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Strongly Considering an Apple Mac

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#176 Bob Pasken

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Posted 15 November 2003 - 02:13 PM

We receive all of our meteorological data via a high speed satellite link. We previously used a Sun 220R server to handle the up/downlink protocols, data decoding and management. The machine was in service 5 years without ever a crash/reboot or hang. The 220R was EOL'd and policy says when a machine is EOL'd it gets replaced since it is mission critical. Unfortunately it was replaced with a Dell PowerEdge dual-Xeon server. The Dell still runs Solaris as it's OS so the OS has no bearing on the stability since it has the same code base as the Sparc version, ie. it is just compiled for Intel rather than Sparc.The Dell server was nearly twice (1.9x) as expensive as the more powerful Sun server we wanted.Unfortunately the Dell refuses to stay up longer than a day or two. Hard hangs are common, and random inet service race conditions come and go. Even with premium Wintel hardware (Dell PowerEdge) the build quality is not present. Parts are stressed (1500W power supply and 1450W draw) with poor parts layout (SCSI traces overlaying network traces) and just shoddy assembly practices. Wintel people do not know how to build reliable hardware. I believe this is partly because they are so cost driven. You cannot build quality hardware for $399, just as you cannot get a 1/8th wave 8" mirror for $200. You may get lucky and have Dell PowerEdge that works the way it should 24/7, just like you might get an 8" Dob with a 1/8th wave mirror for $300. I like my hardware dependable. When I sit on an island in the pacific collecting data, losing a disk drive or having a hard hang requiring me to shutdown the experiment while I power everything down and restart just doesn't cut it.That's why I buy Apple and Sun or IBM with SCSI tape and disk and ECC memory. No matter how much cooling you have with 1450w draw and 1500W supply won't last long and when it acts funny there go your disks




#177 summitlake

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Posted 15 November 2003 - 04:25 PM

Bob, thanks for a fascinating and useful perspective. If you need help sitting on an island in the Pacific collecting data just let me know. And thanks to imjeffp for the G5 evangelissimo link. Guy Kawasaki would be proud. I may get one before all is said and done, but isn't that about the cost of a TeleVue? Priorities, priorities.

I am using a PC Power and Cooling 450W Silencer. You would not think two or 3 HD's would tax that, but I have been wrong before.

Rusty, I nicknamed the Swiftech MCX462 CPU cooler the "Cape Canaveral" but you can tone them down with a rheostat if you cross-check CPU temp. I do not overclock so that was a kinda stoopid investment in heavy metal, on my part.

#178 Rusty

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Posted 15 November 2003 - 09:42 PM

Bob, some Wintel (or WinAMD) people know how to build decent boxes - even Dell knows how - but just doesn't; I can't complain, as it helps finance my addiction to, er, interest in astronomy. Yet I still run into people that object to the $100-200 premium on Tyan or Gigabyte boards even in modest server applications, and $400 for a decent server case and another $500 for a redundant power supply makes them clutch the chest. Then I hear murmuring that sounds something like "Aitch-Pee, Aitch-Pee". They turn pale when I mention RAID 0+1 (even IDE) and a $500 UPS...:smashpc:

Actually I've run into a couple of instances where had the box been CLEANED every 8-10 years, it would still have been serviceable. (I got 3 cups of crud out of one mid-tower case)

Alex, the PCP&C 450 is the best in its power range, period. You have plenty of power for (only) three hard drives. The Swiftech MCX-462 has been supplemented by the -V, which has the outer rows of pins bent outward. Never used the original MCX-462 (used the MCX-370 several times - quiet and efficient). In addition to the Swiftechs and Vantec Aeroflows, the Thermalright SLK-800A and 947U and the Zalman CNPS-7000Cu are high on the list. Still, the Aeroflow works as well as the higher-priced HSFs.

See http://www.overclock...om/articles373/ for a chart.

#179 summitlake

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Posted 15 November 2003 - 10:49 PM

Thanks again Rusty. I ordered some "slim" round IDE cables and a Galaxy 3-1/2" bare HD cooler (for the new Seagate). From what you say, though, sounds like the probable cause of all those failures was the IBM/Hitachi brand?

The PPC&C seems pretty noisy.

Rusty and Bob, don't EVEN get let me get started on Dell. I am sure even Packard Bell knew how to build good equipment, but the worst consumer experience I ever had in my life was with a Dell 3800 Inspiron laptop. I can confidently say "never again"!

#180 Rusty

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Posted 16 November 2003 - 10:07 PM

Alex,

Well, that's odd about the Inspiron having problems - the Dell laptops (IMHO) are much better builds than their desktops and servers (which may not be saying much); I've only had a WinBook, Toshiba, and, currently, an HP.

The PCP&C 450 is a bit noisier than its competitors; I generally use Enermax or Zalman for the quieter running.

You might try a duct of 1" foam sheet extending out about 3" if you have the room, but for the performance and durability of that PS, the noise isn't too bad.


#181 summitlake

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Posted 18 November 2003 - 12:44 AM

Rusty, the Dell Latitudes are tough rugged corporate desktops and it's rare to hear of one failing. The Inspiron is the consumer's more-for-less model, and as far as I'm concerned they're all made out of sturdy laminated chicken fat.

Thanks for all your info and ideas. I can hardly wait for my slimjim IDE cables -- no more rat's nest!

#182 summitlake

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Posted 18 November 2003 - 12:51 AM

Any of you guys or gals currently owning Macs will want news sources. Well, MacWorld is still around. TidBITS is a free weekly newletter published by Adam Engst which covers Mac topics, news and technical talk. I am not current in Mac developments, but TidBITS is a must. I generally read it as a PC user. TidBITS

#183 imjeffp

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Posted 18 November 2003 - 01:56 PM

New 20" iMac and dual 1.8 gHz G5s announced today.

#184 ric_capucho

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Posted 20 November 2003 - 05:51 AM

I have a beautiful 17" iMac. It looks wonderful, is easy to operate, and my wife approves.

What more can I say?

Oh yeah, I love it.

Ric

#185 rboe

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Posted 20 November 2003 - 10:49 PM

OK; I spent time with the Apple people today and I offer these tips as much for me to type them and try to remember them as much as offering them for folks that may not know them.

Right click = ctrl+click (or use a three button mouse).

To clear history, cache; everything in Safari, Click on Safari then Reset Safari. You loose cookies too. To clear just History choose History; Clear History.

You can't right click choose properties and see how big a picture is. Bummer.

You can not cut and paste between user sessions under Panther. No universal or system clipboard.

Apple has scheduled in cron to purge temp files; like your cache, at 3AM in the morning. So from time to time he (the Apple rep) leaves his computer on all night from time to time to let cron work.

Thanks for letting me work on my memory! If I tell you guys I can come back and ask you when I forget. :D

#186 imjeffp

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Posted 21 November 2003 - 02:30 PM

As for chron and temp files in OS X, take a look at Macaroni.

#187 rboe

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Posted 21 November 2003 - 02:57 PM

Sounds like a deal at only $8.00! The Apple guy did say there were after marktet tools. Thanks for pointing one out.

Ron

#188 Rusty

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Posted 21 November 2003 - 11:45 PM

From the "Don't Listen to Me" department: I've just spent a fun-filled week rebuilding a customer's server which suffered a RAID controller failure, and naturally hosed the drives. Fortunately, I installed an external USB 2 HDD for backup, and an automatic backup proggy (which I've used everywhere for 6 years) and everything was saved.

So my Backup Fetish has been justified, and if I can stay awake, will actually break out the scopes tomorrow. And I have no idea what this has to do with this thread....:silly:

#189 summitlake

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Posted 22 November 2003 - 12:53 AM

YOu can't back up too early or too often. I was going to back up my C and D drives but here I am instead. I know, I can do that and come back on my iMac! Boy, I hate those iMac keyboards ...

#190 imjeffp

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Posted 22 November 2003 - 01:36 PM

Boy, I hate those iMac keyboards ...


Do you mean the current ones? I agree about the early ones, but the current extended keyboard has a nice feel, imo.

The Apple optical mouse is cool looking, but is missing 3 buttons and a scroll wheel for me to be happy with it.

#191 rboe

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Posted 22 November 2003 - 02:45 PM

I have liked how the Apple mice looked but they always felt odd. Microsoft markets a very nice LED mouse, so I bought a couple Logitec versions of same. One of the few things Microsoft has done well.

I have a fondness for the old IBM Selectronic keyboards. At work I have saved an extremely old Zenith keyboard that I think dates back to 286 days and is similar to an old IBM keyboard. Feels great.

Have not tried any Apple keyboards lately except for this laptop. Which is OK, for a laptop keyboard.

#192 summitlake

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Posted 23 November 2003 - 02:13 AM

I was ragging on the keyboard that came with my flower power iMac, one of the older ones. Clear plastic frame with black keys and italicized letters. Pretty as heck, but I can't type with it. They have a touch like a Doggie Diner lunch counter.

Ron, I loved those Selectrics too and wish I had mine. I would pay a fortune for a really nice PC keyboard. DataDesk still makes keyboards with a great touch, but they eliminate a lot of utility keys to conserve cost and space. DataDesks are LOUD enough you will get complaints from others in the area, too.

Ron, if you have a keyboard that dates back to 286 days, I had no idea how short the years were back then :jump:

#193 rboe

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Posted 23 November 2003 - 03:26 PM

Man they are getting short for us the past couple years. My buddies grandkids are almost three I was thinking they were under a year. Similar cases lately were three or more years have passes and it seems like one.

I miss Minnesota for that reason; we had four easily defined seasons, while here they blend together. Sometimes it's easier to define time passage as compared to a baseline time. Eg. when we moved to AZ, graduated from college etc.

Alex; do you attach an external keyboard to your iMac to avoid the built in one?

#194 Bob Pasken

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Posted 23 November 2003 - 03:50 PM

All the iMac keyboards are external and you can pick any USB keyboard and mouse you can find including a 3 button mouse. If you have installed X11 and need the additional buttons like you would on a real computer then you can use an SGI or Sun USB optical mouse.
Time is measured in events and the year starts on the first day of school; We got married, our son was born, we moved into our house, the crew I was working with collapsed the roof on the house and I fell two stories to the ground, thats how you determine what year it is. After as long (this way I don't give away my age) as I have associated with schools I have no clue about anything except the start of school, thanksgiving, christmas, easter graduation, a short breather and start all over again for seasons of the year. Saturdays Post-Dispatch had pictures of major events (Atom bomb, Kennedy assignation etc) I was in school for all but Pearl Harbor and the Atom bomb!. A long time ago was when I bought my first DEC PDP-11/45 running Unix V6 from Bell Labs or maybe the DEC VAX-11/780 running Unix V7

#195 rboe

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Posted 23 November 2003 - 04:41 PM

Man you ARE old! How long ago did you take that picture of you? Had the Mac been invented yet? :lol:

For some reason I was thinking Apple laptops. Which I guess you could argue have external keyboards but attached monitors.

VAX-11 at our school ran VMS or Unix and I seem to recall for us it was System IV but I get my numbers all mixed up. The 3B2 had an early version of UNIX and I get the two mixed up.

#196 Bob Pasken

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Posted 24 November 2003 - 08:25 AM

No in point of fact Mac's had not been invented yet. Neither had the IBM PC. The King of the hill for a long time was the NorthStar Horizon. The first computer I owned I built myself from a Popular Electronics article, the first Mac (128k) came along much later.The picture is "recent", you just need to define recent. I have a freshman this year who's mother I taught earlier in my career. The most common Unix for Vaxen was System V because it incorporated VM for the Vaxen. The VM code came from Berkeley 4.0. The 3b2 (a very nice machine) used System III and its own VM code. We added the Berkeley patches to our V7 code to get what we wanted. We also splurged on disk space and bought two RP07's which gave us nearly 512mb of disk. Kinda sad since I have 2gb of memory on my Blade-150

#197 rboe

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Posted 24 November 2003 - 09:22 AM

We used the 3B2 to run our code for class before sending it to the "real" machine down stairs. Saved the deparment a ton of run time money. Until we got the Unix version upgrade the early version had to be reloaded every three or four months since it would crash its' self with huge log files. We didn't know where all the log files were to purge them so we did the brute force method.

It also came with an ugly Fortran compiler that gave me a very bad taste for Fortran. It was not complient, kinda of an AT&T version, not unlike what Microsoft has done with Java, so not only did I have to learn Fortran in class, but AT&T's version too.

We really hammered that machine, I'm surprised it worked as well as it did. When crunching matrices you didn't want to go much over 10X10 or it started to choke.

You've got your kids' kids coming in now! Kinda like getting a second shot at them isn't it?

Thanks for the trip down memory lane. I look at what I have on my laptop and compare it to early machines I used to play with. Back then we would have called my current laptop a mobil Cray. There is no way we would have considered a 40GB HD, much less put it into a laptop! And we don't consider that 40GB all that big.

#198 Rusty

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Posted 24 November 2003 - 11:16 PM

FORTRAN? Whatever happened to GOTRAN, the first language I programmed in....the Next Best Thing was when IBM went to the 86-column cards which serialized them, so if you dropped the stack, you could actually resort...first computer was a Univac, with a whopping 20K of memory, and IIRC, took something like 20KW to operate. I think Grace Hopper was a Lieutenant Commander then...

#199 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 26 November 2003 - 08:33 PM

Alex,

Tidbits is WAAAAAY behind the times for Mac users.
Maccentral, Mac Observer, MacNN have news changes hour by hour as well as other sites like Thinksecret and Macworld UK and about 10 other sites I could list.

#200 rboe

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Posted 26 November 2003 - 09:40 PM

Why is the UK so heavy into the Mac? Is it just me or is my perception correct?

Thanks for your help Joe.


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