En Londres

Well we’re now living right next to the cheapest road on the English Monopoly board, sunny Old Kent Road. Yep, we’re in London! Yay!

We’ve had a good couple of first days back in London. After a slightly delayed flight, sitting on Toronto tarmac with no air conditioning for 30 minutes, we arrived 30 minutes late into Heathrow. Thankfully Air Canada’s in flight entertainment, designed by Miette herself, was in full working order so I got to watch two movies about New York being destroyed (both great for different reasons. With no sleep under our belts, we were picked up at the airport by dad, who then drove us over to meet t’other Matt at our temporary digs south of the river before we all wandered around on the south bank for a bit trying to stay awake/human.

Now we’re getting back into English habits, or at least learning them for the first time in Miette’s case. Water heaters that operate on Economy 7 and need to be switched on before a shower. Hobbs sandwiches at Borough market. Tesco supermarkets selling everything you need, and a lot you don’t but have to have anyway. Big electrical plugs. Pants meaning pants, not trousers. Coins that weigh you down and break wallets. Remembering to swipe Oyster cards at the beginning and end of your journey. The cost of everything compared to Canada and the US; sometimes it’s not as bad as you think it will be, others it’s doubly worse. Having the same accent as everyone else, or not in Miette’s case. The different sound of police sirens. Television licences, and the fine British programs they fund. Proper bacon… mmmm.

It’s good to be home.

An Aside: 3 Mobile Broadband for Apple Mac OS X

Now some handy hints if you want to use 3‘s Pay as you Go Mobile Broadband USB modem on your Apple Mac.

  1. First up, you have to get the black modem – the white one doesn’t have the right software on it (only OS X 10.4 and greater). The black modem is only available at 3 shops right now, big ups to the helpful staff in Carphone Warehouse on Tottenham Court Road who told me that.
  2. Secondly, the instructions will tell you there’s a CD to install – they lie. Instead, plug in the modem and run the package that shows up in your Finder as a plug in hard drive. You’ll have to re-start your laptop at this point.
  3. When you plug in your modem, the program should automatically launch, if it doesn’t then start the program first before you plug in the USB modem.
  4. Finally, when you get the modem from the store and buy some credit they should really tell you that this credit is not already applied to the modem, but maybe they won’t. If they don’t tell you this, then you can see your modem’s working by going to www.three.co.uk/my3 – if that page comes up (and pages outside of it won’t) then you can click on the icon to activate your topup. When you do this be sure to choose the Add On Broadband option in the dropdown and not just ‘top up’ otherwise you’ll end up paying £1 per Mb, rather than getting 1 Gb for £10. Oops.
  5. If you make the mistake of setting your credit to ‘Top Up Only’ like I did, then make sure you don’t browse any pages – instead, log into the my3 page and re-allocate your credit. Of course to do this you need the password for your 3 account… which gets texted to your modem when you register. Unfortunately on the Mac you can’t access this password, so you’ll have to go down to a 3 store and borrow a 3 phone to retrieve the password – unless you have a friend handy with a 3 phone you can borrow. Simple.

Having gotten the browser working I can say it’s a great value, fast mobile broadband service – I just wish they wrote better instructions and software for Mac!

How to Slow Down You MacBook Pro: Lesson #1

My new MacBook Pro had been behaving remarkably badly for the last few days, it would start up and get to the login screen quickly – but then once I logged in it would sit do nothing for a good few minutes, perhaps with the search icon showing in the top bar. Once started, many programs apparently hung while loading. This was a bit frustrating, as it’s a brand new Mac so it should be running optimally.

Unsurprisingly it turns out to be ‘my’ fault. I’d loaded my collection of fonts from my PC into the FontBook font management software the other day and it wasn’t handling the few thousand fonts that well. So I went into my user resources and just moved all the fonts out, then restarted the machine, and now everthing is fast again. My next quest is to locate the few key fonts I need regularly and install just those, rather than suffering from font overload.

Of course this is my own stupidity, but I also wonder why the Font Book wasn’t managing the fonts as expected. I had turned off all the fonts except a few, but it seems like the system is still looking at all the fonts before it then cross-checks with the font manager to see which ones are active. This seems a bit daft to me – surely if the integrated font management software says ‘this font is off’ then the system should ignore it until told otherwise? Plus that also raises the question – “How many fonts can my Mac run before slowing down?“. There doesn’t seem to be an answer, but I’ll let you know if I find out.

Life on Mac and PC

Having had my new MacBook Pro for a few days I’m finding myself learning more and more of the cute little tips and tricks to make it easier to use. I especially like being able to scroll multi-directionally on the touchpad by using two fingers at once. Very clever. I was also happy to find that once I’d set up a new wireless network, the MacBook found my PC with very few problems – unlike the old days back at Quidnunc in ’96 fighting with third party software.

Of course since I’m not fully migrated over from my PC, I’m having to work on both machines at once and that causes some confusion. Firstly I keep finding myself trying to scroll using two fingers on my PC laptop.. And the other thing that’s really catching me out is using the ‘CTRL’ key for shortcuts rather than the Apple key. The Apple key on my Mac is where the ‘ALT’ key is on my PC – so I keep pressing ‘ALT+C’ to copy instead of ‘CTRL+C’. Although it’s CTRL+A (select all) that’s really bugging me right now…

Joining the Collective

Well I’ve finally bitten the bullet and joined the cult-like throngs of Mac owners everywhere. Damn you Jobs, you’ve finally won! No longer do I need a MacBook Pro.

I’ve now had my new MacBook Pro (15.4″, 2.2 GHz, Matte Screen) for all of one hour and have already, in no particular order; marveled at the packaging, complained about it getting too hot and how stupid that the fans blow onto the base of the screen, laughed at the ‘hilarious’ voice synthesizer, scared my girlfriend into thinking a monkey was attacking through the built-in camera and made a beautiful photo book. Ok, that the last one was a lie, but the rest are true.

So now I have to look forward to the fun of transferring everything from my PC to this new toy and learning a pile of new shortcuts. Actually, I have to learn important things such as how to install applications first, but sure that will become obvious with time.

One of us. One of us. One of us. One of us.