBook Pro, first thoughts

Okay, I've had Duo for a day now, so it's time to post a few 'first thoughts' on the MacBook Pro.

First, the bad: there are some things which just aren't available as Universal binaries yet, and some of them are things I consider necessities. The big one is Volume Logic, the Octiv (now Plantronics) plugin for iTunes. I haven't yet grabbed a PowerPC installer for it to see if the PowerPC plugin will still work under Intel iTunes, but my gut feeling is that it would be less than optimal. This makes me sad. Similarly, a few Safari/WebKit plugins I like are also not yet available in Universal.

However, a lot of my 'necessary' stuff (Synergy, Intego NetBarrier X, Intego VirusBarrier X, Adium X, etc.) is available in Universal Binary format, and works seamlessly. The few apps which are not (Xjournal, RealPlayer, Microsoft Office, etc.) seem to run just fine under Rosetta. Now, Rosetta /is/ noticeably a bit slower, but we're talking 'a PowerPC app under Rosetta runs slightly faster than my 1Ghz Powerbook G4 with 1 gig of RAM ran it.' Which, yes, is a step down from Duo's full two 2Ghz processors, but nonetheless is pretty darn impressive for emulation.

Native apps, however, just smoke everything. Xcode is a literal joy to use, especially since it uses both CPUs for compiling things.

In all, Rosetta makes PowerPC work painless enough that the transition hasn't really had many hiccups; the only thing irritating me is the lack of a Universal Binary for Volume Logic. In all, the whole jump to Intel is not particularly noticeable at first glance, at least after only a day of use.

Guess we'll see if I run into bigger problems going forward, but so far Duo's already replaced Pixel as my main laptop.
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Feb. 22nd, 2006

Laptop, Apple

[Geek] Whoooooo!


Whoot!Collapse )
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Jan. 14th, 2006

Tinkering, FF Sparks (Madgirl)

[Geek] Mac OS X Security Thoughts

(Yes, I still need to do two weeks of horse posts. It's been chaos.)

Okay. Most of you know that I use both Mac and PC on a day-to-day basis, but that I vastly prefer my Mac to my PC for a variety of reasons. Most of you also know that I consider Mac OS X to be rather more secure than Windows. However, I vehemently disagree with the people who feel 'well, I'm on a Mac, I don't need to really take security into consideration.'

I am a firm believer that no operating system -- not Windows, not Mac OS X, not even Linux -- is inherently 'secure.' Windows exploits are of course the most common: partly because Windows has a really abysmal security model, but also quite a bit because it hits the largest slice of computer users unaware of security considerations. But there have been critical bugs in Apple before. Rarely actually exploited for malware, but there are nonetheless. And, of course, there are always Linux exploits out there.

Even a Linux user who just goes 'well, I'm on Linux, I'm secure!' and then just runs an out-of-box configuration is eventually going to be vulnerable. Computer security relies very heavily on both user awareness and user action.

So, back to Mac OS X. Most of us would never consider giving an only semi-computer-literate person a Windows box without installing something like ZoneAlarm Pro and McAfee Antivirus. Most of us who run Linux servers have things like LogWatch, Tripwire, Splunk, and so on installed to keep an eye on our servers, as well as subscribing to security lists. So why is it that so many Mac OS X folks scoff at running security programs?

"Why do I need anything more than Apple's firewall? Why do I need antivirus software?" Because you do. Every OS does.

Antivirus on Mac OS X is something to be examined another day. Today, we'll be talking about firewalls!

Apple's firewall is decent -- but it doesn't (by default) block UDP traffic, and it kind of obscures a lot of things. I rate it slightly higher than the default Windows firewall for letting me open specific ports (so I can serve a website or whatever), but it gets major negative marks for the UDP thing. ESPECIALLY leaving mDNS open to the world, which is my pet-peeve when it comes to Apple security. (I don't really want Joe Random Hacker being able to ask my machine's mDNS server what things I'm running, thanks. That's just like handing out a menu of exploits.) In addition -- like the Windows firewall -- it makes no checks on outgoing traffic.

Many people on Windows love ZoneAlarm Pro for its ability to control access even outgoing as well as incoming. On Mac OS X, I've found the closest equivalent to be NetBarrier X. This is unfortunate in some ways, since it's a $70 commercial product, and I haven't found a good free equivalent. Still, it's worth the $70. I recently upgraded my machines to NetBarrier X4, the most recent version.

Some commentary...Collapse )

Overall, NetBarrier X has some very sane defaults; the medium security setting in the wizard is sufficient for most users. Once you've approved programs, you never even need to really see it again; the majority of the time it's just there, out of sight and out of mind, doing its job. It actually intrudes on me less than ZoneAlarm Pro does over on Windows. :)

However, despite the 'get it set up and get out of my way' factor, for those used to administering UNIX servers and writing their own firewall rules, it also gives a degree of control I quite appreciate. This is why I use it as a firewall.

There are a number of other good Mac OS X firewall programs, but I consider NetBarrier by far the 'best of breed,' hence why I used it to discuss this. :)
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Jan. 2nd, 2006

Laptop, Apple

[Mac OS X] VoodooPad

VoodooPad is perhaps one of the coolest things I've seen for a while. It's a lovely, pure Cocoa native application... that is a personalized wiki specifically for note-taking and brainstorming.

I've been using StickyBrain for my random note taking and organization, but I'm wiki-mental enough that I might switch to VoodooPad.

That is all.
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