Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Adventures with the New Computer


Moving to a new machine is always an adventure, isn't it?

My "new" computer is actually a late 2006 model Mac Mini -- Duo Core (not Duo 2 Core), upgraded to its maximum 2Gb of RAM and running MacOSX Leopard (I'll probably up that to Snow Leopard -- it can't handle Lion -- but I couldn't locate a copy today).

Before I go any further, let me reiterate my recommendation for St. Louis area Mac users: Always, always, always visit Mac HQ for your Mac needs. just It doesn't get any faster, cheaper or more courteous.

I walked in there yesterday, made an absurd demand ("get me into an Intel Mac for less than $500"), and they came in more than $100 below that even with the RAM upgrade and had it ready in less than 24 hours even though it was in the back room waiting to be refurbished when I walked in. I'm sitting at about $400 now, including the RAM upgrade (which Mac HQ did for the cost of the RAM, while they were working on the machine anyway) and a purchase from my other favorite store, MicroCenter -- a $25 wireless keyboard and mouse setup.

There's just not much to say about the new machine. It's the next step up from the headless G4 laptop that Morey Straus sent me as a hand-me-down two years ago. That's a fine Mac, too -- if not for so many applications dropping support for the PPC processor (Flash 10 was pretty much the last straw for me), I'd just use it until it finally dropped dead. Yes, it's an older machine, but for the things I do (mostly web browsing and text processing, what we used to call "writing") it's plenty powerful and plenty fast, and $300 cheaper than the cheapest new Mini.

The "changeover" experience, on the other hand, always has its down sides. Here are a few:

- I used to love Sync, now Firefox Sync, but it's gotten just silly complicated lately, often returning sync errors. As a result, I couldn't just move all my account info, passwords, etc. to my new machine.

- Since Sync isn't working, and since I forgot to export my bookmarks to Dropbox before shutting down the G4 for the last time, I ended up with a slightly dated set. No biggie. At least Dropbox works. It's syncing up about 2.5Gb of data from the old machine right now.

- On the G4, I was stuck at Firefox 3.6.x. Now that I'm in an Intel Mac, I've got Firefox 5. So far, I'm not impressed, but it may just be the "strangeness" factor of things like the tabs having moved to the top of the window. Sort of like in Chrome, which is what I'm using now that I can.

- I've been ignoring updates to my favorite text editor, TextWrangler. Obviously I grabbed the newest version for the new machine, and they've changed the way a function I use about a thousand times a day (find and replace text across multiple files) works, so I'll be fumbling around for weeks getting used to that. Feh. But it's still a great app.

OK, so not many downsides. I'm slowly re-creating the important parts of my prior configuration. OpenDNS updater, check. Flash update, check. Silverlight install so I can watch streaming content from Neflix, check -- just had a look at the pilot episode of Twin Peaks. Tor, coming soon.

I'm a happy camper. My computer is newer, faster, runs more apps, uses less electricity, and doesn't have a bunch of cables snagging on everything. Huzzah!

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