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ATPM 8.06
June 2002



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The Legacy Corner

by Chris Lawson,

Being the harried college student that I am, this month’s deadline once again snuck up on me and found me rather unprepared for a column. Undeterred by this slight setback, however, and with the dedicated resolve of a gifted procrastinator, I started writing the morning of the deadline. What you see here is my once-in-a-blue-moon brief digression from vintage Macintosh topics into the bleeding edge, the frontier, the untamed wilds, the future of Macdom.

It came today, just two days after leaving Chiang Kai-Shek International Airport in Taiwan. FedEx “Ground” service must be using McLaren F1s as their delivery trucks, because transit time from Anchorage to Kalamazoo, MI, was just 14 hours. Having driven that route once myself, I can attest that it’s nowhere near a 14-hour drive, especially with the ruggedness of the Alaska Highway and those folks in charge of keeping other motorists safe from the escaped mental patients who would attempt such a drive, better known as provincial police or state troopers.

The box was a lot smaller than I expected, even with past experience. “It,” as you may have guessed by now, is Ti Cobb, my new (bone-stock) PowerBook G4/800, purchased with my Apple Student Developer hardware discount and sporting the most ridiculously large screen I have ever seen on a laptop.

Apple was kind enough to ship the ’Book with a charged battery, so I simply removed the packing materials and fired it right up, booting by default into Mac OS X 10.1.4. I had to run to class, however, so I put it right to sleep, locked it in my room, and returned two hours later to partition the hard disk for my own use. An hour later I had three partitions and a full installation of OS X and OS 9, each on its own partition. That’s when I got started migrating my old files.

If I had been thinking ahead, I would have gone home, dug out the FireWire PCMCIA card that I’ve never used but purchased for “Steamroller” (my former production Mac, a PowerBook G3/266), and used that to transfer the 8 GB or so of data over to Ti Cobb. But I wasn’t thinking ahead, and I didn’t want to make the 10-minute drive home and dig around for it, so I just plugged Ti into the spare Ethernet hookup in my dorm room and logged into Steamroller.

Five hours later—yes, five—I had most of the important stuff transferred over. I will never resort to 10BaseT Ethernet to transfer more than 100 MB of data in one sitting again. I’m not the world’s most patient person, and it’s a good thing I had other stuff to do while the copying was going on. Of course, that didn’t stop me from checking on the progress every 15-20 minutes while I was around.

I’ve never been one for software like Clean Install Assistant, preferring instead to manually migrate my old items over. So I spent the next two hours copying over a few more bits and pieces and setting up the extensions set in OS 9 the way I wanted it. One of my suitemates asked me if I was up and running with the new computer yet, and I told him I was almost finished. He figured it was a good opportunity to work in an anti-Mac jab, and said “I bet if you had a PC it would already be done.” Yeah, because I wouldn’t have been able to transfer all the information over so easily, I probably would have just left it alone.

Now that I have Ti Cobb to the point where I was yesterday at this time with Steamroller, I think a few first-glance sort of comparisons are in order. Graphics speed is at least an order of magnitude faster, as I’d expect with eight times the VRAM and a graphics chipset three generations newer. Scrolling is virtually instantaneous, and new windows pop up in iCab as fast as I can Command-Shift-click on links. (iCab tip: do not set it to log all server connections unless you also set it to delete said log on launch. If you don’t delete this log every 2 MB or so, it will absolutely kill the launch time of iCab, turning it into a Mozilla wanna-be.) Processing speed is improved far more than I was expecting; the RC5 client running on this 800 MHz G4 crunches through keys almost 10 times faster than a 266 MHz G3. A good deal of this acceleration is due to Altivec, further proving its worth in math-intensive tasks. Show me an x86 CPU that can do 7.2MKeys/second!

Ti’s speakers are comparable to those in Steamroller, and the keyboards have a similar feel as well, although Ti’s might be marginally stiffer. Heat output seems roughly comparable between the two after having run Ti on my lap for most of the evening; I’ve only managed to get the fan to come on twice, and once was when I was benchmarking the RC5 cruncher with the CPU priority set as high as it would go. The battery easily lasted three hours with no energy saver settings whatsoever, and it charged fully while the ’Book was being used in about another three hours. Impressive, to say the least.

Thanks for the opportunity to digress. Next month we’ll return to your regularly scheduled programming, or so I hope. (If not, wish me a happy graduation, because that’ll be what could postpone my next column until the August issue.)

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