by David Nagel
We all remember the feeling
we'd get when we were
younger after a night or two (or three) of binge drinkingfoggy, nauseous,
nostrils clogged with tobacco soot and the leakage of busted capillaries, head
spinning, layers of dried-reliquified-dried-reliquified sweat sticking to your
Motorhead muscle shirt, your back hair matted into dreadlocks, your eyes barely
able to focus on the longshoreman you woke up next to, etc. Of course, most of
these symptoms declined in severity by age 14. But those memories will never go
Last week's Macworld expo
left me feeling like a preadolescent again. I was drunk on all the announcements
coming out of New York, reveling in the fog of plastic composites and dazzled
by the swirling colors clouding my vision. When I woke up Saturday (after very
little sleep to bring you, precious reader, the best Mac coverage anywhere), I
was hung over and feeling stupefied. A near blackout over what had happened for
the previous three days. As in youth, I once again felt that so many wrong things
had transpired, though, at the time, they felt so right.
I begin with the iMac.
Let me state up front that
I'm not going to challenge Apple's consumer strategy. It obviously works, and
we're not consumers. We're creative Mac pros, so announcements for the consumer
market really don't impact us. What boggles me about the announcement of the new
iMacs, though, was the enthusiasm expressed by keynote attendees as Steve Jobs
presented the differently colored lineup. $1,500 for technology a generation old?
And that's the high end. On the low end, Apple's offering a 350 MHz G3 for $800.
Hey, I'll sell you my Power Mac 7300 for $49.95the first sub-$50 PowerPC
on the marketbut that doesn't make the technology current. My theory about
these new low-end iMacs is that Motorola's cell phone orders fell short, so they
had a bunch of extra G3s lying around for Apple to scoop up and package as new.
And 64 MB of RAM? With OS 9, that leaves about 2 K for applications.
And then there was the mouse
Now, don't get me wrong.
Anything's better than the Mac hockey puck. Literally. And, yes, the new mouse
is very nice. It has a high resolution and really does work smoothly on just about
any surface, including my head, which I did test just to make sure. No, it is
not without moving parts. The whole thing is one big clicker. Comfy, yes, but
not what I wanted. The way Jobs described it, the mouse's "surface"
was the clicker. It's not. It's just a clear casing. And it still has only one
button. I like the thing, but I've gotten too used to my MacAlly three-button
scrolling mouse to go back to a single button. With every application for the
Mac now supporting some degree of Control-clicking, it's just easier to have the
Control-click set as the right button. And, if I were really desperate for something
optical, I'd absolutely prefer Microsoft's optical mouse over Apple's. Yes, Microsoft.
Still, though, the Apple "pro" mouse is a really pretty piece of industrial
design and a very fine trophy from the show.
But not everything needs to be criticized (in the pejorative sense). I move now
to the keyboard.
Apple answered my prayers
with the new keyboard. The old one is garbage, and there are no good third-party
alternatives. While I'd prefer to receive the new keyboard for free as part of
an overall reparations program, I'm just happy to know that my suffering will
soon be over when I upgrade to the new one. And you'll be happy to see fewer typogphcl
errors in my columns owing to skipped keystrokes and me not being able to see
the letters on my keyboard in suboptimal light.
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the new Apple mouse's optical capabilities for scalp-friendliness. It passes with
flying colors, maintaining x,y accuracy on dense and not so dense areas of Dave's