Saturday, December 8, 2012

A new computer

Okay, so it's kewl to hate Apple.  I'm not an Apple fanatic anyway.  The fanatics drive me crazy.  I like the company's products, but don't own a huge number of them.

I've had Apple computers since 1993 when my IBM L40SX' mouse port died and they'd have to replace the motherboard to fix the problem.  The company gave me almost $1000 for a two year old computer that originally cost me $1500, and sent me on my way.

I took a friend and went to the local OfficeMax.  They had an Apple Performa 426 (LC/Performa 425 with a 250 MB hard drive).  Yes, Performa was the budget line and for around $1500, you got a keyboard without the keypad, a mouse, and a 14 inch 640x480 monitor.  It was a good deal, especially when the Quadra version of the same machine was more expensive (having the 68040 with inbuilt math coprocessor, instead lf the 68LC040) but lacked the keyboard and monitor.  I'm thinking that the keyboard and mouse were included in the LC425 version.

19 years ago, the company was okay, but their operating system was craptacular in fundamental ways, i.e., it needed to be scrapped.  Today, they have a good operating system that has some weird issues and they're trying to make it more mobile--like handheld devices mobile.  Is something with a 15.4 inch display a mobile device, really?

At this moment, I'm transferring my data from a backup of my current mid-2009 white MacBook to a mid-2012 aluminium MacBook Pro.  I'm thinking that I should have bought a USB 3.0 drive instead of saving a bit of money on the clearance item, as USB 2.0 isn't so fast.  The previous time I did a migration, it was over a Gigabit Ethernet connection from my late 2004 PowerBook G4 to the white MacBook.  I regretted not having a machine with discrete graphics but the nVidia 9400M graphics hardware was fast and with almost 5 years of technology between the two machines, the games I had ran very well on the MacBook.

This new machine has current graphics hardware: nVidia 650M with 1 GB of GDDR5 RAM.  That's fairly extreme for a notebook computer.  These days, desktop graphics hardware requires significant power, so it's nice to see that they can give good abilities to a mobile computer that doesn't require a long extension cord to do anything.  For daily uses, it's got the Intel HD 4000 graphics chipset, which is, ummm, less underwhelming than the HD 3000 chipset.  That's as generous as I can be.  I expect that Fishlabs' Galaxy on Fire 2 HD will run fine at 1440x900, rather than the 1024x600 window it uses on the MacBook.  However, I suspect UT2004 won't run at all, due to deprecated (retired) software in Lion/Mountain Lion.

Yesterday, I took the old PowerBook to have the backlight repaired.  The machine is a pleasant design and doesn't give any feeling of being cheap but it's not a unibody design.  Neither is the MacBook I have a unibody design, though it doesn't feel expensive or cheap.  Certainly, remembering the late iBook family sitting in a store with half its keys missing is enough to make you think that any of the MacBook family are not cheap.  However, this certain MacBook Pro is the aluminium slab unibody machine, and it felt very impressive pulling it out of the box.  It should be interesting to compare the two side-by-side.  Notably though, the 1440x900 vs 1280x854 display resolution and graphics hardware are the biggest details.  Considering that the 1280x854 15.2 inch widescreen display arrived in 2001 when most of the world offered a 1024x768 4:3 display is still amazing.  Of course, you pay extra for the better, higher resolution display and back then, Apple didn't have the sales numbers to push down the cost of the display with economies of scale.

I'm interested in how I'll function with Lion or Mountain Lion.  I didn't get far enough to find out which it has, but the entry on the Apple store said that it qualified for the up-to-date program.  I'm all for massive security improvements, as Apple has lagged the industry, even when the security improvements were free and available to them.  I can't understand the need to suck people into their world without protecting them.

The operating system(s) is much different than Snow Leopard from what I've seen.  A lot of it seems to be superficial eye candy, which doesn't do a thing for me, if the system is still broken when you use it.  e.g., I have a problem when I'm not a System Administrator in Snow Leopard.  I'll go from my default of the Applications folder to one of my photo folders, the Utilities folder, or some such.  The Back button should be enabled and light up with a visual cue to let you know that you can click it to return to the previous folder.  Nine of ten times, it does not, and clicking the button does zero.  I'm sure it's someone else's fault because Apple never makes mistakes.  Did your sarcasm detector just jump to 100 %?

I have about 2 hours, 21 minutes at latest count until the Migration Assistant finishes.  The good thing is that this machine is not tied down since it's all being pulled from the Time Machine backup.  It's odd watching the latest thermometer/progress bar work.  It has sharp edges--no rounded rectangle there, but it still has the fluid effects and the ever-present blue.

Hopefully, it will handle my Phase One Capture One 7 Pro software well.  If not, after the 16 GB RAM switch, it'll be even better.  I'm being hampered by only 6 GB of RAM, and the system is often at a crawl.  Isn't that crazy that so much RAM isn't enough?  I'll find out in a couple of hours.  Hopefully, it'll be a wonderful experience.  I mean, it's Apple, yes?  Nothing could ever be wrong.  Yes, yes, there goes your sarcasm detector again.

It took about 3 hours for the Migration Assistant to finish.  That's not terrible, but it missed a few settings or, I guess, they didn't apply correctly for Mac OS X 10.8.  Just after that, I went to the shop where they're going to repair my PowerBook and used their internet connection to download 1.32 GB of updates to the operating system and other Apple-related software.  When it wanted to restart, I clicked Restart (as opposed to Not Now) but it didn't seem to work.  It was only much later, when I went back to the merged Software Update/Mac App Store that it updated correctly.  It's confusing.  As of midnight, the machine seems to be working reasonably well.  I can't keep a Finder window but other things seem to be working, including my Capture One 7 Pro.  That's a good thing.

Continuing, all of my updates have been processed, and I replaced the 8 GB of RAM with 16 GB.  The combined Mac App Store/Software Update found a tiny update for MacBook Pro and MacBook Air.  It's been out a couple of weeks, so I'm surprised that it wasn't found already.

Of course, the 16 GB of RAM makes the re-launch of almost any application instantaneous.   However, Capture One 7 Pro still lags when loading more than 1200 photos (and their associated change information) in one folder.  The 5400 rpm drive has a lot to do with that, but of course, 1200+ photos are quite a lot.  I started out with over 2100.  The drive really does feel abnormally slow when I've been using a 7200 rpm drive for about 1 year but limited there to 6 GB of RAM. 

In the standard user account where I have my photography, it mostly remembers my Finder window.  In my administrator account, it almost never does.  Of course, this is 10.8.2 and I'm not comfortable until any release gets to 10.x.4.  Apple just don't figure out things correctly until around that time.  I'm concerned about sync-ing my iPhone with iTunes 11.  I can appreciate the enhanced user experience, but iTunes is generally flaky until the second patch, but they've been stopping at the first and releasing something new after that.  I don't want the data on my phone scrambled.

I'm not saying that anything is unusable.  It's just not as good as it should be, and things are moved around, probably for the sake of moving things, like with Software Update.  Be sure to click on "more" at the end of the description, so you can see the whole list of updates and choose which you would like.

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