There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.
—Oscar Wilde

Whoever has the coolest toys wins.

elf's PowerBook G4 Journal Prologue

I began this journal in the hopes that it would help distract me from the excruciating wait for my PowerBook G4 to arrive.

The Decision to Buy

So everyone (well, nearly everyone) I know is switching from Windows to Mac. It started with James Gosling, then my friend, David switched. Then I learned that an Admin in the CS Dept. bought one for his wife. A few people on the Emacs IRC channel I hang out with, on <koyote>, <johnw>, <Riastradh>, <TTimo> (who did the Unix ports of the Quake engines) and <isomer>— all used Macs. Well, what was I waiting for? I had the money (slaved through enough overtime during the past summer to afford a lot of cool toys) and I wanted to find out for myself what the fuss was about.

A couple of other reasons that influenced my switch were the iPod I bought my brother— he loves it. And I was quite amazed at how intuitive iTunes was (under Windows/XP) that I switched to iTunes immediately from WinAMP and dbPowerAMP (ripping).

The Decision Not to Wait for the G5s

A desktop G5 needs no less than 9 fans to stop it boiling over, how on earth could they achieve that in a small Powerbook casing?
—Jon Hicks

I was dissappointed when the long rumoured G5 PowerBooks didn't surface in January 2005; the rumours said 6-12 months wait because of CPU heat-dissipation issues. So I just went for the upgraded G4s...

What Did I Get?

Z0B6 PowerBook 15 in. 1.67GHz SuperDrive
065-5644 1.67GHz PowerPC G4 w/128MB VRAM dual
065-5597 512MB DDR333 SDRAM - 1 SO-DIMM
065-5283 80GB Ultra ATA drive @ 5400 rpm
065-5286 8x SuperDrive (DVD±RW/CD-RW)
065-5376 AirPort Extreme Card
065-5290 Backlit Keyboard/Mac OS - U.S. English
M8853LL/AAppleCare Protection Plan for PowerBook

The main reason I prefer laptops over desktops is their compactness. I decided on the 15 inch model because I felt the 17 inch didn't appeal to my sense of compactness and the 12 inch did not meet my requirements as it lacked a built-in PC-card slot which I use to transfer photos from my digital camera using a PCMCIA-to-CF adaptor card.

I asked Dave for advice on buying mine. He suggested upgrading to the 128MB video card (Tiger would likely benefit), getting 3rd-party RAM upgrade and getting the AppleCare Extended Warranty.

The Online Order

Vladimir: Alors? On y va?
Estragon: Allons-y
—"Waiting for Godot"

I placed the order (via the Educational site) on Feb. 7th, 2005 at 11:05 PM EST. I was a bit confused with the directions to order Educational AppleCare:

Important Note for Education Institution Customers - AppleCare Protection Plan (APP) for Education Institutions can be found in the "Special Products" section of your Apple Store. To add APP to your current order, continue shopping until you have reached the "Review your order" page where your shopping cart is displayed. Then select "Continue Shopping" to reach your Apple Store's main page and click "Special Products" located on the upper right side. Select the APP you would like to add to your order.

but I finally figured it out after several unnecessary trips back to previous pages.

The next morning, I checked my order status and noticed that there was an alert indicating that there was a hold-up pending a credit-card clearance. Around 9:30AM I got a cheerful call from the credit-card company asking for verification that I had indeed placed an order with Apple. Yes, I did. Thank you. Goodbye.

Around 12:30PM, I got an email from Apple saying there was a hold-up pending a credit-card clearance and to reply to the email once it's sorted out. I immediately replied to the email saying it was sorted out at 9:30AM.

Around 3:00PM, I checked the order status again and the alert was still up! So I called Apple on the telephone and asked WTF and Valentine (!) checks and validates that the transaction has been OK'd by the credit card company and clears-up the alert.

The Wait Begins...

I am to wait, though waiting so be hell
—Sonnet LVIII, William Shakespeare

Wed Feb 09 00:46:07 2005

So I wait while some Apple employee goes out to the beach to collect some sand to manufacture the silicon for the G4 chip. Then I wait some more as another employee books a flight to Burma to plant a rubber-tree sapling so i can get 4 bits of rubber for the underside of the PowerBook.

It Shipped! (No, not really)

Wed Feb 09 17:06:12 2005

I received an email this morning with a shipping confirmation. But it was a false alarm— it was just my AppleCare Warranty. So I now have extended warranty support for a laptop I don't have yet.

An Aside About My Current Laptop

They say if you play a Microsoft CD backwards, you hear satanic messages. Thats nothing, because if you play it forwards, it installs Windows.
—Overheard on #macosx

I currently have a Sony Vaio PCGR370P laptop: 1.13 GHz P3, 256MB RAM, 40GB Disk, DVD-ROM/CD-RW running Windows/XP. I bought it as a multi-media centre to play my DVDs (I don't have a TV) and to do my digital photography with a Canon S30 camera I bought at the same time. I also used it to play video games, Crimson Skies (my all-time favourite) and Return to Castle Wolfenstein, surf the net and listen to my music collection which I ripped to MP3s. The laptop now is primarily used for surfing and digital photography since it came bundled with Adobe Photoshop Elements (which I will be buying for my PowerBook).


Matilda: fem. proper name, from Fr. Mathilde, of Gmc. origin, lit. "mighty in battle," cf. O.H.G. Mahthilda, from mahti "might, power" + hildi "battle."

Thu Feb 10 14:25:55 2005

Having recently watched the Deluxe Edition of Leon by Luc Besson, and being a great fan of Natalie Portman, who played "Mathilda", that name was the obvious choice for naming my PowerBook.

When Dave asked me if I had thought of a name for the PowerBook, I immediately said "Mathilde" (I kept thinking that the character in Leon was named "Mathilde" not "Mathilda"). It just so happens (unbenounced to me), but as Dave pointed out, that "Mathilde" is the name of the character that Audrey Tautou plays in A Very Long Engagement. So it was a happy coincidence and quite cosmically apropos, as my work computer (running Windows/XP) is called "Amelie".

Sudden Motion Sensor

From a Slashdot discussion about SMS, this question:

Now every PowerBook G4 is equipped with Apple's Sudden Motion Sensor to help protect your most valuable asset: your data. The Sudden Motion Sensor senses change in axis position and accelerated movement. In the event of a drop or fall, the Sudden Motion Sensor instantly parks the hard drive heads so they wont scratch the disks on impact, lessening the risk of damage and improving your chances of retrieving valuable data. When the Sudden Motion Sensor senses your PowerBook is once again level, it unlocks the hard drive heads automatically.

This sounds like a cool feature, can anyone confirm from personal experience that it really works?

The reply:

Indeed I have. Today I experimented by dropping PowerBook G4's (PB G4) from various heights, hammering a nail into a piece of maple with the PB G4, and finally attempting to bat against the Australian bowling attack using the PB G4.

From these test, I can only conclude that Apple is falsely advertising the merits of the Sudden Motion Sensor, in each and every case, not only was the data corrupted, the PB G4 broken beyond all recognition, but the most staggering result being the complete destruction of my bank account.

Please take these experimental results as a note of severe caution when purchasing your next computer.

More Waiting

Estragon: Nothing to be done.
—"Waiting for Godot"

Fri Feb 11 09:13:07 2005

This morning I wake up to read this email from Apple:

Dear Apple Customer,

We appreciate your recent purchase from the Apple Store. Due to an unexpected delay, the following item(s): Z0B6, PBG4 15/1.67/SD/CTO will now ship on or before 02/28/2005. We regret any inconvenience this delay may cause.

A shipment notification, with tracking information, will be emailed to you as soon as your order is shipped. You may check the status of your order any time by visiting our online order status website.

If you prefer, you may change or cancel your order anytime before it is shipped. If you choose to cancel your order, Apple will issue a prompt refund.

The only reasons I can imagine causing the “unexpected delay” are 1) a mine cave-in where the Apple employees are mining copper and gold for the motherboard traces and 2) the employee in Burma has been arrested for mutilating rubber-trees.

Fri Feb 11 13:01:38 2005

I haven't yet decided to cancel the order as I'm not really in desperate need for the PowerBook. So, for now, I'll wait; I may change my mind later.

Last night, Dave emailed me a link to The Tao of Mac. An excellent site for those beginners just switching to the Mac or those in search of tips to improve their experience. I ended up going to bed at 2:00 AM as I lost track of the time, wandering all over the site.


Sat Feb 12 21:52:56 2005

I'm considering renaming my PowerBook, "Godot", as suggested by <Erwin> on #emacs.

Popular Apps

Sun Feb 13 00:12:13 2005

Several people on #emacs, know of, recommend and use:

Tim Bray on using OSX

Mon Feb 14 16:44:22 2005

A few more tips.

I called Apple today to find out if, once the PowerBook shipped, I would be able to find out the exact day when it would arrive at my house so I would be there to receive it. The phone-droid said that once I have my tracking-number I would have to call FedEx and inquire with them.

Mon Feb 14 19:17:38 2005

If you need a Office Suite and are unwilling to pay MS (well, what's the point of Switching if you're still going to use MS products?) give NeoOffice/J a try.

It Shipped! (Really!)

Tue Feb 15 08:25:08 2005

Went to bed last night at 1:05AM and woke up at 8:05AM this morning, to read:

Dear Apple Customer,

The following products shipped on 02/15/2005. Transit time will depend upon whether you have chosen standard or premium freight options. If your order is shipping standard freight, it should arrive within 12 days of shipment.


I setup FedEx Email Tracking (very cool) so tracking information updates are emailed to me directly.

Tue Feb 15 16:55:11 2005

Haven't gotten any email from FedEx yet even though the status has changed on the web.

Office Suite

It seems that Microsoft Office for OSX is the most popular suite, at least on #macosx on Freenode; and Dave also bought a copy of Office (student edition) for his sister. So , really, that whole "Switch" campaign was Massive Apple Hype™.

Countdown Begins

Wed Feb 16 08:15:39 2005

No updates on the tracking information except for: "Estimated delivery Feb 18, 2005 12:00 PM". I don't see how this is going to happen as it's still "At local FedEx facility, Shanghai CN ". I can only imagine standing on my roof as the FedEx plane flies by and my PowerBook is pushed out the freight ramp and it helplessly plummets down to earth on an undersized parachute.

Terminal Colors

Wed Feb 16 14:45:37 2005

ANSI color picker for


Wed Feb 16 17:07:34 2005

The courier company just called to make sure someone would be home tomorrow at noon. Now, the only question I stay home...? I was planning on staying home Friday, but do I also stay home tomorrow...?

Couldn't stay home

Thu Feb 17 16:01:29 2005

I remembered that I had a meeting today, so I couldn't stay home.

To Be Continued...

This adventure continues (or more like begins) in Part 1.

luis fernandes / Prologue: PowerBook G4 Journal / Last updated: Fri Jul 29 19:10:24 2005