Wired


So here I am, carrying around a 24h Holter monitor that looks like it's been in use since the late 80s (and hence big, bulky and PC beige, as most industrial design of that period) as part of my scheduled exams, and wondering if cardiology services aren't meant to be less irritating than the two-hour wait I had to endure this morning before having the thing glued to me with awfully generous (and somewhat itchy) patches of adhesive gauze.

On second thought, maybe they're irritating on purpose to drive up their clientele. Just a notch, mind you. Losing customers permanently isn't the sort of thing that benefits their business.

Thankfully, the thing doesn't beep. And anyway, the running joke is that recording an 24h ECG today was rather pointless, since I had no meetings scheduled and the usual purveyors of entropy weren't in the office.

In fact, were it not for the launch of the Merom-based consumer MacBooks (far earlier than what I expected), it would have been the quietest day in the office for weeks.

Ah well, such is life.

On The Careful Management of Funds

So, now that I've confirmed that Apple persists on the mistake of not allowing a build-to-order option for the MacBook that lets sane people buy a matte (i.e., non-horridly-glossy) screen, the options are clear:

  • I either go for a MacBook, put up with the display and relatively underwhelming graphics and up the RAM to 2GB when I get Fusion
  • Or I splurge on a MacBook Pro and feel the awesome power of its decent graphics, backlit keyboard and ExpressCard slot

The rest of the hardware isn't all that different, and that, incidentally, is one of the main effects of the Intel transition that most people are glossing over - Apple's hardware is almost completely homogenous inside right now (in the past, besides the usual design and Marketing divergences, there was far less hardware in common between models).

The thing is, it's not that straightforward. For I have seen the iMac 24", and it is a thing of beauty - and the difference between both laptops adds up to half of its price tag.

Plus, despite my preference for laptops for a number of things, I'm also a desktop kind of guy. Or, rather, I don't see myself without a large (20" or better) screen at home for graphics and coding, and although I could conceivably buy a MacBook Pro and an external display, long years of experience have taught me that it is always better (from a backup and continuity standpoint) to have more than one machine.

Sure, if I got a MacBook Pro and it suffered from some strange affliction (not that that could happen, right?) I could probably grab a mini and use it as a temporary desktop, but I would probably be too dependent on the Pro.

Plus my 20" iMac G5 is (knock on wood) working great, and I see myself getting a lot of mileage from it still.

The flip side of the coin is that I would finally have a decent, no compromises Mac laptop, and that I could conceivably adapt to having a single machine (plus a mini in the closet, just in case). It would certainly make my desk less of an eyesore, and it would give me the nicest possible platform for testing ExpressCard HSDPA devices.

But I bring enough work home as it is (yes, still), and I want to cut down on that. Plus my recent vacation reminded me that a 12" laptop is still too big, and that a 15" would be a needless hassle to carry around. And all those extra frills don't quite add up to Eur. 2500 of "quality of life".

Looking back, I have a hard time understanding why the Pro is much more expensive than the consumer versions - Apple can't be selling those at a loss, and the Pro range, albeit a bit more powerful and feature laden, doesn't appear to have Eur. 1000 of added features, nor be all that much faster.

There are also the minor issues of the MacBook's RAM and hard disk being user-serviceable, which makes it a better investment in terms of hardware - I can always replace those down the line if I have any problems, and without having to rely on technical support. No, we don't have AppleCare here.

So the MacBook it is - there are plenty of USB HSDPA adapters around (it's bound to be the best-selling piece of mobile broadband kit this year), I have Wi-Fi everywhere I go regularly, and I'll be saving nearly Eur. 1000 for a new desktop (or something else) down the line.

Time to place my order, I guess.

Now if only it didn't have that infernal glossy screen.