Tech-geekery: Mac Archives

July 9, 2005

Diary of a Mac man, 1

I'm typing this entry from my new iBook. Yes, I've joined the legion of Macintosh users, or as Branko Collin calls them, wankers. While I was staying in Denmark, Sven lent me his iBook to stay in touch with the home front, and I liked it so much I started thinking more seriously about giving the Mac a serious try. That's a lot of seriousness but then I'm a serious guy.
I picked the iBook over the technically more advanced, cheaper and more obviously designed for newcomers Mac Mini because I had more use for a laptop, and once I factored in the cost of adding a monitor (because fiddling with monitor-router devices gets tired quickly), the price differential wasn't major anymore.
I won't start using it as a production machine just yet. My aim for now is to learn how to use the system. As you may have noticed, I've been getting a bit fed up with both Windows and linux, so I'm hoping that this system will be more cooperative in the long run. Will be a while before I can afford Photoshop though.

Continue reading "Diary of a Mac man, 1" »

July 10, 2005

Diary of a Mac Man 2: Tablet woes

Never in a million years would I have suspected that my first major disappointment working with the Mac would concern the Wacom tablet. After all, everyone in graphics uses a Mac and a tablet, right? So the people involved would have put some focus into making sure that it always works, right? Apparently not. The Graphire kind of, sort of worked when I simply plugged it in, with exactly the same limitations as under linux: it would stop moving 2/3s of the way across the screen in any directions, as if it had encountered the edges of the screen there. So I installed the drivers that came with the tablet, as instructed. Before restarting, I did some other stuff, until I went home.
Today, the tablet doesn't work at all. I was shown an error message about software having the wrong security settings, but what I got out of this message was that I could click "Repair" and reboot again, and then the wrongness would go away. Nope. The tablet still isn't working. This is precisely the sort of thing that used to drive me nuts about linux, so I'm very disappointed to encounter it here. I'll do some digging around to figure out what the problem is, but man, was I hoping I wouldn't have to.

Otherwise, things are going well. Azureus and NeoOffice are installed and working (with all the default office productivity stuff including Apple Works gone from the system. Works couldn't open the first Word Document I threw at it, and as for the 30-day time-bombed MS Office trial version, they gotta be kidding). I've also got quite a few software tips in email, for which I thank you all. I'll be trying out all that gear. Branko has kindly provided an update on his earlier series of posts on editors, and there are one or two that I'd like to try out.

I've also encountered some very rabid anti-Mac sentiment, which surprised me a bit. I know some Mac advocates can get up people's noses, but so do advocates of other operating systems, particularly linux, and I never encountered such strong feelings against that. As a way to do things, Mac is serving a lot of people very well and so far I'm picking up the skill set very easily.
One reason I'm writing this Diary of a Mac Man is that I'm in a pretty good position to write about Macintoshes objectively: I'm not married to any one OS or computing approach, I know a fair bit about solving any problems, and if I can't solve one myself, I can describe it reasonably well and find help with it. I may become an advocate but the Mac will have to earn it.

Now to solve that tablet problem, grrr.

Update:Installing a new driver from the Wacom site seems to return the tablet to its original, rather halting, functionality. Don't know if it will continue to work after I reboot though.

Update 2: I got the error again, but the tablet is working. I'd still like to get rid of the error though.

Update 3: to prevent the same problem from occurring with the Epson 1660 scanner at home, I've taken a look at documentation on the Epson site, and now I'm paying attention to the bundled driver thing. Looks like the best approach to those peripherals (both bought in 2003, so the software on the CDs is for earlier versions of OS X anyway, and the instructions are probably no longer applicable) is to just hook them up. Great, I like that.
Update 4: I'd put the bundled drivers to the test, but I can't find the damned USB cable for the scanner. Some other time then.

July 11, 2005

Diary of a Mac Man, 3

The tablet is working the way it should now. Good.
I have installed Inkscape and Expression 3.3, so I can do vector art if the fancy takes me.
Installing Inkscape should have been easy but once again I fell pray to documentation inconsistencies relating to open source software. The Inkscape Wiki told me I had to download and install Fink, a package manager, to download, compile, dependency-unHell and install the Mac package. I did, and, then found that installing Fink introduced an inconsistency with some other package, claiming profile information that that other package uses. Fink works, but I have to use it from the directory it lives in. Might as well uninstall it but it's not the neat sort of package that Mac programs use, so it could get complicated. I'm getting a bit wary of installing more open source auxilliary programs for the Mac - they seem to introduce problems like this a lot. The old Unix tools are great to have, but I don't think those newfangled package managers are quite as well-made as the old stallwarts, simply because they don't do what they say they do on my system. Since troubleshooting them is likely to become a bit of a chore, I'd better leave them alone from now on.
Meanwhile, I could find and install a precompiled binary from Inkscape's Sourceforge location and that just works.
I got tipped off by another cartoonist that a Mac version of Expression 3.3 could still be grabbed if you knew where to look. Cool. Last year, I used Expression a few times in Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan, but I never got around to learning it properly. Maybe this time....
Meanwhile, I'm beginning to worry about the hard drive filling up. I neglected to ask for a 60 GB drive, so I got the standard 30 GB drive the iBook shipped with. Now 30 GB can last a long time if you use it judiciously, but one thing I hadn't counted on was the machine shipping with the drive already almost half full! My own installs have added to that, and although I've also removed some software, I wonder if I can cut more.
There's one app I should cut since I'm unlikely to use seriously it in the near future, especially with a disk filling up already. Garageband would probably create huge data files. But... I really want to play with it some time.

Coen from the studio next door dropped by, noticed the new machine and told me it was the same he had. I hadn't noticed:). Lots of people down this corridor have an iBook, so I just might have a support community right here.

July 12, 2005

Diary of a Mac Man, 4

Today, I cleared some 4 GB off the hard drive in preinstalled stuff, by deleting:
1) The bundled printer drivers;
2) Garage Band and its sample libaries. Having the option of maybe someday playing with the software isn't worth the 2GB it's taking on the HD. Mind you, I do have some use for a sound editing app, but it would have to be one that can skin MIDI files so they sound good rather than one that can multi-track recorded sound.
I've started looking at Expression 3.3 tutorials. To my dismay, a lot of the ones that used to be there have disappeared! It's like there's a company that owns the right to make pencils, and it has decided to stop selling the pencils it makes while working on a new, improved pencil, and suddenly everyone who's been teaching kids how to use pencils decides to wipe the knowledge from their brains! But some tutorials can still be found so I'll work with those and commend the people who have kept them around for not being shortsighted. Studio E3, I salute you!

July 15, 2005

Diary of a Mac Man, 5

Not much to report by now. I'm doing an Expression tutorial in the hope of wrapping my mind around the vector-based way of doing things but I could have done that on the PC if I really wanted to.
Tweaks: I figured out how to make the F-keys work right. There's a setting in the Control Panel (or whatever it's called in English - I've set the iBook to talk to me in Dutch) to make F-keys pass on software commands on their own and hardware commands when combined with the Fn key instead of the other way around. Now if I could find out how to make the tab order in web browsers include checkboxes, I'd be satisfied with the keyboard functionality.

Continue reading "Diary of a Mac Man, 5" »

July 21, 2005

Mental note re: iPhoto

I've been getting interested in using iPhoto to manage my drawings, so this feature on the programme should come in handy (via).
Meanwhile, iTunes has been displaying other people's playlists over the local network at work, but not, so far, letting me play them. Generally, I still need to work on networking and folder sharing, especially with the Windows machine. I don't think I'm getting as much as I can out of that aspect of the iBook.

July 22, 2005

Diary of a Mac man, 6

Cast picture for Atra
A couple of days ago, I tried coloring in GIMP on the iBook. I can do it, but don't think I will make a habit of it. GIMP works but the laptop screen isn't all that accurate. I could only do professional-level work on the iBook if I already had a well-established palette (and the palette was present on the iBook). It'll come in handy in a pinch, but not for regular production.
This image will be used, though. The cast page for Atra still lacks a full picture.
This weekend, I'll do some serious geeking-out on the iBook, creating (I hope) local mirrors of all my websites. That means installing Movable Type on it, and figuring out how good the bundled version of Apache actually is.

Continue reading "Diary of a Mac man, 6" »

September 14, 2005

Diary of a Mac Man, er... 7

Photoshop CS for OSX is one of the less benightedly awful jumbles of useless bytecode that it's been my profound lack of pleasure to be unable to avoid having to use. In fact, coloring on the iBook using CS was almost pleasant. The interface, while still damnably inconsistent, is much improved compared to PS 6 which I've been using on the previous two Gang of Four comics and is also quite easy on the eyes. The program is stable, and unlike PS 6 on the studio PC is capable of such complex operations as opening a file in good time.
I'd have enjoyed the work more if it wasn't for the Wacom tablet sucking all the joy out of it by going berserk and generating random clicks all over my images. Together with one interface fault in PS CS, the fact that the pencil cursor is all but invisible, this meant that a lot of time was wasted Undoing things, checking that all the faulty clicks had in fact been undone, and having coronaries. If it isn't one thing, it's another. Computer systems hate me and I spend more and more energy on hating them back with each passing day.

As I've said before, laptop screens are less than ideal for this kind of work although a fresh laptop screen is probably better than a CRT that is on its deathbed. I've posted the images (de-texted) on my DeviantARt site for sanity-checking. Doesn't look too bad, methinks.

December 14, 2005


I'll have to give Aquamacs a spin as soon as I'm on the iBook again. Not everyone likes emacs - a lot of linux geeks loathe it with a passion - but I do. It's flexible, full-featured and on one occasion was the thing that enabled me to rescue a botched linux install. It was the one editor that was a) definitely installed, and b) functional when the Windowing system was broken. If the incident happened again today I would use pico, but I've got good memories of emacs as a bail-out tool.

Quite a few Unixy, open-source apps that are adapted for the Mac are improved in the process - Adium is a much better program overall than Gaim for messaging, for instance. So I'm hopeful that Aquamacs will turn out to be the editor I've been looking for - I've found the easily available free OSX text editors to be a bit ornery to work with for some reason.

From the screenshots, it looks like Aquamacs looks more like a traditional OSX program, which is a good thing. But I'm happy to say it still looks excentric enough for Mac zealots who see it for the first time to go "What the fuck is this?"

January 25, 2006

How To Be Invisible

Tristero at Digby's place has some tips on guarding your online privacy on an OSX computer. Could be useful, I wouldn't know, although I do rather believe I should know.

April 7, 2006

Boot Camp

I heard about Apple's Boot Camp yesterday and it ignited another round of "I need money, stat" in my head. Eric Burns has tried it and is raving about the performance of Windows XP and City of Villains on his MacBook Pro. Referring to the saw "It's not so much that the bear dances well, it's that it dances at all" he says that

The bear isn't just dancing. The bear is doing a freaking paso doble.
Duly noted. I need money, stat.

January 28, 2008

Bleg: Trying to get wireless to work on the iBook, but failing miserably

I have bought a wireless router to set up a home network. I was a bit wary of setting it up on the linux box, so I tried a dummy configuration on the iBook first. As it turns out, this was a time-consuming mistake, so I finally went ahead and hooked the router up to my trusty old Ubuntu desktop, which responded by working almost immediately. However, several hours and quite a bit of hairpulling later, I am still unable to get a wireless connection on the iBook; I get a password prompt, but after filling in my password, I get the utterly unhelpful error message "an error has occurred trying to connect to the network".

I have googled for this, so now I know that the problem is a very common one, and also that this solution, remove the password you changed from your Keychain, doesn't work, and that this and similar threads do not inspire confidence in the Mac community's ability to resolve the problem - not that I blame the community, mind. With an error message like that, the cause could be any of a thousand things. Computing for the rest of us, my foot.

My iBook is a 2005 G4 PPC Mac running Tiger, OS 10.4.11 to be precise. The router is a Netgear WGR614 v7, recommended by the store for being easy to configure and OS-independent, not that most of the others wouldn't have been. Is there any way at all I can get the two devices to listen to one another? Please send answers to, if you have them

About Tech-geekery: Mac

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Waffle in the Tech-geekery: Mac category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Tech-geekery: linux is the next category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

Creative Commons License
This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Powered by
Movable Type 3.34