iBook, Help!
August 25, 2005 6:02 PM   Subscribe

I just bought a new iBook. I need help!

1.) I have a Mac compatible printer, what gadget do I need to be able to print wirelessly?

2.) Are there any key accesories that I have should have? (This is my first Mac)
posted by benkolb to Computers & Internet (28 answers total)
Watching this thread closely, I recently purchased a gently used PowerBook.
posted by 6:1 at 6:18 PM on August 25, 2005

1) You'll want an AirPort Extreme (or AirPort Express).

2) [self link] I have a list of my favorite Mac software on my website.
posted by danb at 6:21 PM on August 25, 2005

1.) Provided your printer has a USB connection, you can likely print to it with an AirPort Express, aka docgonzo's favourite Apple gadget since the Newton.

2.) The first question I ask of all my new Mac-owning friends is: Do you have enough memory? Pigging out on memory will make all your Mac endeavours much more worthwhile, IMHO. I have 1 gig in my 12" PowerBook and find that comfy. 256 megs for OS X is really the bare, bare minimum.
posted by docgonzo at 6:22 PM on August 25, 2005

posted by nathan_teske at 6:44 PM on August 25, 2005

Response by poster: Wait, my iBook has Airport Extreme built in it. Is that all I need to print wirelessly?
posted by benkolb at 6:46 PM on August 25, 2005

Airport extreme is your wireless card. The Airport express -- no, I'm not a fan of Apple's nomenclature, either -- is a puck-sized router that you can plug your stereo and printer into. Music or print jobs sent from your iBook to the express go to the stereo and the printer, respectively.
posted by docgonzo at 6:52 PM on August 25, 2005

docgonzo: Actually, AirPort Extreme is the puck. AirPort Express does the same thing, plus audio, but it's a little thinger that hangs off the outlet. I'm not sure if Apple names the card; usually they just say "wireless ready" or something like that.

Also, nathan_teske nailed it. Quicksilver is probably the most important program I own.
posted by danb at 6:55 PM on August 25, 2005

Airport Extreme is the name of the card, too, FYI.

Get yourself a decent carrying case, padded. Your ibook will scratch up easy. That said, you can't stop it from getting scratched up, so don't cry when it does. Watch the rubber feet. They come off easy.
posted by angry modem at 7:04 PM on August 25, 2005

Response by poster: So you're all saying I need airport express?
posted by benkolb at 7:12 PM on August 25, 2005

Subscribe to TidBITs - it's free, comes out every Monday night. They also author a 'Take Control' series of books for about $5 each, some of which might be very useful to you as a new Mac owner.

Honestly, the best way to learn the Mac OS is to play with it, download demo versions of software that sounds interesting and useful, and enjoy using your computer rather than simply tolerating it.

Software to try: definitely Circus Ponies NoteBook, which I can't live without; I'm really enjoying Delicious Library too, because it's so cool it's freezing. Delicious Library and NoteBook are great examples of the user-oriented apps the Mac was designed for.

Go have fun with your new iBook - welcome to the Mac community!
posted by lambchop1 at 7:24 PM on August 25, 2005

Okay, I can't believe how needlessly confusing this has become.

Airport is what Apple calls its line of wireless networking products. There are three products in the line: the Airport Extreme Base Station, the Airport Extreme Card, and the Airport Express.

Your computer already has a wireless card, so you need either the Airport Base Station or the Airport Express. The Base Station is more expensive but covers a very wide area. The Express is smaller and cheaper but covers less area. Both will let you print wirelessly. The Express also lets you play audio to a stereo through iTunes--you just run a cable from the Airport Express to your stereo's audio-in.

Which one you get depends on how much space you have and/or whether you want to stream music. Some people own both, which is what I'm considering doing in my own apartment. If you have both, the Express extends the Base Station network.

My answer for the indispensable program: Mellel.
posted by josh at 7:27 PM on August 25, 2005

And yes, you either need AirPort Express or an AirPort Extreme base station; we're suggesting AirPort Express because it's much cheaper (around $120) than an AirPort Extreme base station (over $200). See Apple's AirPort page for details.

The instructions are easy to understand, and you'll be printing wirelessly in no time.
posted by lambchop1 at 7:30 PM on August 25, 2005

Yeah, all you need to print wirelessly is an Airport Express. It's slightly bigger than the AC adapter for your iBook, and in the same style.

You plug your DSL/Cable/etc modem into the Airport Express, and it shares the internet connection over it's wireless network.

You plug your printer into the Airport Express, and it shares it over it's wireless network as a network printer.

You can plug speakers into the Airport Express, and play music in iTunes through them, over it's wireless network.

If you're still on dialup, the more expensive 'Hershey's Kiss'-shaped Airport Extreme has a modem in it.
posted by blasdelf at 7:31 PM on August 25, 2005

I adore VoodooPad, but most of my use is for school, so if one is not a student it might not be quite as useful. Email me, though, if you want testimonials. I love this program. Email's in my profile.

If you have Tiger, you may not need Quicksilver, which is recommended above; Spotlight seems to do all that Quicksilver does, as far as I can tell, though I welcome disagreement.
posted by librarina at 8:12 PM on August 25, 2005

Ack. Sorry for adding to the wireless confusion...
posted by danb at 8:13 PM on August 25, 2005

I always mistype my URLs when I am very excited about them. This time, I will cut&paste:

posted by librarina at 8:13 PM on August 25, 2005

Lets be clear about something. You do not need an Apple-branded base station. What Apple calls "airport" is just bog-standard 802.11b; "airport extreme" is 802.11g. You can find a wireless router with a few wired ports for as little as $25, much less than Apple charges.

I'm using a Netgear wireless router right now; I've an iMac and pritner plugged into its wireline ports, my cable modem plugged into the uplink, and an iBook doing the wireless.

Configuration is marginally more work with non-Apple products (you need to visit a web page and click some options), but hey, you do that once and save some bucks.
posted by adamrice at 8:59 PM on August 25, 2005

Benkolb, looking at your user page I see you are a student. If case you don't already know, their is an "Education Discount" on some of their products.
posted by 6:1 at 9:03 PM on August 25, 2005

Response by poster: Yes, 6:1 I'm very aware of their educational discount. I saved close to a hundred dollars on my iBook because of it.
posted by benkolb at 9:12 PM on August 25, 2005

adamrice, does the Netgear wireless router have a USB port? Besides the music-routing feature, this is the principal advantage of the Airport Express at its price point; you can plug any cheap USB printer into it, rather than shelling out for an office printer that is networkable over Ethernet.
posted by nicwolff at 9:18 PM on August 25, 2005

Airport Express is great.

As for software, just do your own testing. Lots of quality stuff out there, but everyone has their favorites.

For instance, I didn't care for Circus Ponies NoteBook, which somebody here loves, but I love voodoo pad, which someone else here also loves.

Have fun with your iBook =)
posted by justgary at 10:43 PM on August 25, 2005

My definite recommendations...

AdiumX (MSN, AOL, YIM and ICQ instant messenger),
LaunchBar (turn off Spotlight and use this instead),
VLC (great video player),
Transmit (FTP),
ffmpegX (video conversion),
LimeWire (steal songs),
Bittorrent (steal software),
SerialSeeker (find serial numbers for stolen programs),
Little Snitch (stop stolen programs telling owners that you nicked em),
GarageSale (eBay seller's frontend),
Colloquy (IRC),
Apple Remote Desktop (use your Mac from elsewhere),
FireFox (web browser),
ThunderBird (email).
Though, after using the last two, I switched back to Safari and Mail after a while, anyway. but give them a go.
posted by armoured-ant at 11:45 PM on August 25, 2005


Many people have recommended Airport Extreme or Express here, which started off in response to your question about printing wirelessly. Before you make the plunge and get yourself a wireless router, please be aware that not all printers will work with this. Have a look at this article and proceed accordingly.
posted by McIntaggart at 1:00 AM on August 26, 2005

Gadgets? Well, I consider Notational Velocity sufficient reason by itself to own a Macintosh. LaunchBar (mentioned above) is the other reason, and kicks Spotlight's and Quicksilver's asses all over the place.

If you buy in to Apple's lifestyle marketing, you'll probably find a use for jHymn, and Flickr Export will make iPhoto useful.

I'm not much for lugging hardware gadgetry around -- there's not much more than a little travel mouse, a PS2-USB adapter, and a VGA dongle in my bag with the Mac -- but I do try to keep a Juice 70 on hand. iGo offers a nifty adapter to let the Juice charge a cell phone, which is pretty cool if you set up your system to use a cellular data service.
posted by majick at 5:31 AM on August 26, 2005

Oh, and I'm given to understand that unlike the PowerBook, the entry-level iBook doesn't include a copy of OmniOutliner, so you'll need to buy, beg, borrow, or steal that, too. That application really just needs to be bundled with the OS, because it's indispensable. Everything that isn't a Notational Velocity scrap should just be an Omni Outline.
posted by majick at 5:36 AM on August 26, 2005

If you do try Quicksilver, try to persevere with it. Its delights are not readily apparent.

Let me add the oblig SubEathaEdit text editor recommendation. Handy if you write any sort of code or want to collaboratively edit documents over a network.

Let me second the recommendations for AdiumX, Colloquy and VLC.

Another web browser you might want to try is Camino: elegant and secure.I keep it and Firefox on my system and switch between them and Safari fairly regularly as soon as one of them starts to annoy me. By the time I get round to the first browser again, there's probably and update available and I've forgotten why it annoyed me last time out, and it sees me good for a month or so before I want to switch again.
posted by nthdegx at 5:42 AM on August 26, 2005

nicwolff--the one I has does not have a USB port; I've installed a print-server dongle on the printer (I actually had the server dongle long before I had the wireless router).
posted by adamrice at 7:57 AM on August 26, 2005

I use OmniOutliner constantly.
posted by mosch at 10:10 AM on August 26, 2005

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