PermaLink Sik, sik, sik...04/10/2006 03:24 PM

It's sik, sik sik:  the new iBook is going back thanks to a variety of small faults, but it's getting replaced by another just like it... probably
I've had the new iBook barely three weeks, and it has developed a few annoying problems which caused me to go back to CompUSA today and see about exchanging it.  While my old 933 was surprisingly durable (even surviving a rapid trip across the room and taking a bite out of a door) before succumbing to what was apparently a bad logic board, the new one has been a whiner since I got it out of the box, so back it goes.

The two things that made this a necessary thing were a failed FireWire port and a flaky keyboard that occasionally dropped double characters into my typing stream.  True, the double-hit problem only occurs when I type fast, but if you saw me at Lotusphere, you know that I type fast all the time.  Well over one hundred words a minute when I'm on a roll.  Backspacing was getting damn annoying and none of the workarounds offered by Apple's website... worked.

The FireWire thing is a lot more of a real problem.  I didn't even notice it for a couple of weeks, because while I had plugged in an external FireWire drive that contains the soul of the old iBook 933, it didn't "read" and I assumed that it was a cable or drive-case problem, not that the FW port would have died.  I put the drive in a USB 2.0 case and it came up, and I copied all my usual apps over to the new iBook.  However, the other night, I was trying to sync my 40G iPod to the new machine so as to put about 200 new tracks on there, and while it was clearly getting power from the FW port, the iPod wasn't showing up on the iBook's consciousness.  Changing of cables ensued, and finally, when I found and used my never-used USB cable for the iPod, it synced up just fine.

Did I mention I really don't like USB?  I just can't seem to get the same sustained data rates out of it that I can out of FW with a good Oak chipset, so when possible, I prefer to use FW.  Plus, on the Mac, if you have a bootable Mac OSX instance on an external drive, even an iPod, you can boot directly from it, rather than the internal drive!  Windows has never been able to do this, and that's sad, because it makes getting past OS corruption or weirdness a snap, and the ability to boot several slightly-different versions of the OS (or, in my case, being able to boot YellowDog Linux) from a single external drive is an enormous timesaver.

Without a living FireWire port, though, all this is for naught, so after trying a bunch of workarounds and fixed recommended on various Mac sites and at itself, I concluded that the FireWire port was AFU and it was time for action.   Took it into the store this afternoon and they offered to exchange it for a new one, so once this backup is done, back it goes.

I have been tempted by the new MacBook Pros with the Intel dual-core CPUs, but after thinking about the cost differential (please insert an additional $1,200) and the lower battery life (about 3.5 hours, where I commonly get 5 hours out of my iBook), coupled with teething pains like high temperatures, flaky sleep mode, and issues with wireless (upon which I depend a lot), I decided I'll wait for a later revision before making the jump to the Intel-based units.  There's also something to be said for being able to use my old battery from my iBook 933, which is still sitting around while I decide to send it back to California for repair...  nothing like ten hours' worth of runtime on long flights.

Not that I make long flights that often.  Like, "never."  Sacramento is about as far as I've been.  You never know, though... maybe I'll meet some hot woman from France or something.

Speaking of which, I am doing another speed-dating adventure this evening down in Bethesda.  Hopefully the frosted hair and bad makeup will be at a minimum, or at least the drinks will be interesting.
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2. Turtle04/10/2006 04:23:02 PM

Yeah, I know. Prior to their release, there was a rumor that the new MacBooks would not have a FW port, but they do (albeit just a 400mbps). I can't see how they could completely drop it, since I can't think of a single digital videocam that would be usable as a streaming video source for video editing using USB. FireWire was practically invented for not only high sustained data rates from external devices, it also includes device transport control (so you can cue your external video sources when capturing and mixing video) which, to my knowledge, USB doesn't support.

Sure, it makes some sense to switch to all-USB for the iPods now (although I think FW provides more power than a USB 2.0 port for device charging) since practically every machine in the world has USB, but that doesn't mean that they should junk FW.

3. Declan Lynch04/10/2006 03:56:31 PM

Is Apple dropping FireWire support in the future?

The new iPod's don't support Firewire any more.

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