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John Harrison's Journal: Back to the Mac 18

Journal by John Harrison
I have only bought two computers myself. I certainly didn't have the cash to buy the Commodore 64 that my dad brought home when I was in 3rd grade. This is a bit strange, given that I am one of the bigger "computer nerds" that I know. I have a CS degree and I work for big blue. Anyhow, back to the story.

I bought an Apple Performa 614 in college. This was because I was sick of going to the CS lab to do assignments. I wanted to program in my dorm room. Of course it took about 45 minutes to compile anything with only 8 megs of RAM, so I went to Fry's and bought a 16 MB stick, to bring me up to a total of 24 MB. No more thrashing, compiles took mere moments. That computer stayed with me through college and then I gave it to my brother so that he could use it in college, since it already had the software he needed. Even though the Performa line is looked upon now as the dark days of the Mac, I look back on it fondly. They might have been coasting on inertia then, but the foundation of quality that had been laid before carried through, at least in my mind.

I then defected from the Mac camp and bought parts to build my own Celeron 300, which I occasionally overclocked to a magnificent 500 MHz. Why did I defect? Well, mostly because I could cheaply put together a machine that had a 3D card. This would make it easier to improve my 3D asteroids game.

That computer is still running, but doesn't see much use. I get a new laptop from work every few years which has killed my need to buy a fancy machine of my own. Of course I occasionally have wanted to go back to the Mac camp, at least for personal use, but I never had a good excuse, and I while I've had the money to buy one if I wanted, I was never quite able to justify it.

Why am I writing this? Because I just ordered my third computer, a mini Mac. The price is too good to ignore, and I admit that the design impresses me. They lowered the price to the level of impulse buy and they hooked me. Now I just have to find a cheap 1 gig stick of RAM somewhere...

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Back to the Mac

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  • John, ......welcome home. :-)

    Seriously though, being a CS guy, you might find that things are really very, very comfortable with OS X. We are collaborating with the folks down in CS (U of U computer science, where Evans and Sutherland, Robert Barton, Tom Stockham, Alan Kay, Alan Ashton, Henri Gourard, Ed Catmull, Jim Clark John Warnock, etc....etc...etc... got their degrees) on a few projects, and those guys are moving in droves to OS X. It's weird because for years they have been an SGI shop and the tri
    • BWJ,

      I grew up in Utah and own a home about three blocks from the U, though I live in Boston currently. My point is that I am well aware of the pedigree of the U's CS department, though I didn't go there.

  • But only because I'm envious.

    • Envious that I have only bought three computers ever? Or that I have a little teeny cheap computer on its way to me? Dare I ask how many computers you have bought?
      • I'm envious of all of the above- envious that you have a job that will buy you laptops, envious that you're getting a MAC mini, envious that you've only bought 3 computers in the same time that I've purchased more than 25 of various OSes and manufacturers.
        • Did I mention that it is a really nice laptop? Of course it isn't mine, I just get to use it.

          In any case, I am envious of your 25 computers.

          • Don't be. Not a single one of them has anything faster than a 800Mhz processor, two of them have failing motherboards currently (not to mention the large number of failed motherboards over the years, one of these days I've GOT to invest in a UPS), plus the large majority of them have been non-Intel based hardware and OSes. Currently running in my home though is a network of four machines (not counting palmtops/PDAs) and one standalone Linux box that I play with from time to time (on an old 486DX IBM PS/2
      • Envious that you have a Mac mini on the way. I've purchased, with my own money, only two computers. Perhaps a half dozen or so, I've built with cast off components (dumpster diving at the computer shop and at work). I got two 'family' computers that wound up being used by me 85%+ of the time. And my parents did buy me a Mac Classic prior to college. And I got one computer in toto that work was tossing.

        That's not to say there haven't been upgrades. The one tower I bought has had to have Windows XP reactivat
    • only because I'm envious.

      I'm not.

      While John just got his 1.3GHz G4 with 256MB RAM and a small drive for $499, I just bought an Athlon64 3400+ with 512MB RAM, 802.11b/g, 128MB Gfx card and 200GB disk for $400. He did get OSX, but, frankly, I'm underwhelmed by OSX (which runs on my wife's new iBook, and which has sucked up a lot of my time lately, trying to figure out how to get stuff working for her).

      For less money, you can get a faster machine and (for me, at least) a better OS (64-bit Linux). I do

      • Though your BIOS chip has been a PITA, I am guessing that it came faster than my Mac mini will. I have to sit and wait for a painful month.
      • oh, btw, I upgraded the hdd, the proc, got the superdrive and the bluetooth. Suz has some educational expenses money from work that will help, so I didn't mind splurging. At least I didn't upgrade to a dual G5...
      • I won't even touch the processor speed issue. RAM on the mini is a joke.

        With that out of the way...

        I've tried to use Linux. It's still a toy. It still feels like a plaything anywhere other than the command line. I use iTunes, and have a ton of songs in AAC. I can't imagine there is a Linux app that is better than iTunes.

        Quicken is my financial lifeblood. Without it, my home would be foreclosed on within six months:) Banks' online billpaying does not compare in any way with the integrated nature of Quicke
        • I feel compelled to buy a gig of RAM. I wish I could only buy 512, but with only one slot...

          As for swillden's bios issue, that is because of the motherboard maker and would have bit him with Windows as well. It is the sort of thing that you have to deal with when you build your own box. I don't feel like building my own box at this point.

          • Macs have OpenFirmware or something like that instead of a BIOS now, right?

            I don't feel like building my own box at this point.

            I haven't checked, but ~1 year ago, it couldn't honestly be done much cheaper than a local white box shop.
        • I can't imagine there is a Linux app that is better than iTunes.

          I fiddled with iTunes and found it feature-deficient as well as unable to play most of my music (which is in Ogg Vorbis format). I ended up installing Audion 3 on my wife's iBook so she can listen to music.

          As for what there is on Linux that's better than iTunes, I find madman to be *much* better, especially if you have a large database of music like I do. iTunes' integration with the music store and similar features is cool, but for fin

          • Your comments about Quicken on the Mac are a bit disturbing. I'll have to investigate that.
            • If it's working for you, I wouldn't worry about it. I'm gathering my courage to give Quicken for Mac another shot, since Intuit just announced they're going to discontinue support (and download support) for Quicken for Windows 2001, which is the version I'm using (and have been since 2001). I may have to give up transaction downloads from my stock brokerage; I'll have to weigh that against having to buy a new Quicken for Windows (which may not work under Wine... have to check that out, too).

Remember, UNIX spelled backwards is XINU. -- Mt.

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