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Get Your PowerBook Up and Running By Jerry Yocky,

To Turn your new Apple PowerBook into a trusty, traveling sidekick. Whether you're a portable code warrior, Wall Street magnate, or simply a Mac-lover, the new PowerBook has a lot of nifty features to satisfy everyone. Consistent with Macintosh's mantra for the "personal touch," this PowerBook gives you plenty of options to customize your laptop. But before you get too excited, take some time and read these helpful tips for setting up your PowerBook the right way.

Always remember: The first step after opening your box is to check the contents. You don't want to get too far into setting up your PowerBook if the factory goofed and you're missing crucial components like a DVD-ROM. You've invested a lot into this computer, so make sure you get what you paid for! That having said, your PowerBook comes with the following features:

AC power adapter. This two-piece device should have a four-inch disc-shaped device with cable wound in it. This end of the cable connects to your laptop. The other half is the power cord that connects from the wall plug to the disc-shaped device.

Battery. The battery should be pre-installed into the left slot of your PowerBook.

DVD-ROM drive. The DVD-ROM should also be pre-installed—look for it in the right slot of your PowerBook. Weight-saving device. This is a small black box that can be inserted in one of the two expansion slots.

S video-out cable. You can use this device to connect the screen output of your PowerBook into your television.

Telephone cord. Use the telephone cord with the internal 56k V.90 modem.

Macintosh monitor adapter.

Three CD-ROMs. These contain a copy of the system software already on your machine and a CD for troubleshooting hardware problems.

Now that you're through checking the contents, examine the configuration.

Your PowerBook came in one of two configurations: 400MHz G3 with 64MB RAM and a 10GB hard drive 500MHz G3 with 128MB of RAM and a 20GB hard drive. If you're picking up last year's model, the 400MHz machine comes with a 6GB HD and the 500MHz with a 12GB HD. Other than the processor, amount of RAM and size of hard drive, the machines are identical. Both come with the same accessories and both machines have a 100MHz system bus, ATI Rage Mobility video card with 8MB video RAM, 1MB of L2 cache, built-in Ethernet and an internal V.90 56k modem.

Your laptop battery probably has some charge in it leftover from factory setup and testing. You might be able to boot up your system immediately, but it's probably better to plug your PowerBook into an outlet. The number of LEDs illuminated on the battery lets you know how much battery life is left—each LED corresponds to 1/4 charge. You'll probably only have one or two lit. If you don't see the battery indicators after plugging in your PowerBook, depress the rectangular button on the battery.

Time to boot the machine. Just open the display and press the power button. After the initial splash screen, the setup assistant will run, taking you through a short registration tour. You'll probably want to answer all the questions in this part. If you're impatient and quit before the assistant is through (by holding down Option+Apple+Esc), you can always go back by launching the Setup Assistant application. Simply launch Sherlock 2 and search for Setup Assistant—you'll be greeted by the same application. But assuming you finish registration, you'll have entered all of your registration information and gotten set up for Internet connectivity.

When the Internet section pops up, you'll have to decide whether you want to use an existing connection, or perform a free trial of Earthlink. If you use the free trial, you'll need your credit card information handy. Earthlink will give you one month free, but if you don't cancel service by the end of that month, you will be charged for service in the following months.

After you're done with the setup assistant, you'll be in the desktop environment (or trying to connect to the Internet). You should see a few icons along the right side of the screen: your hard drive (labeled Macintosh HD), Sherlock 2, Browse the Internet, and Quicktime. Software included with your PowerBook includes Mac OS 9.0.4, iMovie 2, Sherlock 2, Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.5, Netscape Communicator 4.73, Quicktime, Outlook Express, Adobe Acrobat Viewer, and a couple utilities like the Graphing Calculator and SimpleText. Also included is software to play DVD movies and audio CD's.

To begin using your software, start by double-clicking the Macintosh HD icon. A window will pop up, displaying the software installed on your machine. Although your PowerBook doesn't come with as much software installed as the iBook, your machine is far more powerful, and Apple must be assuming that many users will want to install their own sets of software. At this stage, feel free to play around with your computer; you can easily remedy any mistakes with the system software CD included with your PowerBook.

For example, you can change the look of your OS environment by opening the appearance control panel. This panel allows you to change colors of the desktop and windows, as well as the background picture.

If you have a cool icon that just begs to be the HD icon, simply select the application that has the picture and hold the Apple+I keys. A general information screen will open that tells you the file type, creation date, etc. Click on the icon in the upper left corner and hold Apple+C to copy. Now, get information on your hard drive by holding Apple+I again and select the icon. To complete the task, hold Apple+V and close the window.

You can also personalize your machine by customizing your hard drive. First, rename your hard drive by clicking in the text field and typing. You can also add an alias of your hard drive in the Apple menu items. To add items to Apple menu, open up your System Folder, which contains a folder labeled Apple Menu Items. Make an alias of the application you wish to put in the Apple menu by selecting the item and holding Apple+M. Now, instead of navigating all of those folders, you can just use the drop-down menus to find everything on your hard drive.

If you finished registration through the setup assistant, connecting to the Internet should be a snap. Start by plugging the phone cord into the back of the PowerBook. In the Apple Menu, open Remote Access Status; you'll be able to dial in to your ISP from here. Then, open the Control Panel for Internet, where you should click on the multicolored apple in the upper left corner of your screen. A menu will drop down, and if you move your mouse over the Control Panels, a submenu appears.

Within the submenu, click on the item labeled Internet. Once the Internet Control Panel pops up, you should see the information that you entered in the Setup Assistant there. Click on the tab labeled Web, and at the bottom you'll see an item that allows you to select your default Web browser. Although all Apple computers ship with Internet Explorer as the default Web browsing application, you can decide to use either Internet Explorer or Netscape Communicator

If you have DSL or a cable modem, you should plug the Ethernet cable from the modem to the included network interface card. You'll need to open your TCP/IP control panel and set it up according to the directions from your ISP—i.e., DNS name servers, etc.

While on the road with your PowerBook, you need to remember a few tips. For one, using the DVD-ROM consumes a lot of battery power. If you have no absolute need to use it, you should install the weight-saving device in that slot. Before doing so, make sure to unmount any CD's or DVD's and pull the black tab on the front of the laptop. The DVD drive will pop out a few centimeters, and you'll be able to slide it the rest of the way out. You can then just switch that little black box in the freed-up slot. Your machine will be a few ounces lighter, and you'll probably have more battery time, as well. For laptop security issues, see ZDNet's article on PowerBook security.

Getting Help If you have any technical problems, you can check a couple online resources, as well as Mac help on your machine. Apple's Web site has a searchable database of Q&A from their engineers. If this site doesn't help, you can check out other Web sites like MacFixit on the Internet.


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