"Dedicated to all you
all human beings"
Tomorrow is Thursday; enjoy it.
It's only a computer. And I have 5 others at home. But it's the most important (and the most expensive) thing I own (the Boston area has made it quite easy to live without a car).
It was nearly 3 years ago that I finally left the Western NY area that I grew up in to take a job at Harvard, and it was a big change. The kind of change that you talk about making for years, but sometimes never go through with. It was a change I was excited about, and one that was long overdue.
Since I was making such a big change in my life, it felt appropriate to make a change in my computing habits. I grew up with Macs, in school and in my family, but eventually ended up with a PC at home (it was a Magnavox HeadStart 286, blazingly fast for its day). This trend continued, all the way through college, at the end of which I happily purchased my first laptop. For just over $2,000 (in the year 2000), I had myself a brand new Sony VAIO PCG-R505TEK. This "SuperSlim" model was then what the MacBook Air is now (except that it wasn't nearly as reliable, from the software to the hardware to even the cheap-feeling case). There was no optical drive (yes, you had to find an external 20x CD drive on your own) and the screen was 12.1″, making it as light as a feather (or 3.75 pounds of feathers).
Windows never really felt all that bad, but then I had been using it since version 3.0, and maybe I was just "used to it" (kind of like the way the star of "Ow My Balls!" from the movie Idiocracy was "used to" getting kicked in the groin). Or maybe I didn't know any better. Either way, as someone who was very familiar with various flavors of UNIX, the songs of Mac OS X were finally being heard by my perked up ears.
I asked Harvard for a Mac before I moved, preferring a PowerBook. I had been lusting over one for months, but would never get my hands on one. Instead, I was presented with an iMac. It would do, but I wasn't able to take my Mac love with me, and that
Dull Dell tower at home was looking more like Britney Spears after 2 kids and a shaved head than anything remotely tempting.
Against my own will, I played the Apple waiting game. I wanted a PowerBook, but there were rumors (when aren't there?). Rumors about a new laptop. And they came true.
I bought Laserbeak (yes, my computers are all named after Transformers) the day the Intel-based MacBook Pros were released, ignoring all the nay-sayers who said things like "never buy a Rev A product from Apple!" and "wait for the next round, they'll be better!" I walked into an Apple Store that day and dropped $2,500 on a brand new 15″ laptop, the most money I've ever spent at once, and never looked back.
By now you, the reader, are thinking, "That's a great story, you should tell it at parties. But what's this about a dilemma now?" And to you I say, "Hey, you're right, I should tell that story at parties!" But I digress.
As you know, computers don't stay top-of-the-line for very long. And while Laserbeak is still a fantastic machine, he's getting old (his pal Soundwave, my Mac Mini, is always giving him orders, which doesn't help). He gets awfully warm after a while, something Apple subsequently improved in other revisions of the MacBook Pro (OH GOD I SHOULD'VE WAITED 2 YEARS AND DID ALL MY WORK ON A CRAPPY PC). And he's maxed out at 2GB of RAM (occasionally I feel like an extra 2GB would be really nice to feed Parallels or any of the other memory hogging applications I need to run).
So I'm looking to replace him with a new model (shhhh… don't tell Laserbeak I said that…), just the way Tom Brady replaced his hot actress/baby-momma girlfriend Bridget Moynahan with hot model/model (has she ever had a real job?) girlfriend Gisele Bundchen (except that I didn't have any illegitimate children with my laptop). But that's not where the similarities between Tom & I end, you see. His injury happened on the football field, mine happened on the kickball field. He's moderately attractive, I'm extremely handsome. He plays on Gillette Field, I use a Gillette razor to shave my handsome face.
Oh, right. The dilemma.
What to replace my MacBook Pro with? The latest of many rumors say that the October 14th event will bring us new Apple laptops, possibly including a revised MacBook Pro. While I'm sure updates are coming for the MacBook line when it comes to increased drive capacity and a bump up in CPU speeds, I'm still on the fence about whether any major updates are likely (though the MacBook Pro case has remained almost exactly the same for its entire existence).
After October 14th, I need to make a decision. New MacBook, MacBook Pro, or MacBook Air? The 15″ MacBook Pro has been good to me, driving a 24″ LCD at home and packing enough power to do nearly anything CPU intensive. The Air, however, is a beautifully simple piece of machinery, and is almost the perfect lap companion, generating very little heat on the undercarriage. Then there's the middle ground, the general purpose MacBook. It does its job and does it well.
I've found Laserbeak to be a fantastic computer for nearly every situation. It's really the only machine I ever use, so it has to be able to handle any high-end work I need to do, but remain small and light enough to take everywhere (I participate in the Take Your Laptop to Work Day program, which for me is every day).
But the Air… god it's gorgeous.
Ignore comments like those from Craig Grannell of Cult of Mac who say that the MacBook Air is:
"… for people who happily set fire to $50 dollar bills…"
The Air is only $100 more than a fully equipped 15″ MacBook pro (which is what I bought with my $2,500 back in February of 2006) if you want the 64GB solid state drive, and $200 cheaper than the low-end 15″ MacBook Pro if you go with the typical 80GB 4200 RPM drive. If you're still not convinced, comparing it to the cheapest MacBook which rings in at only $1,100, forget about money for a second.
This thing isn't just a pretty face. It feels perfect in your hands, and on your lap. Using a MacBook Air is like having your favorite feline curled up on your legs on a cool fall day, except without the clawing or the excessive warmth (and in my case, the sneezing).
It's thin, it's light, it feels solid (as in, the exact opposite of how the VAIO felt), and it does your bidding. Just because it's small, doesn't mean it's slow. If you're using Final Cut Pro a lot, the Air probably isn't on your radar anyway.
And the screen. Wow. 13.3″ seems small when compared to a 15″ MacBook Pro, or a 19″ iMac, but that's what an external monitor is for. The brightness is unreal, and everything looks crisp and clear on the Air's display. The Craig Grannells of the world ought to spend a day with one before making any sort of assumptions.
I'm tempted to switch to the Air in a month or so, but what am I losing? Well, the optical drive for one. But if you remember correctly (and if you were paying attention earlier), I have plenty of other computers, including a Mac Mini. The Remote Disc feature that Apple touts for the Air really does work, though I can attest to the fact that it's somewhat slow (on a 802.11g network, as I don't own a 802.11n router yet).
And the ports. The MacBook Pro has more ports than a bad pirate movie. The question is, do I need them? The Firewire port has never gotten any use, and I rarely need more than 1 USB accessory (the Dell LCD at home has a built-in hub for this sort of situation). The audio-in jack is great for hooking up a mic, but I've only ever used that once (Bluetooth headsets usually work fine for what I need).
Then there's that ExpressCard slot. You know, that oddly shaped port on the left of the MacBook Pro that you never use? Well I actually found a use for it. Mine is always plugged with a Griffin ExpressCard 34 memory card reader (which seems to be discontinued since I haven't seen it anywhere in months) for getting pictures off of my digital camera's SD card. Then again, there are numerous USB card readers that handle that task just as easily.
For me, what it comes down to, is performance. Can I deal with a slightly slower CPU and only 2GB of RAM (considering my current laptop is only a hair faster than a new MacBook Air, I'd say "yes")? Is 2″ of screen real estate important? How much does the onboard graphics processor memory come into play with what I do daily? Does size really matter (get your mind out of the gutter…)?
While I haven't yet made my decision (and perhaps that will depend on what's announced in less than 4 weeks), what are your thoughts? Have you used the Air, and has it made you rethink your next laptop purchase? Are you a happy MacBook user? Is the Pro the way to go?
This principled stance against excessive executive compensation, however, is undermined by the fact that McCain's senior economic adviser and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina received $42 million dollars in compensation after being fired from HP. On NBC this morning, host Meredith Vieira noted that Fiorina "is an example of exactly the kind of person you say is at the root of the problem." McCain replied, "I don't think so":
McCAIN: I don't think so. … Because I think she did a good job as CEO in many respects. I don't know the details of her compensation package. But she's one of many advisers that I have.
Q: But she did get a $45 million dollar golden parachute after being fired while 20,000 of her employees were laid off.
McCAIN: I have many of the people, but I do not know the details of what happened.
"How can you not know the details of her past? I mean, that would be awfully important," Vieira responded. Watch it:
Nor is McCain's statement that Fiorina did a "good job" as CEO of Hewlett-Packard quite accurate. The board of HP fired Fiorina in 2005, concluding "that she was spending too much time on the road, neglecting the nuts-and-bolts execution of her own strategic ideas," according to the New York Times. "[H]er superstar status was also her undoing."
As CEO, Fiorina parked profits overseas using tax shelters, even though it negatively impacted the economy. The company held more than $14 billion overseas in 2004, according to the Washington Post. The Wall Street Journal noted that her tenure was "marked by a drop in morale at a company with a legendary history of a collegial culture."
Fiorina's golden parachute and her rocky tenure at HP, however, don't seem to matter to McCain, who does "not know the details of what happened."