Ooh, sexy desktop images. I’ve go the “Space Doggy” on my iBook right now. (Link courtesy of John, a soon-to-be Switcher.)

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  1. About thirty minutes ago I finally ordered my Mac. I’m soon to be the proud owner of a 1GHz iMac with a 17″ screen/SuperDrive/80GB hard disk and 256MB of RAM.

  2. Ooh! Sexy. Where’d you order it from?

  3. I’ve ordered it online direct from Apple. From what I’ve seen there’s very little difference in hardware prices for Macs themselves (except, I suppose, when a major new line is released and shops want to clear out their old stock), so I didn’t see any great advantage to going to any of the other Apple online retailers. Accessories and memory are a different matter: Apple seem to be charging a phenomenal markup on RAM for the iMac.

    My iMac is right at the top end of my price range, but the way I see it is that if I’m buying a computer I’ll probably be using for about four or five years then it’s worth paying a little extra for a 20% increase in CPU speed, 25% more hard disk space, a faster system bus and a bigger screen. Playing around with an 800MHz iMac and a 1GHz model in a local store, I felt that the latter machine was noticeably snappier.

    Now I have to hope that Apple are better at mail order than Gateway were almost six years ago when I bought the PC I’m typing this entry on. (Don’t get me started!)

  4. Awesome, John! Congratulations on the big Switch! 😉

    In my experience, Apple has always been great when it comes to mail order. My office orders most of our Apple hardware/software from MacConnection (PCConnection’s Apple division), and they’re even better, with no discernable markup.

    Quick question: Did you buy the 3 year Apple Care warranty? It’s waaaay worth it.

  5. Eek. I didn’t, Moire! I’m one year into my ownership with no major problems thus far though. (Well, I had a minor meltdown while upgrading OSX at one point, but that wasn’t really a hardware issue.)

    I’d definitely buy RAM from elsewhere. I’ve installed 3rd party RAM on both my old iMac and my iBook. The old iMac was pretty fun to get into (you have to turn it upside down and remove the case, basically). I did have a little trouble with the iBook, mostly because I didn’t have a screwdriver tiny enough. I’ve got no clue whether you’d be able to break into the new iMac though…

  6. Oh, yeah! Actually, you can’t technically get into the new iMac on your own. Well, Apple doesn’t encourage it; there’s some sort of “seal” inside the case that prevents the average Joe from fiddling around, it was explained to me. That’s the one reason why I got the iBook instead.

    I do wonder why Apple designed the new iMac that way. it’s probably something to do with the strange shape.

  7. Thanks for all the positive thoughts. I’d always heard that Mac users were a nicer class of computer user. 😉

    So far, so good. I’ve had an email confirming the order, and it’s currently Being Assembled. I’m just waiting to see when it’ll ship now. As I’m normally at work during the week and there’s nobody at home to take delivery, I’m hoping it’ll be ready in time to be delivered next Friday, when it so happens I’ll be sitting around the house for most of the day anyway waiting for someone to come and inspect my gas meter.

    As I understand it, I can buy AppleCare any time in the first year, so given that the cost of my iMac was right at the top end of my budget I’ve decided to defer the purchase of AppleCare for a few months. However, I’ll definitely be buying it before my year’s guarantee is up. It might never be needed, but if I do need it I’ll need it bad!

    The Apple web site describes the flat panel 17″ iMac as having “one 184-pin DIMM and one open user-accessible SO-DIMM slot”. If I understand correctly, this means that adding RAM to the vacant slot is easy but replacing the factory-installed DIMM requires getting past the “seal” and gaining access to the interior of the base unit. As I can add another 512MB to the user SO-DIMM slot, it should be a while before I have to worry about getting inside the case.

    I thought about ordering my iMac with 512MB of RAM, but I’ve decided to see if I can manage on 256MB for now. I know more RAM is almost always better, but having some money to buy food next month is better still. 🙂

    And now that I’ve got the attention of a couple of Mac addicts, can I trouble you to offer some advice?

    What little utilities would you suggest that I install? Which Mac web browser is best? Are there any particularly good OSX tips-n-tricks sites I should bookmark? All suggestions gratefully received…

  8. I just read your comments about the DIMM to the Snook and he said that the only problem is that the SO-DIMM slot will only take laptop memory, which is going to be more expensive. So if you could actually get at the inside one you could install cheaper RAM. But then again, that would probably void your warranty, which isn’t exactly a good trade-off…

    Anyway, I have to say that much as I love OmniWeb for surfing (http://www.omnigroup.com), I find myself firing up Safari more and more. It doesn’t have all OmniWeb’s features, but it’s damn fast. (For some reason my own site cookies don’t work with it though, which is something I have to look into.) But I definitely recommend you get both these browsers and use them for your daily surfing. Relegate IE to just those sites (banking, mostly) that won’t work with anything else.

    I haven’t actually used iMovie or iDVD, but I use iChat, iTunes, iPhoto, and iCal regularly (probably in that order). I’ve even used iSync once or twice to sync up my (hardly ever used) Handspring. Once you play with iTunes a bit, you’ll want to start saving up for an iPod… 🙂

    I use Apple’s “Mail” application for my e-mail. It’s pretty good, and I’ve got the junk mail filter trained up pretty well. I like the built in search thingie. It’s useful.

    I’ve got a couple other little 3rd party things I like. One is LaunchBar, which allows you to open up just about any application or file on your machine without taking your hands from the keyboard. I got tired of waiting around for Canon to release software and drivers for OSX (I have a CanoScan N67OU), so I use VueScan which supports a billion different scanners. I’ve also got icWord for converting particularly stubborn Word files that AppleWorks has trouble with. (I’ve since got OpenOffice working, but more on that in a minute.) For, uh, “file” trading, try XNap. Works like a dream.

    Also, I’ve been playing with Apple’s new X11 recently and it’s nice. (I was using XDarwin before, which worked great but looked ugly as sin.) This allows me to use the GIMP for all my image manipulation, rather than paying thousands for a Photoshop license. I also just got Open Office running on it, but I haven’t done much with that yet. But it’s nice to know I have it!

    I think Mac people are nice because we feel like we’re in on a great secret. We keep telling people about it, but historically we’ve been ignored. I sound like an evangelist. But basically, the reason we’re happy for you is that we know you’re going to love your computer! (Which, yeah, sounds like a dumb thing to get excited about, because most computers are about as personable as a refrigerator, but trust me, your Mac will be more than that.) And remember… start saving for the iPod. 🙂

  9. Forgot to mention: After one of the upgrades killed my OSX install, I decided to partition the hard drive to hopefully prevent losing stuff in the future. I’ve got a 20GB drive so we went with 5GB for the system disk (OSX itself and any applications that didn’t like living elsewhere) and then 15GB for other stuff (everything that didn’t mind being on a separate volume). It’s worked good so far. I’ve even got my X11 applications there (the Snook had to do some magic with “symbolic links” and such). The only thing I’d suggest if you want to do something similar is that you leave at least 10GB for the system disk. Mine is getting close to the 5GB and there isn’t any way I can repartition it now without a full reinstall. So make it big enough the first time. 🙂

  10. That is a great link – I nabbed half the icons 🙂

    Kris, have you tried Konfabulator? It’s a great utility (for those with too much time on their hands, and those who need it) that does just about everything. Sexy interface too.
    John, you are a wise man – OS X is sublime, and it’s even more sublime when you have enough power to run it (I have it on an ancient iMac at work in addition to my G4 desktop at home, and the difference is tremendous)… the best thing about this OS is that for the basic user, you don’t need that many utilities tacked onto it other than what is there.
    I love Safari and use it for everything; I haven’t tried Omniweb, and Kris certainly has more experience than me with regard to usability, so I would certainly defer to her opinion – that said, Safari is still a fledgling browser, and it has great potential, seeing how good it is at most tasks at this early stage.

  11. Hi Alastair! I looked at Konfabulator when it first came out but there hadn’t been enough time for people to really write any good widgets with it. I just checked back and there seem to be a lot of nifty little things I could use! So I’m definitely going to give that a spin.

    OmniWeb is just a lot more customizable than Safari right now, with options to spoof your user-agent and turn off images and just about everything you’d ever need. Safari’s got the speed though… and as I’m typing this in Safari right now, speed is currently winning.

  12. i love my mac, but hardly ever use iDVD as the controls aren’t as userfriendly as they could be. there have also been issues playing certain dvds where it doesn’t recognise submenus. so i always just use my shonky chinese dvd player that plays anything!

  13. Ah, you mean for playing them? I think that’s actually called “DVD Player”. iDVD is for making DVD’s, I think. But regardless, the controls for the player really are pretty crap. It’s nice for airplanes, though, and it was a lifesaver for the first few months here when our standalone DVD player was still getting shipped out from England. If you look around, there are lots of sites with software and instructions for flashing the firmware on your player that will allow you to change the region indefinitely. (Normal settings lock you after five.) As I’ve got DVDs from 3 different regions, this was absolutely necessary…

  14. Kris, can you recommend a particular DVD ROM flasher, at least by name? My Donnie Darko and Nightmare Before Christmas DVDs are region 1, and though I can play them on my old laptop, which I hacked, I haven’t tried it on my precious mac…
    I gather that they’ve released an Xmen 1.5 special edition DVD stateside… that’s also an incentive. Hugh Jackman grrowf!

  15. Thanks for all the advice and software tips. As far as RAM expansion goes, I’m going to cross that bridge when I come to it. In the end, if I really need another 512MB badly enough then I suppose I’ll have to suck it up and fork out whatever it takes.

    Browser-wise, I’m torn. I really like Opera on Windows, but I gather that the Mac version isn’t very highly rated. In any case, after Safari’s release it’s looking as if Opera might not develop the Mac version much further. (I think they’re making a mistake, because being thoroughly cross-platform is a big asset for them.) I think I’ll start out switching between Chimera/Camino and Safari for a while and see which I like most.

    The repartitioning tip is one I’ve come across before when I was looking at Linux. It makes a lot of sense. I’ll probably play around with my Mac out of the box for a while, just to get a sense of how I like my system set up and which utilities/3rd party software are worth installing, then look at a reformat/reinstallation.

    I’m very interested in seeing OpenOffice on the Mac. It’s not something I require immediately, but a year or so from now when a proper Aqua version is available then I’ll certainly be downloading a copy.

    I know that the the DVD player locks after five region changes, but that’s not a huge problem for me. (I assume that DVD Player doesn’t support Region 0.)

  16. yeah, kris, you’re right. brain needing more oxygen and body more sleep.
    that would have been handy on planes with your laptop…
    alastair, not sure what country you’re in, but in oz we are getting the 1.5 xmen dvd in april… looksgood, although still a bit of a scam to get us geeks to shell out more money 🙂

  17. Orangecat, really? Then I guess it’ll be out here in the UK at the same time since we’re the same region… you’re right, it is a scam, but I love the Xmen, and the extra footage (especially bloopers) sounds so good . And since my original version is a whole hour away, in London, I think it’d be more sensible to pick up the new one to watch before X2 comes out 😉
    John, OpenOffice is pretty good already, and I don’t think a beautified version is far off, but functionally, it’s pretty impressive – all I can say is thank god for it… tired of falling back on Microsoft when other programs let me down.

  18. Just a quick post to mention that I’m typing this on my iMac. And very nice it is, too.

    No doubt I’ll drone on about the wonders of all things Apple on my own weblog at great length for the next week or so, but I thought this thread had earned the right to receive my first ever rave about my new toy.

  19. Of course, my ISP had to pick today to suffer major routing and authentication problems, so the anticipated orgy of downloading (web browsers, news clients, bookmarks etc.) didn’t happen as planned.

    Things seem to be returning to normal now, and after a half hour or so I’m typing this into Safari while iTunes plays me some Bjork and MT-Newswatcher downloads the newsgroup list from my ISP’s NNTP server. Once I can read news successfully I’ll be a happy bunny again. (Well, once I get used to the Apple keyboard layout. Why the hell did they put the “@” key up there?)

    So far, so good. And once I stop trying to use Windows/CUA keyboard shortcuts it’ll get even better…

  20. Heh. That’s an American keyboard layout. Even the Australian iMac I’m typing on now has the @ up there. I think you can remap it if you change your international settings.

  21. Well, I have set myself up as being in the UK, and a quick look at the System Preferences under both Keyboard and International Settings doesn’t reveal any likely options.

    I’ll get used to it in time, I’m sure. It’s no bigger a deal than getting used to the Command key being used instead of the Control key for lots of keyboard functions.

  22. Yeah, I actually didn’t find it too difficult to switch back from using the UK keyboards, as long as you’re not having to do it every day. As I recall, the UK ones also had the ” in a different place… That one threw me a lot more than the @ did. I think they’re switched, actually.

  23. try using a Czech keyboard…(she says after a lovely weekend in Prague) all pretty much in the same place, except that ‘Z’ and ‘Y’ were switched!

  24. Yes, the ‘@’ and the ‘”‘ have swapped places on my keyboard.

    I can cope with the switch on my new home computer – I’m already getting the two mixed up just one time in ten or so. What worries me is what happens when I return to work and have no choice but to use a PC keyboard layout eight hours a day.

    Incidentally, I’m typing this using Camino. It’s very nice indeed, though like Mozilla proper it’s not quite got tabbed browsing down quite as solidly as Opera. I’m hoping that’ll come in future revisions.

    And in case anyone wonders, yes I know my web site has disappeared. A hacker exploited an insecure script on another user’s site on my web host and deleted a lot of users’ files. If I’m lucky some of my files might be restored later this evening, apparently. 🙁

    [Apologies for the rant, but this was not what I needed today!]

  25. That sucks, John! I’m hoping your weekend improves. Rumor has it that you can enable tabs in the latest builds of Safari, but no one’s sure if they’re just a tool for developers or if they’ll make it into the finished project. I’m interested to see what happens.

    Nice, Stefanie. I guess they must use the “Z” a lot more than we do, huh? 🙂

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