PhillipBlanton.com

"Save me, oh God, from people who have no sense of humor."
— Ludlow Porch

iMac Core i7


I am a software developer. I write software that targets the Microsoft .NET framework. I have switched to a Mac for all of my development work. You can too.

About a year ago, I bought a 15" Macbook pro for my 16 year-old daughter, for her birthday. I was on a business trip to Oak RIdge, Tennessee and took her new laptop with me before i gave it to her. While on the trip, I fell in love with the operating system.

For the past eight years or so, I have done all my work on a VMWare virtual machine. I haven't installed a development environment on my host operating system in as long. Therefore, the switch to Mac was seamless. I purchased VWare Fusion (for mac), ~$70, and just copied my virtual machines over to the new mac without a hitch. VMWare Fusion ran my old PC VM's without any problems.

When my wife decided that she needed a new laptop (and asked for a cheap netbook), I purchased her a 13" Macbook Pro. She fell in love with it immediately. Later, I needed to replace my old HP laptop with a faster one. I decided on a  unibody, 15" Macbook Pro and am soooo happy I did.

Recently it came time to replace my desktop with a new machine. I had been using the same virtual machines, copying them back and forth from my old Windows desktop to my new Macbook Pro. I decided to go all the way and replace my desktop with a Mac. I had researched a little and bought a 27" base model iMac. After a little research (on the new iMac) I decided that I had made a mistake. I wanted the new Intel Core i7, 27" iMac instead.

I went back to the Apple store in Colorado Springs, where I had purchased the new iMac not a week earlier. They said that although they don't carry the Core i7 iMac, they will be happy to take this one back and not charge me any restocking fee as long as I order my new Core i7 iMac from their store.

So, tomorrow, I plan on returning this beautiful new, 27" Core 2 Duo iMac, and ordering a new 27" Quad Core i7 iMac and paying them an extra $500. It will take a week or so to receive my new, hairy-chested iMac, but it will be well worth the wait. Did you know that the new Core i7 iMac will hyper-thread eight processor cores? Did you know that the new Core i7 iMac has a powerful ATI Radeon HD 4850 graphics card with 512MB of GDDR3 memory?

Yeah. Me either. But it does.

According to independent benchmarks, the new iMac is far more powerful than the Mac Pro at about half the price. Especially considering the fact that the Mac Pro doesn't even offer a 27" monitor option.

If you are a Windows developer, I highly recommend upgrading your development machines to Mac.

Update:
The Core i7 iMacs are delayed three weeks. Apparently they are so popular that Apple hasn't all the parts they need to keep up with the demand. I ordered mine with the remote control and I see that it has shipped, but the computer itself won't ship until about the 12th of February, and I won't likely get it until the middle of the following week. Here's hoping that it all comes together a bit earlier.  On the plus side, they won't charge my credit card until the computer ships.

More Update:
I placed my order from the Apple store on Friday Jan 22. I got an email last night at 11:49 PM, that says my new iMac shipped yesterday. Only one week and five days from the time I ordered it. Apparently the three week lead time has a lot of wiggle room in it for the iMac factory. Hopefully Apple has solved the screen problems with the 27" iMac. FedEx is showing the estimated delivery date as Feb 8 (Monday), so I am very excited.

Installing Windows Server 2008 R2 on an Enlight SR-107201

I found a good deal on a new dual-xeon server from an EBay seller, about a year and a half ago. I picked up an Enlight SR-107201 1U rack mounted server chassis with the motherboard, CD-ROM Drive, mounting rails and power supply for about $150. It turned out to be not so good a deal. This machine is relatively unsupported and the Enlight website support email system goes largely un-monitored. The only sites I could find where people were talking about setting up this server were in foreign languages.

I bought two 3.4GHz Xeon processors, eight GB of RAM and four 500GB hard drives. After plugging it all together, the first problem started. It wouldn't boot. After trials and tribulations, it turns out that Xeon processors require ECC RAM. A trip back to Pricewatch.com and a few days waiting for the mail solved the problem. Now it boots.

The next problem is that the "Speedy-In!" software that came with the machine, only supports Windows 2000 and 2003. I want to install 64-bit Windows 2008. Speedy-In! is right out. The big problem though is that the 64-bit version of Windows 2008 only allows digitally signed drivers. I can't find a digitally signed driver for the RaidCore BC4000 RAID controller.

I give up and carry the machine down to the storage room. It sits for a year - a monument to my desire to save a few bucks.

About a year later, I take the machine out of the storage room and pursue getting it up and running, with renewed vigor. It takes a long time, but I finally diiscover that RaidCore was acquired by Broadcom. Broadcom then sold it (or spun it off) to Ciprico. Ciprico then went bankrupt and was acquired by Dot Hill. Dot Hill doesn't support any RaidCore products prior to October 2008; however, I stumbled upon a forum post by a guy who said that the 3.3.1 version of the RaidCore drivers on the Dot Hill site were the right drivers for the BC4000 controller.

For those of you who have the Enlight SR-107201 with the BC4000 RAID controller, the signed, 64-bit driver for Windows Server 2008 is here...

http://crc.dothill.com/article.asp?article=2262&p=2

Installing that driver, allowed Windows to recognize the controller. I then created partitions on the drives, and formatted them, but each drive showed the following error...

"Windows is unable to install to the selected location. Error: 0x80300001"

Clicking "Refresh" after formatting all drives made that error go away, and Windows installed. I am now looking at an Enlight SR-107201 server running Windows Server 2008 RC2.

Whew!

Update: 3/31/2011

This site has now been up and running on that server for over a year. It has so far been a great server and I am loving having it up!.

My Visual Studio Macros

These are the visual studio macros I use on a daily basis. They are posted here for my own edification, but you are welcome to use them too.

macros.txt (7.07 kb)

There are four macros in here that I find quite useful. They are...

 

  • CollapseSolExplorerNodes
    Collapses all top-level solution explorer nodes. You know how sometimes you open up a large project and all nodes are open? This will snap the top-level nodes closed. I attach it to the "alt + \" chord.

  • ExpandSolExplorerNodes
    Expands all top-level solution explorer nodes. This is the opposite of the one above. I don't use it very often, but it was an easy one to write so I wrote it. I assign it to the "alt + /" chord.

  • MakeRegion
    This is my favorite. Select a block of code you'd like enclosed in a region. When this code executes, a dialog pops up and asks you for the region name. It is pre-populated by the method, class or property name but you can type in whatever you want.  When you press enter, the block is enclosed in a properly named region. I assign it to the "alt + R" chord.

  • AttachToAspNET
    You are all familiar with the chord "ctrl + shift + B" for building your solution. This macro works great assigned to the chord "ctrl + shift + D". When executed, it attaches your project to an existing w3wp.exe process (the running IIS web server). This saves a ton of time as compared to F5 debugging.