Archive for November, 2007

Applecare … not as good as, say, Dell

November 28, 2007

I have a powerbook g4 and an ibook g4, both covered by applecare.

The dvd drive was broken on the powerbook. I wanted them to fix it. It took a week between ringing them and a courier coming to pick up the laptop. And the laptop came back three days after that.

If this were a real computer manufacturer – like Dell or IBM/Lenovo – they’d have sent somebody out with a new dvd drive the very next day. Actually, it would have been even better than that: they’ve have just posted me a new dvd drive.

I’ve learnt my lesson: if you want a real computer, buy a Dell or a Thinkpad. If you just want a toy, sure, go ahead and buy an Apple. But don’t depend on it.

I sometimes see people rave about how wonderful apple support is. I don’t get that. Maybe it’s an american thing – maybe apple’s support happens to be good in the US. Here in the UK though, it’s pretty poor.

AutoHotKey, environment variables and putty (cygterm)

November 21, 2007

One of the cool things I have AutoHotKey do for me is launch a new putty/cygterm window when I invoke a certain key combo. (It’s windows-N, since you ask.)

But I’ve just realised something interesting. If I change windows’ system environment variables, then they won’t propogate to new putty/cygterm windows. That’s because the putty’s are being launched by AutoHotKey. I have to restart AutoHotKey to get it to pick up the new environment variables.

Thankfully it’s very easy to restart AutoHotKey: I just double click the .ahk file. Which lives on my desktop, since I edit it a lot! (And I have the #SingleInstance declaration at the top of the file, so it doesn’t complain.)

More on AutoHotKey later. It’s revolutionized my windows life.

The internet *is* your permanent record

November 20, 2007

The Move To Windows

November 20, 2007

I’ve been a unix/linux user and sysadmin for …. ooooh, let’s just say a long time. I just never used windows. But one day, about five years back, I realised that I needed to find out how the other half lived. I needed to go live in Windows for a little while, I needed to learn to program for Windows, I needed to find the little differences.

So I moved to Windows. Just immersed myself in it. It wasn’t too bad. In fact, I quickly came to like it. I used to joke to my Linux-ey friends “Psssst! Don’t tell anybody, but XP is really quite nice.”

Cygwin and cygwin putty are probably the most important part of making XP usable. Firefox obviously. Thunderbird too, at least until gmail came along.

I actually used Outlook for a while, but there was a problem. While Ctrl-Return in Outlook would send a message immediately, in Thunderbird it popped up a window asking you if you wanted to send your message. It so happens that if you’re used to hitting Ctrl-Backspace to delete words, it’s very, very easy to hit Ctrl-Return. For extra irony points, if you’re hitting Ctrl-Backspace, it’s because you want to delete large chunks of text. You don’t want them to be sent repeatedly.

Anyway, I got fed up with Outlook when I got fed up sending people strings of apologies like “Sorry about that last message, I accidentally hit”, “Look, I’m really sorry about that last message, Outlook did”, and “Aaaargh, stop sending messages before I’ve”. etc. So I moved to Thunderbird. Thunderbird sucks, but not in any way I can put my finger on. I tolerate it, but I don’t particularly like it.

Anyway, I don’t rave about much software on Windows, but I’ve recently discovered a program called AutoHotKey, which is the dog’s danglies. I will write about this in a future article. It. Is. Wonderful.

Hello world!

November 20, 2007

I think I’ve finally reached a point in my life where keeping a public blog might be a net positive. I’ve been blogging internally to work for a wee while now, but some topics either aren’t relevant to work or (and I flatter myself here!) could handle wider distribution. Hence this blog.

We’ll see.