Mac guy has 2 days of Windows madness

 

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Epson sent me their $3,500 SRP Discproducer a couple weeks ago, which I’m reviewing for DV magazine. After cracking open the enormous shipping crate and skimming the setup guide, I learned that the accompanying software is Windows only — not a big surprise, right?

So I got busy with other stuff after its arrival and procrastinated a bit in setting it up, since my deadline isn’t until August 8 and I have the loaner for a month. Lesson learned!

First I set up Discproducer to be run on my MacBook Pro, using Windows XP running via virtualization with Parallels Desktop (basically, Windows runs as a program inside the Mac… it’s pretty cool). The software installed fine, until I tried to pair the hardware with the software… no dice! The unit (connected via USB 2.0) just wouldn’t show up.

Next, I lugged the Discproducer downstairs to my Windows Vista system, which is tied to my home theatre setup to watch online video content (mostly Netflix streaming video). Started the install and almost immediately got the error: “This OS is not supported.”

Ugh.

Turns out that Epson’s software only works with Windows XP or 2000, which is a bit surprising given how long Vista has been on the market (and more evidence that the marketplace really thinks Vista blows).

Not wanting to downgrade my Vista box or attempt some kind of dual-boot hackery there, it was back to the MacBook Pro to use 10.5 Leopard’s famed Boot Camp. This allows the MacBook Pro to boot into either Mac or Windows without virtualization, which in theory should circumvent any compatibility issues that I experienced with Parallels.

In order to use Boot Camp, I had to clear up some hard drive space first. My internal hard drive is a mere 120 GB, with an average of 10 GB free at any given time… exactly how much I needed for the new Windows XP partition. So I moved my 12+ GB iPhoto library to an external drive to make extra space for now, then launched the Boot Camp Assistant. I selected a 10 GB partition, clicked the button and… nothing happened.

This went on for a couple minutes, at which point I chose to shut the system off and try again. Same result. So I hit Google in search of answers, and discovered that this “freezing during partitioning” problem is a known issue related to a fragmented hard drive (which isn’t supposed to be an issue on the Mac… go figure). Seeing how my laptop has been in heavy daily use since I bought it new nearly 2 years ago, I can believe that the disc is pretty fragmented, so I hopped online and plunked down $35 for a copy of Coriolis Systems’ iDefrag.

iDefrag ran overnight doing a full defrag, and the next morning I set about getting Boot Camp running again. Long story short, it turns out that patience was probably all that was required — the Boot Camp Assistant took about 5 minutes to create the new partition, and after that I was good to go with installing Windows XP.

But there would be a few more obstacles yet! My MacBook Pro is hooked to a 30″ Dell monitor with a USB keyboard and Bluetooth mouse, so the laptop screen essentially becomes a second, extended display. Standard XP uses the laptop screen as the main display, with no way to swap them (damn you, Bill Gates!). Another Google search and I had the problem solved thanks to some third-party drivers.

All in all, it was about 2 days of troubleshooting to get Discproducer recognized, and now I’m moving on to actually reviewing the damn product! Just goes to show you that as good as virtualization is, it can’t beat the real thing for compatibility problems. Oh, and that procrastination is rarely a good idea.

Stay tuned for the full review in the September issue of DV.

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This entry was posted on Friday, July 25th, 2008 at 11:05 pm and is filed under Apple Talk, Freelance, Technology. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

One Response to “Mac guy has 2 days of Windows madness”

 
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