More Lion Fun: TotalTerminal

So, a while ago I talked up a SIMBL plugin for Terminal.app called Visor.  I don’t use Visor any longer, as it’s been renamed and updated to a new app, TotalTerminal.  It’s still written and maintained by BinaryAge, and still works the same.   But they’ve dropped the SIMBL requirement and now ships with an installer (and auto-updating, as well!).

It’s still customizable, and works wonderfully.  Go check it out (and upgrade if you’re still using Visor!)

The Lion Sleeps Tonight

Well, not, really, but I couldn’t resist with the title.  I’m experiencing new things with Mac OS X Lion this weekend.  So here’s what’s going on.

I just bought a new iMac.  Sandy Bridge i7, 3.4GHz, loaded up with 16GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD.  Oh, and I have a 1TB spindle installed as well.  27 diagonal inches of beautiful Apple display all built in as well.

I bought this machine for two reasons.  First, so I could clear off any personal stuff from my work-issued MacBook Pro.  Second, this thing has enough horsepower to run a sizable chunk of my home lab, along side my old, unsupported loaded-as-i-can-make-it Dell Precision 390.  So some of my infrastructure is running on an ESXi host, and some in Fusion VMs.  I’m still working out the final details.  And I’m actually contemplating buying a new Thunderbolt Cinema display so I can have a 2nd GigE interface on the iMac.  May just be a pipe dream, but the thought is there.

This configuration will suffice until next year (probably closer to 9 months, if I have my way) when I can pick up and populate a couple of ASUS barebones 1U boxes (assuming, of course, that they or their equivalents are still available).  I’ve got them all picked out now, and assuming everything works out, I’ll have 32 AMD cores and 128GB of RAM to work with.  That should keep me happy for a few years from a compute perspective.  I can only complain about my lab for so long before I put the wheels in motion to make it happen.  I’m still trying to figure out what i want to do for the storage, though.  I’m thinking a stack of ~100GB SSDs, since they’re relatively cheap and will do me well for running VMs without worrying about tons of contention.  I don’t need much for a lab, 200 or 300GB will actually probably be ok, especially with vSphere Thin Provisioning.  I’m sure I’ll keep some spindles around for overflow, since they’re real cheap.  But anyway, I digress from the point here (not that I’ve ever been known to do that)

What I really came to talk about was Lion’s new Recovery Partition and doing a fresh Lion install on a Mac.  I’m wiping the MacBook Pro clean, as I had (just earlier this morning) a Mercury Pro SSD from Other World Computing  (for the OS and VMs) and a 750GB Scorpio Black from WD installed for my Dropbox folder, and media.  About 30 minutes ago, I ripped out the spindle, so now the laptop simply has the SSD, and the optical drive has been reinstalled.

So, hardware work out of the way, I booted into Lion’s Recovery HD (hold the “option” key while you reboot, just in case you didn’t know how to get there), and there it was – what looked like, well, like an OS X installer.  I went ahead and erased the SSD partition, and then told the installer I wanted a fresh install of OS X.  After confirming my eligibility, confirming the disk to which I wanted to install, and requesting my Mac App Store credentials, it’s now “Downloading additional components.”  I have an hour and a half to go, the installer has been doing this for ~15-20 minutes as it stands.  It appears that it really _is_ downloading Lion from Apple’s servers somewhere.  I’m connected to a relatively fat pipe, and it’s still looking like 1.5 hours.  I’m glad I connected to the Time Capsule connected to the cable modem, rather than the DSL.  yikes!

So over the course of the weekend, I’ll be resetting things on the MacBook Pro, but it’ll be nice, as I’ll be able to keep work and play (mostly) separate now, between the iMac, iPad, and new Lion install on the MacBook Pro.  I’m a happy camper.  Oh, and while I’m waiting, I get to put up more drywall in the basement office.  Things are coming together!

Mac App: Visor

Admittedly, I spend less and less time at my Mac thanks to my newer iPad-based workflow. And I spend even less time in a terminal (well, until the past couple of days). And the last couple of days are what bring me to talk about this little app. Well, SIMBL plugin, really.

Visor was written by Antonin over at BinaryAge, and offers a simple, yet rather spectacular drop-down implementation of Terminal.app, very much akin to the command input window from Quake. This is triggered by a hotkey. Once the Visor window is in place, you have your Mac Terminal.app ready to go, and have the option to open new tabs as well, just like in a traditional Terminal.app window.

Visor is completely customizable, and can be made what you want, thought I have found the defaults to be pretty workable.

This all comes to light as I’m ramping up on the vCloud Director classes, and as such, I’m setting up vCloud Director (VCD) in my lab environment. VCD runs on Linux, and backends to an Oracle database (which I’m setting up on Linux), so I’m spending a fair amount of time SSH’d into my VMs to work toward getting things set up

Anyway, I have to recommend Visor if you spend any appreciable time in a terminal on your Mac. I love the elegance of something so simple, yet so functional!.


A New Year

And hopefully that means I can start working a little harder on this blog. I never make any guarantees, but it’s possible 🙂

This past year has been a wild ride. Professionally, I got out of consulting and joined VMware Education so I can teach full-time. There were changes internally shortly after I joined that changed my perspective about that a little – ultimately good, once the dread of change washed over me and passed. Essentially, it means I’m much more busy with class delivery, which I am very much good with.

Personally, I have tried (very unsuccessfully) to help my better half sell her house. The problem we ran into is that we just can’t compete with bargain-basement prices on foreclosed homes in the area. We’re going to have to continue on carrying two households until the real estate market resolves itself. How long will that be? Your guess is as good as mine!

I also stopped smoking analog cigarettes this year thanks to personal vaporizers (also known as PVs or electronic cigarettes). Sure, anti-smoking folks still see them as terrible as analog cigarettes, but if you check out this study, there’s evidence mounting that PVs most definitely less bad for everyone. Being a longtime smoker, I’m used to the anti-smoking vitriol, and still saddened that it’s become a moral crime. I’ll be talking, from time to time, about my vaping hobby/habit, so if you’re unfamiliar with PVs, feel free to ask questions!

I broke down and jumped in with the iPad crowd, and I can’t be happier. I use my laptop less and less frequently these days because of it. Expect more to come on that front as well.

As for the next calendar year, well, we’ll see. I tend to not set too many specific goals right away, thanks to the ease of becoming overwhelmed. Professionally, I’m gunning for my VCAP-DCA and VCAP-DCD this year. 25% of that goal was passed on 12/30 when I actually sat the DCA exam. Work was driving me to that, as I will have to be DCA certified to continue to teach the vSphere Troubleshooting and Performance classes. I should hear shortly as to my DCA fate. The DCD certification is more of a preemptive strike, as it would make sense that we will begin to require it of our instructors to continue to deliver the Design Workshop, which I also currently teach. When I get the results from the DCA, I’ll post more about it and my experiences.

On the personal front, we’re trying our hands at the property rental game, just to offset the cost and vacancy of Jen’s house. Maybe we like it, maybe we run screaming into the night after the first lease expires. We’ll just have to see.

I’d say this blog will be changing, but that would be redundant, as it never particularly coalesced into anything over the course of the past year. So maybe I can get this blogging thing nailed down this year!

Thanks for reading!
-jk


Miscellaneous Mac Mayhem

So, I’m a MacHead, I’ll admit. So I share things when I find them.

First off, MacHeist just launched their nanoBundle 2 – 7 apps for $19.95! Go check it out!!

Today, MacUpdate Promo is running Blogo (which I use to write this blog, BTW) for a budget-friendly $12.95!

And last, but not least, how often do you use the optical drive in your portable Mac? I can say that I don’t use mine all that much! I was thinking about this the other day, and asked my friend Google, as I thought I had seen something about replacing the Superdrive in a MacBook with a hard disk once upon a time. Lo and behold, MCE Technologies showed up, and for $99, you can get a Superdrive bay replacement to put a hard drive in. And for a little more, you can get a drive preinstalled in it!

I thought this was great because I’ve been thinking about dropping a SSD in this machine for the performance, but I was concerned about the lack of storage space. See, this machine is my primary system, and I really do use a lot of the space. I buy music, TV shows, and movies from iTunes, store all kinds of documents, and generally take up all kinds of space. So SSD is not cost effective in general. But now, I can, within reasonable financial boundaries, get the system performance of SSD, and still maintain the capacity I know and love 🙂

So there are my Mac tidbits for the day.

-jk