Posts Tagged windows

And now a Mac

I’ve been complaining that I can’t run Linux at work since they moved to the new VPN. I’ve tried time and again to get it to work but it is a proprietary system that only has a client for OSX and Winders. I’ve been using Win7, which all in all isn’t too bad, for about the last year. I was talking with one of the newer guys that got a shiny new MacBook Pro when he started about building our project. I told him that when I kick off a build I generally have about 17 minutes of browsing the web time since the build process basically renders the computer almost unusable. He was dumbfounded that it too me 17 minutes to build our project because it only took him around 3 minutes for a full clean and build. Surely he was misinterpreting what I was doing, there is no way the build times could be that different, hey, it’s all just Java.. Sure enough, he showed me and the project built faster than I had ever seen.

He started up IntelliJ in less than 20 seconds and I got pissed. Usually when I get in in the morning the first thing I do is start up IntelliJ, then I go get coffee, go to the bathroom then commando crawl back to my desk just in time for IntelliJ to have started up and begun indexing my project. I immediately put in a request for a Mac.

I got my shiny new MacBook Pro a couple weeks later and eagerly started setting up my development environment on it. I gleefully flipped the bird at my old PC every time I ran the native command line or built one of my projects. So far everything has been going swimmingly, I have completely transferred all my work to the Mac and I’ve been working off it exclusively for the past couple of weeks. There are only a couple of things that make me raise and eyebrow about how the Mac works

1) What the hell did Apple do to the Unix file system?? What is this /Library and /System and other odd folders doing in my root? Best just to delete them since they look erroneous (joking.. don’t really do this, it really messes with your system)

2) Task switching, I know it’s a little nit picky, but I seriously can’t Cmd+tab to a minimized program? Why show it in the list if selecting it isn’t going to do anything.

3) Does everything seriously cost money on a Mac? I guess the notion of Free as in beer hasn’t made it’s way here yet. Yes, I’m a bit on the cheap side, but hey, I use a free operating system I’m not going to pay $5.99 for a better task switcher for my work Mac.

4) The command and control keys need to be put into a ring and only one of them gets out alive. Seriously Apple, which one is it going to be? It seems Apple wanted to replace the control key at a system level with command but all the application developers disagreed and continued to use the control key for all their shortcut commands. This is an area of endless frustration for me, it usually takes me 3 tried to copy anything then another 2 to paste it.

Thats it for now, I’ll be sure to post some more annoyances in the future. So far I like the Mac better than my PC, but it isn’t as perfect as the Mac fan-boys would lead you to believe.

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Mintty to the rescue

I am stuck on a Win7 machine at work. I used to run Linux on it but then the company changed their VPN to this Windows and sorta-Mac supported only solution. I had to dump the penguin so I could have access outside the office, kinda important that. So yeah, other than my world passing me by at half the normal pace there is little difference, oh wait no, that’s completely inaccurate. The thing I miss above all else is the command line. I tried to replace it with the Windows Powershell but I seriously didn’t feel like learning everything from scratch, I did give it a concerted try though.

Just for comparison, take all the nifty bash/zsh commands you love and enjoy on a daily basis, now rename all of them, and don’t get cute by naming them something easy to remember. No, use something long, and make sure there are plenty of hyphens. Now take all the options you were used to passing to those commands and rename them too, almost there hang with me. Now close your eyes and just mash your head against the keyboard to get a rough idea of what it feels like to replace the Linux command line with Powershell.

Well I did what any self respecting Linux lover would do when relegated to Win-land, I installed Cygwin. Yes, that bastardization of *nix on a Windows shell. Or something, I couldn’t come up with anything snarky there. Regardless, running Cygwin offers a glimpse of home without actually letting you get there. It’s slow sure, but it offers enough familiarity that I actually enjoy using it over the endless point and click of a standard Windows user experience. The standard cygwin command line is terrible, running RXVT native makes it manageable. However, I just found Mintty! It’s sort of like Putty (based on some Putty code I gather) and with the proper amount of tweaking can actually result in a likeable experience. Couple that with screen and I hardly miss Linux…who am I kidding, I still go home at night and just poke around my laptop (running Xubuntu) just to feel better about myself.

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The Windows 95 paradox

Unknown to most (sarcasm), I am an avid Linux user. I know a great many other Linux users. As Linux users I feel we have a certain free spirit that comes with using our free OS. But I am finding a disturbing paradigm in regard to the response to the Gnome 3/Unity desktop environments that have surfaced recently. The number one rant I have read about online has been about how hard the new interfaces are to use. People want their program button with its flyout menus back.

Now I realize that many of the reviews were knee jerk reactions to the new interfaces. I had much the same reaction, when I upgraded to Natty. I couldn’t figure out how to use it, and I just wanted my familiar interface back. But wait, at some point inmy life, the familiar had to have been unfamiliar. When was that.. lets see, when was a little button in the bottom left corner of the screen for accessing programs and settings introduced… oh yes, Windows 95!! People want their Windows 95 like desktops back! For gods sake, that OS has been setting the desktop top standard for the past 16 years. This is almost the EXACT same reaction I get from people when I try to introduce LibreOffice to people that are used to MS Office.

Them: “This sucks, I can’t find anything.”
Me: “But what about the functionality, how does it compare to Office?”
Them: “Oh that, its fine, I just can’t find anything”
Me: “What options are you having trouble finding precisely?”
Them: “I have found everything I was looking for, it just sucks that I had to look for them.”

The problem isn’t the interface, you can teach old dogs new tricks. Its the fact that people don’t like new things. But wait, what about when MS changed the Office menu bar to the ribbon? Well, people were forced to use it, so they bitched, then got over it. And started to realize, maybe it isn’t so bad after all, they just needed to retrain their brains a little. You never know, you might find that your better with the new interface.

I for one love the Unity interface. There are quirks that annoy me, but what doesn’t have annoying quirks? Usage note with Unity; people love to complain about how hard it is to launch programs. If you have ever used Launchy, or Gnome Do, then this will be easy. Hit the super key, type in the first couple letters of the program you want, hit tab when it shows up, then hit enter, your done. I can launch a program in under a second, try that with a fly out menu and a mouse. Learn the keyboard short cuts, or stop complaining about using your mouse so much.

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A solution of sorts

A reoccurring issue with web development has always been cross-browser checking. Does the site work and layout correctly in Firefox, Internet Explorer, Chrome, Safari, Opera, blah blah. A huge problem with doing all my development on Linux is that I can’t easily check Internet Explorer on Windows. Most of the rest of my team also decline to use Windows and most of them use Apple (a whole other debate, but I will skip that for now). Our clients are totally Window’s shops so this presents a problem. We have tried running VM’s locally, but this has its own issues such as resource usage on your local machine. You start up a VM and watch all your RAM go bye bye.

The solution I have for this now, which seems to work alright, is to run another box with a decent amount of RAM and let everyone RDP into it for testing. This coupled with the virtual machines that Microsoft provides for testing has been working very well.

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You can never really escape it

I enjoy running Linux, not only because I am sort of a fanboy about it, but I have been running it long enough to be much more proficient in it when compared to anything else. There are things that drive me nuts about it, just there are with anything. In my job, I am a front-end/UI developer. Not a designer, mind you, I am not terribly good at dreaming up good user interfaces, but I am good at implementing them. This is in the web-based world also I have to add. So that brings me to the biggest gripe I have about my profession, browser differences, or more specifically Internet Explorer.

I have the pleasure of being able to run Linux on my workstation, but I still have to keep a Window partition around so I can reboot occasionally and check my work in Internet Explorer. Usually there aren’t a lot of issues to correct for it to layout right in IE, but sometime there are major problems and I find myself spending the whole day in Windows. *sigh… I guess you can never really escape

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