Apple, TECH

Mac and Me – Networking

For the first time in awhile, I have two computers at home: my new iMac, and my HP Mini 1000.  In addition to being my “on the road” computer, the Mini comes in handy for when I want to do something PC-ish but don’t feel like waiting for the iMac to boot into Vista.  I have been using a 1GB SD card to transfer files from one to the other, which works okay, but I’d like to think I can improvise something better than the old “sneaker-net.”

Prior to obtaining the iMac, I made an observation to one of my Apple-loving friends that Apple had a tendency to “make the easy things easier, but the hard things harder.”  I had yet to experience this in my thus far, but it came out bright and clear when trying to get my PC and Mac to talk to each other over the network.

The Mini had been set up for sharing with the Gateway prior to its demise, and so I figured the Mac should be able to see it.  Of course, I had to be able to find the option to connect to another computer first.  This took much longer than it should have.  Going by my not-quite-eliminated Windows instincts, I went to System Preferences and selected “Network.”  I was then greeted with general network setttings, none of which I thought needed to poke at in order to get this to work.  I then figured I should use the Help facility to find out where the option was hiding.

My Google-fu is strong (or at least I like to think so), but  my Apple-fu is not.  After typing in quite a few search terms into Spotlight, I couldn’t get a satisfactory answer, so I found it on the tubes.  Curiously enough, the option was in the Finder, I guess I haven’t quite picked up on Apple’s moon-logic quite yet.

Once I typed in my PCs address, I could see its files.  It turns out that it was pretty simple after all, once I found the right option.

Getting the PC to see the Mac was another matter entirely.  I doubted that I would actually use it, but I was feeling good after getting the Mac side to work.

That small victory appeared to be a fluke as I tried to get Windows XP to see the Mac.  Everything LOOKED okay, but it just wasn’t working.  I Googled and Googled to no avail.  Apparently there used to be an “Allow Windows user to login from Windows” option that was removed somewhere down the way.  Yeah, thanks, Apple.

I was all but ready to throw in the towel and then I realized that XP was probably looking for a domain name and I had not set one up on the iMac.  Given Apple’s tendency to do everything for you, I figured it had been already set and thus I had to find it.  The “Network” option under System Preferences turned out to be what I was looking for, and after giving it my current domain name, my stubborn PC finally acknowledged the Mac’s presence.

While I was eventually able to get everything to work, it was certainly more trouble than I had anticipated.  Apple’s help (both local and online) proved to be pretty useless because I was not on the same frequency as they are.  Perhaps with time the Apple way of thinking will permeate my Windows-hardened skull, but for now I have to stumble along.

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Apple, Computers, TECH

Mac and Me – Not Quite A Mighty Mouse

I like buttons.  They’re fun to push, and they usually make something that I want to happen, happen!  Heck, a standard keyboard (a standard PC keyboard anyway) has over 100 of them, whee!  Apple, on the other hand, does not like buttons.

Seriously;  the one button on the iMac is hidden in the back, the mouse that came with it does not appear to have any at all, and  I’m sure that somewhere within the bowels of Apple, some engineer is scratching their head trying to figure out a way to get rid of the single button on the iPhone’s face.

As I mentioned last week, the Mac’s Mighty Mouse (seriously, that’s what Apple calls it) is the one part of the Mac experience that irritates me the most.  It lacks a distinct right click button and refuses to acknowledge my futile attempts at right-clicking.  After another week of missed right-clicks and re-right-clicks I finally replaced it with a $20 Logitech wireless mouse.  Its colored black, so it ruins the aesthetic of my workspace somewhat, but I’ll gladly take functionality over fashion.  Actually, I’ll take anything over fashion, but that’s a discussion for another day.

I tossed the Mighty Mouse into my netbook bag where it will ruin the aesthetic of my HP Mini 1000, and thus, the balance of the universe is maintained!

Once I adjusted to the Logitech’s heft, all was well.  Now if I could just figure out a way to get my keyboard shortcuts back, everything would be PERFECT.  I may also give Safari another shot, I’m hearing good things about the beta.

It has been two weeks since I took the plunge and my Mac has been treating me pretty good so far.  I’ll boot into Vista occasionally to play a game or work with Microsoft Money, but otherwise all is well with Mac and Me!

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Apple, Computers, TECH

Mac and Me – One Week Later

My new PC-free desktop!

It has been a week since I took the Apple plunge, and I my iMac/OS X experience has been pretty good so far (the one big fark-up was my fault).  I moved the files from my PC’s old hard drive last night, so its time to “move in” to the Mac for good.  My thoughts so far:

SCREEN

I have to start by talking about the iMac’s screen, it is gorgeous. I’m not sure what is different about it, but everything just looks better; more sharper, more vibrant.  The 24″ of real estate is a dream to work on.  Why have multiple monitors cluttering the desk when one honkin’ HUGE one will do?  I have yet to use the camera and mic as of yet, but I’m looking forward to trying them out.

The DVD drive is a located a little farther back than I would like, I’ve already dropped a disc trying to find the slot, and the occasional not-quite-perfectly-flat disc can get a little noisy, but that’s true for all DVD drives, so I can’t knock it too much for that.

The built-in speakers are the worst part of the screen/CPU/whatever Apple calls it.  I’m no audiophile, but they sound pretty bad to me, I quickly plugged in my basic 3-piece Altec Lansing set and Huey Lewis sounds just as good as he did on my PC.

KEYBOARD

The small keyboard freaked me out at first, especially since I like using the numeric keypad.  It is just bigger than the keyboard on my HP Mini 1000 netbook, with more space inbetween the keys.  The action on the keyboard is nice and typing is pretty quiet. I’ve had to re-learn typing shortcuts, due to the lack of HOME/END and PGUP/PGDN keys, but it hasn’t been too painful.  That cord is just too damned short, though.  I was taught that it was a bad idea to be sitting so close to a computer screen.  A USB extension cord fixed that problem easily enough, and I placed a USB hub on the end of it, because you can never have too many ports.

MIGHTY MOUSE

The mouse took some getting used to, particularly due to the lack of distinct buttons.  The Mighty Mouse is not Apple’s worst mouse ever (that distinction goes to the “hockey puck”) but the right-click is pretty finicky, and the “4th button” (pressed by squeezing the indentations you see on the sides) all but drove me bonkers.  I don’t exactly have basketball-player sized hands, but I am accustomed to having my hand covering up the entire mouse.  At random intervals this would activate the 4th button and I would be yanked out of whatever I was doing and taken into Expose, which shows you all open windows at once.  Very distracting, especially when I’m trying to beat my Bejeweled Blitz high score.  Disabling Expose fixed that problem, and I’m not sure how useful I’m really going to find the 4th button.  Much to my surprise, I have had no problems with the teeny scroll ball.  If worse comes to worse, I’ll drop $20 on a new Logitech mouse.

PERFORMANCE

I haven’t really put the iMac through its paces yet (i.e. video editing) but so far it seems to handle multitasking quite well.  As I type this into Firefox, CDs are being ripped into iTunes and I am also IMing a friend.  Everything runs without any hesitations or hiccups so I guess that’s pretty good.

OVERALL EXPERIENCE

I have to say, the Mac life is pretty good.  I have yet to experience any of the frustrations that I have long considered to be the “facts of life” of using computers:

No more defragging, no more anti-virus, no more anti-spyware, no more hunting for old driver CDs, no more wondering why the CPU fan is still spinning even though the computer is in sleep mode, no more long boot times, no more waiting for that last program to close when I’m shutting down, no more wondering why flash drives and memory cards won’t unmount even though they aren’t being used, no more wondering if removing that startup program or changing that Registry entry is going to blow the whole thing up, and no more farking annual re-installations of Windows!

I plug in my camera, and up comes iPhoto.  I plug in my printer, and a minute later, I can print.  I drag an external drive to the Trash to eject it, and it unmounts.  Stuff just works! Heck, even Windows Vista works well now that I have enough horsepower to make it happy.

While I’m not sure I will do everything “The Mac Way” I’m looking forward to spending less time maintaining my computer, and more time actually DOING stuff.

After all, isn’t that the whole point of having a computer?

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Apple, Computers, TECH

Mac and Me – VistaMac!

As it turned out, I had screwed up my Mac by trying to install a version of Windows that could not “see” the newly created Boot Camp partition.  Thus, my retail boxed copy of XP was pretty much useless; I would need an XP Service Pack 2 disc.

Fortunately, I had one handy that I “borrowed” from one of my previous employers *evil grin*  Sadly, it would not accept the retail license key I had, so I had to punt and install Vista instead.

My previous experiences with Vista were less than pleasant, but then again I was installing it on a two-year old machine.  Vista just was not happy running on my Gateway’s single-core CPU and 1GB of RAM.   Even after I bumped up the machine’s RAM to 2GB it plodded along, and I could hear the hard drive constantly crunching away while I computed.

I hoped that running it on more capable hardware would provide a better experience.  I figured it should be happy running on a 2.66Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo with 4GB of RAM.  Sure enough, everything went well except for having to sit for about two hours downloading and installing various updates.

I wonder if at some point does it just become cheaper to mail everyone update CDs?  Bandwidth ain’t cheap!

Anyways, once the updates were done and the Mac drivers (and the anti-virus…sigh) were installed, Vista ran like a dream.  After I got Vista up and running, it was really late, so I couldn’t do much else.  Next, I will transfer my PC files over from the Gateway’s old hard drive onto the Mac.

That’s when things should get really interesting!

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Apple, Computers, TECH

Mac and Me – Just Like Starting Over…

Well, THAT was a close one…apparently I got a little too button-happy during the Boot Camp process and farked up my iMac’s hard drive…oops.  The fact that I read ahead in the Boot Camp instructions just a teensy may have contributed as well.

Luckily, I found a solution after digging around Apple’s support website for a bit.  I just have to reformat the hard drive and reinstall OS X, which should be done about the time I wake up tomorrow…argh.

Despite the setback, I intend to try Boot Camp again, hopefully the second attempt will go better (frankly, I don’t see how it could go worse).  Nothing lost but time.

I had taken the liberty of not deleting the pictures from my camera in the event that something went Horribly Horribly Wrong.  It probably says something about me that I planned for something going HHW, but hey, learning the hard way is still learning, so onward and upward!

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Apple, Computers, TECH

Mac and Me – Booted by Boot Camp

So now it was time to install Windows, I decided to go with Boot Camp since were are some apps (and games) that I wanted to still use and I wanted to unleash all the horsepower contained in my new Mac.  I copied the PDF with the instructions onto my Netbook for reference and proceeded to go through the process.

It is a little disconcerting to see the giant blue installation screen on the Mac, but in no time, I was going through the Windows installation process for what I hope will be the last time.

I went through the XP install blue screens, rebooted…and it went back to the blue screens…I rebooted again and held down “Option” to get the boot options.  There was no option for OS X.

Aw crap…

to be continued…

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Apple, Computers, TECH

Mac and Me – iTunes

I had initially tried iTunes a few years ago, and I have to admit, it is one of the few pieces of software that I can honestly say pissed me off.

I like having my music files organized by artist, and then by album.   Apparently that wasn’t good enough for iTunes, after asking it to find my music, it then went ahead and REARRANGED MY MUSIC FILES.

Everything worked fine in iTunes, but when I went to open my music files in other programs, I could not find a damn thing.  My meticulously organized files were all over the place.  I immediately uninstalled iTunes and swore to never use it again.  Instead, I used Windows Media Player to rip my CDs and purchased individual MP3s from Amazon.com.

I recently bought a DSi, and it comes with a music player, which is pretty cool, BUT it only works with AAC encoded files, i.e. the ones that iTunes also uses.  As far as it is concerned, I have about 9GB of useless MP3s on my PC’s old hard drive.  Thus, any music I wanted to use on my DSi I would have to re-rip using iTunes.

Well, fark.

I started iTunes, grabbed some CDs from my collection (AC/DC, might as well start from the top) and popped one into the iMac.  iTunes pretty much looked the same way it did on that fateful day so many years ago (I had to reset my iTunes store password, yeah it had been THAT long) and things went as expected, which was fine.  I then decided to check and see where iTunes had placed the files, and sure enough, there they were, organized by artist, and then album.

I guess it isn’t going to be so bad after all, but I’ll hold my breath and see what happens when I put some MP3 files I had bought from Amazon.com on there.  iTunes didn’t find the album covers for “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” and “Who Made Who,” which was somewhat disappointing.

I guess the folks at Apple aren’t AC/DC fans.

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