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The Big Switcheroo

Time for a second computer in the house and I don’t mean another old PII linux box for me to hack on. I mean another fully-functional modern computer with all the bells and whistles that either myself or Andi can use to do everything from thesis writing to programming to email and surfing. The reason: trying to coordinate thesis writing and after-hours hacking on one machine is near impossible. More often than not, the hacking loses out and with good reason. So what to do? Another windows box would not be too expensive, but we would need to get another monitor. Also, deskspace is at a premium, so something smaller would be good. And now that I think about it, it sure would be nice to be portable and wireless so I could sit on the deck and read slashdot. And I don’t want a crappy bare-bones laptop that will be obsolete before I buy it (I mean I know the pace of technology is insane, but I need something that will be useful for at least a couple of years).

So, after much research and trips to the local dealer we’ve decided to get a 15″ Powerbook, which hopefully will be arriving this week. I’m excited to learn how to administer a Mac and to see just how good they are. There are lots of reasons that we chose to go this route, but here are the main ones.

  • Unix-based – I was using my brother-in-law’s 12″ Powerbook and dropped in to Terminal and started doing unix-y things. It even comes with emacs, so I was pretty much ready to go. I am anticipating some learning curve for the GUI administration and use, but it gives me a certain comfort level knowing that underneath it all is something I am somewhat familiar with.
  • Not Windows – I don’t want to get on a MS bashing rant here, but I’ve been feeling for a while that it was just time to try something different. I don’t have a list of specific Windows complaints, but I’m at that point where I’m wondering if there is anything better out there. The only other viable option at the moment is OS X. The only worry I had about going non-Windows are games, but to be honest with you most of my game playing is done on the PS2 now, so that is not such a big deal.
  • Portability – At 5.6lbs, the 15″ Powerbook is by far the lightest machine I’ve used. I actually weighed my work laptop and it came in at around 10lbs…. ouch. Also, the Powerbook is only 1.1″ high, compared with>2″ on most laptops I’ve used.
  • Battery lifetime – Yesterday I was using work laptop on battery power and it took less than 30 minutes for the low-battery warning to come up. I was reading email and some blogs, but apparently that consumes a lot of power. Now the machine is a little older and I am sure there are some techniques to squeeze a little more juice out of it, but still, 30 minutes? I’m looking forward to at least a couple of hours of roaming ability that the Powerbook provides.
  • The Total Package – this one is hard to explain, but I just get the feeling from everything I’ve read and the various Apple machines I’ve looked at and tested that a lot of thought was put in to delivering a total package deal. I suppose it is the fact that Apple controls the hardware and the OS that makes this possible, but whatever it is, everything just seems to fit together nicely. We’ll see if I still feel this way once I’ve been using the Powerbook for a few weeks on a daily basis.

So there it is. I’m about to be a Mac user. For all I know this could be a very expensive experiment that goes horribly wrong, but I think that the risk of that is low. I will surely be able to get something out of the Powerbook even if it doesn’t live up to all the hype and expectations. I’ll keep you posted on my new clash of clans hack online generator.