Hope everybody had a fab weekend. I am writing this on an iPad, with a wireless keyboard. Because of that, I’m not quite rockin’ yet with inserting images and stuff like that. It’s also weird using the ol’ fingertip on the screen as a mouse. I’m working on it, though! I also have a bunch of tech craziness going on, and because a lot of you are writers (or maybe you’re just techies), read on for more of my travels and travails with gadgetry.
My MacBook is in the shop getting upgraded. I bought it in 2005, and it was still running on the Tiger OS platform. For those of you who are Macophiles, you know what that means. For PC users, Mac names its OS incarnations after big cat predators. After Tiger comes Leopard, then Snow Leopard. The newest Mac OS is Lion, though Mountain Lion is on the horizon. Wondering what they’ll do when they run out of big cat predator names. Although I guess they still have a few: cougar (commence giggling), Siberian tiger, cheetah, lynx, bobcat…I guess we’re set for a few more years yet. I personally think they should name one of their OS platforms Honey Badger, but that’s just me.
Anyway, the way it works with Mac is that you install OS in the order in which they’re put out. In other words, I had to go from Tiger to Leopard. I couldn’t go from Tiger to Snow Leopard. If you go in the order in which they’re released, you pay about $29 for your upgrade discs. I’ve also heard that trying to skip an OS could freak your system out.
At any rate, I hadn’t updated my OS since 2005, and sadly, applications like Firefox will not load the latest and most secure versions on Tiger. So I decided it was time to upgrade, which with a Mac (at least in my case) is a lot cheaper than replacing. Besides, my MacBook is awesome. It’s been 7 years and I’ve only had to do miniscule maintenance on it that was easily taken care of without any issues.
So I had the Leopard discs and I took them to the Mac store so a tech could do the install. I wanted what’s called an archive and install, which means most of your data is kept. However, as it turned out, my trusty Mac had incurred some weird hard drive issues through its life, and it refused to accept the Leopard OS. So, with trepidation, I agreed to a wipe of the system, which meant I could go from Tiger to Snow Leopard, because it’s easier to load that on a “clean” system.
In order to do this, however, I had to okay that wipe. Which meant I was going to lose data. Now, before you completely freak out, I’m anal about backing up the really important stuff. That is, the writing. I keep that backed up on at least 2 different sources at all times. Currently, it’s on 3. I also use Dropbox, which is a pretty cool online file storage system. For the first 2 GB, it’s free. After that, you purchase storage. Currently, I have almost all of my major projects backed up onto my Dropbox account and it’s taking up about .3 MB, so I have plenty of room at the moment.
I backed up the important stuff onto Dropbox and flashdrives and my desktop, which I also backed up onto an external hard drive. Having said that, I did lose several chunks of data that I thought I had backed up onto Dropbox off my laptop but as it turns out, I didn’t. Sigh. However, the important stuff is backed up. I will have to reload a few things (including songs from my iPod back onto iTunes), but that’s the way life goes.
A couple of years ago, I lost most everything off my PC because Trojans got through my virus protection. They were hiding in the banner ads on a writer forum, and several of us on PCs (my desktop is an antiquated PC) got infected. That experience caused me to research virus protection and firewalls. I currently use VIPRE on my desktop, and I couldn’t be more pleased with it. It’s compatible with PC OS, including mine, which is still XP. Dang right. I find something that works for me, I stick with it until it becomes impossible to upgrade anything else. I also use ZoneAlarm firewall and Malware Bytes spyware, both of which are free downloads. Oh, and if you use Firefox like I do, install NoScript and Adblocker. Those are extra protection from Trojans hiding in scripts on the pages you visit.
Fortunately, because I had made a backup of my PC stuff on both the external hard drive I’d bought for about $120 and onto flash drives and my laptop, I had copies of the important stuff. In this case, I lost stuff on my MacBook that I won’t get back, but the most important things — writing related — are backed up.
The point is, I’m trying to upgrade things as cheaply and efficiently as I can. I got an iPad not to do the brunt of my writing, but to take on the road when I go to conferences and meetings and that sort of thing because of its email capabilities and to blog. As much as I love my MacBook, that sucker is pretty heavy for rushing through airports. Cord and machine are about 6-7 pounds, whereas my iPad and keyboard and cord are, like, 2.3 pounds. The iPad is a complement to what I do. Not something that will take over for my laptop or desktop.
So the MacBook upgrade is going to cost me about $110. That’s the cost of labor and a new battery, which for MacBooks are expensive. Mac installs a new bezel (the frame around the screen) and also that area of your laptop where you rest your hands as you’re typing (don’t know what that’s called) for free. So the battery is what’s costing the brunt of the $110.
I am looking at a new desktop and a new printer. My current printer is a Dell All-In-One 924 and it’s been great (bought it in 2004, with my system), but I’m considering upgrading to a Mac desktop, and it’s not compatible. We’ll see. But for now, my desktop is still going strong and I keep it virus-scanned and de-fragged and updated as much as I can with the OS it has. I’ve been pretty pleased with its performance (Trojans notwithstanding). That thing has moved all over the place with me and the only problem it had was the infection 2 years ago. However, because I use Macs all the time, as well, I prefer them to PCs. Though I think it’s important to be versed in both.
Anyway, there you go. A tech update from the hinterlands. May yours be as trouble-free as possible.
Happy reading, happy writing, happy gadgeting!