My Fortnight as a Mac Fanboy

28 June 2015

FanboySmOK, the title is a little on the link-bait side. I wasn’t so much a fanboy as a dedicated Mac user for two weeks without even looking at a Windows machine. Why would I do such a thing? Simple, I hate Windows 8. I have used every Microsoft operating system since MS DOS 3.3, but I just cannot endure Mr. Sinofski’s design aesthetic since he supported putting that ribbon on MS Office. You are welcome to that design if you like it, but I find it as intuitive and pleasing as a barf salad.

I tried Ubuntu. A great operating system, as are all the Linux flavours, but it just isn’t ready for the mainstream. The absolute inability to take an office document from Windows to Linux to Windows without a formatting nightmare is just a deal breaker at this stage of my careers. Don’t get me wrong; if you are just ‘browsing, Email, and stuff,’ or a nerdy person doing nerdy things, Linux is the OS for you!

So I ran some week-long diagnostics on my Windows machine and became a slave to the Mac. Honestly, it wasn’t really a hard transition at all. Almost anything that a user needs from a Windows machine can be done on a Mac, though possibly a little differently. Being a results oriented kind of guy that doesn’t play enough games, this scored well for me.

Everything was perfect, sunshine, and rainbows, right? Well there were a few things that I did notice that shocked me, and would prevent me from becoming a true Apple Fanboy. The first of these revelations is that Apple users are very patient; Yosemite is SLOW. Before you get out the torches and pitchforks, try Mac hardware with a spinning drive and it is obvious that an equivalent Windows 7 machine running similar basic software is much faster (compare Apples to apples if you will). Mac used to be faster, but it seems that the battle of the bloat has come to a new winner.

Also, it might have been true that Mac OS was once far more stable than Windows, but it isn’t now; I had more crashes from a clean Mac Mini as my seasoned Windows 7 machine over a comparable 2 week period. And then there is the customizing issue; you can only do what Apple will let you do – period. I researched how to set up for a unique use case and heard, “Why would you do that? You are supposed to do it this way. Macs don’t do that.” That might sound reasonable in print, but actually hearing it sounded like something a Stepford wife might say.

Now I do have to be fair, Apple has a lot of things going for it. Mac’s lack of an obvious registry is something that Microsoft really needs to steal. The included apps are decent enough for anyone to get started doing amazing things (with the exception of iTunes, but that is a monster on any platform). Apple hardware is high quality, power efficient, and is so easy to re-image that one might believe that Apple actually cares about its customer experience. Overall, Mac is a real contender if you don’t like Microsoft’s direction and can tolerate some seemingly arbitrary restrictions. Or we can wait and see if Windows 10 sucks less.

New Internet Threat

28 October 2013

There is a very recent threat on the Internet that is being referred to as a crypto-locker attack. You may be familiar with terms like ad-ware and spyware but this is a new type of malware threat known as ransom-ware, which infects your computer and offers you a chance to buy software to “clean” the malware.

According to security expert Steve Gibson (host of Security Now!), this is a new threat uses strong encryption to encrypt the files on your hard drive. Normally, encryption is a great security measure IF YOU HAVE THE KEYS. This software encrypts your files and demands up to $300 for the keys to get your files back. Please note that people that would write this type of software are not likely to honour any deals.

This attack has already made the authors A LOT OF MONEY. Steve Gibson warns that this might be the beginning of a new family of threats from copy-cats.

If your computer gets this malware, your files are gone.

There is no way to recover your files. Also, because the scam tricks the user into installing the software, there is no antivirus protection from the threat at this time. This threat only affects Windows based PCs for now but is a very successful attack.

The attack tricks people into installing the software by directing users to a website that looks very similar to a site that you actually use or offers a download (usually through Email). The actual download will (at this time) appear to be a PDF file but will actually be an executable (possibly ending with “.exe”). Once this file is run, there is no getting your files back.

What You Can Do

  • Follow the common advice to never install software that you were not explicitly meaning to install
  • Do not follow links in Emails. If your bank contacts you, go directly to the bank’s website to log in as you would normally (as an example)
  • Be cautious of suspicious Emails or attachments. These people know how to cause fear, which leads to mistakes
  • Practice general safe computing – prevention is your best cure

An Officer is Laid to Rest Today

21 March 2013

No matter what you think of police in general, nobody should die in the line of their work.  An unfortunate accident last week ended the life of 26 year old Officer Jennifer Kovach.  This broke a streak of no officers dying in the line of duty in the Guelph, Ontario area since 1964.  All the flags in the small city are at half mast as the public and services join together to grieve one of their own.  To all those who have donned a uniform in the name of serving the public, remember the most important thing is to come home safe.