from knave to knight: my new laptop

I won’t get into the details of how I waited in agony all weekend, refreshing FedEx’s page to see whether my MacBook had gotten any closer to Bethlehem, or how I sat in the bathtub on Monday morning, straining to hear the sounds of delivery men coming into the entryway. In the end, I got my laptop basically on time. It showed up on Monday, shortly before I had to leave for work. I was so excited to get it that the FedEx guy and his trainee looked a little amused – but that’s how I get when I get a new toy. I took some photos as I unwrapped everything, which was fun: opening Apple hardware is always like opening a present, largely because of the well-designed packaging.

I got it turned on, created an account, installed a few essentials, and left it running its software updates. Although I felt tempted to take it with me, I didn’t. I knew I’d just end up working on it all day, instead of writing code. I didn’t get home until about nine, but I was still looking forward toward getting the system set up for use in the office on Tuesday. John had reminded me that I’d really want to reformat the hard drive with a case-sensitive filesystem, which was great advice, but added another hour of setup time, give or take. That was okay, though: I watched some television and relaxed while it worked.

Gloria (and some other folks online) asked whether I was enjoying my new machine yet, but frankly I wasn’t. It’s not that there was anything wrong with it, but it’s just boring getting a new computer set up like your old one. A lot of this was simple: drag stuff from my “essentials” folder on my Shuffle or checking out my latest configuration from my Subversion repository. A lot of it was tedious: realize that some useful configuration was missing and digging through my old ~/Library to find it. By around 0200, I had things basically as I wanteed them. Things probably would’ve been faster if I had made a list of applications whose configuration I wanted to transfer: Firefox, iCal, Address Book, Adium. Firefox’s Tab Mix Plus, which I use to store sessions, made the transition really painless. I quit Firefox on my PowerBook, copied my profile to my MacBook, and I got all the same windows open.

I think the biggest pain is going to be installing all the Perl modules I need. I should really make Bundle::RJBS for future use. It’d be nice, too, not to have to install CPANPLUS, but I’ve got a minicpan on my laptop, and I’m hoping that using cpan(1) to install Bundle::CPANPLUS will make that a non-issue. Anyway, basically everything has been painless. The only real problem, for me, is that LiteSwitch X doesn’t work on Intel. I’ve emailed Proteron, but I don’t expect good news. I think they got upset when Tiger included a switcher, because they felt it made their product redundant. Honestly, though, that would just be nuts. LiteSwitch X is significantly more useful than Tiger’s own switcher.

As for the laptop itself, I’m pretty happy with it so far. It’s warm, but I don’t think it’s any hotter, yet, than my PowerBook was. The keyboard is different, but it hasn’t really irritated me yet. Sometimes I try to intentionally fat-finger two keys I want to hit together (usually Command and Control), but the new spacing makes that fail. Mostly, though, it feels good.

The screen is extremely glossy. It has the sort of perfect glossiness previously only featured on Mac OS X icons. It’s like looking to a very well polished piece of glass. At first, I thought this would be really distracting, but it hasn’t been. I’m not sure the colors are in any way vastly superior. I’ve got a poor eye for that sort of thing. So far, though, it seems like it’s much better in the light. It reflects the light, which isn’t the best thing ever, but it’s better than what my PowerBook did: become completely unusable. It used to be that if I was in the sunlight, I couldn’t use my laptop. So far, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

The trackpad is bigger, which doesn’t really excite or upset me. Much to the chagrin of most people who try to use my laptop, I use “tap to click.” I’m pretty excited about the new “tap with two fingers to right click” feature, although I haven’t used it much, yet. It may be that I end up still using control-click. The surface of the trackpad is different, and that’s the biggest thing I’ve noticed. It’s a bit rougher, and I actually find that it bothers my thumb. It makes it a little numb or something. It’s like constantly rubbing my thumb over very, very fine sandpaper.

Apple shipped me the wrong video adapter – VGA instead of DVI – so I haven’t connected it via DVI (or at all) to my flat panel yet, but I’m looking forward to comparing the quality of the two displays. The MacBook put my TFT at work to shame.

The only really weird thing, so far, is the size. Compared to my 12” PowerBook, the MacBook seems gigantic. It’s about two inches wider and the same size in other dimensions, but it makes a big difference. It’s not really unpleasant, but I already miss the old, familiar form factor.

So, assuming nothing major changes, it seems like knight is going to be a slightly larger, slightly nicer, much faster knave. That is pretty much exactly what I wanted.

Written on May 24, 2006
🍏 apple
⚙️ hardware