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Sync your life

If you would like to sync contacts and calendar entries wirelessly between your Mac and your iOS device(s) (such as iPhone, iPad, …), you can either subscribe to Apple’s “MobileMe” service at 79 € per year or you can manually set up sync solutions, e.g. using Google’s services. While “MobileMe” is certainly the much more convenient solution, it is also expensive. (more…)

iOS 4 with free iPhone: Tethering still possible

I didn’t find on the internet whether Apple’s new iOS 4 would still allow Tethering for free iPhones, e.g. iPhones bought in Italy (like mine) and used with any SIM card. So I had to try out myself to find out: It does.

Working in multiple locations

I guess it becomes more and more usual to work not only in one place but have your office wherever you are. Since years I find it extremely practical to have all my data on one mobile computer (a MacBook Pro, currently) and work with this laptop in various locations. But different locations require different computer settings: The network setup may change, the printer system as well, the filesystem you’re connected to can be different as well as many other things. Since I found it annoying to always have to change all these things by hand, I put in place a set of scripts with which all setttings can be changed from one location to another with one simple shell command. When I get to my institute, I call a script called switchmpia.sh which looks like this:

#!/bin/bash
rm ~/.bash_profile
ln -s ~/.bash_profile_mpia ~/.bash_profile
sudo mv /etc/cups/client.conf.off /etc/cups/client.conf
#
switch_network_mpia.osascript
echo “**************     Network environment set to home ******************”
#
echo “**************         Environment set to MPIA        ***************”
echo “Printer settings only become effective after restart of applications.”

#!/bin/bash

rm ~/.bash_profile

ln -s ~/.bash_profile_mpia ~/.bash_profile

sudo mv /etc/cups/client.conf.off /etc/cups/client.conf

switch_network_mpia.osascript

It changes the default .bash_profile to one that has some institute-specific settings (see below), changes the CUPS settings (so that I can use my USB printer at home and the CUPS network printers in my institute) and calls an Apple Script that changes my Mac’s network settings (see below).
My .bash_profile_mpia looks like this:
export MIDIDATA=/Volumes/astrodata/MIDIDATA
# …
echo “Environment: MPIA”
source ~/.bash_profile_generic
It sets a number of environment variables that I use in my scripts to values appropriate for the disks that I have available in my office, then it calls my generic .bash_profile.
The above mentioned Apple Script switch_network_mpia.osascript looks like this:
#!/usr/bin/osascript
tell application “System Events” to tell (process 1 whose frontmost is true) to click menu item “MPIA” of menu 1 of menu item “Umgebung” of menu 1 of menu bar item 1 of menu bar 1
It changes my Mac’s network location (which uses a German localization) to the settings for my institute (setting mainly the correct proxy servers). A good website to learn how Apple Script can help you with scripting system preferences was macosxautomation.com. The Apple Script was the most tricky bit for me and I was happy to receive very helpful comments from Pierre L. in Apple’s discussion forum for this (see the link for more information about this). Thanks again, Pierre L.!

Core 2 Duo 1.83 GHz faster than Core Cuo 2 GHz

The Superdrive (DVD burner for those who don’t speak Apple) of my Core Duo 2GHz MacBook (MacBook 1,1) never worked correctly: It didn’t read DVD-Rs I have burned with any other DVD burner and it also was not able to burn DVDs! But I didn’t find a time where I didn’t need my MacBook so I could bring it to the Apple service and get the problem fixed. So I now bought a new MacBook Core 2 Duo (unfortunately just a few weeks before they got their speed-bump) to replace my Core Duo and be able to fix the latter one within the warranty period. The upgrade did not make any troubles: I just replaced my MacBook Core 2 Duo’s internal harddrive by the MacBook Core Duo’s one and (to quote Steve Jobs) “Boom!”. That means: No problem, everything works. The Apple service (notably the guys at Comacs, Würzburg) replace not only the DVD drive but also the complete topcase (I just told them that the Ä key didn’t work properly but they told me it was dirty anyway so they replaced the whole… Nice!).

So now to the benchmark I ran on both MacBooks. The hardware configuration was practically the same, except for the processor: Both had 2 GB of RAM and both had the same 120 GB Fujitsu MHV2120BH hard drive, the only hardware difference is the processor: An Intel Core Duo 2 GHZ (“Yonah”) in the old, an Intel Core 2 Duo 1.83 GHZ (“Merom”) in the new MacBook. Unfortunately there was also a software difference: I had run the test on the Yonah MacBook in August 2008, therefore it had 10.4.7, the test on the Merom MacBook was done at the end of April, so it had 10.4.9. The rest of the software configuration was practically the same.

This is what XBench said (an excerpt of only the differing or otherwise interesting results), more points means faster computer:

  • Overall result: 52.59 points (Yonah), 96.17 (Merom)
  • CPU Test: 74.25 vs. 90.42
  • Memory test: 112.38 vs. 106.72 (the Merom was *slower* although it had physically the same RAM built in as the Yonah…)
  • Quartz Graphics Test: 53.37 vs. 108.78
  • OpenGL Graphics Test: 221.89 vs. 172.44
  • User Interface Test: 204.10 vs. 19.38 (!!)

I also did a Mathematica 4 benchmark on both systems using Karl Unterkofler’s MMA 4.0 test notebook. At that time I still used Mathematica 4 because it did all that I needed. The result from the Mathematica test was: Yonah: Total Kernel Time: 35.76, Benchmark: 2.89; Merom: Total Kernel Time: 33.16, Benchmark: 3.06.

Mathematica 6 has a built-in benchmarking tool. For the Merom notebook it calculated a benchmark result of 1.26 from a total test time of 68.3 seconds.

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