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ATPM 17.12
December 2011


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by Mark Tennent,

Box-Shifting Causes Migration

A courier arrived at our door one day carrying a large brown box on his shoulder. He had tried to deliver it next door where the address label said it should go to, but they didn’t want it. There was no addressee, and the name of the building was as incorrect as the number. What we and our neighbors didn’t know was that the box contained a brand new 27″ iMac, graphics tablet, extended keyboard, and trackpad. Plus QuarkXPress 9 and Microsoft Office.

Nice! Shame it wasn’t for me but for my wife. Meanwhile, I am struggling to convince my employers that as my job is 100% computer- and telephone-based and I have full access to their Citrix servers, I can do my job successfully from home just as I have done many times in the past when it suited them. Now that I need to—due to large wounds on my arm and leg, which are redressed every day—they are getting snippy about it. Blimey! I was better off when I was self-employed.

But that was a digression. This column has more to do with setting up a new Mac. The iMac is the umpteenth Mac swap we have done over the years, from way back in the era of Mac Plus and Mac IIci in the late 1980s. We know it takes time and, as ever, relies as much on the speed of the connection between the two Macs and their hard drives. In the early days, it was painfully slow; using the serial network, we could do it via external hard drives, which were never quite large enough to do the switchover in one go. As an average, we used to reckon on two or three days, often running all night.

This time, we can create a FireWire 800 network, and while the old G5 Mac Pro is long in the tooth, it’s still no slouch. We have given up supporting anything older than a fast G4 nowadays. Apple’s Migration Assistant was the chosen tool, and, being Mac users, we didn’t bother to read any instructions. Three hours later, the new Mac was up and running. Not quite as we would like, but as it was so quick that we will probably erase its drive, reinstall the system, and redo the migration, this time starting the source Mac in FireWire disk mode as we—ahem—should have done.

It’s all good fun, isn’t it? And that 23″ display is going to look very cool next to the one already on my desk.

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