For owners of older Mac products

Apple's criteria for upgrading to Mountain Lion is whether you own a mid-2007 or newer iMac or late 2008 aluminum MacBook and so on. I mean, what? I don't see dates like that when I open my MacBook's About This Mac info window. Newer MacBooks are showing this type of year-of-production info, but not the old models. Hence the value of this German web site dedicated to Apple tech support. Enter  your serial number for various Mac products (computers, laptops, printers, batteries, and monitors) and it will extrapolate various bits of basic information, such as the item's manufacture date, model number, and so on.

This can be useful info for people like myself who want to know whether our products are eligible for the upgrade to Mountain Lion. Alas, my poor little plastic MacBook is mid-2007, so I'll be staying with Snow Leopard for quite a while yet.

2 VMWare Fusion tips

I've enjoyed having VMWare Fusion on my MacBook, as it's made the transition from a PC to a Mac easier. Also, since I now have only the MacBook, I'm able to easily duplicate what I had on the old PC and to edit work documents on my copy of Microsoft Office. But I hit a few roadblocks the other night (on deadline, of course), so thought I'd document their solutions here.

  • I had installed a lot of Windows apps and got the warning that there was only about 1GB of hard drive space left on the virtual disk. I thought I'd allocated enough room, but 10GB wasn't enough. I went into Fusion's Settings and allocated 20GB. No dice. Still didn't work. But this excellent tutorial video on the Fusion site shows step-by-step how to create a virtual disk that will grow as the VM grows.
  • I'd hoped to save my files in one place only on my Mac, and not have to store files in both my Mac and Windows environments. But from within Windows, opening those shared folders was painfully slow and so I reconciled myself to having two separate sets of files to manage. BUT. A search through the VMWare Fusion Forum offered a user's solution that hit the nail on the head: the Avast anti-virus software in Windows was causing the slowdown. Add the Fusion shared folders to Avast's exclusion list so it doesn't attempt to scan any files it finds there. With that setting in place, opening Mac files from within Windows is as quick as opening them from the Finder. At last, I can have one set of documents in one place.
  • No better time to promote Joe Kissell's newest e-book, Take Control of VMware Fusion 2. These Take Control books are inexpensive and the best way to get acquainted with Macs.
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Jumping the gun on a MacBook?

Although UNC requires incoming freshmen to buy a laptop computer, and although some SILS classes require a laptop (I'm thinking here of the database or programming courses), by and large, I've found that I haven't really needed a laptop on campus. I prefer taking notes by hand on paper, and the campus is lousy with workstations where I can check my email, which is what most people do anyway. Most of my homework and papers I prefer to write on my home PC, simply because it's already customized for my peculiar needs. Nevertheless, since I entered the program, I felt a burning urgency to purchase a laptop--I'm falling behind! All the other kids have a laptop! I'm feeling left out!--and took advantage of a pretty good deal at the campus computer store to buy a black MacBook with the eerie glowing ghost-apple on the lid. I added an extra gig of RAM and donated the printer that came with it to a charitable organization. So, no worries there.

I also bought several of the Take Control ebooks to learn some more about the Mac. I tried out various backpacks, briefcases, and sheathes. I bought a Bluetooth mouse. I dedicated a spot to it on my desk where it sits and recharges.

And where it still sits, mostly unused. It's a fine machine, but I just haven't needed to use it.

The new MacBooks are now arriving with Leopard, which means that's another expense I'll have when I decide to upgrade the OS. Fortunately, I've bought no other software to install on it, so the hard drive and OS are still pristine, making the upgrade easier, I should think. Thinking more calmly now, I should have waited to buy till Leopard was pre-installed on all MacBooks.

It's clear to me now, looking back, that I had induced a panic state in myself over this issue and reason's sweet song would ne'er enter my ear. I took out a loan from the bank in order to pay for both my spring semester tuition and the MacBook, so paying that back every week is a constant reminder of getting too far ahead of myself.

Update: I wrote the above over a couple of days last week. This past Saturday, I decided to reinstall XP on my home PC, after dithering on that decision for a while. The reinstall went fine--except that Windows couldn't see the second internal hard drive, which holds all of my install files for my other software. I verified that the BIOS could see the drive but XP remained willfully blind. I schlepped the PC to Intrex (where I'd bought the PC in 2006 or so) for them to diagnose and (I hope) fix.

I didn't enter a panic state on this snafu, interestingly enough. I took the precautions of backing up my volatile data to my external USB drive and to the cloud, so they're accessible if I need them.

And, need I say, I had a laptop--an underused MacBook on which I could check my mail, finish my homework assignment due on the following Monday, and store info on my paper that's due in 2 weeks. Funny how these things work out.

Addendum:  Back up those drivers, kids! And print out your Device Manager settings! I should have inserted the motherboard CD and installed the RAID and sound drivers; that's why Windows couldn't see the second internal hard drive. OK, that goes on the master checklist for reinstalling Windows...