Wednesday, October 22, 2008

New Macbook Pro and Bandluxe 3.5g Expresscard

So I got a new laptop, I've been postponing this purchase in hopes of an 8 GB laptop from Apple for several months now. For a typical user 8 GB is beyond overkill, but when you're on the road and need to do a lot of virtualization in presentations it would be very helpful to have at least 4, and since I don't want to buy a computer every 9 months I'd rather go overboard for something that'll last an extra year or so.

Anyhow, the Macbook Pro refresh was just enough to entice me, and I'll list the reasons for choosing the Pro over the new aluminum Macbook (which can also take 4 GB of RAM).

1. Firewire. I like target mode and having it on my old Macbook. My migration only took about 3 hours, where in the past I'd spend weeks configuring a new system. It took 90 minutes to copy everything over, and another 90 minutes to download and reinstall 2 crucial things that broke (FUSE and VMWare).

2. Pixels. It might not seem like a lot to some people, but having 1440x900 resolution instead of 1280x800 is a huge productivity boon, at least for me. There is less overlap.

3. Video card. To save on battery juice I have thus far run this machine only in "integrated graphics" mode, which likely gives the same performance for what I do 90% of the time as "dedicated" graphics does. However, I like having the option to play games without them lagging unplayably when connected to an external display.

4. Price. $2500 seems like a lot for a laptop, but if you configure a Dell with the same level hardware (1066 Mhz bus, DDR3 RAM, same hard drive, and so on) you come out with only about $400 of savings. I saved well over $400 worth of my time with the 3 hour migration, and plus I get the new sexy aluminum shell.

5. Expresscard/34. This slot is compatible with any number of wireless broadband cards on the market, including one that a buddy of mine has. There are other workarounds (tethering, and so on), but I like the options that the slot provides. More on this later.

Anyhow, I only got 4 GB of RAM and the machine won't even support 8, but the listed reasons were enough reason for me to dump the cash. I'll buy another one when they make the next RAM jump unless I'm in a new line of work.

OK, it's later. The Expresscard in question is a Bandluxe 3.5G model, and I'm using it right now to make this post. It obviously works, but it's a pain in the ass. Why? Well, the card has a very "convenient" feature where it contains a CDFS file system that its software incessantly tries to mount. I'll go out on a limb and wager that they never even tested this version of their connection software on the mac, since macs can't mount CDFS file systems whose sessions have not been closed. I don't even need anything on that volume, but it keeps trying to mount it for some SMS integration thing.

The only way I can use this card without it popping up a billion dialogs (several per second) saying that it can't mount the volume is to run disk utility and minimize it. That, for whatever reason, suppresses the dialogs.

This is partly Apple's fault for incorporating a focus-stealing dialog into Finder that could ever present a problem like this (I hate focus stealing), and partly the vendor's fault for either not testing their device or for not caring. It seems like Mac support would be becoming a bigger issue for companies of mobile devices since Apple sells more laptops than anyone, but I guess you can't teach people who have been writing code for Windows new tricks overnight.

Anyhow, if anyone has a better fix for this error barrage (The disk you inserted was not readable by this computer), please share. I just want to ignore this specific error at all times and have it not prompt me.


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