Made by a Mac …sorta

Had a bit of a change of plans over the weekend: I talked to CompUSA and Apple a number of times on Saturday and guess what? I now have a new 12″ PowerBook! Was not without it’s issues of course – I wouldn’t be me if I could simply buy a new notebook and have nothing go wrong.

First there was the unannounced AppleCare Two Year Extension that was on my original quote. Since I was dealing with a corporate sales guy, for an educational sale, and I had a small discount on the pBook – smaller than Apple’s discount but still a nice gesture – I opted to just eat it. So now the pBook is warranted for three years in total. Not too bad that – notebooks seem to get into more mischief than desktops anyway. I get it home and start to load up some stuff – mostly the same software I have on the G4 Power Mac tower. While trying to set up an ad hoc network (the 12″ pBook doesn’t come with the built-in AirPort Extreme card) and due to the very dry heat in the house (it has been between 0 and 20 degrees for almost two weeks straight now) I fried a port on my LinkSys switch and another port on a generic LAN hub – after working with computers for over two decades, I finally had something destroyed by a static shock. Of course, I committed my second static induced murder about one hour after the first with the generic hub.

Now that I had an outage on the hub I wanted to make sure I could still use the LAN ports on the PC’s and Mac’s I had hooked up. This was when I found out that my software company’s web site was down which is odd since I’m with a new hosting company. I’ve been transferring that domain between hosting companies because my old one wasn’t willing to let me switch to a better plan without paying a start up fee. I’m sorry, but after six years of hosting with the same provider, I expect to at least be able to change an account without being treated like a “newbie”. So that was something else that was down. Once I verified that the ‘puters were OK, I swapped the LinkSys routers around, between my DSL and Cable networks. Consequently, this angered something in the Cable pantheon of gods, because this site has been up and down since I swapped switches. Something else to keep an eye on.

Back to the pBook. I installed almost everything on it when I decided “Let me make my user name the same on the Mac as it is on PC”. The PC would have been easy; the Mac, running on Unix, was next to impossible. Hence, the pBook has already suffered its first format and restore, which was completed after the Super Bowl on Sunday night.

Impressions of the pBook, you ask? Great machine. The aluminum is a bit weird because, well, it’s a notebook ensconced in metal. My Sony had a metal top that was brushed metal but nothing like this. Also, it’s notebook shaped; the Sony had waves to make it appear thinner than it was – Apple just made this a thinner notebook. The screen is sharp. The stand-by support from OS-X is incredible. You just open the top and it’s back on. The track pad is better than my current Sony and on par with my first Sony. Networking is a piece of cake. The AC adapter also gets some attention because it’s neither a two piece adapter, nor is it a huge brick of a plug. I’m not sure what Apple did to do this, but their AC adapter is an inch longer and wider than the iPod adapter: it’s a square plug but a narrow square. Picture 4″ by 4″ but only 1″ wide where the plug itself is. It won’t take up more than one plug space on your power strip, and it’s only that one piece; no big box attacked to it later down the wire. Get this – the hook that will keep the notebook closed and is released by the “open” button automatically recesses itself in the top while open. It pops out as you close the lid through magnetic’s (I think). Great piece of engineering!

Downside? In spite of itself, if it ran XP my life would be much easier, but I’m willing to give this conversion a try… especially after the $2.5K this experiment will cost me! Also, the lil guy runs hot. I mean really hot – like I can’t put this on my lap if I have shorts on and use it for more than an hour. Maybe the metal case helps conduct the heat or something, I don’t know but it’s hot. Also, I’ve noticed that it’s having issues with playing sounds. I opened the trial version of Word.X and was fiddling around with it; I hit Command-Z to Undo something and it *popped*, ran the “Wait” cursor and then played the sound. I turned off this strange setting for “play text-to-speech when…” in System Preferences and it cleared it up, I think. It could also be the lack of memory; I’ve got the stock 256MB for another couple of days… I don’t consider this a full gripe, yet, but if I add the memory and it still happened, I’m calling AppleCare. Somehow having a digital audio ready notebook not being able to play audio is not acceptable.

So for the time being, welcome to RandyRants – partially Made with a Mac.

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