What should I know about switching from Windows to a Mac?
December 10, 2003 5:02 PM   Subscribe

So I'm finally going to do it. I'm finally going to make the switch. After using PCs for many years I've got my sight set on a shiny new 1.25Ghz 15" PowerBook.

Does anyone have any warnings / suggestions / stories that they'd like to share about their switch?

To give a bit of background:

I'm a programmer by trade and I've mostly been doing PHP web scripting for the past couple of years. I've very comfortable with a *nix backend and, other than Photoshop, plan to use mostly open source software.

The main reason I'm switching is the concept of having a sleek, fast laptop that I don't have to fiddle with to install a non-MS operating system, and that I can set up to mirror my working dev / production environment pretty closely.

Yeah, I know. Cygwin. Blah blah blah.
posted by bshort to Computers & Internet (38 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
bshort, congrats. I switched in August (12" PB) and have been loving it. I found this web site (started by a mefite) quite useful as it's made particularly for switchers.

A few simple things: update your ram at the same time you buy the book as if you do it later, you'll be stuck with the ram chip that comes with it as no one will want it (tried to sell mine on ebay and the bidding got up to a whopping $10).

You may also find versiontracker to be a useful site for share/free ware. Macrumors is also a good site for news of upcoming Apple stuff.

Lastly, if you were planning on getting the Applecare extended warranty, you might want to wait as it appears Apple may be making a new version of it available which will cover accidental damage to your PB. (You can buy Applecare anytime up to 364 days from the time you buy the hardware.)

Good luck!
posted by dobbs at 5:18 PM on December 10, 2003

bshort, I bought a new 15" PB last month and LOVE it.

I do have the problem with the white spots on the LCD, but it is under warranty. I'm not sure there is anything you can do about it when buying new. Mine didnt have the spots at first...

I did read on PowerPage recently that Apple is considering an extened AppleCare, just for laptops, that would be a bit more expensive but would provide additional coverage. I would recommend that you not purchase any Applecare until late into your 1 year warranty, BUT do NOT let the year run out without purchasing it. I think AppleCare is vital from all that I have heard about QC in the past.

The only software I have purchased so far is Transmit for FTP. I may end up getting that new Adobe bundle too.

It is a dream to use and I have barely scratched the surface of it.
posted by gen at 5:28 PM on December 10, 2003

Oh, if you haven't already, you should start saving for a DVI output LCD monitor because the the 15"er supports DVI and it is just incredible to have 2 really nice monitors.

Mine is a Samsung Syncmaster 172T, which I found had the best specs v. price AND one of the nicest designs, not to mention a phenomenal image.
posted by gen at 5:34 PM on December 10, 2003

I've found macOSXhints to be helpful.

I lust over your new Powerbook purchase. Typing this on a 600mhz g3 iBook -- it doesn't set any land speed records but it is my notebook and OS of choice. I use 3 OSs every day (Red Hat 9 mostly) but the most elegant and useful is, in my opinion, OS X. Using Remote Desktop I can access my windows box. Using ssh, X forwarding or X -indirect I can access my linux box. It's a great OS.

posted by Tacodog at 5:54 PM on December 10, 2003

I too have had my eyes on the new 15" AlBook, but I've read some disconcerting things, all covered at Macintouch.com, including the dead pixels (white spots) mentioned above, as well as some latch issues and a too-large gap between the screen and body (I observed the last two in person on the display unit at my University's computer store). This is the first version (1.0h no!) of the 15" AlBook released; you may be better off waiting for the next upgrade for them to work out some of the foibles.

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE Macs (typing this on a 12" iBook), but it always sucks to get something that isn't quite perfect.
posted by The Michael The at 6:15 PM on December 10, 2003

With MacWorld Expo coming up in a couple of weeks, you might want to wait until the expo to see if they annouce new versions and drop the prices on current versions. See this discussion at SimpleBits for some perspectives, and one of the commentors mentioned Mac Rumors Buyers Guide, which makes purchase recommendations based on where products are in their product cycle (they're neutral on the PowerBooks). Think Secret is another Mac rumor site.

My 14" G3 iBook recently crapped out so I'm also considering the 15" Powerbook, and I'm gonna wait until after MacWorld.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:53 PM on December 10, 2003

Also, this MacWorld article talks about some quality control issues with the 15" PowerBooks.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:01 PM on December 10, 2003

Response by poster: One reason I'm considering buying a PowerBook right now is that I can get a 20% discount, plus certain tax advantages.

If Steve upgrades the Powerbook line for MWSF and it's just a speed bump, I'm not going to feel too bad about it. It's worth it to me to have the computer now rather than later with a 6% clock speed increase.

On the other hand, if the Powerbook line gets a G5, dual processors, or some other massive upgrade, I'm going to feel a little taken, although the price differential would be greater than the increased utility (most likely).

The quality control issues do concern me, however.
posted by bshort at 7:11 PM on December 10, 2003

I bought a 15" powerbook in September. It did have the white spots but Apple repaired and back in my hot little hands in 26 hours. They replaced the display and it looks fantastic. I believe the PBs shipping now do not have the notorious spots.

Switching has been completely painless. This notebook is about one million times better than the dell i had [which was only 4 months old when I decided to unload it for a powerbook].

on preview: from the rumors and mac geek sites it appears the g5 is still a long way away for the powerbooks. since the 15" was just refreshed this fall, it is doubtful there will be anything new.

regarding quality control: get one now while you can get the discount and the tax advantages. you'll know within a week if there are quality issues and you'll be able to get it fixed or send the mother back.
posted by birdherder at 7:18 PM on December 10, 2003

I want to add as a not-so-recent switcher that all the QC scares you read about (white spots, stuck pixels, latch troubles) pale in comparison to what you've been used to with Dells or Gateways. The problem is since Apple projects this Lifestyle image with seamless lines and wonderfully integrated components and of course price premium so any little tiny blemish seems to send owners into bitch mode. I know how they feel, my 15" PB grew a dead pixel a few months into use and it's so disappointing! But then I remember my Dell Latitude, which /lost screws/ -- I'm serious, they would just fall out while I was carrying it-- I remember once my I and K keys stopped working and I called Dell and they immediately asked me if there were any screws missing on the bottom of the keyboard. Known issue! The thing would creak like a cellar door when I opened it and SLAM down when I shut the screen.

So my buying advice is to keep your head on straight, try as long as possible not to buy into the culture. If you find yourself paying some guy $29 for a "screen protector" or "titanium paint" remember the thing is just a tool... The flip side is it's very fun. You'll find yourself comisserating with more people in cafes and airport lounges.

More practically; yes, so near to a MacWorld it's always best to wait. That said I know people that waited for a macworld in Jan 2003, saw them announce 12" and 17" PBs, assumed new 15"s were coming "any day now" and didn't actually get one until October, meanwhile I had been happily using my 'old' 1ghz PB for a year. Sort of ties in with the culture, I guess. You don't see people so much trying to predict the casing of the next Inspiron.
posted by neustile at 7:45 PM on December 10, 2003

"...my Dell Latitude, which /lost screws/..."

Not to run off on a tangent, but you must've had a C-series. Yeah, if you carry them around a lot the screws on the bottom get loose. After a few months of heavy use, every month or so they need to be tightened or you start losing keyboard functions. My CPiA needed that, and my CPxJ is constantly disassembling itself and despite being a couple of years newer is much more crappy.

That's one of the reasons that I put Apple on my consideration list for when this hunka junk dies. (Though the horrifying 20 minutes I spent with the alarmingly awful iTunes Win32 makes me wary of Apple in general...)
posted by majick at 8:00 PM on December 10, 2003

May as well ask this here instead of starting a new thread: Now that the iBook has a G4, what advantages do the PowerBooks have that justify the extra expense?
posted by timeistight at 8:07 PM on December 10, 2003

Here are a set of apps I recently posted to another message board that you must download:

MS Remote Desktop client. Terminal Services client that just plain works really well, even over modem speed connections.

AddressX. If you have an exchange server at work, you can use this to sync your global address list to your OSX address book. Since panther's mail.app connects to exchange, you can avoid buying Entourage for the most part. Keep an eye on snerdware's page, as their iCal plug in for Exchange seems like a very promising last piece of the puzzle.

Thoth, a cumbersome to configure but very powerful newsreader.

Transmit, a kick ass FTP client.

Audio Hijack for recording ANY digital audio from ANY app to aiff or mp3.

Postfix Enabler for making your machine into its own SMTP server.

VLC, a media player for the things that quicktime won't open.

Netnewswire, the best news feed reader.

BBEdit, text editor of choice.

timeistight, the PowerBooks have a faster video subsystem, nicer case and keyboard, faster HDs, the 15" and above have firewire 800 ports and 15" and above WITH superdrive have backlit keyboards.
posted by machaus at 8:12 PM on December 10, 2003

Bshort, welcome to the good side of the fence. It's as green as ever over here (ask metafilter green to be exact). The PB is basically effortless, and expose, for all its makes-a-good-tv-commercial-flash, is constantly and critically useful.

Getting apache and PHP running on the osx box is a snap. And the XCode IDE is pretty sweet as well, coming from the development side. I'd recommend ProFont for you, though it's mac and PC so that's kinda moot (but the font is fantastic).

Good luck!
posted by zpousman at 8:24 PM on December 10, 2003

Congrats on the switch! I've done Mac support forever (it feels like), so here's my advice.

Having owned and used both a 15-inch Powerbook and an iBook, I think the iBook is a better computer and a better value. The PowerBooks are, well, kind of wussy. Mine didn't seem to be able to handle the day-to-day hauling around and hard-core 16-hours-a-day usage, and was so flexible the logic board went on the fritz, and the keyboard scratches the screen, and the paint is peeling--while the iBook has been a champ. However, that larger screen real estate can be seductive, and if you need every drop of speed (and most of us lie to ourselves about this), the G4 can seem like it's worth the extra money. Your money, your call.

Whatever laptop you get, don't be a cheap-ass. Get as much RAM as you can. For what you're spending, 1GB of RAM is not too much extra dough. OS X loves RAM, and so will you when you never have to quit an application. You can get by with 256MB, but why should you, when RAM is so cheap? You'll see performance gains.

Also, get a wireless card. Not having a wireless card on a laptop is like not having an Ethernet port.

I assume you're already aware of the Fink project, but just in case, I mention it, because it will bring you a lot of Unix goodness. Note that the team is still catching up to the changes made to 10.3, so only about 2000 apps are in the unstable and stable trees for 10.3 (though you can use the 10.2 tree, if you want, since most of those will work, too). I use the unstable tree and rarely have problems with it; the team members are very conservative about admitting an app to the stable tree, so unstable is usually a safe bet.

My favorite OS X application is Audio Hijack, which lets you record any audio stream on the Internet to an MP3 (or other format) audio file.

Aaron Faby has a lot of server-type packages precompiled if you don't want to fool with Fink, or want to use them in conjunction with Fink. So does Marc Liyanage.

Haxies are great system add-ons. Anyone who says they crash your system and should not be used are, in my opinions, jackasses who shouldn't be trusted with a computer. I've installed them on dozens of machines, including my own, and have not had any problems, ever. People have a tendency to blame these because they have a vague feeling that to add on to Apple's system is to hack it, or break it, or in some way violate its sanctity. Rubbish, of course. Try these apps. They work, and work well.

Other apps: Menu Meters gives you system readings in the menu bar (RAM, processor, data throughput), free. Meteorogolist puts the weather in your menu bar, free. Tinker Tool gives you control over deep system settings, free. Junk Matcher gives you better spam filtering for Mail.app, free. Emailchemy can help you import old mail, not free, but good if there's no other solution. GraphicConverter is a great, great, great app: better than the GIMP, but shareware. Not just an image converter, but an image editor of some strength.

If you decide on Safari as your default web browser, also try Sogudi for excellent address-bar searching, and Saft for type-ahead. If you prefer a Mozilla-based browser, Camino is the best choice, bar none.

I concur with the BBEdit and VLC recommendations above, and add MPlayer as another video player to turn to when nothing else seems to work.

I recommend most of the links in Damien's sidebar, with emphasiss on Mac OS X Hints, Macintouch, and Macupdate (better than VersionTracker in lots of ways for keeping up with new software and updates).
posted by Mo Nickels at 8:28 PM on December 10, 2003

I'd recommend you check out the free app Notational Velocity, which I use daily.
posted by dobbs at 9:18 PM on December 10, 2003

Mo, my god that is a phenomenal post. You rock!

For those who are worried about the hinge or the LCD or the corners, DONT. Get the iBook then. It aint worth it to stress over those points.

However, the heat this thing generates...after a while it is definitely too hot to leave on your lap. But a lot of fast laptops have that problem.

G5 Powerbook? 2004, maybe, but if you look at the heat dissipation issues in the G5 desktop, you can see that the engineers have quite a task ahead of them.
posted by gen at 11:29 PM on December 10, 2003

Mo, just curious but why do you like Camino more than Firebird?
posted by gen at 11:31 PM on December 10, 2003

I had too many problems with Firebird, on a build-by-build basis. One build I had no contextual menus. Another I couldn't do type-ahead. Another wouldn't let me do bookmark groups. I just couldn't get it to the point where I could count on each new build only adding features and speed, not taking them away. Although Firebird is great, and I have the sense it has more momentum than Camino, I think Camino is more stable, more streamlined, and more Mac-like. I also think it's faster than Safari at loading pages, but when I went to 10.3, I made the move to Safari and I have learned to correct for, amend, or fix its weaknesses. I still hate the way the bookmark drop-down menu is slow, and how I have to have the bookmark bar showing in order to do anything like bookmarks groups, but like I say, I just deal with it now.
posted by Mo Nickels at 5:21 AM on December 11, 2003

Mo, just curious, but the issues that you are talking about - flexing, paint chipping - are for the Titanium powerbook, no? I've had both the iBook and the 12", currently waiting on the 15" to be delivered. I wouldn't go back to the iBook after the 12" and I am anticipating that I won't go back to the 1" after the 15". Though my reasons for the powerbook were the G4 processor, the iBook now has that. What made me buy the 15" was the increase in processor speed, the larger memory capacity, faster video and the fact that the hinge is now similar to the iBook/G4 pb. After playing with one at the apple store for a while (mainly due to the issues you mention), i'd still go for the powerbook.
posted by grimley at 6:00 AM on December 11, 2003

I have both a Dell desktop and an iBook, and I do love the iBook. However, one caveat I'm passing along to anyone considering an Apple laptop--be aware that a significant number of people in the past have had significant problems with batteries. Now, this usually seems to happen in the context of people upgrading from one version of OS X 10.2 to another and abruptly having their battery life drop to almost nothing--even with newer, properly-conditioned batteries. (In my own case, after an upgrade to 10.2.6 I ended up with about ten minutes before the battery indicator went to 0% and the thing shut down, and after endless monkeying with the PMU and Open Firmware boots and whatnot I finally bit the bullet and bought a new battery.)

Anyway, if you're starting out with 10.3 it may not be a issue. But if/when a 10.3.x comes down the pike, I'd wait a bit and carefully check the discussion forums on the Apple site before racing to download.
posted by Kat Allison at 6:02 AM on December 11, 2003

Hey, timeistight, in answer to your question, the Powerbook G4 has more on-processor cache, a faster bus and faster RAM than the iBook G4. It makes a really big difference.

I had the same question while standing in front of a 12" Powerbook and a 15" iBook at the Apple Store a couple of weeks ago. So here's what I did. Restart both computers. Wait for the OS to boot (the Powerbook won). Launch Photoshop simultaneously on both machines.

I bought the Powerbook. Photoshop opened four or five times faster than on the iBook. No competition performance-wise. We are at the point where bus speeds and the like are just as important distinguishing factors as processor speeds in determining computer performance.
posted by tomharpel at 6:08 AM on December 11, 2003

Response by poster: Wow, an enourmous thank you to everyone who commented in this thread. I really appreciate all the advice and well-wishes.

So a technical question: the machine I'm currently looking at has 512MB of RAM on two dimms. It's pre-built so I don't really have the option of getting additional RAM pre-installed. Is there anything I need to be aware of when I buy new RAM chips later? Can I really just buy any PC2700 SODIMM chips and pop them in?

I'm most likely going to upgrade to a full gig of memory soon, and I'm trying to figure out whether it makes sense to buy a computer with a large discount, and then upgrade the memory later or to buy a new computer with all the RAM I want preinstalled.

Any suggestions?
posted by bshort at 6:48 AM on December 11, 2003

Can I really just buy any PC2700 SODIMM chips and pop them in?

No, make sure that the vendor you are getting it from is aware that it is for a Powerbook. I ordered a 512 sodimm from Kingston, only to find out that they started specing a different module for Powerbooks. It locked up and kernal paniced constantly until replaced. The new module has shielding over all the chips.

I'd live with the 512 of memory now and then wait until the 1 gig modules come down in price.
posted by machaus at 7:10 AM on December 11, 2003

You're right: I had the Titanium. My experience with the newer PowerBooks is limited, but second-hand reports from friends and clients make me feel like some of my concerns (the wuss factor, mostly), are still present. I could be wrong.

Regarding speed: I say this to client after client, friend after friend, but most people are paying for speed they don't use. When people ask me what computer to buy, whether they're going for a Mac of PC, I have them ask themselves a series of questions: Will I be gaming? Will I be editing video? Will I be rendering CG? Will I be image-editing? Will I be compiling applications? If the answers to these questions are no, I encourage them to think twice about paying more when all they're getting is speed, whether in the form of a faster processor, faster video card, faster hard drive, or faster RAM.

In fact, Bshort, I usually ask people to think twice about getting a laptop. There's still such a price premium to pay over a desktop that a laptop, too, might be wasted money. The questions to ask yourself: Will I *really* be taking this computer outside of the primary place I use it? Do I have a need to conserve space in my home or office? Will I really be taking it down to the cafe to write? Do I actually think it's practical to take the laptop to the park? If the answers to those questions are no, then maybe a desktop should be considered.

Other questions: Could I more benefit from spending the laptop price premium on a desktop with more features and speed for the same money? Am I just buying a laptop because it looks cool? Am I buying a laptop just for the one or two plane trips I take a year? If the answers to these questions are yes, then maybe a desktop should be considered.

I never had the battery issue, and any new Mac would likely come with 10.3 or 10.3.1, and so would not have that problem.

Bshort, it is really easy to buy the RAM, but "buy any" makes me shiver. Get good RAM: RAM is so often a culprit on unhappy computers, Macs or PCs, that it's hardly worth saving $40 bucks for cheap RAM, no matter what the return policy.

So do this: check out the tech specs for the RAM for your PowerBook on the Apple site, then go to CDW or similar and search for RAM that matches those specs. Then go to DealRam and see if you can find it even cheaper there. If it's a no-name, non-recognizable vendor, think twice about buying it. Make sure it does have a return policy.
posted by Mo Nickels at 7:12 AM on December 11, 2003

I like the Macintosh, too, but I'm nowhere near as ardent in my love as most Mac users. I was an Apple-only kind of guy from 1978 to 1998, but then switched to PC-only for five years. Now I use both Mac and Windows.

Both platforms are imperfect. The Mac has, in general, great user interfaces, but I find certain aspects of the experience frustrating:
  • Even with the latest version of the operating system, I cannot print across the network from my iBook to the printer connected to my Windows 2000 machine. Argh! (I've wasted so many hours on that it makes me cry.)
  • All of my mp3s reside on my Windows XP machine. If I want to browse to them from the iBook, I have to twiddle my thumbs while it loads each directory; directories with 1000+ files seem to bog the iBook down across a network. iTunes mangles my song file names.
  • iPhoto doesn't have a resize feature.
  • The Apple Mail program is nice, but its built-in spam filter is worse than useless. Its classification of spam is haphazard — seemingly random — so that I have to manually pick through each and every mailbox, moving spam to the spam mailbox. Then I have to pick through the spam mailbox, moving real messages to their appropriate mailboxes. The problem is so bad that I don't even use the application any more; I'm using Eudora for the Mac. (I use Eudora for the PC, as well.)
  • And, from my experience (which is contrary to what I've heard from most Mac users), the operating system is less-stable than recent Windows iterations (2000 and XP). My iBook freezes up once every week or two. My Windows machines don't freeze up. Still, having to cope with a single crash every week or two is so much better than the hell I used to sit through with Windows 98 (which crashed every hour, it seemed).
All that being said, I too have made the switch. I've returned to the Mac fold. My next computer will be another Mac. Even with the headaches, I prefer it to the PC. It's just so much easier to get things done. When I want to do something, I do it instead of wrestling with the interface (with the exceptions I noted above). Safari is an awesome web browser, the best I've used. BBEdit, a robust text editor, was some of the best money I've ever spent. iMovie is great. iTunes and the Apple Music Store are great.

I've returned to the Mac fold. I just can't force myself to be as passionate aobut the product as most Mac-users. It's flawed.
posted by jdroth at 7:53 AM on December 11, 2003

Am I the only one here who uses Alpha instead of BBEdit? Maybe it's just my incessant use of LaTeX that drew me to it...

(Although I'll grant that the OSX version is still in beta.)
posted by Johnny Assay at 8:16 AM on December 11, 2003

Now that the iBook has a G4, what advantages do the PowerBooks have that justify the extra expense?

I just want to emphasize one point about screen real estate on a PowerBook vs. an iBook, because Apple's specs don't really make it clear, and it strikes me as a major functional difference that a lot of people don't understand.

The issue is not only the size or resolution of the laptop's screen. With a PowerBook, you can attach an additional monitor and it will act as an extra screen, effectively expanding your desktop. If the monitor is capable of high resolution, you can take full advantage of that resolution.

With an iBook, you have a VGA "Video Out Port," so you can connect an external monitor, but this monitor will simply mirror whatever's on the iBook screen, at the same resolution. You cannot drive an external monitor as an additional screen. (I've read about a couple of very sketchy hacks for doing this, but nothing that seems remotely reliable.)

So 1024x768 is the most desktop you'll get from an iBook, no matter how many monitors you own or buy. If you want to do graphics or video work, or you're used to having a lot of screen space for multitasking, or you already have a monitor you're hoping to connect to your new computer, this might be a good reason to go for a PowerBook.
posted by staggernation at 8:23 AM on December 11, 2003

jdroth: Check your logs to get a hint of why it is crashing once a week, if it is really so periodic it might be a cron job of a some kind. I practically never shutdown or reboot my iBook using 10.2 and it goes literally for month without crashing or freezing. Maybe it’s the finder or other application freezing. If you can try login from another machine when this happens and check which process may be guilty (using ‘top’).
posted by golo at 8:42 AM on December 11, 2003

However, one caveat I'm passing along to anyone considering an Apple laptop--be aware that a significant number of people in the past have had significant problems with batteries.

Tell me about it. The battery on my iBook went kaput last week and when I called AppleCare, they tagged it as a recurring problem because the same damn thing happened last April, so I have to take it into a local place that does warranty work to see if replacing the battery with a known good battery will fix the problem or if it has to go in for repairs.

And both myself and my girlfriend had catastrophic failures of the video chip and had to have the logic boards replaced--on my 12" iBook and her 14" iBook. It happened to me when the computer was about 7 months old, and hers was maybe 4 months old. It's apparently a known issue.

That said, though, I love my iBook and wouldn't trade it for a Windows laptop.
posted by eilatan at 8:43 AM on December 11, 2003

while this thread has been happening, my 15" got here and all I can say, bshort, is go for it. Pshop runs significantly faster than the 12" pb. Order it from Macconnection, they'll throw in an extra 1G or Ram for free. I thought that it was only on 512 chip, but it came with 2.
posted by grimley at 9:23 AM on December 11, 2003

My iBook freezes up once every week or two.

I'm with golo on this one. I'm running 10.3 on a 466 iBook SE (last of the clamshells) and I often go for weeks (in 10.2 also) without a restart.
posted by anathema at 9:25 AM on December 11, 2003

jdroth, I'm surprised by your description of Mail.app as "worse than useless." That's quite counter to my experiences and those of my friends and family.

I am a long-time spam hater, and I use a series of server-based and client-based applications (including a number of Procmail-based filtering methodologies of my own invention) in order to eliminate spam. I'd never bothered with Mail.app's spam filtering because I figured that I was taking care of it sufficiently, since only 1-3 messages ended up in my inbox each day. Plus, I hadn't found that it was particularly accurate.

Just out of curiosity, though, I put Mail.app into "training mode" and spent a few weeks carefully correcting the programs perception of what was and was not spam. I built up a corpus of a few thousand messages, with my spam folder (I've archived all of my spam for the past few years) serving as a great source of reference points. Then I switched it into full (non-training) mode. It's excellent. Despite a tremendous increase in spam being sent to me each day, I get perhaps 1 piece of spam in my inbox each day, which I have observed is a result of Mail.app. False positives are either extremely rare or nonexistent -- I'm yet to observe any.

The point of this is that if you're new to Mail.app and your spam filtering sucks, train it. If you've been using it for a while and it sucks, I recommend that you reset it and start anew, training it and then using it. You should find that you have significantly better results.
posted by waldo at 10:37 AM on December 11, 2003

Waldo, I like the Mail app. It's the spam-filter that I find worse than useless. Your advice to reset and train anew sounds good, though. I just may do that!
posted by jdroth at 12:48 PM on December 11, 2003

Staggernation pointed out that the iBook does not support monitor-spanning. Nominally, this is correct. Technically, it is not. It has been speculated that Apple disabled monitor spanning to differentiate the different 'books better.

That said, the Powerbook does have a better video subsystem.
posted by adamrice at 1:18 PM on December 11, 2003

Thanks for all the info, folks. I should clarify that this would be a satellite, sitting-on-the-couch-and-going-on-vacation machine, not a desktop replacement, and that I'm pretty much sold on the size advantages of the 12" screen no matter which one I wind up with (unless someone convinces me otherwise). I don't really care about external monitor support because if I'm at my desk I'd be using my Power Mac instead.
posted by timeistight at 1:49 PM on December 11, 2003

On the other hand, if the Powerbook line gets a G5, dual processors, or some other massive upgrade, I'm going to feel a little taken

I just called my local Apple store, and they have a 10 day upgrade warranty deal. According to Matt at the MoA store if a product is upgraded or reduced in price within 10 days of your purchase, you have up to 14 days after the announcement to claim your owed funds with a receipt, or trade your machine for the upgraded model.

So wait until after christmas, at least.

Here's a great book about becoming a Mac nerd and how to deal with it... Because you will. There's no escaping it.
posted by esch at 2:03 PM on December 11, 2003

Response by poster: Thanks again to everyone who piped up.

I'm posting this from my new Powerbook... :)
posted by bshort at 4:43 PM on December 11, 2003

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