Daniel Harris

Coding, The Cloud, and Tech

7. May 2013 19:26
by Daniel Harris

Utilising Office 365 as a Google Reader Replacement

7. May 2013 19:26 by | 0 Comments

With the demise of Google Reader looming, i've turned to outlook, and Office 365 to replace some of the most basic functionality, and surprisingly it does pretty much everything I need... [More]

27. October 2012 16:12
by Daniel Harris

Parallels Desktop 8 for Mac 8.0.18305 Impressions

27. October 2012 16:12 by | 0 Comments

Today I got an alert from Parallels that the latest update was available. I always like to be notified rather than downloading it automatically so I can see what new features have been introduced. The latest update has a focus on Windows 8 as you would expect. The ones i’m most interested in i’ve listed below: Support for one finger gestures to show charms and running applications Full speed support for USB 3.0 devices Windows 8 system notifications are displayed as Mountain Lion notifications New, more intuitive design to optimise Windows for working on Retina Displays Some other updates i'm personally less interested in, but still noteworthy are: Support for Windows Server 2012 Ability to assign up to 16GB RAM to a single VM (I'll be sticking with 8GB on my MBPr) In case you are considering upgrading but not quite sure yet i've covered some of the changes below. One finger gesture support for opening Charms etc This makes the gestures available on touch screens work on trackpads. To activate them you need to swipe from off the trackpad from either the left, right, or top/bottom. Swipe in from the left to see all your running applications Swipe in from the right to bring up the charms menu Swipe in from the top/bottom to bring up the context menus (Same as right click) It works really well and shows the OS can be just as intuitive with a trackpad as with a touchscreen. I tend to use keyboard shortcuts myself, but for those out there who don't like remembering key combinations this should be a welcome addition. New UI for Retina Display Options I actually think this is a step backwards, but it ultimately gives you the same options as before. Previously you had two check boxes; One to enable the use of the full resolution, and another to Optimise the display. Optimising the display basically just sets Windows DPI setting to 199%. You now get 3 options, i've listed below how these map to the old check boxes. Scaled = Both boxes unticked Best for Retina = Both boxes ticked More space = Only "Enable full resolution" ticked My personal preference is to choose "More Space" and set my DPI setting manually to 178%, this still allows more tiles on the start screen, without things becoming too small.   The parallels "Best for Retina" setting forces it to 199% which means tiles on the home screen become larger, meaning you fit the same number of tiles as you would on a screen running at 1440x900. Windows 8 System Notifications displayed as Mountain Lion notifications I was disappointed to find that this doesn't appear to work if you run your VM in full screen or windowed. I tried installing an application from the Windows store, sent an email to my account in Office 2013, and also turned on my Xbox 360. All should trigger a notification, and they did in Windows, but none of them appeared in Mountain Lion. It looks like this only works in Coherence mode...Which makes sense for it to work here, but I think you should be able to get alerts in ML no matter how you like to run your VM. An example where this would be useful is if you have Windows 8 in full screen on Desktop 2, but you're working on Desktop 1 in Mac OS X. I hope Parallels will add support for this in full screen/windowed mode in a future update. UPDATE: I think my machine just needed a reboot after enabling this setting as it has been working great for a while now. Good to know when something happens in Windows if i'm using OS X at the time. General Impression of the Update Any update is always welcome, and it's great Parallels are releasing new features on a regular basis lately. Parallels is still the most valuable piece of software i've had, and my personal favourite for desktop virtualisation. It still feels so much faster than VM Ware player/ Workstation on Windows which I also use on a daily basis. Most importantly of all the update has not broken anything. This is a problem some people have had in the past with new versions of PD8. I can say that for me nothing has gone wrong. I am running a Retina MBP and Windows 8 RTM from August. From my personal experience you can update to the latest version without fear of issues cropping up. You can read the full KB article that discusses all the changes in the update here: Parallels KB article for PD8 8.0.18305  If you've updated please post your impressions in the comments.    

12. September 2012 20:54
by Daniel Harris

Switching from a Windows Laptop to a Macbook Pro - Initial Impressions of a .NET Developer

12. September 2012 20:54 by | 0 Comments

Early August I took delivery of a Macbook Pro with Retina display, with a slightly bumped up spec over the base. This is the first Mac i’ve owned, and the first chance i’ve had to really try the OS. I’ve always had Windows Laptops before, and the reason I bought the Macbook wasn’t because there is anything wrong with Windows, simply that the spec of the Macbook hardware is what I was after, plain and simple. The Hardware It’s very light for it’s size and more than powerful enough for my development activities. There seemed to be a distinct lack of notebooks and ultrabooks I could buy with a 16GB memory configuration. Having 16GB of RAM means I am more than able to run Windows virtualised, rather than having to boot into it via Boot Camp. I’ve used VM’s for development in work plenty of times before running in VMWare Workstation, and at times it has been a flaky experience. Running Windows At the end of the day, i’m a huge Windows fan, and I spend most of my working week in Visual Studio, so I will always want to run Windows. As I said above, with the spec of the machine I opted for virtualising Windows rather than doing a dual boot… I chose Parallels Desktop for Mac on the advice of a friend and haven’t looked back since. Windows 7 (and now Windows 8) run silky smooth and when in full screen it feels like i’m running it on bare metal rather than virtualised.  I tried Coherence mode which i’d heard a lot about. And although it works much better than Unity mode in VMWare Workstation, I still like to feel as though i’m running Windows fully rather than just using Windows app from within Mac OS X. Once i’d tweaked the settings in Parallels I found I was running Windows 8 and forgetting completely that it was a VM, or that I was even using a Mac. I’ve been using the machine for around a month now and it’s been a very pleasant experience and I find that I now switch between Windows and Mac seamlessly as part of my workflow. I’m going to cover in another post how I have Parallels setup to get (what I believe to be) the optimal experience. The way it works and integrates Mac OS and Windows out of the box is really impressive! Mac OS X Overall I have to admit, I do like Apple’s desktop operating system. Visually I think it looks good, albeit slightly more dated looking than Windows 7 and 8. The thing that really makes the OS a joy to use though are the multi-touch gestures. I have never been a fan of trackpads, but I find that the gestures are implemented so well that I can’t imagine using a Mac without them. It may seem like a small thing, but once you get used to them they really speed up your use of the system, and it’s nice to see Microsoft implementing gestures in Windows 8.