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A few OS X questions from a n00b (well, sorta :D)

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
Hi all! So I finally got myself an iMac 21.5" with the ATI 4670 HD graphics card and the 1TB 7200rpm drive, after I experienced some flickering on my original one with the lower-end NVIDIA 9400M.

I'm not saying that it is that particular graphics card's fault, but I found a few other things, such as the see-through "glass" effect that I did not see when I had the iMac with the NVIDIA card. Is it possible that the ATI card makes additional effects possible, or, for that matter, causes the screen to have more vibrant colors, better contrast, black levels, color accuracy, etc., than does the NVIDIA card, or does that depend entirely on the hardware, i.e. the screen itself?

Secondly, do I really not need any type of anti-virus and/or anti-malware software at all? I'm just so used to it. On my Windows 7 machine, I also ran "NoScript", which is a script-blocking extension in Firefox. I decided not to install it on Firefox for OS X just yet, because it can be annoying to have to constantly approve individual sites that NoScript considers potentially unsafe. Any kind of malware written for Windows can obviously not be executed in OS X, right? And what about the firewall? I chuckled when I found that by default, it is turned off! Again, I'm used to Windows warning me of Armageddon even when I'm only allowing its firewall to let a program through. lol...

I also need to be able to play any kind of video and audio formats, and so far, VideoLAN's VLC player is doing a fine job with everything I've thrown at it. Under Windows, I installed a bunch of codecs which made Windows Media Player able to render almost any content. Is there such a thing for QuickTime? Is there another 3rd party media player that I might want to try? What do you guys use?

As for backups, I tried using Time Machine, but it will only work if I partition my drive or use a different drive altogether, is that right? I have no problem with partitioning this enormous drive, but I run BootCamp for Windows 7, which works unbelievably well, by the way. I was stunned to find Windows 7 64-bit-specific drivers for all hardware components on the Mac OS X Install disc. However, when I partitioned the drive for Windows 7, and then later partitioned the drive for a 2nd time (and a 3rd partition), BootCamp no longer worked. When I re-consolidated the 3rd partition that I had made for Time Machine, BootCamp worked again. I'm trying to avoid having to buy and attach an external (USB) hard drive. Any ideas?

Speaking of drives, I have been using SSD's for the past year and a half. Being that the iMac is an all-in-one unit, I suppose I can't add a second drive, except an external one. I'm so used to the extreme speeds of my SSD. It's not as big a deal as I thought, however, as OS X boots up almost as fast on the 7200rpm hard drive as Windows 7 does on an SSD. Any thoughts on a scenario where I could make use of my SSD?

Finally, what kind of programs and utilities do you guys recommend that I get. Some must-have's, you know? Any other tips and tricks would also be highly appreciated.

Sorry for the long post. So far, I am super happy with this iMac and with OS X. It's great to be part of the Mac community!

Thanks everyone!

(Mid-2012) 15.4" MacBook Pro w/ IPS Retina Display | Quad Core i7-3720QM 2.6GHz / 3.6GHz Max. Turbo | 16GB DDR3-1600MHz RAM | 256GB Samsung 830 SSD-based NAND Flash ETA 9/5

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(Mid-2012) 15.4" MacBook Pro w/ IPS Retina Display | Quad Core i7-3720QM 2.6GHz / 3.6GHz Max. Turbo | 16GB DDR3-1600MHz RAM | 256GB Samsung 830 SSD-based NAND Flash ETA 9/5

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post #2 of 10
Welcome to the Mac.

Your Mac is safe out-of-the-box. You need antivirus software if you exchange files with Windows-using colleagues as an act of good citizenship. Antivirus software cannot protect you from Mac viruses because there aren't any.

As as codecs are concerned, you will fairly well set if you download and install Perian and Flip4Mac.
post #3 of 10
VLC is a great app for those media files Quicktime doesn't understand (ie: many!). Perian fills in a lot of blanks for QT, though.

Firefox is my browser of choice on Mac; I'm hooked on my Live Bookmarks

Your SSD can indeed be installed in the iMac, but unfortunately taking the iMac requires special tools and lengthy instructions. Maybe ask at the Apple store nearest you if they will do it? There's no TRIM support in OS X, so hopefully it is a newer one.

Backing up via Time Machine should be done with an external drive... if your internal drive should fail, all data is safe.

Apps I recommend:
uTorrent
The Unarchiver - for opening RAR files, etc.
Handbrake - for ripping DVDs and re-encoding large files.
post #4 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by 1337_5L4Xx0R View Post

VLC is a great app for those media files Quicktime doesn't understand (ie: many!). Perian fills in a lot of blanks for QT, though.

...

VLC is great at what it does, but what it does is playback media--and that's it. QuickTime is set of MacOS X frameworks for time-based data. Virtually every Mac application uses it. The QuickTime Player now replaced by QuickTime X is just one such application. With certain notable exceptions, adding a codec for a media format enables the media type in all QuickTime-compatible applications. This is true of QuickTime X. This is true of Movist. This is true of Microsoft PowerPoint 2008.

With Perian and Flip4Mac installed, I am not aware of any blanks left in QuickTime. Certainly, I am not aware of anything that is handled by VLC that isn't also handled by QuickTime. If you have knowledge of such a blank, then by all means share your knowledge.
post #5 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crunch View Post

[...] As for backups, I tried using Time Machine, but it will only work if I partition my drive or use a different drive altogether, is that right?

Time Machine needs a separate volume to back up to. And since the probably most important problem you need to protect against is a harddisk crash it makes no sense to put your TM backup files on your internal HD. Even if it's on a separate volume. Because when your internal HD crashes the TM backup files on it will be inaccessible/destroyed too...
So for useful TM backups you need to backup to not only a separate volume, but that separate volume needs to be located on a separate (= external) HD as well!

Quote:
I have no problem with partitioning this enormous drive, but I run BootCamp for Windows 7, which works unbelievably well, by the way. I was stunned to find Windows 7 64-bit-specific drivers for all hardware components on the Mac OS X Install disc. However, when I partitioned the drive for Windows 7, and then later partitioned the drive for a 2nd time (and a 3rd partition), BootCamp no longer worked. When I re-consolidated the 3rd partition that I had made for Time Machine, BootCamp worked again. I'm trying to avoid having to buy and attach an external (USB) hard drive. Any ideas? [...]

Well, I may have bad news for you: you can't "avoid having to buy and attach an external (USB) hard drive" if you want useful TM backups! They go together like a chicken and an egg.
Why would you want to "avoid having to buy and attach an external (USB) hard drive" anyway? Your iMac is a stationary machine. Surely an (also stationary) external HD can quietly sit next to it?
post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the very warm welcome!

@Mr. Me: Perian's great, and it pretty much works like the K-Lite codec packs that are typically used in Windows environments for this purpose. I went through the list of formats, and it plays everything that I need now, and then some. Is there an advantage to playing particular formats in QT vs. VLC, as far as quality is concerned?

@1337_5L4Xx0R: Nice app list. Firefox is my fav as well. I recently started using the "Firefox Sync" add-on, which can save you a lot of time and hassle when you need your Firefox on another computer. It syncs your bookmarks, passwords, history, settings, and even tabs to the "cloud". It's a Mozilla extension, so I didn't mind having my passwords floating around on their servers. It took all of 10 seconds after installing FF on my iMac to feel right at home with every last tweak that I had configured on my old computer in place. Just FYI. Maybe this is useful info for you or someone else.

As for the SSD, wow, do you really think that someone at the Apple Store might open this baby up for me? That would be awesome. As you might imagine, going from an SSD back to a HDD is quite a leap...backwards. I have the X-18M from Intel, which is the 1.8" version of the better-known 2.5" X-25M variant. The reason as to why this would be such a big deal for me is because I'm used to having two drives in my laptop, and as I don't ever use optical drives, I always had a 2nd hard drive installed instead of a Bluray/DVD/CD drive. So if I get the good folks at Apple to open this baby up for me, would I be able to have both the (tiny 1.8") SSD and the 1TB hard drive installed inside of the iMac, or just one or the other? I'm going to guess no, as I don't think that there is another SATA controller in there. Hmm...Like I said, I really don't need the SuperDrive that comes with the iMac, but as I'm typing this, you're probably going to tell me to get a Mac Pro and customize it to death, right? haha...Add to that the fact that there are likely going to be warranty issues that nobody at the Apple store will want to be responsible for. What do you think? I know it's a long shot, but I had to try. I would still rather have the one drive that's inside be an SSD and hook up the big drive externally. Hey, that would solve my Time Machine issue at the same time.

@Rocket: Agreed on the stationary part. As I said above, I'm used to having at least two hard drives (one SSD and one HDD as of late) in my laptop, and that's how I used to back up my primary drive. The speed of the 2nd hard drive never mattered much, since I had the OS and all of my applications installed on the SSD, and the 2nd drive was a 500GB 5,400rpm drive that was mainly there for storage and for having a lot of my files easily accessible.

Does anyone have any advice as to which storage solution might be best suitable here? I really only need an empty bay that can house 2.5" hard drives, as I have plenty of those.

Thanks again, guys! Awesome advice. I really appreciate it.

Crunch

(Mid-2012) 15.4" MacBook Pro w/ IPS Retina Display | Quad Core i7-3720QM 2.6GHz / 3.6GHz Max. Turbo | 16GB DDR3-1600MHz RAM | 256GB Samsung 830 SSD-based NAND Flash ETA 9/5

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(Mid-2012) 15.4" MacBook Pro w/ IPS Retina Display | Quad Core i7-3720QM 2.6GHz / 3.6GHz Max. Turbo | 16GB DDR3-1600MHz RAM | 256GB Samsung 830 SSD-based NAND Flash ETA 9/5

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post #7 of 10
There is room for only one internal drive in the iMac, so it is SSD or 1TB, not both. That leaves you a bit hooped, as far as storage goes. External USB and Firewire will not allow you to get the obscene speeds of the SSD. USB gets about 30MB/sec, and FW800 has 100MB/sec.

Apple _may_ be willing to help you install the SSD, you never know. You could then attach the 1TB in an external enclosure? Again, if funds permit, make it an FW800 enclosure; try to avoid USB as it really isn't ideal for faster storage media.

BTW, heads up about Time machine: first time it runs, it will takes hours, maybe days, to back everything up. Incremental backups after that initial backup take seconds or sometimes minutes.
post #8 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Me View Post


With Perian and Flip4Mac installed, I am not aware of any blanks left in QuickTime. Certainly, I am not aware of anything that is handled by VLC that isn't also handled by QuickTime. If you have knowledge of such a blank, then by all means share your knowledge.

Handling of large MKV and WMV files with perian and flip respectively is very slow because quicktime insists on building a file index first, that's why i use VLC a lot for playback!
MBP (15, 2.33, 3GB,10.6/win/lin on 250GB)
MP (3,1 oct 2.8, 10GB. 10.6 on 4x1TB RAID10, Win/Lin on 1x2TB, 2407WFP on 1x5770 + 2xSamsung 910t on 1xGT120)
also a lot of other systems :-p
I met a...
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MBP (15, 2.33, 3GB,10.6/win/lin on 250GB)
MP (3,1 oct 2.8, 10GB. 10.6 on 4x1TB RAID10, Win/Lin on 1x2TB, 2407WFP on 1x5770 + 2xSamsung 910t on 1xGT120)
also a lot of other systems :-p
I met a...
Reply
post #9 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by seek3r View Post

... quicktime insists on building a file index first, that's why i use VLC a lot for playback!

Indexing the video is not the same thing as not handling the video. So, MKV and WMV do not qualify as blanks in QuickTime with Perian and Flip4Mac installed.
post #10 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crunch View Post

I really only need an empty bay that can house 2.5" hard drives, as I have plenty of those.

If that's all you need, why not get an empty HD box (for want of the official nomenclature) and screw a HD you've apparently already got in?
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