Posted tagged ‘Mac’

The Hackintosh

March 5, 2009

I commented the other day about Apples new lineup of desktop hardware. I talked a lot about price and where to get the most bang for your buck. I come from the PC background. Particularly that background of cracking open the case and fixing/replacing anything and everything inside. That is really how I got into the Tech business in the first place. Apple takes that power away with their integrated fully closed systems. It isn’t all bad because what they do they do well, but still at its core I have a hard time purchasing what amounts to a in place laptop. I mentioned yesterday that I would prefer to buy a tower, but that their current option has more power than anyone could possibly need.

There is another option. Way back there was a project called pearpc. Its goal was to emulate power pc chips on intel hardware. Think of it as a virtual computer just so you could run OSX on your windows or Linux box. Really it didn’t do that good of a job. It started by emulated the PPC3 chip which wasn’t that powerful. The other problem was that it was a virtual machine which means it takes a lot of resources to begin with. I used it with very limited success. When Apple switched to the Intel chips hackers immediately tried installing on non-Apple hardware. Today there is an entire movement dedicated to what is called Hackintoshes. The Ars article is very good at explaining the main purpose for this movement it is to fill a market need. I can speak first hand about this. I want a tower desktop under $2000.

To be sure the Hackintosh has its problems. First you have to make sure that you have friendly hardware (hardware that has drivers and such ready for installation). Another problem is that installation isn’t going to be easy and in some cases you may have to put up with bugs or quirks that have no fixes (the article notes that on the Dell Mini 9 you can’t use hibernate). One other major problem is that Apple doesn’t like this practice so they often send out updates that break the Hackintosh. If that happens it usually only takes a few weeks for the fix to be released, but still it can be a constant burden depending upon patch cycles for Apple. I don’t want to discuss the legal issues, but the EULA does state that you are not permitted to install OSX on non-Apple hardware, so far in court EULA’s hold about as much weight legally as a noodle strainer holds water. In other words I don’t think Apple has much of a legal argument given that you cannot even see the EULA until after you purchase the software and who is going to catch you doing it anyway. Apple may be suing Psystar, but that is different given that the company is trying to sell products. As the end user you should be safe.

What are the benifits? Well you can build a machine running OSX for under $1000. Given that the mini is barely under $1000 (if you include monitor and such) this is a pretty good deal. Again I think this represents a market trying to tell Apple what it wants. If Apple were smart they would listen.

Apple updates the desktops (pricing)

March 3, 2009

Finally Apple has updated their desktop lineup including the Mac mini. It looks like a pretty good lineup. The Mac mini is the most significant as it was starting to stagnate until today.

If you ask my opinion I say the iMac is about the best price point of any of the Macs (including laptops). Sure the Mac mini starts at $599, but that doesn’t include a monitor or other accessories. If you buy the Apple displays you are really talking about $1000 or more machine. Since the minis use mostly laptop hardware it isn’t upgradable and it isn’t all that fast or performance heavy. But the iMac starts around $1200 (or did, I can’t get Apple store to load and they may have raised the price). That price includes a display and has significantly more power than the mini. The Mac Pros are awe inspiring, but very few people in the world need that much power. Really it is a shame, because I would prefer a desktop that I can upgrade and take apart myself, but Apple feels the need to make this luxury start at $2500 and have more capability than what an entire movie studio would need (and don’t forget that price I mentioned doesn’t include the display).

I’ll mention the laptops here as well. They are nice, but the old models (and the new ones aren’t much better) made you choose between price and screen size. Most computer manufacturers have high end models and low end models with multiple screen sizes. It stands to reason that a larger screen would cost a little more, but Apple takes that to a new level. What I couldn’t understand was that the difference between 13 and 15 by weight was less than .3 ounces and the thickness of the 13 was greater than the 15. So practically speaking the 15 made more sense, but cost well over $500 more.

All in all that is why I go back to the iMac being the best bang for your buck. Truly that is where all of the logic gods aligned at the same time with Apple execs to create a truly perfect machine at a perfect price.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a new author!

October 18, 2008

As of this weekend, we welcome mrosedale to The Signpost.  We went to college together a few years back.   I will let him share what he wants or doesn’t want you to know about his background, but I will say that I’m super excited to have someone whose professional focus is Linux and Mac support and configuration.  I’m excited to have him with us, and look forward to the contributions.

So You Wanna Break Into IT? (Part 4 – Respect, or Respectability to be more accurate)

April 9, 2008

This is more of a general career issue, but I need to mention it because it’s sorely lacking in at least the American job pool.  There is a drastic shortage of respected (or respectable) workers.  In fact, if you are a skilled, analytical, customer-focused, hard-working, person of integrity, you are one of the most valuable (and potentially rare) assets your company has, regardless of your field.

 

It’s not about natural gifts – skills in your field are necessary.  A lot of work, mistakes, and severe annoyance went into my training over the years.  And I am working hard now to boost my skills into other areas of IT besides PC tech support.  Currently I am almost done with a 6-credit networks course and a 12-credit course in leadership and professionalism.  In approximately a year and a half I will graduate with my Bachelor’s of Science degree.  I read a lot of books, wikis, articles, and blogs to bolster my knowledge, and I recently got involved with Microsoft’s DreamSpark program to learn to manage Windows Server 2003.  But when it comes down to it, I do what I love, and I think it’s awesome that people respect me for it. 

 

One last example.  As I was beginning to come of age, I worked as a supervisor at a pizza restaurant.  I loved my job and I was good at it, and I had awesome coworkers (for the most part).  And somewhere along the line it clicked – if I work respectably, people will respect me.  I got addicted to that, and I suggest you do too.  Whether you sell widgets, manage employees, dig ditches, make pizzas, or write Web applications, you can’t afford not to be respectable.  It doesn’t mean that you will always get the respect you deserve, but at least you can respect yourself. 

So You Wanna Break Into IT? (Part 3 – Changing Times)

April 8, 2008

Let’s face it – IT changes every day.  If you can’t deal with this, you won’t do well in this field.  It’s a basic personality thing.  If you want variety and a job that always requires something new of you, IT may be the place for you.

 

I love that.  I need a job that will keep me on my toes and be different tomorrow than it was today.  For instance, today (a week or so before posting this entry) I came across a problem I had not previously faced regarding an Outlook 2003 form.  I used my foremost internal resource (my officemate, the network administrator) to find a solution (update: the solution wasn’t implemented correctly, but the original problem just disappeared… Go figure.  I love a challenge!).

 

Less recently, we had a difficult situation involving the (then) new Dell Optiplex 755.  We could not get it to work correctly with Ghost 8.0, our imaging program.  I spent about a week working on it on and off.  Finally I worked through a solution with the help of a newfound Internet colleague.  Shortly thereafter, I learned that our corporate office (which had just switched to using Dell) had worked through the same issue before I did.  I should have called them first, but I’m glad I learned from experience!  I learned a lot about editing DOS boot scenarios and creating Ghost TCP/IP boot disks.  So all this to say that new problems and new solutions arise daily. 

 

New techologies also arise daily.  Just ask a programmer.  I have learned a little about programming, and I find that it is a massive field with new languages constantly emerging, and new frameworks and techniques to write those languages also emerging.  Check out this quote from graduatecareers.com.au:

 

The range of tasks and streams within an IT career is huge. It is expected that in one’s working life three separate careers might be typical, and in IT one need not leave the sector at all in order to change careers!” (Source: Australian Computer Society, via www.graduatecareers.com.au) 

 

This is great in some ways – you will always find something to challenge you, and you can network across disciplines so as to ensure that you have another spot ready if yours gets cut.  The risk of that is this – your job WILL change, and MAY disappear as the technology changes.  Be prepared to learn a new aspect of the field, or a new field.  

So You Wanna Break Into IT? (Part 2 – Production vs. Quality)

April 7, 2008

This is part 2 of my series of posts for the IT newbie or the person considering a career shift to IT.  Also, for those of us in the business, it could be a look back at why we enjoy IT in the first place.

The second thought on the nature of IT also relates to my earlier career experience.  As I mentioned, I wrote Medicare appeal letters, attempting to convince Medicare to pay claims they had previously denied.  The problem with this is that I cannot work effectively under a never-ending workflow.  That field is totally production-oriented, and it burned me out fast.  I can’t handle knowing that I will never finish what I am doing. 

 

IT is not this way in most respects.  In IT, you typically have a project or a phase of a project, and when it’s done, you are finished with that phase of the project.  I love that.  I also worked in several construction trades in my early 20’s and loved that aspect of those jobs too. 

For instance, one of the projects I frequently have to complete is the creation of a new image for a PC.  No, not a makeover.  An image, if you aren’t familiar, is every bit of software required to deploy a PC to production.  I make a “test” PC, install all the software required for the standard setup, install our printers (see my post on printmig), and create a default profile which all users will start with when they first log on.  In about 4-6 hours, I get to see the results and test it out.  And within about a week of deployment, we can usually work out most of the bugs.  Then it’s done and I feel good about it.

 

If you like to see the results of your work immediately, IT is pretty consistently results-oriented.  On the other hand, I am sure there are some IT jobs in which you don’t quickly see the fruit of your labor.  None I know of come to mind, but if you have one, leave a comment and enlighten us all.

So You Wanna Break into IT? (Part I – Passion)

April 4, 2008

I have been wanting to write ORIGINAL content for this blog, though blogs were originally a place to find links to other sites that the author found interesting, so perhaps original content belongs on another type of site.  I agree that hearing self-proclaimed political theorists spout off about things they can’t change and don’t actually understand is a waste of time.  However, blogs have changed over the years, and I hope to write something original that will interest you.

It crosses my mind that I could write about the blessings of an IT career for the possible newcomer, or for one considering the field.  Other people have blogged about this, so I’m not going to cover all their territory (what I mean is that this list won’t be exhaustive).  I will, however, make a few claims of my own.  I plan to post one item at a time, so bookmark me and come back to see the new content.  Here goes…

The first reason I love IT (and a pragmatic one) is that the passion comes easily to me.   I got my break into IT by being passionate about it.  I was working as a Medicare appeals specialist before transferring into IT.  My job was to create packets of information substantiating the medical necessity of the claim and write a convincing cover letter asking Medicare to pay the bill.  I was always trying to find technological ways to get things done.  I don’t think it actually saved time in the long run – I just loved doing it.  I was also getting in trouble for doing too much of my own technology-related work that other departments were supposed to handle.  So when I finally got the gall to ask for a transfer to IT, my manager knew that I had the passion.  I did have to convince my director and the hiring manager, but an interview took care of that, and the rest is history.

So what’s the moral of the story?  Passion is required to make things happen effectively in any part of the workforce, and it certainly makes it less of a drudgery when you have to stay until who-knows-when imaging PCs, scouring the Web for a solution to an elusive virus, or configuring an SAS array.  And for me, that comes more easily with IT.  You gotta find something you love to do, and do with with everything you’ve got.  If you can do this with IT (and you aren’t already in the field), you should consider getting into it.  For someone who enjoys the job, IT is a very rewarding field.

Just for fun, here’s a few “you might belong in IT” quips:

  • If you sang your bride the “I Love Technology” song at your wedding, you might just be a good fit for IT.
  • If you think Big Blue’s algorithms were weak, you might belong in IT.
  • If you refer to electronic devices using gender-specific pronouns (he/she), you might belong in IT.
  • If you buy cheap electronics just to take them apart (and you take pictures along the way), you might belong in IT.
  • If you view the source on Web pages just to see the “killer scripting,” you probably belong in IT.
  • If you come back tomorrow and the next day and the next day just to read the rest of my silly reasons, you might belong in IT (OK, that was fishing).  But really, do come back.