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charlie's Journal: Small objects of desire (reprise)

Journal by charlie
Back last June, I bought a laptop; a Sony Vaio PCG-FX103. (To Sony, if you're listening: this is the last piece of your shitware I'm ever buying unless you stop treating your customers like dumb cattle and start supplying electronic guts that match up to the cute exterior decor, instead of the pile of gangrenous filth that is the PCG-FX103. Crippleware. Yes, I'm pissed off. And yes, I'm going to tell everyone exactly why -- but not right now.)

The Vaio was, not to put too fine a point on it, so appallingly useless that I ended up using it as a book-end for most of the time, and forked out some hard-earned cash on a second-hand Toshiba Portege that, while slow and elderly, did exactly what needed doing without any fuss.

Last October a keycap on the Tosh broke, so I ordered a replacement keyboard and fitted it myself. (No, I didn't ship it to Belgium and wait ten weeks for some drone in a Sony service centre to stop wanking and pop the keyboard, then charge me a hundred and sixty pounds for the cornholing. I ordered the keyboard, it arrived two days later, and I fitted it myself in fifteen minutes. Begin to get the picture?)

Anyway, I put the mileage on that spanking new laptop keyboard at a frightening rate, sort of like the way a courier puts miles on a van. Inside four months I think I've written on the close order of 220,000 words of original fiction on it. I've also edited my way through three novels and written four monthly magazine columns, racking up another 50,000 words of non-fiction -- before you add in my email and usenet habits. You know something? The space bar is worn shiny-smooth, the decals on the keys are rubbing away, and a couple of them have begun sticking. Time for a new board ...

Now, for a while I'd been meaning to take a look at Linux -- which is my operating system of choice, as well as my bread and butter -- on PowerPC kit. And I happen to have a soft spot for Macs, because even though Steve Jobs is Bill Gates' Evil Twin, and Apple's software licenses and proprietary hardware must bring tears of joy to the devil's eye, they make nice machines. And in this situation -- old laptop now verging on ancient and in need of a new keyboard -- I made the mistake of blundering into the local Mac dealership in Edinburgh.

And blundering out again half an hour later with a spanking new iBook, 640Mb of RAM, DVD/CD-RW, and wireless ethernet. Drool.

Anyway, in a day or two I managed to repartition the iBook and configure it to triple-boot -- MacOS 9, MacOS X, and another mystery partition (currently loaded with Yellow Dog 2.1, but shortly to try Mandrake and SuSE Linux for PowerPC). And you know something? Much to my self-disgust I am finding that I am spending 90% of my time in MacOS X.

See, I'm an old UNIX head. And I've just bought a box with a cute, glitzy face that -- under the hood -- just happens to be running BSD. And sure there are problems with it; a surfeit of crap commercial payware, no decent package management system, lack of support for foreign filesystems (ext3, Apple, we need it bad!) ... but. But. But. It's got the cute front-end of MacOS, all the bells and whistles like iTunes, and something underneath that I can port my writing tools to and crank up vi or emacs on.

So if I've been a bit quiet lately, you know why. Meanwhile, here's Salad With Steve.

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Small objects of desire (reprise)

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