VmWare Fusion PinPoint Compatibility

I last blocked about a comparison between VmWare Fusion and Parallels but concluded that the click problem prevented me from using VmWare. Well I have found a solution to that problem.

Specifically, I am using a product called PinPoint to improve the visibility of my cursor and this appears to be causing focus problems in the executing virtual machine.

To show you I have prepared my first mac based screencast using a tool called ScreenFlick. This tool does most of the things that I wanted, with screen size and visibility control, audio recording and mouse and keystroke highlighing. It did hang on me a few times which seemed to be related to large recording sizes.

So, with the click problem removed I am going to start working with VmWare Fusion again to see if it beats Parallels.


Mac Windows Virtualization - Parallels vs VmWare

Just another of the many review out there but this explain why I can not use the Vmware Fusion product.

Both have the same $79 price so which should you buy. I bought Parallels with the machine because of the hype and a couple of recommendations from friends but with all the problems I have been having I though it worth a 30 trial of VmWare Fusion.

This is my experience.


Installation was a problem because the CD contained a version that didn't work on Leopard. A download from the site fixed the problem.

Repeated crashes for various reasons documented in previous posts.

Ideally, I could work in the windows environment in full screen mode with the same keystrokes that I am used to in Windows. There is no way to do this in Parallels.

When in full screen mode, Parallels hides its menu bar and allows you to get it back by pressing the "ctrl-option" keys. This kind of "mode" switching makes it less likely to accidentally bring up the mac menu.

I wanted to play Virtual Skipper 5, a nice, graphic intensive game that allows me to continue sailing during he winter. The trial version of this game uses DirectX so initially it failed because my Windows Vista installation was not up to date. Once DirectX was upgraded it appeared to run correctly though in a small window that I couldn't full screen but having never played this game on a native windows machine I can't say if this is abnormal or not.

Vmware Fusion

Installation was perfect but I downloaded the trial copy from the web so we can't compare this with the difficult Parallels installation.

VmWare has not crashed on me but I haven't used it so much so this may be an unfair comparison.

VmWare has an option that allows me to ignore mac keystrokes. While very promising this didn't seem to work very well. Infact, when in full screen Vista, I tried ctrl-left to switch spaces and was moved to a mac space. However, the mac keystrokes were still disabled so I was not able to do anything. Fortunately, the mouse allowed me to select the other space and turn off this feature.

When in full screen mode, VmWare Fusion hides its menu bar and allows you to get it back by moving the mouse to the top of the screen. This is a little annoying when you are working in windows and accidentally get the mac menu. I prefer the Parallels solution.

The Virtual Skipper 5 test was not as successful despite the fact that VmWare Fusion boasts about support for DirectX. I still had to install the DirectX upgrade to Vista as expected but when the game started it complained that it would not run inside a virtual machine. Now presumably this is the games fault for doing this check and only doing it successfully in VmWare but I have to conclude that, for this game, Parallels was the better virtual machine.

There is a serious two click problem in VmWare Fusion. This is not a double click. It is hard to pin down the types of objects that require this. So, for example, browser links only require one click however icons on the desktop and menu options seem to require two. It appears as though the first click focuses on the object then the second actually selects it. This makes it impossible to use. I couldn't find any reference to the problem anywhere.


Compared to the two click problem with VmWare all the other issues are moot. This problem makes VmWare Fusion impossible to use.

So, despite the nasty crashes, Parallels remains the vm of choice for the mac.

New Machine - Adium Keystroke Options

We have already established that the Adium end key is a problem.

Well, yesterday I find that the Adium developers have implemented a solution but as an option that allows me to select the key to use to "Switch tabs" which, unfortunately defaults to the commonly used command-right arrow keystroke. I switched it to the shift-command-right arrow making Adium behavor like a well behaved mac application.

New Machine - User Account Menu Item

As you login to your Mac the menu bar contains a nice little silhouette of a human bust to represent my user information. Shortly, after that, this is replaced by my name. Do you think that telling a user their name might be a tad overly informative?

My primary complaint isn't that I am insulted by the idea that I need to be reminded but that it uses valuable space in an icon cluttered zone of the screen.

Is there a way to switch this menu option back to the simple silhouetted bust?


Scrum Certified - Ready to rock

A group of us just complete the two day Scrum Certification class so I can add CSM after my name now. It actually doesn't feel any different from before the class and customers would refuse to use Agile to manage their projects.

It was a good class, taught by Peter Borsella, it covered all the usual parts of Scrum in good detail. There was enough time to talk about the Agile projects we have worked over the years and get feedback.

Refresher or not it is worth while remembering why we keep fighting this Agile battle. Renews your passion for doing it right.

Red splotches to protect the innocent and my liability. Feel free to contact me with authorization to show your picture and I will un-red-spotch you.

New Machine - Finder Problems Continued

The mac Finder is just astonishingly bad, and, I hear, the Leopard version I am using is far superior to the Tiger version. What an atrocious experience that must have been.

I have made some comments on this window of woes already but there appears to be more to say.

Folder Creation

It turns out that it is not an easy process to create a folder. Perhaps one of the most fundamental of features is scattered and inconsistent, but let me show you.

We have to look at this problem from each View because they are all different. We have 4 possible views, Icons, List, Columns and the new Cover Flow. Windows Explorer only supports Icons and List equivalents but it does it in a consistent manner. You decide which is important in a UI but if you decide that lots of inconsistent features are better then you are wrong.

Icon view shows large images with file names below. Of all the views this view seems to remain consistent supporting the right-click "New Folder" and the command-shift-n option to create a new folder.

List view represents the folders in tree form with the details of each folder/file shown to the right. The right-click "New Folder" and command-shift-n both create a new folder in the current directory. The problem arises when you consider that the tree folders allow you to see and select a number of different locations in the hierarchy, however, you can not create folders at the different levels. The right-click on a sub-folder doesn't even contain the option. You have to navigate down a level to create the folder. It's like they replicated the Icon views features in a tree without considering what improvements the tree might offer.

Now I must admit that you might be able to find some twisted logic to conclude that each view allows you to create a new folder in the "current directory" which in the list view is the top level folder. However, this conclusion would be wrong because it would mean that you are a unix developer and have a brain limited to thinking in terms of current directory and changing current directory. This is a UI we are talking about here, you see it, you click it, you interact with it. Simple. Consistent.

Let's look at Columns view. This changes things a little giving you lots of options since it shows lots of "current directories" at the same time. So what does this image tell you is going to happen.

If you answered "create a folder under untitled folder 2" then you would be wrong since folders can only be created in the current directory. However the behavior is consistent with the a intent of my UI action. I actually right clicked on the white background indicating that I want to create a folder in that directory. What is bad about this is that the folder remains selected retaining the visual cue that I am working with that folder. Since this is not the case this is a poor UI feedback problem. Windows Explorer explicitly un-selects the selected folder when the background is left or right clicked since it is a good user interface offering quality feedback.

Cover Flow is the new view introduced in Leopard and offers a nice representation of files in picture form. It is a great way to scan through images. Since this is new it appears to be new code because they have fixed the selected folder problem, and introducing the new problems that I mentioned in the previous post on the Finder.

Cover Flow behaves in a similar manner to List view, you can see the folders but you can use them to create new folders. One might say, consistently bad.

Folder Movement

How to move a file/folder from one place to another. Not so simple. There are a few nice mousing features

Drag folder to move it
Drag folder with options key pressed to copy it

These are consistent across the views, however, as we have come to learn with the mac, the keystroke support is somewhat disabled. The glaring omission is the lack of the command-x to cut a file. You can command-c to copy it and command-p to paste it in another location. There is even an option for the operation in the Finders' Edit menu but it is always disabled.

This prevents me doing simple operations like cutting a file from the desktop, navigating somewhere, and pasting it into some other folder. I actually have to copy it and then navigate back to the original location and delete it. This seems to me to be a major problem. I download files to the desktop and want to move them to a downloads folder when I am finished with them.

Fortunately, QuickSilver solves this problem for me with, command-g to select the file in QuickSilver, so that I can select the "Move To" action and the "Downloads" folder. This is about 7 keystrokes but it much simpler than copy, paste, navigate back and delete.

Now there is a way to do this with the mouse but it is hideous. Drag the file, hover over the next folder and it will open in a new window after a half second or so, keep dragging to hover over the next folder in the path, wait a little more for the new folder to open in another new window, yes I now have 3 windows open, keep going because JBoss paths are long and I need it way down there, oh, and this sentence is really helping illustrate what a stupid feature this is, so keep dragging, and waiting, until you get to the folder you want, then drop. The source windows and the final target window remain open and the intervening windows close. What a horrendous process.

To Windows Explorer credit, you can not do this. Windows explorer has a cut paste feature. Ooooo aaaaa UI candy.

Long filenames

A simple problem of visibility. I create an icon on the desktop that has a long name and it will not show me the name. In Windows, really long names are truncated as well but when the icon is selected the name is shown. Mac just hides it forcing me to command-i to get the information about that folder and even then I have to resize the window because my filename is to wide. This makes working with long filenames on the desktop a problem. And yes, my photo images have long names, so do my podcast downloads, and I hate this problem.

This file name is "this is a folder with a readly long filename" but I guess mac doesn't care.

Change View Consistency

As you change view in the Finder the location on the disk that you are looking at changes. This makes it hard to look at the same thing in different formats. There are two flavors to this.

Firstly the limited current directory mindset. This is the most pronounced in List or Cover Flow views. Select a folder in the view and press command-3 for example but any other view will demonstrate the problem. The new view is centered on the current directory which is not the directory that you just spent time navigating to in the list view.

The use case is this. Say I want to scan through some images in Cover Flow but when I open my Finder it is in List view. If I started navigating down the directories, opening this and that directory, navigating to the images directory and when I find it. I press command-4 for Cover Flow and low and behold all my navigation was for naught. I am relocated back at the top of the tree.

Some might say that I should select my view before I navigate, and I would say they are excuse making knuckle heads. The point of a UI is to be intuitive, not to force me to work in a certain way to get around how crappy it is.

Secondly the new window completely ignores the current directory of the first window. So, navigate to a directory, or not it doesn't matter, it's going to ignore you anyway. Then press command-n to open a new window. This new window will be located at your home directory so, if you are working in a project folder and want to move some things around then you will have to re-navigate back to that project folder.

And yes, you didn't want to hear it, but, Windows Explorer ctrl-n opens a new window at the selected folder. Now this is a nice user interface. They must have put lots of work into that. Really nice.

To do this with finder you have to use the "Open" metaphor instead. Right click open or command-o will open a new window at the selected folder. So, all it not lost.

Navigating Up

I am not going to say much about this because it is so crappy. I want to move up one directory. I press command-up arrow and a new window opens. I didn't want a new window just a different picture of the directory structure.

This doesn't occur in Columns View. If it wasn't for Columns View, the Finder would be practically useless.

URL Context Options

I have categorized this as a Finder problem because when I quit the finder the desktop icons disappear. However, that may have nothing to do with it.

If I drag my browser address bar to the desktop it becomes a .webloc file. I can double click and open the page in a browser. However, I can not copy the url of that site to the clipboard for pasting into emails or blog posts etc. I can not even open the information window on that file to get the URL. Window manages urls as files in a similar way to mac but the file type is supported with copy operations as well as lots of drag and drop opportunities. A url file acts like a url as it shoul in a good UI.

I am not sure what this would take to achieve. The file is just a little XML file with the URL in it but presumably there needs to be some OS extension to handle actions that can be performed on a file. Wait, stop right there. My inner developer is creeping out.

The mac sucks at handling URL files.


ClearCase Depression Again

For such a great source control system this thing can certainly get a person down. Biggest road block from Clear Case is the checkout requirement. It doesn't sound too hard but when you consider that you can not refactor rename your code you start to get an inkling of how serious this is. This could be a problem with the Eclipse ClearCase plug-in of coarse.

It needs to do a rename first which doesn't require a file checkout, and then checkout the file to do change the class name. Then do the checkout for all the dependent classes and make the updates to them.

Well, it doesn't do this, so I have to fight the urge to leave the name alone. This is really hard because we all know that the manual rename of a commonly used class is going to take some time and leaving as the wrong name of a class is very bad.

The only option is to spiral back into a depression and wait for hope to arrive.

To all those coding in Ruby or javascript et al, with no refactoring IDE, you are like titans to me.

Ok, enough whining. Go depression.


New Machine - Triple Click or Two Slow Clicks

I know I said that I wouldn't waste my time spouting about how great this machine was because everyone else does that. I have slipped a couple of nice things in but only when balanced by bad things. Well here it is, this is a good thing, all on it's own.

This is the simplest little thing but it is really nice. How many times do you have to click in your address bar before you can edit the URL?

Mac == one
Windows == two

The UI philosophies are completely different. Is the normal case to replace the entire URL or to edit and existing URL. It seems like a simple solution and I can't argue with Microsoft's solution that usually we need to enter completely new URLs so we should highlight the whole thing on the first click.

There is another practical consideration here. On Mac you can triple click to highlight the whole URL. So, I would ask, which is easier, triple clicking or making two slow clicks. It is clear to me, the slow clicking is for the birds, I have web pages to download people.

New Machine - Parallels Hang

We keep complaining about Parallels but we keep using it. What is our problem.

A Parallels Vista process ran beautifully yesterday, it was shutdown, the machine slept the night, and today it failed to respond. Would not quit, would not force quit, no response to "kill -9", nothing.

After much wastage of time, and hope, I start the shutdown and restart of a machine. The dialogs get amusing while OSX decides that it really doesn't have control over the machine either.

After the ctrl-options-command eject keystroke to shutdown the machine, I wait some time before this little gem.

The image doesn't show it but the cursor, hanging over the continue button is displaying the wait cursor so it can not be clicked. After some time OSX gets aggressive.

Unfortunately, I can not press the "Force Quit" button either. Of coarse it wouldn't have worked anyway, I tried that already.

I re-initiate the shutdown request.

Notice the current time and the promise the dialog is making to me. See, you need to trust you computer so these dialogs are like little contracts, just waiting to be enforced by the all knowing OS. Breath, OSX has it under control.

OSX is even trying to bend time for me. We traverse 3 seconds in 2 minutes, nice.

In the two months of ownership, this is the third time I am having to hold that power button down until all my problems go away. The common theme being Parallels. Perhaps its time to try vmware.


New Machine - Default Button Shenanigans - Correction

I have to apologies for complaining about something I know nothing about. I indicated that the Adium IM end key was reassigned to a different feature, command-right arrow switches IM windows much like the command-grave keystroke.

While this is correct, the Adium IM end key is the func-right arrow as opposed to the command-right arrow in other applications like the blogger text box I am typing this into. So, while I have to retract my innacuracy it does offer the opportunity to whine about another mac UI inconsistency.

When should I be using the func-right arrow over the command-right arrow. I would have thought that the concepts of home and end would have been fairly simple for a UI designer to grok. Such is the ineffectiveness of the mac UI.


New Machine - Another Opinion

Dave talks of Edvard Munch but I think, if my history is correct, Edvard used a mac. Infact, if you zoom in to the painting you can see that he is screaming in hatred and frustration as he tosses his mac over the bridge.

New Machine - Default Button Shenanigans

I had this post prepared to whine about the way that mac presents its' default buttons on its' dialogs. It was going to be o-so-contrite with subtle sneers here and there for effect and all toped off with the classic "windows does it better". Who could have hoped for anything more.

OK, I take it back. Tentatively mind you, because I am sure there is something subtle to sneer about here.

The mac dialog shows two types of highlighting. A complete fill-in or a subtle ring. Well, it turns out that the fill-in is activated with the "enter" key and the ring with the "space" key.

The Stickies application, on closing a sticky note, offers a ringed "Don't Save" and a filled-in "Save" option. Only one key is required to select an option. There is a third button with no highlighting that you have to tab to. The tabbing moves the ring highlighting allowing the "space" key to select the button.

The downside of this is my expectation that it is a non-standard feature of the Stickies application. There seems to be so many in-consistencies that I have come to expect them.

The latest inconsistency hearkens back to older post complaining the lack of a consistent end key. Command-right arrow doesn't work in gmail. Well now I find that Command-right arrow is assigned to a completely different function in Adium, allowing me to select the next IM window. Nice feature, bad key selection.

Is this Adium's fault or the fact that mac doesn't have a consistent end key.