Posts Tagged ‘computers’

New Work Computer

February 23rd, 2013 1 comment
This entry is part 4 of 4 in the series Macintosh

Several years ago I wrote about making a transition to the Mac world with a 13″ MacBook. That was my main computer for several years. Back in 2009 when I first got it I wrote about a whole host of things I hated about the Mac. Like the fact that there was no decent enterprise e-mail client. That the ‘DEL’ key on a Mac is really a ‘BACKSPACE’ key. That the ‘COMMAND’ key is ridiculous. Most of what I wrote is still true. Outlook 2010 for Mac is terrible, so e-mail is still painful on a Mac. It is a pale comparison to its Windows sibling. Visio is still better than OmniGraffle. The only thing that improved is that Office for Mac got VBA functionality so people can write their own functions.

So earlier this year I finally had the chance to replace my work laptop. I opted for a Windows Ultrabook – a Toshiba Portégé Z935 to be precise. And this thing so unbelievably rocks it isn’t even funny. I had the option to get a MacBook Air, but I am totally glad that I didn’t. Being back in the Windows world in my corporate life is so much easier. And I’ve been able to configure this machine to do some really cool stuff.

Like the way I am running an Ubuntu 12.04 virtual machine on an external Western Digital USB hard drive. That’s right – a complete Linux install that runs perfectly on an external (hardware encrypted) hard drive. Running in VMWare Fusion as a guest OS on my Windows 7 machine, this thing kicks butt. I use it primarily as a Python and web development environment, but having the ability to whip up a quick web server doesn’t hurt. I also love writing documents using Restructuredtext as well. It supports multiple monitors and I haven’t had a single hiccup with it’s install on an external drive.

I’ll probably write more about this configuration soon, but for now – it’s awesome.

Hey Norton!

June 12th, 2010 1 comment

For several years Symantec’s Norton products have made my life a living hell. Three years ago I bought my 70 year-old mother a Dell computer to replace her nearly 10 year-old Gateway that was finally too old to run Windows XP. (It actually lives on running Debian Linux in my basement.) The system arrived with the full complement of Dell bloatware, most of which I spent a couple of hours uninstalling. But since she has DSL service, I figured she should have some sort of virus protection, so I left the copy of Norton 360 installed.

Since that fateful moment, every single problem I’ve had to troubleshoot on her computer has been the result of Norton. This is not an exaggeration. My mother lives an hour away from me, so an onsite troubleshooting session is a minimum of two hours of commuting hassle. And Norton has required at least four onsite visits as well as several remote troubleshooting sessions (thank you Team Viewer and the free for personal use policy). The bulk of the problems have come after automatic updates and upgrades. Usually what happens is that the update wouldn’t successfully complete and there would be a constant security warning box that freaked my mother out until I could download an updated version and install it. Other times the problems came at the annual subscription renewal time where my mother could never get the system to take her order and the subscription would run out and the product would flash all kinds of warnings.

But the final straw happened about three weeks ago when another upgrade failed to completely install, and it caused a constant BSOD, which meant I couldn’t remotely troubleshoot it either. So into the car I went, fighting Boston traffic the whole way. Using the Windows Task Manager I confirmed that a Norton process was running when the BSOD happened . So, after the third reboot, I managed to start the task manager fast enough to get in and kill both Norton processes and then verified that the computer would actually stay running, which it did. So I started uninstalling Norton, but as anyone who had tried knows, Norton can’t be uninstalled easily. Using the uninstall option in the Norton program group left enough crap on the system that the upgrade process actually started itself and the incomplete update warning box popped up – after the program was supposed to uninstalled! So I had to download a special uninstall program from the Symantec website, because, well, because why the hell should the uninstall option actually uninstall the program? Fucking hell, Symantec, how do you assholes live with yourselves?

So I am officially done with Symantec – I’ve moved into active boycott mode. I have run Kaspersky antivirus on my own systems since it was a freeware program for Linux and I have had only one technical problem in all those years due to a bad upgrade that they posted which caused a major Windows security conflict. But they published a patch within a few hours. So my mom is now running Kaspersky too.

And I am D-O-N-E done with Symantec and Norton products.