I’ve now been using the new MacBook for a week. I think I can conclude that, for my purposes at least, it’s a better alternative than the Pro would have been.

What’s Great · First of all, the battery life is dramatically longer. I suppose not having a video card makes a difference, plus the battery is physically bigger. Lots of time, when I’m going to be working around the house, I just don’t bother to plug in. And with one spare, you’ve got enough hours of work that you’re probably going to run out of gas way before the computer does.

The stronger Wifi is a big deal too; I can see lots of networks that the old PowerBook couldn’t. Wednesday night, when the Washington Westin’s Internet failed to work, I opened the window and could get along just fine on the TMobile from the Starbucks eight floors down.

Smaller is good too; I’m typing this in Air Canada econo-class; the worst possible scenario, in front of the exit row so I can’t lean back, and a rude, inconsiderate person in front of me pushed back to the max. It ain’t comfortable (I so hate travel these days) but work is happening. Of course, there’s no free lunch; the screen being only 800 pixels high cramps my photo-editing style when I don’t have an outboard screen.

I really like the glossy screen; pictures look better.

Gripes · I’m waiting for a native release of Photoshop Elements, so it’ll be faster. It’d probably be smart to get a copy of Lightroom, which is native I think, and spend more time there. The non-native Adobe Camera Raw plug-in processing is particularly painful.

The fan runs more than I think it ought to; really objectionably loud sometimes.

The keyboard is OK but for some reason my pinky repeatedly fails to find the Control key, which is a big deal for an Emacs-keystrokes junkie.

Like everyone report, it smudges and marks up awfully fast. Guess I’ll have to apply that Mr. Clean recipe I saw somewhere on a weekly basis.

I plugged it into a projector for the first time at Web Design World, and it refused to see anything more than 800x600, even though the projector could really do 1024x768.

TBD · I haven’t got around to loading up Parallels and Solaris and so on yet. We’ll see...

Using the Old Mac · The black beauty is my fourth Mac. Two of them are on a shelf in my office, beat-up and not being used but I can’t bring myself to throw them out. The latest, however, is in pretty good shape and I would have held off upgrading if I hadn’t wanted to try Parallels/Solaris. So what I think I’ll do is wipe all the professional data on it and dedicate its 120G disk to being a music library; load up a bunch of the best CDs to drive the family’s iPods.


Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: Wade (Mar 30 2007, at 17:41)

Have you tried remapping the caps-lock key to control?

I personally have never had a legitimate need to use all caps in all my computer use, and it's just a waste of a key otherwise.


From: Patrick Mueller (Mar 30 2007, at 17:49)

I'm having better luck with the latest VMWare Beta for mac, than with Parallels. Using Ubuntu.


From: Mike (Mar 30 2007, at 18:04)

I'm like you -- that Ctrl key is too hard to deal with when you are a heavy Emacs person. To do what Wade said . .

goto System Preferences

Click Keyboard and Mouse

In the Keyboard Tab (should be the one that comes up) click Modifer keys on the bottom-left.

Do your thing. :)


From: Luke Kanies (Mar 30 2007, at 18:06)

The size of the control key is a problem, but go ahead and use that wasted Caps Lock key -- open the Keyboard and Mouse preferences, select Modifier Keys, and remap Caps Lock to control.

The big benefit of the Intel macs over the older ones is that this not only works (it did in the older ones), it correctly does not light up the Caps Lock LED.

Not that I'm endorsing Emacs, mind you...


From: Jussi (Mar 30 2007, at 18:19)

Have you tried using the caps lock key as control? I know different people like different things but I just *love* being able to use the caps lock key to something productive.


From: bloodnok (Mar 30 2007, at 18:33)

"through them out"? phew ... i believe this be a typo alert although that could be a canuck form i'd previously not tried. sorta like cigarette and humour, eh?


From: Clayton (Mar 30 2007, at 19:25)

I second what he said: being an emacs user and having to use the real control key was giving me a sore pinky, and now I can't live without a remapped caps-lock. The setting is hard to find, though; it's in System Preferences, under Keyboard & Mouse, in the Keyboard tab—you want the Modifier Keys button lost in the lower left corner.


From: Mark (Mar 31 2007, at 19:21)

"a rude, inconsiderate person in front of me pushed back to the max"

Heh, that could well have been me. Do a 360 next time you're in an airplane: most people aren't working on computers. That's the majority.

There are various ways you can prepare if you want more room: first class or business class, or simply asking for a particular seat in economy, which is easy to research these days.

Most of my flying is between Japan and D.C., and recently the guy in back of me told me his legs are long and asked if I could do the 17-hour flight with my seat up. I told him to speak to the flight attendant (I don't get involved in passenger to passenger spats on airplanes).

After a couple hours of kicking me in the back, he finally gave up and settled down.


From: David Smith (Apr 01 2007, at 07:08)

This is delightful! I'm getting caught-up on blogs, and just read Raymond Chan comment on how nobody reads other comments before posting their own...I guess I'm an outrider.

Mike, Luke, Jussi and Clayton all told you how to remap Ctl to Caps Lock by going to...oh well, by now you're sure to know how!

Thanks, guys! :-)


From: Ben E. (Apr 02 2007, at 07:14)

In re the fans being obnoxiously loud, make sure you've got the latest Macbook firmware update. That made a tremendous difference on how often the fan runs and how loud it gets on my MB. The firmware updater downloaded as part of a system update, but you have to run it by hand as it requires a reboot when it's finished.


From: bil (Apr 02 2007, at 12:18)

Re: fan noise, try smcFanControl, it's a gpl gui that lets you set the bottom speed limit on the fans. I found that if I set my macbook pro to run at 2000-3000 rpm (depending on what I'm doing with it), the fan stays quiet, the bottom gets warm but not hot, and it doesn't have to play catch by periodically punch the speed way high....


From: Richard Cook (Apr 02 2007, at 13:08)

I had a G4 iBook with a lot of problems that Apple replaced with a MacBook, so I have MacBook _and_ a MacBook Pro. To me, the main differences on the outside:

* Glossy screen vs. Matte screen. I don't edit photos and such, I mainly run IDE's and do programming. The matte screen has a lot less glare from fluorescents than the glossy screen.

* The MacBook Pro keyboard is more pleasant to type on than the MacBook, especially for long periods.

If you're not too budget-minded and plan on doing mainly typing/programming, I'd tell someone to go Pro.


From: Infoborder (Apr 03 2007, at 00:45)

Remapping the caps-lock key is a good idea. I did it for myself and I pleased with the result.


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