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ATPM 11.07
July 2005



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Segments: Slices from the Macintosh Life

by Paul Blakeman,

Love at First iBook


It has taken me an unbelievably long time to write this article! So I think I should start with a thank-you to the editors of ATPM for being so patient and to all the contributors who take the time to write the articles that make ATPM such a great read. Now that that’s out of the way, my story can start…

I travelled from England to the west coast of America with three friends about a year and a half ago. We all agree that it was, without doubt, the most enjoyable holiday that any of us has ever been on. We flew into San Francisco, travelled by car to Yosemite National Park, and then drove back to the bay. From there we then travelled by Greyhound (I wish someone had warned us about that!) up to Seattle, and then finally onto Vancouver. By now you should be wondering what on earth this has to do with Apple and Mac OS X. Let me explain…

The Bit Where Apple Comes In

Let’s just go back a little bit further to about two and a half years ago. I for some unknown reason—and to the bewilderment of my constantly tinkering, PC-owning father (he was constantly tinkering with the PC, not anything else!)—decided to take the huge leap of faith and buy one of the beautiful new white iBooks. When I say “leap of faith,” I mean that it was like that scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade where he has to cross the chasm, and if he has faith that the bridge is there he will be OK, but if he doesn’t have faith it won’t appear and he will fall to his doom! Anyway, I’m getting slightly off track…

I had this amazing little computer, and to this day I haven’t seen a PC laptop that I would swap it for. I would go out of my way to find a reason to use it. I borrowed a friend’s camcorder and started filming friends’ weddings for them (which I now do professionally!). So when it came time to go to America, the iBook had become such an integrated part of my life that it was only natural for me to take it along for the ride.

I knew I couldn’t resist the temptation to see the then newly opened San Francisco Apple Store, and I wanted to get an AirPort card anyway (the exchange rate at the time meant I got almost $2 to the GBP) so it all made sense to take the iBook. I was a little nervous at first to take it out in public. We British are very reserved, you know! One thing I did notice, though, was that at each airport we went to, four in total, nearly every laptop I saw was either an iBook or PowerBook. One of the few PCs I saw was owned by a guy who had been asked to take it out of its case as it went through the x-ray machine. He got very worked up and protested at having to do this. Maybe he got so angry because he was ashamed at having to let everyone see his ugly little laptop.

So it was quite nice to be sitting around waiting for flights with other “Mac people” just giving the occasional nod of acknowledgment to each other.


Once I had been to the SF Apple Store and left a trail of drool from the moment I walked in till the moment I walked out, I couldn’t wait to get the AirPort card installed (which was a cinch of course) and then start using it! Unfortunately, in the hostel we were staying in there was no WiFi hotspot nearby, but the next day we went and sat in the glorious sunshine in Union Square, and I was amazed to be able to surf the Net wirelessly! The beauty of that moment is incredible—you’re on the Net, e-mailing, etc., but you’re not actually connected to anything. I was just dumbstruck for the rest of the day! The thing was, I had my iBook, WiFi, camcorder, and my .Mac account, and now I needed to find a way to combine all this great technology. Luckily, a plan was forming in my mind.

The first thing I did when I got connected in Union Square was to take a picture of us enjoying the sunshine on my camera phone. Using a USB Bluetooth adapter (also purchased at the Apple Store) I sent it to the iBook, and then I e-mailed it to friends and family back home. Now, if you can send a picture, why not send a video, I thought. We had everything we needed. And I soon got to work shooting lots of video footage. After getting back from our couple of days in Yosemite, using the journey time to edit a very short couple of video clips together with some suitable music, I headed back to Union Square and in a matter of minutes created a Web site using a .Mac template, uploaded the video file, and sent an e-mail to everyone back home directing them to the site.

The Result

The interesting thing to me was that I had been trying to phone home repeatedly during the holiday and never once succeeded! Every time I would put money into the phone, it would either spit it straight back out or swallow it, put me through to the operator who would tell me to put money in, and then spit it back out. I don’t know what I was doing wrong, but I’m just glad that I was able to use my Mac to let people back home not only know we were OK, but also let them enjoy our holiday, let them feel like they where with us when in reality we were thousands of miles apart. All in all, I created four videos, and the folks back home were really impressed and happy to see us enjoying our trip.

Ultimately, that is what it’s all about. You can see people in cafes and airport lounges tapping away on their laptops and assume that they are typing some boring business report. But you never know; they just might be making a video or sending some pictures for their spouse, children, or the whole wide world to see, and feel a little bit closer to that individual. Many people claim technology is pushing people apart, isolating us from one another. Maybe it does if you spend hours getting rid of spyware and viruses, but with a Mac I genuinely believe that it can encourage closer relations; you just have to be open to opportunities to let it happen.

This whole experience made me really love that little iBook. That’s such a geeky thing to say. It also made my dad love it, too. When we finally parted ways, Dad offered to buy it. Now he loves it just as much, and he spends a lot less time tinkering and a lot more time doing useful, fun things.

Also in This Series

Reader Comments (4)

Michele C. Shea · July 3, 2005 - 11:32 EST #1
I have been wanting an iBook to keep my Mac desktop company, and I saw one in the airport while traveling this past month. Of course I spoke to the teenage owner, and was gladly shown the capabilities. My question was battery time, really. Thanks for the glowing report...I am sure I will overcome my budget one of these days and be traveling with an iBook next summer.
Grover Watson · July 23, 2005 - 07:06 EST #2
This fine young man has seen the light! Last summer, I was on my way to Bangkok for my yearly trip to the 'Land of Smiles...Thailand. When I got to Narita Airport in Tokyo, I had a few minutes to look around.
I found a wireless kiosk, and sat down and pulled out my 15" Tibook and logged on. To my amazement, all the laptop users around me were 12" and 14" iBooks!
I have never felt so much at home so far away from my 1ghz G4 desktop in Denver, Co.
I have a 500Mhz ibook at home, but she's just too old and too slow for this years trip. I'm replacing it with a 1.2 Ghz 12" book soon and hope to give the older iBook to my son.
These computers become a natural extension of your abilities without a lot of effort
I'm heading back to Thailand in November. My 867 Tibook will never leave my side!
Matt · July 26, 2005 - 08:49 EST #3
I've got an old Clamshell 466 and though I like it, the battery life is terrible. When I first got it, the battery lasted 4 hours. That was four years ago. My point is that an average three hour battery span isn't enough for me. I want my laptop battery to last as long as my mobile. I know they're two different technologies but I still don't feel that laptops cut it yet in battery life.

I feel like I won't touch another laptop again until they get flash hard drives for no movement, reduced power consumption and no 'whiny HDD noise', or they greatly improve the laptop battery itself. I just don't call three or two and a half hours battery life as very portable. And seriously, how long does that three hours last for? How long before you only get two hours max? Then one hour? Then you're dimming the screen and running everything at minimum just to stay alive. Its not the best thing is it?

Give me a battery that last 18 hours off a single charge, like the iPod's.
josh ericson · August 17, 2006 - 11:51 EST #4
I have always had really good luck with Mac bateries but the bottom line is that eventually any laptop battery does start to lose its charge. I had to replace my iBook battery recenetly and I was really pleased with the website
So just in case anyone else out there does eventually need to replace their laptop battery I would check it out, it was really affordable and works great.

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