Friday, February 22, 2008

One step forward to openness for Microsoft?

If  you are into conspiracy theories you'll look for hidden purposes in this Microsoft press release. Probably there are many of them, but at the end I think this initiative from Redmond is a success for everybody in the IT industry, first of all for the open source communities.

I especially look forward to the implementations related to these two actions: "Ensuring open connections to Microsoft’s high-volume products" and "Documenting how Microsoft supports industry standards and extensions". 

Specifically with the former I expect/hope to see in the near future a full compatibility with Microsoft Exchange for mail and calendaring client apps (Apple iCal to start with); the latter should ease the complete support of Office documents: much better than resort to reverse engineering each time.

Wait and see...

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

An interesting (yet "borderline") web site

For those into tech books this web site can be of great interest. Check it out!

P.S.: I really love "real books" so when I find something that I need and like I'm more than eager to buy it. That's the same with Music. So "services" like these can be of great usefulness to evaluate the quality of a book (like going to a Bookshop and give a look around to see if something is good or not). At the end, the old saying "Never judge a book from the cover" bears some truth...

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Mac OS X 10.5.2: a quick glance and an update

Last friday I updated my Mac to the latest release 10.5.2. The update was 180 Mb in size, quite large but definitely smaller to the expected "monstrous" size according to the rumors (or at least the power PC update is not "this" big; maybe the Intel version is larger).

Apparently this release fixes a lot of bugs but besides some changes in the User Interface (the option to turn off the transparency in the menu bar, more options for Stacks) it didn't seem like a great change. Unfortunately it isn't still supported the possibility to use Network Shared Volumes in Time Machine which apparently was a feature that should be official in 10.5.2. Anyway I just checked the web for that and found in the very interesting Volker Weber's blog a suggestion that allows you to backup on "unsupported volumes" like Network Shares. No hope anyway to use a FAT-32 USB drive (it still requires an HFS+ disk in this case).

In my first weeks with 10.5 it seems that my Mac is a bit slower so I'm not this keen on upgrading my wife's Mac which is a bit older than mine (1 Ghz G4 with 512 Mb of RAM). In particular some applications seems to perform worse, especially Firefox, that's why I'm using more Safari these days, which by the way is improved dramatically with these latest releases. For example all Gmail features seem to work: there is a minor weird behavior here on the WYSIWYG interface of Blogger, that is, it seems you can't cut from another application & paste in the Blogger Post form (you should switch to the HTML interface, do the paste and get back to the WYSIWYG form) but definitely this is a small issue. Great job WebKit team!

Monday, February 04, 2008

Mac OS X 10.5: a very disappointing release...

I never expected to debut my blog complaining against Apple, but this time I'm more than disappointed with the Cupertino company.

I bought Mac OS X 10.5 to upgrade the operating system of my "old" Powerbook G4 1.33 Mhz: I've waited a few months after the official release of the operating system more out of free time than because I was scared of the ".0 release". Anyway, last Friday I updated finally the OS from 10.4(.10 if I remember well) to 1.5. The process was more than smooth even if it took quite a bit of time (basically the whole morning), quite longer than any other Mac OS X upgrade I performed. At the end I updated the OS to the latest version 10.5.1 and started to roam a bit the new features.

While on the "eye candy" department things were more than exciting I immediately had quite a lot of disappointments that is:
  • this OS "breaks" the compatibility with a lot of old applications: Photoshop 7 doesn't work, neither my original Lexmark Z43 drivers. Included with the OS there are some replacements for them but unfortunately print quality is very poor... (on that I have to make some extra tests to be honest)
  • another application that doesn't work anymore is Microsoft Internet Explorer 5 Mac. OK, who cares you might say. I unfortunately do, since we at office have several crucial (bad) web apps that work only with IE! I'm at a loss here.
  • Time Machine seems to work only with USB/Firewire external drives, not with remote network volumes. Moreover it's necessary to format the hard drive (probably it needs a HFS+ file system) from scratch, quite impossible if you fancied to use your half-empty USB drive as a backup station. Apparently the possibility to use a network share should be officially supported on 10.5.2 (on the Net you can find already some fix to have this feature now).
Today, to add insult to injury, while I was configuring File System Sharing the Finder froze, I was forced to reboot the Mac and.. surprise surprise... the system hanged! It loops on startup and I'm not able to login. I should come back home this afternoon to bring the Mac OS X DVD and try to reinstall everything from scratch.

I will never again blame Microsoft for the Vista upgrade problems....

[Update: everything is working fine now. I booted from the DVD, started "Disk utility" and performed a disk check. While file system was apparently OK there were some issues on permissions.

It seemed like a secondary thing (permissions were mostly wrong on Language files) but I gave it a try. The first time I performed a "Repair file permission" the procedure hanged.... After 2 hours I rebooted the Mac and tried again: this time file permission issues were repaired in more or less 15 minutes.

I restarted the Mac and quite surprisingly the boot procedure completed smoothly and I was able to log in.]