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Pointers or tips for Mac purchase?

Bill Gorder
Bartender

Joined: Mar 07, 2010
Posts: 1648
    
    7

I am thinking of grabbing my first Mac for Christmas this year.

I am looking at the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display

2.3GHz Quad-core Intel Core i7, Turbo Boost up to 3.5GHz
16GB 1600MHz DDR3L SDRAM
512GB PCIe-based Flash Storage
Backlit Keyboard (English) & User's Guide


Its a little more than I am used to shelling out for a laptop but hey I guess that hopefully means its worth it Is there anything I should know going into this? Something else I need? Should I get the 3 year protection plan?

Also if you have a collection of "as soon as you open the box you should ..." kind of pointers I would love to hear about those too.

I am currently running Ubuntu, with Windows support for the family that I can't get using Linux I have heard good things about the Mac so I though I would give it a try.


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Ulf Dittmer
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Joined: Mar 22, 2005
Posts: 41137
    
  45
Should I get the 3 year protection plan?

I've owned numerous Macs and Powerbooks over the years, and never had one of those - Apple hardware is rock solid in my experience. The only thing that ever went bad on me is a Powerbook hard drive after 5 years of heave use - can't really blame Apple for that.


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Bear Bibeault
Author and ninkuma
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Joined: Jan 10, 2002
Posts: 60799
    
  65

Bill Gorder wrote:I am looking at the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display

Nice machine.

Should I get the 3 year protection plan?

I never have. Though I do get Apple Care for the iPhones. Others may weigh in with their thoughts on this.

Also if you have a collection of "as soon as you open the box you should ..." kind of pointers I would love to hear about those too.

Set up a Time Machine backup on a removable drive. Do it right away.

Also, right off the bat, understand that it's not Windows. It isn't going to be Windows. And it isn't going to act like Windows. Embrace the difference and you'll be a happier camper.

I am currently running Ubuntu, with Windows support for the family that I can't get using Linux I have heard good things about the Mac so I though I would give it a try.

With OS X, Apple has pulled of what no one else has been able to do. Put a usable GUI on Unix. (I'm not dissing the Linux desktops here -- but there's no way that they are usable to the masses.)

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Bill Gorder
Bartender

Joined: Mar 07, 2010
Posts: 1648
    
    7

Good to know that the protection plan is not necessary, that is over $300 dollars saved. I think it has the 1 year manufacturer warranty which should cover any defects.

Does that TimeMachine actually work? Windows backup is a joke, I have always backed up the wife and kids machines with purchased 3rd party software from Acronis.


With OS X, Apple has pulled of what no one else has been able to do. Put a usable GUI on Unix. (I'm not dissing the Linux desktops here -- but there's no way that they are usable to the masses.)


I have to agree. I get things running pretty good but the crap I have to do (even Kernel patches) to get things just right requires a spreadsheet to keep track of And of course the next update of this or that might break something. I will probably still keep a box around running Linux for doing certain things but I can see the value of having a workstation that just works...
Bear Bibeault
Author and ninkuma
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  65

Bill Gorder wrote:Does that TimeMachine actually work?

Like a charm. It's saved my ass more times than I can count.

Junilu Lacar
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Joined: Feb 26, 2001
Posts: 4446
    
    5

Time Machine is a life saver. I use an external 2TB disk for backup and while I have not had to use it very often, it has never failed me when I needed it.


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Gregg Bolinger
GenRocket Founder
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Joined: Jul 11, 2001
Posts: 15299
    
    6

Regarding the 3 year Apple warranty, I've owned 4 Macs and have had some sort of Hardware failure on 3 of them that would have been covered under the Apple Care but were not under the default warranty. The only reason I don't mess with Apple Care is because I'm 3 hours away from the closest Apple store. I'm not saying you should pay the 3 year Apple plan, but if you live in a city with an Apple store, you might think a bit longer on whether or not to get it.

Apple hardware is rock solid in my experience


It's not all Apple under the hood. And stuff happens. Including user errors like dropping it, etc.


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Bill Gorder
Bartender

Joined: Mar 07, 2010
Posts: 1648
    
    7

Gregg,

Thanks for your post. If you don't mind me asking what kind of failures were they and about how much was it to have it fixed? The protection plan is priced at $350 for 3 years. I assume that the 3 years overlaps the year covered by the manufacturer warranty, although I have not looked into it. I am actually about 20 minutes from the Apple store, so it would not be far for me to get it serviced.

Thanks,
Bill
Gregg Bolinger
GenRocket Founder
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 11, 2001
Posts: 15299
    
    6

Logic board on 1, hard drive on another, memory on another. Logic board was the most expensive at $900 so I opted for a new mac because it was just over 2 years old anyway. Also, Logic board was the only component that could be considered "Apple hardware".
Pat Farrell
Rancher

Joined: Aug 11, 2007
Posts: 4646
    
    5

I had to have the keyboard replaced on my first MBP, there was a dent in the corner, I must have dropped it a tiny bit. They replaced the lower case and keyboard, and maybe more stuff in it. All under apple care.

In general, I'm happy with mine. I've got the 15" Retina, 16GB, 768 GB SSD. And I picked up a 3TB DisplayPort/Thunderbolt external disk.

However, as nice looking as the screen is, the video performance is not impressive. As a gaming system, its mid-level at best, something I did not expect from a nearly $3500 laptop. For example, I can't run Starcraft 2 with any of the graphics setting above medium. This is something you can set to Ultra on a $1300 Windows laptop.

Its great having a real bash shell, something that Ubuntu folks will be very happy with.

There are things I don't like about the keyboards that Apple provides. Number one is the lack of home/page up/page down keys. And there are only 12 F keys, which makes it hard to hit F15 when the game expects it.

My current MBP is only 6 months old, but I'm not sure I'll stay with Apple when this one becomes old and tired. I write code for a living, I need a very fast machine. I'm not sure that this one is as fast as it should be for the price.
Bill Gorder
Bartender

Joined: Mar 07, 2010
Posts: 1648
    
    7

Pat,

Thanks for the feedback. Out of curiosity are you running Starcraft on OSX or are you dual booting to Windows 7 for that? Seems to me you would probably get better performance out of the latter just because game support for Mac is lousy from what I hear. My primary motivation for this is a stable development machine with the Linux like features (especially the shell) that I am used to. I always had the Windows dual boot for gaming, which I never seem to have time for anymore


Pat Farrell
Rancher

Joined: Aug 11, 2007
Posts: 4646
    
    5

I run Starcraft2 on OS-X, native.

I could run a VM, or dual boot, but I spent $3,500 on this thing. It drives me nuts that it can't run a game that will rock on a $600 Windows box.

Part of the problem is that Blizzard doesn't support the native Retina resolution, so the video card has to adjust each frame. I'm sure that Blizzard knows that most folks play the game on a Windows machine, so support for OS-X is lower priority.
Gregg Bolinger
GenRocket Founder
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 11, 2001
Posts: 15299
    
    6

Part of the problem is that Blizzard doesn't support the native Retina resolution


Yea, so not really OSX's fault (entirely) that the game doesn't run well. I'd also point out that a game not running well doesn't imply "game support is lousy". Have a look at the App Store.

That aside, haven't we all known this for a while? Most of us don't buy MBP's for gaming. We need new information. Not the same old price complaint.

Mac's are great at what their designed to do. And they are not designed to be gaming machines.
Pat Farrell
Rancher

Joined: Aug 11, 2007
Posts: 4646
    
    5

Gregg Bolinger wrote: Most of us don't buy MBP's for gaming. We need new information. Not the same old price complaint. Mac's are great at what their designed to do. And they are not designed to be gaming machines.


My complaint is not that they are expensive, but that they are not really comparable.

I'm not sure what they are great at. Nothing that I use it for is really special. I bought it for X-Code and developing IOS stuff. But other than that, its really not all that special.

OS-X is much better at running games that Ubuntu or Mint. You can say I shouldn't be disappointed, but I am.
Gregg Bolinger
GenRocket Founder
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 11, 2001
Posts: 15299
    
    6

I think the fact that you find nothing great about them is what makes them great. They just work. Sure, they have the occasional hardware failure but, in general, they don't get viruses, they don't BSoD, you only need the shell if you want it (unlike any linux distro), but if you do need the shell, you have a real shell (unlike windows). Everything on my mac is fast. And I don't have top of the line. The SSD makes a big difference. It is quiet, looks nice, and I rarely have to restart it.

None of those are really "WOW" features, but as a whole, in my opinion, better than any other option, for what I use it for. And now we're digging deep into personal opinion so YMMV and any other acronym we find suitable for this discussion. Are we off topic enough yet? And yes, I take full blame for this one.
Pat Farrell
Rancher

Joined: Aug 11, 2007
Posts: 4646
    
    5

Gregg Bolinger wrote: Everything on my mac is fast. And I don't have top of the line. The SSD makes a big difference. It is quiet, looks nice, and I rarely have to restart it.

I don't find that the SSD makes any difference. Could be because I have 16GB of ram. I don't see any improvement in boot-up speed over my older MBP that used a rotating disk. While new MBP itself is quiet, I have to run it on a laptop stand to keep the case/bottom side cool, and that fan makes noise. Battery life is good.

Lightroom 5.2 (the latest) is slow. Netbeans is not amazing. Even Chrome (the browser) has moments when its slow. (I'm on Fios and have a N-network, and its the rendering, not the network transfer)

I do not use the swipe-screen, and most folks who love Macs live with the touch screen. I can't use it, so I just plug in a mouse.

My only problem during the years I ran Linux as my only OS was that gaming was impossible and most new hardware was a royal PITA to get working. Sometimes, simple stuff like a Logitech webcam would not work.

I haven't used Windows as my primary/daily OS in nearly a decade, so comparisons with BSOD aren't part of my memories.

As I said, IMHO, its an OK machine. But I don't love it. If it were half the price, yeah, I'd totally love it. Even if it was $2000, I'd probably love it. And if I were actively writing IOS code using it, I'd have no choice.

YMMV, etc.
Gregg Bolinger
GenRocket Founder
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 11, 2001
Posts: 15299
    
    6

Pat Farrell wrote:Netbeans is not amazing.


That's a whole other conversation, but yea, I agree. As a stand alone statement, I 100% agree.
Bill Gorder
Bartender

Joined: Mar 07, 2010
Posts: 1648
    
    7

So this is my first post from my new Mac which is backed up to my 'time capsule'.. What a nifty gadget.

So far so good.. Now I open the little launcher thing and there is a magnifying glass and box that seems like I should be able to type into it to filter/find the application I want, but I can't focus on the input. Also I can't figure out how to browse the file system and no hot key I can figure out opens the terminal. Also scrolling from the trackpad is the reverse of what I am used to but I'll adjust to that I am sure. I think its time to peruse the help docs
Pat Farrell
Rancher

Joined: Aug 11, 2007
Posts: 4646
    
    5

They reversed the vertical scroll direction fairly recently, maybe 18 months ago. I've learned to like it. They did it so it would be more consistant with the iOS devices.

I just keep an icon for the terminal in my Dock, Its not a hotkey, but maybe someone more facile with OS-X can teach us both how to do it with a hot key.

I am not a fan of "finder" search box. Finder itself is OK. The network handling is wonderful. You can control WiFi and Ethernet connections (altho They do not like wired ethernet) and the connections to servers is very nice. Click on Finder and do a "new window" to get something like all the rest of the world's file manager/explorer

Bear Bibeault
Author and ninkuma
Marshal

Joined: Jan 10, 2002
Posts: 60799
    
  65

command-space should open the Spotlight window and auto-focus the search field.

The scroll direction is changeable in System Prefs.

You can put an icon for Terminal in the Dock to make it one click away. (But I use iTerm2 rather than stock Terminal.)
Bear Bibeault
Author and ninkuma
Marshal

Joined: Jan 10, 2002
Posts: 60799
    
  65

To quickly select an app, open Launchpad (rocket icon on Doc, or "scrunching" gesture on trackpad) and start typing the app name.

You can assign a shortcut key to Launchpad in the Sys Prefs Keyboard panel.
Pat Farrell
Rancher

Joined: Aug 11, 2007
Posts: 4646
    
    5

Bear Bibeault wrote:The scroll direction is changeable in System Prefs.


Yes, it is, but I think that you should try to use it the "new" way. after a bit of relearning, I thinks its better. IMHO, YMMV, etc.
Bear Bibeault
Author and ninkuma
Marshal

Joined: Jan 10, 2002
Posts: 60799
    
  65

Agreed -- I like the native behavior too.
Bill Gorder
Bartender

Joined: Mar 07, 2010
Posts: 1648
    
    7

Bear Bibeault wrote:To quickly select an app, open Launchpad (rocket icon on Doc, or "scrunching" gesture on trackpad) and start typing the app name.

You can assign a shortcut key to Launchpad in the Sys Prefs Keyboard panel.


Yup this does not work for me. It opens Launchpad but typing does nothing and I cannot select the input box.


Thanks for the tips guys I will keep looking at it. I am trying to resist the urge to change the scroll behavior. I figure stuff like that I will get used to after a week or 2.
Bill Gorder
Bartender

Joined: Mar 07, 2010
Posts: 1648
    
    7

Spotlight does work however, so thanks for the tip. I can't fathom what is going on with the launcher...
Bear Bibeault
Author and ninkuma
Marshal

Joined: Jan 10, 2002
Posts: 60799
    
  65

As your Mac is new, I assume it's running Mavericks (10.9)? In Launchpad, the field will not appear to focus, just open Launchpad and start typing.
Bill Gorder
Bartender

Joined: Mar 07, 2010
Posts: 1648
    
    7

Thanks Bear, a reboot fixed the issue. I think since the machine had never been rebooted something was just messed up. We will see if it happens again.
Maneesh Godbole
Saloon Keeper

Joined: Jul 26, 2007
Posts: 10171
    
    8

Bill Gorder wrote:So this is my first post from my new Mac ..

Sweet!
Pics or it didn't happen

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Bill Gorder
Bartender

Joined: Mar 07, 2010
Posts: 1648
    
    7

Bear Bibeault wrote:

You can put an icon for Terminal in the Dock to make it one click away. (But I use iTerm2 rather than stock Terminal.)


Now that is just the kind of applications I love to hear about. I am installing that one right now for sure
Bill Gorder
Bartender

Joined: Mar 07, 2010
Posts: 1648
    
    7

Maneesh Godbole wrote:
Sweet!
Pics or it didn't happen


I could post some, but they all look the same
Gregg Bolinger
GenRocket Founder
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 11, 2001
Posts: 15299
    
    6

I'm not real sure what iTerm offers that the stock terminal app doesn't. I browsed the features. Seems they are basically the same now. It did not used to be this way. When I bought my first mac, I needed iTerm. But ever since Snow Leopard (I think), it's had all the main features; tabs, colors, mouseless copy/paste, etc.

What am I missing?
Bear Bibeault
Author and ninkuma
Marshal

Joined: Jan 10, 2002
Posts: 60799
    
  65

Not sure. As you noted, iTerm had a lot over Terminal, so I've been using it since forever. I haven't kept up with any changes to Terminal. I think the tabbed interface is what originally drew me to iTerm.
Bill Gorder
Bartender

Joined: Mar 07, 2010
Posts: 1648
    
    7

Well for anyone else coming along and reading this here is some of the stuff I have found after a couple days

- Print out the cheat sheet with the keyboard short cuts http://support.apple.com/kb/ht1343
- The x on the window does not close the application. Command Q, Command Q, Comand Q. That should be written on the front of the box when you buy it.
- If you need multiple versions of Java like I did you have to go find a link for Java 6 and download it from Apple. http://support.apple.com/kb/dl1572
- Working with multiple versions of Java is a little different from Ubuntu but they are similar. I ended up defaulting to 7 and created a bash profile with aliases to switch between them.
- There is no package manager which is a nice time saver in Ubuntu for stuff that is not in the app store. This is especially relevant to dev tools like ant, maven etc. This here is a really nice add, makes updating and installing, creating symlinks etc a breeze - http://brew.sh/ Here is a complete list of published formulas it supports https://github.com/Homebrew/homebrew/tree/master/Library/Formula
- I used Notepad++ in Windows and Gedit in Ubunutu. I found Sublime, and it is really nice and supports all 3. http://www.sublimetext.com/
- I loved Snaggit for Windows and missed it on Ubuntu. People have been whining for a long time and they have a Mac version now so I am pretty stoked about that. http://www.techsmith.com/snagit.html
- Uninstalling things is a bit of a manual process due to the lack of a package manager. However its not too bad. They do offer applications for it, but from what I read the tend to miss a lot.
- Moving application menu bars to the top of the screen may bother some. I am used to this from the Unity windows manager in Ubuntu but it takes some getting used to. I tend to use keyboard shortcuts so its fine. I just have to remember to click off the active window before attempting shortcuts that expect the finder menu on the top
-Despite checking all the boxes my contacts did not getted pulled in from Gmail on install. I have not had time to investigate this yet.
-If you use Gmail, the mail program to me seems more trouble than its worth. I think I will continue to use the browser based one.

I have got quite a bit set up at this point and I don't have any major gripes other than the expected types of things that I will probably adjust to after a month or two of use. So far so good.
Gregg Bolinger
GenRocket Founder
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 11, 2001
Posts: 15299
    
    6

I loved Snaggit for Windows and missed it on Ubuntu...


Shift+command+1 | 2 | 3 | 4 will give you screenshots and then the Preview app gives you a nice set of annotation and editing tools. You might look into that rather than buying a product. You've already spent a lot of money on the Mac. ;o). But I understand using something you are already familiar with.

Uninstalling things is a bit of a manual process...


If you're just talking about Apps under Applications, just move them to the trash. That's it.

If you use Gmail, the mail program to me seems more trouble than its worth...


I think the Mail.app works with Gmail just fine. However, I've been using Airmail for a while and I really like it.

Bill Gorder
Bartender

Joined: Mar 07, 2010
Posts: 1648
    
    7

Gregg Bolinger wrote:

Shift+command+1 | 2 | 3 | 4 will give you screenshots and then the Preview app gives you a nice set of annotation and editing tools. You might look into that rather than buying a product. You've already spent a lot of money on the Mac. ;o). But I understand using something you are already familiar with.



Thanks I will have a look at what kind of extras are there out of the box


Gregg Bolinger wrote:
If you're just talking about Apps under Applications, just move them to the trash. That's it.



Sounds like a lot of extra stuff remains after that. In most cases that probably does not hurt anything (assuming these files are small), but I hate clutter:
http://www.wikihow.com/Uninstall-Programs-on-Mac-Computers
http://www.cultofmac.com/90060/how-to-completely-uninstall-software-under-mac-os-x-macrx/

Gregg Bolinger wrote:

I think the Mail.app works with Gmail just fine. However, I've been using Airmail for a while and I really like it.


I'll give it a test drive and see if I like it better. Thanks for the suggestion.

Gregg Bolinger
GenRocket Founder
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 11, 2001
Posts: 15299
    
    6

Sounds like a lot of extra stuff remains after that...


In my 4+ years using a Mac, I've never worried about left behind bits and I've never had issues related to it. There are products available that claim they will clean all the left behind stuff. And they all come with disclaimers that they are not responsible for removing vital files from your computer and turning it into a $2500 brick.
Gregg Bolinger
GenRocket Founder
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 11, 2001
Posts: 15299
    
    6

And just as an FYI, Ubuntu's package manager doesn't really fully uninstall everything, either:

http://askubuntu.com/questions/151941/how-can-you-completely-remove-a-package
Bill Gorder
Bartender

Joined: Mar 07, 2010
Posts: 1648
    
    7

Gregg Bolinger wrote:

In my 4+ years using a Mac, I've never worried about left behind bits and I've never had issues related to it. There are products available that claim they will clean all the left behind stuff. And they all come with disclaimers that they are not responsible for removing vital files from your computer and turning it into a $2500 brick.


I agree with you 100% on the 3rd party tools, I would not use them. That said I know that nix based file systems don't seem to be adversely affected by a few files lingering about other than the space they use which is often not much. It is probably just stuff I am hanging onto from my Windows 95/98 days

Gregg Bolinger wrote:And just as an FYI, Ubuntu's package manager doesn't really fully uninstall everything, either:


True, there are different flags that can be applied to adjust the degree to which you want things removed. In some cases your intention is to re-install, in which case you don't want user prefs deleted. However many of the more mainstream packages include scripts to remove that as well if so desired and the package manager I believe uses them if provided.


Perhaps I can give up my anal retentiveness and do it the easy way
Gregg Bolinger
GenRocket Founder
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Joined: Jul 11, 2001
Posts: 15299
    
    6

Bill Gorder wrote:Perhaps I can give up my anal retentiveness and do it the easy way


Just drink the kool-aid and all your problems will cease to exist.
Bear Bibeault
Author and ninkuma
Marshal

Joined: Jan 10, 2002
Posts: 60799
    
  65

The bits left behind are mostly properties and settings which are wisely not stored with the application.

I've been delighted in the past to re-install an app I thought I didn't need, to find that all my settings and preferences are still there.
 
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