Mac Attack 8/6/2011 10:28:00 AM
So, I bought a Mac. It's been quite a while since I've bought a gadget, and there's now a large enough ecosystem of folks doing interesting stuff on the Apple platforms that I figured it was as good an investment as any. I got the base Mac Mini which came with an Core i5, a comical 2gb of RAM, and a 500mb 5400 RPM disk. Apple charges an absurd rate for upgrades ($100 for 2 more gb of ram?!?), so I figured I'd do it myself. I swapped out the 2 SODIMMs with 2 new ones 1333mhz, 4gb each, for about $50 from NewEgg, easy stuff. Next, I had promised myself that I'd never use a spinning hard disk again, and 5400rpm is offensively slow. So, I bought the 120gb Intel 510 SSD and swapped it in. This was more interesting, as it required two Torx drivers (T6, T8) and some very delicate disassembly of the guts of the thing.

I was particularly interested in doing this because I wanted to see how well Apple's "Network boot of Lion" feature works. It turns out that it works fine, but the user-experience is pretty bad-- so bad that I assume they must have done this on purpose to scare off the newbies and force them to bring their Mac back to the store for help. After installing my new SSD and powering the Mac back on, I got the infamous grey screen with a folder icon and a blinking question mark, no text in sight. After searching a bit, I learned that you have to hold Option/ALT while restarting to get to a useful screen. Okay. So I do that. Now I get a dropdown box which my mouse can just barely reach (it only moves vertically for some reason now, wtf?). In the dropdown, I get a list of WiFi access points. Err... okay, my machine is plugged in via CAT6 ethernet cable, but okay, I pick my WiFi network. Only now do I see some text "Network recovery" or something. Cool. I pick that. After a 10 minute download or so, I come to a screen with four options. "Restore from Timemachine" is first. "Install MacOS X" was the second. I click that. After some more downloads and such, Mac shows a screen: "Select hard drive to install Lion" with an empty box. Sigh. I assume that I must have hooked the SSD up incorrectly. But it looked right... Alas, I can't back out of the screen at this point, and I don't have time to reboot and go through the whole process again.

The next morning, I repeat the process, this time, reading ALL of the options on the screen. After "Install MacOS X" there's some other option, and Disk Utilities. I click that, and go into a disk manager, and there's my SSD. I click "Make partition." Now I've got a partition, and I can back out and go into the install. There we go, now everything works.

I'm amazed and amused that Windows XP (!!!!) has a better-designed user-experience for installing on a freshly installed disk.

But, it all works now and I've got a pretty fast Mac on which to play with XCode. Which, hilariously, is absurdly complicated compared to Visual Studio, which is NOT a simple environment. Ah, the joys of new platforms. :-)

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