New but Not New Laptop

My late 2010 Macbook Air had run out of hard drive space. It was a never ending battle to find space, constantly cleaning caches and removing large, mostly unused apps. Something had to give. Then on Twitter, an internet friend @jptoto mentioned he was adding an SSD drive to his MacMini. When I looked at OWC, where he linked to, I discovered there was an option to upgrading the SSD in my Air. I have no complaints about the 4 year old Air, other than the regret I didn’t get a larger SSD drive to begin with. Buying a new laptop was not in my budget, and save for more RAM and faster processor, which I don’t really need, didn’t make sense. If Retina display was an option for an 11” Air, I might have rethought the option.

Once I decided that I was going to upgrade the SSD hard drive in my Macbook Air, I had to decide how I was going to go about setting it back up after the upgrade. The instructions on OWC walks through migrating your old content back via the enclosure as part of the kit I purchased . However, after 4 years, I was ready for a clean start.

I had to decide how I was going to back everything up. Well, I already have all important files/data backed up, but I needed to run through what I was doing to make sure my bases were covered. First, I use iCloud for all of my contacts, calendars, Safari day-to-day bookmarks (I use Pinboard for most of my bookmarks) and surprisingly more and more app data. Second, I use Dropbox religiously, so all of my text notes are synced inside Dropbox (as well as with SimpleNote). Additionally, all of my work files are saved into Dropbox, as well as other misc files. I may revisit my organization of Dropbox once I have the extra 180 GB of data on my laptop to work with.

From there, I use 1Password for all of my, well, passwords, but also software licenses that are not bought through the App Store. Which is another is another method of backing up software these days. It really is a convenient way of having your apps just there. I followed that up with a full backup using SuperDuper. And not to be outdone, I did a Time Machine backup to an external hard drive.

The result? Complete success. I did a clean install of Lion, loaded up the App Store and upgraded to Mavericks. Easily added my iCloud credentials, downloaded Dropbox (I did have to reference that password via my iPhone which also has 1Password installed. I needed Dropbox to load my 1Password keychain.) After Mavericks, again using the App Store downloaded said 1Password and selectively installing apps I know I’ve been using. It is easy enough to go back and add one already purchased when needed, but the goal was to start clean. There were a few things I didn’t think about directly such as ssh keys for Github/Bitbucket and my VPS, but since I had redundant backups of my entire system, I simply copied those over to my home directory. Certainly I could have generated new keys, but this was obviously easier. I also had to copy over my Hazel license, as I do not use the email address it was registered under, but I had already looked into that prior to the upgrade.

So far it has been liberating starting clean, as I was carrying over more than 4 years of cruft from this Air; I migrated the user account over from the Powerbook I upgraded from. I am looking to use this momentum to carry over to other areas of my technology world, most specifically in my task management. I tried to be an Omnifocus convert (from being a half-assed Things user), but the delays in a desktop update slowed my enthusiasm for the suite of apps to the point I wasn’t using it any longer anyway. Perhaps the beta will drop soon and I can revisit it, but I’m now looking at some of the Task Paper options on the table.

The one area I am still on the fence on is for development. I thought I’d use Vagrant and Virtualbox, but the closer I looked into it, the more I wasn’t sure I really needed to get that deep. I hack for fun now (mostly, I do have a company website I’m building), and MAMP really does cover my local development needs. I can always play with Vagrant at a later date, if for instance I really wanted a local dev environment to match my VPS. But for general hacking, and to get down to it, I’m thinking I’m sticking with MAMP for now.

If you can’t do a clean install of your computer, I highly recommend a strong spring cleaning. It just might get you focused on other aspects of your life.

Author: Michael Bishop

I used to wash dishes, now I'm a digital plumber. Proud Tampa native. Public Interest technologist. Sports fan, music lover. he/him