A Tech Confession

I have a technological confession to make.  Last year while chatting with a friend of mine who used to be a Apple Service Rep at CompUSA, I became intrigued by the concept of the Mac. Last week while browsing some ads on Craig’s List, I came across an iBook going for $100. The power cord had shorted, and the hard drive had been removed and the computer was being sold for parts. I inquired about the system and asked if the original install disks were available. I have a couple of extra laptop hard drives, so I figured with a power cord I could make this system work. I went to pick it up.

The specifications of this laptop are fairly impressive for $100. It’s a G3/600Mhz with 256 Megs of RAM, a Combo drive (CD-RW/DVD) and an Airport Card, 2 USB, and 1 Firewire port. The battery is apparently shot but I’ll see. I was able to reassemble the iBook in an afternoon, although I didn’t bother with very many screws. For a company that was started by computer hobbyists, Apple Computer doesn’t seem to like hobbyists messing with their computers. The same computer toolkit that I have used for years to rip apart PC’s and laptops (including some star screws on a Compaq notebook) did not contain a jeweler’s screwdriver small enough to turn the tiny little screws from the iBook. That turned out to be a minor problem, because for an electronics tech/wannabe engineer I have short stubby fingers and was not able to line the little tiny screws up with the little tiny holes anyway. I put all the pieces back, put in about 3 screws in strategic locations, and snapped the plastic back in place as best as I could.

Now I just have to wait for a power cord. The iBook came with the original install disks and a Jaguar update CD (Max OSX 10.2). Up till now, my only experience with Mac comes from the Apple IIe that I used in a computer class in the 7th grade (almost 20 years ago!) and the iMac that my friend gave me last year. It’s a G3/333Mhz with 32 Megs of RAM. It came with Mac OS 8.6 and I got my hands on 9 which was automatically upgraded to 9.2.2 with the built in update feature. Considering the animosity that Mac fanatics have for Microsoft, Mac OS9 sure has a lot of Microsoft products on it. It came with Internet Explorer 4.5 for Mac, which I upgraded to IE 5 for Mac right before Microsoft discontinued support. When I clicked on mail, I got Outlook Express 4.5. This iMac is very slow and painful to use, and I really only play with it when my laptop bogs down and I need something to do. I’m sure if I upgraded the RAM and put OSX on it the iMac would be a lot more useful, but for now the system is little more than a toy.

I still see the whole operating system thing being a shell game, but I keep hearing how great OSX is and I would like to see for myself. Every sysadmin I know who has to support Macs hates them, and when I read forum posts and even opinions in the Apple online store, I read about a lot of hardware failures. Apparently these iBooks suffer from failing power cords and exploding batteries. The batteries don’t last very long at all. I’ll see once I get my power cord.

I’m currently reading the book iCon by Jeffrey Young and William Simon. This is a very interesting read. Steve Jobs is a very interesting a colorful character, and even though I imagine he was very difficult to work with or work for, I highly doubt that the personal computer would be what it is today without his influence.

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