One year ago today, I bought an iBook. I needed a notebook computer and decided to give the iBook the nod, since I was increasingly annoyed with Microsoft's upcoming licencing schemes and intrigued by Mac OS X, and thought that the iBook was competitive in price and features. My intention was to run two platforms; I still had a Dell Dimension 4100 with a 933-MHz Pentium III, which I had bought the preceding March and which I still planned to use as my primary desktop computer.
It didn't turn out that way. I immediately had more fun using the iBook and began using it almost exclusively. By the end of November I had moved my mail over to it, just in time for the copy of Eudora on our PC was hit by a virus. There were some network connection problems (I couldn't access certain sites and services), which turned out to be a problem between the MTU setting and my ISP; once resolved (in February), everything worked thereafter.
Also in February, I added wireless networking, to give me more mobility, and I adored it. When my relationship broke down and I had to move out, I left the desktop behind and took the iBook. I've never looked back since.
The iBook has a 600-MHz G3 processor and a combo (DVD/CD-RW) drive. I brought up its total RAM to 384 MB. One year later, I find that I need more RAM than that. Running multiple programs takes up a lot of memory, and some programs are much more RAM-intensive than others. iPhoto, for example, is a pig, but a real surprise is how much RAM Microsoft Word can take up at once. You wouldn't expect that from a word processor.
The processor speed is adequate for most tasks, though there are times I would really like Altivec, such as when iTunes rips MP3s at 3x speed (or less, if I'm multitasking like mad). For writing, surfing, fiddling in the Terminal, etc., it's fine. As you might expect with a portable, disk access (and RAM) are serious impediments, that make using iPhoto (for example) an exercise in frustration.
The combo drive is a godsend. Originally I had planned on getting the DVD-ROM model, thinking I could continue to burn CDs on the PC (networking over whatever data was necessary), but it turned out that burning CDs was easier on the Mac. Most of my CDs are data archive CD-ROMs; I've burned only a couple of audio CDs through iTunes, and that, too was trivial.
Video RAM is a bit of a problem; my 8-MB ATi Rage Pro 128 can barely play most new releases. Civilization III runs all right, if sluggishly, and I'm amazed that Black & White runs at all. I'm not even thinking about getting any newer games until I have a desktop. Not being able to run Quartz Extreme is too bad, but liveable; Jaguar (I'm running OS X 10.2.2 right now) is still very usable without it.
Battery life is excellent; I easily exceed well over two hours when surfing over wireless (running AirPort does drain the battery a bit) and usually exceed three. I once played a DVD on the plane and had enough juice to finish it.
Physically, the iBook has held up well after a year of abuse. The lid is scratched up quite nicely, as you might expect, and I've gotten crumbs into the keyboard. The two front pads have cracked off the bottom of the computer. The power supply has a problem with the short adapter bit that plugs directly into the wall, which I will take care of shortly. I bought AppleCare since my last laptop (an IBM ThinkPad 380) had its screen fry after only 18 months.
As I said, I'm running OS X 10.2.2, and the operating system is one of the main reasons I switched. I was never a UNIX geek, and my ability to get under the hood and mess around is rather limited, but I do like having it there. I really do love OS X, which is something I could never have said about Windows. One of my original justifications for switching was the ability to run Apache (and PHP) locally so I could code web pages offline, but with wireless networking connected to a 1-Mbps ADSL modem, I've found it just as easy to save directly to my web server via Samba, or just ssh into it and code it remotely. I use Pico; I know, I suck.
The OS has crashed a total of four times. Twice there was a kernel panic during sleep mode that I attributed to a less-than-compatible USB hub, which I've since removed. Twice I rebooted after getting a network hang after connecting to my iDisk; this problem has been ameliorated under Jaguar, under which iDisk connections are much faster. I've turned the computer off only once in the past year, and that was to install the AirPort card; it's been either on or asleep ever since. I reboot only when Software Update requires it, which is once or twice a month at most, if that.
Finally, Apple has inflicted serious monetary damage on me in the area of the digital hub, which actually turned out to be very useful. The applications encouraged me to use them more than any PC equivalent did, and digital-hub apps are a bigger part of my computing life than I expected. The problem is that it has encouraged a serious gadget jones that is, well, expensive.
I'd had a digital camera before, but uploading and editing images was nontrivial. As it turned out, neither my camera (a 1.5-megapixel Fuji MX600Zoom) nor my SmartMedia card reader was OS X compatible, so I used the excuse to upgrade to a Nikon Coolpix 995 in March. Fantastic camera that was compatible with iPhoto, and as a result I'm taking a lot more photos than I used to.
I'd had the opportunity to rip and burn music on my PC before, but the software was not user-friendly enough to encourage it; i.e, I could do it, but I'd have to learn. iTunes was, of course, trivial, and my MP3 collection, which was once nonexistent, began to proliferate. A 5-GB iPod followed in May. Strangely enough, I was actually listening to more music than I had before.
Then came the opportunity to edit a friend's video footage with iMovie, which I enjoyed far too much for my own good. And then I was thinking to myself, I really need one of those digital video cameras, and a desktop with a G4 and a really big hard drive (20 GB on the iBook is really not enough for video work), and, yeah, burning it to DVD would be really good, too
I think I'm in trouble.