Freedom from Microsoft — iBook Arrives

I ordered an Apple iBook in June from the Apple Store Web site, which told me it would arrive in 15 days. I checked the order status on the 15th day and learned it was “being assembled.” A phone call revealed that there were more orders than anticipated, and besides, according to the person who spoke with me, the 15 days meant 15 business days.

“Why doesn’t it say that on the site?” I asked.

Maybe it should, said the salesperson.

OK. On the 15th business day I called again, and was told the computer might be shipping the following week. Maybe.

I waited a few more days and learned that Apple was still not sure when it would ship. At that point I checked an online dealer and found that the model I wanted, the system with the DVD drive, was in stock. I ordered it, and cancelled the Apple Store order.

Then I ran into Bill Campbell, a member of the Apple board of directors, at a gathering for another company where he’s a board member. “The day Microsoft learns humility will be the same day Apple understands how to forecast demand,” I told him. He didn’t disagree.

Anyway, it’s here now. And for the most part I love it.

The iBook strikes me as a nearly ideal combination of form, price and function for a notebook computer. It’s light, under 5 pounds. It’s powerful enough, with a 500-MHz G3 processor. I added 256MB of RAM, bringing the total to 384MB, which is good enough for the time being. The 10GB hard disk is a bit small, but liveable since I’m not planning to put lots of music or video on this drive.

Mac OS X looks lovely, and runs acceptably with this configuration. But I’m not using it for regular work. The “Classic” environment really slows things down, and since I’ll be using Virtual PC I’ll have to wait in any event for Connectix to get VPC for OS X out of beta.

I’ve downloaded iCab and Opera, which most people consider the two best Mac browsers apart from Internet Explorer. But I have to say, based on using all three, that I find IE superior in key ways. The Mac team has done a great job with this.

Because my company uses Exchange for e-mail and calendaring — and has disabled POP3 access to the server — I’m locked into at least one Microsoft solution. I downloaded the Outlook Mac client, which is new. It’s not nearly as good as the Windows version in a number of ways.

Having installed Virtual PC and a copy of Windows 98 from a machine I no longer use, I’m now planning to install the Windows Outlook client. Maybe that will be the best answer — running Outlook in a Windows session while using the Mac 0S for everything else.

For word processing I’m leaning toward Nisus, recommended strongly by John Markoff, though I’ve found Appleworks 6 to be acceptable. Nisus looks like it has a steep learning curve to find all the tricks, but it also looks extremely powerful.

The Logitech Optical Wheel Mouse is a joy to use with the iBook. I can’t believe — especially now that Apple has adopted Unix in OS X — that the company still insists on selling people that brain-dead one-button mouse. The right button is a major productivity tool.

Speaking of brain-dead, Apple’s Software Update needs reworking, too. I just ran it and selected several updates. After a couple of long file downloads, it froze on the Open Transport update. When I rebooted, the previous update — the DVD player — hadn’t taken effect, so I have to do it all over again. Guess I’ll have to do these one by one, then reboot each time. What a drag.

Now I’ve got to get an ADB-USB connector so I can use the keyboard from my older Mac. At home I’ll use the Mac with the Samsung flat-panel display and outboard mouse/keyboard. Works fine in clamshell mode, I gather.

More later…


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