Should I Buy a Mac?

A teacher is after a new laptop, and asked if they should "just buy a Mac".

A few years ago the answer would have been "absolutely". Not because I was a Mac fan-boy (I was) but because compared to XP or even Vista, the Apple operating system and overall computer experience was just much better. Nowadays my answer is not so clear cut. I told him that of course "it depends". What's changed?

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Tech for Newbies!

I'm gonna try to get a new series going here on the Geekorium where I answer some of the questions I get asked in my job. I get asked for advice every day, and it's often more interesting than the sorts of things I actually do to get paid. Ages ago I toyed with the idea of making a site where I would break down technical concepts for the less technically minded, but wasn't sure it would have an audience. The advice I get asked for though already has an audience - the people that asked in the first place. So when I get asked a question I think warrants some fleshing out I'll put it under the new category Tech for Newbies.

omg n00b!
//www.flickr.com/photos/kimtimnashville/ / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Keep in mind if you're technically minded, that the people I give this advice to aren't. My answers are simplified and often lacking some of the stuff us geeks find very important. Feel free to point this stuff out in the comments, but try not to be too harsh on my for leaving it out! Also sometimes I don't actually have an answer - it doesn't mean I won't try to put them on the right track.

And if you're not a geek maybe I can help you out. Leave a suggestion (there's a suggestion tab just over there to the right) if you have a question you think I could answer. Make sure to read what the geeks have to add though!

The first topic I'm tackling is the age old dilemma - Should I Buy a Mac?

Bye Bye, Disqus

Tonight I disabled Disqus and tried to implement some of the same features manually. Rubenerd has been pushing his anti-disqus agenda for some time, and it ramped up when Taryn proclaimed it's virtues and Zombie_Plan bleated and caved too ahe know's I'm just kidding right?.

See ya!
BYE by Taz etc.

So as an experiment (and due to my underlying desire to stop handing stuff over to third parties), I turned it off. Here's what I installed in its place:

  • CommentLuv - puts a link to the commenter's most recent post under their comment.
  • Gravatar Signup - if a user doesn't have a Gravatar associated with their email, offers to sign them up for one.
  • Simple Facebook Connect - lets a commenter register using their Facebook account.
  • Simple Twitter Connect - lets a commenter register using their Twitter account.
  • OpenID - lets a commenter register using their OpenID account.
  • Subscribe to Comments - Adds a check-box so a commenter can have follow-up comments emailed to them.
  • Live Comment Preview - Shows a mockup of the comment being left as it's written. Kinda neat.

So that's seven plugins, plus an hour or two mucking around with site templates and CSS to get them looking vaguely acceptable (so many themes have very ugly comments). I had to style my comments separately, fix the threading, and alter the layout of the comment form. And I still have less functional comments than I did with Disqus. The only benefit I have is... I... don't know. I can say I don't use Disqus?

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Asides   [ + ]

a. he know's I'm just kidding right?

What Would Get Me Back to Social Media

I used Twitter for a while there and got quite into it. Then I got annoyed with it and stopped using it a bit, then came back, then left, then... you get the idea. Eventually I officially left. I've also been trying out pretty much every other social site out there and other than Facebook (which I use primarily because most of my family do), I haven't found one I like.

The Cat of Apathy
The Cat of Apathy by KateMonkey.

Here are the things that would get me back into it aPlease don't think I think anyone cares if I come back or not, I'm only posting this because people have asked.. Pretty much only one of these things need to happen for it to get me moving back.

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Asides   [ + ]

a. Please don't think I think anyone cares if I come back or not, I'm only posting this because people have asked.

iPhone Competitors, You Have 4 Months

This might be my next phone...

In about June or July my iPhone contract expires. Looking at the new 4.0 software that won't run on my 3G phone, and knowing that the next model will be out about then with (hopefully) the newer faster processor and better battery life, I'll probably be looking to upgrade. The problem is despite loving my iPhone, and what is to come, I abhor that what my iPhone can run is subject to the whims of Apple, and I hate that I'm tied to iTunes in any way.

So this is my wish for all the makers of Android handsets and iPhone/iPad competitors:
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Folder Redirection for Unusual Paths [Group Policy]

As part of my Group Policy Rewrite I'm attempting to make use of Folder Redirection which lets you specify where common important Windows folders reside on the network.

Normally when you first log on, Windows makes a few folders under your user document folder for things such as Music, Favourites aactually Favorites, but I'm not American, Downloads etc. On a standalone machine these are usually stored under your user profile folder (C:\Users\{username}\Downloads in Win 7 for example) but they can be moved when you're on a network bthey can be moved on a standalone machine too, but that's a different post.

In Group Policy, expand User Configuration > Policies > Windows Settings > Folder Redirection. Right click on one of the folders listed and select "Properties". Documents is a good place to start, as I'll show you how all the others can hang off that.

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Asides   [ + ]

a. actually Favorites, but I'm not American
b. they can be moved on a standalone machine too, but that's a different post
I footnotes