My Turn

The TiBook Marches On: 400 MHz Productivity in the 2 GHz Era

- 2007.07.26

My Turn is Low End Mac's column for reader-submitted articles. It's your turn to share your thoughts on all things Mac (or iPhone, iPod, etc.) and write for the Mac web. Email your submission to Dan Knight .

I recently started a new job as an educational technology specialist/director for a new school district.

My third week into the job I had the opportunity to attend Alan November's Building Learning Communities Conference in Boston. I needed to take along a laptop and decided on my old but trusty PowerBook G4 (400 MHz).

I ordered this computer the day Steve Jobs presented it to the world in his keynote at Macworld in 2001. It was the future of laptops at the time, and I followed Dan Knight's journey with his PB G4 here at Low End Mac.

I didn't have a reliable computer in my old middle school classroom at the time, and this machine took daily journeys from my home to my classroom and back. I made iMovies, classroom webpages, ripped CDs, and eventually kept my iPhoto library, along with many other things, on this PowerBook. It didn't "retire" from all of these duties until last fall, when I purchased and received my new Mac Pro 2 x 2.66 GHz Dual-Core Intel Xeon.

This PowerBook continues to be used for Web browsing, word processing, and the occasional podcast download, and I know it will continue to be used until it gives up the ghost.

When it came time to set off for Boston, I decided to give my PowerBook G4 a clean install and placed it into its bag for our journey east. I arrived at the conference and noticed all the latest notebook computers in full force. I proudly pulled out my PowerBook without much notice from my neighbors in the various workshops and went to work blogging, taking notes in my conference wiki, iChatting with my wife and children, and Skyping them at the end of each day to report my new found knowledge and tell them where I was headed for the evening.

This 400 MHz machine kept up with the best of them, and I was quite impressed that I was using such a productive computer.

In a particular workshop put on by Apple concerning podcasting, I had a gentleman ask what kind of PowerBook I was using. He had the newest MacBook Pro and didn't recognize the model I was using.

I mentioned it was a PowerBook G4/400 MHz.

"A what?" he questioned.

I explained it was the original, first generation PowerBook G4, and that I had ordered it after its introduction at Macworld in January 2001.

"Really?" he questioned.


"You should look into getting one of the new MacBook Pros like I have," he stated.

I explained that it was okay. I proceeded to explain all I needed to do I could do with this laptop, and I shared my blog, wiki, Flickr pictures, and current iChat that I had all running on my computer at the time.

"Wow! You can do all that on that computer?" he exclaimed.

"Yes, because it is all Web-based," I explained. You really don't need much computing power in this Web 2.0 world, and I hope educators can stop using the excuse of not having the latest hardware to implement such wonderful collaboration and publishing tools in their classrooms and especially with their students; however, that is a topic for another day!

I've used a lot of computers over the years in my education profession: Mac and PC. I personally have an old Lombard that I got about three years ago that hums along in its own special way; nevertheless, my PowerBook G4 400MHz laptop is my old favorite, and I wonder if I will ever have a computer like it that means so much to me. It's like an old friend, and it has enabled me to document the events of my family, to become a great teacher, to get a master's degree, and to advance on to new employment. It has been, and continues to be, an integral part of my life.

That's saying a lot for a machine, but it's an example of how important these tools have become a part of our lives. Even though my PowerBook isn't the fastest or latest and greatest, it works, and the low-end marches on.

See you at the next education conference; I'm the one with that old PowerBook G4 that still works!

Dan Knight's TiBook Reports

  • First Impressions: TiBook, Dan Knight, 2001.01.31. Stop the presses - I got my PowerBook G4 this afternoon.
  • TiBook: Day 1, Dan Knight, 2001.02.01. More impressions from my first day with a PowerBook G4.
  • TiBook: Day 2, Dan Knight, 2001.02.02. Internet connection update, more on heat, brief benchmark discussion.
  • TiBook Report #4, Dan Knight, 2001.02.05. Battery life, SETI performance, and more on heat.
  • TiBook Report #5, Dan Knight, 2001.02.06. Heat reduction with CoolPad, burning CDs, DVD tips, and more.
  • TiBook Report #6, Dan Knight, 2001.02.08. Is the PowerBook G4 really a desktop replacement? Also, more comments on DVD playback.
  • TiBook Report #7: Zap!, Dan Knight, 2001.02.16. Great laptop, but there's this pesky problem with static electricity....

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