New MBP Experience

4 03 2008

Alright, so it’s been a week now so I feel qualified enough to write about what’s gone on so far. When I heard the new MBP was finally available, I went in to work and immediately called in to see if the local Apple store had received them yet. I was sad to find that they had not. But I kept trying throughout the day and upon days end (workday) they had come in. I sped over to the store and immediately began playing with it. A service rep came up and asked if I had any questions.

…. My response: How fast can you ring me up?

He didn’t know what to say. I was probably his easiest sale of the day. I was able to socially engineer my way in to student discount *feels guilty* but the $200 off came back in the form of sales tax anyway.

So the verdict after 1 week of use? Well worth it. I still stand by thoughts that applications are what make a computing experience great. I am a visual person so this is definitely my OS. It’s this or some flavor of Linux with Compiz Fusion. It’s been a week and my high points are as follows:

I love the dashboard. Specifically, a widget called iStat Pro. Web Clips are ingenious.
The speed. There’s no equal. And everything is so simple. I find myself often over thinking simple task that in Windows require a myriad of clicks and keystrokes. Want to import contacts? Click and drag. While I love the simplicity, it’s hard to tear me away from my keyboard. I’m a shortcut kinda guy. Hence Quicksilver. I know it’s not part of OS X, nor do I think it should be. But seriously, to fire off an email with an attachment in less that 5 seconds with a few keyboard commands just adds to the illusion of speed.

Sometimes I find my self wondering where the machine pulls all these resources from. I was able transcode a .avi into an .mp4 in VisualHub while recording video through the iSight in Quicktime, rip a DVD in Handbrake and surf YouTube all without a hint of slowdown. I was impressed

Now .. what’s not impressive? Lack of flexibility. There’s not too much room to customize but people are good at finding hacks around this. The notion that Macs don’t crash is completely false. I had one after 4 days but comparatively speaking to maybe 3 crashes a week on my PC, it’s not bad. Oh, and just because I close the lid on my MacBook Pro does NOT mean I want it to sleep. What blows me away is that there isn’t an option to select what action to take when I do close the lid. And what the heck is with not being able to minimize windows and CMD+Tab back to it?! Needless to say, I’m not a fan of that but a program called Witch takes care of that. Here’s another. The menu bar. I’m always clicking around (or Option+Tabbing with “Witch”) and having to select the app before going to its menu bar irks me. I suppose it’s part of the aesthetics.

I can already tell this baby is gonna be a hell of a workhorse.

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TiVo? or … TiFaux

25 02 2008

Who has time to watch TV anymore? I mean, with so many wrong people on the Internet, correcting them takes up half of a person’s day, right? Actually. I don’t know how many times I’ve been teased for my Internet usage only to hear the accusers themselves make plans around Grey’s Anatomy, Lost and Heroes. Whatever your vices may be, we can all agree that TiVo was one of the greatest things invented. Some try to bypass subscription/hardware fees by creating awesome home theater PVR PCs and media servers. Even still, you do need cable. So here’s two apps that would definitely make my “first to install” list.

By the way, not to fuel the war but…if you pay for cable, is it illegal to download TV shows? What’s the difference between TiVo and this? Oh well…

TED

Ted
Ted stands for Torrent Episode Downloader. It checks multiple torrent sites, via predefined RSS feeds for TV shows. You can, of course, create your own feeds. I found shows like Reaper and The Sarah Connor Chronicles aren’t included in the stock feed list. However updates are always coming out with new show definitions. Creating your own feeds is extremely intuitive. The filters help you seed out the bunk seeders, allowing you to determine a minimum number of seeders, exclude certain phrases and even check for new shows only on the day of/after the show airs. Now of course availability depends on the torrent community, but depending on where you live, sometimes you can get the show before it’s done airing in your timezone. I was able to download and start watching an episode of Heroes last season before the 9PM cutoff in the Pacific region. Ted can also automatically set itself to begin searching for the next episode once it finds the most recent one. All in all, it’s a great app when paired with something like uTorrent. I’ve been using it for about a year now and absolutely love it. Ted runs on the Java Runtime Environment (JRE) which means it’s available for Windows, Mac and Linux. But you know those Mac users, it’s all about looks. Good thing there’s TV Shows.

TV Shows
I haven’t had much experience with TV Shows, but it works similarly to the way that Ted does, using RSS feeds in it’s fetching of new shows. An advantage of TV Shows is that is runs as a daemon; it’s always on in the background but consumes no resources until it “wakes”, checks episodes and goes back to standby. It also allows you to set the quality of video desired from a torrent. If it doesn’t find one of the specified quality, it downloads the closest thing to it. There hasn’t been an update in quite a while but the site assures us that’s it’s not a dead project and huge update is eminent. (v 0.3.4 to v 1.0)

Tv Shows

That’s the short of it. Some torrent clients actually incorporate RSS readers so you can essentially do the same thing, but this is more of a “set it and forget it” method. Knowing that, you can set it up and go back to pwning n0Obz or whatever it is you happen to do during those ungodly hours when no one else is awake. Enjoy!

L8z,
AleX