Adventures in installing Windows 10 on a Macbook Pro

As y’all know I’m a Mac user. My primary computer is Aroree, a mid-2012 Macbook Pro. Aroree currently has 16 gigs of RAM in it just because, while not officially supported by Apple, RAM was available to let me actually upgrade to that. And I did that upgrade because it got rid of a lot of performance issues I was seeing with Yosemite. (That I actually had to upgrade to 16 gigs to do that was vexing, but well hey.) And now that I’m on El Capitan, it certainly hasn’t done any harm to have that much RAM to play with with that iteration of the OS, either.

With all this RAM to play with, though, I decided to move forward with setting up a new Windows partition to have available for work-related purposes. I don’t normally need to deal with Windows as a private user, but I do need it for work, since I have to test against assorted Windows-based browsers.

And my prior laptop, Winnowill, has gotten too old and creaky to be useful anymore as a workhorse box. Its OS X side is permanently stuck on Lion, since it’s too old to upgrade past there. And while I was able to install Windows 10 on it, it’s still only got 4 gigs of RAM to play with, and that’s not enough to effectively run a VM and have any cycles free to do anything else on the box.

If I were just manually loading browsers, it wouldn’t be as much of a problem. But what I’m actually doing is spending a lot of my time writing Python automation scripts to load browsers for me, way more quickly than I could do it manually, and test the things that need testing. So I need a Windows installation that can sit there and be my automation target, while I run the actual automation from a Linux install. Ideally, I need Windows available while I can do other things on the same box.

Hence, making a new VM on Aroree. I can report with satisfaction that I now have Windows 10 set up as a Bootcamp partition on this machine, doing double duty as a VM using Parallels 11. (I’d considered trying VirtualBox as well, since I’ve been using VirtualBox at work on my Mac mini there, but Parallels is what I’m familiar with at home.) With the VM running in full screen mode, I can switch back and forth between it and the desktop spaces in OS X, and that’s neat.

Within Windows, I’m running Selenium to do the actual automation. I’ve got Chrome and Firefox installed, along with the IE 11 and Edge that came with Windows 10. (There are drivers for IE and one in development for Edge, which’ll be interesting to play with later.) And over on my work laptop, in Linux, I can work on my Python scripts and run them across my home network without having to worry about VPN performance issues. Fun. :)

BUT. Installing Windows 10 on this machine was more annoying than it should have been. Bootcamp was prepared to deal with it, in theory. In actual practice, it wanted me to make a USB installer for Windows 10 which it could then use to run setup. Only it then completely failed to register the USB drive as bootable. A bit of Googling indicated that apparently Bootcamp was expecting that USB drive to be in a USB 2 port. Which I do not have on my Macbook. Its USB ports are USB 3. And Windows 10 wasn’t prepared to talk to those ports prior to installation. AUGH.

Which meant I had to punt to plan B: creating an install DVD from the ISO and using that instead. That actually let me install Windows on the Bootcamp partition. Only I had no networking, because the install DVD didn’t have the actual drivers needed for making Windows talk to Mac hardware. So I had to run the Windows setup a second time, this time off the USB drive, from within Windows. And this time I actually got the drivers I needed to make sure that Windows could talk to our wifi, if I was booted straight into it from Bootcamp.

ETA 11:17am: Am reminded via Twitter that I left out another problem I ran into, at this point. Once I got Bootcamp trying to install drivers within Windows, it hung for no apparent reason while trying to install RealTek audio. Googling for that problem led me to a bunch of other folks on the Apple forums talking about that, and I wound up having to get into the Windows Task Manager to kill the RealTek setup so that the main Bootcamp setup could continue. Once I did that, I was FINALLY able to finish the install.

That took most of the day yesterday. And once THAT was finally accomplished, I was able to install Parallels and get it talking to the Bootcamp partition so that I could run Windows as a VM as well.

Only then I discovered, wait a minute, Windows wasn’t activated. AUGH. Googling about that showed me that apparently that Windows ISO I downloaded–off of Microsoft’s own site, mind you–was not part of the usual activation path they’re expecting. I.e., previous Windows users upgrading already activated copies of Windows.

So I got on the phone to Microsoft’s tech support to try to see what I could do. Which was also more annoying than it should have been. First tech I talked to basically said “whelp you need to buy an activation key” and tried to redirect me to the store. Only I got disconnected, and had to call back and re-explain the problem to a second tech, who then finally connected me to the store. The store person however was not able to answer my question of “okay, so is it accurate that I need to actually buy an activation key?” Because if her answer had been yes, I was going to terminate that conversation and send Dara to the Microsoft employee store to buy us a licensed copy that way.

(Note: I would also have been rather irritated if that had happened, because it would have been disingenuous of Microsoft to provide a free ISO and then expect people to pay for activation keys for it. And by ‘disingenuous’ I mean really fucking annoying.)

To my surprise, however, her answer was “let me connect you with our Windows experts”. So I finally got punted over to a third tech who, after I explained that I had done an install off of’s own ISO and was now having activation problems, asked me for permission to remotely access the machine. When I let him do that, he did a few sanity checks and then finally actually activated it. Which was kind of fun to watch. End result: YAY, fully activated copy of Windows.

Took me all damn day to do it, but at least now it’s done and I can return to working on the actual automation.

Noting all of this for general posterity, and also for any other techie Mac users who might need to do the same thing I’ve just done. Learn from my example, y’all!

Blogging at Here Be Magic today!

Hey folks! Surfacing from Norwescon long enough to report that my very first contribution to the Here Be Magic blog has gone up today! I’m being relaxed and groovy, and talking a bit about Valor of the Healer as well as Faerie Blood, and mentioning a few of the ways I’m shooting for equality and balance in my work. It’s no accident that both of my heroines of record, to date, are elves who are not white.

And being, well, ME, I also mention a few of the ways I love to geek out!

Come on over and say hi! I AM at Norwescon so I’m only able to pay erratic attention to the comments right now, but I’ll be trying to answer any comments as the weekend progresses and I have time in between convention programming. :)

Many thanks to my fellow Here Be Magic authors for spreading the word!

Weird problem with iCal reminders, can anybody help?

This one’s for any of my fellow Apple users out there who have a Mac running OS X 10.7.2 (the latest update of Lion), and an iPhone or iPad running iOS 5.

I’ve got an iCloud account set up to sync reminders between my devices and my computer. This is working beautifully between my iPhone and iPad, and the reminders are also showing up in iCal on my Mac. But the problem is, on the Mac, I cannot edit them. I can’t even click a reminder to mark it as done; I have to go over to one of the iThings and do it there.

Here’s a screenshot of what I see when I try to doubleclick on one of my iCloud reminders from my Mac!

This don't make no sense
This don't make no sense

userinfospazzkat, who also has his Mac laptop and his iThings updated to the same revisions that I do, has not experienced this problem. However, the main difference I’ve been able to note between his system and mine is that he has a full MobileMe account, including an email address, that he set up to talk to iCloud. I don’t have a MobileMe account; I’ve got iCloud using my Apple ID, which is my gmail address, to log in. I would like to HOPE that this shouldn’t be causing my reminders to be showing up read-only on my Macbook, but hey, I’m QA–I know how theoretical functionality doesn’t necessarily line up with what the code is doing, even after it ships.

So what say you, fellow Mac geeks? Any of you experiencing this problem? Any of you know how to solve it?

The Anna upgrades to Lion report

So yeah! Decided after reading the ginormous Ars Technica writeup of Lion, and after reviewing my system this afternoon to see what PowerPC apps I still had (answer: nothing I couldn’t live without), I decided to go ahead and install Lion tonight. It was definitely the easiest OS upgrade I’ve ever done, I’ll give it that.

And in no particular order, here are things I’ve noticed about it:

One, once I rebooted into the new OS, things were quite a bit sluggish for several minutes–but there were two reasons for that. One, Spotlight went and reindexed everything on the drive. Two, I launched Mail as pretty much one of the first things, and that also needed to do significant updating of its database. So things were pretty pokey until both of these finished up their business.

Two, trying to launch iTunes got me an error message about not being able to open an iTunes Library file, but this was easily fixed by doing a quick check for software updates and downloading iTunes 10.4. iTunes then proceeded to load as per normal.

Three, goddamn, Mail is very… gray now. I’m not sure I approve of that, but we’ll see if it grows on me. Ditto for the new gray scrollbars.

Four, I quite like Launchpad, a new icon at the top of the Dock that’s basically a quick and dirty way to get at all of the apps on your system. If you’re an iPhone or iPad owner this interface will look very familiar, and it lets you swipe through it as well if you have a touchpad on your laptop like I do. You’re supposed to be able to organize the icons into folders like you do on iDevices, but I haven’t tried that yet. I like it less because of the similarity to iOS and more just because it means I can lose several less commonly used icons off my Dock.

Five, I discovered entirely by accident that you can set individual desktop backgrounds on the individual desktops available in the new Mission Control feature–which is cool. It’s a much nicer version of Spaces + Expose and even after playing with it for only a few moments, I’m grooving on it. And now I can go fwip-fwip-fwip-fwip through the Dashboard and all four of my desktops in a quick line, and I see LION! ELEPHANT! ISLAND! GREAT BIG SEA! It’s neat.

Six, if I have a Terminal window up and I’m connected to the MurkMUSH and I get paged, the icon starts bouncing at me and showing a little number on it indicating there’s something that needs my attention. Didn’t do that before.

Seven, hrmm, the Ars Technica review was talking about the dots on icons on the Dock that indicate which ones are launched going away. However, I still see mine!

Time Machine is now doing a massive 9.52GB backup–over our house LAN, no less, so this’ll be a while. But on the whole the upgrade appears to have gone swimmingly. I still need to verify that I can reboot into Win7 as needed, and that I can also launch Parallels to run that Win7 install as a VM, as before. (I did update Parallels since they deployed an update to talk to Lion, or so they took pains to inform users.)

Also still need to see if Safari’s new Reading List feature will seduce me off of Firefox, and what the new document handling model will be like once I get a hold of a version of a word processor that can talk to it. (Mac Word 2008 does not.)

But so far so good. And oh yes, speaking of Mac Word 2008–if you’re using Mac Office on your system, you WILL need 2008 or later if you want to upgrade to Lion, what with Rosetta support being removed. Be on the lookout as well if you’re at all reliant on Microsoft Query, which is part of Excel. That was one of my few PPC apps left on the system, and a bit of judicious Googling showed me that Microsoft has word out that they’re advising anyone reliant on Query to not upgrade yet until they fix that. They’re also reporting that Outlook is having trouble importing data out of Mail once Lion is installed, so people this might affect should keep an eye out for that.

AND! Since I am a Big Fish employee, it does behoove me to point out that older Big Fish releases, being PowerPC games, won’t run on Lion either. Be on the lookout for our powers that be to issue word on what Mac customers should do about those specific games. If there are particular games you don’t want to lose the ability to run yet, you might hold off a bit on the OS install.

More as I observe it! (And dammit, why don’t I have a Lion icon for posting to LJ and Dreamwidth?)

Murknet websites status update

userinfosolarbird is taking care of most of the technical work to transfer our network over to the new connection, but the websites are on me. So I’m making a clean sweep through all of the websites we’re supporting, to try to make sure that they’re all still connecting properly.

And, Internets, I could use your help! We host the following domains. Please let me know if you can reach them both with and without www at the beginning of the URL:


ALSO, and this is IMPORTANT:

If you own a domain hosted at our site, you should log into whatever registrar you’re using to make sure that your references to our name servers are up to date. Drop me a comment or send me email at my gmail address (annathepiper) to doublecheck what name servers you should be using!

The things I think of

Yesterday I had an eye exam, which required me to alter my usual morning commute–and sacrificed my daily morning swing through Pike Place Market, on the grounds that I could get to work a lot faster after my appointment was done if I took the 30 and went practically straight to Big Fish, vs. taking a 70-something and going downtown and doing the usual marketwalk.

So when I went through the market in the evening, the Handsomest of Marketboys gave me this stern “where the hell were you?” look and was all “we were going to call hospitals and everything!” To wit: HA. And also, clearly I must make a point of informing my marketpeeps (I must now say marketpeeps since now they have a marketgirl!) in advance when I will not be making my usual rounds.

Which of course led me, geekily brained as I am, to imagining a helpful web page they could consult in further situations of this nature, possibly called It would include options like:

  • Yes! Save me a banana!
  • Yes! Those raspberries aren’t going to eat themselves!
  • Yes! userinfosolarbird demands cherries!
  • No! My bus broke down and I’m running late!
  • No! I’m home sick with a cold/the flu/the plague/Kellis-Amberlee!
  • No! I’m working late tonight because all the servers are on FIRE and the QA team is frantically trying to verify when things will be fixed!
  • No! We’re going out to sushi tonight. Mmmmmmm soooooooshi.
  • No! userinfosolarbird and I are heading to Vancouver/Portland/Newfoundland for a Great Big Sea roadtrip! Because blackberries are swoonable and all but they still don’t beat Alan Doyle With a Bouzouki!
  • No! The Murkworks has gone to Disneyland!
  • No! The latest Dresden Files just dropped and I am putting EVERYTHING on hold until I find out what happened to Harry. I’m sure you understand!
  • No! I just sold a novel and am too busy bouncing around the house shrieking!
  • No! I just got my latest rejection letter and am busy sulking at the cats.
  • No! The zombies have risen in Kenmore and userinfosolarbird, userinfospazzkat and I are currently huddled in the upper floor of our house, shooting zombies out of the second story front bedroom window. If I don’t survive, Marc, you can have my iPad as promised. Unless you’re the zombie that killed me.

What else would be on this web page, do you think? Suggest options in the comments!

Need RSS app that reads authenticated feeds AND syncs

Help me, fellow Apple geeks!

I have a whole helluva lot of RSS feeds I want to keep track of. Ideally, I would like to be able to sync reading these feeds between my computer, my phone, and my iPad, so that if I read an article on any of these objects, it updates the others as soon as I sync.

The problem is that quite a few of the feeds I want to keep an eye on are friends-locked accounts on either LJ or Dreamwidth. And the vast majority of iPhone/iPad apps I’ve found for RSS reading work by way of syncing with Google Reader–which is lovely and all except for the part where Google Reader doesn’t talk to authenticated feeds. :/

I do NOT want to use a third-party service (such as FreeMyFeed) to unlock those feeds and plug them into Google Reader, on the grounds of that would violate the privacy of those feeds. What I’d like to do instead is either a) let my Mac do the actual grabbing of authenticated feeds, and just sync that content down to the mobile devices, or b) find an iPad app that can talk to authenticated feeds locally, and just read RSS exclusively on that device.

So, do any of y’all have suggestions for how I can solve this problem? Let me know in the comments!

IPad thoughts so far

So I’ve had the Shiny for a day or so now and am beginning to have thoughts about it.

Things I don’t like:

  • The mail app has a preview pane I can’t turn off.
  • My laptops USB ports are apparently not powerful enough to let the iPad charge when I have it plugged in for syncing.

Things I do like:

  • The on-screen keyboard is a little weird, but I can work with it. Between that and a reasonable amount of screen space, I am fairly sure that I will be able to write on this thing, although polishing of format will likely still have to be done on the laptop.
  • The smart cover is pretty nifty, and I think I chose well when I chose the brown leather one. It’ll look nicely natural as it gets more use.
  • It is amazing how cold the back of the device feels compared to my laptop, especially if I am carrying them both from room to room. And it’s pretty cool having the thing in my lap right now as I write this post, and to not have heat radiating off of it.
  • About half the apps I had put onto my phone are universal binaries that also work on the iPad, and of those, several of them look way nicer. The WordPress app, which I’m using right now, is a nice example.

I’ve been doing a bit of reorganization of my apps in iTunes, trying to determine which ones need to stay on the phone and which ones will move primary operation to the iPad. So far the book reading apps and the HD games are the big things I am moving over. And I am a sucker for those damn birds (SO ANGRY!) and zombies (brains), so I bought the HD versions of both of those games. I’m downloading a lot of Big Fish’s shiny HD releases too–as a proud Big Fish employee, I feel that is my beholden duty. :D I’ve played a bit already with Hidden Expedition: Amazon, which I’d previously played on the computer. But it looks REALLY good on the pad, and it also has a multiplayer mode in this version, where you can have two people on the same device searching for hidden objects at once, either competitively or cooperatively. I want to try that!

(switching back to the laptop)

It looks like the WordPress app has got some problems (it can’t handle HTML tags well right now and it seems to be stripping out all my damn quotes, which is not helpful), so I’m having to finalize this post via the actual web UI on my laptop. But that’s the fault of the app and not the fault of the iPad; I had the same problem using the WordPress app on my phone.

Anyway, still getting everything the way I want it on the device, but so far so good so shiny!

On the awesomeness of technology

Something that has really come to light for me in the last couple of years is that I’m really, really, really tired of the “my choice of technology is better than your choice of technology” attitude so many of my geek brethren espouse. Whether it be “Linux is better than Windows” or “Macs are better than PCs” or “Open Source is better than paid software” or “my smartphone is better than your smartphone”, I have yet to see that this is anything more than the simple human tendency to divide up into camps and loudly proclaim how one’s camp is superior to everyone else’s.

And you know what, folks? When it comes to geek technology, this is really kind of silly.

When you get right down to it, no matter what operating system it runs, a computer is pretty goddamn awesome. So are smartphones–I mean, c’mon, you guys, we are all carrying around tiny computers in our pockets. And when I think about this, especially when I think about how computers used to be gigantic boxy things that would take up entire rooms, it’s even more amazing to me.

I’ve been thinking about this this week because I’ve gotten the expected amount of shit for the fact that I’m getting an iPad. But really, I’ve been thinking about it ever since a coworker of mine showed up at work preemptively expecting that the team was going to give him shit for having a Windows phone. That struck me. If you’re going around automatically expecting your fellow geeks to hassle you about the device you’ve chosen to purchase, that really takes a lot of fun out of having it. And it shouldn’t, because again, computers are awesome. And smartphones are just tiny computers.

So I would now like to take this opportunity to celebrate all technology, no matter who makes it. I invite folks to join me in the comments to express love of whatever technology you have and why you love it. I’ll start!

I love my MacBook because it’s clever enough to dual-boot between OS X and Windows 7.

I love Windows 7 because it’s a version of Windows that is not only not sucky, it’s elegant, doesn’t get in your face with the UAC dialogs, and able to play nicely with Bootcamp.

I love Linux because I’ve found it to be an excellent platform to write Python code on. Also, excellent for running our home servers at the Murk, and for playing Nethack on, and hosting my web pages and blogs!

I love Open Source because of healthy respect for the ethic of creating programs just because you love to code.

I love paying for programs I need or games I want because I myself work in the computer industry, and I love supporting my fellow geeks for their work.

I love Firefox because c’mon, FOXES, how can I not?

I love Safari because it’s fast.

I love Internet Explorer 9 because whoa, hey, a version of Internet Explorer that’s actually fast and compliant to recent web standards? Awesome! Well done!

I love my iPhone because it’s a tiny, tiny thing and yet it lets me do so much.

I love my nook because it lets me carry around an amazing number of books with me, and in one small sleek package.

I don’t own one but I love seeing other people’s netbooks because small, cute technology that can go toe to toe with bigger laptops is awesome.

I don’t own one but I love hearing from friends who own Android phones or Windows phones just because a friend saying “I have a toy and it does this really, really cool thing” is awesome, too!

I love flatscreen monitors because yay for occupying less desk space, not to mention no longer throwing radiation at my poor neck.

And I’ll save telling you about why I love my iPad after I’ve actually had some time to break it in. :D

Your turn, people! What technology do you love, and why? (And remember, this is not about ‘I love technology X because it’s not technology Y’–please, let’s not snark. Let’s make this a celebration of all things that are awesome. Thanks!)