Hook, Line, Sinker

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by jmxp69, Dec 10, 2008.

  1. jmxp69 macrumors 6502

    Dec 10, 2008
    New to Apple, figured I'd say hello...

    Eight weeks ago, I bought my 2.5g MBP 17" (Early 08) from a retailer that was blowing them out when the Unibodies hit the shelves. They discounted this machine $400.

    I got it home, booted it up to make sure it worked, shut it down, flipped it over and installed 4g of ram from my previous HP C2D. Worked like a champ.

    Next, I ordered a Seagate Momentus 320g 7200rpm drive. Flipped her over again, tore into it and swapped out the HD. I didn't have a #6 Torx, so I dremeled down a #8 Torx and re-ground the slots with the cutter. Worked great. I also ordered an external enclosure and the old 250g drive is now my Time Machine disk.

    Final Cut Express and an Elgato Turbo.264 were next on the hit list. The t.264 is fun to toy with, but it has its limits--no HD. So I primarily use it to make iPod Videos.

    After about 6 weeks with my machine, I bought a 2g MB Unibody for the wife. Fortunately, no dead pixels, no loose battery cover, one slanted key which I fixed with the cardstock trick. OSX really shines in this environment because we're rarely working on our machines in the same space. When she gets stuck, she pings me on iChat. We video chat, I share her screen, get her through her issue, then go back to work. Lazy? You Bet. Very cool and *just works*, Yes. I love the fact that I don't have to sign away my firstborn son in order to RDC to another machine on my LAN.

    Finally, I took advantage of the Brother Promo and got an HL-4040cn Color Laser printer for $200. The Mac recognized it without even inserting a disk. Works great. This was a great deal for a good printer.

    Having been a PC guy forever and a Linux guy for 10 years, I'm always tinkering. So I'm posting a few tips I've picked up in the past two months that have made the Mac experience even more enjoyable:

    Subjective Improvement (no way to prove this, but it feels faster)
    Remove Safari Page Load Delay:
    defaults write com.apple.Safari WebKitInitialTimedLayoutDelay 0.000001

    Same as above:
    1) Survives reboot: echo "net.inet.tcp.delayed_ack=1" >> /etc/sysctl.conf
    2) Doesn't survive reboot: sysctl -w net.inet.tcp.delayed_ack=1

    Samba File Sharing:
    Spent a TON of time figuring this out. I have an N router. First tests with Samba server showed about 5MB/s transfer speed. FTP from the MBP to the same file server showed 11MB/s. Clearly, this is a Mac SMB implementation issue. Interesting thing though, when I initiated a 2nd, 3rd, 4th simultaneous transfer, the bitrate climbed to 11MB (still does). So, Mac's SMB implementation will do the speed, just not with a single file being copied. A little bit of Samba tweaking nets me 8MB/s for a single file. I'm living with it, but I think they need to fix this. BTW: Vista performs worse. I even video taped it and put it on Youtube. While I was video taping this test, Explorer crashed.

    Ok, so why I switched:

    Vista's security implementation just sucks. UAC is a disaster and whomever released that on the public should have been fired. The motive is admirable, the means are miserable. OSX has a reasonable approach--much less invasive.

    After 8 months on Vista, my N connection started to randomly drop. The only way to get it back was a reboot. Finally, I imaged the drive, and the drops continued (mind you, for 8 months it was solid) HP didn't have a fix, but Intel's newest driver apparently solved it. This was only on N too, not G. That issue snapped it for me.

    I've been in and out of Linux on the desktop for many years. My main problems with Linux are:

    1) Fonts are ugly. I've tried every trick I could find to solve this, but never got it right. I have to give it to MS on this front. While Mac fonts are really good, MS wins in this category IMHO.

    2) Odd issues persist: ie HP Laptops still require kernel options to avoid an acpi lockup during boot. Should be fixed by now. I also don't like having to use MS Wireless drivers with ndis to get Broadcom chips to work.

    3) Consistent interface: While the app library for Linux is growing, the interface for those apps can vary wildly. It's a nit I know, but at least with the Mac (and Windows), everything looks and feels the same.

    Anyway, so there it is. I've completed the switch to Mac and OSX. At this point, I can't foresee a change back to MS. My machine has been very stable under crazy loads with FCE HD editing/exporting, Livetype, Elgato, Torrent DL's. My HP Laptops don't hold a candle to my MBP with respect to build quality. It's like the difference between a Honda (HP) and a BMW (MBP).

    The Mac isn't without faults. I've read and agree that torrents are slow. Can't figure this one out. It rebooted one time while I was changing wireless settings. No OS should ever allow that to happen. And I've had a few usability issues that I'll attribute to being an OSX novice. Otherwise, I give the two Machines a Solid "A"


    Forgot one other tip I figured out:

    I installed OSX on my external drive.
    After installing it to my external drive, I used Disk Utility to make an image of the external drive. I stored that image in my desktop on the external drive. If my internal drive ever fails, I can boot to the external drive into OSX--which means I can continue to work if needed--and from there, I can use the Basic install .dmg to re-image the internal drive.

    BTW: I've read all the posts about Superduper and CCC, but Disk utility worked just fine. Not sure why people resort to external apps for this. It can also be done with dd from the command line, but the Disk Utility GUI works great, so I didn't bother with that.

    I tested it, it works flawlessly. Similar techniques can be performed on Windows except:

    1) You have to buy third party software like Acronis to image the drive
    2) I don't believe you can boot vista from an external USB drive (but I wouldn't swear to that). Just have to ensure you have a boot cd from Acronis.
  2. Trip.Tucker Guest

    Mar 13, 2008
    Great tips! If you have more, post them up! Which Torrent client are you using? Transmission?
  3. jmxp69 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Dec 10, 2008
    I've tried Transmission and uTorrent. Network is solid, peers load up, it just goes slow.
  4. macrem macrumors 65816


    Mar 11, 2008
    Nice tips, thanks! I keep trying different browsers and am currently hooked on Camino.

    btw, have you tried using MS fonts on Linux? ;)
  5. jmxp69 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Dec 10, 2008
    I tried EVERYTHING on Linux. I have OCD and the fonts were just on my every last nerve.
  6. darwinian macrumors 6502a


    Jan 4, 2008
    In R4, more or less
    Congrats on your mac. I love it when geeks switch to OS X. I support and love all OSS and will continue to do so, but I've been at a point for awhile now where I'm very happy having drivers for everything work as well as they do. While this has dramatically improved in Linux over the last few years, it's far from perfect yet.

    Dremeled down a #8 - major props for that!

    Fonts in Windows - I actually prefer ClearType better also. But OS X is definitely better than Linux in this regard, in my opinion.

    It appears as if you will be able to fix anything, but if you have any questions about Linux to OS X transition, let us know, and someone will do their best to help out.


    I've been using Camino since it was Chimera, and I think it's one of the greatest Mac OSS projects there is. Camino beats Ff hands down, in my experience. However, Gecko rendering issues appear often enough to drive me up the wall, and back to Webkit nightlies I go with Safari. I find that Camino is often faster when it's faster, but I trust rendering in Webkit more these days (a major shift in 2008 for me).
  7. neilhart macrumors 6502


    Oct 11, 2007
    SF Bay Area - Fremont
    I am impressed with your progress. I have questions about Acronis. Are you really able to boot an Acronis CDROM on your MBP? Is there a trick? I have tried to boot on several MBPs on Acronis 8 and 10 without success.

  8. jmxp69 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Dec 10, 2008
    I think to boot any CD on the MBP, you have to hold "D" while it's booting--and yes, acronis boots on the mbp.

    Hey!! .... Nevermind. ;)

    I still like to tinker, and I have other machines to tinker with, but when I'm not tinkering, I just want the machine to work. I spent far too much effort sorting out the N drops on the HP and it really jaded me because I had work to do at the time.

    It was late at night, none of the big retailers had #6's, just #8's. I couldn't very well let my MBP sit open and exposed, and I wasn't about to "not" install that 7200 drive. Gotta love a dremel.

    Yup, OSX = Good enough. Linux = Not there yet. MS = One area I have to give it to them. Small clean fonts with CT. Amazing.

    Thanks....I've got some practical Linux experience that should allow me to help out too.

    I'll check it out. So far though, I have no real complaints with Safari. I guess I kind of miss favicons in the link bar, but I'm over it.

    One other little weird thing is that I would LOVE a HD Activity light in the menu bar. I've read all the "we mac people don't care about such trivia", but I still like to know when the HD is getting thrashed. The 7200 doesn't vibrate and I can't hear it so.....I just want my light ok???? :)
  9. SnowLeopard2008 macrumors 604


    Jul 4, 2008
    Silicon Valley
    torrents are range from a few kb/s to several hundred kb/s. at least for me.
  10. winninganthem macrumors 6502a


    Jun 10, 2008
    I have similar experience with torrents on OSX - they generally suck. I've done everything I could think of to play with settings on different clients but I'm just resigned to them being slower on OSX than on Windows. It's weird, on Windows I generally get speeds at 500kB/s (not a typo), but on OSX on the same machine they crawl at around 100kB/s. It's not a deal breaker, merely a minor annoyance.

    I'm glad that someone with your knowledge and expertise has also talked about experiencing that issue, makes me feel better haha. Thanks for the post.
  11. darwinian macrumors 6502a


    Jan 4, 2008
    In R4, more or less
    For the Safari thing, I don't think it does the favicon thing (score one tiny one for Camino), but check out Glims. Might help with the Safari sanity over time.

    HD Activity light? How about iStat menus? That should do it for ya.
  12. jmxp69 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Dec 10, 2008
    I've used istat, but that's a widget for dashboard right? I'd like a little indicator in the menu bar so it's visible no matter what app I'm using.
  13. mAc-warrior macrumors member


    May 11, 2004
    iStat menus lets you monitor anything on your system straight from the menu bar. It'll allow you to put disk activity arrows in your menu bar to monitor both reading and writing of the disk independently.

    Check it out; I use it to monitor CPU temp and fan speed.


  14. jmxp69 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Dec 10, 2008
    That was it. I never found menus before, just the widget. Had to find the activity mode, but that was exactly what I was looking for.

  15. Michael CM1 macrumors 603

    Feb 4, 2008
    I just spent probably 15 minutes trying to figure out how to share my effin' hard drives connected to my AirPort Extreme Base Station to a Vista PC. Apparently it requires some software from the AEBS disc, of which I have no clue on a location. Tried about 5 different ways with zero success.

    With the Macs, you tell them it's attached to it. OK, it's Apple-to-Apple products, but, um, IT JUST WORKS. Some people think I was crazy paying $170 for a router. Nuh uh. That arse-raping setup wizard that Linksys forces upon you is enough to keep every therapist in town busy for years.

    May I also say, as someone who used XP quite a bit, that Vista tries to make itself look simpler yet is infinitely harder to grasp than XP or 2000 ever were? Lord help anybody who has to deal with Windows 7.
  16. six.four macrumors 6502

    Oct 24, 2008
    ClearType on windows and font smoothing on OS X drive me crazy. I hate it. With a passion.

    Font smoothing technology was not meant for LCD's. It's like running a non-native resolution on an LCD - you just don't do it. It makes everything look fuzzy and takes away the "crispness" I'm so fond of. Additionally, turning off font smoothing boosts your 2d performance significanty.

    Cleartype is alot better than the font smoothing in OS X and in windows you can turn it off altogether.

    In OS X, you can manually download a program to tweak it and turn it off (to a certain font size), but the 1 to 1 pixel text downright looks awful in OS X. It's clear that OS X was not optimized for 1 to 1 text pixel mapping. I really hope Apple does something to change that in the future.......
  17. vm7118 macrumors regular

    Nov 2, 2007
    NJ, USA
    i thought C is for booting from disc, and alt shows all boot options (discs and disk partitions alike)?

    as for torrents, i agree with you completely. if i'm in a bind and need a movie/tv show as quick as possible, i boot into vista to get 10-25% faster download... although i've found that the mac utorrent beta gets far better speeds than transmission. that being said it is obviously far less polished an app (it being a beta).

    and don't try to selectively download files within the torrent. it will start trying to allocate GBs of space, to the point that OS X gives you a "disk full" error and utorrent literally stops the download every 5 min. probably the most annoying beta bug i've ever encountered.
  18. nickcliborne macrumors 6502

    Aug 25, 2008
    Nut house
    As it should ... you know because of the 6 gigabytes of printer drivers that comes with the standard install. ;)
  19. Scepticalscribe Contributor


    Jul 29, 2008
    The Far Horizon
    Welcome to the world of Mac and may you and your MBP live long and prosper together. That was an excellent post and very useful, too. I'm a relatively recent switcher myself, and so can relate to your experience.

    Cheers and good luck
  20. Mr_Brightside_@ macrumors 68030


    Sep 23, 2005
    Can I just say that the OP's post is one of the most intelligent, well written post I've ever seen here? The quality is very appreciated, especially when the current majority of posts are either "My F5 key is 1mm higher than the rest! I demand a replacement and a foot massage!" or "I dropped my iPhone and the glass broke- will Apple replace it for free?" Anyway. About to try the Safari Remove Page Load Delay command. Cheers
  21. jmxp69 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Dec 10, 2008
    I really didn't want to get into a Vista bashing thread, but since you brought it up...I think XP's SMB implementation is--if nothing else--easier for the average home user than Vista's by a stretch. I was able to get shares working on Vista without too much headache (after I figured out the registry hack to disable encrypted logins to a local NAS which didn't support encrypted logins). And aside from the ever present "couldn't restore network drives" after every reboot on Vista, I was able to (slowly) share files with my Linux NAS.

    Mac beats Vista *hands down* in the file sharing arena IMHO. Again, it's like a toaster: It just works.


    I don't profess to be a font guru, I just know what looks good to me. That said, I thought cleartype and fonts moothing in general were developed specifically for LCD panels. Interested in learning more about this.

    Gotta Link? :)

    I'm sure you're right. Haven't mastered all the shortcuts yet.

    Not me, I'm done with Vista and I'm not looking back. I'll take the hit on speed because I can't attribute that to the OS--most likely it's an app issue. Just guessing there though...



    I think I was fortunate that two machines had really no issues. I empathize with people that spend their hard earned money and wind-up with an out-of-box experience that's less than exceptional. Regarding mis-handling (and I think we can agree that people stepping on laptops, or laptops dropping from dressers truly is mishandling that Apple should not be responsible for), that's just unfortunate, but self-inflicted.

    I left desktops many years ago, but I do video editing, so 17" laptops have always been a personal requirement. I'll admit that I had been considering a MBP for a long time, the one thing that kept me from it was the price. My last HP is nearly identical in terms of technical specs to my MBP. I even stole the RAM from it for the MBP. Same CPU, Dual 7200rpm drives, C2D 2.4g. The two prime differences are: The OS and the build quality of the hardware--yet the MBP cost me 2x what the HP cost. That was a hard pill to swallow, but, I learned something from a good friend a long time ago: "Buy the best, cry once" I know when I flip my MBP lid open, it's going to turn on, the keys are going to light, the network is going to connect, I will be able to go to work in about 1.2 seconds and I can count on it. For me, the Mac has proven to be worth the extra expense.

    Anyway, thanks for the kind words. How did the pageload delay tweak work out?
  22. jmxp69 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Dec 10, 2008
    The Wayback Machine

    While tinkering with my signature I clicked on my subscribed threads list and saw this. Got a great chuckle reading my own first impressions of Mac and OSX from December 2008.

    So what's changed in about four years?

    I'm on my 3rd 17" Macbook Pro. I didn't upgrade for any particular reason other than I just wanted the next better machine. I had the original last-gen non-unibody 17" MBP from this thread and sold it to buy a 17" C2D Unibody. The great lesson in this for me was how well Apple products hold their value. I sold it for $100 less than I paid for it. For Christmas last year I treated myself to a 17" Ci7 and gave my oldest daughter the 17" C2D. She uses it with Garage band to build amazing vocal/music tracks and videos. And the amazing thing is I didn't show her any of it. She just figured it out. That machine still runs as good as the day I bought it.

    Upgraded the wife to a Ci5 13" MBP. Oldest son has her original 13" C2D MB. Refreshed the battery and added 4GB of RAM to that one. I'm on my 2nd Macbook Air. First was the 2nd gen 11", now a Ci5 13". Middle daughter has the 11". Wife, two oldest kids, and I, all have iPads. 5 iPhone 4's on VZ for me, wife, and three oldest kids. I also switched to an iPhone for my work phone.

    All of my server duties (except firewall) have been transitioned to a Ci5 Mac Mini which makes an excellent private iCloud (shared Calendars/Contacts, Reminders, Notes), VPN, Wiki, File, iTunes, Photo, DNS, MDM, Plex, and E-mail (with push) server. This is the most competent and flexible consumer oriented server I've ever seen or used. Even certification management is a piece of cake. A few clicks and every service accessed from the public network is secured with ssl. VPN integration with iOS devices could not possibly be easier. All devices--iOS and OSX--are enrolled in MDM giving me local ability to push updates, lock, wipe, and enforce security (which the kids and wife are none too happy about [which means I'm doing it right <snicker>]).

    Plex on the Mac Mini serves my big screen via HDMI, 3 Kindle Fires (little kids), Plex client on daughter's 17" MBP, and two Roku streamers. Really wish ATV supported Plex without going through a jailbreak, but those Rokus are hard to beat @ $59.

    I recently enabled LDAP synchronization for my MBP and MBA to automatically synchronize my home directory on both machines with the server home. There are a few minor little issues with this, but overall it works very well. I'll test for a while longer then enable on the other OSX devices which means I can login on any OSX device in the house and have my stuff/preferences on the machine. Same for the rest of my network users.

    Wireless is served up by a 2GB Time Capsule. Can you imagine how nice it is to manage 6 macs and never have to worry about whether or not backups are done/safe/usable??? I have an Airport Express downstairs extending the network and feeding my pool deck speakers from the Mac Mini iTunes library. I use Apple Remote on my iPhone while in the pool to control what's playing.

    Finally, my two youngest kids both have iPod touches. Unfortunately, they still use Windows laptops. Those machines will be donated as soon as they stop ripping the keys off and I can trust them with more expensive apple products.

    Five kids and wife are almost completly converted. Every time I have to deal with an MS platform I get agitated now. From a complete ecosystem point of view, MS has lost this race IMHO. Apple is just light years ahead providing an integrated environment that is relatively easy to manage.

    Once you go Mac, you never go back. :D

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