Dispatches, thoughts, and miscellanea from writer Jon Konrath

New Mac

The new Mac is here. It got delivered yesterday, shortly after I mentioned it on here. So from China to Denver in about two days – pretty remarkable.

Having a new computer is always great to me. Just the smell of a new machine, right out of the box, is always incredible to me. It’s like a new car smell, mixed with the faint ozone of new electronics. I got the machine fired up in no time flat, and found a temporary home for it, right where the keyboard of my old machine usually sits. Using a firewire cable, I went through the import wizard, and after about 45 minutes of churning, my entire account, desktop, and all apps were on the new machine. There were a few minor glitches, but the big major thing – getting it all moved – went flawlessly.

The Macbook has a 1280×800 screen, which isn’t bad, but since everything of mine was sized for 1600×1200, some things were too big. But I got a Mini-DVI to DVI adaptor, and plugged in my old 21″ monitor, which is sitting behind the laptop on my desk. The internal video card is able to drive the laptop display and this external one, so I have two-monitor action going on now. The Mac in general handles two-headed displays better than Windows, with one exception – there is only one menu bar for all displays. You can choose what display to put it on, but there’s a 50% chance that will be the wrong place at any given time.

I’m always happy about the new toys. There is an iSight camera built into this, as well as stereo microphones. So if I ever need a mug shot or have to video conference with someone, there you go. There’s also a little IR remote to use FrontRow and watch movies or whatnot, although I don’t know how useful that would be on a laptop. There are a handful of new programs that weren’t in the last iLife, like the photobooth, and iWeb, a cheapie web publishing thing. And internal dual-layer SuperDrive – nice.

iTunes and iPhoto didn’t make it over correctly, because they were on an external drive. I plugged in the external and it worked fine. I don’t really want to move that shit, because it’s like a third of the disk space I have on the machine. So I will keep that stuff external and at home. If I’m on the road and want to hear music, I’ve got my iPod. And photos – well, they can stay at home too. So my at-home setup is huge: seven plugs hang off the left side of the computer. I need to buy a dock and do some serious cable management at this point.

Eclipse totally freaked out when I moved it, and I had to start over. Luckily, I had all of my crap checked in, and I could just start over. “Just” – it takes about an hour and a half to get Eclipse downloaded and then set up all of the Ruby, Rails, and Subversion shit. All of my ruby and rails stuff on my system, along with the rest of my Macports stuff, made the journey with no problems. I wonder with that, as well as other stuff, if they are universal binaries or not. I don’t know, but I do know that Eclipse starts about 80 times faster, which is sweet.

I ordered memory from OWC – a 3 Gig kit (1×2,1×1) was about $150. I still remember in 1993 when I bought a MEG of memory for $160, and now three GIGS is $150. That’s depressing in a way. Anyway, all Apple docs say you can only upgrade to 2 Gig with paired SIMMs, but you can really do 3 with no problems. The slight hit in performance from non-matched SIMMs is offset by the gain in memory. But honestly, even with a gig in here, I’m not really seeing any swapping. It also, by the way, is pretty damn cool in the Activity Monitor to see two CPU graphs because of the dual core.

I got another new toy yesterday, which is my new AM/FM/TV pocket radio. I bought it so I can listen to games, since they only broadcast on AM 850. (And it turns out that 850 is like all-Limbaugh during the day, which isn’t that great.) The TV tuner is interesting, too. So now I have a radio for the upcoming Brewers game, or whenever I want to listen here at home.

BTW, just installed skype – if you have it, I’m jonkonrath – drop a line.

98 degrees today. Guess there is no possibility of putt-putt this afternoon.