Thursday, 13 December 2012

Adventures in Boot Camp

Over the last few days I've been giving my mac a bit of an overhaul. I decided not to wipe and start over, because firstly a lot of my software discs are at my house in Durham, and secondly because I just don't have that kind of downtime to play with. I did all the basic stuff, like cleaning up my library, deleting irrelevant preference files, repairing disk permissions etc, but the biggest boost involved installing a faster hard drive.

I looked at SSDs, but with the capacities of the drives in my price range being absolutely tiny I opted for a HDD/SSD hybrid, a 750GB Seagate Momentus XT (£89.70 from Writing this from the other side of a pretty simple imaging and restoration process, I can safely say that this drive is FAST. My Mac boots up in 15 seconds (from the bong to being able to open a program), and my audio sessions load their sample banks much quicker. In fact, every aspect of restoring my Mac to a bootable state worked absolutely flawlessly.

Except for all of the software from one company...

Microsoft Office decided to deactivate itself right in the middle of assignment season, so all of the Word documents I needed to edit were locked shut. To make matters worse, my installation disc along with the product key are back at my other house. The biggest offender though was my Boot Camp partition. To be fair to my Microsoft, this is an issue with the Mac not being able to boot from MBR drives without modifying the EFI, but it was still a pain in the backside. I decided that the easiest solution would be to reinstall Windows on a new partition and copy over the files I needed from the old drive (which curretly sits in a cheap USB enclosure).

Boot Camp is a bit of a mixed blessing, because by default it takes over as the main boot partition, so you have to change that in the System Preferences, or the Boot Camp Utility in Windows unless you want to boot into it every time. The other nightmare is going back to using the Ctrl key as the default modifier key. All of the shortcuts that I take for granted on the Mac have to be temporarily forgotten and replaced by the Windows ones. Simple things like copying and pasting end up causing endless frustration. The fact that Windows also defaults to the wrong keyboard map is also a bit of a pain, but switching to English (Apple International) - or some variation of those words will rectify that problem.

Windows also has a tendency to make my Mac run very hot - about 60 degrees C when idle. I don't know why this is, considering there's nothing registering in the task manager, but something is clearly going on in there because my battery only lasts about 90 minutes when using Windows, compared to about 4 and a half hours in OSX.

In a perfect world I would never need Windows, but let's face facts, it's the world's most popular OS. I don't mind it really; things are a lot better than they used to be in terms of stability. I'm not quite ready to make the jump to Windows 8 though, I might give that one a miss...
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  1. Is there a telephone activation method for Office:mac? I've sometimes had to use that for Office(:pc) and Windows if I did a reinstall.

    Also, what version of Windows? Not sure about the hardware in the mac, but I've had the experience of Windows running hot and short if a chipset driver was missing (helps control cpu stepping).

  2. It's Windows 7. As far as I am aware the Boot Camp software provides all the drivers for the mac hardware. I had that issue on my old computer and a driver update fixed it, but there's no info online that I can see.


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