Buying a refurbished MacBook for my wife

Ah, the sound of a delivery truck in front of the house is always a welcome sound for a gear-head like me. I’ve gotten to the point where I can distinguish between UPS and FedEx by the squeal their brakes make. After a 1 day delay because I left the house for 15 minutes yesterday and that happened to be the window for the FedEx Ground guy, I had to wait an extra day to actually get my wife’s new MacBook in hand.

As you can see from the picture below, Allison’s refurbished MacBook came in a rather nondescript cardboard box, a far cry from the slick version you get when you buy new.

The machine inside however looked completely flawless. There were no marks and it appeared like a brand new machine, though it cost quite a bit less than a new one at $949. I pulled out the machine, fired it up and started to go through the registration process. It quickly saw and attached to my wireless network and after a few minutes I was sitting at the OS X desktop.

The unfortunate part was that this particular MacBook came with Tiger installed. Apple did provide an upgrade DVD which I promptly placed in the machine and started the upgrade process to Leopard. I let it perform the consistency check on the DVD so that added a lot of time to the upgrade. After about 25 minutes of checking the actual upgrade started, with estimates of over 1 hour and 50 minutes to complete. The fans on that little MacBook worked overtime, generating a lot of noise—though very little heat—during the upgrade. All in it actually took about an hour and a half to get the machine upgraded from Tiger to Leopard.

Once the upgrade from DVD was done I ran Software Update on it and it identified 14 updates for various products and over 800MB of data to download. I killed the Airport and plugged the MacBook directly into a router port so that it would download everything more quickly. As it was it only took about 10 minutes to pull everything down. Man I really love Verizon FIOS. This upgrade ended up requiring several reboots and also involved several Firmware updates as well.

Moving Over the Files
The next step involved getting her files over from her Windows XP machine. Connecting to it was as simple as popping into the Finder and selecting Go / Connect to Server, then entering the SMB address for her old laptop. I also needed to specify the user name and work group for her machine:


Where WGP is the name of the Windows workgroup her machine is in, Allison is her login name on the machine and Bethany is the name of the machine. I had to make sure her My Documents directory on the Windows XP machine were shared. Once there I could see all of her files and quickly copy them over into the appropriate folder on her new MacBook.

Other Odds and Ends
I’ll write more about this shortly but I also picked up a Logitech VX Nano wireless mouse for her. In addition I have some additional memory from OWC and a 500GB Time Capsule for her backups that is due in later today.

My goal is to get this all completely set up and her files transferred over from her Windows XP laptop before this weekend so that I can give her this as her birthday present on Saturday.

As for a name for the new machine, I really appreciate all the great suggestions and decided to go with Rasterman’s idea of calling it “Hope”. Short, simple and represents my hope that she really likes it. That plus it has a subtle play off the Star Wars theme I like so much. It is after all a new hope.

Remaining Decision: Word, Pages or Neo Office?
Like most people on Windows Allison primarily uses MS Word though not being a power user she battles it regularly, especially when it comes to trying to format a document. She is often culling together work from others, grabbing and editing DOC and to a lesser degree DOCX files that are heavy with tables. She uses it to build worksheets for her students and quick quizzes. Finally she does use PowerPoint, both to create some presentations and also to open the public works of other teachers and integrate their content. The common medium for this seems to be PPT files from PowerPoint.

I personally think she would love the interface for Pages over the more complicated UI in Word for Mac 2008. Numbers vs Excel is a non-issue for her, though Keynote vs PowerPoint is something I’m not sure about. Throw in NeoOffice and I’ve got several choices to put in front of her. Given this is a full switch for her and I’m going to be holding her hand through it I’d really like to get her started on one of these three and try to make the best of it, switching only if she finds that it’s too difficult to deal with.

Any suggestions? If you’re a teacher at the high school level you likely know the challenges she has to deal with in terms of integration with multiple formats. If so, I’d love to hear your perspective.