Digging into computer things at home, at last

I spent most of yesterday doing computer things, and it was kind of nice to dig into that. Earlier, before Christmas, Mark bought a Mac mini used off a friend, and I’ve been trying to fit the new computer into our little home network here.

Beauty and the Geek

Photo credit: Wikipedia

It is interesting how things happens in cluster. Mum too has a new computer, and she has asked me to prepare it. When I was up there, we got her a Windows 7 license and I installed it on her machine. But… when she first asked me, she wanted me to put Windows XP on it. Now mum complains that she can’t find anything…

Many users like Windows XP, but it’s insecure and bad and dangerous these days, and if you’re a lab manager with corporate secrets lying around on your hard drives, the last thing you need is that old clunker. XP leaks like a sieve, and it’s not made for modern hardware, and it has more holes than a Swiss cheese. For the safety of all of us, XP should be retired and abandoned. For instance, XP is a favourite of bot-net operators because it is so easy to hijack computers that run it.

And then, when I came home, I’ve been dragging my feet about incorporating this Mac into our network because I’m really not used to Mac things. One annoying thing is the mouse, which only had one button, and I’m used to having two. Fortunately, it was easy to change the mouse out for one that was more useful. But while I’m cautious so long as I’m so inexperienced with the platform, it looks like it would be relatively straight-forward to integrate a Mac on my primarily Windows/Linux network.

At least Mark can now do some work on the Mac; only standard computing things though. His sciencey software only works on Windows though, and so I still need to make the Mac dual-boot. But I promise, unlike Mum I’m not going to put XP on it. Though, I have been tempted to sneak Linux with WINE when Mark is not looking. Maybe Materials Studio will work under Wine?:)

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5 thoughts on “Digging into computer things at home, at last

  1. The mac mouse is two button, it just hides the second button. In the Apple menu choose system preferences. Click on the mouse. Choose Point & Click. Check the secondary click option. I find Apples magic mouse to be carpal tunnel fatiguing so I use the trackpad. Also note that pressing and holding a key on the keyboard doesn’t repeat, it provides you with alternate variations on the key you are holding (e.g. holding “o” presents: ôöòóœøōõ select which with number or mouse).

    If you are going to get Parallels, I believe you can create a Linux virtual machine if you wanted, but the Mac is a fully certified standards compliant BSD Unix, so that seems redundant. Under the covers it is running Samba for access to SMB servers and CUPS is handling printing. X-windows isn’t normally doing anything but it will come to life should you install and run a Unix application.

    In the Applications folder (if you are using the launchpad it is the “others” group) you will probably want to explore the Utilities directory of stuff. Terminal will give you a shell window. Console gathers together all the log files from the system and all the programs, on the left is a sub-window graphing where all the reported events are coming from. Grapher looks cute, look at the examples menu.

    Spelling correction, that kicks in everywhere, is handled through the Oxford dictionary that is built-in. If you select a word and right click on it you can turn on spell checking, if it isn’t already enabled, or choose to look it up in the dictionary, the thesaurus, or wikipedia. Address book and calendar are fronts to a SQLite database, calendar also fronts for the cron table.

    • Based on what everyone keeps telling me, Parallels is too slow for what we need it for. I mean, I want to play games on the desktop sometimes, and Mark uses a program called “Materials Studio” to build molecules and simulate forces and stuff. It helps him a lot in his school work. But, also, it is very graphics intensive. So, we’re just going to have to make it dual boot.

      • Being a Mac person it pains me a bit to suggest this but, you could run it as a PC and put the Mac in the virtual space since the PC software is graphics intensive. I have a friend who does that because he works with 3D modeling software. In fact in February he will be getting his new, circular MacPro and set it up as a PC with the Mac running virtually.

        • FYI. Just checked with my friend and he is using bootcamp for the Windows partition and vmware to virtually run OS X in Windows.

  2. I have totally abandoned my laptop 95% of the time. It runs windows 7 and has iTunes with an external hard drive because of my massive music collection (around 115 GB) with thousands and thousands of songs. Right now I do most of my surfing, blogging, etc on my Kindle Fire HD 8.9. I am anticipating money in a tax return so now I am trying to decide if I should get the Kindle HDX 8.9 with 64 GB memory and either an iPad air (my first choice) or a Microsoft Surface. Decisions decisions. I was a Mac guy all through the 90s and 00s then switched to the laptop with Windows 7 around 2010 or so. But I have some finger deformity that makes using the keyboard difficult. That’s why I use the tablet because the touch screen keyboard works well for me and I can use the tablet even when I am laying down. Well enough geeky talk for now.

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