My Balance Gave Out!

Oops. More or less, anyway. I can’t think of any better way to say it, but I seem to have bought a new PowerBook. Yeah, you heard me. Even after yesterday’s revelations about how I wouldn’t be able to Switch fully, I ordered a new Apple notebook. What happened? Steve Jobs’ keynote address at Macworld Expo yesterday is what happened. I know it sounds odd – that a CEO’s speech could force a lone, mostly-pro Microsoft programmer to change his… um, well everything. I’ve been 99.44% pro Microsoft for at least a decade… It wasn’t Jobs’ words that have changed me – it was his products.

Apple was on the offensive yesterday, and they have enough room in their sights for more one target it seems – the lined up on at least Microsoft and AOL and probably any current notebook manufacturer. They slapped Microsoft in the face with their operating system updates; that’s old news, though, as they’ve been doing that (and losing) since 1988, but the truth is that they’re slowly gaining ground. It might be like taking three extra grains of sand off a mile long beach, but that’s ok – they aren’t losing ground and that’s what they are focusing on. They sparked a new offensive against Microsoft with the iLife application suite (to compete with Windows Media Player) and Keynote (PowerPoint on steroids and fully PPT compatible). Apple also attacked both AOL and Microsoft by releasing a beta of Safari – the first Apple-made web browser.

All of that is fine and dandy – it’s the hardware that piqued my interest. Jobs was playing around with a new notebook while on stage. With a 17″ screen, 1GHz G4 processor, and heft of over 8 pounds and only 1″ thickness, this new PowerBook had everyone watching in a drool-fest. Me? Ya, it was neat – so’s a Ferrari but it doesn’t fit my budget nor my lifestyle, and at an over $3000 price tag, this is one pricey machine. What made me reach for the credit card was it’s little cousin. They put most of the same features of this mongo-notebook into a small 12.1″ screen based package. Granted the 802.11g is optional (802.11b is built in) and it’s a 867MHz but it’s also only $1800 and weights about 4.6 pounds with a five hour batter time. While heavier than my current Sony, it’s pretty much a killer notebook – at least on paper. It will ship in two to four weeks, but I’m at waiting near the head of the line already!

So why the change? Simple, really. I have a G4/450MHz tower at home, that will find its way up to eBay soon. It’s amazing, but Apple’s retain their value for years; this same tower is selling for the exact same price that it was when I bought it. Of course I added some memory and bought software for it, so I might even be able to recoup some of that, as well. The notebook will be home based and taking up the same use I have for the current G4. However, I got to thinking.

I use my iPod for music. I could easily use it for contacts – XPlay (for Windows) and iSync (for Mac) will easily keep my contacts in sync with Outlook and Address Book/Entourage (respective to OS there). I could also use it for calendar items, even thought I’ve heard that using it for time-based things causes the battery to drain quickly, so I haven’t bothered. So I use a Pocket PC (Toshiba e740) for my mobile PIM data. It sync’s flawlessly with my PC with ActiveSync. It could, in theory, sync with my Mac with some extra software that I haven’t tried yet, but do I want to bother? If I’m only using the Pocket PC as a contacts and calendar manager, that’s like using a BMW 760iL to back down a driveway to get the newspaper that’s on the sidewalk. So why not change that too? Palm OS devices sync to both PC and Mac with the software included with the device and/or OS. It’s a thought; get a $100 Clie or Edge or Zire and that becomes my “day planner” – it sync’s with everything and it’s cheap. Of course, I could also get a Pocket PC Phone and drop the PDA altogether, but they are kinda big for a phone – I carry my S105 on my belt at all times (which makes it a nice form of birth control, for multiple reasons!) I could also wait for iSync to support the Pocket PC, but I’m betting that will not happen.

The only other massive hiccup in Randy’s Techno-World is the Blog. I use CityDesk, which is Windows only. Virtual PC? I’ll have to see if I can find a demo model at CompUSA and check the speed, but I’m really not expecting it to be an option. Remote Desktop? I write on a train, so I need to be offline. An OS X based blog writer? Maybe I’ll have to take a walk around Cocoa or J2SE and see about writing me some software – project!

When the people I work with see this, they very well may try to make me commit myself to a “vacation place” or something with a nice rubber room view of the park. They also might try to throw some holy water on me, but I’ll do what I can to protect the Sony – I’m not done with it quite yet! – and convince them that I haven’t lost my mind… it’s just looking at the world through aqua colored glasses for a little while.


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