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Crash-Proof

Posted by davidvc on April 2, 2007 at 11:36 AM PDT

Last month was a miserable month for me in terms of my working environment. I like to work at cafes, and one day I got up, tripped over my power cord, and pulled my entire laptop down BANG upon a nice hard cement floor.

Heads turned, sharp inturns of breath all around. As I picked it gently up and took a look at the screen, my poor little PC made the computer equivalent sounds of a death rattle: "bad sector encountered", "write failed" over and over again. No amount of CPR could save it from its fatal fall.

New hard drive, up and running again, and then I realized my computer had worse problems than a hard disk failure. It had encountered some kind of stroke, and would instantaneously power off at various inopportune moments. I knew I had to say goodbye to this machine when I lost an entire afternoon's work when it powered off and corrupted my source file. I even tried installing Ubuntu on it to see if that was the problem, but no such luck.

After much discussion and thought, I decided to go for a new MacBook Pro. If I need Windows, I can use Parallels to put Windows on it. If I want Solaris, ditto. Of course, I had to order my new machine through Sun, and this had to go through various levels of approval. Meanwhile I was working on my desktop machine at home I got through craigslist. Slow as a dog, and it also Blue Screen'd me about three times a day (it runs Windows 2000 server).

So I borrowed a loaner PowerBook G3. This poor beast just couldn't handle NetBeans 6, and I had to do everything in 'vi'. When you're working with a codebase like NetBeans, which is just massive, this is Such A Pain. I don't know how I ever did this - no code completion, no syntax highlighting, no refactoring, no "find usages". Ack!

Finally, finally, my new MacBook Pro showed up. 17" wide, dual-core Intel chip. 3GB of memory (I wanted 4, but it only handles 3). As far as the operating system, it's OK, I can get my work done. I *do* like that generally an application is just a directory - if I want to uninstall, I just remove the directory. So un-Windows, which scatters an installation through your hard disk like grapeshot. Spotlight, cool. But, really, I just do NetBeans, Firefox, Thunderbird, and some kind of calendar tool, and that's about it. So, no big "wow" here.

But it's those little things. Like the keyboard that lights up when you're in the dark, instant recognition of my printer with no install, a little video camera embedded in the top flap, and a little photo tool with effects (here I am after my last laptop crashed :))

Photo 1.jpg

But here is what really takes the cake for me: the power adapter.

alt="MacBook Power Adapter">

I was surprised at the way it connects to my laptop - it snaps in place with a magnet. Well, it's got a cool factor, but the Mac has a lot of fluff like this that's really neither here nor there for me. That was until I tripped on my power cord again today. And rather than my nice new laptop crashing to the ground, the power cord just snapped out with a little "pop" and I plugged it back in.

OK, now I'm sold...