Why my primary Windows XP machine is still a Dell

MacBook ProThe MacBook Pro is great running XP; but has several flaws which mean it probably won’t become my primary machine just yet…


  • No Audio Routing
    If you plug headphones into the headphone socket audio continues to come out of the speakers. This is known (and documented by Apple) but is still irritating. If I’m in the office I quite often listen to mp3s/the radio on headphones. Also, when I play games I nearly always do so with headphones on for the immersive experience…
  • Limited Bluetooth Support
    I use my phone’s Bluetooth headset as a headset in games that support it (UT2004, CounterStrike) and for Skype calls. Either the driver in the MacBook doesn’t support the headset profile, or the hardware doesn’t support it. Either way, it’s an annoying limitation.
  • Heat
    This is the real killer. The MacBook Pro runs hot… Even in OS X – when you push the CPU – it gets very hot. Running in XP though, without the advanced power management, it gets hot quickly. So hot in fact that the grill to the left of the keyboard becomes painful to touch. That’s no good for prolonged periods of typing!
  • The Trackpad
    In OS X there is a tickbox for trackpad settings that “ignored unintended input” – so if you knock it with your wrist while typing it knows to disregard it. Not so for XP. Try typing for any length of time and you find the cursor jumping all over the place as you accidentally click all over your document. Grrr!

I imagine that further updates to the beta will fix some of these niggles, but for now I’m still using the Dell for day to day work and games.

One thing I did manage to do with the MacBook Pro was remap the keyboard. Now \ is in the correct place (next to left shift) as is the back tick (next to the 1 key) and I’ve given myself a right-alt key (the right command key) and a del key (next to the left cursor). So I can hit ctrl-alt-del and I have a right-alt to control MS Virtual Server properly now!

It’s a fantastic games machine; HalfLife 2, UT2004 and RoN all perform flawlessly… I just worry about the heat. I hope Apple issue a BootCamp driver update for APM.

Things I Have Learned This Week

Thing the first:
Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 does not support teamed NICs on the host.

This bit us on the arse earlier this week when we teamed the NICs on the hosts of our virtual environment. As a result, although we could RDP to the host desktop, all our guest machines dropped off the network. A colleague is sure that with a bit of tweaking we could get Virtual Server to play nice with the (HP provided) teaming drivers, but we didn’t really have time to mess about with NIC configuration when there was an environment to build and documentation to write!

Thing the second:
m0n0wall is even better than when I last used it (several years ago). Its packet-shaping feature set is very useful if you want to simulate, for arguments sake, a low bandwidth lossy link between two networks. More on this and how to set it up in a virtual environment later.

Thing the third:
Turning off DHCP Client and Computer Browser on a Windows 2003 Server in an AD domain will break more than you might think. Specifically: the ability to register itself in DNS.

net start dhcp
net start browser

Thing the, aw hell, enough counting… Vodafone’s MobileConnect card will hang onto a 3G connection far longer and with far greater success if you configure it so that it’s *not allowed* to fall back to GPRS.

And finally, the commute from Winchester to Bristol is actually pretty reasonable – as long as you have a comfortable car!