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My First MacBook

ZeromusZeromus Registered User regular
Hello!

I am hoping to get a MacBook in the near future (probably the $999 white one, but if you guys thing that the newer version is worth the extra $300, I'd consider it), and having not owned a Mac since about 1993, I'm kind of worried about taking the plunge from my Windows comfort zone (thank God for Bootcamp, right?).

I guess I'm looking for some general advice and such here - what are some programs I need to have? How should I take care of the computer? How do I avoid desktop clutter, which all of my friends with Macs seem to suffer from? What should I know? How do I make the most of it? How do I love my new Mac?

Zeromus on
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  • BiosysBiosys Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    This sounds like something not involving games, so you'd probably want to make this topic in Moe's Technology forum.

  • ZeromusZeromus Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    Whoops, I forgot that the Technology forum even existed. My bad.

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  • Mike DangerMike Danger "Diane..." a place both wonderful and strangeRegistered User regular
    edited May 2009
    Stolen from the Mac Essentials thread, in turn stolen from the now-dead Mac Thread. I limed the stuff I can recommend based on experience.
    ESSENTIALS

    These apps can be found in their own categories but are worth placing here at the beginning too so you know just how worthless your Mac is unless you have all of them installed.

    VLC - Plays pretty much any format on Earth.
    Quicksilver (info / direct download) - The benchmark keyboard navigation program. Free and open-source, heavily customisable.


    INTERNET
    Safari - It's on your hard drive and it's pretty good guys.
    Camino - If you like the way Firefox renders, Camino is the Mac-native browser that uses Firefox's rendering engine, Gecko.
    Firefox - If you can't live without FF, it's OK on Mac, but not native. So you lose niceties like the Cocoa window widgets, and keychain access.

    NetNewsWire - The best RSS client
    NewsFire - The second best RSS client, if you don't like NNW
    Twitterific - If Twitter is the crack, Twitterific is the dealer.

    Adium - The only chat client you need...
    Colloquy - ...unless you IRC, in which case you need this too

    Transmission - Transmission is hands-down the best Mac native BitTorrent app. Download the nightly build, and you'll get blocklist functionality as well.
    Azureus - Azureus runs pretty well on Mac OS X, but it's Java code-base does mean it is slow, and just a little bit ugly. The plugins help a lot.

    MEDIA / CODECS
    VLC - Plays pretty much any format on Earth.
    Mplayer - Popular rival to VLC.
    Perian - Popular codecs like Xvid packaged as Quicktime components, so you can watch these videos in any Quicktime-enabled program.
    Windows Media Components of Quicktime - A set of free Quicktime components to play all non-DRM'd Windows Media formats, including streaming a/v on web pages.
    Audio Hijack - Record the sound output from any program on your Mac.
    Airfoil - Divert any audio you want to your Airport Express
    Handbrake - Handbrake is your one-stop DVD rip shop.

    OFFICE
    Microsoft Office - Still the best option, but the current version is really expensive. Get a second-hand copy of Office X 2004 off eBay. Solver is back in 2008's Excel but VBA support is still missing. Supposedly VBA is coming back for the next major edition. 2004 has both these features.
    NeoOffice - A Mac wrapper for OpenOffice. Much better than wrestling with X11.
    iWork '08 - The office suite developed by Apple. Keynote is a PowerPoint killer, Pages is perfectly capable as a Word replacement and Numbers is a good (basic) spreadsheet editor (note that I didn't say Excel replacement)

    SYSTEM FUNCTIONALITY
    MacFuse - MacFuse allows all sort of fancy disk mounting, including drives connected via SSH. Really nifty.
    SMCFanControl - A temperature monitor and fan control program that sits in your menu bar. Cool that blistering Macbook Pro. Settings stick after a restart, so it's good for boot camp gaming.
    Quicksilver (info / direct download) - The benchmark keyboard navigation program. Free and open-source, heavily customisable.
    LaunchBar - A lightweight alternative to Quicksilver. Less features, but noticeably faster.
    RCDefaultApp - A Preference Pane for setting default apps (browsers, email, etc), Media actions, URL handlers, hardware actions, and file type associations (extensions, MIME types, and OS 9 resource codes). An indispensable tool. Use it to disable Safari's exploitable RSS reader.

    TEXT EDITING
    TextMate - A text editor for programmers, amazing functionality, well worth the handful of euros.
    Smultron - A great free alternative to TextMate
    TextWrangler - A freeware cousin of BBEdit, supports markup and Unixy stuff
    TeXShop - If you write papers using LaTeX, this is the best editor to get the job done on Mac OS X. You should also look into BibDesk for your BibTeX repository.

    VIRTUALIZATION
    VMWare Fusion - Arguably (not really) the best virtualization software for Mac OS X. Faster, more stable, and better integration than the alternatives. Costs $79 monies.
    Parallels Desktop - Actually the new Parallels beta (4.0) is WAY faster than VMWare, AND it integrates with Boot Camp MUCH better. Competition = good. Also $79 monies.
    VirtualBox - A free, multiplatform virtualization product. Works very well but slower and with fewer features than commercial alternatives. (No bootcamp partition support)

    WEB DEVELOPMENT
    CSSEdit - The best CSS editor money can buy, on any platform. Saves me hours of time scanning CSS files daily.
    MAMP - You could use the built-in server, or you could get MAMP and have an Apache/MySQL/PHP install out of the box.
    Sequel Pro - A great GUI to manage MySQL databases.

    From the OP of the now-dead Mac thread.

    Steam: Mike Danger | PSN: remadeking
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  • DeathPrawnDeathPrawn Registered User
    edited May 2009
    You should also get an application delete program, like AppDelete or AppZapper (I think one of them's free, but I can't remember which). To "uninstall" a program, you just delete the .app file, but that often doesn't clean out the library files and such that get placed elsewhere when you run it. These guys'll automatically clean out all the cruft when you remove a program.

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  • fortisfortis OhioRegistered User regular
    edited May 2009
    AppCleaner is free and it works great.

  • Doc HollidayDoc Holliday Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    The $300 is absolutely worth it for the unibody enclosure. Apple recently upgraded us for free because we had so many problems with the plastic enclosure MacBook. The physical build quality alone is worth it, let alone the spec benefits.

    PSN & Live: buckwilson
  • wasted pixelswasted pixels Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    The $300 is absolutely worth it for the unibody enclosure. Apple recently upgraded us for free because we had so many problems with the plastic enclosure MacBook. The physical build quality alone is worth it, let alone the spec benefits.

    Absolutely this. The build quality is just unspeakably good, the unit feels incredibly sturdy while still being light and ergonomic, the touch pad is the best I've ever used, and the LED screen is fantastic for a laptop.

    BTW, I got a message from Obs that equated installing OS X on a PC with car theft, murder and rape. Is he normally like that?
  • ZeromusZeromus Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    As far as the "spec benefits" are concerned though, I didn't seem to see a huge advantage on the Apple website. Am I missing something?

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  • ClipseClipse Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    Zeromus wrote: »
    As far as the "spec benefits" are concerned though, I didn't seem to see a huge advantage on the Apple website. Am I missing something?

    The unibody has: 33% more hard drive space, an LED backlit screen, DDR3 1066mhz ram (versus DDR2 667mhz), a multi-touch pad, and somewhat better battery life.

  • Mike DangerMike Danger "Diane..." a place both wonderful and strangeRegistered User regular
    edited May 2009
    I'll admit that I have the plastic MacBook and using my friend's unibody MacBook was a colossal step up. I am secretly hoping for some kind of catastrophic failure that will give me an excuse to beg Apple to upgrade. :|

    Steam: Mike Danger | PSN: remadeking
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  • ZeromusZeromus Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    Clipse wrote: »
    Zeromus wrote: »
    As far as the "spec benefits" are concerned though, I didn't seem to see a huge advantage on the Apple website. Am I missing something?

    The unibody has: 33% more hard drive space, an LED backlit screen, DDR3 1066mhz ram (versus DDR2 667mhz), a multi-touch pad, and somewhat better battery life.

    I see.

    Well, my university computer store has the newer unit for $1149, barely more than the old white one would be from Apple anyway, so I guess I could probably handle that. :winky:

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  • KalTorakKalTorak Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    Don't forget to get the educational discount (I think it's about 10% off). Very nice.

  • ObsObs __BANNED USERS regular
    edited May 2009
    There is absolutely no reason to buy the white Macbook.

    If you buy it just to save 300 bucks, you will be staring down a new upgrade sooner than later. And this will cost you much more money.

    And with Snow Leopard on the horizon (which will vastly upgrade the computing power of any macs with Nvidia graphics cards), you really don't want to be stuck with last gen hardware in a next gen world.

    You have been warned.

    Get the Aluminum Macbook. I'll eat my own cock if you regret it.

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  • RBachRBach Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    Don't listen to Obs. He's an Apple fanboy of the worst kind. (:)) Looking at the specs the only differences readily apparent are DDR3 vs DDR2 RAM and 40GB of hard drive space. DDR3 isn't worth the price and you can get a much larger hard drive to put in for much less if you so desire.

    Oh, and it looks like the educational discount will save you $50 on the $999 Macbook.

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • LoneIgadzraLoneIgadzra Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    Mac thread OP copy paste is a little outdated in places, just FYI. For example, you don't need a Transmission nightly to get blocklist support, Firefox now has sort of native-looking widgets, and iWork is of course up to '09 now.

  • Baron DirigibleBaron Dirigible Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    I own both the white Macbook and the aluminium Macbook.

    The aluminium Macbook is a much better machine, not for specs, but for build quality and design. It's sturdier, it doesn't get all grotty from resting your disgusting sweaty palms all over it, the trackpad is larger and feels better to use, the LED screen looks better, and the battery level indicator is on the side of the machine, not the base. If you pay extra monies you can get fancy lights in the keyboard but I don't go for that sort of nonsense.

    You're not likely to notice the updated specs, but the above points are all things I notice when moving between my alBook and the old plastic one, and I think you're unlikely to regret getting the newer model.

    Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
  • mooshoeporkmooshoepork Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    If you aren't going to use OSX why are you getting a mac? Just curious?

  • wasted pixelswasted pixels Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    RBach wrote: »
    Looking at the specs the only differences readily apparent are DDR3 vs DDR2 RAM and 40GB of hard drive space. DDR3 isn't worth the price and you can get a much larger hard drive to put in for much less if you so desire.

    Okay, now let's look at the rest of the machine. Dramatically better display, better touchpad, multi-touch gestures, support for more RAM (6GB max vs. 4GB), dramatically improved durability and ruggedness, and just an all-around nicer-looking, nicer-feeling machine.

    It's not a performance thing, it's a user experience thing. Everything about the unibody just feels nice. My girlfriend has gone as far as saying I'm in a noticeably better mood when I'm using that laptop versus the countless other machines I use for work.

    I just can't imagine anyone using both for an hour and then deciding, "nah, I prefer the cheap one".

    BTW, I got a message from Obs that equated installing OS X on a PC with car theft, murder and rape. Is he normally like that?
  • EchoEcho staring is caring Super Moderator, Moderator mod
    edited May 2009
    If you aren't going to use OSX why are you getting a mac? Just curious?

    It's a pretty awesome piece of hardware. I have some friends that got Macbooks just to run Linux on them.

  • RBachRBach Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    RBach wrote: »
    Looking at the specs the only differences readily apparent are DDR3 vs DDR2 RAM and 40GB of hard drive space. DDR3 isn't worth the price and you can get a much larger hard drive to put in for much less if you so desire.

    Okay, now let's look at the rest of the machine. Dramatically better display, better touchpad, multi-touch gestures, support for more RAM (6GB max vs. 4GB), dramatically improved durability and ruggedness, and just an all-around nicer-looking, nicer-feeling machine.

    It's not a performance thing, it's a user experience thing. Everything about the unibody just feels nice. My girlfriend has gone as far as saying I'm in a noticeably better mood when I'm using that laptop versus the countless other machines I use for work.

    You had me willing to concede the point up until that. That just sounds like fanboyism to me. :) While I have to admit I know what you're talking about--I do quite like my own Macbook--but I'm not sure the improved quality is really worth $300 more. I could certainly be wrong.

    Here's what you do: If you don't mind spending the $300 extra, try both models out at a store or something and buy whichever you like better. If you really don't want to spend the money don't even bother looking at the aluminum models. I figure you'll be happier if you don't know what you're missing out on. 8-)

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • mastmanmastman Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    So many threats about eating own cocks these days. Some day we'll need some enforcement agency.

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  • wasted pixelswasted pixels Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    RBach wrote: »
    You had me willing to concede the point up until that. That just sounds like fanboyism to me. :) While I have to admit I know what you're talking about--I do quite like my own Macbook--but I'm not sure the improved quality is really worth $300 more. I could certainly be wrong

    It'd be fanboyism if my other machines weren't (mostly) Macs too, and if I wasn't primarily using the unibody for Windows these days. :P

    BTW, I got a message from Obs that equated installing OS X on a PC with car theft, murder and rape. Is he normally like that?
  • RBachRBach Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    Fair enough. It still sounds like fanboy-speak though. :P

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  • DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    The topcase on my wifes plastic macbook has been replaced 4 times (cracking on the front face and edge), and the touchpad on the metal macbook is much better.

    The only reason to get the plastic macbook is if you have a bunch of firewire peripherals, and even then you might consider replacing them as the metal macbook is that much better.

  • ZackSchillingZackSchilling Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    I've used both the plastic and unibody models. Performance is nearly identical. The build quality alone on the unibody is worth a lot more than $300. It's the way electronics are supposed to feel.

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  • ObsObs __BANNED USERS regular
    edited May 2009
    RBach wrote: »
    You had me willing to concede the point up until that. That just sounds like fanboyism to me. :) While I have to admit I know what you're talking about--I do quite like my own Macbook--but I'm not sure the improved quality is really worth $300 more. I could certainly be wrong.

    You're dead wrong.

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  • ZeromusZeromus Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    If you aren't going to use OSX why are you getting a mac? Just curious?

    I am going to use OSX, but I like the option of having Windows there, also.

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  • Doc HollidayDoc Holliday Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    It's not just that the unibody is so good (it is) it's that the plastic one is awful, with a lot of known defects. Apple was pretty eager to replace ours with the unibody, it seemed.

    Regarding helping you enjoy your Mac– how new to Macs are you? Do you understand the "closing the window doesn't necessarily close the app" and the "toolbar stays in one place, disconnected from the window" and the "download .dmg, mount it, drag your app to /Applications, then unmount the dmg, then delete the .dmg file" paradigms? Those are the biggest learning curves, I think.

    Beyond that, the file structure is linux-y, with a ~/ home for each user and a structured /music, /movies, /photos, /documents, /sites below that. The built-in iLife software is phenomenal. iPhoto and iMovie are so nice these days. iPhoto saves your photos in one bundle behind the scenes, which can be disjointing for people used to having control of their files behind the scenes.

    Hmmm... other things... uh, the Safari 4 beta won't be installed by default, but I highly recommend it. It's a solid beta and is super fast. Macupdate.com is a good place to find software that does x, y or z, if you're looking for some off-the-cuff software like an unrar solution or something. iUseThis.com is a pretty cool site for finding cool software, too.

    Download Tweetie, Things, Delicious Library 2, Disco if you just want some cool looking / fun to use Mac software to play around with.

    I also recommend downloading the unarchiver to replace the default OS X unarchive tool. Kind of like downloading 7z is usually one of the first things people do on Windows.

    AppCleaner will allow you to delete the ancillary files (mostly plist– XML preferences– files stuck in /System/Library) when you delete an application.

    Expandrive costs money but allows you to mount your FTP drives as hard drives easily. Worth every penny.

    Macrumors is a pretty active forum if you need any help or anything. Also Apple's own support forums are super active (though Apple employees rarely, if ever, post there).

    PSN & Live: buckwilson
  • Mike DangerMike Danger "Diane..." a place both wonderful and strangeRegistered User regular
    edited May 2009
    Delicious Library is tremendous, and despite it coming out for free in the MacHeist slew, I was pretty pleased with spending my meager tax rebate on it.

    Steam: Mike Danger | PSN: remadeking
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  • DeathPrawnDeathPrawn Registered User
    edited May 2009
    Expandrive costs money but allows you to mount your FTP drives as hard drives easily. Worth every penny.

    It doesn't have all the bells and whistles, but it's incredibly simple to mount a FTP server in Leopard without 3rd party software. In Finder, you just click Go -> Connect To Server and input your server information (including the [url]ftp://)[/url].

    On a similar note, MacFUSE is great for mounting all sorts of file systems. I use sshfs a lot to access my home folder on my school's Linux server.

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  • Doc HollidayDoc Holliday Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    DeathPrawn wrote: »
    Expandrive costs money but allows you to mount your FTP drives as hard drives easily. Worth every penny.

    It doesn't have all the bells and whistles, but it's incredibly simple to mount a FTP server in Leopard without 3rd party software. In Finder, you just click Go -> Connect To Server and input your server information (including the [url]ftp://)[/url].

    This is horribly buggy and, more importantly, is read-only.
    DeathPrawn wrote:

    On a similar note, MacFUSE is great for mounting all sorts of file systems. I use sshfs a lot to access my home folder on my school's Linux server.

    Expandrive is based on MacFUSE, and is fully supported. MacFUSE by itself is kind of buggy on OS X I've found.

    PSN & Live: buckwilson
  • xWonderboyxxWonderboyx Registered User
    edited May 2009
    Man, all this talk about hinge cracks got me to actually look and both mine and my wife's white macbooks have them. I didn't care and didn't even notice before, but now I can't unsee it. Neither of us have applecare either D:

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    XBL - Follow Freeman
  • VulpineVulpine Registered User
    edited May 2009
    Delicious Library is tremendous, and despite it coming out for free in the MacHeist slew, I was pretty pleased with spending my meager tax rebate on it.

    In a related note, Gamepedia is an application I moved to after using Delicious Library - although it only covers one type of media (with music, book, and film 'pedias sold separately), it works tremendously well, and supports just about any format. Although it doesn't look as nice, it does sport some nifty views like Cover Flow.

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • ZeromusZeromus Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    Oh God

    My new MacBook is beautiful.

    Got the fancy new aluminum one and it's all I can do to not rub myself all over the sumptuous LED screen. I'm still getting used to all of this (even iChat is a pretty big transition from AIM for me), but I'm glad I took the plunge. Could someone help me understand "Spaces," though? And are there any neat things I should do with my dashboard?

    <3

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  • Doc HollidayDoc Holliday Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    Zeromus wrote: »
    Oh God

    My new MacBook is beautiful.

    Got the fancy new aluminum one and it's all I can do to not rub myself all over the sumptuous LED screen. I'm still getting used to all of this (even iChat is a pretty big transition from AIM for me), but I'm glad I took the plunge. Could someone help me understand "Spaces," though? And are there any neat things I should do with my dashboard?

    <3

    Spaces hurt my brain because I always forget they're there.

    Essentially imagine you have a bunch of monitors, but you can only see one at a time. That's spaces. You can assign certain applications to only open in certain spaces, but it confuses the hell out of me and makes me cry.

    Delivery Status is pretty much the only dashboard widget I use, but you can put clippings of websites up on your dashboard as well, which is cool.

    Do you know about Exposé? It's the best. With your fancy new aluminum macbook you can use some crazy gestures to control exposé. Check Apple -> System Preferences -> Trackpad.

    PSN & Live: buckwilson
  • Doc HollidayDoc Holliday Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    Oh and as far as iChat goes, you'll want to go to iChat -> Preferences -> Messages and check "Collect Chats into a single window". It makes the iChat interface tabbed.

    PSN & Live: buckwilson
  • ZeromusZeromus Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    Oh and as far as iChat goes, you'll want to go to iChat -> Preferences -> Messages and check "Collect Chats into a single window". It makes the iChat interface tabbed.

    Oh thank God, this is what I missed.

    And yeah, Expose is awesome! :D

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  • OrganichuOrganichu Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    Get Adium. Except for video conferencing it checkmates iChat in every way.

    Also, don't feel weird about rubbing yourself on the screen. I do it every night before bed.

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  • ZeromusZeromus Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    Here's kind of a weird question: does anyone know how to access IP information, like subnet Mask, Default Gateway, Primary DNS and Secondary DNS, on the Macbook? I'm trying to set up my DSi on the wireless network that my computer is broadcasting. :P

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  • ZackSchillingZackSchilling Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    Zeromus wrote: »
    Here's kind of a weird question: does anyone know how to access IP information, like subnet Mask, Default Gateway, Primary DNS and Secondary DNS, on the Macbook? I'm trying to set up my DSi on the wireless network that my computer is broadcasting. :P

    System Preferences -> Network, then click on an interface, then click "Advanced" on the bottom right. That will get you the information about the INCOMING internet connection. If your Mac is then repeating this for the DSi using internet sharing, the easiest thing to do is to have another machine connect to the Mac's shared connection, read off its IP info, and punch it into the DSi, changing the last part of the IP slightly.

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