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So, after two years and lots of hassle, I'm giving up on the evil laptop. And I'm getting an iBook! A nice, lightweight iBook, which I hope will not weight a million tons and break down three times in two years (like this Compaq piece of pooh). You might say, "why Anna, you just left fulltime employment, perhaps you should not be spending €1700.00 on a new computer". But! When I got paid off, they gave me, to my surprise, the month and a half's pay I was owed (which I thought would be included in the redundancy package), so I actually have the money to "spare".

And I'm quite excited - I've always loved Macs, and they are the media computer of choice, so it'll actually be a practical choice too. I hope.


( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 9th, 2003 05:34 am (UTC)
Hurray! They are sweet and light to carry! And pretty, and if you put Office on it, compatible with PCs.
Oct. 9th, 2003 06:31 am (UTC)

My colleagues use iBooks. They also moan a lot about them and their sluggishness. Having used them myself, I found them to be lacking in speed and found the operating system to be awkward to use.

A good PC laptop is probably a better plan, not to mention cheaper.

Just my 2 cent.
Oct. 9th, 2003 08:07 am (UTC)
The thing is, I'm well used to the operating system, because I've used Macs in work for five years - pretty much every newspaper and magazine uses them. I actually prefer them to Windows (which stole a lot of the ideas anyway, like the drag and click), and would have got a Mac laptop in the first place, only it was before they opened the shop here, so they were much harder to get.

And there is no way that a new iBook could be any slower and crapper than this thing - which cost me about €800.00 more than the iBook will cost.
Oct. 9th, 2003 09:24 am (UTC)
pretty much every newspaper and magazine uses them

Myself and my colleagues amongst them :-) Although I use a PC for development work.

I'm pretty certain that decent laptop PC's today are substantially cheaper than an iMac. If you haven't already, I would recommend a look at what is out there.

In terms of the OS...well...OSX is a pain in the butt, as far as I've seen from using that. That said, Windows XP is as bad!

Oct. 9th, 2003 12:10 pm (UTC)
There's a learning curve going to OS X, no doubt, but I found it less severe than going from Windows 9x to Mac OS 9.

For me OS X is the perfect marriage of power and ease of use. The GUI is straightforward and much improved since the buggy 10.0 release. On the otherhand, if I want to dip down into the innards, then I can pop open a terminal window and get command line on its ass. (One of the reasons that I disliked Macs in the 1990's was that it had no command line, unlike wintel machines where you could drop into DOS when needed, but now you're much limited in your ability to do that with the recent Windows releases from Seattle than OS X).

Plus you get a lot of goodies I was used to only getting on Linux sytems -- stuff like the Apache web server, perl, python, ftp servers, ssh servers, X-windows, decent firewall, etc.

I find this great because Linux can be a pain in the butt in terms of hardware support (although getting better) and software installation can suck - Linux has a equivalent to Windows' "DLL hell" with their shared libraries that can be a nightmare. With OS X, installation (and removal) is just drag and drop. If binaries aren't your thing and you like to compile your stuff, Fink is pretty painless and compares well with Debian's apt-get.

So when I want ease of use (word processing, email, hooking up a firewire drive, editing video), I just use the OS X GUI. Want to get a little more esoteric, say use a Unix X-windows app, I can fire up Apple's X-window server and run it alongside the Mac GUI (It's very weird -- and nice -- to able to run Microsoft Word X and KDE side by side without any mucking around with emulators or WINE).

If I'm really into the innards or I'm in a hurry to say, ssh into somewhere, I can get my command line with the normal assortment of shells. For the real gear heads, OS X comes with a full suite of development tools.

In terms of OS X's ability to seamlessly accomodate a huge range of users and their needs it actually reminds me of the philosophy of the old BBC Model B microcomputer - only with about 20 years worth of Moore's law dividends on top...

Don't let any initial difficulty in using OS X -- which will force you to do things differently than the way you're used to -- discourage you from really giving it a try. Most people are pleasantly surprised -- I know I was.
Oct. 9th, 2003 06:37 am (UTC)
I've got an iMac at work, and I have to say they are nice and fast and easy. I tend to be incredibly Mac-stupid, but then again I'm a total PC girl. It's the lack of right click button on the mouse that gets me everytime. I can't figure out how to do all the functions that I used to right click.
Oct. 9th, 2003 06:42 am (UTC)
Seconded. But then, I think Macs are for visual people, and I'm not one. If you can't do it with a keyboard shortcut, I don't want to do it. I'm not OS-specific (I love every flavour of *nix I've tried, and I tolerate Windows well), but I can't deal with Macs. I get within ten feet of them and they crash.

Oh, but I do very seriously want a new, tiny laptop.
Oct. 9th, 2003 12:34 pm (UTC)
I don't know that I'd call myself a visual person, but I much prefer Mac's to Windows PC's. The OS is nicer, and the computers are nicer designed, in general.

That said, some PC manufacturers are catching up.
Oct. 9th, 2003 07:48 am (UTC)
At the risk of being incredibly patronising, most right click functions can be performed by holding down the "control" key while you click.
Oct. 9th, 2003 08:06 am (UTC)
You know, even though I tried not to appear patronising there, with my "at the risk..." disclaimer, upon rereading it, I realise I managed to come off about 80 billion times more patronising than if I'd just said "Most right click..." Apologies. Hmmm. One of these days I'll get the hang of this electronic communication malarky.
Oct. 9th, 2003 10:34 am (UTC)
Oh no, it's quite all right. I confess openly to being Mac-stupid, and you have no idea how cool it is to find out that there are right click alternatives! I've been trying it out, and it is sooooo frreeeeakin cool! Thank you so much!
Oct. 9th, 2003 07:46 am (UTC)
Mmmm, ibook
Luck, lucky. In a few weeks my nice new ibook will be coming to replace my half tower G4 as my office machine and I can't wait. Half the staff already have theirs as tower leases expire in sequence, bastards, but because I'll almost definitely be in London for a big chunk of next year I'm getting a superdrive with mine, yay!

I used to dislike Macs. A lot. For all the reason mentioned elsewhere -- clunky OS, one mouse button, expensive peripherals that couldn't be used with PCs...

Then came OS X. Well, OS 10.1 to be precise. (You can read my less than stellar review of 10.0 here)

Now I love Macs. A decent OS (i.e. pre-emptive multitasking, no more faffing around adjusting memory settings), which can avail of a huge mountain of open source software, including desktops and applications you normally only see on Linux like KDE. Thanks to apple's embrace of firewire and USB, I can replace my one button mouse with s three-button, scroll wheeling trackball if I want to and generally tap into the huge world of cheap PC-compatible peripherals.

The apps that come with the computer are nothing to sneeze at either, and sure beat the hell out of Internet Explorer, solitare and and textpad. iMovie does for movie editing what Netscape did for browsing. iTunes just rocks, especially with it's oh-so-painless integration of Apple's musix store (which I understand isn't available yet in Europe, but just wait) and the iPod. Safari is a pretty nifty browser too. Not to mention all the unix network standards, FTP, Apache, ssh. Plus a whole host of neat file-sharing type stuff, which combined with rendevous and Wi-fi, add up to serious neatness.

The unix underpinninings also automagically make a lot of the earlier compatibility problems between Macs and PCs go away, as unix systems have always had to play well with others.

And I haven't noticed any speed problems. Certainly at MacHack, there were a number of new attendees who had bought an ibook just to have laptop that they could do some serious console-only unix hacking on, but then got sucked into the GUI and if these guys don't bitch about performance, I think we mere mortals will be okay.
Oct. 9th, 2003 10:37 am (UTC)
Re: Mmmm, ibook
I like OS X ( I have no idea what version we've got here at work). Overall, it functions so much better than system 9 ever did. Unfortunately, when the school upgraded our computers, they did not check to make sure all of our software (including the program that does attendance, grade, in short...everything) was compatible. And so, I spend a lot of time rebooting. But, meh. Whatever.
Oct. 9th, 2003 11:38 am (UTC)
Re: Mmmm, ibook
Yes, we've had some problems with compatibility with classic apps too. The very latest update for 10.2 (you can find out what version you are running by selecting "About This Mac" from the apple menu) fixes some more of these, but I still have one application that requires me to boot into 9. However with Microsoft Office now OS X native most users won't ever have to use classic again, and as vendors roll out OS X versions as part of their normal release cycle the problem gets smaller and smaller everyday.

A possible mac tip -- how do you reboot? If you do it by changing the startup disk via control panels in X and then back again in 9 (as I did for a few months), you may find it more useful to just hold down the option key just after the computer powers up or resets -- you'll eventually get a screen that lets you select where you want to boot from with the mouse wihthout having to change the default startup disk. Also make sure you have the Terminal utility in your dock -- you can 'kill -9' stuff that not even Force Quit can squish properly, very useful especially when finder itself goes wonky.
Oct. 9th, 2003 12:55 pm (UTC)
Re: Mmmm, ibook
Hmmmm. I'll have to ask our computer techy person about some of those things. I don't even know what a terminal utility is, and I know its not on my dock. When I have a classic app that dies, usually Force Quit does the trick and then I either log out and log back in (to pick up to school server), or reboot from blue Apple menu. Oh yeah, and we have OS 10.2.6. There's a lot of good stuff under that blue Apple. :)
Oct. 9th, 2003 03:09 pm (UTC)
Re: Mmmm, ibook
You should run software update soon -- the latest version is 10.2.8, and you should update before panther (10.3) is released and the servers get overloaded with the inevitable patching to fix any screw ups in the release.

The terminal lives in Applications-->Utilities. When you open it up you get scary looking screen that will say "Welcome to Darwin" and a command line prompt that will look something like "[yourcomputer:~] username%"

From here you can issue unix commands and launch applications. The way unix (the exact version of unix used is called Darwin, hence the welcome) is set up on the apple you can't trash the entire system by accident so don't worry.

If you've used DOS, this will be somewhat familiar territory, although somewhat different and much more powerful.

Some basic commands are:

"ls" (list directory). Same as DIR in DOS, show file contents. Use "ls -a" to see hidden files, "ls -l to see file details such as size"

"cd" (change directory). Use "cd [directoryname]" to go to a directory, "cd .." to go up a directory level. "cd ~" to return to your home directory. "cd /" to go to the top level directory.

Typing "ps -ax" will show all the currently running programs on your computer, including all the hidden background programs used by the system software. The first column will have a (usually) three digit number. This is the process id, or PID. Look along the rows to the last column. Most of the user software you are running can be found be by looking at entries that start "/Applications"

Look for a line that starts with "/Applications/Utilities/Terminal.app/". Note the PID for this line. Then type "kill -9 XYZ", where XYZ is the PID you just noted. The second you hit return the terminal window will vanish -- you just killed it! The same process can be used to kill recalcitrant programs that e.g. have become a zombie -- i.e. software that looks like it has quit, but you can't start it up again because it's actually still running in the background. Just look up the PID and kill -9 it.

Another nice command is "ping" to see if you actually have a connection to a server, which is handy if you want to know that you have a connection to the internet. To find out more about ping, or any command use the command "man ping" or "man ls" or whatever. (Use shift-Q to escape). There's much more, but old man Google can help you find guides and tutorials. :)

Oct. 9th, 2003 12:38 pm (UTC)
Yay! mmm iBook :-)

Apple have some fairly decent education offers/discounts if you have any friendly education type people who could order it for you. Also, if you want a copy of Office, I might be able to help...

Actually, if I had the money, I'd be buying myself a nice shiny PowerBook. But I don't.
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )


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