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ATPM 13.11
November 2007


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by Mark Tennent,

Something Wicked This Way Comes

Alan Titchmarsh, better known for painting sheds blue and as the bosom pal of Charlie’s dimmocks, was on the telly recently describing the dung beetle’s arch enemy. According to Titchmarsh, the greater horseshoe bat waits for dusk, then pounces on the dung beetles as they take to the air in search of new pooh.

We have tiny pipistrelles swooping around our heads at early summer barbecues, zooming between us as we sit at the table, banking round the pond and back toward the church tower they probably live in. They are nothing compared with the greater horseshoe, which seems the size of a small Doberman and looks as mean as one, too.

In a way it’s like laptop computers. Our G5 desktop Macs are no slouches and seldom leave us twiddling our thumbs, but it’s stupid that our tiny low-end MacBook is considerably faster. It may not have great hard disk space or all the connectivity as a G5, but for sheer number crunching it’s our first choice. Bung the files across to it via our wireless network to wherever it was left last time it was used—probably still relaxing on a couch in the TV room because it’s a pretty idle machine—and leave it to do the business.

This leaves us in a quandary. What do we buy when it’s new computer time, which, for me, will be next year if finances allow? If we were to go the fast laptop route, it would certainly release a huge amount of office space currently occupied by lumps of aluminum. But a second and third internal drive, neatly housed in the Mac Pro case, would also clear a chunk of space.

The iMacs look very cool, are considerably faster than my G5, and cost a lot less than a Mac Pro. But what would we do with all the spare monitors and other gubbins we have? In any case, do they have enough ports on them? Apple’s Cinema Displays have handy extra FireWire and USB ports, all of which are occupied by the detritus of a designer’s digital tools.

Returning to the laptop idea, a series of network attached hard disks would also solve desktop storage and lack of ports. With Leopard just arrived, it’s like Christmas Eve for Mac-olytes like us. Unfortunately, Apple has changed its mind and Leopard’s new Time Machine will not work with AirPort Extreme and network attached drives. Still, a fast laptop is looking increasingly attractive.

We would also be able to relegate one G5 to becoming the old workhorse, ready to scan, digitize, FTP, or one of the many tedious tasks modern online working means. But then, it would need a spare corner to sit in, take up a new chunk of currently unoccupied space, so defeating the whole space-saving idea of a laptop.

Decisions, decisions.

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