Heidi arrived today

by Volker Weber


About 10 minutes after I left for my client this morning, the box with Heidi, the iBook arrived. The office next door held the box for me until I arrived in the evening. And then it was Christmas again.

Apple's packaging is fantastic. Everything is very well engineered, from the box to the machine, the charger -- wonderful. Apple re-imaged the disk for me with the operating system, so it was almost like a new machine. I had to go through the setup and registering process which only takes a few minutes. I had the machine connected to the Circus WLAN within a matter of minutes and was downloading the latest operating system updater and the security patch that came in last week.

Then it was time for some serious maintenance. I had asked for a small machine with an Airport WLAN card, and that I received. 128 meg of RAM is suprisingly working very well, if you are not too impatient. Since I want to put the machine through its paces I needed to upgrade the memory first. Fortunately I still had some memory on the shelf.

I downloaded the instructions from Apple which btw are nicely done and easy to find on their web site. I did not even care to look through the printed documentation. Here is how it works:

You take out that battery, then open the screen. You take out the keyboard (which you can do without any tools). Underneath the keyboard sits the Airport card attached to the built-in antenna. You pull the card to uncover the RAM lid. So far, so easy. Then I had to open two screws with a very tiny Philips screwdriver. My tools are not bad, but not at this size. So I nearly had to give up until I used ... err, no, I am not going to tell. :-) Underneath the protective cover is the standard SD RAM slot. Inserted 256 meg and closed the whole machine in reverse order.

With 384 meg we are now playing a completely different ball game. So far I don't need any additional speed that a G4 processor would promise to bring. The keyboard is rather nice, much nicer than the Apple Pro keyboard that came with Lucy, and I am typing away on the machine very nicely. Felt right at home in a very small amount of time.

I also put in a DVD from a stack that Henri brought from his latest trip. Just works. Also inserted a blank CD to burn a few files. Just works. Next thing was installing Notes, so I can get to all my data on the Domino machine. 6.0.1 finally has the OS X installer so that worked better than with Lucy. Now I need to run Ben Poole's font resizer to be able to read anything. Anybody at Lotus care to fix this? And yes, it is still ugly as hell.

Final thing: Threw out the Microsoft junk and installed Camino (ex Chimera) and Safari. Dragged the account from Lucy over so I have all my supporting files for iChat, my bookmarks and so forth. Set up done.

Oh, one more thing: Battery live. On my first charge I got 3.5 hours with the WLAN card working all the time. Not too bad. Actually the best I have seen so far. I am sure I can tweak the machine to get even more.

First verdict: If you can get a 12" iBook with Combo drive (CD-R/DVD) really cheap, then do it. Yes, the 12" machine is nicer than the 14". The 12" Powerbook is even nicer, but also a lot more expensive. It all depends on how much you want to spend.


One thing that drives me nuts about the iBook is that it's crippled to output video no higher than 1024x786 on an external monitor. As someone who would want to do graphics and programming, I REALLY want this capability (and don't want to spend twice as much on a PowerBook).

Jeff, 2003-03-07

Oh, please tell me! How did you get those screws out of the iBook? I have a 512 SO-DIMM, and even jeweller's tools can't get the bloody screws out!

Cheryl Lamb-Evans, 2003-09-17

Yes, I'm curious too! How does one get those screws out of the iBook? I can't get them out either. :-(

Vonnie, 2003-09-20

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