Dana Stevens

Ruminations of a software developer.
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Monday, September 22, 2008

Krakadiska - Sounds of the MacBook Pro

I'm still lovin' the MacBook Pro, and having fun with it.  However, there's one thing that I didn't expect, and that was the surprisingly noisy slot-loading optical drive.  The first time I loaded a disc into it, it went Snap! Izzz!  Whirrr!  CLICK! Snap!  I honestly wondered if it had cracked the disc in half.  Was I going to have to pick out the pieces of a shredded DVD with needle-nose pliers?  But no --- this is a feature.   The other slot-loaders I've had, mostly CD players, load a disk is near silence, with perhaps only a muted click, and soft spin-up.   (But then, perhaps the violent snapping noises enable super-precise positioning for ultra-accurate DVD burning and reading.  How have other drives performed for all these years without them?  Who knows?)

What I do know is that Apple actually posted the sounds of the MacBook Pro.  So you can listen before you buy.  Now that's thinking different.

posted @ Monday, September 22, 2008 12:42 PM | Feedback (8) | Filed Under [ Misc - Tech ]

I'm a PC . . . but I bought a Mac.

First, a brief historical interlude.  My first paying job in the computer industry was at a computer retailer in Tampa, Florida.  It was a small company with eleven employees, two store locations, and we built and sold clones, set up small networks, and enjoyed the high margins that a hardware retailer could get (20% and up!) back in the early 1990s.  Like at many small companies, we all did it all, and wore every hat there was to wear.  It was a fabulous time in the industry, and I developed an affinity for hardware tech.  I never got tired of building machines and troubleshooting hardware issues.  And even after many years now, I still love the hardware and still build my own rigs. 

I’ve gone through a number of notebook computers, and for me, the first question to consider when buying a notebook is: Do I want a smaller notebook with long battery life, or do I want big screen and horsepower (with the understanding that battery life might equal 25 minutes)?

My last notebook was a big Sony Vaio.  I made the decision that I wanted something in the 'desktop replacement' class, and it was heavy, large, and battery life was around 30 minutes.  and while I really liked the Sony hardware, the overall experience I had with the notebook was miserable.  The notebook came with no disks at all, and so I had to burn my own driver-backup disks.  Yuk.  Plus, when I actually needed them, months later, the disks didn’t work, and I had to call up Sony, where they cheerfully told me that I could order a set of disks for $99.  Nice.  Anyway, I used that notebook for a year and a half, sold it, and was 'without notebook' for a while.

Last week, I decided it was time to get portable again. I wanted something smaller this time, but still with enough juice for Visual Studio.  I had heard from quite a few developers that really liked the MacBook Pro, running Boot Camp/VM Fusion/Parallels in order to load Vista and (the all-important aforementioned) Visual Studio).  The machines certainly look cool, but is that enough to justify the premium?  To check it out, I went to Best Buy and tinkered with all the notebooks . . . which is an enjoyable afternoon all unto itself.  Then I plunked down my two large on the MacBook Pro 15.4" model. (My path to the dark side was complete!)

I must report that I really like this machine.  Not to get existential, but Apple just gets it.  After messing around with OS X, which is nifty, I partitioned the drive for Vista, installed that OS, and wondered how bad the driver situation would be.  After installing Vista, I inserted the Apple CD, and Vista immediately recognized setup.exe, ran it, which installed the Boot Camp software on Vista, along with all the drivers - - - even the ones that control the keyboard backlighting.  That’s just cool.  Wifi works, Bluetooth works . . . it all just works.  Dang, just like the slogan.  Credit where credit is due: the boys from Cupertino design a good notebook.

For a mouse, I picked up the Logitech VX Nano.  I use the MX Revolution when I code, and I just love the heavy, metal scroll wheel.  That’s the best feature I’ve found yet on a mouse, and the VX Nano has a scroll wheel just like his big brother.

All in all, I am one extremely satisfied customer. Now I’m wondering if I’ll ever buy anything except an Intel-based Apple notebook.  They rule. 

And as a historical observation, the camps of Apple Fanboys and the camps of Microsoft Fanboys were once clearly delineated.  It’s interesting that in recent years the lines of demarcation have blurred . . . to the point where Windows developers buy Apple notebooks to run Visual Studio on a Windows OS inside OS X to build code that gets deployed to Windows Server machines.

posted @ Monday, September 22, 2008 1:40 AM | Feedback (9) |

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