The 'Book Page

TiBook: Day 1

2001.02.01 - Dan Knight - Tip Jar

I got my PowerBook G4 Wednesday afternoon, spent a couple hours getting it ready, and shared my initial impressions PowerBook G4last night. Then I got to work moving all my files from my aging SuperMac S900 (a 1996 model with many upgrades) to the new TiBook - it took hours.

Moving In

The first rule of moving all your files to a new computer: set up file sharing on the new computer, log in from the old one, and then copy. If you do it the other way, it won't copy any active files (you'd be surprised at how many there are!), the Finder pauses while you tell it to skip the active file, and you end up having to start over and do it the right way.

You can improve performance and avoid starting from ground zero with Copy Agent, which is smart enough to only copy the files that are not on the destination drive or have a more recent modification date, but with over 40,000 files to copy over 10Base-T ethernet, it took a long, long time.

Then comes the challenge of integrating all those files, especially the ones from the System Folder, with the files normally installed on the new computer. I've done just enough of that to be productive. I'd normally use Marc Moini's Clean-Install Assistant to bulk strip all non-Apple items from my old System Folder, wade through the removed files looking for unnecessary drivers and preferences (e.g., I won't need the drivers for my ixMicro video card or ixTV card in the TiBook), and then have C-IA put everything where it belongs in the new System Folder.

Alas, Marc Moini hasn't yet updated Clean-Install Assistant for Mac OS 9.1, so I'm going to have to spend a lot of time moving these files manually.

At this point, I have everything from my old SuperMac on the TiBook, but I don't have everything set up. For instance, I need to find another piece of AOL Instant Messenger before I can use it.

Impressions

The keyboard is too dark. It's early in the morning, so I don't have all the lights on. The PowerBook's screen is gorgeous, but it's a bit difficult to read the keys. That said, I'm finding the keyboard very comfortable to type on.

One thing I do each day is track site statistics, copying certain bits of data from my browser to ClarisWorks spreadsheets (version 4.0v5 runs without a hitch on the new computer and OS). My resizing trick meant all but one or two of the spreadsheets fit the screen and didn't have to be resized this morning.

One of the first things I missed is a numeric keypad. I didn't realize how accustomed I'd become to using it for numeric input, but I had. Yes, you can coax the PowerBook keyboard into emulating a numeric keypad, but it just isn't the same - and those numbers are very small and difficult to read.

I also discovered my new Kensington optical mouse has a tendency to double-click on the single-click button, especially when switching from the browser to my ClarisWorks spreadsheets. I'm fiddling with the MouseWorks settings to see if I can change that behavior.

Speaking of the mouse, it tracks much better on the TiBook, which has USB integrated into the design, than it ever did on my SuperMac, which used a third-party PCI USB card. I'd realized from the start that the card made my SuperMac a bit more sluggish, but until now I hadn't realized how much impact it had.

Probably due to both the integrated ATI Rage Mobility graphics chips and the lack of all those PCI cards and drivers (ixMicro Ultimate Rez video, Macally USB, ixTV, TurboMax IDE drive controller, SuperMac E100 [combination 10/100 ethernet and fast/wide SCSI]), browsing is much better on the TiBook than on my old SuperMac. It's fast. It's smooth. Those long pauses while loading a page, scrolling, or switching apps are gone in an instant.

I desperately need to get QuicKeys 5 up and running. I'm used to using F9 for italic type and F10 for bold; I've been doing it for almost nine years and have to remind myself to use cmd-I and cmd-B. There are other reasons to use QuicKeys, such as telling it to apply smart quotes in some applications but retain dumb quotes in others (esp. email and Web pages).

On the software front, I'm happy to note that SmoothType runs flawlessly and still provides much nicer onscreen type than Apple's font smoothing. Another old favorite, MenuChoice, which I've been using since at least 1993, works perfectly and provides a nice replacement for Apple Menu Items.

Other freeware control panels I've already added: iMacolor to replace the icon above the Apple menu, SETI@home, and PopChar Lite, which provides a pulldown menu displaying the full character set for the current font.

Networking

The thing I find most frustrating right now is having to choose between being connected to my cable modem or my home network. My SuperMac had two ethernet ports, so I ran TCP/IP for the Net on one, AppleTalk for the home network on the other. This is incentive to either get that Hawking router working or set up IPNetRouter on one of my older computers.

More

I dug up my QuicKeys serial number, so that's up and running just fine. I've reinstalled AOL Instant Messenger, but I get a database error message every time I launch it.

I've moved a few more files around and run Disk Warrior on all partitions. I tried to run Plus Optimizer on the main hard drive, but it's going to take much too long to do during the day. Maybe I'll run it a bed time and give it all the time it needs.

I've hooked the TiBook up to my 19" Optiquest monitor, which is nicely mirroring everything I'm doing.

I really need to do something about screen color; it simply doesn't have the same rich colors I see on my monitor. I recall someone released a profile that worked with the iBook and recent PowerBooks. Need to do some research. I know I linked to it once upon a time, but I can't find it.

BTW, this thing is hot. I have the back propped up about 1/2" to improve air circulation, and the bottom is uncomfortably hot. In fact, the fan just kicked in for the first time. If you have the back of the TiBook propped up, it's a very loud fan, but if it's flat on the desk, it's much quieter. Interesting. Apple probably designed it that way. They do recommend using it on a flat surface for proper airflow (thanks, Dave!), but I find typing more comfortable with the back propped up. Time to look into a tilted flat surface.

I've had the TiBook flat on the desk for several minutes; the bottom really does feel cooler. I'm looking for a utility that will measure CPU temperature, but the only one I've tried reported a constant 33°F for two hours (metric folk, that's just one degree above freezing). I know that isn't right.

Performance

It's fast. That's a combination of a 400 MHz CPU, 200 MHz 1 MB backside cache, 100 MHz motherboard, very good graphics chip, and decent hard drive.

Of course, I had to run MacBench 5 and Speedometer 4. The MacBench CPU score is 1225 (22.5% faster than the Beige Power Mac G3/300). My Yikes! G4/400 at work scored 1314, which is about 7% faster. The FPU score for the TiBook is 1505, a bit higher than the 1473 score of the 400 MHz Yikes! and over 50% faster then the Beige G3/300. The hard drive scores 1377 - 38% faster than the Beige G3 and quite a feat for a laptop!

On the Speedometer 4 side, the CPU scores 30.5 times as fast as a Quadra 605. By way of comparison, my SuperMac S900 with a G3/333 card scores 25.2 and the 400 MHz Pismo scored 28.2. On the math front, the TiBook scores 1120, which beats the S900's 891 and Pismo's 1016. Disk performance rates 3.26, which edges out Pismo (3.24) and surpasses my old SuperMac (2.95).

I don't have graphics scores. Speedometer won't test Macs without 1-bit video and MacBench requires a CD that I've misplaced. Subjectively, I'm impressed. This is more than I was used to and makes a nice upgrade from the G4/400 at my old job and the 1996 designed SuperMac S900.

I hope to have more tomorrow, after I've had a chance to work with some of my other applications.

The TiBook Reports

  • TiBook Report #7: Zap!, 2/16/01. Great laptop, but there's this pesky problem with static electricity....
  • TiBook Report #6, 2/8/01. Is the PowerBook G4 really a desktop replacement? Also, more comments on DVD playback.
  • TiBook Report #5, 2/6/01. Heat reduction with CoolPad, burning CDs, DVD tips, and more.
  • TiBook Report #4, 2/5/01. Battery life, SETI performance, and more on heat.
  • TiBook: Day 2, 2/2/01. Internet connection update, more on heat, brief benchmark discussion.
  • TiBook: Day 1, 2//01. More impressions from my first day with a PowerBook G4.
  • First Impressions: TiBook, 1/31/01. Stop the presses - I got my PowerBook G4 this afternoon.

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