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

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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.