my imac core duo review

As I have not purchased a new Mac in quite a while, it has been a long time since I have had the fun of writing a review! I have been around Apple long enough to know that buying the first revision of a new machine can be a dicey proposition, but hey, that’s part of the fun.

The computer itself is gorgeous. It’s slimmer than the first iMac G5s, and unlike some Macs, it looks well crafted from all angles, not just the front. It will take some time getting used to the widescreen aspect ratio, but I think it will be nice once it feels natural. I am curious to see how well the plastics hold up, as my four year old iBook now shows some scratches and dings, although that is largely due to the many trips on which it has accompanied me.

The power/sleep button is easily accessible around the back on the left, and the glowing light showing the computer is asleep is even more mesmerizing than the one in my laptop. The plugs in the back on the right are almost too good; they give such a firm hold that you have to grab the front of the monitor when plugging in USB and Firewire peripherals or you push the whole computer across your desk. The power plug seems to hold tight enough so that as you adjust the computer, you don’t accidentally pull out the plug in the process. It was very easy to start up the first time, answer some basic questions, and have the computer online ready to go. The only real question is that due to weight distribution between the stand and the monitor, it’s not immediately obvious what is the best way to pick up the unit. Fortunately, it seems solid all around, in both the elegant metal base and the Captain Picard Ready Room-like monitor. Two thumbs up.

The software that is Intel native is fast and responsive. It is difficult to say what is due to the Intel chips per se, and what is due to my point of reference, namely an iBook from 2002. Nonetheless, that’s partly the point. This machine is fast, not just in specs and benchmarks, but so much so in casual usage that I notice it. Freakin’ cool.

In fact, it’s so cool, that’s almost another feature in and of itself. It is quiet. I mean, nearly silent quiet. Ask somebody with a G5 desktop what they’d give for a little less noise.

An important point about the Intel iMacs is that for a lot of people like me who have been waiting to upgrade for a while, this is as much an upgrade to OS X 10.4 and iLife 06 as it is a jump to the Intel architecture (however much symbolic importance that may have for some of us). We frankly could care less about Photoshop and other pro apps; we spend our time in iTunes and iPhoto. And by golly, they’re fast. After you’ve spent years in front of a G3, it is pure joy simply scrolling through your iPhoto 6 library. I’ll let you think about that last sentence for a second.

However, this is where I ran into my first major problem. Apple does not design the experience for current Mac users needing to migrate their data to the new machines very well. The migration assistant is a joke for some specific needs. I am very familiar with Apple computers and software, but I had to spend a considerable amount of time on the internet looking for ways to import data and settings. Each application seems to handle things differently. If you simply copy your iTunes library, you lose comments you make (such as song ratings and playlists). The first time I imported my iPhoto library, I got every version of every photo I ever edited in the library (original, red eye, cropped, etc). With a little bit of time, I was able to address these two issues. But I could see this being frustrating for someone who isn’t as familiar with their computer or doesn’t like spending time tweaking and testing things (although, fitting with the larger theme here and other reviews I’ve seen, I wouldn’t recommend an Intel purchase right now if you don’t like tinkering and troubleshooting).

By far my deepest frustration was with Mail. There are no relevant articles in Apple’s knowledge base about transferring your email, particularly from 1.x to 2.x. Mail 1 apparently treats .mbox files differently than Mail 2. I tried connecting directly through Firewire Target Disk Mode and sharing files from my iBook through Airport. I tried Googling instructions for this transfer. All for naught. I ended up with about 50% of my email successfully transferred. For me, the whole value of Mail is that it has all of my email, there, on the computer. I don’t understand why there isn’t a one-click option that’s as easy as checking for software updates that finds all mailboxes for a user on another computer and imports them. Now, it’s possible this option exists technically; my point is that even for someone comfortable with computers, I had to look to find answers, and despite earnest searching, I couldn’t find them. Anywhere. I ended up resetting my original webmail accounts to act as if the email was never downloaded and redownloading years worth of email. If I had set the option to delete copies off the server after downloading to Mail on my iBook, I think I would have lost two or three thousand of my emails. (It didn’t seem completely random about which emails imported incorrectly, so I would be happy to post more specifically about what happened if anyone has encountered similar difficulties.)

The other area, which I know about but is still frustrating in a nostalgic kind of way, is losing access to older programs. Because I have been in the Apple fold so long, I have a considerable software library from the days now referred to as Classic (and I’m not even sure what to call pre-OS 8.6 and heaven forbid Apple //e programs). I can handle them not working; after all, the iBook is still pretty perky running OS 9, and I’ve known this day was coming. But it is one of the things that makes me wonder more generally about commercial business models in the computer industry. Hardware manufacturers put so much effort into making better chips, yet so little seems to go into the software side. Sure, game developers spend considerable resources pushing the graphics, but generally speaking, it seems like software just gets sloppier and more bloated. There is so much computing power in even consumer machines like these iMacs, that I wonder why there isn’t simple emulation that just lets the software run, period. It seems like so much development effort goes into graphics these days, that arguably more important aspects like speed and story line get undervalued. Why can’t Apple simply write a program that lets essentially any old game run on new Macs? But I digress; that’s more a Mac OS X issue than an Intel one (after all, many of the programs I have are pre-PPC).

As far as the software Rosetta can emulate, namely PowerPC native Mac OS X applications, Rosetta works fantastically. If you’re doing things where you care about what percentage of native speed Rosetta runs an application, you don’t want to be making the switch right now. If you’re like me, and just want Office to work, then you’re in luck. Some programs do require a little bit of exploring before you get them to work. For example, I’m a Civilization addict, and I had to figure out that Macsoft Games no longer supports Civilization III, and the company that does support it still lists 1.21g as the latest version. Unfortunately, this one doesn’t work on the Intel iMacs due to a conflict with the widescreen display resolution (at least, I think that’s the problem). Undaunted, I eventually found a beta version of 1.29 on the internet, which isn’t available from the company, that seems to work just fine under Rosetta.

All this so far essentially addresses how to do what I was doing before. The last things I want to address are the gimmicks that quickly become more than just toys. I speak of the built in iSight video camera and the infrared remote with Front Row. In some senses they are both afterthoughts; the resolution on the iSight is lower than my several year old digital camera and the camera is immobile apart from moving the whole computer, while Front Row is limited to partial functionality in just four applications (iTunes, iPhoto, iMovie, and the DVD Player). IChat AV is so addictive, though, that despite the fact that it is inferior to AIM in both chat logging and the buddy list display, I essentially use it exclusively now. One night in front of a full screen video chat with a friend is enough to hook you. I now look longingly at my buddy list wondering aloud how all these friends of mine can possibly survive without a webcam. I am disappointed that one way video chats are limited to iChat AV users; hopefully that’s a technical issue Apple and AOL can address rather than a conscious choice by Apple to limit access to iChat AV. Meanwhile, it only took one day for the gorgeous little remote for Front Row to wander permanently from its neat magnetic holder on the side of the iMac to the nightstand beside my bed. Could it be that Apple can capitalize on the fact that entertainment has become so commercialized that completely abandoning advertisements is a plausible alternative? We’re obviously not there yet, but with considerable digital content available, and the trend, from TV shows on DVDs to the explosive growth of iPods and the iTMS, clearly pointing toward people’s frustration with advertisement overload, maybe Apple can realize a degree of choice and value never quite delivered by cable TV operators. Imagine paying $5 a month to download any ESPN programming one desires, commercial free. That’s what cable should be, anyway.

Again, I digress. But that’s partly what this machine makes you do. You feel at once that this is a monumental move for Apple, yet, at the same time, the point is things are basically the same. The machine is a little faster, a little sexier, and loaded with a little better software bundle than any iMac before it. Apple’s foray into the Intel world, the iMac Core Duo, is quite simply the best consumer desktop on the market. The question isn’t whether you should make the switch. The default choice, several months ahead of schedule, is this iMac. You should instead be asking, do you have a particular need to have a G5 computer? If not, it’s time to embrace the future. This is one of the few times where the computer will actually get better, for a time, as it ages.

Now here’s hoping Apple doesn’t pull a IIvx on us early adopters. They already pulled one business fast one: Amazon is now offering $125 off the 17” models and $150 off the 20” models. As annoying as that is, I figure that’s a good sign about the transition that my biggest gripe isn’t a technical one. Nonetheless, it does make one wonder why Apple essentially charged a price premium to those of us who ordered one the first week.


end of an era

My last great grandparent passed away this week. He was 104!


it's here! part 2

I finally have a computer that can export songs to my iPod mini at a reasonable clip! As USB 2.0 isn't exactly a cutting edge technology, that gives you an idea of how old my laptop is.

From the moment I broke the seal to the time I was on the internet, including required amounts of oohing and awwing at various points in the process, was seriously less than half an hour. I love Apple!

This is definitely what I have been waiting for; it's been 6 years since my Performa 575 was my workhorse. Ah, back in the day.

Ok, I'm going to stop sounding like an idiot now and get back to messing around with my new toy. Here's to hoping that getting a Rev A in the first week of availability isn't going to bite me in the rear.


criminal me

It really is amazing how much Big Brother is actually happening, and not just the paranoid hypothetical worries of a crazy man. I am in the FBI's fingerprint database because I sat for the LSAT. Yes, apparently a test requires fingerprinting that will follow me in perpetuity.

I am also in the database because I have my Missouri producers and variable contracts licenses (insurance and securities stuff). That required another fingerprinting session. I'm not talking dip your thumb and go. I mean the full ten fingered monty. An insurance agent may rob you blind, but at least he can't rob the bank.

Apparently, Missouri just passed a law that all school employees have to have a background check that also includes the aforementioned fingerprinting fun. Nevermind the fact that I have been working at Clayton since 2002 (I apparently only now became a possible child molestor, drug dealer, or otherwise man with an evil past who would therefore be more likely to do evil things in the future). Nevermind the fact that I have been working for some public school district in Missouri since 1998. Nevermind the fact that I currently do financial work with a nonprofit agency that doesn't allow felons to hold positions such as mine that deal with confidential information. And nevermind that I have a copy of the police records check I had to pay for in order to get the job there.

Nope, none of that matters. Have to do it again. God bless our government.

Oh, and this private company called Identix that has an exclusive contract with the Missouri State Highway Patrol gets a sweet $50.95 for every sucker like me. What a great use of our tax dollars and paychecks, too.

--iMac update: It left Anchorage this afternoon!


i've been good today

I have only entered the tracking info into Fed Ex's website three times. It is currently in Shanghai (that's in this little country called China, for you geographically challenged folks).

Let's see, if it makes it to Alaska or California tomorrow, it'll be in Hazelwood Thursday, and at my door Friday! Of course, the door will probably be locked, and seeing how our landlords haven't installed a buzzer system yet and how Fed Ex seems unwilling to bring packages around the back even though I specifically filled out their request form giving them instructions of how to come around the back and leave things on the deck, they will probably knock Friday, get no answer, and take the package back, which means I'll have to drive down Saturday to get it.

Yes, I said drive down to get it. No way am I going to wait around waiting for them to try a second delivery. Come on my little friend, you're almost home...


almost don't recognize the room

Ok, that's way exagerrated just so I would have a title. But all the papers and bills and other whatnots that have overflowed my desk, nightstand, and floor in front of my bed are neatly filed away in their respective tub/organizer doohickey. My desk is largely a desk rather than a mountain of papers. My light is cleaned and full of bulbs. I need to find a box or tin or something to put letters and some random pictures into.

...Cat interruption...

Cookie was not good tonight. Sometimes she throws tantrums when trimming her nails, and she was mean tonight. [Someone, ahem, didn't want to have her baby declawed, so this is a regular treat around here.]

Anyway, this had been needing to be done for a while, and finally needing desk space for my new iMac gave me the motivation to actually get the papers into the proper receptacle (yes, much of it was trash, but it had to be sorted from the stuff that did need to be filed away). Apparently my fresh vacuuming lasted about 2 hours. I went for a jog this afternoon, and depite leaving my pants and sweatshirt out on the deck, I still managed to trapse a bit of leaf or something in without noticing. That stuff just gets ground up into these little pieces. Very annoying.

The pants and sweatshirt, by the way, are now soaking wet. Apparently it's been raining for some time.


apparently i missed some homework

My football picks are already in shambles this weekend, and the last game isn't even over. Denver was my sure bet over New England, but I really thought Washington would go into Seattle and cause trouble.

Now, I don't mind Indianapolis losing one iota, even though I picked them, and was this sure a sweet way to lose it! It will take some more losses like this Lyn Elliot-style debacle before we're even with Indy, however. The next best thing to the Chiefs knocking them off is of course a terrible game by the offense and an absolute choke on what may generously be described as an attempted field goal.

For those of you who don't follow the Chiefs, the Chiefs have been the best team in the league a couple of times when Indy has come into town during the playoffs and made their little pact with the devil.

Let's see, Manning brothers' 2006 playoff record: 0-2.

yay for people

Robert, Lisa, Eric, Scott, Chrissy, Cheryl, Jaimee, Becca, Ed, Karen, Landon, Catherine, Christine, Gabriel, Sylvia, Brian, Chris, Katie, Elizabeth, Emily, Christy...owe, my head hurts.

So do my feet.


it looks like a friday the 13th

The snow is blowing down almost completely horizontal. Cool stuff. And it was warm yesterday!

So this week has been really long, between working late practically every night and not feeling well. I am sooo excited about sleeping a ton this weekend (not in the anti-social sense, just in the pro-nap sense).

I am sooooooo excited for the one thing that did happen this week; namely, Macworld San Francisco. I have decided one of the new iMacs will be my next computer. My trusty old iBook probably ranks number two on the list of computers I've owned, but I bought that sucker used over three years ago, and it's just not quite cutting it anymore.

I'm going to wait a day to buy it, just in case...you know, the whole cognitive dissonance thing, but goodness, I am one giddy tired/sick person. Eric, you would appreciate this; the anticipation of finally getting a new computer is all that's gotten me through this week.


3 out of 4 ain't bad

It's good to see the NFL's wildcard weekend was fairly predictable. Jacksonville was my guarantee; they were obviously the worst AFC team to make the playoffs. They only made it because of their schedule; the Chiefs, Chargers, and maybe even Dolphins (by the end of the year) were better teams. And as I thought, New England manhandled Jacksonville. Pittsburgh is obviously a better team than Cincinnati, and the Bengals acted like a team that hadn't been to the playoffs before. They'll be back next year, but they weren't ready this year. I had to pick Washington to win because my roommate is from Tampa, plus it makes the Chiefs look better, but their offense sure tried to lose the game. However, up in New York, I thought the Giants would pull it out. I was definitely way off the mark there.

Next week is much harder, because in the AFC you actually have four teams that should be in the playoffs, and in the NFC you never know what is real and what is weakness of schedule (you really can't use the term "strength" of schedule). Pittsburgh isn't going to be able to stop Indianapolis, and while the hype machine surrounding the Patriots will be in overdrive this week, that can't change the fact that the Broncos are the best team in the NFL. In the NFC, Chicago is going to play not the 13-3 Seahawks, but rather the 10-6 Redskins to see who goes to the Super Bowl.

It is frustrating, though...how many playoff teams have we beaten this year? Denver, Washington, Cincinnati, and New England; that's three division winners, and three teams that advanced to the Divisional round! Jacksonville, by comparison, hasn't even beaten a team with a winning record in almost three months. The AFC West, clearly the best division in football, only qualified one team because of its strength. Don't even get me started on how ridiculous Seattle's 13-3 mark is. Heck, if the AFC West had simply played the NFC West instead of the NFC East, the best division in the NFC, the Chiefs would have made the playoffs easily. Sigh.

Tieland update: alas, as of today, I have now worn a tie on as many days in 2006 as not. Sigh.

Computer update: my laptop has been showing its age for a while, and I've made it hold out until MacWorld Expo. The Stevenote was today, and now I don't know what to do. Irresistable iMac? Wait a month for the more expensive MacBook? Buy another cheap iBook to last a year or two while Apple works out all the kinks in the Intel transition? Too many choices. Sigh.


on 2006

I'm not a big fan of New Year's resolutions for two basic reasons. First, if something is worth doing, you shouldn't wait until January 1; attaching your motivation to a date on the calendar sets yourself up to continuously lose that motivation every single day thereafter. If there's a way you want to improve your life, do it now, today, this very instant. (By the way, you can thank me later for sparing you the cash you would have spent on employee/management books and self-help books to learn this great insight of initiative and discipline.)

Second, I really have a problem with herd mentality and doing things because it's that time of year or because other people do them. But that's a deeper psychological issue with me that relates to broader problems with authoritarian control that gets a little more personal than a post on my New Year's resolution. (Nonetheless, this does get a little personal, so FBI, if you are reading this in 20 years trying to figure out how to get inside my head to neutralize me as a problem, this would be a good post to flag as some insight into my brain. Here, let me help you, and I'll make sure the NSA and Secret Service tag this post, too, by reiterating a very important point about President Bush, namely that the President should bomb nowhere because people die. Did you hear that, Mr. President, killed by you! That should do it; the government's bots are a little better than Google's.)

However, until somebody invents a better system, sometimes New Year's really does bring about a sense of change, a new theme for a new year...ok, enough of that.

Last year for me was very much a year of transition. Not just the obvious no school and switched jobs, which are inherently transitory, but core aspects of my life that have never changed before.

This year's word I feel very strongly to be one of reconciliation. You might call it the Grand Unified Theory of Me; at least, that's what I'll call it for the time being. Partly, it relates to generational factors; I think people around my age who grew up with messy divorces and custody battles in their personal lives accompanied by the social backdrop of rampant graft and corruption are just sick of the whole thing. We want something different and something more. The desire for material comfort is strong yet subservient to deeper longing for community and purpose. To put it differently, happiness is supplanting the allure of the dollar rather than accompanying it. This isn't a political statement (at least, not in the Republican/Democrat sense), but I think it is telling that mine was the only age group to vote for change in the last presidential election.

And partly, it's where I'm at at this time in this place. A yearning, a longing, a drive, a desire, a desperation; they're all true and yet they don't capture it fully. How does one maintain unbridled passion while living a contented life? How does one follow Jesus in the world while succumbing neither to the pitfalls of the world nor of those who would twist and manipulate one of the strongest, most vocally progressive thinkers, teachers, and doers in the history of mankind?

What about nocturnal biology and morning work requirements? Nurturing old friendships while striking out for the new? Distinguishing oneself as a separate family yet never losing that which makes you family. Getting to root for the best football team on the planet yet not getting to see them win playoff games. Rooting for the Royals and not going crazy.

Ambition and satisfaction. Vengeance and mercy. Love and anger. Visions for a better world and the slow pace at which progress, in practice, is realized. Needing to look out for yourself but feeling deeply called to the betterment of others. Trust and vulnerability with protection and safety.

There is so much emotional energy that I have been able to channel in a lot of different directions, but I know at some point something's gotta give. Maybe harmony will never be fully realized, but the journey is valuable. There has to be ways to bring everything together.

That's my 2006 New Year's resolution, to reconcile these things and more into a life that is meaningful and satisfying and sustainable.

What's yours?



When's the last time Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas all won a bowl game in the same year?

Oh, and whaddaya know, those vaunted PAC 10 teams both lost to the mediocre Big 12!! Not to mention Michigan...you couldn't even beat a humble Nebraska, haha.

And how embarrassing is it to blow a 21 point lead to Missouri? Not as embarrassing as losing a bowl game by double digits to the Jayhawks; the football Jayhawks!


good party jodi

Not remembering how on Earth you managed to turn the alarm off on your phone and fall back asleep. When you stumble into the living room and see a rather unkempt man just sitting there on your futon staring at you. When you then look around and realize that despite your having spent the day before cleaning, you will be spending this afternoon cleaning, as well.

Falling asleep sitting there at breakfast while stuffing yourself with food, not always remembering to keep your mouth closed between bites of french toast and scrambled eggs. Then shaking through church from all the sugar you stuffed yourself with so you would stay awake.

Eyes wincing in pain when you walk out of church into a beautiful, albeit way too bright, day.

And then Chiefs football. Come on Detroit!