Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Testing Apple Upgrades

When I left the Apple store with my MacBook, I was carrying a 13 inch MacBook and an AppleCare warranty. I'm happy with my MacBook, and happy to pay 250USD for a 3-year comprehensive AppleCare warranty.

Apple upgrades are overpriced. As a rule of thumb, you can get a better accessory with a better warranty at half the price anywhere else. Let's test that.

The Test

To complete my home setup, I needed an external monitor and a couple gigs of RAM for the MacBook.


Eric recommended OWC for the memory. I checked it out.

Total price charged my card with FedEx 2-day shipping: $236.64
The order went through at about 6PM on a Tuesday.

Response to warranty question:

Duane Crago: Good evening. All memory has a lifetime replacement warranty.

Rich Bodo: Cool. thanks. is there a web page that states that?

Duane Crago: http://eshop.macsales.com/Customized_Pages/Framework.cfm?page=PowerBook_Memory/memhead/warranty.html

Rich Bodo: thanks. I'll blog you guys if this works out!

Well, I didn't get the best deal out there. There are better deals coming up every day. But here's a page that lists some better ones. Still, I did meet my goals, and it looks like princeton chips with good manufacturing quality on the board.

The memory arrived on Friday.

I simply followed the instructions in the supplied macbook manual to get it installed. Read and follow along with that manual, but bear in mind these notes: NOTE 1: The manual asks you to listen for a "click" when inserting the memory. You *might* feel a click, but you won't hear anything. Just make sure it's in as far as the old memory was, taking into account it's dimensions. NOTE 2: the levers don't retract into the memory compartment, the cover pushes them back in place. NOTE 3: If you can't find your set of jewlers screwdrivers, frys has a great little pocket screwdriver for two bucks with everything you need to work on your mac.

External Display

Apple wants 799USD for a 20-inch external monitor. Their monitors are nice, so this may not be easy to beat in quality. It took me a while to find a monitor that looked better to me than the 20-inch, but I found one. The one I bought was a ViewSonic OptiSync VX924 Xtreme Gaming 19" LCD Monitor (Black/Silver) Although it's slightly smaller, it looks a lot better to me personally, and it's got a better included warranty (3 year) at less than one third the price of the Apple monitor. I would much rather look at the VX924 all day, so this is an acceptable deal. Right now it's selling at Amazon for 259.99USD after rebate. I am waiting for it to arrive. To be fair, I don't think there are any monitors out there that are exactly comparable to the Apple monitors feature-wise. They are in a class by themselves. But since this is a subjective thing, the ViewSonic passes my test. If you are looking for a monitor that is half the price of the Apple, and very, very similar, there is a monitor from Dell, the UltraSharp 2007WFP 20.1-inch Widescreen Flat Panel LCD Monitor with Height Adjustable Stand, for 390USD that might fit the bill.

Approximate total for my home setup:

MacBook: 1100.00

AppleCare: 250.00

2 G RAM: 225.00

19" External LCD Mon.: 260.00

Screwdriver: 2.00

miniDVI to DVI cable: 20.00

Or, about 2000 bucks after tax and shipping, plus a little bit of my time. You won't have to put up with another blog post from me on laptops for the next 3 years.

Monday, June 05, 2006

SHDH Day 2 - lessons

I really didn't get the chance to have a Day 2, having to fulfill responsibilities for my friends and family. All unexpected stuff.

I arrived at France Telecom at 8PM, and found that most of the teams didn't get much of a chance to spend a second day on the job, either.

Unexpectedly, I think the contest was actually too long. Everyone thought they could get something done in two days, but didn't factor in that they would not be able to actually spend two days on the project. My project was a two-day project, maybe a three or four day. What I really needed was a one-day or even a half-day project idea.

I was able to help some other projects with tiny scripts, and I still plan to finish up a couple scripts for yet others.

The teams that placed were teams that just did the best project/time management.

Everyone I spoke with had a blast. Personally, I learned enough about Mac OS X Tiger and the new MacBook that I went out an bought one. I'm typing on it now.

My next post will detail where to get a good deal on a memory upgrade for this thing (Definitely NOT from Apple). After that, I'll post my parallels config for Mac OS X, Ubuntu, and Win2K.

If you haven't seen Parallels, you should check out any of the myriad of fast os switching videos on-line. That and a tour of a MacBook from someone who has one should convince you that an extra 1000 bucks for a MacBook is no big deal. Not to mention that, with the demise of thinkpad service, the AppleCare protection plan is the last decent insurance policy for a laptop.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

SHDH X Day 1 - Like work, only better

So I had a revelation this morning. After spending four work hours on TurboGears filing bugs on SqlObject, working around poor documentation, and chatting with the only other responsive person in the chatroom, I have thrown in the TurboGears towel. I had a sort-of working todolist example, plus bugs. If I'm going to get anywhere with the 16 work hours or so I have left, I'm going to need a more "rapid" development environment, like CGI, maybe. I'll revisit TurboGears when they are a bit further along.

This morning I woke up wondering how I was going to get things done. Not that there is any real pressure to do so. The whole thing has a sense of humor about it, and no one has anything invested, so if anything does get done, bonus.

Anyway, I picked up the mail this morning and David Heinemeier Hansson was looking back at me from my Linux Journal magazine, as if to say..."Give in yet?". Yeah. I give. I'm installing rails on my laptop as we speak. It's about 1PM, and having already gone through a rails tutorial, I know this is going to get me there.

So SHDH X is being held at France Telecom in S.San Francisco. I'm in a beautiful corner office with a developer from another team. Everyone is running Ubuntu. Anyway, a bit of a late start but better late than never. I have the simple goals today of:

* finishing the design of the basic app
* fixing my eterm colors and learning a few more screen commands
* getting a rails app with the correct data model installed on my laptop.
* getting a basic rails app installed on the competition server.
* go to a barbecue for dinner.
* meet a few more people.


So far, so good. Notes:


Eterm is very old. The last checkin was years ago. There is probably something better. If you install Ubuntu eterm, the config file you want to modify is in:


To figure it out, you will need to open the man page for eterm, www.eterm.org, and an advanced search page on the sourceforge "enlightenment" project mailing lists. Anyway, I've successfully changed a few minor things like foreground and background color, and consider myself lucky. Anyone who has a good Eterm user.cfg with a lot of font configs let me know.


Someday soon I'm going to write the best damn article on screen, ever. But for now, I have picked up a couple new screen commands. "Control key [" puts you in copy mode, which gives you access to the scrollback buffer. This is important. In my .screenrc, I have added these emacs key bindings:

# ------------------------------------------------------------
# ------------------------------------------------------------

# emacs keybindings for navigation in copy mode
markkeys h=^B:l=^F:0=^A:$=^E
markkeys " =^ "

# special hack for C-e, since it should go *past* # the last char. -m means this is for copy mode only. bindkey
-m ^e stuff "$^f"

# C-g and other keys just quit copy mode. Esc does nothing. markkeys 033=015=^G=^D=h=j=k=l=H=M=L=G=g=y=c=v=a=x=
b=e=B=E=w markkeys @=033

# control arrows move by words. (set B, e, and w to F keys so that i can use # them to move by words, but they
themselves still quit copy mode.) markkeys B=[:E=]:b={:e=}:w=> bindkey -m ^[Od stuff { #"[[}" bindkey -m ^[Oc s
tuff ] #"}]^f"

So it's only 3:34PM and I have met a few new people, and made screen and eterm more tolerable. That's a little under an hour each for those enjoyable tasks. Oh, one more thing about screen, remapping the crontrol key is a must - the default is Ctrl-A, which of course interferes with readline bindings.

Friday, June 02, 2006

SHDH Day 0

At SHDH day 0, which is a four hour get together. My goals for the weekend:

1) Learn some Python
2) Learn some TurboGears
3) Write a useful web application

That's right, I'm probably the least skilled programmer here, and I've decided to give TurboGears a try instead of rails as everyone else seems to be using. Hopefully I'll get it installed on the competition server. I just got it installed on my laptop last night, which was a small victory.

I'm starting with the todo-list application from Brian Beck.

First thing I noticed is that there are several gotchas in the wiki that will prevent the app from running on an up-to-date version of TurboGears. All the tutorials look broken this way. That is, bugs in the latest version prevent the tutorial instructions from being valid. I'll file documentation bugs for the tutorials.

O.K. I made the mistake of having a beer and it's looking like I'll get the todolist app up tonight, at best.