Justin Hall's personal site growing & breaking down since 1994

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Purchased 28 June 2004, by the good graces of consumer credit:

15 Inch Powerbook G4

First time I've owned a Mac laptop since my Duo 2300c in 1998. That one was taken from me at gunpoint. I'm expecting better things for this unit.

I bought it at the University of Southern California bookstore, the summer before I start full-time graduate student work in the Interactive Media department. videohackeryI expect to use this machine to make short films, short animations, Flash prototypes for school. And more web pages for personal amusement. And the highest calling for this computer? Something like MEM Project.

My last computer was a Thinkpad x21. Far more compactly crafted than this thing, with a more full-sized keyboard! All this silvery fancy design this Apple computer's got, it's a bit of overkill when you don't have dedicated page up, page down, delete buttons. No dedicated mute or volume buttons. Even the one-button mouse requires you to hold down modifier keys to access secondary functions - the Mac requires more key pressing, and more key holding, and that's not ergonomic.

I guess the designers left all that metal space beneath the wide screen blank, to give users a better chance to contemplate the electric fantastic. Seriously, I can't believe it. The computer arrives amidst beautiful layers of plastic and cardboard, just the right amount, everything nestled and swaddled. And on top of it all: "Designed by Apple in California" - welcome to the elevation of computers to fashion. Fuck your fingers.

Cranky keyboard griping aside, I enjoy the feel of the keypress so far; they're soft, in a sort of comforting way. And the OS X operating system! What a lot of fun - expansive potential. I've started loading myself up with the boutique applications designed by the Mac web geeks who have trod before me. Ecto, BBEdit, SubEthaEdit, EtherPEG, um, I'm sure there's some others. It's enough to make me wish my Treo 600 had Bluetooth, so I could play with that too.

Here's specs:

Model: M9422LL/A

1.5GHz PowerPC G4
512MB PC2700 (333MHz) DDR SDRAM
15.2-inch (diagonal), 1280x854 resolution, TFT widescreen
ATI Mobility Radeon 9700 with 64MB of DDR SDRAM
80GB Ultra ATA/100
Slot-loading SuperDrive (DVD-R/CD-RW)
Built-in 54-Mbps AirPort Extreme; built-in Bluetooth
"Full-sized" keyboard with no dedicated page up/down keys, illuminated from behind in a cool light-dependent fashion.
Slick silver trackpad short one button from a standard two-button mouse.

And lots of ports:


Maybe it's because I have three computers now, or maybe it's the Mac - but for the first time in a long while, I can feel my arms beginning to ache deeply.

Justin's Links: mac mindset
Comments on mac mindset
commentson 29 June 2004 : 20:12, michelle sez:

hi justin. total stranger here. (came across your blog very recently- very, very cool)
anyway, in the same boat as you. been using pc's for a while, just got a powerbook. ergonomically, it bugged me for a while. using external mouse helped a lot. when i can be bothered, separate usb keyboard, too. it helps a lot. despite USB's plug-n-play rep, sometimes i have to reboot for detection.

good luck.

commentson 29 June 2004 : 20:37, run sez:

your powerbook is too big for a laptop unless you need to cut videos on the road. i prefer the g4 ibook for its measures.

hey! have a great time doing studies ..

commentson 29 June 2004 : 21:25, eric sez:

better hook up some more ram. and let me know if you find cool mac games. that's about the only complaint i have about macs, is that it takes a while for the coolest games to get ported to it. otherwise they're the coolest machines going.

commentson 29 June 2004 : 21:33, Nevets Anderson sez:

Good to see you have droped the dark side !
Check out the world of x 11 and fink / Fink Comander and things like gimp and ethereal not to mention all that unix stuff you get...

The following links will get you started.

You also need to istall the develper tools


commentson 29 June 2004 : 23:34, Tibor sez:


I'm really happy to see you finally coming back to the world of "playful, natural computing". What is computing power made for if not for nicer, cleaner, more fun and ease of use interfaces between man and machine? And Apple is the king in that world. Just take a look at the new keynote at apple.com, take a look at Tiger, it's new search-feature or Dashboard!

When coming back home from my trip to California in late September, I'm going to purchase the exact same model as you did - 15", backlite keyboard, 80gig HD.

Is yours a older model, or why was there that heavy discount?

You have to use this power for good,

commentson 30 June 2004 : 00:14, 'nother justin sez:

Yes justin yes! join us! join us with your powerbook!.

(maniacal laughter...)

commentson 30 June 2004 : 00:18, 'nother justin sez:

No dedicated mute or volume buttons.

Really? Mine has, F3, F4 and F5 defaulted as mute, volume down, volume up. For page down/up, you can press the "function" button and the arrows. It actually does make a lot of sense. Pressing arrows alone: slow scrolling, pressing arrows and function key, /fast/ scrolling. It's kind of like the nitro boost! of... cars much fancier than mine.

commentson 30 June 2004 : 05:31, phil sez:

how do you like being back on the mac?

commentson 30 June 2004 : 11:39, Julian sez:

Justin-san, you'll definitely want to take a look at this bit of mindware:


As for the rest of the goodies, we'll have swap time when I get out there later this summer.

commentson 30 June 2004 : 14:37, Jason sez:

It sounds like all your Thinkpad needed was a little clean up on it. Maybe delete windows temp files, defrag, and at the very worst a clean install of the OS. Anyway, enjoy your new laptop. I would love to have one of those G4s.

commentson 30 June 2004 : 18:04, Travis sez:

You really need Sidetrack

It makes the trackpad/uni-button useful.

You can map areas of the trackpad to different functions.

As an example, my current iBook's track functions thusly.

Right Side: Drag finger up and down to scroll vertically.

Bottom: Drag finder side to side to scroll horizontally.

Top Right Corner: Ctrl-Click/Right Click.

Bottom Right Corner: Middle Clock/Activate Expose

It basically replaces the trackpad driver and mitigates the lack of a useful number of mouse buttons and lack of scroll area. The size of the active areas are configurable to your taste. I personally keep the scroll areas very small so I can just place my finder halfly on the trackpad edge and drag in the desired direction. The ridge at the edge creates a bit of tactile feedback.

Oh, and get Quicksilver and play with a bit.

It will totally change how you interact with your computer's files and apps.


commentson 30 June 2004 : 22:16, Troy sez:

If you've got the bank, I highly recommend Apple's 20" LCD, and running the PBG4 closed (with external keyboard and mouse) when at home.

It's silent & ergonomic and the next best thing to a G4 cube (hell, it's loads better cuz you can take it on the road).

20" is about right for most usage. Really the bigger displays are somewhat overkill for something on your desk.

commentson 1 July 2004 : 04:58, Denked sez:

Good boy.

commentson 1 July 2004 : 09:34, Dom sez:

hey Justin - good choice! I have one, too.

Sometimes I envy the little 12" folks for their portability, but I just strap the 15" on my back with a Brenthaven bag and I've got plenty of workspace wherever I go. Waist and sternum straps are essential to save the back and shoulders while on foot or bike.

NB: Surfing on the dual-30" G5 setup here at the Apple WWDC, I noticed that Links.net was one of the only sites that didn't break at 60".

commentson 1 July 2004 : 13:05, 5000! sez:

Unfortunatley, eric hit one of the big problems on the head...the slowness of getting games ported over. Thankfully, that's changing a lot. And if you're an avid console gamer it's not as big of a deal.

Apple's actually got a game-specific page:

And this place can be useful:

But you're going to have to keep that PC around for the latest and hottest MMORPG's, etc. I'm dying for City of Heroes.

commentson 1 July 2004 : 19:17, justin sez:

Just installed iChatStatus...

commentson 1 July 2004 : 21:12, Austin sez:

Hey Justin.

I was thinking of doing a similiar kind of documentation for my 12" powerbook g4 whereby I follow it on its road to demise. I have had it for about 3 months now. So far nothing major has happened. I have heard horror stories, but they are not mine. That said, the inline input does not work. They want to ship my laptop off to texas to get fixed but alas, I work on it. You too will incounter this one day. Apple is no Dell. No man in an apple suit shows up at your door to fix your lappy. Secondly, I noticed a separation occuring between the base and the protective strip of plastic in the right edge. I have not gripped or dropped this thing in any way. I'm thinking it is some kind of shoddy construction issue. I get the feeling that apple doesn't test its gear for wear. They let the consumer. Chaps my ass since I paid so much for the machine.

As a note: I think the keyboard is going to shit out any day now. The keys feel brittle in places. I hope you purchased the 3 year applecare extension. I did. I'm sure it is going to be worth it.

Anyway, goodluck with your XXX new laptop.


commentson 2 July 2004 : 00:03, justin sez:

I'm a heavy user, so if something is weak in this device, I'll find it.

I just found a slight problem with iChat: "Your Buddy List is Full." Legacy AIM contacts give me that message - how could a buddy list ever be full?

commentson 2 July 2004 : 07:08, madsax sez:

I'm with you on the lifecycle of computers. Drives me nuts! I usually make it 18-24 months before I have to upgrade the CPU, memory, or more. But reinstalling the OS (if we're talking about Windows here) really helps the multitasking problem a lot. Windows doesn't age well; over time the registry gets filled with junk, you accumulate DLLs that nothing uses, and your poor machine slows to a crawl. A re-install, as painful as that is, can help you eke another 6 months out of the system.
Well, unless you're attempting to play FarCry. :-)
But now that you have a Mac (yay, Unix!) you probably won't have that problem at all!

commentson 2 July 2004 : 09:03, Sean Bonner sez:

nice! I just put my 15" TiBook to rest last month after using it ALL DAY EVERY DAY for a little over 3 years. Like anything it has it's ups and downs, but it's a damn fine machine.

commentson 3 July 2004 : 16:14, bob sez:

Check out this
Celestia is a free real-time space simulation


It will warp your brain!

commentson 3 July 2004 : 19:08, Banteron sez:

Justin....... Get IChat and ISight... we'll talk.

commentson 8 July 2004 : 05:54, Mark sez:

everyone has already said all those things that are so good about macs. one passing shot though (sorry it comes too late for you), I just got mine but I got it custom built and had the 128meg graphics card and faster hard drive put in. Really worth it. I also had 1 stick of one gig which makes it perform lovely.

commentson 3 September 2004 : 18:09, Elizabeth sez:

Happened across your post via Google. I want to say that the ergonomic problems with the G4 keyboard are a continuous source of frustration to me. I was searching to see if anybody had come up with a solution (reprogramming a key for "Page Down" or "forward delete" for example. I wonder if it's worth buying a keyboard extension?

February 2005 - comments are closed on Links.net. Thanks.