We got a nice and juicy hardware review for you on one of our favourite topics : Laptop bags. We take a closer look at the 13 inch Macbook pro and iPad attache Case (what a mouthful) from Thule. We take a good and decent look at the appearance, style and finish of Thule’s carry-case for the Macbook pro .. but most importantly we answer the question no-one dares to ask : Is it waterproof ? All of that and more in this weeks Knightwise.com podcast.
Direct link to the show:
Join us for episode 34 of the Knightcast. After a long hiatus where we took some time of for rest and relaxation (and to get married) we are back once again with an action packed show. In episode 34 : An interview with captain command line we have an in depth interview with Daniel Turner , a 16 year old Linux user extra-ordinaire. We talk about the social implications of a life in linux between peers and peers of Windows users, the open document format, the linux distribution of Daniels choice and more. With fantastic music from Delphinium Blue and some audio comments from the QCF, we top it of with his views on Vista and what the future will bring. Its full of laughs, fun and information packed. Your medicine on the edge of real and cyberspace : The Knightcast.
Download your shownotes HERE. (pdf reader required).
A long time in the making.
Its been a long time coming , or has it been a long time overdue : Its finally here. The first cross platform VIOP & Videochat application to span the bridge between Mac and Windows users. The switchers holy grail so to speak. The missing link between the two communities.
For those of us who parted the land of the Windows users and boldly buy a Mac, ( either because we did not have the pubes to rebel and buy a harley , or just to score with the chicks) we fairly quickly felt ourselves in isolation of the instant messaging world. Sure , OSX comes with mighty fine chat-tools like for example Ichat .. So that mighty fine Isight web-cam on yours could do some good .. but .. there is no one ON i-chat now is there.
Meanwhile in the Windows world.
Meanwhile in the Windows world people are chatting and nudging and webcamming (and sometimes even stripping) their happy days away with the one big happy family on MSN Messenger. Ok, I was happy to finally get rid of those bouncing smilies, pink backgrounds, screaming avatars and vibrating chat windows .. but this was lonely. Sure there are some good msn clones out there , but none of them support web-camming between YOU and the rest of the world. Sure , there is Mercury ( hellishly slow , weighs a ton, eats memory like Oprah and does not work if you are behind a router) . So there I was , Shiny Isight and no one to wave at. THank heavens to Skype for putting out the great app they make and for bringing us webcam support. I had played with it before : the PC to PC webcam session between two Skype users is faster then watching tv ! If I ever thought the MSN webcam protocol was the pinnacle of streaming video compression : Skype to Skype makes it look like a snail on ice. So as soon as the beta came out I just had to get my hands on it.
Download and install.
Downloaded and installed it on my Imac and rang up my friend Blue on his Windows PC (also with a built in webcam) And both audio and video worked fantastic. Ok the speed is not that good when it comes to video but the quality is awesome. Audio is crispy and when you hit the full screen button .. The future is here.
So with my Macbook on the table , isight tucked away in the lid… Talking full screen to my buddy at the other side of the globe (while doing the dishes) all I needed was a fish in a bowl, a model of the USS Stargazer and a Galaxy class starship beneath my feet.. “ Captain to engineering” .. i shout and tap the invisible communicator on my chest .. No response .. no starship .. As I look at my Skype screen and wave to my distant friend who is tapping finger to his forehead … At least I can say THIS part of the future .. is here. Find your Skype for mac HERE
A whole new deal.
Very soon we will see a culture shift, A change how people interact on the computer scene. My prophecy is nothing less then the end of the almost religious ‘ OS- Wars ‘. From newbie to web-lord, we have all played the paralympic game of ‘ what’s the better OS’ Wether in forums, in chatrooms, in endless slashdot threads or even in the comfort of our own pub : We’ve all been there. Wether Xp is better then 2000, Why Mac Os is better then Windows , and we’ll never forget the face of our local Linux Guru foaming at the mouth after he had to endure your proclamation that Windows ME was the best operating system ever written. ( And he never spoke to you again. ) But very soon the question “What’s your operating system” will be replaced by “ What’s your Primary Os ?”. Any computer with a processor speed over 1.5 gigahertz is quite frankly a waste of money. You don’t see a specific speed increase when you buy a 3 gigahertz or more . Ok , Windows will boot faster , but that does not mean YOU can work any faster. I mean , the processor is not the bottleneck of the system. The question is : What to do with all this extra operating system power … More eye-candy ? Perhaps Vista will be more then happy to gobble up a few million cycles just for Balmers personal pleasure. OR .. we can make the cycles pay off by jumping on the virtualisation train.
All aboard ?
What do you do when you have one OS running , but your computer can carry twice the load ? Well , lets install ANOTHER operating system. I’m not talking Dual Booting here, I’m talking Virtualisation. Running a second Os , INSIDE the first one. The “Base OS” is the main operating system you are running, The “ Guest OS is a virtual version of an operating system neatly compressed into one file.
I know what you are saying. But why “ma cher Knightwise” would i do this ? Here is why.
- Perfect testing : The virtual machine you installed is just ONE FILE. After you install it , make a backup and start fumbling around. Messed up the Guest OS ? Just drag your copy back and you are good to go. You can easily install all kinds of operating systems without having to worry about partitioning.- Space and energy saver : Who said you had to stop with running just one Guest OS . Instead of bricking up your bedroom with countless pc towers you can now have them running as virtual machines on one machine. Needless to say you save money by just owning one pc, you save power cause you only have one power supply to feed and save valuable bedroom time with your space because she doesn’t have to be mad at you all the time for junking up the house with your old ‘test machines”.
- Switchers trouble : I have seen people by a PC or a Mac just for that one task. I’ve seen people buy an extra pc for their on-line banking. I’ve seen switchers go back because they could not get a certain application working on a certain platform. Well, There is an end to switchers trouble and you have all walked through the gates of Sliders heaven (Sliders = cross platform users). Personally I wanted to switch my main machine to linux because I could not get MSN messenger running webcam sessions. (Microsoft does not want to clear the code ) So .. I installed Ubuntu, ran Windows XP as a virtual machine and did the impossible, ran the two Os’es at once and did my Webcam stuff without any trouble. I run Xp on my mac for consulting purposes (when i need to get into a Windows network) and I run Ubuntu in my Xp for testing everything out before I make changes to my ubuntu server.
- Servers dream : The crappy thing about running multiple servers at home is the fact that they eat power. Now you can run several ‘virtual’ servers on the same machine and just have one power supply to feed.
And how do i Do that ?
Before we start : Be sure you have enough memory in your Base Operating system. Each guest operating system requires a chunk of ram. The bigger the chunk, the better the speed. Also see that you have enough storagespace. Not only so the Guest OS can grow to its full potential (About 4 gig”s will do) you also want to make backup copy’s of every clean installed os that you have. Wether you want to run Linux in Xp or Xp in Linux , you need the free vmware player . This is a free application that lets you use pre-built images of virtual machines. So you cant ‘build’ your own virtual machine , just use one that has been pre-built. Now this ‘building’ of a virtual machine tells the virtual machine how to act. Luckily I found THIS site where you can download FREE virtual machine configuration files for just about any operating system you wish. All you need are the installation cd’s of that OS and you are on your way. I’ll be playing with virtual machine more as the week progresses and keep you posted on the results. Meanwhile my “ Piece de resistance “ is a screenshot of an msn webcam session in Windows XP , running as a virtual machine on my Ubuntu (base) workstation. Sliders .. the end of our troubles is in side and we are virtually saved.
A lot of Chitchat.
As a slider ( somebody who moves swiftly between operating systems like Windows, Mac and Linux ) I am often confronted with the question : What tool do I use for what ? There are of course plenty of ‘switcher tips” out there to help people out who decide to jump from one OS to the other. These ‘switch-lists’ are composed of tables representing a certain application in one operating system , and its counterpart on the other side of the fence. For example : Microsoft Office on Windows has Open-office as its counterpart in Linux (and also in Mac OS). Some applications are called cross-platform , these are of course the ideal ones. An exactly identical version exists in all operating systems. For example : Firefox , or Thunderbird. All versions look and feel exactly the same no matter what OS you are on.
But sometimes you have to look for stuff that “looks” or “behaves just like” the original version in one operating system. Classic example here is the Switchers nightmare MSN Messenger. Unfortunately insanely popular among Windows Users here in Europe. But : Microsoft clings to this little peace of software like there is no tomorrow. Deliberately setting back the versions that are brought out on other operating systems (like for example on Mac OSx) and not disclosing any code to the open source community so their IM clients would be able to interact with MSN Messenger. The result is the entire thing has to be reverse engineered to make it work.
What about MSN ?
A question often asked is : What do I use instead of MSN on other systems. Now there are some viable alternatives out there, but the one most commonly found on both Mac and Linux systems is AMSN . This noble attempt at Msn messenger ‘approximation’ has been running strong for quite some years now. Their main concern was to be able to crack the hard nut of enabling cross platform msn audio and video-chat. A noble cause since Microsoft does shield that box of tricks very well to the outside world. Now the AMSN people said they cracked it. They had gotten in working. Onto the labs dear friends ! My first test ( video chat between my powerbook and my girlfriends Ibook) worked just fine .. behind the firewall. But once I tried to talk or send files to the outside world ? No go.. Amsn does not deal with NAT translation very well. ( Well , it can’t cope with it at all). Making matters worse : Amsn runs on the Mac like a rhinoceros on a valiumtrip. Slow and jerky to respond and not at all reliable. So i’m back to my ‘non video chat’ enabled alternative ADIUM. A great, highly customizable, well supported alternative. The downside ? No video-chat (file transfer works excellent) AND only available on Mac. As for a Linux alternative to MSN i’ve stuck with GAIM for being the better product.
Too bad actually , I mean , these guys over at msn have a quite good cross platform product and are able to crack a fantastic nut in getting video-chat to work .. But then they get stuck on this simple thing like Nat transgression. Perhaps its time for all these ‘alternative messenger clients” to start working together and produce one kick-ass open source Messenger alternative and overcome one of the final pitfalls for users switching to a non Microsoft OS.