Conclusion: Parallels vs. Fusion

Posted on October 25, 2012 at 09:18 by caw
Filed under: OS X, Software, Virtualization | 1 Comment

I realized a few days ago that I never came back and closed the lose ends on Parallels vs Fusion. (Of course, we are in the midst of moving from one house to another so perhaps I could be forgiven this minor oversight.) Basically, it comes down to this: both do the same job, they do it equally well, and the only differences are corner cases.

I’m not going to rehash what I put in prior posts; you can go back and read them if you missed one. So let’s talk corners…

I could keep going on but it all comes down to little things. Pick what’s important to you and go. Generally, there is no reason to jump ship unless (i) you are fed up with the product you are using, or (ii) the other guy has a widget you just can live without. If you are going to jump ship, the other company will give you 50% off as a carrot. I’ve been using Parallels for so long I know what to expect and there is no real motivation for me to change.

Note that there are other products out there, such as Virtual Box from Oracle (originally Sun), that are just as good. Again, you just have to find out who caters to your needs the best and go with them.

Parallels vs. Fusion

Posted on September 18, 2012 at 04:38 by caw
Filed under: OS X, Software, Virtualization | Leave a Comment


As I noted previously, I did get Parallels 8 installed on my MacBook Pro. The culprit was my Wacom Intuous5 touch tablet. They did have a hot fix for it I was able to download and install. Voila! Success!

If you have used Parallels for a while, there aren’t that many features at the user level to get excited about. Their What’s New page boils it down to three things: ease of use; Retina display support; and performance, especially battery life. I expect most of the improvement is under-the-hood in making it Mountain Lion– and Windows 8-compatible. Unlike most users, I primarily use Windows just for Internet Explorer. My employer allows remote access from machines running IE. They download a couple of Java apps to check the configuration (e.g., important patches, virus software, etc) and one to scrub the cache when you are done with your session. Microsoft’s RDC runs in the browser so you are looking at your desktop at work.

I have used Parallels since version 3 and there is one annoying bug they have never fixed. From time to time the VM takes 100% of all the CPUs allocated to it. I usually notice it when I am running Remote Desktop in the browser. When that happens, you have to shutdown the VM and sometimes Parallels itself to get the CPUs back. Every release I keep hoping it will be fixed and no luck. Could just be a quirk in Windows because I have not seen it with any other hosted OS.

I installed vmware’s Fusion 5 just for the heck of it. For the most part, I think I like it. I have been using it for all my "work" sessions and so far, so good. A couple of quirks (yes, it’s the word of the day) I noticed. The first is the devices Window’s can’t find drivers for – like the display. The display works just fine, Window’s just can’t find a driver for it and I haven’t figured out how to tell it to stop trying. One thing about the display though: it would appear that it can’t use a "non-standard" resolution. On my Cinema Display HD, I can’t get the Window’s window to use the full screen; it has to be a ratio of something standard. Parallel’s doesn’t care how you shape the window.

The second quirk has to do with how the VM handles mouse and keyboard input. In Parallels, when your mouse is over the VM (I run in a single windowed mode) the VM catches most of the keystrokes. Some, like a Ctrl-arrow that moves you from desktop to desktop in OS X, aren’t caught by the VM. Instead they are passed directly to OS X. In vmware, the VM catches the keystrokes, so a Ctrl-arrow will do a jump to next word in Microsoft Word. And Cmd-Tab won’t work but Alt-Tab does switch apps. To get it to behave like I want, I have to move the mouse out of the window so it is "out of view" of the VM. Then it behaves the way I want. Not a big deal but it will take some getting used to I think.

One thing I don’t like is the Full Screen mode. It is what it advertises: it takes the entire screen for use by the hosted OS, including the tool bar right up at the top of the screen. Maybe there is some key combination to get it out of Full Screen mode but the only way I’ve found so far is via the View menu. But to get to the view menu, you have to get to menu bar. I think when your mouse bumps into the top of the display it drops down but I can’t do it every time so it may be something I don’t realize I’m doing. In any case, I use the Single Window mode and it works just fine.

Fusion 5 is vmware’s latest release so of course it’s Mountain Lion- and Windows 8-compliant, leverages Retina on the newest Macs, runs faster, jumps farther on less battery power, etc. According to vmware, it’s got 70+ new features. Not sure how many "+" is but they are there.

Am I going to buy Fusion 5? I don’t know. I haven’t used it enough to have a solid opinion of what Fusion has that Parallels doesn’t. If you are considering a switch, they offer a 50% discount as a carrot if you already have Parallels

I Got Parallels 8 Installed

Posted on September 9, 2012 at 19:59 by caw
Filed under: OS X, Software, Virtualization | Leave a Comment


I did get Parallels installed. I found a thread in the forums that suggested the culprit might be my Wacom Intuos 5 touch pen tablet. I unplugged the tablet and the install worked fine. Glad it’s working; not so glad to be a beta tester in this case. Such is life in the Age of Technology.

Installing Parallels Desktop for Mac 8 is a Typical Pain

Posted on September 9, 2012 at 18:01 by caw
Filed under: OS X, Software, Virtualization | Leave a Comment


Our fine friends at Parallels have released a new version of their virtualization software, Parallels Desktop for Mac 8. In the past, Parallels has run about 50/50 when installing the new release without issues; call it a coin flip. This is one of the losers. I suppose to be fair, others have been able to install it just fine and are raving about how wonderful it is. The rub though is if it doesn’t install in your environment, on your machine, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. And there have been complaints with more than one person asking for a refund. I will get to the installation issues in a moment but first…

I was looking at the notes on a new release of another software package I use: Logos. Logos is a software suite designed for Bible study. They not only have different version of the Bible, they have a thousands of reference books, maps, lexicons, etc. that you can purchase and download. Everything is linked and fully searchable. In a work, it’s the Microsoft Office of biblical study. (Only Logos works!) They usually have a bug fix/feature upgrade on Fridays, most Fridays in fact. (Their approach is similar to Adobe’s Creative Cloud: get the fixes/new features out to users as soon as they are ready. Ok, there are issues with this analogy but it kind of hangs together.) This Friday they announced that support for Logos 4 on Windows XP and OS X Leopard would ending in late October. Their reasoning is, in part, that it taks significant funding and time to develop features in their program that are backward compatible that far. The demographics of their user base indicate a small percentage are running XP/Leopard and it’s time to cut the strings. There has been protest because the community that uses Logos (pastors, students, etc) generally don’t have an abundance of money sitting around to buy a new computer.

I bring this up because it points to a larger question: why do people upgrade hardware and/or software? After all, you have all your data on the current machine, all your programs, you know how to use what you have. I know people who have machines and software that are 5+ years old. Their philosophy is if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Maybe the better question might be why don’t people upgrade?

If you think about it, upgrading your computer can be a costly adventure. If you have hardware/software that is 5-7 years old, upgrading won’t be as inexpensive as buy a new "this." In order to use "this" you’re going to have to upgrade "that" and the "other" and leads to more money. Maybe you can upgrade the memory or disk in the computer and be ok; maybe you have to upgrade the entire machine. Are all the peripherals going to work with the new machine or do you replace those as well? What about software? If you upgrade the OS, will it run on the hardware you have or does it need something newer? Are the applications you have compatible with the new machine and OS, or do you have to purchase upgrades, assuming of course the software is still in production. By way of some examples…

Now back to Parallels 8. Open the DMG for it and you see this…

Double click the install, wait a few moments, see screens flash by and I see this…

I tried downloading the software again. In hindsight, this wasn’t necessary. If the DMG was corrupted, the integrity checks would have caught it. I tried Reopen… and ended up in the same spot and the same with Report… I tried Ignore and that didn’t help (rarely does). I tried deleting PD7 -but- I didn’t empty the trash. I use Parallels to connect to my desktop at work and, since I plan to work from home tomorrow, I am loathe to go that far. Part of that comes from the fact that on one of the Parallels upgrades I had some VMs that got trashed in the process. I have backups for them but around version 4 or version 5 they didn’t have a nice way to get VMs back into your "configuration." I ended up re-installing them from scratch. Not a huge deal because I only depend on one of them (an XP instance to run IE; my employer uses ActiveX plug-ins to check your PC configuration for up-to-date virus signatures, etc., and to wipe the browser cache when you log out). I don’t depend on them to run applications.

For the moment, I’m rather stuck. Maybe tomorrow after work I can contact Parallels and see what they have to say.

Did I mention I downloaded the VMWare Fusion 5 trial? You listening, Parallels?


Posted on June 6, 2012 at 14:56 by caw
Filed under: Macintosh, OS X, Software, Virtualization | Leave a Comment


I’ve talked before about how much I like Parallels’ Desktop for Mac (now at version 7). I’ve been using it since version 3 when I got my first Mac Book Pro. Some of the updates have been painful (I believe 4 to 5 was agony) but all in all, they have delivered new, mostly useful features and have been timely about fixing glitches. One I would desperately love to see fixed is the "guest OS takes over the world" features, sometimes known as "all your CPU belong to us!" I’ve seen this this most with Windows (XP, Vista, 7 and now 8 Preview) but it’s happened with Linux, Solaris, etc. I don’t know if it’s an abstraction issue with the hardware or the OSes are trying to do something out of the ordinary. Just all of a sudden the CPU’s peg at 100% and everything goes to pieces. I just updated with the latest rev of their software and I pegged the CPUs so the problem is still lingering. Sigh…

Loving Windows (not responding)

Posted on June 6, 2012 at 13:13 by caw
Filed under: Windows | Leave a Comment

Two most commonly viewed words on a Windows platform are "(not responding)." If it was one of our children we would say they were ignoring us. That or they had ADD. Can you get Adderall for Windows?

Have I mentioned…

Posted on February 8, 2012 at 11:18 by caw
Filed under: Microsoft, OS X, Software, Virtualization, Windows Vista, Windows XP | Leave a Comment


Dear Mr. Balmer,

Have I mentioned
how much I hate that piece-of-garbage Windows Vista is? Even the I-paid-you-to-get-it copy I have? No OEM bloatware added. (Sorry, HP and Dell,but you "value add" is of little value. Just sayin’…) I’m running Vista in a VM on a MacBook Pro (dual core i7 @ 2.66 GHz, 8GB of RAM, etc.) running Lion 10.7.3 and Parallels 7. It shouldn’t run like a three (3) legged cat at the dog pound - and I’m just running Internet Exploder 8. ( only works with Firefox 3 and IE 7/8 but don’t even get me started on them!) So it shouldn’t surprise me that a low-level COMPAQ (Celeron @ 3.33, 2 GB of RAM) with Home Basic is a two (2) legged cat! Of course you would think Home Basic would offset some of HP’s value-added bloatware. Not so much. I’m going to be upgrading that machine to Windows 7 but I don’t have much hope.

Don’t suppose you would reconsider your decision to EOL Windows XP would you? Didn’t think so. So very sad.

Well, Vista finished booting. Finally. Back to the hate mill…


HP and their Printer Preferences

Posted on June 12, 2011 at 12:34 by caw
Filed under: Technology | Leave a Comment


Ok, don’t ordinarily rag on hp. In fact I love their printers; I’ve had several and am currently using an Photosmart Pro B9180 for printing my photos. I love their printers; I hate their printer preferences software. Why is it that the Paper Type/Quality > Source always defaults back to Main Tray? 99.9% of the time I use Ilford Galerie paper and you have to feed it through the Speciality Media Tray. Why can’t the printer software remember that? At least for the session? Instead, after every photo you print, the printer software defaults back to Main Tray! And since we’re ragging on hp, why can’t they get their software to talk to the printer and find out that yes, there really are printheads in there and they are really correctly installed. This is a case of the boy who cried wolf! The one time I have a printhead out of whack, I won’t believe it because their software always tells me there is a problem.

Adobe Master Collection 5.5: Contribute 5.1

Posted on May 28, 2011 at 05:53 by caw
Filed under: CS5.5 | Leave a Comment


Disclaimer: I use Contribute purely for blog posts. If I want to update web pages I use Dreamweaver.

Well, I did. I decided to go ahead and buy the CS5.5 upgrade. I was surprised to find that not every thing is 5.5 – several of the programs are 5.1. Don’t know that it matters any, just a surprise. This 5.5 release seems to be focused on Dreamweaver, Device Central, Flash, InDesign and Premier Pro. The rest of the lot just went to 5.1. Makes me wonder if they had anything other than bug fixes and minor additions or if Adobe is just trying to keep up appearances.

I decided to start my foray into CS5.5 with Contribute, mostly because I feel guilty I have not updated my blog recently and that is the app that I use the most. (In Contribute, why is Check Spelling… under the Format menu rather than the Edit menu where you would expect to find it? That may be one of the few things Microsoft did right. Or maybe you and Apple could work something out to get realtime spelling correction?)

One of the first things to know is that Contribute 5 and Contribute 5.1 on the same machine do not play well together. The 5.1 version works just fine; CS5 not so well. CS4 and CS5.1 play well together. Why does this matter? I keep multiple version of CS on my machine at the same time. I usually keep two: current and previous. That way if the current one has a problem I may be able to rescue it with the previous one. I may end up with CS4 / CS5.5 rather than CS5 / CS5.5. This may be like Acrobat in that it touches so many things it would get confused if you tried to put two (2) different versions on the same machine. Not a big deal but worth noting. Also worth noting is that Dreamweaver 5 and 5.5 may share this oddity. You’ll probably have to test each one to find out if you favorite apps play well or not on your machine.

Back to Contribute. The main UI hasn’t changed. Left side still has the pages/drafts console and the “How do I…” help pane. Double click on the dividing line between the pages and the text area and the panels collapse into tabs just like they do in Illustrator and Photoshop. Press the tiny ddouble triangles above the panels for the same effect. You can also reorder the two tabs just by grabbing the top of one and moving it where you want it. “Undock” a panel just by grabbing it and pulling it away from the left side to any place on the screen. Not sure why you would do this but it’s your setup so have at it.

A quick look at the menus doesn’t show anything that jumped out at me as being new but I don’t have CS5 on a machine to compare it to so check your favorites to see if you got anything new.

CS5.1 screen capture with tool bar at the top, pages and How Do I on the left, text entry area on the right.The biggest change seems to be in the post space. In CS5, you wrote your post “in” your blog. That meant you saw you blog’s header and sidebar and the you had a window frame to write your post in. In Contribute 5.1, you don’t see all that when you go to write your actual post; you just see this nearly full-screen box. Does it matter? Well, no and yes. No, it doesn’t matter if all you are doing is writing a piece and putting in a few graphics. That doesn’t matter so much. Yes if you wanted a better view of how your text would interact with graphics (see beside or above or where ever). The root problem with all of this is the browser you reader is going to view this in. Unless you “own” the presentation space, that is how wide the blog body is irrespective of how big the window is (think three (3) column fixed) you text and image are going to float to the size of the window. Without the top and right side (or left or both depending on how you set you blog up) you don’t really know how things will flow out. I prefer to give my viewers as much freedom to resize the browser to view my comment. Some choose to own the browser. Most photographers choose to own the whole screen. Matter of taste I guess.

Guess that covers the things I have found in Contribute. I’ll let you know if I see any more.

Ad Sad

Posted on April 13, 2011 at 14:56 by caw
Filed under: Life on the Web, Social Commentary | Leave a Comment


I just read an article by Jared Newman on Macworld’s web site talking about Amazon’s new, "Ad Supported" Kindle. According to the article (and Amazon’s web site), Amazon will be offering a version of it’s Kindle Reader that supports ads for $114, a whole $25 off the $139 regular price. For this sizable discount, you receive ads on the device’s screensaver and main menu.

What an offensive idea! What would be more offensive is targeted ads on your Kindle Reader: you do have to register your device which means they have access to your purchasing history via your account. Hence targeted ads.

Allow me a relevant digression…

Ads are certainly not a new thing. In addition to tradition sources like Amazon and Google, new services are entering the fray. Apple’s iAds is a good example of an up and coming player and with their share of the music player and tablet market, they could get big in a hurry!

Targeted ads aren’t new either. Amazon, Google and others have been doing it for years now. In an effort to make more money per view (or per click), businesses and web sites use targeted ads. Blogs with large followings have significant bandwidth needs which means you’ve to get a revenue stream from somewhere (or pay for it yourself). Free social websites, like Facebook, target ads based on your profile. I’m single with an interest in photography so I’m always seeing ads for photo kit and dating web sites. (I’m pretty sure there are no dating sites for single photographers or I’d be seeing those too!)

Back to the main topic…Amazon and its ad-enabled Kindle. What if they start puting ads, random or targeted, into your eBooks. They could be beneath the cover pick, befor the Table of Contents, every so many pages or randomly spread throughout the book? The author of the article on Macworld said that "If e-books could be had for cheap—or even free—in exchange for the occasional ad, I’d download them by the dozen."1

Let me go on record right now as saying this is a bad idea. Especially if they are free. While I am generally in favor of anything that will increase reading and expanding the reader’s vocabulary, not to mention teaching people that "4" is not a preposition, the whole idea is just…wrong. If I want a book the latest information and advertising, I’ll read a magazine. If I want real cutting  edge info, I’ll go to the web and put up with the ads there. Books are a different animal. I may buy a book and not read it for two years (my "to be read" pile is rather large). The ads you put in the book are long out of date so why bother? Or if you’re going to serve the latest ads, are you going to force me to connect to the publishing server every time I want to read the book or just when I open it for the first time? And what happens if you are in the middle of nowhere and you want to read your book?

"You could always do low-cost or no-cost versions with ads and a higher priced version without the ads," you say. Part of it comes back to the "how do I make a living?" question. I partially answered that question here and so I shant repeat myself. And no, I don’t have any more of the answer to the although Cory Doctorow’s might by suggesting what used to be heresy: self-publishing or publish on demand.

Regardless, I don’t want any ads in my eBook at any price! If I want to read a magazine, I hope it’s on Zinio, a digital magazine distributer.


1. The original paragraph is "Am I the only one who thinks this is too bad? If e-books could be had for cheap—or even free—in exchange for the occasional ad, I’d download them by the dozen." The semantic construction is terrible; it leaves you with two interpretations: (i) the idea that ads in eBooks is a bad thing, or (2) that ads in eBooks is a good thing. Based on his second sentence I assume he is pro ads in eBooks.

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