All in the <head>

– Ponderings & code by Drew McLellan –

– Live from The Internets since 2003 –


The Waiting Game

15 January 2004

This is painful. Having got used to the idea that my PowerBook wasn’t going to ship from manufacturing until next Monday, the order status page on Apple’s site tells a far more optimistic story. On Tuesday, the page indicated that my PowerBook had already shipped from the Netherlands that day. That’s less than 24 hours after placing the order – wow. Come Wednesday morning, the status had updated indicating that it had actually shipped from Taiwan and not the Nethlands after all. That’s some level of confusion – don’t they know where they make these things?

Of course, my hope is that it’ll make it to me by the weekend. Sod’s law says it’ll arrive afterwards, but we’ll see. I don’t know how long it takes to fly from Taiwan to UK (or if they even go direct), but the order status page now shows that my PowerBook departed from the terminal yesterday (Wednesday) evening. If it arrives in UK this afternoon or early evening, it should make it to a distribution centre tonight. As I’m only just outside London, it’s entirely possible that it might make it to me tomorrow morning. Finger crossed. Touch wood.

Update: It landed this afternoon (Thursday) in Luxembourg. A Friday delivery is looking less likely, but isn’t out of the window quite yet.
Update: It left Luxembourg 30 minutes later. Looking better.
Update: It’s not here yet (12.30 Friday) ... chances looking slim.
Update: Well, at nearly 5pm on Friday, it’s still not here. Looks like I’m sans-PowerBook for the weekend. Ah well.
Update: I found my consignment on the TNT website – my PowerBook is still in Eindhoven, as of 1730 Friday.
Update: It’s in the country! Unfortunately, it’s in Northampton which is about 1.5 hours north of here. This means that presuming TNT flew it into Heathrow or Gatwick, it’s literally come past my house on a lorry already. Anyway, looking good for a Monday delivery.

- Drew McLellan


  1. § Alex White: when they say ’ship’ - i think they generally mean that they put your powerbook in a dinghy and push it out to sea... good luck!
  2. § Jesse: Ha.. Its encouraging that things are shipping on time or earlier... but i have nothing to order... I had to wait 6 weeks!!!!
  3. § DD: I myself am I long time Windows user, and have looked to switch to the Mac, but after analyzing the specs of the Mac and PC machines, I really do not see the reason to switch, especially since Macs are a lot more expensive than PCs. Drew, and visitors why did you get the Mac, when its much more expensive than the PC, and normally has less spectacular specs?
  4. § Drew: Good question, DD.

    Spec wise, it’s worth noting that you’re not comparing like for like. The G4 (in my case) and the PentiumIV are different processors with totally different architectures. That is to say a G4 running at 1GHz is a lot more responsive than a PIV at the same clock speed. It’s just the same with Pentium and Athlon processors - the Athlon 1700 in my Windows box is so named because it has the same performance as a Pentium 1.7GHz, when it actually only runs a 1.1GHz. Bottom line is that you can’t measure by clock speed alone - it’s totally misleading.

    On price - you do pay a premium for Macs. However, it’s possibly not as much as you think. My other half recently bought herself a really nice Dell laptop (it’s a great machine). In order to be diligent in my purchasing choices, I went to Dell’s site and spec’d up the same machine Rachel’s got to as close to the same spec as the PowerBook I was looking at. Once you add in as extras all the things that come standard on the PowerBook you begin to appreciate what a serious piece of kit it is. WiFi, Bluetooth, DVD writer, Gigabit ethernet, the whole shooting match. As it turned out, the Dell was only £200 less than the PowerBook. Add in the niceties you get on the Mac that you don’t get on a Dell (backlit keyboard, slim aluminium case, FireWire 800, really beautiful design) and a £200 premium isn’t too bad at all.
  5. § Bob Monsour: Patience is certainly not a virtue when awaiting the arrival of a sleek and shiny (ok, not shiny) new PowerBook. Enjoy it. I’ve got a 12” and it’s a fantastic machine. I’ll keep my fingers crossed here in Hopewell, New Jersey for a Friday delivery for you.
  6. § Alex White: its not just about speed either, its about the whole user experince. i use a PC at work (because i am forced to) and it does the job fine, but my computer of choice, at home, is a Mac. simply because i enjoy using it- it looks good, it performs fantastically and its just what i’m used to. its better to buy a computer that you enjoy using, rather than just one that ’does the job’ i believe , and i’ll pay a premium for that - but thats my choice!
  7. § Jesse: Spec out a G4 AlBook with the exact same parts on Dell for instance. If you do you will see the Dell is actually more money (remember premium display, HD, etc) by $300 USD. The differences are the Dell has 128 DDR video - apple has 64, the Apple has a glowing keyboard and is aluminum, OS X (OS optimized for your hardware) vs XP (optimized?). You can’t compare the processor, but I guess the G4 1.25 performs pretty close to the mobile PIV with less heat (still could burn your bits mind you). Check IBM and you will see far more expensive machines than apple... but x86 machines will come down in price much faster and their configurations are much more flexible and easier to upgrade.

    Now lets talk quality.. I just let go of a 1st generation tibook only because I could replace it with an AlBook. My dad has gone through 2 dell latitudes and is working on his 3rd. The keys have fallen off, the HD’s die, WiFi issues, DVD drive died.. the list goes on but it was all fixed for free. My TiBook? Latch broke, fixed for free.

    Personally i prefer the OS...
  8. § DD: Thanks for the reply Drew!

    It's nice to see real Mac users explain Mac related things to Windows users :p

    One more question guys: why is it that Mac’s processors are always a step behind the rest of the industry? I believe that the 2.0GHz chips just came out recently, and it was already out for quite a while with Athlon and Intel.

  9. § Ian: I hope you get it before the weekend ends. Good luck.
  10. § Jesse: Great news about the PB..!

    One more question guys: why is it that Mac's processors are always a step behind the rest of the industry?

    Ummm... you know that could be considered a flame nowadays ;) Macs use PowerPC chips that have a very different configuration than the x86 AMD and Intel chips. Plus there are cache differences, motherboard design, and a real chip geek could go on an on.

    Take a look at Analysis: x86 Vs PPC. That could explain it better than this mac loyalist.
  11. § DD: I didn’t mean for it to be a flame :|
  12. § Drew: Jesse was just teasing, DD. :-)
  13. § DD: :)

    Hey Jesse that was a great article, very nice read.
  14. § Jesse: Hehe.. yup I was just teasing ; )
  15. § Tom: I have to say that if I was getting a laptop there’d be no doubt in my mind that I’d get an Apple, but ’PC’ desktops are incredibly cheap, especially when you build them yourself. For me, such a big price difference is conclusive.
  16. § Jesse: hehe.. oh oh.. mac loyalist alert!

    PC desktops are incredibaly cheap but how about a dual 2Ghz 64 bit cpu, 160GB serial ATA, 512 DDR 400, ATI 9600 Pro, superdrive, etc? Bet its not cheaper. Compare the actual components in Mac to a PC when comparing price.

    You can get a cheaper PC with less premium hardware but even at $1800 USD for a low end G5, I don’t you would be saving that much on a 64 bit PC. It all depends on what you need.. which is why pro users lean towards Apple. A home user has no use for the power you are paying for.. but a gamer does, and that is one place Apple hurts.

    Where PC’s use to win is in upgrading... although that has changed lately.

    Can you tell i had to justify my office’s computer budget? We are a mac island in a sea of PC’s... only other beacon of Mac is in the Math faculty and its spreading ;)
  17. § Tom: Heh, I know what you mean.

    But then, a 64MB DDR (yes, just sixty-four megabytes, that’s what the G5 uses) 9600 Pro is probably equivalent to about £80 and 512MB of DDR400 is £55 - I know, I just bought some! Superdrive? Say £90. 160GB SATA? Another £90. Say £150 for a 64-bit motherboard and a decent case and you’re on £495 with only the processor to add. Say £230 for an Athlon 64 3200 and your total is only £695. OK, so you don’t have 4GHz of G5 to play with, but you’ve just saved yourself £1605 on Apple’s top-end £2300. You could have four of those PCs for the price of a top-end G5.

    How about we do a low-end comparison? 5200 Ultra...£50. 256MB DDR 333 is a pathetic £25. 80GB SATA is £55. Say £120 for motherboard and decent case. Although the bottom-end G5 is only a 1.6GHz, I’ll be kind and propose we compare it to the processor I have, an Athlon XP 2500. That’s just £70. Superdrive another £90. How much is all that? £410. Compared to Apple’s £1400, you’ve just saved yourself almost a thousand pounds.

    For me, there’s just no comparison. Much as I love Macs, they are just too expensive in desktop form. For £2300 you could have a PC that would decimate just about anything you threw in front of it, and you’d have a posh monitor to boot!
  18. § DD: Hey guys the info here is very much appriciated. I am currently using a Pentium 4 machine, and want to buy another machine in and around spring 2004. A Mac is my leading candidate at the moment, especially after reading Drew and Jesse’s posts.

    What are some of the applications / programs that are really useful for Apple users? For example, word processing, spreadsheets, web development, design, mp3s, videos, firewall, anti-virus, etc...?
  19. § DD: Drew maybe you could post a blog entry about must-have Apple programs and applications ;) It would help alot for Apple newbs such as myself :p
  20. § Jesse:

    OK, so you don't have 4GHz of G5 to play with, but you've just saved yourself £1605 on Apple's top-end £2300.

    Hmmm looks like UK prices don't really make things fair here ;) A dual G5 is $4099 CDN (much less than UK price).

    I agree you can get a PC that screams with a nice LCD for the same as a G5 but it is not the same machine. It's like comparing Impreza WRX to a Mercedes SLK32 AMG. Sure you can go fast with both, probably have more fun in the WRX but the SLK is style with a little more HP and higher design...

    Ok.. debate can rage. But on applications..
    -MS Office V.x is really nice (2004 version coming, so is stable KOffice).
    -web dev - Macromedia suite for me but keep BBedit around.
    -mp3's, itunes hands down
    -videos.. quicktime/iLife apps of course
    -firewall, built in..
    -anti-virus, no need - find me a virus for OS X
    ...and Warcraft III
  21. § DD: Windows XP also has a built in firewall, but as many Windows users have found out, that is not enough. My follow up question is that is the default OS X firewall enough to keep a machine secure? Is an anti-virus really not necessary?
  22. § Jesse: Considering all services are off by default (no ports open) and the nature of OS X its debatable but it is really really really difficult to exploit OS X remotely. There are no message ports, no service ports, nothing open to be exploited. As far as viruses go, I don’t think there are any known viruses for OS X.

    Now no system is truly secure.. but still OS X is pretty darn safe. Good comparison with X vs XP here.
  23. § DD: Thanks Jesse for all the answers ;)
  24. § Tom: Jesse: Yes, I see your point. Maybe the G5 is a better machine (and it probably is due to OSX), but to be honest I’d rather spend the huge amount of extra dough on other stuff. The fact remains that an equivalent PC is a quarter of the price of a G5 over here. With laptops it’s different - the iBooks are very reasonably priced when compared to Windows laptops.

    Unfortunately, Apple’s pricing structure continues throughout the rest of it’s products. I personally have an iPod because it literally kicks everything else available and isn’t really that much more expensive. For example, an Airport Extreme card costs around double the price of an equivalent PCI one.

    I think at the end of the day it comes down to personal choice. Personally, I’d rather spend £500 on a PC rather than £1500 on a G5 and put up with the security holes and viruses as I’m not exactly a n00b. However, some people would rather have the benefits of OSX, which is fair enough.
  25. § DD: Tom thats the exact thing I’ve been thinking about. I would like to try a new system apart from Windows, either Linux or Mac OS X. But again, is it worth all the extra money it costs, when for example I can build my own machine for much much much less money?
  26. § Drew: DD, for Linux you can take advantage of the economies of build-your-own, as it will run on the same hardware as Windows.

    Linux for a desktop machine is perfectly achievable, but you’ll need to dedicate more time to simply learning how your computer works. It’s getting better month by month and the KDE desktop environment, whilst not as polished as OS X, is very nice to work with.

    I guess I like OS X because it gives you a huge amount of the functionality of a Linux desktop (their ’guts’ are very similar), but without needing to spend time paying attention to the computer - you can just get on with what you’re trying to do.
  27. § Rachel: DD - as Drew’s other half we have this conversation daily.

    Me, I would build myself a shiny new PC for about £500 and install Linux on it. A lot of the stuff that comes with a Mac I neither need nor want, so the argument that you get all this cool hardware and software doesn’t really mean much to me - as a developer most of what I do all day involves writing text files, I don’t need 2 grands worth of machine to write text files. I’d pay that much for a server but not a desktop ... as you can imagine it is great fun in our house ;)
  28. § Tom: Yes, Linux is a good option and I’m sure in the future will become a major contendor to Windows’ throne, particularly with Microsoft forcing DRM on us all with Longhorn.
  29. § Jesse: Well DD/Rachel, a Mac is something more than a simple computer. There is something odd about us ’mac people.’

    ...Linux, I would buy a x86 just to run Linux but Fink came along for OS X and with a little tinkering I get a lot of Linux apps I love but in x-windows. So the more aqua the better... the only app I missed from Linux was xchat, but now there is an aqua version. A lot of Linux apps are being ported to OS X thanks to the BSD and the flock of Linux converts to Apple (probably Uni profs with edu pricing).

    For a cheap and powerful webserver, nothing can touch Linux (but Fedora is being a bugger on this Dell server I would like to use).
  30. § Rachel: I already figured there was something odd about Mac people ;)

    I mean .. why spend all that money to run applications that would run just as well on a computer that cost under a third of the price?

    As for Linux ... sod Fedora, install Debian ;)
  31. § Tom: Fedora has been buggy as hell for me. For one, the first time I installed it it only booted once!

    I’m going to try Debian sometime. If only OSX worked on x86!
  32. § Jesse: See that is the problem - the apps don’t run just as well on a computer that costs a third of a price. Even MS apps run better on OS X. Being a Dreamweaver person, after an odd beta experience, MX 2004 runs so much better on OS X vs its XP version. You will see.. once Drew’s albook arrives you can get some real experience (if he lets you touch it) with a modern apple machine. You can also watch him change into a crazy mac-ite ;)

    Yup Debian would be the way to go but we are using VMWare with it and a Red Hat variant is our only choice at the moment. The problem doesn’t seem to be Fedora, its appears its crap ethernet cards.
  33. § DD: Drew, Rachel, Jesse and others thanks for the great suggestions. My options are the following:

    1) Get a Mac desktop machine (G4 or G5 depending how much they are in spring 2004)

    2) Built my own machine with custom parts and Athlon or Intel chips. Install Windows XP on the machine.

    3) Built my own machine with custom parts and Athlon or Intel chips. Install Linux Gentoo on the machine.

    Since I already have a Pentium 4 2.0 GHz machine running Windows XP, I would like to try to avoid option 2 for sake of learning something new in Mac OS X or Linux Gentoo. My first option was option 3; built my own machine with custom parts and Athlon or Intel chips. Install Linux Gentoo on the machine.

    However of the past few weeks I have done some research and I am beginning to like the Mac more and more, but still the high prices are drawing me away a little.

    I plan to use this new machine for work on web development (web coding and graphic work), word processing, and storing my MP3 collection on it.

    Since I see that there are some real helpful users that use these systems, I hope some of you could help me.

    Thank you in advance.
  34. § Tom: It sounds like you’re an Apple candidate, so if you can stomach the price, go for the Apple. Personally, it’s too much for me to pay.

    Otherwise, you could dual boot, but as you already have a decent XP machine there seems little point. If you build, I’d recommend AMD at the moment - they’re just so cheap!
  35. § Jesse: Nothing can beat a mac with web design, graphic work, and music collections...

    ...if you can stomach the price of course. But if you live by the computer, you might as well do it in style ;)
  36. § Tom: Well, did it come, Drew?

    I was quite pleased...I ordered a new 80mm fan on Friday and it came today, as did my new mouse, thermal compound and audio cable. Unfortunately the latter three are at some depot somewhere...
  37. § Drew: Yes! It’s here (well, at home - I’m still at work). Had a bit of a close call though - Rachel works from home and so is usually around when deliveries arrive, but she was headed out to an appointment at around lunch time so the house would’ve been empty. She caught the TNT driver just as she was leaving (phew!).

    I’ll be home in an hour or so, so hopefully next time I post will be from my PowerBook.
  38. § Drew McLellan: Posting from my PowerBook :)
    Just downloading a bunch of updates from Apple.
  39. § Lee: I must admit I havent read all of the posts here in total, but it seems that there are a couple of critical points that often get misunderstood in the mac/pc debate. Most people simply try to compare on clock speed. This is highly misleading, there’s so much more to comparing a computers ability than that. The first thing most people are unaware of is that the way the two platforms process data is completely different. For example, pc cpu’s execute one instruction per clock cycle, whereas macs execute two. So in a very broad sense a 1GHz mac is executing at a similar rate to a 2GHz pc. Not only that, the surrounding architecture in a mac is designed to take away many tasks from the main cpu, making the mac more efficient still. There are so many things that make a mac a better buy it’d take me a week to list them. But here’s a few – though not in any particular order:

    • State of the art OS
    • True multitasking (despite what many pc ads claim, a pc is simply not capable of true multitasking)
    • Protected memory
    • Inherently more stable OS & applications
    • Generally speaking macs are better constructed and have a longer usable life (I have macs that are over 10 years old and are still in perfect working order and providing useful service on a daily basis)
    • Viruses? what is it, about 100 or so that affect the mac and something in the thousands for the pc!! (I havent had a mac infected by a virus for around 6 years now, and even that was intercepted immediately and destroyed)

    • The mac also uses a software structure that is incredibly stable by comparison. Most people forget that a pc is still stuck with DOS and the bios, and an architecture that is based on 1970s technology.

    Ok, so I am definitely showing that I favour the mac. But thats not out of blind faith. I have used both platforms, and if I thought the pc was a better platform I would say so. It just isn’t. I buy computers for speed, reliability, ease of use, and overall value for money. And whilst macs appear more expensive on the surface, once all is taken into account, they are definitely a better buy. Its much like the betamax/VHS battle. VHS won because of marketing power and its range of titles, but betamax was, and still is a better system, which is why professional broadcast studios still use it. Its the same with the mac and pc.
  40. § Scott: Right then, there seems to be a fan base on both sides here. Some say Apple is too expensive, then people here have been kind enough to show that you pay the same or more, in certain cases for comparable peecee units. I am a die hard mac user. I grew up using peecees, that said I am also a data doctor, the thing I hate about my peecee is the general need to play data doctor when I get home, that’s why I bought a mac, other mac users can understand where I am coming from, the problematic nature of peecee users is soon lost on a mac user, we don’t have the need (generally) for a network administrator, an in-house tech, or any of the many jobs that have branched from the failures of peecees. Maybe this is why peecee users stick to their guns with their peecees, fixing them is your livelyhood, I’ll admit, I get paid very well to fix problems that do not even occur on OSX. If the whole world were to switch to apple, then many thousands, maybe more would be out of a job. That said I realize that the apple will probably never dominate the computer market share, but then again, who wants it to? Do we want to give the stability and the power of OSX to the masses, I think not, it would be tragic to let users abuse Macs in the same manner they abuse peecees, I say anyone who uses peecees and is happy with their cheaper product, they should stay true, because I’ve no need for them to be bogging down our forums with stupid questions, and unneccessary traffic.

    Moving past the rambling though, I will say that I have just upgraded from a 900 MGHz iBook G3 to a Powebook G4 1.5MGHz. Let me tell you, this thing is sweet, it’s a mere 12 incher with only 512 meg of DDR ram, but this thing runs circles around my iBook, and my other laptops, a Toshiba and a dell(the first running Solaris, and the second running Fedora Core 3)

    I simply put despise the weakness of Microsoft, I am a huge supporter of Open source software, and therefore am very willing to use high quality peecees, but the problem for me is you pay the same or higher prices for what can be a huge headache to someone who just likes things that work.

    that is the main reason mac users buy macs I’d say, things just work.


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About Drew McLellan

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Drew McLellan (@drewm) has been hacking on the web since around 1996 following an unfortunate incident with a margarine tub. Since then he’s spread himself between both front- and back-end development projects, and now is Director and Senior Web Developer at in Maidenhead, UK (GEO: 51.5217, -0.7177). Prior to this, Drew was a Web Developer for Yahoo!, and before that primarily worked as a technical lead within design and branding agencies for clients such as Nissan, Goodyear Dunlop, Siemens/Bosch, Cadburys, ICI Dulux and Somewhere along the way, Drew managed to get himself embroiled with Dreamweaver and was made an early Macromedia Evangelist for that product. This lead to book deals, public appearances, fame, glory, and his eventual downfall.

Picking himself up again, Drew is now a strong advocate for best practises, and stood as Group Lead for The Web Standards Project 2006-08. He has had articles published by A List Apart, Adobe, and O’Reilly Media’s, mostly due to mistaken identity. Drew is a proponent of the lower-case semantic web, and is currently expending energies in the direction of the microformats movement, with particular interests in making parsers an off-the-shelf commodity and developing simple UI conventions. He writes here at all in the head and, with a little help from his friends, at 24 ways.