Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Lunchtime Notes: The Six Million Dollar PowerBook

by Tom Bozzo

OK, so I'm not completely happy with everything I have.

Like Kos, I've been waiting for Godot the much-anticipated G5 PowerBook and, accordingly, have been trying to keep my trusty four-and-a-quarter year old Titanium model alive. This is an increasingly trying experience.

Its original hard drive (10GB) was long ago swapped for a 40GB unit to accommodate a reasonable quantity of digital music and baby pictures, as well as a logically sized OS X partition. It acquired an 802.11g PC Card so we could hide the networking hardware in the new house — the computer peripheral investment worth ten times the price. The original battery has held its last charge, and was just replaced with a high-capacity unit that would keep me in DVD playback on a transcontinental flight, except that what started as an obstinate refusal to import Morrissey's "Suedehead" CD-single into iTunes has metastasized into failure of the DVD-ROM drive. I've been through three paid OS updates (as the machine predated OS X) and a retail copy of iLife '05. A new combo drive and a copy of Tiger would mean that I've invested the price of a Mac Mini in the damned thing in the last year. And a 1.67-GHz Aluminum would represent approximately the performance increment of the TiBook over the Ti's geriatric ('95-vintage) predecessor, for several hundred dollars less than the original price of the low-end Ti config.

I'm inclined to think that all this talk about class, between the Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the blogiverse, is making me feel guilty beyond normal upper-middle class liberal guilt norms. Time to negotiate some financially neutral car-computer deal with Suzanne...
I can't believe you've lasted this long. I had my previous Powerbook since about the same time you bought yours. When I heard that G5s would not be out until August, but probably later than December, I broke down and bought a new Powerbook G4. I love it, 100GB hard drive, DVD-RW, and lots of other good stuff. I admit I had to get the expense in before the baby came too, because now there is no money for toys until I get a real job...
Sometimes I can't believe it, either. In grad school, I was a serial upgrader, with a new computer every year. Now, we have much more income, but (as you're no doubt aware) many more claims on the income, too. So toys haven't been high priority.

The old Titanium is actually pretty serviceable for the relatively light computational tasks I give it -- blogging, building the odd virtual LEGO model, the occasional game of Civilization II or Diablo II. In that regard, there's little cost to getting another G4 while the G5 portables are fully sorted out gain a marked performance advantage. Hopefully, the PowerPC-derived chips in the game consoles will have positive spillover effects there.
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