Microsoft Remote Desktop for Mac

Microsoft released their new remote desktop client for mac on October 17th, 2013. This comes after HLW Software Development (developer of iTap RDP for iOS, Mac and Android) announced they were discontinuing their products on October 8th.

This had us worried since we have multiple customers that use iTap on their Mac and iOS devices and we always have more customers that need to be set up. Since the iTap products were the only RDP apps for Mac and iOS that could work with a Terminal Server Gateway it didn’t us any other options.¬†Luckily, Microsoft announced their new RDP clients, based on the iTap codebase, only 9 days after discontinuing the iTap products.

The new apps are not only a rebranding of the existing software, they contain a few enhancements. The greatest enhancement, for us and our clients anyway, is RemoteApp integration. That allows single apps to be run from a RDP session similar to what Parallels Coherence and VMWare Fusion Unity does for local VMs.

By clicking on Remote Resources you can enter the address of your RDWeb URL, your username and password and be presented with a list of published RemoteApps. This gets us one step closer to being able to recommend Apple devices to our clients without worrying about computability with Microsoft systems.

The Mac version can be found on the Mac App Store.

AT&T Speedtest Scam

My DSL connection has been getting slow and slower over the past year. It was so slow at one point that I went out and bought a Clearwire modem and set up my router to load balance between the two. I would have switched to Clear completely but their modem (actually a full router) is not able to pass along its public IP address to use on a seperate router. This caused VPN connection issues to work.

When looking at my DSL modem connection information it appears that i’m only connecting at 768Kbps despite paying for 6Mb service.

This is definitely a problem that AT&T needs to fix. I started looking for a support phone number on their website and ended up in some kind of connection troubleshooter. One step was to run a speedtest on the AT&T website (http://www.att.com/speedtest/). The results were astonishing. Even though my modem was only connected at 768Kbps, I was getting almost 5Mbps download speed.

A speakeasy speedtest returned the results that I was expecting.

Is AT&T trying to scam consumers by telling them that the internet speeds they’re receiving are actually much faster than they are?

Usefullness of Apple’s Airport Express

I recently purchased an Apple AirPort Express in order to listen to my iTunes music on my home stereo. The initial setup I had was the AirPort Express joined to my main wireless network. I was able to configure the AirPort by connecting to it wirelessly from my Mac and running the AirPort configuration utility to join it to my existing network. This configuration worked great.

Eventually, I was able to plug the AirPort into my wired network. I set it up as a separate access point that I could use in a different area of the house and also used it to pipe some music to my stereo. This worked even better because there was no more wireless connection between the AirPort and the computer that was streaming music.

At this point I really looked into the AirPort setting and found it to be a pretty useful device. Besides from being wireless N compatable and using channels in the 5GHz range, it was also able to:

  • Use the AirPort as a router for an internet connection and share the connection wirelessly.
  • Operate as a wireless access point on an existing network.
  • Extend another wireless network.
  • Become a client of another wireless network in order to stream music wirelessly.

This turned out to be an incredibly useful, and tiny, device. It is also nice that Remote on an iPhone or iPod touch is able to control remote speaker volume and select which speakers music is played from.

VMware Fusion 3

VMWare Fusion 3 was just released today. I was hesitant to upgrade at first because I didn’t know there was upgrade pricing. As soon as I saw I could upgrade for $39.99 I did.

After playing around with it for a while I don’t see many new features that I’ll actually use. I have been running Windows 7 for a few months now without the Aero interface and I think I prefer it that way. I use Windows 7 on my Mac as a Visual Studio development environment so I want to keep it fast. Enabling Aero seems to have slowed everything down. Windows seems less snappy than it was.

I also think that enabling Aero makes the CPU and graphics processor work harder than before. When I start up 7 I can hear the fans in the MacBook Pro kick on to full blast and stay on for about 10 minutes until the laptop finally cools down.

The one feature I will be looking forward to are the automatic updates. Hopefully no more uninstalling the entire app and then re-installing for every upgrade. They also integrated a virtual machine library like they’ve had on their site for a while which makes it easy to try and utilize open source and trial software that has been bundled as a VM.

I’m glad I upgraded to the newest version but I don’t think I’ll take advantage of any new features. I’m sure there are a lot of performance enhancements and bug fixes in the background that will make this a valuable purchase but I didn’t have many issues with v2.

Apple 27-inch iMac

So, on Friday (10/23) I headed to the apple store on Michigan Avenue in Chicago to pick up a new 27-inch iMac. I like being an early adopter so I knew I wanted it as soon as it was announced. As soon as I bought it, I hopped in a cab to take it home. The packaging is pretty slim like all Apple products but since the computer itself is big and heavy, the box is big and heavy.

At home, I connected it to my wireless network and everything was working smoothely. I installed all software updates along with some additional software. Then, suddenly, I had to internet access. I checked my list of wireless networks and it wasn’t showing any. I restarted the computer and they all came back and I was immediately connected to my home network.

Then it happened again. I called Apple tech support and they had me boot up to the Snow Leopard DVD to test the wireless card and then reinstall all of Snow Leopard. The problems seems to occur when lots of data is being transmitted wirelessly such was when using Skype or watching videos on Hulu.

Apple tech support keeps insisting I restart my router and change my router’s security. Apparently telling them that no wireless networks at all show up even though I live in a condo in downtown Chicago doesn’t mean anything to them. Tech support set me up with a Genius Bar appointment with my brand new iMac so we’ll see how that goes. I’ll keep this post updated as I learn more about the tech support process at Apple.

Update: Apple just replaced the iMac after showing the person helping us at the genius bar what was going on. It would not show any wireless networks and also crashed twice.

Update: The new one we got has dust behind the screen. We’re going to pick up a new one tonight.

Review: Linksys Powerline Network Kit (PLTK300)

I recently purchased the Linksys Powerline Network Kit (PLTK300) to bring a network jack into my family room. The purpose of this was to provide an ethernet connection to my Samsung Blu-ray player with Netflix capabilities. Since I live in a condo building I was a little bit skeptical of this working. I knew that I have my own circuit breaker in my unit so at least there was a single point of convergence for all my electrical outlets that was close.

The kit works right out of the box. You simply plug the module with the single ethernet port into your current network and into the wall. Then plug in the four port device where ever you need a network connection. Both devices come programmed with a network password so they will see each other immediately, along with any other devices with the default network password on your electrical network.

In order to change the network password you need to install the Powerline Utility from the CD in the box or by downloading it from the Linksys website. The utility lets you see the status of the connection and also set network passwords and run diagnostics. To make any changes to the remote powerline device, you need to enter its password into the utility. The password is on the bottom of the device. If you have more than one device, you will have to enter the password for each one. The Powerline utility will save the passwords in order to make changes to all the devices at once.

I would recommend changing the network password immediately, especially if you live in a multi-tenant building. The devices with the same default network password will bridge your wired network together. Currently I don’t see any other devices in my building but also remember questioning wireless security when setting up my first wireless access point.

The setup works very well. I’m now able to stream Netflix movies to my Blu-ray player very quickly and without any of the consistency issues you see with wireless. I also plan on connecting my Tivo using a usb ethernet adapter soon to speed up the process when renting movies from Amazon. Currently I use an old Linksys 802.11b wireless adapter since it was one of the only ones Tivo supported at the time.

The only problem I ran into during the setup was that I was initially getting very poor speeds, somewhere around 8Mb. I didn’t follow the instructions to plug the device directly into the wall because I didn’t have any outlets immediately available. Once I had both ends plugged into the wall the speed immediately increased to around 70Mb. These were just standard surge protectors too, not a ups or anything like that. Make sure you plug these right into the wall to get maximum speeds.