Category Archives: Mac OS X

Mac OS X

Back to Windows

After many years of using and promoting Linux, and more recently the Mac, I’m giving up the fight and going back to using Windows. Perhaps ‘back’ is the wrong word, since I’ll be switching to Vista. I’ve gotten tired of not having the device drivers I need, having to research every accessory I buy to see whether it will work on the Mac or in Linux, futzing for hours with arcane commands and configuration files just to get my webcam to take a picture.

I’m also sick of missing out on current events, like the Conficker worm, which somehow made the top story on Google News last night. Top story! I was feeling really left out. Once I have windows installed on my Mac Pro, though, I should be able to join the Conficker party in no time.

Sure, it’ll be difficult to do my work, since it relies largely on UNIX-based software, but hey, that’s what Cygwin is for, right? And PuTTY. Got any recommended software for me? It’s been a while since I was a full-time Windows user. A Quicksilver replacement would be particularly welcome. And send me a copy of Conficker if you have it — thanks.

Cisco VPN Client Error 51 After Leopard 10.5.3 Upgrade

JHU uses Cisco VPN for outside connections to the university network. Unfortunately, this requires using Cisco’s VPN client, which is not really available for free download on the internet at large. Normally when I have a problem, I just re-install it, but the current version provided by Hopkins refuses to install on 10.5.3, citing a wrong O.S. version number. “Must be 10.4 or greater.” So 10.5 !>= 10.4? Anyway, what’s the problem I was trying to fix?

After upgrading my workstation from 10.5.2 to 10.5.3, the VPN client refused to load with a message about “Client error 51”, saying it couldn’t find the VPN service. This may be related to my use of an external USB wifi adapter, but it was never a problem in 10.5.2. Regardless, I found that restarting the VPN service fixed the problem. As an administrative user, I had to run this:

sudo /System/Library/StartupItems/CiscoVPN/CiscoVPN restart

Now everything works fine.

Firefox 3

After checking my most important extensions for updates (most had them) for Firefox 3 compatibility, I took the plunge and upgraded to version 3.

So far it seems pretty snappy, though I’m not used to the new look.

If I hit any snags as I use it, I’ll update this page.

Phun With Macs

Phun, the interactive physics simulator, is now available for Mac OS X.

Be warned. If you like physics or tinkering around with things, this program could be a huge time sync sink. (I’ve been futzing with SyncML too much lately.) I was playing with it in (ugh) Windows XP last time I was in New Orleans, and Amanda informs me that what I thought was about 20 minutes was actually closer to two hours.

Calculating Large Numbers in C

As a corollary to my last post, it’s important to be careful when calculating file seek positions (if you’re skipping around that way). It turns out it’s necessary to cast all of the numbers being used when calculating a seek position to a large integer, such as unsigned long int.

By the way, Rob had some helpful comments on that last post. (Thanks Rob!)