Microsoft Office for Mac 2011

I have used Microsoft Office for a while on my Windows machines.  It used to be extremely expensive so I used WordPerfect, which was far cheaper, but since Microsoft came out with the Student and Teacher edition in 2003 costing around $120, it’s been much more affordable.  They followed that up with Home and Student in 2007 and 2010.  I have previously tried Open Office as well but found it had compatibility errors with some Word documents.

I’m actually still using the 2003 version as it does everything I need it to.  Microsoft released a plug-in that allows it to read and write .docx files (introduced in 2007) so there hasn’t been any need to upgrade.  Because of that, the ribbon will be a new experience for me.

Since I’m moving my laptop over to the Mac and want to stay in OS X as much as possible, I needed an office suite.  I use Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Beginning with 2010, a free basic online version has been available but there are times I need it when I don’t have wi-fi so that’s not really a viable option for me.  I thought of the iWork suite, which is affordable at only $60 for all three application-equivalents but after reading some reviews on them, I wasn’t sure they would really suit my needs.  Micro Center is selling Microsoft Office for Mac Home and Student 2011 Family Pack (3 users) for $99 so I went with that.

The standard installation takes 1.74 GB but I read a review that said that installs Outlook which this version doesn’t come with a license for.  I guess the idea is to make you want it so you will buy it.  I have used versions of Office that came with Outlook but I never used it so I opted for a custom installation.

The options are as follows:

  • Microsoft Office 2011 (1.38 GB)
    • Microsoft Word (225.4 MB)
    • Microsoft Excel (57.2 MB)
    • Microsoft PowerPoint (143 MB)
    • Microsoft Outlook (82.1 MB)
    • Microsoft Document Connection for Mac (6.4 MB)
    • Microsoft Messenger (76.9 MB)
    • Remote Desktop Connection for Mac (16.1 MB)
    • Visual Basic for Applications (6.4 MB)
    • Proofing Tools (18 languages individually selectable – 212.1 MB)
  • Office Fonts (329.3 MB)
  • Automator Actions (20.7 MB)
  • Dock Icons (Zero KB)

Selecting the options I wanted took 1.39 GB.  The CD installation took 4 minutes which was much shorter than I was expecting.  On my PC, things can get out of hand with various programs automatically checking for updates, particularly at inopportune times, like when I’m the middle of a full-screen game and some notification pops up and throws me out.  Because of that, I prefer manual updates on many things so I set this new installation to not automatically check for updates.

When I checked manually, it found Microsoft AutoUpdate 2.3.4 (2.0 MB).  That’s an update for the update program.  After installing that, it found Office 2011 14.2.3 Update (110.1 MB).  That downloaded in about a minute.  I found it’s Microsoft Office for Mac 2011, Service Pack 2 and would take 297.7 MB of space.  Oddly, it required Safari to be closed before it would install.  Much to my surprise, it took all of 21 seconds to install.  Even more surprising was the fact that there were no further updates (no patches for this patch).  On Windows, the installation would have taken minutes (plural) and there would have been patches for the service pack.  It seems Microsoft does the right thing on a Mac; I wish they would carry that behavior over to the Windows platform.

 

Spam and Sitemap Plugins

Yesterday I posted about receiving my first two spam comments on this site.  While reading about plugins to help filter them, I received a third.  Akismet comes with WordPress but I read it has false positives so it’s not my first choice to try.  I decided to go with a plugin called Block Spam By Math Reloaded by James Pegram.  It adds a simple math equation that must be answered before a comment can be submitted for moderation.  I’m certain that some spammers have already got around this by training their bots to answer the equation but I figured it would at least help.  It’s been running for about a day now and I have received one spam comment during that time.  Only time will tell how effective it is.

I used a plugin called Google Sitemap Plugin by BestWebSoft to create a sitemap.xml file to help search engines index the site.  It worked well but unfortunately it didn’t seem to automatically update the file as I created more posts.  That meant I had to manually tell it to do so which isn’t as convenient as it could be.

I decided to deactivate it and install Google XML Sitemaps by Arne Brachhold instead.  It has many more features and even pings Google and Bing when a new post is uploaded.  It has an option to ping Ask as well but it seemed to have problems with that so I unchecked that option.  The plugin seems nice so far.

If you’re wondering what one of the fastest ways to get your site on search engines (at least on Google and Bing) is, create a sitemap file, open a free webmaster account with Google and Bing, and give them the URL to the sitemap.  I noticed my site on theirs in just a few days.  Remember that Bing powers Yahoo’s search so it will show up there automatically when you submit it to Bing.

 

Google, Bing, and Spam

I submitted this site into the webmaster tools on Google and Bing just a few days ago.  Yesterday I received my first spam comment.  It’s really a testament to how fast spammers find new sites to post to.  It’s also a good indication of how fast Google and Bing add a site to their listings.  I checked both search engines and they both indeed have it listed.  I was going to submit it to Yahoo as well but I learned Bing is powering Yahoo’s search engine now so there was really no need.  I confirmed it by searching for my site on Yahoo and sure enough, it was there.

Because I, like pretty much everyone, don’t like spam, I moderate my comments.  That means even though the spam comment was submitted, it never made it to the site. I’m considering trying out a plug-in or two to help manage it.

One thing I learned from it though was WordPress keeps track of the ip address of the sender.  A nice site to look up the information on an ip address is http://network-tools.com/.  They make the process pretty easy and will give you the ISP through http://whois.arin.net and other websites.

For example, the ip information for this particular spammer was 142.91.93.40, 142.91.93.40.rdns.ubiquity.io.  A whois search returned Ubiquity Server Solutions Seattle in Tukwila, Washington.

Even as I typed this blog entry, another e-mail notification came in about a comment from another spammer.  This one was from 173.213.114.135 which belongs to ServerHub Cloud VPS in Chandler, Arizona.

Maybe I should try a plug-in.

 

Using VirtualBox to Load the Boot Camp Partition

Boot Camp is very convenient as it lets me run Windows 7 programs that I need such as Microsoft Visual Studio.  It would be even more convenient if I could open it while in OS X for the times I don’t need the best performance (as I would if were playing 3-D games for example).  There are virtual machine programs available that advertise that ability, such as Parallels but I found a post that claims to do the same using VirtualBox, which is free.  I thought I’d give it a shot.  The post is at http://phaq.phunsites.net/2011/03/05/sharing-windows-7-between-boot-camp-and-virtualbox/.  He indirectly referenced http://luckyviplav.blogspot.com/2011/06/windows-7-on-mac-os-x-through-virtual.html in his steps.

To go through the steps, I had to set up a password on my user account on the Mac.  To make the changes below, it requires you to have a password to authorize them as an administrator.  Also be aware that one thing about VirtualBox is you often have to move the mouse after clicking a button, otherwise it will often not recognize the click (at least while using a touchpad/trackpad).

The steps I took on my MacBook Pro running OS X Lion 10.7.4 were:

  1. Installed Windows 7 in Boot Camp (already done)
  2. Installed VirtualBox (current version – 4.1.18 r78361)
  3. Launched Disk Utility
  4. Highlighted the BOOTCAMP partition and clicked Info
  5. Made note of the Disk Identifier (disk0s4 – though his was disk0s3)
  6. Opened Terminal
  7. Typed pwd (print working directory) to confirm I was at my home directory (Users/USERNAME).  Note: “cd ~” will get you there if you’re not.
  8. Made directories and went to them
    1. Typed mkdir “VirtualBox VMs” (the quotes are necessary because of the space)
    2. Typed cd “VirtualBox VMs”
    3. Typed mkdir Win7onMBP
    4. Typed cd Win7onMBP
  9. Changed permissions by typing: sudo chmod 777 /dev/disk0s4 (remember his was disk0s3)
  10. Ejected the BOOTCAMP partition by highlighting it in the Finder, right-clicking on it and chose eject (This was important – it wasn’t immediately obvious that I had to eject it since he said he didn’t have to nor was it obvious how to do it)
  11. [I skipped the step he had next which makes my steps 9 and 10 automatically run upon rebooting because I can’t clone the Boot Camp partition if it’s dismounted.  I did it a different way instead and moved it to step 14.]
  12. Created the VirtualBox RAW disk files by typing: sudo VBoxManage internalcommands createrawvmdk -rawdisk /dev/disk0 -filename win7raw.vmdk -partitions 4 (his was -partitions 3 because he had disk0s3 in my step 5)
  13. Changed owners of the two files (I’m still not sure why I had to but I definitely had to) by typing: sudo chown USERNAME *.vmdk (replaced USERNAME with my real username)
  14. I made a script that makes the necessary changes mentioned in step 11.  The changes last until you reboot OS X.  I can simply double click the script (run it) before launching Virtual Box if the changes haven’t already been made. (The script how-to came from kaz-k at https://discussions.apple.com/thread/3175771)
    1. Launched TextEdit
    2. Typed the lines he had (adding sudo before chmod):
      1. #grant VirtualBox permissions to Boot Camp partition
      2. #
      3. sudo chmod 777 /dev/disk0s4
      4. diskutil unmount /Volumes/BOOTCAMP
    3. I saved it as a plain text file to the desktop and named it “Virtual Box Permissions.command” (note the file extension command instead of txt)
    4. Back in Terminal, I typed cd ~ (to get back to the home directory)
    5. Typed cd Desktop
    6. Typed chmod +x “Virtual Box Permissions.command” (to make it executable)
  15. In VirtualBox
    1. Clicked “New” and clicked “Continue”
    2. Typed Win7onMBP (Microsoft Windows and Windows 7 were automatically selected) and clicked “Continue”
    3. Set the memory size to 1024 MB (1 GB) and clicked “Continue”
    4. Pressed the “Use existing hard disk” button
    5. Clicked the picture of the folder (Choose a virtural hard disk file…)
    6. The directory Win7onMBP was already highlighted so I clicked win7raw.vmdk and clicked “Open”
    7. The window closed and I clicked “Continue” in the original window
    8. Clicked “Create”
    9. Back on the main VirtualBox screen, I clicked “Settings”
    10. [I skipped the part about changing the disk to IDE – it caused problems and ended up being unnecessary]
    11. At the top, I clicked “System”  and on the “Motherboard” tab, checked “Enable IO APIC” (This was mentioned in the comments on his site)
    12. At the top, I clicked “Display”, and changed the Video Memory from 16 MB to 128 MB (for step 21 below) and clicked “OK”
  16. Next up was to press “Start” in VirtualBox.  A message shows up about Auto capture keyboard.  It notes the host key is the left COMMAND key.  I pressed “OK”
  17. It showed a mouse pointer integration message so I clicked “OK”
  18. Windows 7 loaded like a charm.  A message popped up saying “Installing device driver software.”  It then said “Device driver software was not successfully installed.” It wanted to restart but before doing so, I set the Network Location to Home.
  19. After restarting, things seemed fine.  Device Manager showed an exclamation mark for “Base System Device” under “Other devices” but it went away later.
  20. Next up was installing Virtual Box Guest Additions.  In the VirtualBox menu at the top, I clicked Devices, then “Install Guest Additions…”
  21. An AutoPlay screen popped up in Windows 7 and I clicked “Run VBoxWindowsAdditions.exe” and installed it.  I opted to add the experimental Direct3D Support though it warned me that it required at least 128 MB of Display memory (which is why I added step 15-L above).

That’s it.  I now had the Boot Camp Windows 7 installation working in Virtual Box running in OS X.  The exclamation mark I mentioned went away after installing Additions.  When I reboot, I just need to double click the file Virtual Box Permissions.command (made in step 14), then run Virtual Box as normal.

I wouldn’t play a graphically intensive Windows game this way but for running things like Visual Studio, it’s perfect!  I can even press COMMAND-F to go full-screen.  If you’re already running Boot Camp, I highly recommend trying this VirtualBox installation out if you think it might be useful.  After all, it’s free!

A side-effect is the left Windows key no longer works.  VirtualBox is using it as its host key.  The right Windows key works fine though.  You’ll have to press the FUNCTION key in addition to the F keys for things such as ALT-F4 if you leave OS X to its default configuration for those keys.  Enjoy!

 

Visual Studio 2010 Professional Installation

As I continue the migration from my HP laptop to the MacBook Pro, I now need to install Visual Studio, the main program I use to write programs for my classes.  Visual Studio is huge and takes a really long time to install.  Visual Studio 2012 is in Release Candidate so it should come out sometime in the next few months.

I installed Visual Studio 2010 from the CD leaving the core program with all languages but I deselected the four options:

  • Microsoft Office Developer Tools (x64)
  • Dotfuscator Software Services – Community Edition
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Express Service Pack 1 (x64)
  • Microsoft SharePoint Developer Tools

That brought the required space down from 7.3 GB to 5.4 GB.  It installs 35 things including:

  • Microsoft Application Error Reporting
  • VC 9.0 Runtime (x86)
  • VC 10.0 Runtime (x86)
  • VC 10.0 Runtime (x64)
  • Microsoft .NET Framework 4
  • Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 64bit Prerequisites (x64)
  • Microsoft Visual F# 2.0 Runtime
  • Microsoft Visual Studio Macro Tools
  • TFS Object Model (x64)
  • .NET Framework 4 Multi-Targeting Pack
  • Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 Professional
  • Microsoft Web Development Tool (x64)
  • Microsoft ASP.NET MVC 2 – Visual Studio 2010 tools
  • Microsoft ASP.NET MVC 2
  • Microsoft Silverlight 3 SDK
  • Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 Tools for Office Runtime (x64)
  • Crystal Reports templates for Visual Studio 2010
  • Microsoft SQL Server Compact 3.5 SP2 (x86) ENU
  • Microsoft SQL Server Compact 3.5 SP2 (x64) ENU
  • Visual Studio 2010 Tools for SQL Server compact 3.5 SP2 ENU
  • Microsoft Sync Framework Runtime v1.0 (x64) ENU
  • Microsoft Sync Services for ADO.NET v2.0 (x64) ENU
  • Microsoft Sync Framework Services v1.0 (x64) ENU
  • Microsoft Sync Framework SDK v1.0 (x64) ENU
  • VC 10.0 Designtime (x64)
  • Microsoft SQL Publishing Wizard 1.4
  • Microsoft SQL Server System CLR Types
  • Microsoft SQL Server System CLR Types (x64)
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Management Objects
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Management Objects (x64)
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Data-Tier Application Framework
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Data-Tier Application Project
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Transact-SQL Language Service
  • Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 ADO.NET Entity Framework Tools
  • Microsoft Help Viewer 1.0 x64

What all those do is beyond me.  Slow down my system maybe?  Notice how many SQL things are installed despite me deselecting that option?  The installation took 39 minutes.  There were 11 important updates (386.1 MB) from Windows Updates next:

  • Visual Studio 2010 Tools for Office Runtime (1)
  • Windows 7 (5 – All related to .NET)
  • Visual Studio 2010 (3)
  • Visual Studio 2008 (2)

Downloading them took 3 minutes and installing them took an additional 29 minutes.  That’s a total of 32 minutes, just 7 minutes shy of installing the program itself.  It required a restart.

After that Windows Update showed Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 Service Pack 1 (524.1 MB) as an update (in typical Microsoft fashion).  It took 4 minutes to download.  The installation teases you by making the progress bar go to around 95% in less than a minute and then hanging there for a LONG time for an installation time of 21 minutes.  It too required a restart.

Next up, of course, were 6 updates for Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 Service Pack 1 (22.0 MB).  They downloaded in less than a minute but the installation time of 14 minutes was extremely long considering the size was only 22 MB.

All told, that’s 111 minutes not counting the reboots, nor picking the initial options.  I really think Microsoft can do better than to have so many updates and updates of updates.  The installation times border on ridiculous considering I’m installing on a fresh copy of Windows, not a copy that has been used for a year or two and has developed slowness over time which Windows is known for.

The folders added in All Programs were:

  • Microsoft Silverlight (1 item)
  • Microsoft Silverlight 3 SDK (1 item)
  • Microsoft Silverlight 4 SDK  (1 item)
  • Microsoft Sync Framework (1 item)
  • Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 (2 items and 3 sub-folders)
  • WCF RIA Services V1.0 SP1 (2 internet shortcuts)

I moved them all into Microsoft Visual Studio 2010’s folder to keep the All Programs menu cleaner.  There were additionally about 40 new entries in Programs and Features from this installation.  Now it’s time to boot back into OS X and use Winclone to make an image of the Boot Camp partition so I don’t have to go through all that again (until I switch over to Visual Studio 2012 anyway).

 

Antivirus Software

When you load a PC, one of the things Windows does is check for an installed antivirus program.  If it doesn’t find one installed (that it recognizes), it will hound you until you either install one or find the setting to turn that “nag” message off (which takes some searching).  Mac’s OS X gives no such warning.  I’m not sure if it’s because they feel viruses aren’t as prevalent or because there’s something built in to OS X.

Antivirus programs can slow a system down.  Sometimes they slow it down a lot.  Today I was running a program called CCleaner on my HP laptop to get rid of unnecessary temporary files and the scan was taking an unusually long time.  Now I hardly ever run it (which is why it was able to find a huge amount of files to delete) but I still felt it was taking too long.

I opened the Resource Monitor and watched the Disk tab.  The number one entry under Disk Activity was Avast!, the antivirus program I run on the program.  When I temporarily disabled it, CCleaner was able to finish in less than 5 seconds.  I haven’t known Avast! to slow down a system to any noticeable degree which is why I picked it but it seems more recent versions may be resource hogs.  Either that or there’s something else going on in my system to slow things down.  I hope Microsoft Security Essentials on the Boot Camp installation on the Mac does better.

As far as OS X, I can install Sophos, one of the more popular antivirus software on the Mac, but I’m afraid of “lagging” my system.  I’m not sure what to do.  The Mac didn’t turn the firewall on by default either which is something else Windows will nag you about.  The security issues on the Mac seem to be on a different level than in Windows.

 

NameCheap and WordPress

NameCheap, like many hosting providers, lets domain owners use cPanel to manage their domains.  Using it, I successfully created an e-mail account, configured spam filtering, tried out ftp access, and just explored.

There are numerous programs you can easily install.  I chose WordPress because it’s the most popular blogging software (and because I can always uninstall it and choose something else if I didn’t like it). I renamed the administrative account and the table_prefix as advised in http://codex.wordpress.org/Hardening_WordPress.  I explored the various options in the Dashboard and changed a few settings to my liking.

Since I wanted the site to be my personal website, I made the homepage a static page and made the blog a separate but easily accessible page.  I uploaded a picture taken while I was in Italy of the Cinque Terre (Five Lands) village of Monterosso al Mare to help express my interest in traveling.  After putting a little something on the homepage, I posted the various blog entries by back-dating them to when I wrote them.

Overall, I find WordPress easy to use and it seems to suit my needs so far.  NameCheap’s service seems pretty good too as my pages appear to load quickly as I check my posts which is what I want the most from a hosting provider.