True Synchrony

 

I use a PC every day. I also use a mac every day. My workhorse, the PC ( a Dell Precision T1650), is for CAD work – Solidworks, Rhino, AutoCad. The mac (a workhorse 2008 MacBook Pro with a great 17″ screen and a 500Gb SSD) is for pretty much everything else – emails, some web surfing, timekeeping, bookkeeping, image editing etc. Tying together these two computers and their files has been a slow evolution to a pretty great system which I thought I’d share:

Synergy – I’ve posted before about how I use the two computers with the same keyboard & mouse using Synergy – which is priceless. The seamless use of one keyboard/mouse for 2 computers is beyond awesome (I’ve even discovered that when I copy text in one computer, I can paste it into the other computers’s document – COOL!)
Dropbox – It seems old hat by now but when I started using Dropbox a few years ago it was a revolution for me – I could share all the files between computers without having to set up a finicky network between pc & mac. This is a pretty big deal since I like to use a mix of PC & mac applications to do various things while I do a project. While I’m working on the PC, Dropbox is making sure that I have everything also available on my other computer if I need it.
Time Machine – this is an Apple feature that saves backups every hour for the past 24 hours, and keeps daily & weekly versions thereafter. Time Machine is seamless – it is built into the operating system so you don’t even know it’s there until you need it. Since all my work files are on Dropbox – which is shared by both computers –  all of my CAD files are backed up on the mac’s Time Machine while I work. Since the mac is saving files while I’m working on the PC, there’s no noticeable lag (I have Acronis True Image for saving daily PC backup images, but I’ve found that if I set it for hourly backups it tends to slow down Solidworks). So if a Solidworks file gets corrupted (which happened the other day) I can easily go to the mac’s Time Machine to restore the previous hour’s files or folders that need to be restored. Dropbox will then make sure I have the files on my PC so I can get back to work!

 

Learning to Code

I’ve got a project coming that requires some sort of mac user interface that communicates via bluetooth & Twitter (whew!).  Soooo, for the past few days I’ve been smacking my head against my laptop as I attempt to learn something new about programming. It’s been a looooong time since college when I learned Pascal, and I can really feel it as I wade through Java & Objective C. All those brackets!! Arrgh.

On the plus side, there are many websites that have been helping a great deal – here’s one of them. Cocoalab has a wonderful Objective C tutorial – “Become an XCoder” that walks you thorough the basics and even holds your hand as you make a simple OS X application or two. The PERFECT starting point for someone who wants to begin programming on the Mac.

Note though that the PDF version of the tutorial is a bit out of date and documents a now outdated Xcode. But the HTML pages have been updated to reflect a newer version of the Apple software. This is only important as you try to link various objects in your programs.

 

Laser Lessons

I love my PLS 180 laser level. Bought it last year for a metalwork installation job and I wonder how I ever did anything without it (I vaguely remember using strings for something… but how did I level them? no matter….)

Last week  I did learn the hard way that despite how useful they are, lasers are unforgiving when you treat them badly. Mine was faithfully stuck via magnet mount to a beam in my kitchen renovation in Park Slope when someone (who will remain Nameless….) knocked it off while we were putting insulation in between joists. 8′ fall down to the floor and voila! It’s out of level 1 inch per 4 feet now.

Since we were about to install the ceiling framing and I needed a level reference I had to improvise quickly. I managed to set up the laser so it would project a beam across the room and I very carefully shimmed the bracket while manually checking the level with a a spirit level. It wasn’t as perfect as I would have liked, but it was better than buying a new laser (and trying to remember what I did with strings….)

Anyway – it went off to PLS today via next day air. Hopefully we’ll have it back before we have to put up the cabinets.