Wednesday, May 25, 2011


This piece of open source software is worth trying. It is not an application; it does nothing by itself. All it does is to create a virtual computer. Instead of buying a computer, you start a virtual machine. Think at the enviromental impact. You can even start many virtual machines simultaneously.
In my case, I own a Mac but have found some interesting games that require Windows. I have already tried BootCamp, that is perfect, yet I also liked the possibility of keeping my game open while I was working. It made no sense to buy a commercial software to run a free game, but Virtual Box is different, because it is free.

  1. Is free

  2. Is backed by a big company like Oracle

  3. Easy to install

  4. Many things work without the need of configuring them, for example when I install an operating system on a virtual machine, it is already connected to the internet


  1. I have found a program (Chessmaster) that does not run on the virtual machine. Maybe you will find other programs that won't run.

  2. Though the manual says it is possible to share a folder between the host system and the guest system I have not been able of sharing anything.

If I really need to exchange files between my real computer and the virtual machine, I send emails to myself. For this reason, I use the virtual box only for playing. Using it for real work is not practical, and probably it's not even safe. Anyway, for the average Mac user, there is no reason to use Windows for work. Maybe the the contrary is true, that is Windows users might need to install Mac OS on their machines. This is impossible, or at least not permitted.
Oracle is actively working on the VirtualBox and it may become a planetary success in the future.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011


Though you can easily move your spectra with a USB memory stick, the ancient FTP protocol is still the most popular way to transfer data from the spectrometer to the PC (or laptop) where processing is performed.
When I started my first NMR experimentations, FTP was not available: local networks were extremely rare and the spectrometers didn't even contain an operating system. So you can guess I have used many FTP clients in my life. During the last 6 years, however, I have been using Cyberduck exclusively, not just because it's free (actually I donated my shareware fee long ago), but because it never fails. It's also very easy to use: the icon gives the exact idea of the complexity of this program.
Over the decades I have always received the question: "Why can't I open my spectra on my PC/Mac?". The last time it happened was this morning. The first thing I say is: "Check your FTP client", because this is the most common cause of the trouble. The second thing I say is "Switch to a SERIOUS program like Cyberduck" (I wonder what they think about the icon). Most of the times I discover that the other guy is using "Filezilla", something that I have never seen but must be a terrible piece of crap, considering the countless troubles it has caused along the years. Nobody ever thinks about the FTP client; the innocent NMR program is the one the receives the blame, instead.
When you are using the wrong client, or the right client with the wrong settings, your files arrive with a different size (this fact alone should ring a bell) or with some bytes changed. One of the great things about Cyberduck is that you don't have to care about settings. It just works out of the box.