Setting up a MacBook Pro
By kto on Oct 01, 2006
Setting up a MacBook Pro
Getting a new machine is one thing, getting everything you need installed on it is another.
Recently my Ultra-60 monitor gave up the ghost, and it was time for a new desktop. This Ultra-60 I've had since around 1998 or so, and it's still a great machine, but it's now a headless machine that only gets used as a gateway into the network.
Since having purchased my own PowerBook 2+ years ago, I've slowly become dependent on having this laptop and using it literally for everything. I remember going to meetings and seeing people with laptops working away in the middle of a meeting, granted some of these meetings were as boring as my Aunt's slide shows, and I can understand wanting to get some of that email taken care of while waiting for something more interesting to be discussed at a meeting. But sometimes the laptops just need to be turned off or closed up, use of a laptop during a meeting can be rude at times, just as cell phones can be. I've never been a big phone user, and you'll often hear me at home telling my wife "That ear cleaning device you are always using is ringing again. It must need new batteries." :\^) (99.999% or 5 nines of the phone calls at my house aren't for me). Anyway, turning off my cell phone, or tossing it in the river doesn't bother me.
Now I find myself being one of those laptop people, and I understand to some degree the addiction of having the laptop, but I've also learned when to close them up and just listen, when it's ok to use them, and when they can be beneficial to a meeting. Perhaps some people still think I'm rude in my uses of it, but nobody has said anything (could it have something to do with the bloody bat I carry around?) Anyway, I found these rules for using laptops in meetings and thought they made lots of sense.
So to continue, my 2+ year old laptop still seemed 'new' to me, but the battery was giving way, and although it's plenty fast for what I do, it is past it's prime, but still healthy and leading an active lifestyle. But recently I was fortunate enough to get a new laptop as my desktop, a MacBook Pro, with the new 'Intel guts inside', not that I could tell or it mattered for a Mac.
So I thought, well, let's set this up... I powered it up and in nothing flat it was working... well except for... (no particular order)...
- Update the software, reboot, Update the software, reboot, Update the software, reboot. (Not sure why they don't do some of this at the factory).
- Installed the company required Virus software. Auto Updated it too, by manually hitting the Auto Update button... Humm... Oh well, lets not get into the definition of 'automatic'... ;\^) Now I can catch all those nasty Windows viruses that can't impact me.
- Created a Network Location for my local network, with all proxies setup. If I had to count up all the time I spend setting up proxies and re-setting up proxies, what a pain. And anything that says 'Automatic' is anything but, half the time they don't work.
- Had to find and download NeoOffice. Can't live without it.
- Had to find the VPN software required by my company network. (Couldn't seem to figure out if I could use the builtin Mac VPN stuff).
- Make sure I could run our bugtracking software (java webstart app). It started up fine and worked flawlessly. Boy I wish all my apps were java webstart apps.
- Made sure I could run our network meeting software MeetingCentral. No problem, just another java webstart app.
- Configuring the Mail settings.... what a royal pain... Not the Apple Mail program, but all the mail settings... How do non-engineering people deal with this? What a nightmare of settings. Obviously I got it working, then discovered that the Apple Mail program didn't seem to work when I was connected via VPN... Finally installed Thunderbird and went through the same pains to set it up. For various reasons, I'll probably stick with Thunderbird, it seems like a more productive email program for me. Also has an RSS feed option that Apple Mail does not have. On the Apple, Safari has some RSS feed options, but it didn't seem to treat the RSS feeds like email, which has worked well for me with forums. I did scratch my head quite a bit trying to get a simple text only mail composing window, finally figured out that these settings are part of the account, not the preferences. Do people really compose their email in html?
- Installed FireFox. Set up it's proxies manually because it doesn't seem to work well with the default system proxies. Oh boy, more little proxies running around with their little pointed shoes kicking me in the butt. :\^( I tried using Safari, but it doesn't have tabs and when I went to download things, the main window seems to be somewhat locked up during the download, maybe that's a bug, but I went back to FireFox, which like Thunderbird seems to be a more productive tool for me.
- NetBeans 5.5 was downloaded and installed, no problem. But seting up my nbextras and nbheaven Update Centers was a pain, somebody needs to make this easier. Also had to remember the .netbeans/etc/netbeans.conf settings I had created, which also could be made much easier to set. Otherwise, it started up, ran flawlessly, and of everything I used, seemed much faster than the PowerPC based Mac that I had been using. Being a pure Java application, I'm assuming that I'll see similar performance boosts on any Java applications I run.
- I need my Palm! (and all five fingers) I wanted to try and use the Mac iSync/iCal instead of the Palm Desktop software, but that was a bit of an adventure. First I had to install the Palm software, then tried to switch and failed, then I found out I needed a minimum version of the Palm software and went to their site and found and installed the new version. Well, tried to anyway, I had to go find and download a version of Unstuffit before I could open the \*.sit file that Palm gave me. Not sure why the Mac didn't have an Unstuffit available on it. Of course every time I installed the Palm software, at the very end it would say "Installation failed, quit or reinstall?" to which I selected 'reinstall' and the second install always was successful, I guess anything worth doing once is worth doing twice? Then I was able to use iSync and it worked! But not an obvious adventure at all.
- Where's my X11? I need X11 to remote display apps from other machines to my Mac. But X11 isn't installed by default, and also isn't installed when you install Xtools. The one on the websites at Apple refused to install, and seemed to imply I had a newer version installed already, but I couldn't find it. I had to dig into the CD and finally found the X11 package, installed it, and it finally showed up.
- Don't forget VNC? I can't live without 'Chicken of the VNC', downloaded the latest version and installed it.
- What? No AppleWorks? Found my AppleWorks 6 CD and installed AppleWorks, which appears to be a product that has disappeared from the Apple product shelves.
- Copied over some of my desktop pictures, and setup my screen saver, and I'm ready to go, well actually ready to go to bed.
Hope you enjoyed the adventure...