Ted Leung on the air
Ted Leung on the air: Open Source, Java, Python, and ...
Sun, 07 Dec 2003
More Powerbook thoughts, Day 13
When I got home, there was a cross shipped 512MB SODIMM and a Hitachi Travelstar 7K60 for the powerbook. The replacement DRAM seems to be holding up nicely -- There was no freeze on bootup as with the last DIMM, and I've done a few Chandler builds while benchmarking the disk. So I have hope that the memory situation is now taken care of.

I put the 7K60 into a 2.5" Firewire enclosure, and that's when the fun began. I plugged it in via Firewire and the disk mounted up and I was able to erase it. Then I tried to copy a Chandler build onto it and it hung. Scariness. I has to fool with it a bit more to convince myself that I had plugged everything in right -- I had. I tried to plug it back in and it wouldn't even mount. Now very scary. In a flash of insight, I tried the USB 2.0 interface, and the drive started clacking but it wouldn't mount. Then it dawned on me that perhaps the 7K60 was drawing more power than the external USB or Firewire was providing. So I plugged in the power cord, and suddenly all was right with the world. Except it kind of makes you wonder what will happen if you swap the 4200RPM 80G disk for the higher drawing 7K60. Then I copied a Chandler build over. The drive was snappy and quiet. So I performed a simple but representative benchmark: build Chandler from scratch. I was amazed to find that both builds took approximately the same amount of time. The build appears to be unaffected by the I/O rate of the disk, either that or Firewire 400 isn't enough to show the benefits of it. So now, I'm left to pause. Should I open the Powerbook and swap the disk, or should I just leave well enough alone and use it as an external disk?

Here is some of the software that I've settled on:

  • Thunderbird + Enigmail for e-mail -- I was using this on Windows, it does GnuPG, and it basically works. I tried to use Mail.app for my OSAF mail but gave up. Maybe I'll try again next version.
  • Firebird + Tab Browser Extensions + Adblock -- Safari's not bad, but I was used to Firebird, and it seems to be improving fast. The biggest problem is with opening a folder of bookmarks as tabs -- I get two sets of tabs.
  • iPulse for status information on the machine
  • XBattery (at least for a while) to get a picture of what's happening with the battery
  • iChat - I was prepared not to like iChat, but instead, I've really taken to it -- I guess I'll be helping AOL lock more people into their network. I'm using Proteus to tie into MSN, Yahoo, and Jabber, but iChat has the polish. Not to mention iSight compatiblity
  • GNU Emacs - built from CVS according to Andi's fine recommendation
  • XChat Aqua - this seemed to be the closest to what I wanted. It logs the way I want and can do multiple windows so I can do Expose tricks. It doesn't hook up to speech, and it doesn't dock bounce. Dock bouncing on recognizing my nick would sew it up for me. I may try to use the Python plugin to do a speech on my nick handler. Tips still appreciated.
  • NetNewsWire - combined mode is good, but feels just a little sluggish. I also wish it would remember sort settngs for groups. I'm not quite as efficient with NNW as I was with FeedDemon. Still need to send that mail to Brent Simmons.
  • iTerm - turns out option can be meta, which is better than nothing, but why not command? At least it renders my dircolors correctly. I also find the translucency useful
  • Microsoft Intellimouse Explorer and Intellipoint 5.0 for OS X - a real mouse and binding that make me happy -- partcularly middle to open new tab in Firebird
  • Sidetrack - I like the idea, but it needs a little polish -- it doesn't pick up the scrolling areas very well, leading to lots of false scrolls.
  • uControl is installed but not working - I attribute this to a combination of Panther, IntelliPoint, and Sidetrack
Still in the evaluation hopper: There are definitely some things that I miss vis-a-vis my Thinkpad. The Powerbook keyboard is not bad, but it isn't a Thinkpad keyboard. I now officially hate trackpads. I like the IBM pointing stick, but even more, the Powerbook trackpad is positioned so that I invariable move the cursor by accident. I'll probably get used to it, but right now I don't like it. As I mentioned before, I miss hibernate. I still miss it, but I see that the battery drain issue isn't as bad as I thought. However, I am experiencing a lot of slow wakeups from sleep, where I just see the rainbow beach ball spinning away. This is annoying, and I don't have any insight into why it's happening.

Having builtin Wifi is absolutely the way to go. I walked all over OSAF for meetings and everything and never dropped a beat. Today after dinner I was doing server maintenance from the living room, with Abigial perched over my elbow and Elisabeth cruising around my body.

One other thing that I'm looking to try is to have a local IMAP store, so that I don't have to change all my mail client setting when I SSH portforward to read e-mail from outside the house. I've gotten suggestions for isync and mailsync, and I'm looking for feedback on offlineimap. I'm planning to use dovecot as the IMAP server because the Debian maintainer for uw-imapd switched to dovecot, which is a good enough recommendation for me.

I've also discovered the actual fink commands for installing software (as opposed to dselect) and now I've happily finked a bunch of packages to make the Linux feeling more complete. In particular, I needed dircolors, svn (client and server), wget (I guess I should learn to use curl), bzip2, agrep, ncftp, ruby18 (for when I get to it, probably after Groovy), and tidy. I've also finked apache2 but havent figured out how to get it to run. I've moved the development copy of my blog to the PowerBook (I need to make the w3cdate plugin use Python 2.3's ISO8601 support), and based on recent blog postings about mod_deflate, I'm thinking seriously about switching over to Apache 2 -- the biggest problem being the half cooked Debian support (last time I looked anyway).

On the whole, I'd have to say that the software side of the experience has been very good. The only real issue I've seen is the slow sleep wakeups. Otherwise I've been very happy - I don't feel that I'm lacking for software, and most of the software that I'm using is as good as or better than I was using under Windows or Linux. If I have gripes, it's mostly that the hardware is underpowered (CPU and Disk). I've also noticed that the lid bounces, which sometimes triggers a sleep/unsleep cycle, which may be contributing to the slow wakeup problem. It's been a while since I used a laptop as my primary machine, and I've never had one that really allowed me to work untethered. I'm enjoying being able to pick up and move on short notice - I'm going to start in on using my 21" display as a secondary or even primary monitor when I'm tethered - suggestions on how to make the transitions between panel and primary display are welecome. I also need to get a KVM setup so that I can type from an ergonomic position. I'm feeling pain from the laptop hunch and the different reach to the keyboard. I want to take my Microsoft Natural Pro and IntelliMouse Explorer, plug them into the KVM, along with the display, and be able to switch between the Powerbook and an Intel (Win or Linux) box. I have one recommendation for the IOGear Miniview 3. I'm also enjoying the quiet. My Windows box fills up my office with noise, and its a little hard to even hear myself think. With the Powerbook I can have a really tranquil environment.

Thanks to all those who have e-mailed or commented with suggestions. They've been a big help. I still haven't figured out the Location stuff, but I had the Location set to Auto and when I came home and turned on the Airport, the Powerbook connected to my WPA protected 802.11g network. Maybe thats all I needed to do -- I forgot how easy things can be on a Mac. I have not had any time at all to look a per location/interface firewalling. The Intellipoint software has solved my multi-button mouse issues, and as I mentioned above, XChat-Aqua is doing the job for IRC. Fink is also behaving in an understandable manner.

[00:38] | [computers/operating_systems/macosx] | # | TB | F | G | 3 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post

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Ted Leung FOAF Explorer

I work at the Open Source Applications Foundation (OSAF).
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