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Written by Rob Schultz (human).

Manual Mac Migration & Markdown

I upgraded my laptop a few weeks ago with the early 2011 Macbook Pro refresh. And I took notes, so it'll be even faster next time.Tonight, I found myself in the mood to listen to some podcasts and move my hands around. So for you (re: future me): a list of how to manually move from one mac to another, and the things I like to have installed to get up and running. And for me (present me): an introduction to writing in Markdown.

There wasn't anything particularly wrong with my old laptop. In fact, I was uncertain I even wanted the new machine. But I figured if I was going to do it, I'd do it right, so I wanted the new machine to feel fast and crisp and clean with a fresh install of OSX. But also: I wanted my stuff. So here's how I got from the old mac to the new mac without Migration Assistant.

So after the basic welcome stuff, here's what I did to move digital house:

  1. Wallpaper. Atomic Water. I don't know who made it or where it comes from, but this is the image I use on my laptop. Not that I can ever see my desktop anyhow.
  2. Some basics in System Preferences:
    • Energy Saver: 'Put the hard disk(s) to sleep when possible:' OFF
    • Trackpad: 'Tap to Click:' ON
    • Dock: Position: RIGHT
    • Sharing: SSH, VNC, and AFP (re: remote login, screen sharing, and file sharing): ON
    • Expose: Setup my Hot Corners: screen saver on, off, monitor off
    • Keyboard: Disable front row. (cmd-esc is too close to cmd-`)
    • Security: Disable IR receiver (not for security reasons; so crazy things don't happen around people who actually use apple remotes)
  3. Most of the default iLife apps are removed from the dock. I don't use 'em, or not frequently.
  4. Now I'm ready to start downloading and adding apps for the basic functions I use day to day. First up, I've installed growl to work with...
  5. Dropbox! How I love Dropbox! If you don't have it, you're probably wrong. You can get here it with a 250MB storage bonus. It's the cornerstone of Better Radio and any number of other projects. Plus, it's powering my...
  6. 1Password - At this point, 3 apps in, I feel like one of those SEO jerks with stacks of 'the 250 mac apps you must own!' but here we are. I had a simple scheme for unique passwords of varying complexity that lasted me for years. Then one of them got cracked somehow. It wasn't a password to anything especially valuable, but that's still kind of freaky. I've been using 1password ever since, gradually building my library of logins and replacing all the old passwords with arbitrary strings of 15-50 characters. It is a little bit weird to not actually know any of my passwords to anything anymore, but I guess I'm never far from one of my computers or my phone, so it hasn't been a problem.
  7. Next I installed Notational Velocity. Primarily because that's where I was taking the notes on moving. I'd installed Simplenote a while back and never used it. I don't even know why it didn't take, it just didn't seem more convenient than google docs. Notational Velocity does. All my text files are stored centrally (and synced both by dropbox and simplenote) and easily searchable.
  8. Then I grabbed the latest builds of Chrome and Firefox. Safari is my preferred web browser, but there're bound to be situations where I want to test something in other browsers. Either way, it seemed like the time to get these in was before the 1Password installer finished installing plugins.
  9. At this point I noticed that I can adjust my laptop's screen and touch the bezel without leaving a smudge. The high-res macbook screens are matte and don't have a glass bezel.
  10. Set up my dashboard and widgets.
  11. By now, it feels like the machine is running hotter than I'm used to. Apparently, it's actually technically cooler than the old laptop though. I grabbed smcFanControl which also lets me see the current temp and fan speed in the menu bar, just to see for a little while how the new 4-core machine is doing.
  12. More general apps - I've noticed the theme here is that most of these can be described as 'easy way to do X.' That's another thing people buzz about, the proliferation of mac apps that do one thing and do it well.  It's true.
    • Skitch - easy screenshot annotating, and I'm in my free year of Skitch Plus, available to folks who were using the beta release.
    • Audacity - simple audio recording. We record lots of Better Radio in this software.
    • VLC - for video playback
    • Perian - provides video codecs, messes up certain pro video apps, and apparently Avid.
    • Steam - I haven't installed any steam games on my laptop yet.
    • No Office apps. I haven't used MS Office in probably 10 years. I had neooffice, star office, open office, on old macs, but I never use those either. It's final draft, google docs, or plain ol' textedit for me.
    • OSX Secrets - like the Windows 7 God Mode, this puts hard to find settings all in one place for tweaking.
    • Handbrake - back up for video DVDs.
    • MPEG Streamclip - converting video sources for editing
    • LogMeIn - this is great. At the free level, I can still remote into my computers from anywhere without worrying about dynamic DNS or router settings. A lifesaver last year for working on two shows in two locations simultaneously for a week.
  13. I manually copied data from my old laptop.
    • The ~/Music, ~/Pictures, ~/Documents, ~/Scripts, ~/Movies, and ~/IMPORT folders moved over, whole cloth. (The last one is the folder of data I never properly sorted from the -last- time I moved machines.
    • Everything in the system and user preferences was copied into a folder for future, just-in-case reference, along with the Final Cut Pro settings & plugins.
    • I scanned through application support for things I'd want later, including my calendars, my fonts, my itunes configuration, my safari bookmarks and extensions, and selected prefs.
    • I copied my XChat setup instead of a fresh install, since I don't have any idea anymore how I customized the interface a few years back.
    • Avid media files moved over, since apparently those live in the root of my drive, and I might as well keep that stuff. But, I ditched my xcode install. I can download the sdk again, and I won't miss my feeble attempts at relearning C-related coding.
    • Copying everything, the machine still hasn't gotten too hot, but it sounds like we're getting ready for take off when the two fans hit 6000rpm
  14. By now I'm basically done and functional. I'm starting to move services from one machine to the other. I've shut off growl, dropbox, IRC, ichat on the old machine. As I set up iChat with AIM and Jabber (GChat) on the new one, I decide to update the AIM password which was last set on Jan 8th, 2000. I can't do this in Safari because Safari doesn't allow pages to load that redirect to themselves repeatedly, which the AOL site does. At this point, the old laptop could fall into a lagoon and I'd be okay. This is not recommended, however.
  15. To finish off my first night of moving in, I install Flash, and Click-to-Flashto keep Flash from loading. I also got some new toys to try out, as long as I'm trying to make the computer feel new and quick.
    • I've added launchbar. I could see learning to zip around in this. So far, I find myself using the command to invoke spotlight through launchbar a lot.
    • I also turned out shortcuts for gmail, and retooled my bookmark bar in Safari, having noticed recently that it's been years since I had any use for bookmarks in a web browser.
  16. The next day, I ran the lengthy installers and creative software.
    • Final Cut Studio
    • Adobe Creative Suite
    • Final Draft
    • plugins for the above
    • Monolingual! After I've got everything else installed, this app will wipe out a few GB of foreign language help files and such. I've mentioned it before.
  17. A bit later, my non-factory upgrades have arrived from Other World Computing.
    • I pop a new 750GB 7200 RPM hard drive into an enclosure. First USB3 thing I've seen.
    • 2 Partitions: Some for Windows 7, most for Mac.
    • I copy EVERYTHING from the factory 750GB 5400 RPM drive that I've done all this work on, via Super Duper.
    • 5 hours later, it's time for surgery.
    • The screws come off the case, the metal casing pops open.
    • Even though there's no more dedicated plate for RAM access, replacing the RAM hasn't changed since the G4 Powerbook. 2 out, 2 in.
    • Next, the hard drive. It takes me longer to figure out how to open the new enclosure than to pull the drive out of the mac.
    • They swap. Case back on. Screws in. Mac fires up, no smoke, and it doesn't even notice anything's different. But it already feels faster. The tiny clue to this is that the WOOSH that happens when ditching something from the dock. The delay is gone.
  18. And there we go. I still haven't installed Avid, but I have gotten the RED codecs in, RedCine-X, Monkey Extract. The 4 cores are amazingly speedy with the new version of the RED tools. Enough so to be the primary machine in onlining a feature documentary.

Sooner or later, I'll get Windows into the Windows partition using bootcamp and possibly Fusion, mostly for gaming.

The old mac was deauthorized with iTunes, I've zero'd the hard drive, polished it up, and it's ready to resell. The key to upgrading macs frequently for me has been doing it while the old models are still speedy and holding their value. So far, the net cost of upgrading each time has been cheaper than buying the extended applecare.

Anyone in the market for a recent Macbook Pro?

About the Markdown experiment: The wordpress plugins for interpreting markdown failed in creative, inscrutable, and infuriating ways. My original writing translated exactly as I'd intended via the dingus. Other than the extra step, it seems pretty neat.