I'm starting to realise however, that my 'childhood' dream ('childhood' cos it was more like when I was in my late teens; I was one of those iffy city kids who didn't like being dirty) of being a field biologist will likely never be achieved. It seems modelling/GIS skills are more in demand than field identification/sampling skills, and it's a lot easier to gain the latter skills by volunteering and hanging out with cool people (ie fellow biology geeks). So anyway, I'm trying to really brush up my coding skills (mostly R, but I've been trying to learn Python on my own to little avail due to my lack of discipline) and become familiar with GIS software. My MBP had started running really slowly sometime earlier this year, and my older bro suggested upgrading some of the hardware (RAM and hard drive). He had made the suggestion a year or so ago, but I brushed it aside thinking I didn't need it. Definitely wrong I was, and after dallying the whole summer, I finally got round to it last week.
I had issues with one of the plug-ins for QGIS, and it turned out it was cos I was on a fairly old OS (10.7 Lion). So I backed up my stuff and updated to the very recently released 10.11 El Capitan last Tuesday. I've always been rather apprehensive about the updating and upgrading of computers, probably cos in the past, things ALWAYS go wrong, and you lose everything/you have to reset all your preferences and stuff. I've gotten so used to doing things a certain way and having things look a certain way that I don't really wanna change, and if I had to I'm not sure I could make it like it was previously.
To my immense relief though, the transition was really quite smooth! Everything remained pretty much the same; my desktop picture, the extensions/plug-ins I had, the shortcuts I used etc. Sure, the look is slightly different but I can't pinpoint what it is and that doesn't really bother me. One thing though that was not the same after I updated was my language preferences. I'm on the 'British' keyboard (so I can easily type £), and I realised I was back on the U.S. one when I tried to type £ and got # instead.
By Friday, the Solid State Drive, RAM memory cards and the hard case enclosure I ordered had arrived and I had the weekend to do the hardware upgrading. I was rather excited and unnerved by the prospect of doing it, excited cos I've never done anything like that before and I can't wait to have an awesomely fast laptop, unnerved cos I was afraid I might ruin my laptop. I borrowed screwdrivers from our computing office, a fairly normal cross screwdriver and a Torx star-shaped one. Then I sat in my room and got ready. Backed up my computer into Time Machine again, and this time it took agesss. It started out being 9 hours, then 10, 12, and eventually 'about a day'. I cloned my HD to SSD at the same time, basically following these steps. Though I looked through several websites to make sure they were all saying about the same things first, and consulted my older brother and another friend, who were basically my tech advisors.
I left everything running over the weekend, and came back on Sunday to find that yay, nothing bad has happened. I used Super Duper, following this recommendation, but when I got back I couldn't tell if my SSD had really been cloned. I tried rebooting using the option start combo (holding down the option key while switching on the MBP) and selecting my SSD as the start up drive, but wasn't sure if it was really working, cos there were supposed to be some other options for me to select after I did that, but none came up (might be an El Capitan thing). I eventually rebooted from System Preferences to check that cloning was successful, before actually physically making the switch.
|Wasn't entirely sure what this 'Other' was...|
|Cos my HD showed this...|
|Before, with the HD and 2x2GB memory|
|After, with the SSD and 2x8GB memory!|
So yay me, I was feeling rather pleased on Sunday night. I have had some issues, like R software not allowing me to open up dialog boxes to save/upload files (resolved that by using RStudio instead, or command line script), and more annoyingly, the new Preview not allowing me to annotate PDFs with text boxes anywhere I want on the document with a click, though that was already an issue with Preview in Yosemite. And occasionally, the text box annotate option just wouldn't load, forcing me to use note instead. Also, for some reason my Microsoft Office 2011 required me to revalidate my software with a key code thing, which I obviously don't have with me. Thankfully Imperial provides its students with Microsoft 365 for free (though just for the duration as an Imperial student), so I still am able to use Microsoft Office.
Strangely enough, my laptop is still making quite a bit of noise (the whirring when I'm making it do a lot of things for me), and I still need to troubleshoot that. And for some reason my memory used is 9-10GB even when I'm not doing anything more than I used to do with my 4GB RAM. So still trying to figure out a lot of things, but hopefully I will be happy with what I have now and be able to use this machine for a lot longer.
What I had to buy
Samsung SSD 850 EVO 500GB (£120)
Crucial 16GB kit (8GBx2) DDR3 PC3-10600 Unbuffered NON-ECC 1.35V 1024Meg x 64 (£65)
2.5 Sata To Usb Hard Drive Caddy Hdd Case Enclosure (£3.80)
NB: I realise that one reason why I've always put off updating OS/upgrading hardware is the amount of time it takes. Like, there's no way I could have done it while in Cambridge, how was I supposed to do work otherwise??