Wednesday Apr 29, 2009

Coolest use I've seen yet for VirtualBox

Palm's new WebOS running the new Pre phone emulator inside VirtualBox, running on Mac OS X, courtesy of Engadget.


Thursday Apr 16, 2009

A Mac OS X application to help me stay organized

I've got lots to update here, including my experiences using OpenSolaris as my home file server which I've been using for a couple of months now with success.

But now, I want to take just a minute to mention a really cool Mac OS X app that I use every single day: it's called Notebook, from a company called Circus Ponies, and it's wonderful.

For years, I've carried around a physical book to write notes in: you know, catch meeting notes, take action items, that kind of stuff.  I switched to a Franklin planner some years ago and found it helpful for me to organize myself.  But there were always some things that I couldn't put into my Franklin filing system, like presentations or technical documentation.  Also, I have horrible handwriting and I'm slow at it (but fast at typing), so I looked for a way to do all of this on a computer.

That's what I use Notebook for.  The metaphor is a spiral notebook: the app looks like a spiral notebook and you just start typing into it.  It's trivially easy to make outlines, just by using Tab or Shift-Tab.  Making action items is similarly trivial: as you're typing whatever, just press Command-Control-A (action) and it's now a to-do item with a little checkbox next to it for you to click when you're done.  Want to give that to-do a due date?  Type Command-Control-T (time) and type "today" or "wednesday" or "6/1/2009" and it'll do the right thing.

If something you're typing refers to something else like a URL, there's a simple command you type to attach the link; you see a little icon next to whatever you were typing.

Want to link a document to your notes?  Just drag it onto your typing and a thumbnail of your document will show up, and Notebook will keep track even if you move the document around your directory tree.

Notebook has a nice indexing mechanism, too: for each notebook you make, it adds some standard pages to the end, like a To Do Items page, a an index of words (like you'd see at the end of a text book), a page showing all your attachments you've dragged into the notebook, and some other things that make sense once you've started using some of the other cool features.

I love this app.   I think it's a beautiful Mac application, and it really does help me stay organized.  I'm not even scratching the surface of what it can do.

Check it out.  Or as with just about everything nowadays, become a Facebook fan of Notebook.

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Sunday Mar 15, 2009

VirtualBox bug fixed: clonehd works in version 2.1.4

Not too long ago, I blogged about a workaround to a bug in VirtualBox.  The problem is fixed in VirtualBox version 2.1.4, available for download here.

Here's where the bug fix comes in handy: suppose you use VirtualBox to create a virtual machine that you want to use again and again; maybe it's a test environment of Windows, Linux, OpenSolaris...whatever you like.  An easy way to make copies of that test environment is to type "VBoxManage clonevdi WindowsXP.vdi copyOfWinXP.vdi" (or whatever you call your VirtualBox hard disk images).  But the "clonevdi" command wasn't making copies correctly, so there was a workaround.  It's not a big deal, but having the bug fixed makes it just that much easier to make perfect copies of the environment you worked so hard to create.

I discovered at DrupalCon that a lot of people are using VirtualBox.  I have been a faithful VMware user for well over five years and have liked it, but I've also been using VirtualBox for about six months now and I find it good enough for my personal needs that I've switched from VMware to VirtualBox.  One nice little benefit: it can be a host on all the operating systems I use (Ubuntu Linux, Mac OS X, OpenSolaris; I tend not to use Windows as a host OS, only as a guest, because I'm too concerned about viruses infecting my Windows environment and I'd like to be able to just blow it away and start from scratch easily; VirtualBox lets me do just that).


The views expressed on this blog are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Oracle. What more do you need to know, really?


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