Building notes, projects, and occasional rants

80 days with a MacBook Pro

It's almost 80 days since I bougth my MacBook Pro 17", so I think I'll recap what has been going on.

First, I had problems with the built-in iSight camera. I tried to upgrade all the software I could think of, installing all the firmware upgrades I could find at the Apple website. But it wasn't meant to be. Two days before the 30 day warranty no-questions-asked expired, I cloned my hard-drive and did a full nuke & pave reinstall. It still didn't work, so I went to FNAC to exchange it for a new one.

It was a pretty painless process: open the laptop, explain that the iSight was not working, wait for a new MacBook Pro, and leave with the new laptop. This time it is working and hasn't stopped working.

So in terms of hardware problems, I had my share, but a replacement at the local FNAC store, solved it.

The overall experience is excellent. After the latest firmware upgrades to the fan management system, I never ear them anymore. With my normal everyday use, they just don't start or rotate at a slow speed, silently. Much better than the TiBook, where I could rev up the fans by opening

My everyday use of this laptop hasn't changed much from the previous TiBook. I still live between TextMate and the Terminal, with occasional jumps to and Safari. NetNewsWire is still my RSS reader, but I moved more than half of my feeds to a plagger setup (more about this in a future article). Everything glued with some QuickSilver mojo.

I still keep three IM clients open. Psi is my main IM client, and the preferred method of communication. I've been using Kev's nightly builds for Intel Macs, with good results. There is a documented crash scenario but it seems to be a QT bug. I keep iChat open to use the video-conferencing stuff at the office and with selected friends (Bonjour + Video Conferencing is an excellent way to talk to the boss), and I've moved to the latest Skype with video, because it's the only app so far that has decent cross-platform video conferencing.

You can also find all my source control software needs already available. Both Subversion and darcs have Universal binaries available by now. SVK also installs and works correctly.

But the extra processing power allowed me to start using other applications.

The first one was Devon Think Pro. I knew about it for quite some time, but the first time I tried it, I found it slow and painfull. Not anymore. My database is still pretty small with only 200 documents, but already I'm hooked on Cmd-Shift-9.

The second one is Spotlight. I rarely used it with my PowerBook, but with this new box, I always using it, specially inside I'm reorganizing my mail folders, reducing the number I had, because of the ease it is to use Spotlight.

But the third one had an enormous impact in my workflow. Parallels is the application to get, for all of you running MacIntel's. Right now I have about three virtual servers. On each of them, I'm running CentOS or Fedora Core 5. To develop something, I make the Linux server mount via SMB my personal home directory via a private network. This allows me to keep using TextMate for editing, Safari for testing, and all the other tools I use, while placing all the processing on a replica of my production environment. It has been extremely helpful, and clearly the best money I've spent on software in recent past.

All in all, I'm very happy to have plunged into this version of MacBook. He is a big laptop, but I don't feel any lack of portability because my main usage is as a desktop replacement. I do pack him every-night when I go home, and I do travel with him on my backpack, but during the day he mostly sits at my desk.