Saturday, May 30, 2009

i'm on my way

And I just got word that my MacBook Pro 17 is in transit from Shanghai. China. You think it will fly here or float?

Going through my head right now is a song in German-English "I'm on my way-ay. I'm on my way-ay, home sweet home"

Friday, May 29, 2009

meantime glossin

I'm still a little worried about the glare on that HUGE glossy screen. So I've been poking around the net looking for an anti-glare screen cover. On the apple online store they only have films for the 13 through 15 inch models. Two trips ago to the apple southlake store an apple shirt told me they had one for the 17, which made me decide to get the glossy LED. But on the next trip another shirt told me he wasn't sure they had a 17, and when he went back and looked and asked it turned out they don't sell one. So I decided to get the anti-glare. Until I changed my mind again. Am I a little OC? Maybe.

15.4 in. privacy filterAnyway, I started thinking again that I need to get not only anti-glare but anti-snoop. So I looked online for a privacy filter. I found one that looked to be custom de for MacBook Pro's. It was called Elago Privacy Protection Film for Apple MacBook Pro 15.4" Screens. The page was filled with other apple stuff, stuff I might also allegedly want to buy. But after clicking several "explore similar items" links, I still couldn't find a 17" model. So I clicked that link to send the seller a question.

Here's what I asked the seller:
I saw your privacy screen for the MacBook Pro 15.4". Do you have a similar product for the 17"?
Here was their reply:

Dear Customer,

Thank you for your e-mail.

We do carry 17" privacy filters in regular and wide screen.

If you want regular search with B001AQY6L2.
For Wide, please use B0013A2A5E

Thank you,
Jowow Support
Here are the links to the products they suggested: B001AQY6L2 and B0013A2A5E (wide).

When I clicked the first one I was elated. The picture was identical to the one I had already seen (above), and I was ready to buy it, but decided to wait. But then something hit me. Why did they send two links? Apple doesn't and has never made a 17 inch MacBook Pro without a wide screen. So why two links? When I clicked the second link, it also had the exact same picture but the description said it was for an HP Pavillion dv9700t. Yeah, I remember that 10 lb. beast. I had it on my comparison spreadsheet. No thanks.

So I'm still in a holding pattern on the privacy filter. I imagine someone will come out with one for the MBP17 soon. Until then I'm not buying anti-glare from someone who glosses over details.

waiting for his mac to come in

I'm just waiting and waiting and waiting for my mac to come in. I got two emails yesterday saying "Shipment Notification". But they were both false alarms. The first one was for the free ipod touch, the airline adapter, the warranty, and the expedited shipping charge. The second was for microsoft office mac media edition 2 usa. It was good of them to send me a Fedex tracking number and a link to that page. So all that stuff is somewhere between Memphis and Colleyville. But where's the mac?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

my first mac?

I posted earlier that I just bought my first Mac.

Well, it's not my first Mac in the house - Jill has one and so does Christopher. And it's not my first Mac to use for sure. My first mac to use was an apple 2 back in high school. After that I used a mac in college to write papers (timeshare). And I also had some timeshare on UNIX in college, too--does that make me educated in OSX? And I repaired Macs when I worked at ComputerLand. And while at said job (when I got all caught up with my work of course) I played a very cool game that I very much hope to find again. But still, this is my first Mac.


Well, I have to report the good and the bad.

There was a fly in my order's ointment.

I either forgot to add Microsoft Office 2008 - Special Media Edition to my order or else somehow the cart dropped it. I wouldn't hold it against the cart to drop it in all the confusion. There's only so much a shopping cart can take after all. I probably priced that system out, including software and accessories, about...hmm...30 times?

I wasn't sure it had actually been omitted. After all, it is a Microsoft product, not an Apple product, so I thought maybe it would come on a separate invoice. So I decided to call order support. Not exactly glad I did that, but hey, it was an experience.

I spent an hour on the phone with Regina, who (after considerable effort):
a. Found Office 2008 – Special Media Edition
b. Found that it was indeed 50% off ($250 savings)
c. Added it to my existing order

I confirmed that the correct amounts were on my credit card as pending transactions and also that my order had been updated on my apple store order status page. So I feel reasonably confident in it.

But an HOUR to do this? It wasn't like it was hard. I can walk anyone through the process of adding the system, adding Office, and seeing the total price after discount in about...hmmm...30 seconds?

Anyway, I think it's resolved after she checked and double-checked and verified and double-checked with her supervisor and checked again and verified again and made the change and verified it before committing it after finally seeing what I had seen and relayed to her.

So a minor butt ache from the kink in the system, but now I'm watching the mailbox like a hawk for it.

i did it

I took the plunge. I just ordered my first mac, a MacBook Pro 17. Can't wait to get it in. I decided on the glossy display after all because what the heck? If I'm gonna be a mac, I may as well go all the way.

apple. store. genius.

I just can't get over the apple store. Granted there are different levels of expertise among the staff. But man do they know their stuff.

It used to be that retail had an educational component. You went to the store and got educated on a product by a sales associate so you could make an informed purchase. You were edified by the info, and the sales associate rightly earned a modest commission on the sale. Not so today. Jill was in Walmart the other day and asked them if they had a certain product. The sales associate said no. She walked over to the other side of the store and found it. But don't stop at Walmart. I love to go to Best Buy and start asking questions about the stuff--the stuff THEY SELL--and watch the blue-shirt reach for the tag hanging off the product to read me the marketing info. Yeah. I know where to get all the marketing info I want.

The apple store may be the last vestige of good retail in America. Most of the people in there can answer most of the questions I throw at them. And when they can't, instead of making up something, they redirect me over to one of their "geniuses".


P.S. My Apple Store is Southlake Town Square

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


I'm going through the mac tutorials, slowly but surely. some of them are quite basic, but there's good info there.

Monday, May 25, 2009

sharp edges and glaring realities

I dropped by the Apple store again tonight to look at the MacBook Pro 17" models. Again. The pea under my mattress this time was what the guy said last time--that some people like to buy the Protection Pack because they don't like how sharp the edge is on the front of the keyboard. The protection pack protects the laptop with a clear film that overlays it. And if you apply it over the front lip of the laptop it also protects your wrists.

I realize I don't maintain the best posture when sitting at my home office, but it is what it is. I frequently lean back in my executive chair, resting my wrists on the front of the laptop, which is elevated slightly because of the table/chair arrangement. This puts a lot of pressure on my wrists. With the Thinkpad I currently use it's not a huge problem because of the beveled edge they put on it (ThinkPad really does have a nice design--too bad it's a PC). I haven't been diagnosed with Carpal Tunnel, and I don't have those symptoms, but I have had some pain in my right wrist (I actually wonder if I broke it a few months ago).

Anyway, I went by to have another look and to try to simulate my relative position to the thing by squatting in front of the table. I think it's not going to be a problem.

But in the process, I started second guessing myself on the glossy vs. anti-glare option. The glossy is SO beautiful. But I have a hang-up about glare and really think I won't be happy with a screen that big that's glossy. In my office I get afternoon sun. If I am wearing white I can see the reflection in the screen, and it's very distracting. And this is with an anti-glare screen. A glossy screen has gotta be worse for that. Macs seem to get on with it and look beyond the glare, but this old PC is having a hard time accepting that reality.

I do know what it's like to have a glossy finish. I picked the Samsung HDTV over the Sony or some others, even though it's glossy. I worried about the glare on that, too, but it so far has been a great picture, and the glare hasn't been an issue. But I can't get out of my head the lady in front of the mac next to me whose reflection was crystal clear as I looked across the two, comparing.

The other related topic to this is a privacy filter for keeping the snoop factor down on airplanes. I have one for my 15.4" laptops and love it. It not only reduces the viewing angle, but also the glare. I asked Jill what she thought about it, and she said I should get the glossy and one of those privacy filters--that way if the glare is really bugging me I can just throw that on. Maybe that will work. But I haven't found one online that works for the MBP17 yet.

Meanwhile, I'm busy writing my story of how I became a PC and how I am becoming a Mac. It's taking longer to get that done than I thought, so....Coming Soon.

ssd vs hdd update

I got an update on the sdd vs hdd on the apple community forum. It went like this:

I ordered a 15" MBP in April w/ a 256GB SSD. It was very expensive ($700)--debatably overpriced--but it was something that I wanted. Anyway, it's labeled as "APPLE SSD TS256" in the System Profiler. Beyond that I can't tell you what brand it might really be. Is there a way to tell?

I can tell you that it's VERY fast. Even after using it for 6 weeks and installing all sorts of stuff on it and using it at work every day, it boots to desktop in under 30 seconds. Apps just load, almost instantly. Worth it? That's debatable, but I think so.

It really does sound like the SSD is what I'm looking for, but why is this such a secret?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

ssd vs hdd

Been having a hard time deciding between SSD and HDD. I finally found some benchmarks comparing the solid state drive (SSD) with the hard disk drive (HDD) in a macbook pro. The two links below are the results they posted. But this uncovers an issue. Hard drives have been around SOOOOoooo long that it's a mature product in the industry. You can bet that if the drive spins at 7200 RPM and has an 8MB cache that it performs the same from any major manufacturer. But with SSD's, it's a different story. It's a young technology, and there can be huge differences in performance between manufacturers, and even from generation to generation.

And the kicker is that apple won't tell me whose drive they're putting in the macbook pro. Yes. I spent the day chatting with apple's online store, calling my local apple store, posting questions on the apple community boards, and scouring the net for clues. No luck.

So is it really a good idea to take the plunge. Is apple saying, "Trust me"?

Benchmark conclusion page:

A "rawer" collection of the stats:

Friday, May 22, 2009

get the macbook pro, he says

I talked to Greg today about getting the MacBook Pro. He said I should just pull the trigger. And since he's paying for the company expense that it is, why shouldn't I?

I always beat my decisions to death. It's a wonder they don't fight back. Or maybe the fighting back is when they up and make me buy it without fanfare.

But this isn't something I just came to. I have felt increasingly abandoned by the PC industry and user community for some time. I am an old timer. I got my first PC in 1983 (more of that story later). I remember it very well because my dad gave me a choice of getting a car or a computer. I picked a computer. Fateful decision. It probably set in motion this life of a software developer and network engineer that I am still living.

Like I said, this isn't something I just came to. I have run into quite a few smart people over the years in my same industry who used their PC for work but got their work done on their Mac. And I have been watching the the Mac ads for years—I remember with joy the campaign, which came before the "I'm a mac…and I'm a pc" campaign. And if you want a really great derivative of that, check out the "I'm a Christian…and I'm a Christ follower" campaign on youtube.


The reason I haven't been able to switch to mac yet is because of the PC apps I use. But that's not a problem any more since VMWare Fusion came along. I do 99% of my work between Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Outlook) and a VMWare image of an OutlookSoft (currently SAP BPC) server environment. And I'm looking forward to doing that same 99% on a MacBook Pro 17.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

truth in advertising::customer care

Not all advertising is true. Not all advertising resonates with the consumer. This one does both. And it is one of my primary drivers for becoming a mac.


But really, this is just a symptom of the root evil. I will write more about this later. Suffice it to say, as my friend Laura Gilliland used to say, "There's reasons for things, Steve." There are reasons why customer care at the big PC vendors have all been outsourced, and have all learned how to classify your problem as "software" quickly, and either hang up or transfer you to another department/company/continent. And I suppose there are reasons why I curse and yell and always end up talking to a manager who usually gets my problem resolved after taking his sweet time, putting me on hold 8 or 10 times, typing a lot, breathing heavy into the phone, and informing me that my treatment of his subordinates is unacceptable even if he understands my frustration at the computer being a piece of crap, the system being broken, and the support rep making up some bs that I call them on.

Here's dell's deal. You don't have to create a login to get academic pricing. You don't have to have an email address coming from .edu domain. You just tell them your school and your school or faculty id number, and buy what you want at a discount


they audit you (which it says they do periodically, and one would think especially in a down market when (a) they're low on dough and (b) they're high on people not busy selling tons of thrown together systems). If they find out that you weren't eligible, then you have already pre-authorized them them to snatch the discount back from your credit card. In Texas that's called injun givin.

Here it is:

So if you're gonna make up a school id you'd better charge that sucker and then can the card quick so when they reach in for another dip they get expelled.

lenovo doesn't do educational pricing the same as apple. To get academic pricing you have to "login" to their website. Which already makes my head hurt. But even if I would, I don't qualify. Here's their rule:

You will require a valid and active e-mail address from an accredited educational institution ending in .edu in order to register. Alumni are not eligible.

Students and Faculty wishing to order by phone, including those who need to provide other proof of student or faculty status should call 1-877-222-6426 option 1. Ext. 8197
Look at the sweet little boy and his dad, the professor. Or maybe that is the kid's T500 with 4 GB of RAM and 320 GB 7200 RPM SATA drive with built in Verizon aircard. Yeah. Dad is probably checking over his son's homework that he keeps filed away on his pc.

double-checking lenovo and dell

Since doing my price apples-to-notapples price and feature comparisons, I discovered that I could buy an apple with educational pricing. Apple has the honor system for educational pricing. You tell them if you're a student or a faculty and what school, and they give you the discount. It's really cool because they say you can save $100 or $200. But that's on the base configuration. All the upgrades you choose are discounted, too. Like that 8 GB RAM upgrade I'm getting--$900 instead of $1000.

Anyway, now I need to go check the other vendors and see what kind of pricing they give for educational purchases.