Upgrading Saga

This was originally posted a while back on the LADIG website but it got buried and additional pages were not posted correctly so I thought I gather it all here…

OK… so, Snow Leopard, Apple’s new operating system, has shipped and all new Macs have this system by default. The promise of 64 bit memory addressing is finally being delivered (Windows 7 is also delivering this as well) and this also means that Apple is dropping support for the Power PC chipset of their older computers. Adobe has also announced that future versions of the Creative Suite will no longer run on Power PC systems! Sounds like its time for me to upgrade!

I’ve been working with an old G5 dual core for a while now and, with the knowledge that I will no longer be able to run current software very soon, I’m looking to get ready for the future before I’m forced to. Besides, as an imaging trail blazer, I feel obligated to be up on the latest and greatest versions of Photoshop and digital photo gear, etc… The question now becomes: “What do I do next?”

I’ve decided to share my whole process here with you. I’ll make several posts documenting everything I do to purchase new equipment, migrate data, reorganize my set up and install new software, run cables, etc…

First Step – Decide What to Buy

I have to buy a current model Macintosh for my home office, fortress of solitude! What do I get? In the past I would simply look at whatever the top of the line Tower was, pull out the old credit card and charge off $5k or so of new computer, ram and hard drives to end up with the fastest most badass system available. However, now, with two kids in college and the economic prospects looking like a slow climb to arrive at a lower elevation plateau… I’m less inclined to just throw money at a computer system. I have an intel Macbook Pro which is a decent laptop and plenty good enough for teaching and traveling AND, its actually faster than my current tower. Pouring over the Apple web site, comparing tech specs and really thinking about what I need, its looking like I can get by with a lot less than I would have thought. After a lot of deliberation and ego deflating analysis I decided that I will simply get an iMac. An iMac? Yes… it turns out that the biggest bang for the buck will work just fine for 99% of my real world needs. The top of the line, 24″ iMac 3.0 mhz can support up to 8 gigs of ram and it has a 1 terabyte hard drive! Its not a dual core or a quad tower but I’m unlikely to need that kind of horsepower because I don’t do a lot of 3D rendering or serious video processing!

What will I be missing? Well… the iMac is a fully self contained system and that means that there are no PCI slots to add any additional functions, video cards or… e-SATA connectivity! OK, first issue – I’ve been using an e-Sata RAID enclosure (now configured as separate disks) for my main image archive. This has provided some very welcome speed for backing up and working with a large and growing image archive. Can’t use it with the iMac! Bummer… but not the end of the world. It just means that I’ll have to switch to Firewire 800 as my faster alternative. I’ll also have to get a Firewire hub to support the multitude of other external hard drives and other peripherals that have become a feature of my patchwork system over the years. Fortunately, I can use my existing archive drives in a new enclosure without breaking the bank and I won’t need to buy too much extra stuff to cobble together a useable system.

2nd Step: Buy It

OK… I can go into an Apple store and just pick up an iMac or I can order it online. The iMac comes with its own built in monitor and generally I would prefer to see the quality of the monitor before I take it home. I’ve often found that its easier to get a replacement for a defective unit if you are right there in the store and the salesman sees it before you taken it home. They will invariably offer to “repair” the unit and ship it to Cupertino (a delay of at least 2 weeks) if its made the round trip. Hmm… however, I’d like to search for the best possible deal and thats just not going to be had through the Apple store! I did a quick search through Amazon… maybe a 5% savings… other local vendors… no special discounts other than a savings on 3rd party replacement for Applecare. Then I did a check online for Apple “refurbs” – bingo! There was one iMac of the right model and specs available at a savings of $350 bucks! Now, let me explain here – I’m a big fan of purchasing refurbished computers as long as they are supplied directly through Apple and carry the original warrantee with the ability to add Applecare, etc… These machine have been returned due to some defect, had parts replaced and basically gone through with a fine tooth comb – in many respects they are a better bet than a brand new computer because they’ve undergone more scrutiny. Anyway, I’ll let you know how it turns out after I receive it!

Next Post – getting ready for data migration!

 

Leave a Reply