May 19, 2002
The New Arrival: 5 lbs 8 oz

Yesterday I went to the Apple store and got myself a G4 PowerBook.

I wanted a laptop, and I spent weeks trying to decide what to get. Which is longer than it took me to choose a college. The TiBook running OS X is undeniably the coolest laptop in existence, but a Vaio or a Thinkpad running Windows 2000 and Linux has some major advantages.

PowerBook Pros:

  • Insanely long battery life
  • Great display
  • OS X: it's unix, and with a good interface (I haven't mentioned my experience in rediscovering what a joke linux is as a desktop OS, but consider yourself officially warned.)
  • Macintosh Common Lisp
  • Style

PowerBook Cons:

  • Has none of the games I'm interested in
  • Doesn't run the robotics software I develop at work (x86 linux)
  • Doesn't have Outlook (question the accepted wisdom; I'm here to tell you that Outlook rules)
  • Insanely expensive
  • OS X: needs some work
  • Macintosh Common Lisp

My priorities are:

  1. Get work done,
  2. while being incited to swear as infrequently as possible,
  3. and look good doing it.

I figured some of the disadvantages could be overcome by using VirtualPC, though I remain skeptical of just how pleasant or convenient that would be. But mostly it was the strength of OS X that won me over (there would have been no decision to make if we were still stuck with Mac OS 9, that's for sure). I really love having a unix-based OS with a nice desktop environment. I figured there's plenty of software for it, there's only going to be more, OS X is bound to improve, and at the very least it makes a great terminal for an x86 linux laptop mounted on a robot (with XDarwin, etc.).

So I got the PowerBook, the stock mid-level model: 800 Mhz, 512 MB, 40 gig drive.

I drove home from the Apple store with the laptop box in the front seat, where I decided it would have the most benefit of all that German engineering; crumple zones, front and side airbags, even my own squishy body in a few of the less likely impact scenarios. I'm sure eventually I'll be slinging it around cavalierly while riding my bike, but for now this computer is going to be pampered. It deserves it.

Posted by jjwiseman at May 19, 2002 04:12 PM

Great choice. My wife has last year's model TiBook, upgraded at Christmas to 768Mb, and I lust after it! When it's time for me to get a new machine I'm very tempted to get a Mac. All I'd really miss is the games, and sometimes that's just such a time sink its better I don't have them.

Posted by: Alex Moffat on May 19, 2002 06:42 PM

Good choice. I made the same plunge late last year and haven't looked back.

I'm still waiting for DrScheme to work "right". MzScheme works fine, though.

Posted by: stevej on May 20, 2002 01:18 AM

Is geeky techno-lust really different from rednecks at monster truck rallies? I only ask as a friend.

A guy came back today from an OS X conference at Apple. Says the new version - Jaguar, I think - will be the only UI to make direct use of the graphics hardware and buffers. Says Apple had a demo of a Quicktime player with a small hole in the center, through which you could see another Quicktime video behind it. CPU was at 3%. Sounds cool to me.

Posted by: on May 20, 2002 02:04 PM

Yes, OS X is slow. In particular it seems like anything display-related is more sluggish than it should be. But I haven't been too bothered by it for some reason; possibly it's that while OS X feels a little slower in comparison to other systems, on current hardware it's not slow enough to be annoying.

(I suppose I should mention that Apple claims the next release of OS X is going to have faster hardware accelerated display code, at least on some machines. Of course, Apple always says the next release of their OS will be faster, and it almost never is.)

The Macintosh Browser Experience has totally sucked ass for a long time. Mac browsers were either super slow or incredibly ancient. IE on windows is my favorite, but again it seems like IE on the mac has finally gotten good enough that I don't keep thinking "jesus, why am I putting myself through this?" when I use it. Its success is that it has (almost) faded into the background and does its job (which is just my perspective as a pretty casual user, not a web developer).

There are definite drawbacks to a Mac, but so far the combination of a nice interface, software that uses that interface, and unix has been working pretty well for me. Check back in a year or so.

Posted by: jjwiseman on May 22, 2002 02:29 PM

Things that bug me about the powerbook:

1. One-button trackpad. Just fucking give it up already, Apple.

2. The keyboard. I'll probably get used to what seems like a tiny ESC key, but the cursor keys are too small, and there should be separate Page Up and Page Down keys. And probably Home and End too.

3. Seems like battery life is about two hours. Way better than I'm used to, but I expected a little more.

Also, it gets really hot and the fan goes on a lot. This doesn't bother me, but wasn't everyone going on about what a heaty mess Intel chips were and G3/G4s were sooo efficient? Not according to my lap.

Posted by: jjwiseman on May 22, 2002 02:36 PM

Speaking of browsers... for a long time I grudgingly had to admit that IE was the only browser worth a damn -- but Mozilla 1.0 RC2 has turned it around for me. Two words: tabbed browsing. It's fast, finally got SSL worked out, smaller memory footprint, and offers a very consistent experience across platforms. It's now my default browser on Win98, Win2K, Linux, Solaris, and OS X. Rowr!

Posted by: Troutgirl on May 22, 2002 05:43 PM

The terminal slowness that annoys me has to do with its start up time, which I've heard blamed on building the font menu. In theory, if you use a font manager to minimize the font set, it starts up a lot faster. (It scrolls fast enough for me.)

I'm also using Mozilla 1rc2. I'm still using Opera on Windows, because it saves the windows I've had open, and lets me use funky mouse gestures for navigation, but I could live with Mozilla there, too.

About the TiBook battery life -- how long does it last when you're not using the wireless?

Posted by: Michael Hannemann on May 22, 2002 07:35 PM

Hey John,

Syncronicity lives. My wife just bought me an Ibook for my birthday on the 15th. Now I am not the techno god like the group in this thread. So I have few comments to add.

I wanted the thing for one reason. Editting home movies of my kids. And so far, the thing works like a charm.

Although, I will join the chorus to say the browser blows. I've been using windows too long my friend. Taking me time to adjust back to the mac world.

Will send a link to my first movie when produced.


Posted by: Brett Wangman on May 23, 2002 10:09 AM

You can get mouse gestures for Mozilla, too.

I'm using Mozilla 1.0rc3 mostly.

Microsoft is working on a faster IE. I don't like the current IE because it is a bit unstable.

Try Chimera for a faster user interface for a web browser. Still work in progress.

For a faster terminal, try GLTerm.

Actually, I'm already very satisfied with OSX. I like it. It is getting better all the time. Rule # 1 though: get lot's of RAM. I even like all the eye candy.

No more grey!

Posted by: Rainer Joswig on May 24, 2002 07:57 PM

Joyce: I've installed Mozilla and it's become my main browser. It's noticeably slower than IE, but it also works slightly better for me.

Brett: Hi! I'll be waiting.

General: I was pretty shocked last night, a week after having brought this thing home, that I was getting an intermittent connection between the dc plug on the power adaptor and the powerbook. I had to rotate it a bit to get a good connection. Apple, Apple...

Posted by: jjwiseman on May 26, 2002 01:36 PM

All the guys at the office have installed Jaguar, and they report it does in fact run much faster. Comes in a cute leopard-print CD case too. :-)

Posted by: Troutgirl on May 27, 2002 11:47 AM

I saw a G4 Cube in a lab the other week. It had a big sign on it saying "Vent on top -- don't put journals here!" (sigh)

Looking forward to Jaguar. I'm mostly happy with OS X; I just want the odds and ends cleaned up.

(And an ability to record my own sound files again.)

Posted by: Michael Hannemann on May 29, 2002 11:49 AM

I've never used the powerbook without an airport connection, actually. heh. But I hear the battery does last significantly longer that way.

Posted by: jjwiseman on June 2, 2002 07:26 PM

There is a version of Outlook for mac that connects to Exchange Server and is equivalent to the PC Version except that it doesn't do NetMeeting.

They have a survey to gather interest for OS X version.

Posted by: Josh on June 22, 2002 12:24 AM

One way that nothing is equivalent to Windows Outlook is in the ability to read .pst files. I have several hundred megabytes of mail stuck in one of those right now, and I think I'll have to resort to Virtual PC to crack it open.

Posted by: jjwiseman on June 26, 2002 02:54 PM

Can Outlook Express convert Outlook mailboxes? If so, there are lots of programs out there which take OE mail and convert it to mbox so that Eudora can read it.

Posted by: Michael Hannemann on June 27, 2002 09:14 AM

Yes, it can... if it is running on the same machine as a copy of real Outlook configured to use the .pst file. Which can be pretty inconvenient (it's easier for me to borrow a copy of virtual PC, Windows 2000, and Office 2000).

Posted by: jjwiseman on June 27, 2002 10:26 AM
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