Bootcamp, Take Two

Bootcamp logoI’ve had my previously-documented problems with Apple’s Bootcamp and silently cursed everyone from Redmond to Cupertino in my casting about to find someone to blame. In a fit of pique, I angrily deleted the NTFS partition Bootcamp helpfully created for me – someone or something had to be punished for my suffering. Surely, surely the blame lay with either software provider, hardware provider or both!
As should be obvious to anyone with an appreciation for foreshadowing, the problem was neither software nor hardware; rather, it was the wetware, or, to use an old sysadmin acronym, it was a PEBKAC issue. You see, the Windows XP media that I swore was patched to Service Pack 2 was, in fact, nothing of the sort. It might not even have been Service Pack 1. I humbly submitted a purchase request for XP SP2 media and re-created the Windows partition (formatting it as FAT32 this time so as to allow OS X to write to the partition if necessary). The media arrived a day later and I began the install anew.
This time, the install went flawlessly; well, as flawlessly as an install of Windows can be. I was struck by just how ugly the standard XP install is, from the blue ncurses-like text mode beginnings through the low-color “GUI” portion of the install, post-first-reboot. With the OS installed, I slid the Apple-provided driver disc into the MBP’s Superdrive and installed all of Apple’s “not-official” official drivers, rebooted and was quickly greeted by the default Playskool n’ Rolling Hills of WinXP. The urge to reboot into the safety of OS X was almost overwhelming, but I resisted. Valiantly did I download Firefox, AVG Free and Steam, and patiently did I wait while Half-Life 2 preloaded.
My impressions? Well, the hardware support isn’t quite there in the Apple drivers yet (hence the “beta” status, I guess), as the trackpad doesn’t work for two-fingered scrolling, the digital audio out is always on, the speakers do not turn off when you plug in headphones and there is no way to right-click without a second mouse button (or the help of a freeware utility). HL2 runs well, although not too well, which could be related to Apple’s reported underclocking of the MBP’s ATI graphics card.
In any event, the MBP makes a very attractive Windows laptop and one that easily stands with the best Dell, hp and Gateway can offer. Now if only someone could convince me to stay in Windows-land…

I Feel Dirty. Dirty And Ashamed. Stupid, Too.

Bootcamp logoSo Apple released a little piece of beta software called Bootcamp today. I don’t know if you’ve heard of it, but it allows Intel Mac owners to install Windows onto their new Macs. Being the tinkerer that I am, I couldn’t resist downloading Bootcamp and giving it a go on my MacBook Pro; after all, others seemed to be meeting with success in getting it installed on their MBPs.
So I pulled BC down, updated my firmware as per Apple’s instructionsdire warnings, started the BC installer, repartitioned my hard drive, threw the Windows XP Pro install disk into the Superdrive and then fired up the WinXP installer. The computer restarted and I was soon greeted by the “soothing” blue DOS screen of the XP installer – now that was a weird sight. After a brief “Copying files locally…” interval, I was prompted to strike the ‘Enter’ key, which I did. Nothing happened. I tried again. Still nothing. Figuring something may have gone wrong, I tapped the power button, hoping to come back up in OS X and continue on my merry way. The computer booted back onto the XP disk – it never gave me a chance to do otherwise! “Oh. Crap.“, thought I. Going for the trifecta, I rebooted a second time. Skunked again. In a last-ditch effort to salvage the affair, I plugged a USB keyboard into the MBP and restarted again. As per usual computer methodology, this actually allowed me to strike the ‘Enter’ key. Hooray.
I’m now in the middle of an XP install – it appears to have frozen after the initial GUI setup. The XP disc is still in the drive. This may take a while.
Why, oh why didn’t I take the blue pill?

Good Advice From Slate

I stumbled across an article over on Slate (by way of a Slashdot story) that attempts to answer, in a nutshell, the essential question PC users the world over ask themselves “Why can’t Microsoft get security right?”. The article, unfortunately, is too brief to accurately describe why MS can’t get it right, but it does feature some good advice:

What can you do to protect yourself? Besides avoiding Microsoft products, one way would be to use substitutes whenever possible. If you run Windows or the upcoming Vista, use a different e-mail program, browser, and/or media player than the ones that come in the box. Stay up to date on patches and anti-virus software. And the next time Bill G. promises to make software that is so fundamentally secure that customers never have to worry about it, ask him what decade he plans to release it.

Good advice, that. If you’re setting up a PC for friends or family, why not install Google Pack? That should handle things nicely, as it will even keep Firefox, Ad Aware, etc. up to date, meaning (most important of all) you won’t have to.