today my macbook pro finally arrived. i woke up this morning very anxious and every 15 minutes or so would go to the door to see if the UPS van had arrived yet (i didn't want to miss it if the delivery person rang my bell and i didn't hear it). around noon a van pulled right outside and i waited for the bell to ring even though i was already ready to run outside and claim my prize. not only did my laptop arrive, but the network laser printer as well, as brought in two big boxes of goodies.
i opened the computer box on the dining table. when i slid the macbook out of the protective sleeve the first thing i wanted to know was how was the glossy screen. i read several online articles within the past few days, and there seems to be a consensus amongst designers that the matte screen is better, and i was filled with this sinking feeling that i invested in a crappy glossy finish that's so shiny i won't even be able to see anything. true, it was shiny, but once i turned it on, i was relieved that i couldn't really tell the difference anymore. as the computer flashed its startup screen, i checked for dead pixels (none).
all new macs nowadays have the option of data migration. i grabbed my 5 year old ibook, connected it to the macbook with a firewire cable, and in 8 minutes i'd transferred all my personal data, my preferences, my system settings, and my applications - something that in the past would've taken me probably the entire day to configure through multiple disc-swapping installs. i took the opportunity to microwave some leftovers for lunch. following the second restart after the migration, the macbook jumped into the system and i saw the familiar sight of my ibook desktop - just on a larger screen and a faster processor.
the first road block came suddenly: i couldn't see my wireless network, let alone connect to it. for the time being i had to go online via ethernet cable, and i googled to see if anyone had a solution to this problem. was there something wrong with the router? or maybe some ibook settings was interfering with the airport extreme card? around this time my father dropped by to see the new addition. after he left, i decided to update the firmware on my SMC barricade g wireless router. sure enough, after i updated, the macbook could see the wireless network! but it took several more minutes of painstaking sleuthing for me to figure out what the hexidecimal encryption key was (maybe it's a bug, but the router's admin page bulleted the keys immediately after i entered the passphrase, so i couldn't figure out what it was).
once the macbook was online, it was time to see what this baby can do. since i'd been already using the latest OS, i was already familiar with the system. likewise with the macbook's suite of applications since i'd already installed the latest ilife on my desktop mac. it wasn't until i picked up the remote (which resembles an ipod nano) and brought up front row that i became impressed. i sampled a few trailers, watched a dvd, and browsed through some photo - all without ever touching the computer. whether i'd use this everyday i'm not sure, but definitely something cool to show friends and family.
although the 15" macbook pro isn't the fastest mac that's currently available, it is the second fastest mac laptop on the market. the screen is bigger than the 12" on my ibook, but not dramatically so (maybe it's because i also use a 19" CRT monitor, so i'm used to having large screen real estate). the speed issue isn't readily apparent (other than the fact that i don't have to wait anymore, the end of delays), and i think the fact that i recently updated the CPU on my desktop mac to 1.8ghz meant that i was already familiar with what it's like to use a fast mac. but the macbook is slightly faster, is far more portable than my desktop machine (surfing the web at my kitchen table with the afternoon coming in was pretty sweet), and the video card is a million generations ahead of anything i've ever used before. i saw visual effects in OS X on the macbook that i never even knew existed because i've been using slow video cards. i even installed a copy of quake 4 (one that i picked up in hong kong) and it ran beautifully, no skipped frames - although i couldn't do anything with the game because i didn't have a mouse. as i play around with the macbook more and more, it becomes more evident just how fast it is at common tasks: like compiling an iview catalog, or scrolling through an array of thumbnails - the improvements are pretty noticeable. even transferring photos from my lexar firewire card reader is surprisingly faster than ever before. photoshop on the other hand, with stories of how notoriously slow it runs on these new intel macs, was just normal - it's not blazing fast but it's not crawling either. can't wait for CS3 to come out during the spring though.
i love the details on the macbook pro: illuminated keyboard buttons, built-in webcam, magnetic power cord, double-finger touchpad scrolling, cooler operating temperature, better (louder) speakers, trayless superdrive. i even love the glossy screen (richer, sharper colors), not sure what i was so worried about. the macbook pro is heavier than my ibook but it's also bigger (so the extra weight is justified). based on looks alone though, the macbook seems lighter because it's much flatter. opening the box (with its fancy minimalist packaging), i can't get over how the mac and more precisely apple has become such a name brand now, this very fancy boutique computer (and mp3 player) retailer, selling the sort of merchandise you'd normally find on newbury street (no surprise that apple has been trying to build a storefront at that posh location). i'm totally not about being trendy, and the only reason why i went with a mac is because i've been a loyal (thought sometimes disgruntled) user since 1986, and despite the higher price tag, it's the system i'm most familiar with and like using the most.
it wasn't all just fun and games today though: i also had some coding work to do. fortunately i woke up relatively early and got a headstart on the programming and was able to finish the most critical pieces and upload it before the computer arrived and put a kink in my work schedule. after the initial euphoria of toying with the new mac was over, i went back and worked a little bit more, saving the rest for tomorrow. it was then i went to play with my second toy of the day, the brother 2070n network printer.
i debated long and hard over whether i should get a laser printer. it's not like i do a lot of printing, but this printer only cost $90. the last time i had a laser printer was back in college, an NEC silentwriter 95, about the size of crate and just as heavy. i can't remember, but i think my parents paid $1300 for it. at the time it was the top of the line, and while most of my friends were dabbling in inkjet and dot matrix (remember computer paper?), i was flying high with my smoking fast 6 pages per minute 300dpi laser printer (the behemoth). fast-forward 10 years. the brother 2070n is 15x as cheap, prints at 22 pages per minute, and has a resolution of 2400dpi x 600dpi. plus, it's networkable, which means i can stuff it in a closet and still have it print out from anywhere in the house. which is exactly what i did tonight, clearing out a space in my already crowded closet (which also houses my router and cablemodem, so it was a perfect place for the printer). i smelled that familiar ozone aroma and printed out a few pages (some rebate forms, a photo).
for dinner i had the leftover of my earlier leftover, with an addition of half a cup of rice cooked in the rice cooker. my summer roommate an tao sent me e-mail that he's returning to cambridge to continue his astronomy research, arriving at the start of the new year and stayin for 3 months. i hope he's ready for new england weather. i woke up this morning to see a light layer of snow outside, the first snowfall of the season (unfortunately it all melted before i thought about taking photos). my hands, my feet, my nose, are all cold now.
the rest of this week is going to my own mini-christmas. i went a little crazy with the online shopping last week, so i'm expecting a lot of packages. what worse, it's not even presents for other people, but just gifts for me. i do this every holiday season, for every one thing i buy for somebody, i end up buying 2 things for myself.