Mac OSX

Mac OSX 10.5.3 fixes some network weirdness

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The just-released OSX 10.5.3 finally fixes a weird network problem that many Mac users have been experiencing since starting to use Leopard - some network-based tasks were taking insane amounts of time, e.g. connecting via SSH to remote machines, etc. One of the more unusual effects of this caused the multi-service instant messaging program Adium to not reliably connect to the MSN Messenger service. So good news for Mac users everywhere.

Mozy Backup - 2gb of online encrypted backup for free

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I've mentioned Mozy Backup before, a service that gives you 2gb of free online backup space for your Windows or Mac computer. Well they've just released their "version 1.0" update for the Mac software so I think it's time to give it a go, you have nothing to loose. One minor note - I really wouldn't recommend trying the service if you only have a dialup internet service, it will take a long time to upload your data on a modem though once the first backup is finished additional ones should run pretty quickly for most people. Lastly, if you like it and need more than 2gb of space you can buy "unlimited" space for $5 per month per computer.

Mac OSX Leopard doesn't like NAS drives

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It seems that there is a compatibility problem between the version of Samba, the Windows networking layer built into OSX, installed in Mac OSX Leopard/10.5 and what most NAS (network attached storage) drives use.

I discovered this when trying to get my brand new Mapower MAP-KC31N NAS enclosure to work with it - the drive works fine with Windows, and my Mac can get to the Windows machine, but the Mac cannot connect to the KC31N. The KC31N itself is based on the the "Landisk" controller, which is used in a whole range of inexpensive NAS drives and generally seems to work well, and were it not for the fact that I'm hooking it to a Mac I'd be none the wiser.

Looking around further I've discovered that not only is the KC31N incompatible, but a while range of other NAS drives, including more well known brands - Iomega, DLink, etc, that do not use the Landisck adapter. With all of this I'm inclined to think it's an incompatibility stemming from the version/configuration of Samba itself and therefore something they need to fix.

So come on Apple, please fix this bug so us customers can get back to their work. How's about it?

Crossover Mac + Outlook 2003 - neat idea, very unstable

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Microsoft's Outlook 2003 has been the defacto standard for business-level communications for several years, especially for businesses that use Microsoft's Exchange system (which is most of them). For anyone using a Mac the options were limited to either basic IMAP access, which doesn't support all of the stored address books, calendars, etc, or Microsoft's Entourage application which is promoted as a reasonable equivalent. There are two key problems with Entourage, however:

  1. It doesn't support many of the "Public folder" data sharing mechanisms, so you can't use shared calendars, tasks, etc that are stored in Public Folders, only messages.
  2. It is unstable:
    • I can fairly consistently crash it just by writing a message and hitting down down arrow (!)
    • it randomly gets the server connection messed up - you leave it running overnight, come back in the next morning to see "unable to connect to the server", at which point it fails to connect to the server no matter what you do, and requires a magical combination of star alignment and crossing of limbs to get it working again.

A new option entered the arena lately - directly running Outlook using Codeweaver's Crossover Mac application, which provides an emulation layer to run some Windows software directly on your Intel-based Mac (or Linux box). With the brand new release of Crossover Mac (comparable to Crossover Office version 6 for Linux) they finally added official support for Microsoft Office 2003 including Outlook 2003, so at work when my Entourage decided to implode I politely asked for it to be bought for me. Half an hour later I was sitting down to install it.
Crossover Mac has the potential to be a really great program, it is just currently hampered by a few issues:

  • Lack of specific documentation. Several people on their forums say that they have Outlook running without any problems but nobody has said exactly what release they're using, exactly what extras were used (you need IE6 installed for it to work fully), what the installation options were for the software, etc.
  • Instability. CXMac has locked up on me a few times when it was attempting to "reboot" (not a physical reboot, it's all within the emulation layer).

After wasting half a day on it I still don't have Outlook 2003 running correctly: one install stopped working after I installed IE6, one refused to start Outlook at all, on another I installed IE6 first only to have Outlook not display HTML emails at all (but it is at least running my mailing list filters to keep my inbox clean).
Tomorrow I'm going to try out Outlook XP/2002, to see if it is any more reliable, but so far I'm rather disappointed.

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