MaCinJay’s Musings

another case of inverse vandalism

Posts Tagged ‘MacBook Pro

Mac OS X Leopard: Time Machine

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In October last year I related how I inadvertently blew my iMac’s logic board. Reluctant to pay the steep repair bill I decided instead to buy a MacBook Pro to replace it. I never regretted this decision but the one drawback was that I had to make do without the data stored on the iMac until such time as C3 (the repair shop I took the unit to) finally got around to extracting its hard drive for installation into an external enclosure. Eventually I got my data back last Friday, which I proceeded to migrate to my MacBook Pro.

This left me with a 250 GB external hard drive to try out Time Machine, Leopard’s new back-up utility. I’ll be honest, like many others I find backing up data to be a tedious chore. As a result my efforts were patchy to say the least. (Fortunately however I used an online back-up service called Mozy to back up my most essential data a few weeks before my iMac crashed.) With Time Machine though Apple has not only taken the tedium out of the process, it has actually made it fun.

It’s also easy to use – as soon as you plug in your your external hard drive Time Machine will give you the option to use it to back up your data. After I began the process it took several hours to back up the sixty or so gigabytes of data from my MacBook Pro using a USB 2 connection. In the meantime though I was able to carry on using my Mac normally.

The fun part comes once the back-up is finished and you can start playing with the Time Machine interface. (Regrettably I wasn’t able to take a screen-shot as Apple’s Grab application doesn’t work in Time Machine mode.) In keeping with its the sci-fi connotations, Time Machine has a very futuristic feel about it. When you activate the utility it transitions away from the normal OS X desktop environment into a 3D representation of the cosmos, with the active Finder window in the foreground. Behind it are numerous other Finder windows – select one of these and, voila, you are transported back in time to the Finder window as it would have appeared and a particular point in time. (A timescale on the right of the screen lets you keep track of the exact time and date.) If you want to restore a previously-deleted file merely select it and click on the gear icon in the Finder toolbar and click again on the relevant option. (Alternatively you can also delete all back-ups of the file.) You also an option to restore the entire system by clicking a button at the bottom right of the screen. Time Machine also works with Apple’s Mail application – very handy if you need to retrieve that vital email that you stupidly deleted.

Detractors have criticised Time Machine for using too much eye-candy. No doubt that Apple could have designed it to resemble your average run-of-the-mill back-up utility. But what would the point be in that? For me Time Machine succeeds in part because it delivers that ooh-ah factor that Apple is renowned for. It also makes backing-up an easy exercise for people like me who didn’t have the inclination or discipline to do proper back-ups in the past!

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Written by macinjay

March 4, 2008 at 9:32 pm

Return of the Mac

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My worst fears were realised after C3 (the name of the Apple authorised service centre I took my iMac to) eventually diagnosed the problem with my G5. By the way, if you ever have a similar problem DON’T take your Mac there – their service is shoddy. It took them the better part of three weeks to fax me a quote for repairs. Anyway, according to them it was indeed a blown logic board that would cost me close to R8000 to replace.

I had already been agonising whether there would be any point in spending that sort of money to repair it. Due to the rapid advance of computer technology these machines are quickly outdated by newer and better models. For a thousand or so more than the cost of the repairs I could have gone out and bought a brand new MacBook. Much as I love the iMac, it just didn’t seem cost-efficient to revive it. Also now that we are living in a bigger place a laptop is more appealing; it can be carried around the house whereas the iMac was restricted to our study in the loft.

However the MacBook line has a glaring disadvantage, namely integrated graphics. As a result they are not suitable for things like heavy video-editing and serious gaming. The MacBook Pros on the other hand have NVIDIA GeForce dedicated graphics and are prized by more demanding users and gamers. So, after further soul-searching I decided that the MacBook Pro was the computer that I really wanted. I ended up getting a nice deal on a 15″ 2.2 GHz shop demo last week, which I am using to write this post.

I haven’t looked back since. In contrast to my iMac the MacBook Pro handles Leopard with aplomb. I heard somewhere that Leopard had been optimised to run on Intel’s multi-core processors and I can well believe it. The MacBook Pro’s extra RAM (2 GB to the iMac’s 512 MB) also makes a big difference.

No longer am I restricted to using my Mac in the study; now it can go wherever I go. All I need to do now is figure out out to access the Internet using my cellphone as a modem.

In any event the most important thing is that I now have a Mac again after having to make do with my wife’s Windows laptop for the last few weeks. Now I can carry on exploring the new features in Leopard, as I promised to do before I broke my iMac.

More to come…

Written by macinjay

November 22, 2007 at 10:03 pm