Good advice. His suggestion was absolutely correct, but I had been desperately searching for an excuse to buy the machine then and there (not to mention the soft spot I have for salespeople that specifically tell me not to buy their product). I picked up a spindle of blank CD-Rs and went home to do some serious backing up. A few hours later I had a full backup of all our personal data. "If anything," I thought to myself, "this has forced me to again parody that much-abused quote: First. Backup. Ever."
Of course, the story is never that simple. That week I was halfway through a group report for uni, for which I was wholly responsible for the final collating and typesetting. Classmates had been giving me sections of the report in plain text (as I normally request), and I had been putting the whole thing together using LyX. LyX is an exceptional document processor (A LateX front end, really) that - in their own words - takes the effort out of "typesetting beautiful documents". It is simply the best way to anyone writing anything, anywhere, at any time - it makes life so much easier that you feel it must be cheating. Honestly, if you're not doing desktop publishing or graphic design then you should be using LyX. It lets you focus on the content and structure of your document, without having to worry about layout and formatting. If you know what LateX is then you'll be delighted to hear that - unlike many other LateX frontends - LyX doesn't make you learn a single piece of LateX code. I've been using it for years, and the only time I've ever seen a line of LateX source code is when I opened up a .lyx file in a text editor just to see what it looks like. If you don't know what LateX is, then all you need to know is that it's far easier to use than MS Word, and doesn't choke on documents more than ten pages long. I can't praise it enough, countless times I have watched fellow classmates try (fruitlessly) to "fix" the formatting in their Word documents - even when they're only a few pages long, with a couple of diagrams.
To cut a long story short, I needed LyX. LyX itself also has a whole host of other requirements (LateX, various converters and libraries, etc.) that need to be satisfied. Coming from Linux I was used to the general concept of certain applications not being available, but by dual booting between Linux and Windows I had kept most of my bases covered. I was, however, quietly confident that the Unix underpinnings of the new Mac OS would prove to be my saviour.
And I was right, www.lyx.org had a prominent link to an OS X port of LyX (based on the QT toolkit). The LyX/OSX page also provided a link to a neat little piece of software called "i-installer" that enables you to easily download and install all the packages required to get LyX up and running. Excellent.
Okay, so I had LyX covered. I knew (obviously) that MS Office was available (a must for my fiancee) and I was fairly certain a Mac version of Quake would exist somewhere. I don't game very often, but when I do I always go back to my old favourite.
The day of sale eventually came (longest two day wait of my life) and I received a chirpy little phone call at about 9 AM that morning;
"Sean? Uh, hi. Yeah, I know I said I would come by and check out the laptop today, but we've had a bit of a family emergency and things aren't looking good."
"Everyone is okay and everything, it's nothing like that, but I've just been up all night trying to sort some stuff out. I don't think I'll be able to make the drive down to Sydney today. Maybe tomorrow."
"Um, is that cool? I mean, it shouldn't be a problem tomorrow. I think. I'll call you tomorrow."
"Cool. I'll call you again tomorrow. Thanks!"
Before I knew it that chirpy voice had faded into the barely audible *beep*beep*beep* of a terminated long distance phone call, a beep that seemed to drill a hole right through the middle of my quartz-enabled heart. I felt like exploding, I felt like tearing the phone from the wall (it was a cell phone, but the principle is the same), I felt like reaching through the combined GSM and copper network to grab this fiend by the scruff of the neck and cry "Such wickedness! How dare you rip from me the shred of hope that today - TODAY!!! - would be that long awaited day when I would walk into the trendy enclave of modern society that is an Apple store and utter those four fateful words: "I'll take this one." !!"
Of course, what I actually said was;
I knew no one was on the other end of the phone, but I felt better after letting it out. You shouldn't bottle up your feelings, you know.
After I had spent the next few hours moping around the house (Around the room, really. It's quite a small apartment.) I received an unexpected - though not unwelcome - phone call;
"Sean? Hi! Yeah, We left Newcastle an hour ago and we're on our way down to Sydney now. How do we get to your house?"
My heart nearly leapt out of my chest; "It's really going to happen! No turning back now," I thought fleetingly to myself. Fortunately I scratched such thoughts into pieces of gyprock, so as to record them here later on.
I gave the chirpy voice some directions and turned to my next task; I now had about an hour and a half to clear off all my personal stuff from this computer and get it ready for its new owner. I had already made the full backup, but there was still a Mandrake Linux partition, and various settings that I would need to get rid of. Not a big deal, a fairly quick job for anyone who knows what they are doing. First thing I did was create a new "User" account in Windows and set it as the default login, then I logged in to that account and deleted both mine and my fiancee's accounts (and personal settings, data, home directories, etc). I Then opened up Windows XP's Disk Management tool and reformatted the Mandrake partition as a Windows Partition. Lastly, I still needed to get rid of the bootloader (Grub) that facilitated my dual booting between the two operating systems. The normal way of doing this is by rebooting into the "Microsoft Management Console" (MMC) and typing "/fixmbr" at the console. Easy. As I did not normally have the option of booting into the MMC I would need to activate it using the provided Computer Management Tools in the Control Panel.