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Surfin': Upgrading Computers

04/10/2008

Let me say up front that I am a Mac guy. Apple Macs have been my personal computer for 24 years. I bought the original Mac in 1984 and never looked back.

At work, my computer is usually something completely different, i.e., a Windows-based platform of one brand or another. For the past three years, I used a Dell tower at work. Don't ask me about its specs because I never pay that much attention to the details of my work computers; I just used them to get my work done and they performed adequately in that regard. The Dell tower had issues, but I got used to them and knew how to work around them to get my work done.

Last fall, I received an upgrade at work computer-wise: a Dell Latitude D630 laptop with a docking station that interfaced to a 17-inch flat panel display, an external keyboard and a mouse. It was a nice upgrade. The laptop seems a little faster than the tower and it only has a couple of issues that I am working around.

On the home front, my last computer was a 17-inch PowerBook G4 1.67 GHz Mac that I bought in the summer of 2005 about six months after its release. I outfitted it with the hardware options I wanted, and from the get go it was a pleasure to use and I used it a lot.

To make a long story short, the LCD on my PowerBook went bad and in early March, I sent it to Apple for repair. Every day I checked its repair status via the Internet, and everyday its status was that a part was on order.

Three weeks in, Apple called to inform me that the part was expected on the following Friday and if it arrived on schedule, I would have my PowerBook back on Monday.

I was happy.

Then, the man from Apple added that if Monday was not soon enough, they would ship me a brand new 17-inch MacBook Pro and I would have it the next day.

Needless to say, FedEx delivered a new MacBook Pro to my door the next day.

Like the computer upgrade at work, the new Mac represented three-year advancement in the state-of-the-art from the computer I had been using previously. But unlike the computer upgrade at work, the upgrade at home was much more noticeable.

Out of the box, the new MacBook looked just like the old PowerBook. The keyboard layout and the location of the various connectors were different and there was now a camera lens above the display, but there was not much else that indicated an upgrade.

After powering up, the three year advance in the state of the art was very obvious! The first thing I noticed was that computer is fast with new Intel Core 2 Duo processors running at 2.6 GHz. Let me restate that: the computer is very fast!

I am still getting acquainted with the operating system, Mac OS X 10.5, but I am amazed at all the neat new features it has over Mac OS X 10.4 that I was using in my old PowerBook. What a difference that 0.1 increment in OS versions made!

Just as I was about to load some ham radio software into my new Mac, out of the blue I received an e-mail from Jeff Swiger, N8NOE, with a list of Mac ham software Web sites that he suggested I check out. So, I did and here is what I found:

Tom Lindner, DL2RUM, has some Mac applications on his home page including logging, QSLing, and ICOM radio control software.

The home page of Chen, W7AY that I wrote about here in August still has a nice collection of Mac software including the ever popular cocoaModem.

Steve Muncy's, NI5V, Mac Ham Radio and Mike Pompa's, KB6MP, The Mac Shack both provide information about everything "Mac" in the Amateur Radio world and I highly recommended both Web sites.

Also, be sure to check out the Web sites of Mac ham radio software developers Black Cat Systems, Dog Park Software and OrcaStar for their latest commercial offerings.

Until next time, keep on surfin'!

Editor's note: Stan Horzepa, WA1LOU, prefers oranges to apples in the world of fruit, but vice versa in the world of computers. To communicate with Stan, send him e-mail or add comments to his blog. By the way, every installment of Surfin' is indexed here, so go look it up.

Stan Horzepa, WA1LOU
Contributing Editor



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