Category Archives: OS

NVIDIA’s idea of 3 OS’s…

What’s this you ask? Glad you asked! It’s a slide presented by NVIDIA during its unveiling of the new GeForce GTX 690. An impressive piece of hardware to say the least. Why is it posted here though? Well something NVIDIA’s president and co-founder, Jen-Hsun Huang, said during this conference struck me…

“The situation is incredibly daunting. There are tens of CPUs. There are tens of GPUs. There are multiple resolutions. There are multiple operating systems; Windows XP, Windows 7, Windows 8 coming out. And there’s incredible numbers of drivers.”

Wait, what?

“[…] They’re multiple operating systems; Windows XP, Windows 7, Windows 8 coming out.”

Ahem, wow? I mean, we all know Mac gaming isn’t huge, but I can live with that. I don’t even mind NVIDIA not working with Apple. But what about Linux? Seriously, as president of a huge PC hardware company, how close minded can you be? I can’t believe what I just heard (it’s at about 6:10 in the video if you feel like hearing this… wonderful statement). If I was a Linux user I’d be pissed right now. I actually am, the penguin needs more love!

I guess Valve will be teaming up with ATI for its Steam distribution… wink wink.

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Spring cleaning your Mac

So I got up this morning and the birds were chirping, the sun was up full heat while I drank my coffee, and then I realized only 15 GB were left on my user partition! Time for spring cleaning, plus some well overdue backing up.

Every time it gets to this, I use the same set of tools (all free except for ChronoSync and iPartition, both of which aren’t necessary for an in depth cleanup). Here are the apps, in the order I use them:

               

  • OmniDiskSweeper will scan your drive and nicely display what folders use up the most data.
  • AppCleaner will help you uninstall apps completely. Most applications leave plist files and other logs behind, AppCleaner finds those and deletes them for you.
  • Onyx is the swiss army knife of OS X optimization and fixing. There is simply so much stuff in here, it is a must!
  • iDefrag is a great tool to defragment your hard-drive. It will optimize kernel file placement for faster boot-up times. Paid app.
  • Carbon Copy Cloner is a great tool for backing up your boot partitions.
  • ChronoSync is best at backing up, synchronizing and archiving data. Paid app.


How I go about it:

First and foremost, I launch my RAID 5 drive to store my backups and big/important/Document files (it’s a OWC Mercury Elite-AL Pro Qx2. It rocks!). I back up my boot partition using Carbon Copy Cloner, just in case. Then, using OMNIDiskSweeper I will scan my partitions. I don’t necessarily delete files with the app itself, I use it as a guide to help identify huge folders. It also helps find locations where you wouldn’t have looked, such as Adobe Encore’s Render folder using up 40 GB… I go through my Downloads folder and pretty much trash everything that is older than 2/3 months and that doesn’t ring a bell. I also move a of stuff to the aforementioned drive, using a great and revolutionary tool called cut and paste… Thank you Lion.

Next up is AppCleaner, which will help deleting old and unused apps. Finally, you can empty your trash… This will probably take a couple of days if you are removing a lot of files. You can spend the next few days swearing at Locum! See update…

If you haven’t decided to throw your mac away after realizing how daunting and painful it is to simply remove files… Congratulations, you win patience! Now the fun part, Onyx. Did I mention Onyx is great? It’s awesome! First let it scan your SMART status and your startup partition. It’s a pretty easy tool to use, but I’ll go through some of the steps. Oh wait, my startup volume is corrupted! Probably because emptying the trash froze my computer… Thank you Lion! Well if the same happens to you it’s pretty simple. Restart holding cmd-r, select the disk utility, select your main drive and click repair. Then select your boot partition and repair. While you’re at it you should repair your disk permissions. Do the same to all your partitions.

Now back in Onyx you can skip the verify tab, under Maintenance and Scripts, select execute. These are completely safe to run. Next up is the cleaning tab. I would run all the tabs before restarting your computer, but make sure to read what each option does. Most defaults are safe, but double-check to make sure. Once all the cleaning is done, reboot and voilà! Of course Onyx has many more fun options, but they aren’t about cleaning so I’ll let you discover those yourself.

If you have the time, defragmenting your boot up drive would be a good idea, though beware this can take a really long time. I really recommend Coriolis’ iDefrag. It works wonders.

OK, now I really prefer having clean and optimized backups, so I’ll backup my OS using CCC again (I delete the backup we did earlier). Then, I use ChronoSync for my document folder, my pictures etc… I like it because I can tell it to keep files I have deleted locally, and to archive older files which I’ve modified. Even though that might not be as relevant since Lion saves histories of file edits, but I prefer being safe than sorry.

Update: Well well well, just as I was going to send a bug report about Locum to Apple, I decided to make sure I wasn’t securely emptying my trash… Ouch! I was! I apologize for spreading false… hate-blog? on locum. So let’s make my horrendous mistake constructive at least! If emptying your trash is slow and takes up a lot of CPU, maybe your always securily emptying your trash. To make sure, go to the Finder preferences, to the advanced tab, and uncheck the “Empty trash securily” if it’s checked.

If you ever want to securely empty your trash, “command + right-click” the trash icon, and it will display the “Secure Empty Trash” button. Easy as that.

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So I just installed Lion

I know, I know. It’s pretty late  for Lion ain’t it? Well, yes it is, but I was actually going to wait till 10.7.4 (as some old timers do). I thought I’d explain that view, which is fully justifiable, and give a couple of initial thoughts about Lion.

Mountain Lion is right around the corner and I’m installing 10.7! That might seem crazy for some OSX users, especially iOS customers new to the platform. Some of which are so blatantly in love with Apple, go ahead and download/install developer previews on their only boot partition! We are always looking forward to what the Cupertino is up to, but they’re a software company like every other and bugs haunt them too. Albeit, you should never install a Beta OS on your main machine/boot partition. That should be run on a separate system… in a separate room… locked with an Abloyd lock… and eye scanner… in space… OK, maybe not the eye scanner 😛

What could justify this sort of odd behaviour?

  1. A working workflow and setup: If your using your computer to make money, you have a working setup, and probably a workflow. This is as simple as, upgrade your OS and lose money… Maybe because your not as efficient anymore (see: lost of exposé “all windows”) or some of your mission critical applications have new/different bugs (which you now have to re-adapt to), or they work differently (temporary loss of work speed). This doesn’t apply to me as much anymore because I’ve gone back to school, and am reorienting my career (effect: see blog title :)).
  2. Old machine run new code? As I’ve stated so many times before, I run an old MacBook Pro. How do you know if it will be as performing with the new update? Has Apple fully tested the hardware? They are definitly good at killing old hardware, so yours might be included. Again, if the new OS is slower, you not only loose overall speed, but will get deeply annyoed. Conclusion: I think Lion actually runs faster on my machine (after the initial HD indexing of course).
  3. Let em kill them bugs that are! Every software ships with bugs, it’s just about how much time they’ve had to crush them. In Adobe’s case, it’s just lousiness.
  4. Finally, going to buy new computer? With all the above, if you’re expecting to buy a new computer in the next 6-12 months, it might be a good thing to keep that older setup intact. Just saying.
Why the upgrade now?
  1. The need… of two new features (yep, you’ve read right, two). The first being cut and past in finder, which I have been dreaming of since Panther. Second, the new Spaces. My needs have evolved, and since I’m using more and more Virtual Machines simultaneously, with RDP thrown in the mix, I just couldn’t hold back on that one. It’s been astounding how the new Spaces have changed the way I interact with OSX, for the utmost best! It’s amazing. And there I was thinking fullscreen was just a gimmick, it isn’t. Just for the note, my setup currently consists of a main “web and stuff” desktop, a second desktop for Photoshop, a fullscreen VM for Linux, a fullscreen VM for my Bootcamp, a fullscreen RDP session with my old XP box, and more to come. This in less than a week’s use. Love it.
  2. Trusted sources: like… not the internet. Friends and family. In my case it was family. After my step-brother mentioned he stopped using his mouse completely since Lion, mimicking the gestures for his Spaces setup and all, I was intrigued. That is the type of guy I can trust. We’ve had countless discussions about technology, we know each others workflow (in Snow Leopard he was a Spaces lover and I was the Exposé all-windows junkie). An hour talk with him convinced me more than a year of browsing the net… WOW.
  3. What the hell, my Snow Leopard DVD is standing by.
That was it for me. I had seen too many conferences were the presenter would simply swipe to his VM, making the demos actually work smoothly, for me to just lay back and leave it out till .4.
So was it worth it? I’m happy I waited so long, becuase the shock was even bigger. YES! In all-caps screaming to all the prudent Snow Leopard users out there. Upgrade now. That’s all I can say. I am wrong sometimes. Just sometimes…
The main caveat: loss of expose all-windows. This is a main show stopper, and no Mission Control doesn’t replace it. There’s a little tip out there from OSXDaily though, and I would apply it before even trying mission control with the upper-right corner. In terminal, type:
defaults write com.apple.dock expose-animation-duration -float 0.16
then:
killall Dock
This will ease the pain a lot. I understand the thought behind removing such a thing. The new “app” focus, as in one-window-one-app etc. But to lose such a great feature is, at least to me, awkward. I’ll have to end this on a good note though, because Lion is really worth it. I am actually starting to believe Apple have learned a lot from optimizing their applications on iOS devices, working with low power and slower CPUs. It is tangible in Lion, and runs great[er] on my old laptop. Nope, it’s horrible and I’m definitely considering going back to Snow Leopard. Apple, we need a Snow Lion, or at least a Snow Mountain Lion… please?
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Speed-up your BootCamp VM using TuneUp Utilities 2012.

So I’ve been using VMWare Fusion a lot recently. I love how you can load up your BootCamp partition in a virtual machine, it’s darn right genius. I usually load up my Windows 7 BootCamp along-side Backtrack and have fun attacking my Windows vm (as anyone should). But I’m running an old laptop (coming five years now) and the performance has been atrocious to say the least. A bootcamp vm should not be running with only 1GB of RAM. I know, but don’t have the option.

Enter TuneUp Utilities 2012! I think I’ve used their product since the early XP days (was it out for 98SE?), and it used to be my favourite tweaking and performance booster until they came up with their new bloated and slow interface… Then things kinda got sour for me. I would still use it to clean my registry and what not, but never gave attention to the new features (that looked “dumbed down” to me). I should have!

With 2012, TuneUp seems to have gotten back to it’s roots again (somewhat) with greater customization of the app itself, greater control over automatic stuff, an anti-newb “all-features” section and finally, “shut your mouth” options! Hurray, what’s not to like? Well many reviews I’ve read and watched find it bloated… it is. But you really have to go through every single optimization wizard to really get a gist of what TuneUp is capable.

A quick walk-through of the awesomest optimizations

The basics are self-explanatory. After installation, you should run the 2 main optimizations left (Increase Performance & Fix Problems). Note: Do not set “Increase Performance” to the first setting (“best performance” IIRC), we will use the awesome Turbo Mode to make Windows really ugly. Some notes to take though, you will want to disable automatic defragmentation since your running in a VM. I don’t know how that would end up and I don’t want to find out. This brings me to the first important thing in TUU 2012, the settings. Let’s go right ahead and tame that vocal program!

Settings:

Notification area icon: Always (you’ll see why in a bit).

– Notifications: Disable everything! (Thank you TuneUp Corporation).

– 1 click maintenance: Disable Defragment hard disk.

– Automatic maintenance: I’ve disabled it completely, I like to have control over these things. You could also just disable the Defragment hard disk option.

Now TuneUp will shut it’s mouth, and wont screw up your BootCamp, sigh of relief.

Optimize System:

Why is TUU running it’s own service you ask? You don’t like that don’t you? Me neither, unless you set it up correctly right here. Basically, the “Disable Programs” feature is what justifies the extra service. TUU will automagically shutdown processes which either stay on, or don’t stop when you close an app (ex. Google Chrome). This is all customizable, and a significant boost in performance will be felt if you set it up correctly. Disabling startup programs should be a no-brainer, go ahead and disable pretty much everything except anti-virus, bootcamp services and essential stuff (that should be around 4-5 programs).

“Live Optimization” should be enabled with it’s 2 options. Configure Economy mode is self explanatory, configuring Turbo Mode is simply the best damn thing about TuneUp! If your running BootCamp, it’s probably because you play games, or work with a highly demanding application (3d, architecture, CAD etc.) and you really just boot-up in Windows for that. Well, do you see the “beautiful” windows interface while your gaming? Me neither. In conjunction with your earlier Visual Optimizations (probably set close to medium), Turbo Mode will make your Win7 machine look like shit… Hurray! Enable everything in Turbo Mode, and make sure it runs by default. Badaboom, you’ve got yourself a responsive VM.

Now if you want the beautiful bells and whistles, just select “Standard mode” from the TUU icon in your system tray (that’s why we’re leaving it there). Pretty cool stuff. I would end this section by checking out “Optimize system startup and shutdown” and applying the recommendations if they suit you, it will help startup that VM faster.

“Gain disk space” is self-explanatory and the usual temporary files, restore points etc. clean-up. “Fix problems” is mainly useless.

Customize Windows:

Finally, there is one really cool feature here, that I would encourage every-single-body to use. In “Personalize options and behaviours” go to “Start and maintenance” and the “Desktop and Taskbar” tab. Enable “Execute desktop and taskbar in a separate process”. You’ve guessed what this does, and trust me, when Windows crashes on you this is awesome. A nifty tweak.

Conclusion

So, we’ve been through the main features of TuneUp Utilities 2012 which will really help you run Windows (BootCamp or not) in a VM. Even though the software is bloated, runs an extra service and the interface is really slow, I hope you have seen past these issues and consider TUU for what it is: a great performance booster. As I said before, the reviews I’ve seen seemed to mention the basics, but never really go in depth (I’m sure some of them do). If you compare TuneUp with other optimizing software, it’s in a league of it’s own, and according to me, that justifies it’s price. Plus, your mom and her computer will thank you (and maybe give you cookies, hopefully homemade and hot, mmmmmm). Until next time!

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Easy multi-boot for Macs, no Bootcamp hassle, no rEFIt.

If you wish to simply see the steps required, please skip to the installation mini-guide.

I’ve recently received my new internal hard drive for my late 2008 MacBook Pro. For the last few months, I probably hit OWC every single day, waiting for a 7200 RPM, 750GB 9.5mm drive that would fit my laptop. The WD Scorpio Black 750GB recently became available, and I ordered this very nice drive with an external enclosure and the little screwdriver kit. What an awesome overall product idea, plus the enclosure is USB3!

So after doing lots of looking around and googling here and there, I came to a quite simple but sad conclusion about multiple boots on a mac; Boot Camp is a tool for toddlers and multi-booting a heavily partitioned drive is extremely tedious. I was wrong!

My intended setup totals 5 partitions. One for my main Mac OSX boot, one for Windows 7 64bit (games), another Mac OSX boot for audio, a user data partition (documents, downloads, music etc… this could logically be shared between my two Mac boots, more experiments on this in a future post) and finally an audio data partition. Ouch.

Most forums I read explain how to do this by tricking Bootcamp, partitioning after the initial 2 partitions are created, and using a bit of magic with a salt of luck you might just get it working… that’s if your skill level is at 60 and you have much HP left 🙂

Natively installing Windows 7

The main reason for all this Bootcamp stuff is XP doesn’t support EFI, and Vista seems to have a limited support (source needed). 7 on the other hand (I tested 64bit) supports installation in an EFI environment out-of-the-box. My little guide describes installation on a new hard drive, you might want to tweak this a little bit if you’ve resized a partition for windows. So, here goes.

    1. Boot into Mac OSX Snow Leopard disk, select the disk utility tool and create your partitions. Make sure you create a Fat32 (Dos) partition for Windows. This partition must be one of the first three partitions (I think the first 4 might work, but lets not take any chance).
    2. Install Mac OSX in your first partition. You can then update your mac, do what you wish. Some people install rEFIt. I tried it but the tool didn’t work for me. rEFIt is not required for this setup to work. It might be if you want to install Linux though, I haven’t tried that yet.
    3. Insert the Win 7 64bit DVD in your mac. Reboot and hold the “c” key when you hear a chime. This will launch the Windows setup.
    4. At setup, you will be asked to choose a partition for windows. Make sure you select the right partition as it will be formatted. The installation had serious trouble reading most of the partition names, so I chose my Fat partition by size… Very scary moment. Once you select the partition, you need to click format. It will format in NTFS, then continue with normal installation.
    5. The installer will reboot 3 times (IIRC), whenever it does, hold the “option” key (alternative names: “alt”, “saucepan”, ⌥) when the chimes play. Then select the windows partition and boot it to continue installation. Don’t worry if you miss the boot screen, just restart you mac. The installer restarts where it left off.
    6. Now when you are asked for a password, do not create one with any special characters! Actually, I would recommend to wait until later before creating a password. Why you ask? Because your current keyboard setup is most probably wrong, and all your keys will change when you install the Mac drivers. This happened to me, simply because I used “/” in my password. I had to reinstall Windows, because when booting up, I couldn’t recreate the symbol at login screen. Stupid thing.
    7. When rebooting for the third time (the last reboot), at the OS selection screen (OSX’s boot loader), remove the Windows DVD, and pop in the Snow Leopard DVD.
    8. Once in windows, your volume keys, brightness keys and screen resolution will be all wrong, plus other stuff. Launch the Bootcamp setup in the OSX DVD you inserted earlier. Reboot again. TADAM!

You now have a native dual-boot setup, without rEFIt (even though rEFIt looks really nice, it doesn’t work for me and troubleshooting help is scarce), without the hassle of Bootcamp partition resizing and voodoo partitioning.

Hope this helps someone, and now go play some video games 🙂

Note: Windows 64bit will not work on all MacBook models, if the Mac drivers complain about it, you should install 32bit. Also, I have yet to install my third Mac OSX boot, this might screw things up. Rest assured I will blog about it or correct any information if things go wrong. Finally, I do not know if the OSX boot-loader supports Linux, you are encouraged to post any comments about such a setup (it will work using rEFIt). I personally think it would be fine if you install GRUB inside your Linux partition.

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