Tag Archives: laptop

Transferring Files from Mac to PC

Transferring files. The only bad side to the switch thus far.

In order to make my computer worth having I needed to transfer all of my files over to it, but you knew that. This process was quite tedious and full of little road blocks.
The first problem was that my external hard drive was formatted to Mac and was also completely full, as was the hard drive on my computer. This meant I couldn’t dump the 480GB or so from my external hard drive onto my laptop, which only has a 150GB hard drive to begin with. I also couldn’t dump it onto my new computer without formatting it, but it needed to be empty before I formatted it so as to not lose any data.
The solution was a bit annoying. I dumped all the files on my external hard drive onto my work computer, then dumped the entire contents of my laptop’s hard drive onto my now empty external hard drive, then dumped the external hard drive again onto my work computer. I should mention that I share an office and a computer with two other people, but as many as ten or so have access to the machine. Here’s hoping none of them felt the need to look through the folder I marked with “DO NOT DELETE.”
Next I had to reverse the whole process. Format the external hard drive to be read by both Mac and PC, put as much on it from the work computer as possible, dump that on the new desktop I just build, then empty and format it again, bring it back to work, fill it up with the rest of the files, then dump those on my desktop. It took a long time and was tedious. Oh and also not entirely effective.
Probably after three weeks of using the new computer I was on iTunes, trying to pick a new song to listen to when I suddenly noticed that all of the music by artists after the letter N was just not there as well as select favorite albums of mine from other artists. I’m blaming my recent obsession with No Doubt for how long it took me to notice. I never had to scroll past N, because I was just listening to their new Push and Shove album over and over and over and over. And over. Or I was listening to other music on Spotify. I immediately panicked. I had already deleted everything off my laptop and the work computer. Luckily I had uploaded my music to Google Play and had been regularly updating it since maybe May or June. Even luckier, Google allows you to download your music off of Google Play twice. I downloaded everything just to be sure I didn’t miss anything. It took a long time, but now I have all of my music back. Thank goodness for the cloud. I thought Play was only useful because you could play your music on any machine without commercials, but it’s actually helpful for a lot more. Yay!
Other files turned out to be missing. For a project I was working on I needed to use the music I had recorded in High School with Garage Band and the on-board mic on our family’s Macbook Pro. All of the tracks were gone. I had just cataloged it before switching computers so I new that there were probably close to twenty different recordings, but only three of them that I had specifically chosen to use for the project prior to the switch had made it. The rest weren’t on my laptop, my external hard drive, or my computer. I immediately went about trying to recover files. I knew this was possible because our family had recovered files after a computer crash once. That’s the same crash that erased almost all pictures of nearly three years of my life. But that computer had been a PC. I wasn’t sure if you could do the same on a Mac.
I either looked it up on Google or Bing. Or maybe both! Anyways, it is possible, but it turns out that the longer you wait after losing the file the less likely it is to be recovered. This is true of both Macs and PCs. I downloaded a free trial of a program and had it scan my laptop. There wasn’t anything there. I had it scan deeper. Nothing. I had it scan my external hard drive, but of course it found nothing since I’d re-formatted that drive several times since the recordings were on it. So I scanned the work computer, but got nothing. I had it scan deeper. It took… a while. I left it running over night. When you do a really deep recovery scan, it can find files, but not the names of them. So, it was also lucky that I knew what kind of file the recordings were, otherwise it would’ve taken hours to look through every audio file it found. In the end I found the files! Success! For some reason the scan on that machine found files from two or three years ago. Amazing.
Another problem! Because the Mac version of Microsoft Office is so terrible, I’d been using Pages, the Apple equivalent of Word, for the last four years almost exclusively. All of my word processing files were .pages and thus useless on my new computer. Last Sunday I sat down and one by one, opened up each file on my laptop and saved it as a PDF. Pages has a really dumb way of doing this. You have to click Print and the in the Print menu dialog box go to the dropdown menu in the bottom left corner and click “Save as PDF.” It took two episodes of BBC’s Sherlock to finish that task or, in layman’s terms, 3 hours.
I’m hanging on to my laptop for a few reasons. So I can skype with people, since I don’t have a webcam or a microphone for the new computer. But mostly for these kinds of emergency situations when horrifying things happen.
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Things You Deal With

Let’s talk peripherals.

What are peripherals? The things other than the computer box itself. Things like the monitor, keyboard, mouse, speakers. They’re way more important than I initially recognized. But really, they are the only parts of the computer that you actually have to interact with. Before I learned this I made some pretty glaring mistakes.

The Monitor.

I bought a crappy 19in Dell monitor on Amazon.com. I chose this monitor for a few reasons. First, I’d spent the last couple hours buying all the other parts and I was tired. Plus I hadn’t thought about what I really wanted from a monitor and hadn’t made lists like I had with all the other components. Also, I had no idea that monitors were as expensive as they were and this one was the cheapest decent one on Amazon. Finally, none of my computer-minded friends/family told me anything about monitors. This monitor was a mistake. A $94 (including shipping) mistake. As soon as I pulled it out of the box I knew. I immediately put it for sale online on three different websites. Luckily someone bought it from me for $80 not long after, so it was only a $12 loss. And boy did I feel stupid.

So, what did I want from a monitor. Widescreen. HD resolution. 20-ish inches. DVI plug (My Blu-ray player only works with monitors that have a DVI or HDMI plug). I mentioned this to my sister’s boyfriend and he immediately offered to sell me his monitor since he was upgrading. I waited until I sold the first lame one then bought his. So, I got a 23in Samsung 2343 BWX for $150 minus power and DVI cables. Samsung no longer sells this model, but it’s still an excellent monitor. It’s this monitor, click the link to go to the Newegg product page.

I love it. It’s biiiig! So much screen space! And, trust me, I am using the Windows 7 snapping feature like ain’t nobody’s business. In fact more often than not I am looking at two windows at once. Now I understand people who prefer to have two monitors at all times. But I won’t be doing that any time soon. No, sir. I had to wait a few more days before the power and DVI cables came in. I almost bought them on eBay, but my sister’s boyfriend wisely advised I buy them from Newegg. After the lesson I learned with the monitor I decided to buy a good product, not just a cheap one. As soon as they came I plugged this baby in (after making the cable hole in my desk a little bit bigger. Don’t tell my landlord.) and popped in John Carter. Oh it looked good. But I was too busy to watch it. I was going to watch it tonight, but I decided to update this instead. You’re welcome.

Speakers!

I listen to music pretty much all the time plus there’s no way I was going to have crappy speakers to go along with my excellent movie watching capabilities. However, I didn’t want to spend that much. I talked a bit with a friend of mine who does sound for film and decided that a 2.1 set of speakers with a sub-woofer for about $40 was a good plan. I went to Best Buy, found a salesman, told him I wanted computer speakers for about $40, he immediately took me to a set that were on sale from $50. I took a minute to make sure I was sure, then I bought those suckers. Logitech Z313 Speaker System. Click the picture to go to the Logitech info page.

I went home, plugged them in and turned on Justin Timberlake. He sounded so good. I tried turning them up all the way and they were too loud to be near. Good! I’ll never be disappointed by how loud they can get. I’ve been using them for a few weeks and I love them. Score at Best Buy!

Keyboard and Mouse

I already had a wireless mouse that I’d bought one night at 2AM when I had some task that was going to take 80 years using a trackpad. Best late night purchase I’ve ever made for two reasons. One, I love that mouse. Two, I made it in and out of WalMart in less than 20 minutes. The latter would be an accomplishment all on it’s own, but coupled with the great mouse this is a total victory.

I had been given an Apple keyboard for free and was happy with it for the most part. I was having to learn again how to use the Control and Alt keys the way they are programmed with Windows, but that wasn’t the keyboard’s fault. I really liked that it had the pause, track forward, track backward, and volume buttons. But then I needed to take screen captures. Not possible without reprogramming the keyboard. I thought about doing this, but decided I wanted a for real keyboard that I had paid for. Finding the right one was a journey. I went planning on spending $20-30.

One night about 7:30 I had time to go to the store. I went to Best Buy, who close at 9:00pm. While in the keyboard section I had a pleasant conversation with the salesman. In the course of this conversation he said, “You conceal your age well, elf! Tell me your secrets.” Oh and then he complimented my sweatshirt and started telling me about a jacket from South Korea he was thinking of buying online. It was not weird. Seriously, he was cool. All of their keyboards were reeeally expensive. Who knew! All of the ones that were $20-30 were not great. So I left.

I went next door to Office Depot.  The salesman here was also helpful. He talked to me about which keyboard his wife had and what was good about all of them. There were some good keyboard there, but all of them were out of my price range by a lot.

I went to WalMart. They had a few keyboards, but no good ones. The ones in my price range were not ones I felt like spending a lot of time typing on. Onward!

To Target! About the same story as WalMart. Not a big selection.

Back to Best Buy! It was 8:40. I found one I liked on display, but they were all sold out. I found a salesman, he checked in the back. Yup, all gone. But I could order one without shipping, though it would take a while since it was Friday night and they wouldn’t get the order in until Monday. Blah blah blah. Darn it.

Back to Office Depot ten minutes before closing! They had the same keyboard! But for $25 more. And guess whaaat! They price match. It took a minute because it was only on sale for that price in that store so they had to call over. I talked with a salesman there about computers. I told him I work with movies and that I’d worked on one that was really popular with gamers. He hadn’t seen it yet, but was planning on it very soon. He proceeded to talk to me about the video game industry, which I know a bit about. We discussed where that industry will go in the next 20 years. It was not as fun as talking to the Best Buy guy who was in to Korean fashion.

But I got a great wireless keyboard and mouse for $40. They’re unified, which means that one USB reciever works for both of them. Sadly, this mouse is gray. My other mouse was blue and thus prettier. Even though they are the same model of mouse the USB receiver for the keyboard and the gray mouse doesn’t work for the blue one. I used my blue mouse anyway. So, the whole point of buying a unified wireless set was completely ruined. Sadly I keep having to use my laptop for things once in a while and so I’ve reserved the blue mouse for that. As soon as I’m done with that laptop, I’ll most likely go back to the blue mouse. Frivolous, I know, but I can’t fight who I am.


Here’s the final product, with which I am quite pleased. Moral of the story is that it’s very tempting (and easy) to skimp out on peripherals, but at the end of the day these are the parts of the computer you actually have to deal with so it’s worth the extra time and money to get what you really want.

              

The first picture is a frame from The Tree of Life, which looks excellent on this monitor on Blu-ray, though it’s nothing compared to seeing it in the theater. I wanted to show off my monitor. If the print-screen button wasn’t disabled by my Blu-ray software, this image would be my desktop background. It’s one of the most beautiful images I’ve ever seen.

The second picture is my actual desktop. Yes I am thoroughly enjoying No Doubt’s new album Push and Shove.

In my next post I’ll impress myself and you as I do my own hardware changes and software fixing.

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A New Operating System

Soon I will get all of the parts for my brand new PC in the mail. A friend will help me put it together and Windows 7 will be installed on it. And I never ever thought this would happen.

Like most kids who grew up in the 90’s, my family always had PCs. The first computer I ever used ran Windows 95. My dad works with computers so of course we updated to Windows 98, 2000, and XP.

In fact I wasn’t even aware of Apple’s existence until 2002 when my sixth grade Social Studies classroom suddenly had two old Power Macs. These computers were extremely confusing. I mean, why didn’t the disc drive have an eject button? You mean I have to press eject on the computer screen? How does that make sense? I didn’t understand why there wasn’t a start button and how you were supposed to find programs without that. I tried using these machines once or twice then gave up entirely. I only went by the classroom computers one other time, when a friend and I doodled on the bottom of the table the computers were on.

All of my family’s computers would get extremely slow after a few years of use and they seemed to crash a lot. Several years of pictures are completely gone thanks to one of these crashes. I dare you to try to find pictures of me from ages 13-15. I dare you. So finally in 2007 my family gave up on Windows.

By this time I was the only one still living at home, my two sisters were in college with Macbooks and my brother didn’t own a computer. My parents and I got a Macbook Pro and I loved it. I could listen to music on iTunes with headphones anywhere I wanted. I could type papers late at night in my bedroom. I could edit videos with Final Cut Express. It ran so much faster than our old computer. It was shiny. It was pretty. It was new!

When I graduated in 2008 I got my own Macbook for college. There was no discussion about prices or what I intended to use it for. I wanted one because that’s what we had and I hadn’t had any of the traumatic experiences with it that I’d had as a child with slow PCs. My sisters had them. I had been told they were better and I believed it. I didn’t think of asking for evidence. I really believed Macs were better. Of course I’ve looked down at PC users since then. Almost every Mac user does, even if they don’t want to admit it. But the tables are turning again. I’m headed back to using a PC. And, boy, am I excited!

Stay tuned to find out why I’m so excited to make the switch!

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