Tuesday, May 06, 2008

New iMac

My new iMac arrived today. There's a bit of a story behind it's arrival.

Originally I was going to buy it through the local store (not an actual Apple store, but an Apple retailer and service center). Of course, they didn't have the model I wanted in stock. But they had some similar models coming in a few days and they could upgrade the memory and hard disk to what I wanted. Except the person that took down my phone number mumbled that he didn't think they could upgrade the hard drive, leaving me wondering whether they could or not.

A week passed and no word. Finally I phoned them to find out what was happening. "Soon", I was told. Given the uncertainty about getting the right configuration, I decided I might as well just order on-line.

But my credit card was declined!? It was paid off and I hadn't had any problems with it. I had let Apple use the credit card info on file - maybe it was out of date. I re-entered the credit card information. It was declined again. Finally I phoned the credit card company - they had declined it because they (or probably their software) thought it was "suspicious". I'm not sure why. I've purchased from Apple before. Sure, it was a larger amount but surely that doesn't mean it automatically gets declined? And couldn't they have contacted me? Oh well, no point expecting rational behavior from something like a bank.

One the positive side, while I was messing around with the credit card I got an email from Apple saying they had come out with upgraded models and since my order hadn't been shipped I'd be getting the new model. Lucky - I'd have been really annoyed if I got the old model just a few days before the new one came out.

I got a 24" (1920 x 1200) iMac with 3 ghz Core 2 Duo with 6 mb L2, 4 gb of memory and a 1 tb hard disk. A decent improvement over my 2.2 ghz Mac mini with 2 gb of memory and 160 gb disk

I pulled it out of the box, plugged it into the power and network, put batteries in the mouse and keyboard, and fired it up. I hesitated when the migration tool wanted Firewire, but I hadn't set the machines up side by side. I decided to use the secondary Ethernet choice. (wouldn't that be clearer if they called it "Network"?) This required installing CD and DVD Sharing software on the old machine.

Soon after it started it came up with an error about losing its connection. But when I re-tried it seemed fine. Not sure what caused it. It started off saying it was going to take 10 hours, but that estimate soon dropped and it ended up taking a couple of hours to transfer about 110 gb. That seemed a little slow. I searched on the web and found some people saying Firewire was faster. I wondered about starting over but the migration didn't even have a cancel button and I was a little nervous about "pulling the plug" while it was transferring so I let it go. The nice thing about having multiple machines is that when one is tied up you can still work on another (the MacBook).

The transfer finished and at first it seemed like everything was great. But then I started running into problems. Some of the System Preferences wouldn't open. iTunes refused to start (with an error 1000). Hmmm... I searched on the internet for migration problems. One person recommended running Software Update on the new machine before migrating (so you didn't get newer settings on older software) But unfortunately, it was a little too late for that.

After a few tries and a few system restarts (reminiscent of Windows!) I got Software Update to run and that seemed to clean up the problems.

I calibrated the monitor with my Huey Pro. This seemed to make a bigger difference than on my last monitor, making the colors quite a bit "warmer" than the default.

Then I noticed that I now had a Huey icon on the menu bar. Strange, that hadn't shown up on my old machine. Then after I restarted the machine it was gone. I got on the Huey web site to see if there were any software updates. In their support section I found that the automatic startup was broken and you have to manually install. Which means it hadn't been running on my old machine. Ouch. I'm not sure if this affected the entire calibration or just the ambient light adjustment. They hope to fix their software in 2008. I wonder how many other people have this problem?

Next problem was that it had installed my Epson R1800 printer with the Gutenprint drivers. This works ok for simple printing, but not so good with printing photographs from Lightroom. I downloaded the drivers from Epson and installed them. I thought this would create the printer but it didn't, just installed the drivers. So I added the printer and said "yes" I really wanted to install this printer a second time. But when I printed a test page, nothing came out. Here we go again.

I poked around and happened to right click on the printer. One of the options was "Reset printing system". That seemed like it might help so I chose it. I got a warning saying this would delete all my printer queues and pending jobs. That seemed alright so I clicked on OK. Oops! That deleted all the printers. I guess that's what they meant by "printer queues". I re-install the printer and run a test page again. Still no errors, but nothing comes out. I notice that it appears to be printing a Postscript file. But I don't think the Epson driver uses Postscript. I try printing from another program and it works fine. It was probably working all along. Sigh. Not a very good test page. I guess it's intended for Gutenprint drivers, but why use it for other drivers?

I also had problems getting my Parallels virtual machines to work. I thought I might have to re-install the software, but after hanging up a few times it decided to start working. Except that my virtual machines had lost their network adapter. But all I had to do was re-enable it.

Of course, I'd lost the twisted printer setup that let me print from Windows with the Epson driver. But I noticed I now had Apple Bonjour on Windows. I can't remember why I installed it, but I figured it was worth a try. My first attempt failed but after enabling Printer Sharing on OS X and sharing the printer I got it to work. Even the test page printed :-) Much easier than the previous setup.

I order the iMac with the new wireless keyboard. It's tiny! Especially next to the 24" iMac. It's taking a little getting used to but the feel is nice. I won't miss the numeric keypad, but I'll miss the larger arrow keys and Home/End/Page Up/Page Down/forward Delete etc. But it's essentially identical to my MacBook keyboard so it's not too bad.

And that pretty much took up my whole day. Still, probably the most painless computer switch I've done.

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