FEBRUARY 28

Thus Spake Macathrustra
Bow down before the glory of the Power Mac, O ye unbelievers!

by David Nagel
Senior Producer

Some say Macintosh loyalists are nothing but cultists worshipping at the altar of Steve Jobs. But that's just heresy and sacrilege. No, we Mac folk are a more secular breed—level-headed, reasonable people just trying to get by in a world destroyed by non-Mac people. (But they'll get theirs on the appointed day when Steve Jobs cleanses the earth through fire, and the streets run like rivers of blood.)

The point is that we're not just fanatics on some kind of holy crusade. (Those are the Linux people.) If we sacrifice the occasional chicken or goat to our Macs, does that make us fanatics? Of course not. We Macists simply appreciate what we have, and we revel in the technologies that make our lives better, those that enrich our existences and bring us closer to God.

Such is the G4.

Mine arrived last week. I don't know exactly how to describe It. I left It in the box for hours just enjoying the fact of Its arrival. I had It delivered to my work, and when I finally opened It, the multitudes gathered around to gaze in awe, to touch It and admire It, inside and out. I was confused about what to do with It. "Dare I defile this Machine by actually using It?" I asked myself. "Or should I just get a display case and leave It there? Since I've already opened this one and allowed others to touch It, maybe I should use this one but buy a second just for display. But wait! My home decor doesn't match this piece of art; I wonder how much It would cost to redecorate. I wonder whether It will like Its new home. I wonder whether I'm even good enough to own It."

I resolved that I am, indeed, good enough to own It. So I took It home, washed away my impurities by bathing and initiated the start-up process. It was fast. Mind-numbingly, hyper-relativistically fast. I don't know what they did to this thing, but It annihilates anything I've ever used in the past, including earlier G4s. Maybe these new models have some super-secret ASICs, or maybe OS 9.0.2, which ships with the latest models, has received a major tuneup. Maybe this thing slips into non-Euclidean geometry to perform tasks and slips back without you knowing it. Or maybe it is a vessel of the gods, with supernatural powers. I don't know. I just don't know. But I do know this: Your science can't explain everything. I mean, I've played around with older G4s—even ones with higher clock speeds—and they didn't match the performance of this G4/400, which rests confidently at the lowest end of the new model lineup, "low end" being a relative phrase. There are powers at work here that we just can't understand.

On the first day, I was reborn. My faith was renewed. I was made whole.

On the second day, I started tweaking. I jacked up the RAM to 256 and threw in a second hard drive—a 26.5 gig Barracuda. (Incidentally, in case you hadn't noticed, now is a great time to buy memory and storage. You can get 128 MB 2-2-2 SDRAM for less than $100 now, and a very large ATA drive should run you no more than $200. In fact, my 26.5 GB, 7,200 RPM 'Cuda was just $199.)

Then I loaded in the software. The speed was insane. I mean, I don't have any 15,000 RPM hard drive or anything, but this stuff worked fast. I barely got to see the splash screen for Outlook. With Explorer, you literally do not see the splash screen. AOL took three seconds to load, as did Photoshop. Fireworks and Dreamweaver took about two each. You can imagine the feeling. It's like having all the advantages of a Mac with the boot speed of a PC. I started racing my 7300/200. Applications would finish loading on the G4 before the splash screen even showed up on the 7300 with its all-fired fancy SCSI hard drive. No contest. This thing is not just eight times as fast, as the architecture and MHz would indicate. No contest with the PCs I've worked on either, even with all the overhead of the Mac OS. It takes about a third the time to do anything on my G4 as it does on the Pentium III 450 I use regularly.

Even my Internet access sped up measurably, which doesn't really make sense, since my cable modem's running through the same 10 Mbps hub I've been using for about a year. But it is faster. Much faster.

Are there any negatives? Sure. The hockey puck mouse bothered me, so I replaced it with a Macally two-button scrolling mouse (the one thing I do like about PCs). And this keyboard is a bit tight, causing my untrained fingers to miss a few characters every now and again. But these are minor flaws when compared to the awesome omnipotence of the Machine as a whole.

And so as I write this I yearn to get out of this text editor and get back to pushing the as-yet-undiscovered limits of my new graphite idol with more processor-intensive applications. Go forth and spread the word: There is a new order, a new master for us all to follow. The prophecies are fulfilled. The seventh trumpet has sounded, and the seventh seal has been broken. The G4 is arrived!

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Dave Nagel is the somewhat brand spankin' new Senior Producer of Creative Mac. An eight-year veteran of the print publishing world, Nagel covered a broad range of topics in the areas of technology and marketing. As a Mac psychofanatic since 1987, he's finally landed his dream job: earning a living writing about his favorite topic. If you have something to say, please send a polite e-mail to [email protected]. (Let's not try to bring him down from his euphoria too soon.)