Tao of the Machine

Programming, Python, my projects, card games, books, music, Zoids, bettas, manga, cool stuff, and whatever comes to mind.

Dude, you're gonna get a Mac

So I did it. We went to Tampa yesterday and bought an iMac. A terrible day, by the way... delay on the highway, we got lost, and to top it off, when we got back in Gainesville, the car broke down, due to a yet-to-be-identified problem with the oil. We had to be towed away, and repair will cost at least $300, possibly $800, depending on whether we want a temporary fix or a permanent one. Not fun if you just spent all day driving, sweating in the hot weather (Tampa is even more humid and hot than our area), carrying the heavy iMac box around, etc. Maybe Ellen Feiss had the same experience getting hers and isn't stoned after all, just worn out. :-) But enough of that now. Electric Shock proudly presents... the iMac!

The demo model had 256 Mb (I believe), and I forgot to check the system features on the box when we bought it, assuming that it was the same memory size. Nope, it was 128 Mb. Ah well, that'll teach to me to inspect the box carefully next time... not that I plan to buy another computer anytime soon... I didn't get one with a CD-RW either, but that was because they didn't have that model in the store

The iMac was really easy to install. Even my old grandmother would have no trouble installing it. Just unpack everything, plug in a few things, and it works right out of the box. Getting your way around is easy too. Of course I have some experience with computers, but I bet that even people who've never seen one would have little problems with it. The system takes you by the hand, sets up the Internet for you, and takes off. In a timespan of a few hours, I got to explore many applications, install some stuff from my old Mac-CD (that I made on the PC in 2000, and that didn't work on the old Mac), surf the Net, tweak display and mouse settings, download and install vim, etc.

At first it seemed that mouse and keyboard would take up the two available USB ports, thus preventing me from installing a Zip drive (or any other accessories, for that matter). No fear: the keyboard (!) has two USB ports as well, and the mouse goes in one of the two, leaving two ports free for other stuff. This is nifty. They don't make PCs like that.

The split between Mac OS 9 (Classic) and Mac OS X is clear. Some apps run under Classic; they work, but don't look as licked as OS X programs and often lack some options. (Of course this is not the real difference between 9 and X, but this is the outward appearance, something someone who never really used a Mac (me! me!) would notice first.)

The only minor point I've encountered so far is that the Mac is much more mouse-oriented than the PC. Where the PC often lets you use keys, the Mac doesn't. For example, pressing Home in an edit box doesn't do anything. Since I don't know much about Macs yet, this could be me; maybe there's another key or key combination that has the same effect. We'll see.

As for Python: I only installed MacPython 2.2 for now (which happened to be on one of my CDs, which can be configured in two modes: Classic and OS X. Under OS X, it doesn't run Tkinter; under Classic, it does. For now, I guess I'll stick with classic. It will be a bit difficult to get any work done on the Mac without a GUI, since there's no shell or command line. Sure, there's Terminal, but it won't run this version of MacPython. Fortunately there seem to be other Python builds on the Net, I have to check those out...

:: Summary ::

The good:

  • Easy installation, runs right out of the box.
  • Handles CDs written on PC well. (As opposed to earlier Macs)
  • Lots of (user-friendly) software preinstalled. This includes compression programs (so it can recognize .zip, .tar.gz, .sit, .hqx etc) and music (so it can play mp3s).
  • Unix "under the hood".
  • Sleek look and lots of customizations. (Ya, ya, substance is more important than style, but nobody likes to look at an ugly desktop.)
The bad:
  • Not easy to come by. And when/if you finally find an Apple store, they only have one color (white, or "snow" as they call it) and one model.
The skinny:
  • Keys don't always work (well).
  • Many, many applications have yet to mend the split between Classic and OS X... or in some cases, have yet to release an OS X version.

On a scale of 1 to 10, I'd rate the Mac a 9. Hopefully I can (eventually) turn this into a great developer box. ^_^

Posted by Hans Nowak on 2002-08-30 07:43:01   {link}
Categories: switch


Let's see if these comments work. YACCS doesn't allow new users for the moment, so I used Haloscan.

Posted by Hans Nowak on 2002-08-28 18:14:27   {link}
Categories: Kaa


OK, I want to get a Mac. I don't really know why, besides that they're cool, and have social benefits. ;-) But I am getting tired of Windows. In fact, I've been trying to start using a different operating system for a while, to no avail.

I have absolutely no experience with Macs, except for the few times that I "used" the old one I bought a few years ago. I could not do anything with that computer, not because it was a Macintosh, but because there was no useful software installed; and since it didn't know what to do with CDs created on a PC, I could not install anything either. Nor did it have a modem, so finding something on the Net was out of the question as well.

Apple promises it will be different this time. The Mac will be able to read CDs created on a PC and vice versa, along with several other ways to share files. I hope this is also true for the iMac I want to get, and not just for the new "lamp-like" Mac.

So, where do I get a Macintosh? Surprisingly, that question wasn't so easy to answer. Nobody in this area sells them! Now, Gainesville isn't exactly a metropole, but it isn't that small either, so I wonder why this is. So then we looked for a store in Ocala, but they didn't have them either, supposedly "because they could not handle the competition". (What competition, if nobody in an area of 200 miles sells these things, I wonder?)
Eventually we found a store in Tampa, and one of these days we have to go there. A 2-hour drive just to find a Mac. It better be damn good.

(Yes, I know I can order online, but I would like to see the actual machine before I spend lots of money on it. Hopefully there will also be a knowledgeable sales person who can answer my many questions. What I don't like, and this is another stupid thing, is that the model I want can only be had in the colors Graphite or Snow. What happened to all the nice colors? Everybody knows iMacs because of their cheerful colors, so it doesn't really make sense to say, "You can get our new model in either white or dark grey." Great...
Of course performance etc is more important than the color, but still it would be nice to see something else for a change than the boring beige of most PCs.)

I've heard a few things about Mac OS X. Supposedly it's Unix under the hood. Some claim it's not really Unix, some claim it's not really a Mac. That's all irrelevant to me, at least at this point. If I can work on a Unix-ish system, while having a user-friendly interface and great software at the same time, fine.

I just hope that I can do some decent programming on it. There's two flavors of Python available for it, I wonder what the difference is. Also, there should be Java, and probably some other languages. With luck, I can build some things myself in the Unix-y part. But at this point, I don't have a clue what I can do, or how to do it. I will find out soon enough. If I will actually get one, that is. Maybe I will decide at the last minute that it's better to keep my money in pocket or do something more useful with it...

More on this later.

Posted by Hans Nowak on 2002-08-27 22:50:52   {link}
Categories: switch

Content management, part 3

I've been thinking some more about this. I have no clear outlines yet for a new (or different) program, but what if we had something like Kaa that worked like this:
  • A "project" would span a website rather than just a weblog.
  • Within a project, multiple sections could be made. A section would be basically a collection of entries, much like Kaa has now.
  • An "entry" or "post" is just a piece of HTML, again, just like Kaa.
  • What to do with these entries, depends on the purpose of the section. You could have several "profiles" to choose from, e.g. weblog, articles, FAQ, documentation, etc. Depending on the profile, settings would differ, and so would some things you could do internally (in embedded code) and options. ("Categories" for example makes sense for a weblog, but probably not for a FAQ or documentation.)
  • Some settings could be project-wide, and you could choose to override them per section, or just leave them alone.
  • Similarly, publishing could be for the whole project, or per section.
If such a program will ever see the light, whether it be as a descendant of Kaa or as an entirely new program, it would be nice if a Kaa weblog could be imported into it. So maybe I'll add a feature to Kaa that dumps the contents of the database in a certain format, e.g. pickle or so.

Posted by Hans Nowak on 2002-08-25 00:57:48   {link}
Categories: ideas, Kaa

A new location

I've moved the weblog to a new location. Astute observers will also notice it has a new name.

Where to find Kaa? For downloads, go to Awaretek. For the development log, go here.

Posted by Hans Nowak on 2002-08-24 15:32:45   {link}
Categories: Kaa

Full category support

Kaa 0.7 now fully supports categories. (Well, sort of. ;-) Downloads should be available shortly.

There are still a few unresolved issues, like: what happens if you rename a category? (Should we traverse the database and rename all categories associated with entries? Or should we disallow renaming? What about deleting?) And: what happens if we have a category 'foo' and one named 'Foo'? These will create different files on Linux and other case-sensitive file systems, but only one file on Windows. (IOW, one will overwrite the other.)

Posted by Hans Nowak on 2002-08-24 00:59:31   {link}
Categories: Kaa

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