Hardware

Me and my Mac- What does it take to get out of the box?


This is Part 4 of my series on my transition from a Windows environment to a Mac. This week I talk about functionality out of the box.

Here are the first three installments in the series:

I spent a number of years in System Support before I moved into Project Management. In the old days, when a new system was delivered, we formatted it to bare metal and applied an image. Then we loaded anything that was specific to the user. On the home front, people bought PCs, often based on the "bundled" software. Obviously this was a different model than we see today.

Over time, PC manufacturers quit bundling software and began pre-loading all consumer PCs with OEM software. While that software included the OS, it also included an increasing amount of trialware that ran the gamut from Norton AV (30-day trial that would have to be followed by a yearly subscription) to Microsoft Office. We got good at using the recycle bin.

At Christmas 2006, the Significant One and I were looking at the coming of Vista and decided that we weren't ready to make the change. We made sure that his computer had what it needed. This was an easy task because his was only six months old. We replaced my keyless Dell, and we got together with siblings to buy a new laptop for his Mom. We felt reasonably confident that no one would have to make any new computer decisions for at least a year. And I set out to clean the various machines.

The OEM software that magically restores the crapware when you have to reload the system can be a time consumer. I don't like to leave it on the computer if I know that it does not add value to the end user. So I clean it all out. Games, Norton, even the Office trial are consigned to the byte bin. If I can't find a good reason to keep it, I chuck it out. Then I install my favorite registry cleaner and do a full clean-up. From there, a good anti virus solution, a software firewall, load printers and whatever software the user requires. The process can take anywhere from a couple of hours to the whole day.

When I brought home the Mac, I wasn't sure how long it would take to get the machine Internet ready. So I had my keyless Dell online and ready to run Google searches for information or software. I charged the battery on the Mac until it was full, took a deep breath, and turned her on for the first time. And then went on the hunt for crapware. I figured that there had to be just as much on the Mac as there is in the Windows OEM environment.

After much searching, I finally found something that I didn't want to investigate further. There was a trial for Office 2004. I sent it to the byte bin as I have a full install of the Office suite for Mac and didn't need a trial. I probably spent a good hour investigating every folder I could find to no avail. While there are a couple of trials included with the install, I wanted to look at both of them to see if they would add something to my life or not.

Beyond three trials, there were a number of tools sitting in the dock as well as a folder of Utilities that I find myself using quite a lot.

Native to the OS, you will find the Dashboard, a Mail client, a web browser called Safari, a Chat tool, an Address book, a shortcut to iTunes, iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD, a tool called Garage Band, iWeb, iCal, Quick Time Player, Photo Booth, and after the Leopard upgrade, Time Machine.

Once I got over prefacing everything with an "I," the first thing I noticed was that I would use all of it except iTunes. Christmas and a new Touch changed that thinking.

iPhoto is a digital photo gallery that will allow you to create photo albums and Smart albums from your digital pictures. Handy for when it's time to upload the online photo album from this year's 3-Day. And it allows me to tag photos to use in multiple albums. IMovie does something similar but with video. iDVD is, you guessed it, a DVD burner.

Garage Band is a way to create podcasts from your Mac. I can see where I will get a lot of use from this tool, especially as fund-raising season gets underway. I can post verbal messages to my team, record fund-raising letters, and more. What a fun tool!

iWeb is a web publishing tool that works with your own web server or with subscription based .mac. It includes plenty of templates so you really don't need to know html in order to create a beautiful page. And finally Photo Booth allows you to "take a picture" using the built in iSight camera. I previewed that feature but realized that the last thing I should be using, especially after I've been ironing, is a camera!

It was a real pleasure to turn on a machine for the first time and not have to resign myself to hours of cleaning. Even better, the tools that are included to enhance my productivity do exactly that. I have use for them all.

I still support Windows-based computers. Significant One and his Mom are still on XP and will likely continue to love their OS. So I will continue to support them for the foreseeable future. But I will continue to love my Mac too.

I'd love to hear what you're interested in learning about the Mac. I must admit, I am having a great time just chatting but would like to think that there is something about the platform that we can all learn together.

21 comments
Tig2
Tig2

If you are anything like me and set up systems for home users, you have developed an approach to killing off the crapware that OEM software seems to have in abundance. What tools do you use to kill the unwanted, and what tools do you install because every user should have them? Have you ever set up a system for a user that went from box to Internet in less than 30 minutes?

sgtjohnson
sgtjohnson

I picked up a 15" Macbook Pro with 4 gigs of ram. I have been able to do everything that I want with it. I purchased parallels and run xp for games. I've also got Ubuntu running in a virtual machine to learn linux. It's a great computer. The best I've ever owned! My wife loves her Macbook too. Shoot, the next computer we get will be an iMac. We are turning into a Mac family. Even our router is an Airport Extreme. The set up and use has been much more pleasant then XP.

brian.mills
brian.mills

Aside from lacking Antivirus and Anti-Malware, my Windows XP notebook went from box to internet in the time it took to turn it on and boot up. Of course I bought it from an online builder, and they loaded nothing except OS and drivers. Of course I learned when I did a reinstall that their "Recovery Disc" was nothing more than a branded Windows XP CD. Good thing I had several other computers to use for downloading the missing drivers. Now I'm waiting for my wife to get a MacBook so I can play with her G5 iMac :)

Jaqui
Jaqui

easy. pclinuxos, boot the livecd and online. :p [ 5 minutes ] click the install link, 15 minutes later it's installed work through the config pages reboot total time 24 minutes.

999silver
999silver

Installed Ubuntu Linux (from earlier created disk) and got on line during the length of a phone call with a Windows fanatic; about 15 minutes all in, not counting the on-line updates. He was blown away. The new iMac took longer, but that was a learning-curve thing.

Tig2
Tig2

XP or Vista OEM from the consumer retailer! My project this year is to teach Mom PCLinuxOS. That should be fun!

Jaqui
Jaqui

that Beth has sent whomever it is a heads up on this idea.

Jaqui
Jaqui

and using a "snapshot" utility in one os to capture the vm is different from using a digital cam..how? ;) by using the vm route it would be possible to use the record my desktop tool for the entire boot and install. That would be a few minutes of video that isn't really needed, that is well covered by a few screencaps. he entire tutorial could be well done just using text and screencaps, the video is a frill that really doesn't improve the thing.

Jaqui
Jaqui

was kind of the idea. start with the install and basic configuration. then start with the add / remove software the ui customisations different apps for different needs. it could get so detailed that there is one for each app... at over 15,000 apps, that is a lot of tutorials

Tig2
Tig2

I think that he is the Linux host. And if he isn't, we should find the Linux host and pitch it. It would be a good series.

The Scummy One
The Scummy One

would be to start a PCLOS system build, and continue with tips/tricks and utilities that are on the system. Maybe even add a few follow ups for other SW to use/download.

brian.mills
brian.mills

Or install it in a virtual machine and screencap the VM window...

Jaqui
Jaqui

it's out where the TR staff can see it. if they want such a tutorial they can let me know :D There is a command line tool in linux that will record video of actions, it has a gtk interface as well, so full video available for linux tutorials, with audio track. apparently, this open source package is even easier to use and has better audio and video quality than the windows based alternatives. [ package name is "record my desktop" ] it's to bad that the PCLOS installer doesn't have the feature that Debian's gui installer has.. screencap button in it, to make and save screencaps of the install itself. :) for PCLOS I would have to use digital cam and take pics of the boot / login to have the record for the tutorial.

Tig2
Tig2

I'm interested and with all the Linux users, I am certain that I am not alone. Lack of a good granular tutorial is one of the reasons that I have just been maintaining Mom's computer in the XP world. She knows XP and is comfy with it. But since I have to do a re-image on it anyway, I am starting her on Open Office and plan to work up to PCLOS during the year. She's seen Vista. To quote her, "There are some tricks that this old dog doesn't want to learn."

Jaqui
Jaqui

crazy, I don't touch MS stuff. :p I have a system I'm about to install PCLOS on. I was thinking a series of screencaps and a pictorial / video tutorial on installing and using it might be a useful thing to make [ and submit to TR for publication if they are interested. ]

Bizzo
Bizzo

Tig, I know you love your new Mac-baby, so I won't take that away from you. But I have found that most of the crapware on peoples machine *are* prefixed with the "i". When I get to a machine that seems to be running with lead boots on it's because someone's installed QuickTime (with everything on it!). Often finding the following processes starting/running etc, iTunes, iTunesHelper, iPodSomethingOrOther, iExplore.exe (OK, maybe not that one :-) ), etc... Never used a Mac, but 28 minutes from box to blog is awesome!

Tig2
Tig2

Significant One uses XP and has iTunes. I agree, while they play okay together, it isn't a match made in heaven. And while Quick Time in Mac world is a goodness, Flash doesn't exist and a Windows user is best with WMP. It really pushes the standards argument. As in managing to standards instead of paying them lip service. I think that as time goes on, the disconnect between OS X and Windows will ease. There is a greater rate of adoption and that will drive a requirement to be better. Or at least I hope it will.

seanferd
seanferd

Nifty & unique OS utilities. Anything that you find particularly interesting about the CLI. (Or should I just read up on BSD Unix?)

seanferd
seanferd

One more reason to love a Mac, I guess! I haven't seen one go to the 'net in thirty minutes *without* stopping to remove the crapware. Trying to explain why we would like to remove all that stuff is a trial in itself. Perhaps I exaggerate, but usually the is some setup issue between Windows and the ISP's stuff that makes it take a little longer. I am not constantly doing this, so my experience is lacking in breadth, but I just *assume* this will always take longer than a half hour.

The Scummy One
The Scummy One

I dont regularly setup home users systems, however when I have, 30 minutes is ridiculous to even consider. At a minimum the OS needs patching and virus def updates before putting it on the net. All this and the base install takes a bit over an hour. Then removing crapware took me 3.5 hours, and running the recovery (creating the OS recovery discs) took about 40 min. While I was not timing it for use before I could surf the web, I would say that it probably took 5-6 hours before I was at the 'surfing ok' stage. 30 min is unheard of unless one just sets it up as per the setup manual that comes with the system. However, I think that one might be loaded with virus before one actually does anything.

Tig2
Tig2

Even as we speak. The load will take a couple of hours. The crapware removal will take a couple more. Then I can actually start to rebuild. the Mac was the first time I have gone from power button to Firefox in 28 minutes. On that particular day, I started at the beginning of a TR outage window and was up and running before TR came back online. The outage was 30 minutes. I was ready to go in 28. I love my Mac!

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