MacBook setup

Monday, July 03 2006 @ 04:56 PM EDT

Contributed by: Admin

Woo hoo! My new MacBook showed up two days early--July 3rd instead of July 5th. Here's my notes on setup (hardwre and software) and other observations.

I bought a base ($1099) MacBook and upgraded it to 1 GB RAM. (+$100) It came with a fully-charged battery which I'm still using. It's been in my lap for hours and doesn't feel uncomfrtably warm. I even ran all the software updates and it was fine. My previous laptop was an 800 MHz G3 iBook.

So:

- open it up (the magnetic latch is nice)
- turn it on
- answer questions (the keyboard is pretty nice but the front edge is a little sharp)
- the wireless reception is pretty impressive. It found three access points besides my own. Usually I see one or maybe two others.
- create a user named 'Tiger Admin' with the short name 'admin' (The long name 'Admin' is reserved in 10.4.)
- run software updates
- turn off 'check for updates' (because I don't want it to launch right away on those rare occasions when I log in as that user)
- add a new user account for myself
- after software update has run, reboot
User settings:
- Disable dashboard (remove from Dock, turn off F12)
- Battery icon: show time

System Preferences:
- Dashboard & Expose: Bottom Left, Start Screen Saver; Bottom Right, Disable Screen Saver
- Desktop: Solid colors, change every 30 miinutes
- Screen Saver: 5 minutes, Beach
- Dock: Scale (hack later to 'Suck'), don't animage opening applications
- Security: Require password to wake
- Spotlight: change from Command to Control
- CDs & DVDs: ignore DVDs
- Energy Saver - Sleep at 30 minutes, sleep the display at 15 minutes
- Keyboard & Mouse: Clicking, Dragging, Secondary click
- Sound: Uncheck 'UI sound effects,' Don't show in menu bar
- Sharing: New name, turn on desired services
- Software Update: don't check weekly

Safari:
- delete default bookmarks
- show status bar
- block pop-up windows
- Edit - Spelling - Check as you type
Preferences:
- General: new home page, don't open 'safe' files
- Tabs: enable tabbed browsing, always show tab bar
- Autofill: all
- Secure: Don't ask before sending

Finder:
- View options: Snap to Grid
- Preferences: Always open new windows, Show all extensions, don't show warnings before emptying trash

Delete files:
/Library/Printers/* (2 GB)
/Library/Audio/Apple Loops (2.5 GB)
/Library/Application Support/GarageBand/ (1.9 GB)

T/K: Terminal, Activity Monitor

Performance:
This thing is pretty nice. I made a 22 minute movie in iMovie, then moved to iDVD. I saved the DVD as a disk image, then used Handbrake to convert the disk image to an MP4. (Why not just export from iMovie? Because when you export from iMovie at 640x480, it's interlaced. Or at least, it that was the case in iMovie 04. I just noticed that iMovie HD now offers 'deinterlace' in the Export options (under 'size') so I'll have to check that out.*) Compared to a 2 GHz dual-CPU G5 PowerMac with 1 GB RAM, the MacBook took longer to do the initial work in iDVD (32 minutes vs. 24 minutes) but the conversion with Handbrake was faster--11 minutes vs. 14. Sure, that's more time overall, but that's very impressive performance from machine with 9% less CPU speed.

* OK, just did a bit of testing. Though it sounds clunky and roundabout, this is still the way to go for me. I got better results using Handbrake than I got with iMovie--9.5 MB vs. 9.7, and the result looks better, believe it or not. Medium-quality H264 looks great but it's 40% larger and I know from ripping DVDs that I'm happy with the quality I get from Handbrake. Ooh--OK, just did a bit more testing. Noticed a box on the H264 settings page where I can restrict the data rate to 1500--the same as I get from Handbrake. Same file size, looks better. I'll have to look at this some more--and maybe look at how Handbrake does H264. First test: HB's 264 looks better than HB's MPEG4 and is 0.3MB smaller.

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