Saturday, November 22, 2008

Let the Big Three fend for themselves

I've watched my 401K evaporate over the last couple of months, and the problems of the economy will irrevocably change the remaining years of my life. Nonetheless, I am convinced that we need to let the unsavory part of capitalism play out, just as we do during the boom times, and not bail out GM, Ford or Chrysler. It's part of the price we pay for embracing our economic philosophy. In the long run, we'll be better without the Big Three if they can't be competitive in a world marketplace, even if the short term pain is great. Remember Pan Am and Eastern Airlines? They were the giants of their industry as well, but the airline industry became stronger and more competitive without them.

It is the excesses and poor management decisions that have been made for the last two decades that have led the Big Three to this precipice. Simply giving them money will elongate the pain, not solve the problem, and it won't suddenly instill a vision of how to restructure their companies to be profitable.

While the issue of flying to a Congressional hearing in a private jet to claim you're broke is largely symbolic, it shows poor judgment at the very least, and at worst demonstrates that GM, Ford and Chrysler honestly don't get the message that they're out of step with the times and the current global economy, and in particular, their competition. No doubt the type of changes that would have to be put in place for them to be competitive in the global automotive market are draconian, and would clearly have a dire financial effect on their current employees and pensioners, and hence the economy as well. So would going out of business, which is what they're threatening will happen. The Big Three need to take these very painful steps to once again become competitive. Let them show their sincerity and intent by biting the bullet and restructuring their companies regardless of the horrible pain it would inflict. Then, and only then, should Congress even consider any financial assistance.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Symantec Anti Virus versus Intego Virus Barrier

I use my Mac in a corporate environment and so don't have a choice of whether or not to run an AV client. With thousands of computers on our network, the security folks don't want to take even the slightest risk, and I don't blame them.

Symantec Anti-Virus (SAV) Corporate edition is our standard, and I dutifully ran it on my MacBook for the last two years. I came to hate the way it would trigger AutoProtect and start consuming CPU resources for apparently no reason. That in turn would heat up the CPU and start the fan going, which on the last generation MacBook sounded like a jet plane APU. This was especially true when I did a SuperDuper backup. I'd come back to the computer and the fan would be going at full speed until I either disconnected the backup drive or shut off AutoProtect.

I just upgraded to the new 15" MacBook Pro and decided it was time to try another AV client. After doing my research, I decided to switch to Intego. The difference is night and day.

This is a totally non-obtrusive product that just lives in the background. In my research, I read comments that state that there's really nothing to find on a Mac and that the Mac doesn't suffer from viruses or trojans like Windows. That may in fact be true. If, however, you're required to run an AV client, or you just plain don't want to take chances, my initial reaction to VirusBarrier X5 is that it's a better designed product. What I'd really like to see is an empirical study as to which product identified viruses most effectively. What I read in most reviews of SAV and VirusBarrier was simply anecdotal evidence that they found viruses. If I'm going to run an AV client on a Mac, at the very least, I want to know which one is really the most effective at identifying and wiping out the few viruses that may exist on a Mac.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Apple Wireless Mighty Mouse

I've owned two of these mice for over a year now. I keep one at home and the other at my office, and I really like them. They're the right heft and feel for a mouse, and the best implementation of Bluetooth I've seen for an input device. They look pretty jazzy too! I found them to be a great accessory for my old black MacBook and now my new late 2008 15" MacBook Pro.

I have two things I'd caution potential buyers about that you might not know. The first is that the scroll ball eventually picks up dust and oil from your fingers and will stop working. Since this mouse can't be disassembled, the only way to fix this is with a lint free cloth and a bit of alcohol. The ball needs to be aggressively rubbed in all directions to get it and the underlying contacts clean. On one mouse this worked, but on the other it still has something that is keeping it from being optimal in the down direction. It works, kind of, but clearly not as well as when I bought it.

Second, if you're older and/or arthritic, the side keys, which by default are programmed to use Expose, are a bit stiff and require some force. If you have weakness using your thumb and third finger, you'll have difficulty using this feature.

One last hint. If you do as I did and buy two of these mice for two different locations, you can pair both of them with your Mac. Only the last one used, however, will automatically mate at logon. If you need to change from one mouse to the other because you're changed location, simply left-click the mouse at the logon screen, wait one second, and the mouse will be auto-paired with the computer. I can't tell you how long that took me to figure out, and no one in the Apple discussions group could answer the question!