New Mac

I picked up a new MacBook Pro last night. The old one, an Early 2011 Macbook Pro started crashing on me earlier this week, and by the end of the week, wouldn’t start at all. Apparently, there’s a lot of that going around. In my case, it started pretty suddenly – I was editing a scan in Photoshop, when suddenly the screen scrambled, and then the system crashed. I rebooted, verified the disk with Disk Utility and went to bed. I was just drifting off  when the computer restarted itself, by itself. Not good. Over the next few days, I saw the start up screen shifted over by a third, and another time, I saw vertical bars. By the time Thursday night rolled around, I couldn’t get past the gray startup screen, and had seen a Blue Screen of Death a couple of times. In hindsight, the fact that I couldn’t preview my TIFF scans could have been a clue too, though I put it down to an incompatibility with Mavericks.

Anyrate, after reading up about the situation, it seems like the cure would have been a motherboard replacement; this for a computer which was nearly four years old, and had been running slowly anyway. I would not have chosen right now to replace the computer– Christmas is coming up and I just spent about $1000 replacing my front brakes, but I didn’t see much choice, so I started looking at the Apple Online store, trying to choose between my options.

My old Mac was nearly full–there’s only about 20 GB left on its 500 GB hard drive. I’d picked up a pair of external hard drives last spring so I could move some of my media and photos off the laptop, but never gotten around to doing it. Once I realized I needed to get a new machine, I very seriously entertained getting a built to order model with a terabyte  SSD, but I didn’t want to wait, and I didn’t feel I could justify the extra $500 for the bigger SSD, so last night, I went over the Apple Store in Chestnut Hill to pick up a new machine. Once there, I found they actually had the terabyte model in stock. I wavered over it, but I finally decided to go with the 512 GB SSD model. I really wanted the larger storage, but in the end, I decided I couldn’t justify it, especially since I already have the sunk costs of the new external hard drives waiting.

So I picked up the computer, AppleCare, and an external optical drive. I don’t often use the optical drive in the old computer, but I do use it occasionally to create photo discs or import CDs. I also wasn’t sure that I hadn’t excluded my apps from the Time Machine backup. I’m still not sure I’ll keep it, but it’s also the least expensive part of the purchase.

So I got the machine home, turned it on, and plugged it into the Time Capsule via a Thunderbolt adapter and Ethernet cable, and started it up. I started up the Migration Assistant, told it to restore from the Time Machine… and got a message that no backup disk could be found.

What a sinking feeling.

So I got onto the iPad, searched for that message, and found out that if a Time Capsule has a very long name (which mine did), this can happen. So I let the system startup process run, then opened up the Air Port Utilities to look at my Time Capsule, and was relieved to see that I’d named it “Ted O’Hara’s Time Capsule 2” So I took the “2” off the name, restarted Migration Assistant, and this time, it saw the backup file. What a relief.

I started up the data transfer, and let it run overnight. I’m still not convinced that it wasn’t using the wifi connection to talk to the Time Capsule, because it did take forever. It also gave wildly inconsistent estimates — at one point it said it would take 40 hours, then it would decrease to 6, then bump it back up to 20. I think what was happening that when it was reading from the Time Capsule’s spinning hard disk, it would notice the slower transfer rate and give a higher estimate, and then it would start writing to the SSD, and drop the estimate. By late morning, it was done.

So far it looks like the Migration Assistant and Time Machine did a good job. I have all my apps — I’d been concerned because I’d thought I may have excluded my apps folder to save space, but they’re mostly all there. As far as I can tell, my old documents, mail and photos are still with me. Something’s missing — I’ve picked up 50 GB of storage space, but I haven’t found anything of mine that’s missing yet. I’m hoping it’s just system stuff that was purged going from Mavericks to Yosemite.

I’m still not sold on the Yosemite appearance. I really liked the old appearance of Mac OS X a lot. I’ve been using Yosemite at work for a month or so no, but have been returning gratefully to Mavericks at home. I’ve never cared for this kind of flat semi abstract style. I didn’t like it back when illustration programs first came out and it started appearing in magazines, I didn’t like it in iOS 7, and I don’t like it here. (Strangely enough, I do like this kind of style in games. I love Strategery on iOS).

Seeing my photos on a Retina screen has been a revelation. I’ve been using a Retina MacBook Pro at work for a few months now, but mainly for text. To see my own pictures in high resolution and on a bigger screen… wow. It did take Aperture a while to generate new previews for the 30,000+ images in my library, which did get the fans running, but my pictures have never looked this good. I’ve been going through my library looking for a picture to use for my card, and some of these pictures just look gorgeous.

For some reason, I haven’t really noticed much on my work machine or iPad, but I’m really noticing when web images are Retina quality and when they’re not on this machine. Unfortunately, I very carefully sized most of the images on this site to 1x resolution when I created them, to optimize download speed. I did add a plugin a few weeks back to serve up Retina images, but I’ve only updated the last couple of posts. Looks like I have a project in front of me — after Christmas.

There have only been a couple of incompatibilities so far, both easily fixed. I needed to update the Wacom driver for my graphics tablet, and needed to install Java 6 in order to run my CS5 version of Photoshop. I just got a message that Transmit was damaged and needed to be installed, and have had to re-enter a couple of passwords

Overall, I’m happy with this machine. Photos look gorgeous, and it’s noticeably faster. I’m just not looking forward to the credit card bill this month, and I’m not happy with the circumstances.

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