Intel iMac Notes: Half-Life 2

    7 September 2006, early morning

As soon as Bootcamp was announced, many Mac users went out and installed Half-Life 2 in their newly created Windows XP partitions. (Cabel Sasser, Todd Dominey, and Michael Heilemann all made a go of it.) Yesterday I installed Half-Life 2 on my Intel iMac. The process is very straight forward. I was waiting for the game’s price to drop, but apparently it’s just too popular. I bought Half-Life 2, the game of the year edition, for $50 at Electronics Boutique. It’s the version that comes with the original Half-Life, plus Counter Strike Source.

Since the last time I used Bootcamp, Apple put out a new version of the software. Upgrading is straightforward: you need to install the new Bootcamp assistant, burn a new CD of the drivers, and install them in Windows. Once this was out of the way, I started installing Half-Life. That took a while. Why they don’t release these games on DVDs I don’t know. 5 CDs later, I was ready to play—well, almost. Half-Life uses this software called Steam for copy-protection (and a few other things). I started up Steam, registered my game, and waited while Steam patched my copies of Half-Life 2, Counter Strike Source and the original Half-Life. I have a quick connection to the net, so thankfully this wasn’t a long process.

The game plays great. Running around is smooth, and I can play at the iMacs native resolution of 1680 by 1050. I didn’t play too much of the game, because my computer is still at my old flat. Once I can actually play for a bit I’ll write more about how it runs. The real question I am faced with is this: should I play Half-Life before playing Half-Life 2? I’m thinking yes, but once you see how nice Half-Life 2 looks, it is hard to bring yourself to play the original Half-Life

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Intel iMac Notes: Windows XP and Me

   25 May 2006, mid-morning

I installed Windows XP on my iMac two nights ago. I didn’t have a particularly good reason for doing so, beyond just wanting to see what it would be like. Using Bootcamp, the process is actually very straightforward. There is no real geeky challenge in installing Windows on a Mac—at all. Even on a Mac, Windows XP just isn’t that nice. There is just something about Windows that irks me I suppose. I installed World of Warcraft, and I think it runs a bit better on Windows then on my Mac, but not enough to warrant booting in to XP to play. There are however countless games that never make it to MacOS X that I now can play. What would you recommend? (And, for that matter, what are some applications I should get for Windows XP that will make the experience less craptacular.)

My iMac booting into WinXP

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Intel iMac Notes: The Mighty Mouse is Crippling Me

    9 May 2006, early morning

Apple’s iMac ships with the Mighty Mouse. Many people felt that Apple releasing a two button mouse was one of the harbingers of the Apocalypse — I certainly joked about it. I really wanted to like the mouse, if only because it matches the rest of my computer. Unfortunately, it has to be one of the most uncomfortable mouses I’ve used in recent memory. As a two button mouse, it sucks. Many times while playing Warcraft my right-clicks register as left-clicks because I didn’t click “right” enough for the mouse. Perhaps if Apple had indicated where the “right” mouse button was I wouldn’t have this problem. Perhaps I’m just an idiot, but I’d like to think otherwise. Getting clicks to register as right-clicks consistently invovles clicking the mouse at its right-most edge, which is uncomfortable to say the least. The squeeze button is stiff, and I don’t like using it at all. The scroll-nipple that everyone was so excited about it also horrible to use. Scrolling through a long document using this tiny little ball isn’t fun. I’m not sure who Apple designed this mouse for. As I have stated before my RSI is pretty bad, and as such you may find this mouse to be a pleasure to use; that is till you use it too much and get terrible RSI.

Update: This mouse pisses me the fuck off. I’d avoid it.

 

Intel iMac Notes: Warcraft III

   25 April 2006, early morning

Yesterday, after work, I picked up a copy of the Warcraft III Battle Chest, which has the original game, the expansion, and some strategy guides for the two games. I had played through part of the game with my cousins while in Sydney, and thought it was pretty fun. I hadn’t played Warcraft in a long time. Warcraft II wouldn’t run on my 486 (with 4 megs of RAM). There is this whole of computer games I missed out on since I replaced my 486 with a Powerbook 5300cs. I think my iMac looks like it could be a good computer game box, were it not for the fact it’s a Mac. Mind you, Bootcamp may change the Mac gaming landscape — by letting Mac users revel in the Windows gaming landscape. I digress. I was quite impressed with how well the game ran on the iMac, despite it not being a Universal Binary. (Mind you, the game is 3-4 years old now.) I can run the game with all the video settings maxed out, and at my screens native resolution of 1680 by 1050. The game play is very smooth. I have noticed one hiccup, however: In most (all) cases so far, switching from the game to a video works, but you can see the finder flash in to view; switching from a video back to the game leaves the game in windowed mode, not full screen mode. Despite this, the game runs great, and has been fun to play thus far. Anyone else have Warcraft?

Update Jan 23rd: As pointed out in the comments below, a new patch lets the game run natively. You can get the patch by logging into BattleNet, or from Blizzard’s FTP site. (You will want to download War3TFT_121a_XXX.bin, where XXX is the language you want.)

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Intel iMac Notes: Photo Booth

   29 March 2006, the wee hours

Pictures I have taken with Photobooth.

I usually email Shima a picture of me from Photo Booth everyday. I don’t know anyone else with an iSight, so I don’t really have much use for the thing beyond mucking around in Photo Booth.

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Intel iMac Notes: God Damn That's Bright

   23 March 2006, early morning

The screen on my iMac is absolutely gorgeous. Beyond being huge, it’s also really bright. It’s nice watching movies or editing photos on such a screen. However, typing away while staring at this incredibly bright screen for more than an hour or two will really wear your eyes down. I’ve taken to turning the brightness on the monitor all the way down (it’s that bright). Before yesterday, I was doing this by opening the display preferences and fiddling with the brightness slider. On my iBook, the function keys actually performed real functions, and two of the keys were assigned to turn the brightness up and down. The lack of a keyboard shortcut on my iMac was getting to be a nuisance, so I decided to see if I could figure one out. After a very brief search on Google, I discovered that F14 and F15 turn the brightness up and down on any Mac. You can try it at home too.

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Intel iMac Notes: OmniOutliner

   22 March 2006, late morning

I am the proud owner of OmniOutliner. I didn’t go out and buy it mind you, it came with my mac, but since I have it, I feel I should make good use of it. OmniOutliner is another one of those applications I didn’t really get when I first used it. It is essentially the mother of all to-do list programs. That might not sound like much, but there are plenty of things you can do with a good list making program. Right now, I don’t do anything flashy with OmniOutliner. I use it to keep track of my spending, and that is about it; I might start making shopping lists with the program as well. A lot of getting things done nuts love the program, as evidenced by its constant mention over at 43Folders. (The 43Folders Wiki has a good OmniOutliner section.) If you own OmniOutliner, you might want to grab these icons made by Mike Matas. The iMac also came with Comic Life and Quicken, but I haven’t used either much at all.

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Intel iMac Notes: Bugs -- The Horror

   15 March 2006, early morning

Applications crash on my iMac far more frequently than they ever did on my iBook. More often then not, it’s the older PowerPC applications that crash (I don’t think I’ve had a “Universal Binary” application crash yet). Now, when an Application crashes, it really isn’t the end of the world. MacOS X actually pops up a message on the screen informing you that your program crashed, and that you can either: close it, or re-open it. I usually tell the computer to run the program again and all is well. These crashes aren’t that common, but since applications hardly ever crashed on my iBook any number of crashes is noticeable.

Since I don’t really know anyone else with an iSight (except for Yang who is never online), I have been using my iSight to take pictures in Photobooth. There is an annoying bug in Photobooth, at least for me. When I take a photo, and it shows up in the film strip at the bottom of the application window, I can’t select that photo to be emailed to friends, or sent to iPhoto, or whatever. I have to click on an older picture first, before a click on the new photo will register. This is a bit of a nuisance.

When I wake up in the morning, I open my eyes and I see my iMac sitting on my desk. I smile.

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Intel iMac Notes: Building Ruby on Rails and its Friends

    6 March 2006, evening time

I asked Krishna to run through Hivelogic’s tutorial on setting up Ruby on Rails on your Mac and time how long it takes to build the various components. I did the same on my iMac and have compiled the results below.

Build Times for Ruby on Rails Components on my iBook and my iMac

real/user/sysiMac Intel Dual Core 2.0GhziBook G3 800MhZ
make readline
real0m11.335s1m3.091s
user0m8.900s 0m36.690s
sys0m1.792s 0m7.925s
make ruby
real1m17.722s6m17.849s
user0m57.552s4m5.046s
sys0m17.796s0m31.593s
make fast-cgi
real0m8.920s 2m43.256s
user0m4.803s 1m10.319s
sys0m3.395s 0m26.624s
make PCRE
real0m25.286s0m55.492s
user0m17.411s0m19.038s
sys0m7.060s 0m11.081s
make lightTPD
real0m55.480s5m55.640s
user0m27.063s1m42.615s
sys0m26.821s1m31.106s

As you can see, the iMac really mops the floor with the poor iBook. I am guessing that the x86 version of GCC is far more optimized than the PowerPC version, which may account for the serious improvements. In a few cases the build times are 10 times faster, which is quite impressive. If you spend a lot of time working on software, the faster build times are definitely going to be a big plus.

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The Perks of Gainful Employment

    2 March 2006, evening time

Or All About How I Bought an iMac

I become very impulsive when I decide I want to buy something. I bought my Digital Rebel in this half hour window between leaving work and meeting Shima to see Body Worlds II. I was so excited about getting it, I couldn’t wait another day. Similarly, I got it in my head yesterday I should get an iMac, and by the middle of the day today I had decided I would most definitely get one. I don’t think I’ve ever spent this much money in one sitting. It feels strange. Still, I am typing this on a beautiful 20” iMac, so it doesn’t feel that strange.

Read the rest of this post. (380 words)

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