The funny thing about climbing mountains is that sometimes you cannot tell how far you have climbed until you turn around and look back.
—Vint Cerf

Time it was and what a time it was it was.
—“Bookends”, Simon & Garfunkel

Unforgettable in every way
And forever more, that's how you'll stay
—Nat King Cole

6-month Powerbook Journal Review

This is a summary of the first six months of owning my 15 inch Apple Powerbook G4, as documented in my Powerbook Journal. I love my Mac— I cannot imagine buying or recommending a computer running Microsoft Windows. The Mac is by no means perfect, but the benefits outweigh the disadvantages. Do I have any regrets in switching to the Mac? No. Would I do it again? Yes.

G5 Powerbooks

If I had decided to wait for the G5 Powerbooks, I would still be waiting today.

Getting to Know OS X

If you're new to OS X, read How To Switch to the Mac. Then, for a more detailed analysis, read Amit Singh's OS X articles. Stian Sųiland, a recent convert to OS X, has an excellentsummary.

The Keyboard

My sincere condolences to those who got a localized keyboard with a weird layout, as you will have some difficulty typing "{" and "}" (if it's not too late, order a US keyboard). The Mac keyboard is somewhat idosyncratic: there are no dedicated page-up and page-down keys, nor a forward delete. These functions are invoked via modifiers: forward-delete is Fn+delete, Home is Fn+left-arrow, etc.

The backlight makes-up for all the deficiencies, however.

First Things First

  1. Install DoubleCommand and configure the modifier-keys to your comfort as you are no doubt accustomed to the Alt-keys being directly adjacent to the space-bar. Remap the 2nd "enter" key to be "Fn" and you will be able to page-up and down with one hand.
  2. Install MenuMeters, a graphical top/cpu-usage/network-usage/disk-usage display for the menu-bar.
  3. Install Quicksilver; learn to use it.
  4. Open Terminal.app and configure it to run your preferred shell (that would be zsh, naturally) and your favourite font (Bitstream Vera Sans, naturally). Skip the next step if you're a vi user.
  5. Install Carbon Emacs.

Things That Bother Me— What Lies Beneath

Multi-session CDs

The most poignant reminder of the Unixness that lingers beneath the polish of OS X, appears every time I want to burn a CD that I am planning on reading on a Windows/XP computer. Burning multi-session CDs that are readable "everywhere" is impossible without third-party tools, like DiscBlaze and Toast, that simplify the task of burning CDs, DVDs and all the other media.

Backing Out

Be wary of applying Apple Software Updates as soon as they are released. Apple has poor regression testing and sometimes, the patches tend to b0rk parts of the OS. You cannot back-out of patches; there is no equivalent of the Windows/XP System Restore.

Workhorse

xterm is the workhorse of the Unix world; Terminal.app is the hobbyhorse of the OS X world— most Mac users have not heard of the Terminal. xterm is available for OS X, but because X is a second-class citizen (meaning, cut and paste, drag and drop are not fully integrated), it cannot function as a true workhorse. iTerm is a worthy replacement for Terminal.app, but it's not yet ready for prime-time. So if your work involves having multiple remote-shells open on several hosts, and you were thinking of using OS X as your desktop, wait a while.

The Finder

The Finder is a piece of sh*t.

Terminal

The Mac is a GUI environment and most (99%) of Mac users have never seen a Terminal so development of this application is rather pathetic.

luis fernandes / G4 PowerBook Journal Summary