Weblog on the Internet and public policy, journalism, virtual community, and more from David Brake, a Canadian academic, consultant and journalist
2 February 2005
Filed under:Gadgets,Personal,Software reviews at10:53 am
  • On the good side – it looks lovely (both the hardware and the OS) and was really straightforward to set up – particularly the networking bits. However…
  • Providing the iBook with a base 256Mb of RAM is ridiculous – it isn’t enough to do any real multitasking. Running Firefox, Fire (for instant messaging), OpenOffice and “Blinkx”:http://www.blinkx.com/content/mac.php (a new hard disk indexing program) slows the machine to a crawl. It surely wouldn’t have added that much to the cost to ship with 512Mb as standard, especially since there is only one spare memory slot.
  • OpenOffice for the Mac is a dog – and to be fair the OO team almost admit as much. Unfortunately progress towards a proper OSX version appears to have “slowed dramatically”:http://porting.openoffice.org/mac/.
  • AppleWorks is similarly irritating. It is at least MacOS look and feel compliant but if you want to use it to work with Office files you have to open AppleWorks, change the open file dialogue to allow you to open non-Appleworks files, then work on the file and “save as” back into the file’s original format – every single time. And I don’t trust it not to mess up my formatting.
  • If I can mount an FTP server and I give myself full rights why does the Apple network software insist that the server be read-only? Is there any way around this? For some reason I can’t mount my Windows PC using the normal Windows file and print sharing.
  • Whose bright idea was it not to include a “forward” delete key on Mac notebooks?

I don’t want to leave things on a sour note – I am pretty hopeful that once I receive the additional 512Mb of RAM I ordered and I get ahold of MS Office my user experience will improve dramatically…


  1. 1) Didn’t your computer come with iWork? It should contain Pages which should do a much better job at handling .doc files.
    2) Why are you using Fire? Have you tried Adium?
    3) I hope you are enjoying it!

    Comment by TwisterMc — 2 February 2005 @ 3:07 pm

  2. A few observations:

    – forward-delete is fn+backspace
    – have a look at NeoOffice – it doesn’t require the X11, so runs quite a bit better
    – when you’re trying to mount your Windows shares, use the format:


    That way you won’t need to keep re-entering your username and password…

    Comment by Tim — 2 February 2005 @ 3:39 pm

  3. iWork is not bundled with any machine – you have to fork out the cash, I’m afraid.

    I found TextEdit does a more credible job of handling .doc files, and the save as… function remains the way you set it. If you show info (Command-I) on a .doc file, you can set the application with which it opens automatically.

    Good luck!

    Comment by quicksilver — 2 February 2005 @ 4:57 pm

  4. No iWork with new machines? There goes my chance of getting it for free. I just may have to buy it.

    Comment by TwisterMc — 3 February 2005 @ 7:33 pm

  5. I’ve switched to Nisus for WP – lovely app (dating, originally, from about 20 years ago!) – tiny download, really cheap and doesn’t bug me with annoying ‘help’ like capitalising first characters and all that other MSWord baggage. Wish I could do without Excel, though. No way around that I think…

    Comment by Steve Bowbrick — 4 February 2005 @ 7:14 pm

  6. Thanks for all the lovely tips. My machines now seem to interconnect fine and I’m using the smb://workgroup;username@server/share tip and using TextEdit to edit Word files quite happily. The reference to Nisus took me back – I was a big Nisus evangelist when I was at Mac User. Glad to see they are still around and they are giving away free copies of their non-System X versions. I don’t think I will use it as I have too much invested in knowing my way around Word but at $39 with the academic discount it does sound like a steal!

    P.S. Why is Adium better than Fire? Fire looks fine to me…

    Comment by David Brake — 4 February 2005 @ 9:05 pm

  7. Dude, really. Do not pay for M$ Office. “Fork out he cash” for iWork. Your gripes seem pretty small. I’m sure you’ll be enjoying your Mac in no time. Good luck.

    Comment by Jhary — 6 February 2005 @ 6:44 am

  8. Adium is better because you can configure about everything. You pick or design the message views, buddy list layout, look and feel, sounds, dock icons, everything.

    Oh and Mariner Makes some good Mac Word Processing software too. Works quite well with doc files. Personally I still want iWork.

    Comment by TwisterMc — 7 February 2005 @ 11:10 pm

  9. David – agreed about the RAM. I just traded in a G3 iBook with extra RAM for a new G4, and couldn’t believe how slow the new one was. To start with I thought it might be faulty.
    Pretty weird

    Comment by Will Davies — 11 February 2005 @ 3:51 pm

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