Juicy Apples Served with a Unix Flavour

About a month ago I payed a quite larger amount of money for an Apple than I’m used to. Why? It’s white, you can’t eat it, but sure, it’s fruity and Unix flavoured. Was it worth it? So far, yes, it certainly was.

*Think different*
When it arrived I was looking at the box. It’s white, it got a picture of the iBook on it, below it it says iBook G4 12-inch. That’s about it. On the other sides some apple logos are printed. It’s weird to realize the most stylish solution usually is the simplest. I open it, get the iBook out, plug-in the power adapter and open it up. Wow, the keyboard is kind of different. Keys are on unusual places for me, the return key is kind of small too. I press the power button and it starts. Screen looks bright, it asks me insert the installation CD. Hey, no drawer-like CD-ROM player, just a thin hole. I put the CD in and it starts installing. When it’s about done it starts detecting wifi access points. We have one at home so I’m happy it detects, it asks for the WEP key so I go upstairs to get it. When I get back downstairs and type it in, it says I’m now allowed in. Huh? I run to a different PC, go to the webbased control panel of our router/wireless access point. I check the WEP key, it’s right. I switch the wireless feature off and back on. I check our other (PC) laptop to see if that can still access it, nope. Hmm, maybe just plug out the power cable and plug it back in…

*Wintel conspiracy*
Now things are screwed, the diag light on the router lit on and won’t go off. According to the manual (which luckily I still own) this probably means that the firmware is messed up. Anyway, to make a long story short, the thing was broken and I brought it back to the store (who still have it and will replace it soon, as they couldn’t fix it either). Is this just coincidence or is our Intel/AMD/Microsoft ruled home fighting for existence, realizing that hardware and software has just arrived that might replace them? If you don’t have the _Power(PC)_ you have to be smart (_Intel_ ligent), right?

Alright, no network connection for now then. But I didn’t give into the wintel conspiracy just yet and tried Mac OS X out, which by then was done installing. I had already seen screenshots, obviously, but using it is quite different. It’s the little twists that make it different. Windows don’t minimize by just disappearing, like in Windows and Linux, no they are “sucked” back into the dock, as if it were a vacuum cleaner. The dock is Apple’s answer to Windows’ taskbar. It functions both as a quick-launch bar and bar that shows all currently running applications. That, plus some nice zoom effects when moving your mouse cursor over it. And then there’s Expose, which definately deserves it’s capital letter. When you press F9 all currently open windows shrink and are displayed on the screen so they don’t overlap, you then click the window you want to work with and the windows turn back to their original sizes with the window selected by you on top, obviously. When you have movies playing, they just keep playing when in this “Expose” mode. F10 does the same but only for windows of the current application, F11 shows the desktop. Of course, this is all done with nice animation. Daring as I am, I tried with how many windows this still works smoothly. I found when having more windows than 14 it starts to skip “frames”, as they say. After having used Expose for a couple of hours I miss it a lot when using Windows or Linux. I wouldn’t have believed it myself, but I use it all the time on my iBook.

*Sleeping comfort*
That night I realized that when it’s a little dark and you have your screen light on, the Apple logo at the back of the screen lights up. Cool. That night, after I closed the iBook, which puts it to sleep mode, and put it next to my bed, it was like the amount of light in my room faded, dark to light and back. How’s that possible? Cars passing? No, it appeared to be a little light on the iBook that did this. Why did they put that in? What’s the use? The next morning I looked it up in the manual. “Sleep indicator light: A white light pulsates when the iBook G4 is in sleep.” What’s next? Will the iBook G5 snore? With 25 kind of snores, when purchased before the 23rd of August you get the snore value pack with an additional 500 snores for free?

Then the next day at university. The cool thing about an 12″ laptop is that it easily fits into your bag, so you don’t have to carry an addtional bag with you (as most other do, I pity them). Obviously I get noticed quickly — admit it Apple users, this is one of the reasons to get one. “Is that really an iBook? Cool!” “Why the hell did you get an Apple, they’re slow and expensive!” Of course, I’m happy to explain than the iBook was the cheapest “12-incher” I could find (PC ones started at like 1,700 euros, the iBook at like 1,100) beside that, I find it a the perfect mix between a Unix system and Windows usability. It even runs Microsoft Office! Ok, the latter is not a good way to convince a CS student (LaTeX RuLeZz J00), but still, it counts for me. Then there’s of course the question they have to ask, “Does it run Linux?”. Why would I care? You get possibly the most userfriendly and coolest unix flavour there is, why go back to something like Linux? But yes, it does run Linux. “Does it run Windows?” If you really want to, you can run it within Virtual PC, but I don’t think it will be fast. “So… You basically you payed all that money, just for some nice graphical effects.” Sure sonny, that about sums it up.

Am I happy with my Apple? Yes I am, the past 10 days that I about exclusively worked with it were a nice experience. All the software I need runs nicely: Office X, Adium (Instant Messenger), Thunderbird, Firebird, Eclipse, Subversion, CVS, VLC (media player) and of course the default set of Apple applications are great, particulary iTunes and the Finder, I haven’t played much with the others yet, Xcode was kind of disappointing, if it doesn’t support code completion (and it seems like it doesn’t), the most basic feature an IDE should have, it’s not good enough for me (harsh eh?). But in general, the system is fast enough. Yes, it’s just 1Ghz, but it’s fast enough for me. There have so far been no occasions that I said, geez, this is way too slow. Also, I have enough memory (700 something megabytes) so I can run plenty of applications at the same time.

Now, let’s just wait until my current desktop PC breaks down, our dear white friend might get a bigger brother.