A new iBook arrived in my office on Friday. Ever since OS X was introduced, I've been intrigued my Apple's new offerings and wondered if using Macs would be a viable option for State of Utah employees. I've spoken to some of the logictical issues before, but haven't had any recent personal experience with Macs.
Some first impressions:
- Its beautiful and very well executed. Everything about it, hardware and software, makes you want to play with it. Some of its "gee whiz" but other stuff is useful and neat.
- Things "just work." I've used the wireless networking, SMB compatibility (Windows sharing), and other things that are usually a little finicky in Windows and they were easy to set up and worked flawlessly.
- OS X rocks! As someone who used a Unix workstation until three years ago and only begrudingly started using Windows when the widespread use of Word documents ruined the Internet forever, I love having a Unix core. All the developer tools you need to port real software are already there: gcc, make, emacs, etc. Really nice.
- The power management is great. I've only rebooted the machine once since I took it out of the box on Friday. I shut the lid and it goes to sleep. I open the lid and it wakes up. The wireless network recovers and life goes on. This doesn't seem like it should be such a shock, but it has never worked reliably enough on my Billbox that I'm willing to rely on it.
Now some things to fix:
- The iBook only comes with 1024x768 screen resolution. Come on Apple! I have 1400x1050 on my Thinkpad and love it. Even the expensive TiBook doesn't have great resolution. I don't get it.
- The iBook doesn't have a PCMCIA slot. Death for someone who relies on a wide area wireless networking card. The built in WiFi is great, but sometimes I need something more and there's no way to use it. (The TiBook does have a PCMCIA slot, I understand.)
- I'm not a fan of trackpads in general and this one seems particularly touchy.
- The external video requires a dongle. I give a lot of talks and use my laptop to drive projectors several times a week. Having to remember the dongle all the time would be a real chore.
The local Apple sales guy and systems engineer are due to visit and help me get some things set-up (there are a few advantages to being CIO). One of the things I'm thinking will challenge them is the Novell environment we run at the State--particularly Groupwise. More on that later.