The pain of moving (computers)

13/05/2009

It was the time to retire ‘Mastropiero’§ (my old mac laptop). While software wise it was running well (using Leopard) the building quality of the first series of macbook pros was not stellar. The new laptop—’Abraxas’—is a macbook pro with 320 GB hard drive, side effects 4 GB RAM and 2.66 GHz Core 2 Duo processor.

Despite of all the propaganda, migration assistant is a fairly useless beast (at least in my personal situation). The university buys the computer and sets up a user account that, incidentally, has always the same name for a given user. This means that I can not just migrate my old account because there is already an account with the same name (and a bunch of settings) in place. In addition, migration assistant is pretty much an all or nothing affair, and I wanted to start with a fairly clean installation.

At the end I connected both laptops to the network and moved my data across. I imported all my songs into iTunes and copied the photo library, which was automatically upgraded from version 6 to version 8.

In the transfer process I dropped a number of programs that I was not using much. My current list of programs is in ‘I Use This’§. There is still a small amount of duplication; for example, both Eaglefiler and Devonthink are on the list, although eventually I will only keep the former. Another case in hand is MS Office. I can’t really stand MS Word and PowerPoint, particularly in their mac incarnations. If Office 2004 was slow, the 2008 version is a turd. I am trying to get by using OpenOffice, which I still do not consider completely satisfactory. I also have Pages, which is not quite compatible with Word. I think that OpenOffice still does a better job; it is uglier but more functional.

From a teaching point of view Keynote (presentations) and TeXShop (lecture notes) do the heavy lifting. My calendar is managed in iCal, which is synchronized to Google Calendar and also to my resucitated Palm T3; the latter using Mark Space’s missing sync. I dutifully ignore Palm’s own software.

Statistics are managed through R, although I am still waiting for a mac version for asreml-R a commercial package for genetic analyses. All publication quality plots are done there as well.

The university IT guys setup dual booting for me (20 GB windows XP partition), but I haven’t yet managed to have time to boot into windows. They also installed the developer tools, which I hope to use to do some programming with Python and C++ or Fortran 95 (depending on time availability).

And that is! A simple setup with oodles of space and memory; at least it feels like that now. Let’s wait for a year and see how it feels.

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