MacBook first impressions

The spacebar makes too much clicking noise, but I like the illuminated keyboard more than I thought I would. I do most of my writing after dark, and while I can type, it’s still nice to be able to see the keys.

I’m going to miss the PB keyboard overall though (dark or not).

The trackpad is simply huge. The scheme of making the back half physically clickable (the whole thing pivots slightly), is a great idea in practice so far. Just that allows the thing to have at least a third more trackable surface, and it’s wider and deeper to boot. I never got used to used to track pads, despite logging a lot of ours on a lot of different laptops (from vendors other than just Apple). This one is about as close to getting it right of the lot.

I might have thought of it eventually (put as much stress on the “might” as you like), but Cheryl put me on to a great idea concerning Beth’s old, hand-me-down, eight year old iBook and the dying PowerBook: swap the good (if smaller) drive on the iBook for the failing drive on the PB. That way Beth gets a “new” computer too, and my beloved PB lives on.

I love this woman.

*Note: this whole thing was possible due to the settlement from the accident finally coming through. We were finally able to pay off the debt we had accumulated. Plus, I don’t remember if I mentioned this before, but to give you an idea of Cheryl’s progress (both physically and emotionally), she thinks she’s ready to get behind the wheel again.

Things are really starting to look up. Well, in terms of the accident anyway. She’s still having trouble sitting up in front of a desk, but I’m hoping it’s just a matter of muscles in her neck that need to get stronger (after a long recovery).

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Another worry

I was going to label this post “heartbreaking news” but I thought that might worry too many folks (however accurate it may be).

I think the hard drive on my beloved PowerBook is about to fail. I keep duplicate copies of my critical data on the iMac, plus an online server. Plus, I keep duplicates of all my photos and music on both computers. Just in case, I just did a backup of my home folder, in case I’ve missed something over the years.

I’m not worried about losing any data, just a member of the family.

Yep, those ominous sounds coming from the spot where the hard drive sits in the case are getting worse.


Many of you, lost in the computing wilderness (commonly known as Microsoft Windows) may have no idea what I’m talking about. To you, a computer may seem like a commodity – one seeming just like any other. A few of you are familiar with Macs – how they can seem like an extension of yourself. I’ve never felt that way about one of my Dell boxes at work. Each and every one of my Macs has shared that distinction. In fact, we still have most of them – all but two of the ones I bought new still get regular use (they’re over fourteen years old). My son uses a ten year old iMac.

I could just go out and get a replacement drive, but I’m not sure I could justify the expense on an old laptop, which at more prone to hardware failures anyway – let alone old ones.

I could take a little joy from this. After all, it’s an excuse to buy a new computer.

No. Not like this.

Plucked from the most recent conversation with my wife

“I’m thinking about kick-starting the home server project again.”


“I was thinking I’d serve up the web site and blog from home again.”


“Money’s a little tight and it’s another place we could save a little money.”


“What are you, two years old?”

“How much money would we save?”

“Somewhere between four and six dollars a month.”

“And why did you shut down our server?”

“It got to be a pain in the ass.”

“And why do we need more pain right now?”

I married a smart woman.

I really should stop typing right there, but the tinkerer in me is getting that itch again. Knowing that scratching it will only make it worse isn’t nearly the deterrent it should be.

My wallet smells danger

Cheryl’s been making a lot of noise about our Verizon contract, and the ten months* left on it. She’s been making even more noise about the iPhone, and how she’d like one.

Damn woman! Can’t you see my fiscal restraint is hanging by a thread?

There’s real trouble on the horizon too: we’re about to walk out the door – to go to the International Plaza in Tampa (supposedly to pick up a little reward for Beth at the ‘Build-a-Bear store’)… home of the nearest Apple Store.

Danger Will Robinson, DANGER!

*From the day when I typed this entry, three months ago. I was going through my drafts, saw this one, thought I’d already published it, and had no idea why I didn’t. Maybe it seemed like one to many Apple fan-boy posts at the time?


Rites of passage

Remember this post? Tell me friends, where was your intervention when I needed it? You might say the sea of evidence – the little thing we call “common knowledge” – makes a personal warning redundant, but remember who you’re dealing with.

During an 18 hour stretch this weekend I:

1. Did a clean installation of Windows.
2. Had it crash.
3. Searched through (way too many) Windows discussion boards.
4. Doubled my personal record for google searches in a day.
5. Spent two and a half hours on the phone with Microsoft tech support.
6. Got a few personal anecdotes about the effects of global warming on New Delhi.
7. Wiped an old installation and did a clean re-install.

I feel like an Old Milwaukee commercial.

And here’s the insult added to my Mac’s injury: given the choice between XP and Vista, I chose Vista.

I want to give some credit where credit is due. While I had a lot of trouble with the software, my experience with Microsoft’s outsourced technical support went really well. Even though my problem wasn’t solved (I didn’t hold against him, considering the product he was supporting), the guy was still somewhat helpful, very nice and really patient.

Someone stop me

Here’s something you might not expect me to say: “I’m thinking about picking up a copy of Windows.”

I know, it’s crazy talk. Why would I pollute a perfectly good Mac with XP, or (shudder) Vista? Cheryl keeps asking me the same thing, and I don’t have a good answer for any of you. Maybe it’s just because I can. Maybe it’s because I want to experience the magic of a Windows installation myself.

I can’t imagine actually using the thing – my Windows jones is more than satisfied at the office. I suppose I might fire it up every so often to take advantage of the “watch it now” feature on Netflix – who’ve been talking about a Mac version for about a year. (Has anyone put copyrighted/multiplatform content on the internet before?).

The best case scenario is it sits on my hard drive taking up space. The worst? I brick my iMac.

Hey bro! Come on over to my place for a gigger!

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I want to make it fly

There was a moment this evening when I wanted to get down on my hands and knees and beg. I was ready to pay any penalty to get out of our current contract. I was ready to see if I could find any takers on eBay for my mint TAM. I was ready to do anything my wife wanted, for the opportunity to replace my Palm TX with an iPhone. Sure, the iPhone would replace my cell phone and iPod too, but they didn’t cost me three hours of my life this evening (and that’s not counting the wear and tear).

You see, my Palm is my life at work; and because it’s so important to me, I sync it regularly with my Mac. In fact, it just so happens I was doing it again this evening.

I normally know my way around a computer, but somehow I managed to delete my work calendar – and not just on my Palm, but on the iMac, my .Mac account, and on the PowerBook (all of which sync together through the magic of .Mac).

Only today it was black magic.

If you’re like me, you’re probably wondering how I’m so sure it’s the Palm’s fault. Couldn’t have just as easily been the Mac, .Mac, or (gasp) the user?

The thing is, I’m partly to blame. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but it’s true. I’ve been using The Missing Sync, from Mark/Space, but it’s been giving me lots of trouble lately. So, I decided to switch back to the Palm Hotsync manager. I should have backed up my Address Book and iCal databases, but I didn’t. I should have stopped when OS X sync services warned me that 250 contacts on my computer were about to be altered. I should have grown a little weary when it said more than 10% of my tasks were going to be affected. In my defense, that’s partly why I was getting rid of The Missing Sync. It was constantly giving me these warnings, even when very little had changed. I’d done a couple test syncs, to see if I could determine what it was doing, but I couldn’t. So it’s ironic that I was switching away from one application, so I wouldn’t have to worry about the computer crying wolf one too many times, then I disregard the warning the first time I use the new (older) software. I got fudged over real good friends.

I could blame my TX. I could blame Mark/Space. I could blame the Palm Software. I could blame .Mac.

But all of this is why I was SO ready to switch to the iPhone this evening: seamless integration. With my Palm, I think there may have been too many chiefs in the kitchen, if you know what I mean. In that sense, I was ready to chuck the hard to use beasty. Every time I plug in my iPod, I think it should be that easy for my Palm. The iPod syncs with my calendars and contacts (albeit one way, since you can’t make notes on my iPod). It also pulls in relatively large audio files, and at a fraction of the time or effort it takes with my Palm (just to synchronize a few tasks and calendar items).

Now I’ve got to recreate 6 months of appointments… somehow. Tomorrow is going to be a lot of fun.

Macbook envy

This little guy (and I do mean little) is the first Mac portable that’s wet my appetite since the 12″ PowerBook. My wife suspects the lack of an optical drive could be a deal-breaker for some, but I rarely use mine.

Has Dear Abby ever weighed in on how long you should to wait before you ask your spouse for another computer?


The MacBook Air


I saw the funniest alert when I launched an application on my Mac this evening. It was telling me that a new version of the software was available.

No, that’s not the part that was funny. It seemed like I’d just clicked the “remind me later” button, when I noticed one of the bug fixes:

Fix a bug that caused “remind me later” software updates to appear too frequently.

That, my friends, is tres awesome. (The French Canadian influence of my wife’s family is starting to show. That or I’m feeling a little punchy this evening. It’s probably the punchy part. If I were really that serious about homage, I’d figure out how to get the little hyphen/accent to appear over the “e.”)

WordPress 2.3.2

From wordpress.org:

WordPress 2.3.2 is an urgent security release that fixes a bug that can be used to expose your draft posts. 2.3.2 also suppresses some error messages that can give away information about your database table structure and limits and stops some information leaks in the XML-RPC and APP implementations. Get 2.3.2 now to protect your blog from these disclosures.

Yikes! The words “urgent security release” served their purpose, I took them seriously and updated my software. Now that I’ve lost two hours of precious free-time at home, I just hope the good folks at WordPress aren’t prone to fits of exaggeration.