Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Note to self: next time actually read the shipping notice.

What I assumed was an iMac to be delivered today is actually the printer. I received another shipping notice about the iMac and it should be here Friday. The waiting continues.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Prepping For the Switch

My iMac is in the state according to the shipment tracker. I have been cleaning up the office a bit and will be putting together a new desk for the new computer. I don't think it should have taken me 4 hours to put the filing cabinet together. Only one screwup, though, and you can't even see it so that's better than normal. I still haven't tackled the actual desk yet...

I have also been doing some reading including David Alison's blog about switching from Windows to Mac. There is a lot of good stuff there, including the avoiding potholes post. It looks like I'm going to be downloading a lot of software. Trial periods here I come.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Choices, Choices

My previous entry talked about the computing tasks I currently consider important and how I use multiple machines with different operating systems. The goal is to consolidate to a single Mac. I went about trying to match up what I wanted to do with the current Mac lineup. Of course I would love to get a maxed out Mac Pro with a giant Apple Cinema monitor but that is out of my price range at the moment.

I also very strongly considered getting a Mac Mini and just plugging it in to my current setup but one of the things I wanted was a larger monitor. My old Sony 17se II CRT monitor has served well for a dozen years but it is time to relegate it to backup duty. Pricing a Mac Mini plus a monitor meant I was quickly approaching iMac territory. In previous years I would have never considered an all-in-one machine but these days I really just want something that works and am not as interested in constantly upgrading the machine.

A nice benefit to the Intel-based iMacs is the ability to run Windows, Linux or any number of other operating systems. Where I used to build multiple machines I can now use a combination of multi-boot and virtual machines to stuff everything onto one system. I am looking forward to it.

So with the iMac as the logical choice the question was 20" or 24"? Looking at the two side-by-side in the Mac store it was a no-brainer, go for the bigger one! I think I'm going to be a bit surprised at the size when it actually gets here. I probably would have been happy with the 20" but I'm sure I will get used to the larger size quickly.

There aren't a whole lot of options on the iMac so it wasn't hard to pick what I wanted:
  • 2.8GHz processor
  • 2GB RAM (I have ordered the Crucial 4GB kit)
  • 750GB hard drive
  • NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GS video card
Really the only difficult part was trying to decide whether or not to go with the ATI Radeon HD 2600 PRO or the NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GS for the video card. I couldn't find much info on the web about the relative benefits of the more expensive NVIDIA but in the end I went ahead and got it. Since you can't easily upgrade the card I decided to get the better one even though it added a bit to the cost.

Thanks to a company discount the system is going to come in at around $2000. More than I would like to spend but considering I'm essentially getting a new computer and monitor at once it seems reasonable. I also nabbed one of the "free after rebate" printers. I don't know if I am going to use it or sell it.

Now the wait. Tuesday is supposed to be the day...

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Back to the Future

Well my first post ran a little long, I'll try to keep this one shorter.

My current office setup includes two Intel-ish PCs, one running Windows XP and one running Fedora 9. I typically use the Linux (ok GNU/Linux, get off my case) machine for email, browsing, programming and occasional image editing. I use the Windows machine mostly for finances, browsing, games, serving files, image editing and ripping my CDs. Both computers are hooked to an old Sony Trinitron 17" CRT monitor via a KVM switch. To get an idea of how out-of-date my setup appears I will include a picture:

Ok, that is kind of embarrassing, it looks like I swiped everything from a dorm room and stuck it in the corner of my home office. My goal is to replace everything with the new iMac currently on the FedEx truck making its way here.

I don't expect this to be an entirely smooth process. I've been out of the Mac OS game far too long to be comfortable with it and I plan to try and transition in stages. Ultimately I am going to need the following that I can think of at the moment:
  • Email (currently Thunderbird in Linux)
  • Web browsing (ubiquitous)
  • Personal finance tracking (currently MS Money)
  • Image editing (currently Windows XP Adobe Elements and Linux GIMP)
  • File serving to my PS3 (currently Windows XP using TVersity)
  • File serving to my HTPC (currently Windows XP SMB)
  • CD ripping to mp3, ogg and FLAC (currently EAC under Windows XP)
  • Programming (currently shell scripts, Java 1.6 and Eclipse in Linux)
  • Games (I'll tackle this topic later)
  • I'm sure I'm missing stuff, I'll fill it in as I go
Can the iMac handle it all and consolidate what is now a multi-machine effort into a single box and do it to my satisfaction? Hope springs eternal but I'm also realistic. We shall see.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Journey Begins

First post!!!

That was a stupid way to open a blog, why do people do that anyway?

This is about my journey (back) into the land of Apple Macintosh (I think it is just Mac now). Last night I found myself sitting in front a computer clicking on the Checkout button below the specs for a brand new 24" iMac. What a strange feeling indeed. How did I get here? To try and figure that out I suppose I should provide some backstory.

Growing up as part of the first home video game generation I found myself fascinated by the technology. If the names Atari VCS and Intellivision are familiar then you know the time period. We had the latter hooked up to an old console television in the house where I grew up. I played many hours of Blackjack against the shifty-eyed dealer. My first computer was an Atari 800XL which served me well for many years. I also had a couple of other Atari 8-bit computers before finally moving up to a small-shop 386 PC with Windows 3.0.

As I fine-tuned my computer programming skills in college I was bitten by the upgrade bug and before long was swapping out motherboards and CPUs, ordering RAM from Computer Shopper vendors (remember those huge ad magazines?), and trying to find good deals on hard drives. I had a CD-ROM years before they were standard on computers. I put OS/2 2.0 on my machine and attended an OS/2 Warp launch party (and still have the t-shirt to prove it). I was early into the Linux game and was compiling fixes into my kernel to get my external SCSI hard drive working with a Slackware distribution. I haven't purchased a ready-built desktop computer in over a decade and have installed various flavors of Linux, BSD and Solaris at one time or another. In short I tend to enjoy tinkering with computers and have been building my own systems for a long time. You could call me a power user (or luser) if you like.

So why did it take me so long to jump on the Mac bandwagon considering I like nice machines and shiny toys? Much of the answer has to do with my experiences about 15 years ago. I was toiling away as a lowly student at a university lab that featured Mac computers. Everything from the old black and white Mac 512s to Quadras. My experiences, frankly, weren't very positive. An OS that would constantly crash, the inability to run more than one program without something bad eventually happening, the lack of software (games especially) and device support and the fact that I had to service other people's problems with the machines soured me on the whole platform. I couldn't wait to get home to my PC. For the rest of the decade I couldn't figure out why on earth anyone would ever want to purchase a Mac. That remained the case until Steve Jobs came back to Apple and things started to improve.

I finally started to take notice when OS X arrived on the scene and have had my eye on Macs ever since. The final piece of the puzzle was the move to Intel and the ability to run Windows and just about any other OS out there natively or close to it. I'm probably not alone in my thinking and perhaps my chronicles will answer a few questions others have had.

So now that you know where I've been the next post will chronicle where I am and where I would like to go.