Monday, March 30, 2009

Out For Delivery

"Mar 30, 2009 8:25 AM
On FedEx vehicle for delivery"

Sunday, March 29, 2009


It's left Memphis and headed north.

New Computer Preview

So, right now I’m tracking my new work computer as it travels on its way from Shanghai, and let me tell you- I am pretty darn excited about it.

Ever since I was hired over two years ago, I've been using my personal laptop (a 2005 HP zv6130) for everything I do, and it’s served me well. It’s quite a beast, really. I truck it around quite a bit, and while I’ve never been rough with it, per se, it’s certainly showing its signs of wear and tear. Kids enjoy making fun of it because it’s so “huge”, “ugly”, and “like a brick”. While it wasn’t exactly a cutting-edge design when I bought it, it is decidedly dated-looking nowadays.*

Aesthetics aside, my primary exhaust fan started to fail back in January, which left me using a 1998 Sony laptop and a 2002 iMac G4 in tandem for over a week while I ordered a replacement fan for ~$60.

After I installed the new fan and things were back to normal, I had given up on the idea that I’d get a new computer. But, we’re starting a new service in a few weeks, and we needed a computer to run the slides, show movies, or whatever we were going to do with it. Suffice to say, none of the computers owned by the church were really suited for this purpose. We have:

  • the aforementioned Sony laptop (a Craigslist find I got a while ago),
  • a Pentium III Dell desktop hooked up to a TV on a cart,
  • a 5 year-old Dell laptop,
  • a 4 year-old HP desktop in the main office, and
  • a 6 month-old HP desktop that lives in the pastor’s office

…not a particularly adept crew, no.

I suggested that we could buy a new computer that could be shared between Youth Ministries and the new service needs. I looked at some different prices and deals, and requested an Apple MacBook (white). It was agreed upon, and that is why at this moment I’m anxiously awaiting e-mail updates about a package coming from Shanghai.


My first experience with Apple products, as it relates to this (pre)review, is really a set of experiences during high school. Our computer labs, as I usually remember them, were filled with the G3 all-in-one “molar”'s. These were steadily replaced by iMacs (Revs. A-D) in the computer labs, and others filtered into other classrooms.

I mostly hated them.

I’m not sure what it was about them, really. It certainly couldn’t have been speed, since at the time we had a 66MHz 486 running Windows 3.1 at home. I’m guessing my hatred was mostly directed toward “At Ease”. At Ease was this network environment that must’ve been great from an IT perspective, because you could control all sorts of program and network access from afar. But, from a user standpoint, you couldn’t do jack with it; it was useless. As a natural tinkerer, it made me upset that I didn’t have control over any sort of settings, or get to launch any program I wanted. Therefore, Macs sucked.

I won’t deny that I thought those original iMacs were cute. (Amusing, related story: a fun pastime in Physics was to rearrange all the keyboards and mice so that none of the colors matched each other.)

The breakthrough really came during my freshman year of college, when a friend down the hall from me had a Powerbook G3 (“Pismo”). I was immediately smitten. Sure, it had cost him a lot more than the desktop I had at the time, but it had some really cool programs, and seemed faster, and sleeker, and… well, just look at those curves.

He also got me interested in checking out Mac OS X. Before it launched, I watched all the intro videos on Apple’s website, the cool Dock animations, and was blown away by the beauty, simplicity, and elegance of Aqua. My friend got it the day it was released, and a few of us watched as he installed it.

I think you could say that I was officially hooked.

I used Macs for a few education classes (PowerMac G4’s), during my student teaching (lots of iMacs, iBooks, and an iBook SE graphite), and to edit video for an “aesthetic experience” project (iMac G4). I can’t point to any one thing that I thought was so much better on Macs versus my PC, or other PC’s for that matter. But,… well, that’s not quite true. Editing video was much easier on the iMac G4, even compared to the dual-Pentium III workstation I had also used. Maybe it was merely the difference between iMovie and Adobe Premiere, but all of my experiences left me with the impression that “you know, some day I should look into a Mac.”

My perception is that this has been the situation for a lot of people, and maybe a few are even on the fence of whether to "go Mac" or not. In that spirit, I thought I’d post a comprehensive review of the new MacBook for the edification of us all. Check back in a week or two for that.

Oh, and by the way: it’s in Oakland now.

* I don’t think it’s a particular failing on HP’s part, it’s just that almost all laptops around then were about two inches thick (Apple laptops aside). The move to 65nm and more efficient chips has done wonders for laptop designs. Ironically, when I brought my iMac G4 to church last fall, kids could not believe that it was 7 years old. They were convinced it was much, much newer than that.