Using the FLY Pentop on a Mac HOWTO
As mentioned elsewhere in this site, I work for LeapFrog Enterprises. We just launched a product, the FLY Fusion Pentop Computer, a few days ago. The current version is intended for use with Windows systems, thanks to the curse of market share, though a Mac version is coming soon. Since all my friends, and most of the developers of the FLY Download Store software use Macs, we had a need all along to run the software under OS X. This HOWTO explains the steps that you need to follow for getting FLY to work on your Intel-based Mac. I know of no workaround for PowerPC Macs at this time.
The FLY Fusion Pentop Computer system and software are intended to work ONLY under Windows as of 28.07.2007. Running it under Mac OS X / virtual machine emulation is not supported! LeapFrog customer support can't help you if you run into any issues. If these instructions don't work for you it's probably better that you wait until the Mac version of the FLY World software becomes available.
What You Need
- A FLY Fusion Pentop Computer from LeapFrog Enterprises
- VMWare Fusion - PC virtual machine for Mac; Parallels can't see the pentop as of 28.07.2007
- A legal copy of Microsoft Windows XP or later (beware of Microsoft's licensing requirements for Vista running on virtual machines)
- A screen that's at least 1024x768, or that can emulate at least that resolution
The FLY PC App will run under your Intel Mac if you follow these steps. Don't cut corners until you are sure that you know what you're doing.
- Install VMWare Fusion and Windows in a dedicated partition. You must give it at least 512 MB of RAM. You can set the appropriate value in VMWare Fusion before you install or launch Windows. My Windows partition is intended only for FLY and Outlook Web, so I set it to 640 MB RAM.
- Launch Windows in a virtual machine. Once it's loaded and you get the Windows desktop, select View/Full Screen and set the Windows resolution to at least 1024 x 768. Although the FLY software will run on a screen of almost any resolution, the installer has this dumb arbitrary restriction. You can go back to a stand-alone window, or a unified view (Windows on Mac desktop) after the software is installed and the system recognizes your pentop computer.
- Install the FLY World software from the CD-ROM that came with your pentop or get the latest copy from FLY World.
- Launch the FLY World application by double-clicking on the icon on your desktop. Follow the installation instructions.
- Register yourself, or the person you want to designate, as the Administrator. The Administrator is the guy who pays the bills, usually a parent or someone with a credit card. You're now ready to set the pen itself up!
- Exit the FLY World PC Application before the next step.
- Plug the FLY to a free USB port on your computer. You will see a new USB icon appear at the bottom of the VMWare window. If this USB icon is gray, then click on it to "connect the FLY Device to this virtual machine." That means that the Mac can see the FLY, but Windows can't see it yet. The icon will turn bright blue and Windows will notify you a few seconds later that new hardware was detected: Windows can now see the FLY.
- Turn the FLY Pentop Computer ON. Windows will launch the FLY World application upon detecting the pentop. When it loads, it'll notify you that it needs a firmware upgrade. Accept this software because otherwise you won't be able to use the pentop.
- Turn the pentop OFF when the upgrade is complete, exit FLY World, and reboot your virtual machine to relaunch Windows. FLY World works fine some times if you skip this step, but other times it refuses to detect the pen unless you reboot Windows in the virtual machine.
- Repeat step 7, then turn the FLY Pentop Computer ON. FLY World will launch, and this time it will detect your pentop as a valid device. You can tell that because this time it'll allow you to register a new pen/user upon startup, on the same screen where you added your Administration account earlier.
- Optional step: From now on, you can set VMWare Fusion to Unity mode, the one where Windows and Mac applications live on the same desktop, every time after the FLY World launches. Once you're familiar with the environment, you can just plug your FLY and turn it ON if your virtual machine is in Unity mode. FLY World will almost always launch automatically. If it doesn't start, go back to Single Window mode and repeat step 7.
- Register a new user and Enter FLY World!
- "Notebooks" is the first tab where you'll land in FLY World. This is where you upload your writings, doodles, drawings, etc. to the computer. Since this is a brand new pen, you ought to see a message saying "0 pages selected". Click on the tabs at the top of the window to view your pentop settings, upload pages, shop or download software, etc.
- Always remember to exit FLY World and turn the pentop OFF before you unplug it from the USB port. This saves your software and data on both devices.
There is no official support for this hack. HOWEVER...
If you know your way around IRC, you may stop by the irc.freenode.net/##leapfrog channel. Some of us hang out there and will try to help you set this up. The channel is in no way associated with LeapFrog Enterprises. The users hanging out there are just volunteers, and may or may not be active when you ask, or may not know how to use the FLY Pentop Computer, or may have the same questions as you. Be patient after you ask. It may be several minutes before someone has a chance to respond. Remember that none of the users there is under obligation to answer your questions so please ask politely. If you aren't familiar with IRC and its culture, you may want to read Eric S. Raymond's How to Ask Questions the Smart Way before going there.
Good luck with your FLY on Mac!