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Computing Upgrade – Phase One

Well, the old iMac finally malfunctioned again a couple of weeks ago, rendering it practically useless after just over seven years of heavy-duty, daily use. Its display unit failed after several days of funky behavior until its big 27 inch screen finally went black and would not light up again.

Connecting external displays and trying to mirror display output to an airplay-capable monitor through the Apple TV unit failed. The only way I can get logged onto it now is via telnet session from my iPad which revealed the CPU and storage unit are still working okay because I can see all of the file system content and can do anything I want to do–computationally speaking–at the command line. Back to the 1980s. Not very user friendly and Apple no longer provides repair services for this "vintage" mid 2011 model. So I decided to get busy finding a new computer to buy.

After several days spent researching options for modernizing my computing systems so I can finally leverage the latest hardware and software offerings available seven years after my last upgrade in 2012, I chose to do a two-phase upgrade by starting with a nicely customized Mac Mini. Apple had just released new high-powered models of the Mac Mini, elevating them to serious computing machines. Choosing customization options including a 6-core i7 CPU, 16GB of RAM and 1TB of SSD storage, that computer will be used as a workstation until one or two years later when it will become a server after a phase-two workstation upgrade to the latest model Mac Pro (new models to be released two months from now) customized to serve my purposes developing Magic Leap AR learning experiences.

The Mac Mini was ordered just under two weeks ago and I chose to have it shipped to the Apple Store in Uptown Albuquerque (a distance of 155 miles one way) so I could take advantage of a complimentary Personal Setup session promised by Apple right there in the store with one of their fabulous specialists to get it up and running as desired. Part of that "as desired" meant selectively restoring from TimeMachine backups stored on an external hard drive containing backups created from the iMac used for seven very productive years.

Fortunately, I was able to create a new backup the day before the display unit died. Unfortunately, the Apple rep who handled my purchase delivery was in no mood to provide the free Personal Setup session, so I just took the new Mac Mini and left the store, not wanting anyone too lazy to begrudgingly help me set it up–running a real risk of them just screwing it all up.

So after writing a pointed letter of complaint to Mr. Tim Cook and sending that off in the "purchase experience survey" Apple asked me to fill out, I spent a few minutes yesterday evening unpacking and connecting peripherals to a small new computer containing almost twice the processing power the old iMac does. Powered it up, kicked off the restore process which reported it would take about 11 hours to complete, ate supper and off to bed I went, sleeping a solid eight hours for the first time in years. The 310 mile/7 hour roundtrip to Albuquerque and back had been pleasant but apparently had drained me more than I thought it had. Taking a favorite, leisurely route along the Pecos River down state highway 3 through Villanueva to I-40, then west into the teaming chaos of Albuquerque, I encountered no problems. The morning was overcast and cool, and I left Albuquerque before temperatures rose above 80ºF there to find the air still cool along the entire length of highway 3 and home on the way back up here, but my ass was dragging by the time I finished eating supper. I was one tired old man when I fell asleep at 5 PM.

Waking at 1 AM this morning to the fragrance of fresh rain and sound of a bull elk bugling someplace in the oaks on the southwest side of the meadow, I checked the restore process to find it would wrap up within an hour. Wide awake and eager to get the setup completed by noon, I stayed up to get on with it as soon as the restore process ended. It all came off without a hitch and now, twelve hours later, it's finished. All of the tools and files I use are installed and configured, ready for use, and I am once again in need of food and sleep. Outside temperature is mild at 75ºF and gentle, cool breezes are flowing through all of the upstairs windows. Clouds are forming with promise of late-afternoon or evening rain.

If I'm lucky, I'll have some strange, vivid dreams.

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