December 27, 2005

New laptop!

This is my first post on my new laptop, I'd like you to know, in case you've been worrying about me and my destroyed iBook and my labors over the weekend with my clunky iMac. Thanks to Josh for doing the red tape things to get the new computer ordered and ready to be picked up at the UW Tech Store in just a few hours. It's a nice PowerBook, the smallest size (because even though I spend a lot of time looking at the screen, I want the most portable computer). Is it better than the iBook that died? Yes! It's faster, it has twice the storage space, the screen is crisper, and the keyboard has a much more solid, substantial feel to it. And, of course, everything that was white is now silver.


tiggeril said...

Ah, I envy you. I dropped my two-year-old Powerbook and a corner of the case broke. The computer itself still works fine, but seeing that broken corner nags at me.

Is there anything better than a shiny new gadget?

Pastor_Jeff said...

How fun! There's something exciting about new tech gear. It seems (fortunately) to write just as well as the former model. Best wishes for a long and productive relationship.

Does this make it Silvio's techy cousin? And do you name your computers (or any other inanimate objects), or just vehicles?

verification: nuehb. German with a cold and a new computer?

Ann Althouse said...

Yeah, it does match my car. Doesn't match the Mighty Mouse though.

nypundit said...

tiggeril, I know what you mean. I came home this evening to find the screen portion of my TIBook starting to seperate. It's starting to annoy me already. Those Intel based macs are coming at the right time.

brylin said...

Congratulations! You certainly deserve it. (Although I love my Thinkpads.)

Elizabeth said...

My heart is always glad to hear of a happy new Mac purchase. Yay for you! Now if I can just my hands on a new iPod Invisa, I'll be all set, too.

Paul said...

Congratulations, that's good news!

Ruth Anne Adams said...

So glad the screen is "crisper".

boringmadedull said...

Pls note that, although PC users, we are dripping with envy at the thought of new laptops.

As noted in my post, a real man would be blogging with two soup cans and some string....

elliot said...

Too bad you couldn't have waited a few months.

The new Intel-based PowerBooks may be coming out soon.

(Of course, I bought a new PowerBook just a few months ago myself, but I'm an instant gratification junkie).

Theo Boehm said...

Good for you! When I heard your iBook was on the fritz, I was afraid you might be tempted to the Dark Side, but a PowerBook is an excellent choice. I'm typing this on a newish 17" PowerBook. It doesn't get any better. Our stoner Uncle Steve somehow manages to come up with very nice stuff.

vbspurs said...

UW Tech Store in just a few hours.

Ahhh. Our tax dollars were never better spent.


Abraham said...

I hate Macs. Not for the hardware, which is generally of good quality, or the software, which is fine, but the attitude. That of both Jobs and his followers. I wish I could slap them all with a giant herring and tell them that being a Mac user does not make them any smarter, more creative, or moral than anyone else. A true free-thinker will use the best tool for the job, which is usually not a Mac. But there is this attitude of superiority, coupled with moral pretension, along with my knowledge that their decision was almost certainly entirely's one of the few things that makes me irrationally angry.

quimby said...

tiggeril, I did the same thing to my PowerBook - sent it in to Apple and they returned it with a completely new casing free of charge. Just one more reason I will never again own a non-Apple computer!

knoxgirl said...


I can understand being annoyed by some of that stuff. But Macs really do kick ass! The environment, the interface, everything is so much more pleasant than Windows. Windows is just depressing and confounding. Why is everything buried underneath a button called "Start" ? Lots of stuff is clunky and just isn't intuitive.

And I really value objects that are beautiful, and Mac consistently achieves that as well. If I'm going to spend hours working with my computer, I want it to be aesthetically pleasing. I really respect that Apple is raising the bar in product design. (Along with TARGET!).

Anyway, there *are* lots of good reasons to like Macs.

Theo Boehm said...

I totally agree with knoxgirl. I have used computers since I wrote my first paper on one in 1972. It was a DEC PDP11 connected to a Selectric typewriter. Better than a teletype machine! I also wrote a fair amount of assembly-language code for said PDP11. Since then, I've owned a CP/M-based Osbourne, a couple of DOS machines and Macs since 1987.

I use Windows machines as CAD/CAM workstations at my job. I am a professional CAD user, with a $13,000 seat of Pro/Engineer at my disposal. I say all this only to establish my bona fides as an experienced user and not to rant on about how much I know.

It is pure joy to use my Mac compared to any other computer I've used. The hardware is beautiful, the Unix-based OS X a marvel that some of us semi-geeks can easily play with, and in many cases the Mac IS the best tool for the job. The best 2-D CAD on the planet, for example, is for Macintosh, and there is very good 3-D modeling software available commercially or through the open-source route, another advantage over Windows

The integration of multimedia software with the OS and the entire Apple range of offerings just has to be experienced. With the exception of lame Entourage, Office for OS X is, at the moment, better than the Windows version. Like your stoner uncle, Macs just make you feel good to be around them.

I don't claim any moral superiority or emulate Steve Jobs's attitude. I am also very aware of the War of the Operating Systems, which pits Calvinist Windows users against us Mac people and Pope Steve. We are really quite ecumenical, and I don't want to start another battle, so please don't tell me how I'm going to burn in Hell for being so wasteful and spending $3000 on a computer that could be had on the Windows side for $495.

Macs are simply the BMW of computers. And in this area of my life, at least, I own something that isn't a piece of crap.

Elizabeth said...

It's not worth debating the attitude question, but Abraham, what do you mean by this:

A true free-thinker will use the best tool for the job, which is usually not a Mac.

For what jobs are Macs not suited? And keep in mind, your use of the word "usually" means you need to come up with more than a few.

Abraham said...

For what jobs are Macs not suited?

Not that they aren't suited, just that they aren't the best, according to objective criteria. For example, I would say that for any general purpose computing task, a Mac has no major functional advantages over any other computer, but the disadvantages of being more expensive, more proprietary, and able to run far less general-purpose software.

That said, I'm willing to concede that preferences matter! Therefore, for some people, it's the best tool for the job for them, because it has something idiosyncratic that they value highly. But many Apple users then deny that same capacity to others, looking down on people who prefer different things than them like clueless, unwashed masses, secure in the knowledge that they made the "right" decision and that everyone else deserves their pity.

This is all probably a manifestation of my larger antipathy for arrogant, preening pseudo-intellectuals, having just spent seven years in higher education, but I just wish that Mac bigots would show the insight that their education ought to impart.

Elizabeth said...


We agree that its largely about preference; maybe you'll consider, too, that Apple owners' preening is a response to years of Windows users frequently biased critiques.

As for benchmarks, I'd like to see what research you're citing. Certainly in graphics rendering, Macs frequently come out ahead, as well as in numbers crunching. These reports change year to year, with new processors, anyway. But I'm not aware of any significant deficencies in Mac performance in any specific arena--other than gaming, I guess--and I do pretty well at keeping up with the reading. Of course, I own a 4 year-old, 600 mgz iBook. My Mac browsing is like my high-performance car browsing: fodder for daydreams.

Abraham said...

As for benchmarks, I'd like to see what research you're citing. Certainly in graphics rendering, Macs frequently come out ahead, as well as in numbers crunching.

This might be true for a handful of applications that deliberately designed to run faster on PPC architectures, but there is no inherent quality to Mac hardware that makes it faster then equivalent x86 hardware. Otherwise why would Apple abandon the PPC architecture and moving to x86? In fact, in line with my complaints is that educated people who should otherwise know better will uncritically accept Apple's blatantly misleading performance claims, overlooking incovenient facts such as their comparing a dual-processor G5 with a single-processor P4. Now, if you use one of those specific applications, then of course you would be best off using the platform it was designed for, providing you are willing to pay the cost. But very few people fall into this category.

As far as deficiencies in Mac performance, the top-end of x86 (especially Opterons) kills Macs in raw performance, and OSX's thread-creation is ridiculously slow, even compared to Windows, making it totally unsuitable for any kind of high-concurrency server application.

This article has an excellent performance comparison:

Elizabeth said...


I'll follow up on that link, thanks. But as for why move to x86, Apple benefits from a wider selection of software design. A major, legitimate complaint about Macs is that there are fewer software options. This move will make it much easier for software designers to create apps for both PC and Mac.

Theo Boehm said...

I was afraid that news of Ann’s new PowerBook might provoke a skirmish in the War of the Operating Systems, and it has sadly proven so. One of the commenters here, Sippican Cottage, a couple of weeks ago linked from another thread to a very funny piece of his comparing Bill Gates to your father and Steve Jobs to your stoner uncle. I alluded to another amusing conceit in my last post, namely that Windows users may be compared to Calvinists and Mac people to Catholics. There is a further comparison that springs to mind: Macintoshes are the President Bush of computers. There mere mention of Apple or the sight of a Mac causes the numerous haters to go on and on about how bad Macs are and how you must be defective in some way to like much less own one. If they can’t attack the hardware or OS, they will grumble about the marketing campaign and how dishonest Apple is. Shades of Karl Rove.

There is more on the site that Abraham refers to above, proving the deficiencies of Macs. First, there is a follow-on article that clarifies some points, showing that Macs are not quite the pieces of junk the first piece made out. Here’s the URL:

The bottom line seems to be that Macs are decent workstations, but a defect in thread management seriously impacts OS X’s utility as a server. I don’t know about you, but I can’t remember the last time I served a MySQL database from my laptop.

Secondly, there is on the same site a rather fair-minded article comparing our favorite computers, written by a life-long DOS/Windows user. He’s evaluating computers almost exclusively from the user’s perspective. He comes to the basic conclusion that Macs aren’t perfect, they’re overpriced, but they’re nice workstations with a stable OS that has its charms. What’s to argue about? Here’s the URL:

The only serious quibble I have with what he says is that I don’t think Office for OS X is quite the train wreck he does. Otherwise, it’s well worth reading.

All I know is that I can have half a dozen programs, including a couple of resource-hogging graphics apps, running on four operating systems at the same time, all while listening to Billie Holiday, sipping a latte, and looking at something beautiful. Could I do this cheaper and perhaps faster on an x86 machine? Maybe, but there wouldn’t be anything beautiful in the room, and the latte wouldn’t taste the same.

Ernst Blofeld said...

You'll have built-in buyer's regret when Apple introduces a bunch of new machines at Macworld in a week.

In the great OS wars, I'm a twofer--I'm both a pretentious Mac user and a condescending Unix guy, so OS X is something that feeds all my psychic needs.

Ann Althouse said...

Ernst: No, I won't, because I simply could not have gone these few weeks without a laptop. Just impossible.

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elsa said...

Hey, I'm writing from my 4 year-old'm thinking of getting an ultrabook now.