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Bill Brown

A complicated man.

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Sandi and I decided a couple of days ago to purchase a new iBook G4 before her educator discount (worth $100) ended. This machine is awesome! I got the 1 GHz, 60GB hard drive, 256MB of RAM (with 512MB more arriving any day now), ATI Mobility Radeon 9200 card with 32MB DDR RAM (easily the best video card I’ve ever had), and a decent 14.1” screen. I, of course, sprung for an AirPort Extreme card.

It’s funny—in a sad sort of way—but this machine is half the price of my PowerBook, which is now wiped and in Sandi’s hands, but has double the clock speed, three times the disk space, and four times the video RAM. I know all about Moore’s Law, but it’s still striking to me.

Why didn’t I go PowerBook? The price was much higher and the performance wasn’t much better. I think I made a very good choice. This iBook G4 is whisper quiet: I’ve never heard the fan! The heat level on the bottom is pretty decent. And the AirPort reception! Oh baby! Previously, I could only get three bars in certain areas of my house and had to generally content myself with one to two bars. This iBook gets three bars everywhere in the house. I had always heard that reception was better, but I didn’t believe it could be this good.

As I mentioned before, I wiped Thor—my old PowerBook G4—and installed Panther fresh and clean since Sandi doesn’t like all the stuff that I can’t do without. Before doing so, I copied everything over to Whitey, my new iBook. I tried a number of different means to effect this humongous transfer (at least 15GB of data!) and the results I found were quite instructive:<ul><li>FireWire is the only way to go for such a transfer. I transferred all that data in about an hour (with all the clicking and the dragging and the flaven).</li><li>Ethernet was second best. I used a crossover cable to go between my two 10/100 connection points. It was going to take about 10 hours to do the transfer. I don’t know why it was going to take so long, but I wasn’t about to find out how accurate the estimate was.</li><li>802.11b estimated so many hours that I hit the cancel button as fast as I could.</li></ul>If you don’t know how to enable FireWire transfers, Mac OS X Hints has got you covered.

[UPDATE (11/10/03): 640MB is much, much better!]

[UPDATE (11/12/03): It’s also got incredible battery life compared to my PowerBook G4. I haven’t had this computer plugged in since 3 PM or so—it’s 7:30 PM right now—and I’ve still got one and a half hours of battery time left. Granted, I haven’t been using the computer straight through but it was only asleep for about half an hour to forty-five minutes. I’ve heard estimates of six hour battery lives on these things and you can color me impressed, that’s for sure.]