Monthly Archives: July 2007

The Open Source alternative to Outlook

Mozilla Thunderbird

Perhaps your like me and your work email goes through Microsoft Exchange which rather forces you into Outlook as the default Windows client unless your IT department has the where-with-all to provide IMAP support. When it comes to Outlook personally, I fit well within the 20% of the 80/20 rule. While it’s far more than I need at the same time it’s lacking things like basic NNTP support. I’m not a manager and I don’t need a “cockpit” view for managing communications, people and resources. What I prefer is the following in one app:

  • Email (IMAP and POP)
  • NNTP newsgroup access
  • RSS access
  • Calendaring for the few meetings I have each week and the spurious all hands meetings

The first three come with Mozilla’s Thunderbird 2.0 and the last bullet item you can get with two add-ons, namely Lightning and Provider for Google Calendar. These last two allow me to easily synchronize my work (read Outlook) calendar with Google which means I can access my calendar from any browser as well as receive notifications on my cell phone for meetings, all for free.

Windows keyboard shortcuts on a MacBook Pro



In a comment to my previous post there was a question from Shawn Oster regarding Windows keyboard shortcuts on the MacBook Pro. Here is a page from Apple’s website that pretty much explains the landscape when it comes to the keyboard. I decided to post it here because the URL is from Boot Camp Installation & Setup Guide which is a PDF file and not terribly accessible not to mention that that page didn’t come up searching Google. Btw, on page 20 of this PDF you’ll find the table below as the secret to right clicking which is to simply hold two fingers down on the touch pad and click the button.

PC key command Apple external keyboard Built-in Mac keyboard
Control-Alt-Delete Control-Option-Delete Control-Option-Delete
Alt Option Option
Backspace Delete Delete
Delete Delete Fn-Delete
Enter Return Return
Enter (numeric keypad) Enter Enter
Insert Help Fn-Enter
Num lock Clear Fn-F6
Pause/Break F16 Fn-Esc
Print Screen F14 Fn-F11
Print active window Option-F14 Option-Fn-F11
Scroll/Lock F15 Fn-F12
Windows Command (x) Command (x)

Running Windows Vista on a MacBook Pro


 

The other day, like Dan Miser, I got a MacBook Pro (MBP) laptop for use at work. I’d shopped around looking for a similarly outfitted machine from Circuit City, Best Buy and Costco and didn’t have much luck as they either came with a very slow 4200 RPM drive, too little RAM, 15″ monitor or some other issue. Ordering a high-end XPS from Dell was going to four weeks to arrive and I started work on Monday. I’d been researching MBP’s for awhile as a replacement for my aging home machine and hadn’t really been thinking about it as a work machine but while out shopping at Valley Fair and I walked into the Apple store to check out the iPhone and I wandered over to look at the MacBook’s. One of the really nice things about an MBP is there aren’t a lot of options to choose from.

If you look online, the Apple website has one page of options for the 17″ MacBook Pro compared to the 12 step (seriously, there are 12 steps) wizard on Dell’s site for a 17″ XPS laptop. The defaults for the MBP are really in my sweet spot where the Dell machine requires considerable tweaking along with choosing all their “recommended” options.

Why doesn’t Dell default to their own recommendations? I just don’t get that!

For example, the MBP defaults to 2GB of RAM while Dell recommends 2GB but defaults to 1GB?? Anyway, I asked an Apple store employee if they had variations of these machines in stock and they did so suddenly this was looking like a viable option. I went home, found a bunch of links where people posted very positive results running Windows on the MBP and now I’m running Vista on a Mac.

Setting up Vista was a total piece of cake. I downloaded $g(Boot Camp), installed it and ran it. It prompted me to create a Mac Windows Drivers disk, asked me the drive partition size and prompted me to start the Windows install. It really couldn’t have been much easier. After Vista installed I put in the drivers disk and a few reboots later and Vista with it’s Areo UI boot up just fine. Anyway, Vista appears to be working great on this machine. I’ll post an update regarding performance once I get some development behind me.

Oh yeah, there’s also OSX which I’m now free to play with and leverage it’s strengths.

On a different note I’m still watching this series of post’s regarding the “Ultimate Developer Rig” from Scott Hanselman and Jeff Atwater

Starting my new job Monday with Falafel Software

Falafel Software

The official word is out. Come Monday morning I start work for Falafel Software a consulting, training, and software development company based in San Jose. Of course, the Delphi community is familiar with Lino Tadros, Falafel’s President and CEO who I’m excited to work with again.

I had some interesting opportunities and difficult decisions to make over the past few weeks and I’m really excited to join Falafel. With a new job and a new baby due in early October the second half of 2007 is already shaping up nicely.

I’ve been on vacation this past week enjoying my family and I’ll admit it was fun to have the Forth of July holiday right in the middle. My wife and I got to take our three year old daughter to her first fireworks show which was a great experience.

A picture's worth a thousand words

I’ve updated my blog template and added my photo so if you’ve ever wondered what I look like well, now you’ll know. It was taken using my $g(Nikon D70) with my wife behind the camera doing her best Austin Power’s “work it” imitation accounting for the smile. I converted it to JPEG using $g(Nikon Capture) as I find Picasa’s NEFfile, Nikon’s RAW format, conversion well, poor. I then used Paint.NET’s magic wand to replace the background with a gradient to make it look a bit more professional, at least to me. The color version is on my Facebook profile (requires login) where Hallvard’s kindly offered me a little career advice (thanks Hallvard, I think) after harassing me update my picture from the default question mark.

Honda dealer's screaming deal vs a broker's take it or leave it price



This past weekend I did a bit more shopping for a mini-van and ended up at a Honda dealer in Chico. The first salesman who came out to greet us really turned me off particularly after I asked him what the advantage of going through the dealer was vs. using a broker. When he mentioned “warranty issues” my father-in-law chimed in and needless to say the salesman had the where-with-all to pass us off to another “member of the team” who proceeded to become fast friends with the two of us. I didn’t beat around the bush and when I told him exactly what I wanted he asked me it I’d buy it if he gave me a “screaming deal”? I replied “show me the number” so he ran off and printed a piece of paper with the “screaming deal” and slid it across the desk. I looked at it, told him I wanted to run it by my wife and stood up to walk out when he replied that I couldn’t take the paper because the dealer was “regulated by the DMV” and it was against the law for me to take it although he wrote the final number on his business card and handed that to me. I wonder what he’d have done had I whipped out my cell phone and snapped a photo?

At any rate, my wife had already contacted a local broker who quoted her a price $750 below the Chico dealer. Of course, now I know why he called it a “screaming deal”. I’m beginning to think I should blog this whole car buying experience including quoted prices and all. Man, I hate car shopping.

WARNING – This area contains chemicals…

Vacaville warning

Vacaville Warning sign

Over the weekend we drove to Chico to visit with my wife’s parents and with kids it’s usually a four hour trip with a break half way between in Vacaville but something was different. I’d last driven through Vacaville many months ago and what I noticed was this sign (pictured) on the building right outside of Starbucks. The photo was taken on our return trip though this time the sign was posted outside of Baja Fresh across and down the street from Starbucks. What’s interesting was there used to be an Old Navy in the same building as Starbucks, right around the corner but it’s now vacant and there is a CompUSA store next door to Baja Fresh but there were no cars parked in the lot on a Sunday afternoon. I suppose it’s possible CompUSA was closed on Sunday but I’m thinking that perhaps they’ve moved like Old Navy.

These buildings are the standard strip mall style you’ll find in nearly every Central Valley town so there is nothing unusual about them except now they have these warning signs. At this point, I’m really curious to know why Old Navy moved (it’s now located across the freeway I believe) and what was up with CompUSA? I’d guess the sign had something to do with it but I don’t know. I asked the cashier at Baja Fresh about it and not only was she unaware of the sign she had to ask me twice about what it really said. The signs while clear, are rather unassuming, aren’t brightly colored nor are they particularly large although they are spaced out along the front of the entire building. My wife hadn’t noticed them and admittedly I walked right by one and only later did I think to actually go back and read it. This will probably have me rethinking our rest stop choice.

What about you, do you avoid places marked like this?