Computing News And Notes

A few small compuer-related things have popped up over the last few days and I thought I’d take a second or two to jot down my observations for the benefit of all you fellow Intertron users out there.

  1. Apple’s recently-released 10.4.8 update to Mac OS X added a nifty “zoom using scroll wheel feature, allowing users to use their mouse wheel (or, in my case, a two-fingered scroll on the touchpad of my MBP) to zoom in on the area of the screen directly below the mouse cursor. Very nice for on-the-fly graphic design and handy for those with poor eyesight too, I’d imagine.
  2. On a second Apple note, I spent around 6 hours of my work day yesterday cursing Apple’s very name, as a firmware update for the newly-arrived Mac Pro (which will function as an OpenDirectory server until we are able to get our hands on some new Intel Xserves, at which point the Pro will most likely become my primary workstation. W00t!) adamantly refused to apply. I followed Apple’s instructions exactly time and again and was ultimately frustrated in my attempts to apply the EFI update. I had nearly exhausted my Google Fu when I happened across a random comment on a blog entry (I’ve since misplaced the actual search result) stating that the EFI update won’t run from a RAID array, as Mac OS X doesn’t actually support booting from a RAID setup on Intel boxes. Nice for Apple to tell me this, as I had (you guessed it) been attempting this update process from a nice 500GB RAID 0 array. Crikey. I threw a 250GB disk I had lying about into the box, installed the non-server OS X 10.4.7 from the DVDs that came with the Pro, ran Software Update and managed to update the firmware a mere 5 minutes after finishing the install. Arrrgh!
  3. If you’re a Red Hat Enterprise Linux user and you’re considering obtaining an Alienware Aurora desktop on which to use your chosen operating system, I have one simple piece of advice: Don’t. Buy. An Alienware. ‘Least not an AMD64-based one. I bought an Aurora SLI for work with the notion that it would be a screamer; instead, it has been a nigh-unending pain in the butt. The sky2 driver apparently freaks out every once in a while, bringing the machine to its knees and forcing a hard reboot, the onboard soundcard is really not an option, and NVIDIA’s Linux SLI drivers are prone to occasional lockups. This, combined with the fact that Alienware’s customer support stinks would suggest to me that RHEL users (and perhaps Whitebox/CentOS users, by extension) would be wise to avoid the Aurora. I make no claims for Mandriva, Fedora, Ubuntu, Gentoo, etc. users. Caveat emptor is the moral, I guess. I look forward to moving to the Mac Pro as my full-time workstation soon.