Two Weeks With a MacBook

photo of a MacBook

It’s been two weeks since I trotted out to the Apple Store and picked up a shiny–er, “mattey”–new black 2.0GHz MacBook. I’d been hoping to add one to my hardware collection ever since I got a chance to fiddle with one at the Fifth Avenue Apple Store Press Event. It just wound up being a bit sooner than I planned thanks to an urgent ActionScript project, a planned train trip to Boston, and a battle-worn work laptop that was inches from giving up the ghost. Put them all together and they say, “I need a new laptop—now.”

This time around I didn’t even have time to do my traditional new hardware coddling. (Methodically installing needed apps one by one, testing and benchmarking, savoring that new hardware smell…) Nope, this time it was “get it out of the box fast, fast, fast!” Fling every app, patch, plug-in, filter, and file you can think of at it–you sure won’t be able to download them while you’re chugging away on the Amtrak.

Two weeks of work and 2GB of express overnighted RAM later, I’m extremely happy with it. This is one sweet little machine, well designed and solid. I don’t even mind the shiny screen terribly (then again, I don’t do much design work with it—that’s still the domain of my desktop G5). But as coding machines go, it’s very nearly ideal.

That said, there are a few quirks one encounters in this brave new Intel Mac world, mostly with third-party apps. Take our good friends at Adobe for example. Now, I can totally understand why they’re not going Universal Binary with Creative Suite until the next full version. No problem. Rosetta actually does a very respectable job. While by no means as fast as say, a dual G5, running Photoshop under Rosetta on my Intel Mac still feels faster than running it natively on the last PowerBook G4 I used (not surprising when you realize that the chip under the hood represents not one, but two complete leaps in hardware architecture). But this doesn’t let developers off the hook when things flat-out break.

broken Version Cue menu bar icon Without thinking about it I installed the whole set of standard CS2 apps, which includes Version Cue. Well, guess what? Version Cue is completely broken on Intel Macs. Will. Not. Run. (As a side note, this strikes me as extremely ironic given that Version Cue is Java-based. Remember when we used to hear all those warm fuzzy fairy tales about the write-once-run-anywhere language that was here to save us all from damnation?) Adobe knows this, but hasn’t so much as released a single patch to address it. So if you don’t go and uninstall Version Cue entirely you’ll be stuck staring at a broken icon in your Menu Bar shortcuts, since Version Cue fancies itself important enough to install one by default without ever bothering to ask you. (I hate it when apps do that. And you can’t turn it off either. Remember: the preference setting to do that is stashed inside the app, the very same app that won’t run on this platform! Catch 22.)

Otherwise, everything is dandy. Next up, some quality time with Parallels…