Weblog on the Internet and public policy, journalism, virtual community, and more from David Brake, a Canadian academic, consultant and journalist
29 June 2009

I replaced my five year old PowerPC-based iBook G4 with a practically identical MacBook last week and I know at least one other reader is contemplating the same thing so here are some impressions and a few problems/requests for help.


  • As you might expect, I got more storage – 500Gb instead of 80 – which means I can now have all my music and all my pictures and all my movies on one machine instead of having them distributed on different ones.
  • My battery life has gone back up from c. 1hr to supposedly nearly five (as yet untested).
  • Having a built in webcam is pretty entertaining.
  • Making the transition was very easy even though it involved a change of processor architecture as well as a change of machine. Only a few applications broke and almost all the application settings remained intact. I was working on the new machine within a half day of connecting it to the old one.
  • Thanks to a “back to school” offer the new macbook came with a (nearly) free iPod Touch which was significantly better than the first generation one I had in that it includes a volume control and can accept a microphone.


  • The down arrow already seems to be coming loose though the machine has not been subjected to any physical stress I can think of.
  • Even with nearly double the RAM (2Gb) and I would have thought several times the raw processing power, the new machine feels very little faster. Moore’s law suggests I should see a 4x speed increase – where is it? One can’t blame The Great Moore’s Law Compensator – the tendency for software to get more and more bloated as processors improve – because I am running the same software I was last week. Are there a lot of non-native applications still on my machine running in emulation? Will I see a dramatic boost if I “top up” to 4Gb of RAM?
  • It’s not noticeably lighter either though I believe it is supposed to be slightly lighter and it is just different enough in shape that I had to buy a new case for it.

Help, please?

  • Adobe AIR seems not to work despite uninstalling and reinstalling it twice so BBC iPlayer and Tweetdeck don’t work either. Any ideas?
  • I installed Windows 7 RC via Bootcamp but none of the games I have installed to date via Steam run – in the case of TF2 I get the “splash screen” and the icon briefly appears in the dock but then it disappears without even an error message. Should I try installing parallels, fusion or one of the other multiple-OS enabling apps and try that? Any other ideas?
  • Any ideas about how I can get my Macbook to recognise the existence of an external monitor when it is running Windows 7? If I do get it to play games I would prefer to play them on my 19″ monitor.


  1. Did you install Win 7 64-bit? I think that’s what Iain did and he’s running TF2 ok. I’ve only had experience with XP 32-bit myself. I have it on my Mac Pro and MacBook Pro and it works fine in both places. You did install all the drivers as part of the BootCamp setup right?

    r.e. speed — if your apps are all PowerPC then, yes, they are running in emulation. Try running “Activity Monitor” in Utilities (shift-cmd-U), and see how many processes are PowerPC. Maybe you have something that’s running in the background eating all your CPU?

    2GB isn’t bad. I have 4 in my MBP though, because I wanted to run Parallels and give Windows its own 2 GB.

    Comment by Reid — 29 June 2009 @ 1:24 pm

  2. Well a couple of the problems went away – something was stuck under the arrow keys but seems to have gone away, and game playing and external monitor use started working a lot better under Windows when I downloaded the Windows 7 video drivers for NVidia instead of relying on the ones Apple provided (d’oh!)

    Comment by David Brake — 2 July 2009 @ 1:17 pm

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