"Okay sweetie, just forget everything about how you used to use the computer."
"So now you'll stop pressing your face up against the window of every Apple shop we walk past?"
Those were a few of the words that passed between my fiancee and I over the weekend. You see, I recently decided that those nifty little Apple iBooks had now fallen within my price range. It was a gradual decision, but I eventually sold my Acer Travelmate (a great machine, I had it dual booting Linux and Windows for six months and it never gave me any problems) and used the proceeds to purchase the cheapest Apple laptop available, a 12" G4 iBook.
I have followed - from afar - the Apple scene for some time. I occasionally read Apple news sites, and I have always admired both the overall design and the attention to detail. I completely understand the concept of building the "whole widget," ensuring that all components work together smoothly. An Apple has long been "the" computer to own (except, perhaps, for a Sony VAIO) and is the only computer with any exceptional degree of brand recognition (this is an important point; ask a PC user what type of computer they own and they will most likely say "PC," "computer," "Microsoft," or - from the more technically inclined - "Windows").
Most importantly, I have been involved with computers for the last decade, and although I have gained a great deal of knowledge and experience fixing my own machines (and my family's, and my friend's, and THEIR friend's...), I have less spare time to "fix" things nowadays than I used to. I wanted to own this fabled machine that "Just Works." I am not at all averted to the technical side of things - it was a profession of mine at one point, and my primary desktop ran Linux for some time - however at this stage of my life I would prefer a computer that simply did what it was told, yet still have a console handy for me to mess around in once in a while.
In other words, I'm a fairly ordinary new Mac owner.
(On a side note, I am not - strictly speaking - a new Mac owner. In a previous life I made a habit out of collecting and restoring old computers, some of which were early Macintoshes. I believe the latest model I owned was a Mac SE (with the optional 30 Meg hard drive), however it was the immense capability of those early machines - even some sixteen years since they were last available - that sparked my interest in the alternative presented by Apple. Regardless of their vintage, they provided some of the best computing experiences I have ever had the pleasure of using.)
As I had been a long distance Mac admirer for some time, a secondary condition of mine was that the machine be at least a G4. To my understanding the AltiVec extensions are being used for software optimisation more and more, and I didn't want to drop the cash on a machine without that capability. Also, vector-processing is a well-publicised advantage that the Mac architecture holds over x86.
As our story begins, I am happily whiling away the hours with Firefox on Fedora Core 1 when I notice that the price of iBooks has changed, as well as their specifications.
"When did this happen?" I asked myself. "Surely it could not have gone unnoticed for so long? Where are the ravenous hordes waiting for the so-called 'budget Mac'?"
I pinched myself a few times to make sure I wasn't dreaming, then checked again. Yes, I could buy myself a new G4 12" iBook for a paltry AU$1525.70 (Student Price). Incredible. I had paid only slightly more for my Acer not six months ago (duty free in Thailand, but nevertheless) and I was sure I could sell the Acer now without taking too much of a loss. Hmm. A plot was forming in the depths of my mind...
After quickly consulting my fiancee ("Just buy the damn thing already!"), I made the decision to sell the Acer. But I would have to be creative, I needed to grab peoples attention. I've always thought that boring tasks are far more worthwhile if one uses a little imagination.
This was my first advert, posted to the staff bulletin board:
Mid size, adolescent African Elephant for sale. Loves kids.
Too late, the elephant is already sold. But I still have this awesome laptop for sale... Make me an offer that I can't refuse! (Note: Offers may be refused.)
Yes, this is a bargain.
If you've been waiting to buy a laptop then wait no longer. (If, however, you've been waiting to buy an African elephant then you may have to wait until the next one comes up. Sorry.)
This little beast will slice and dice through all your computing needs, whether it be checking email or making the next Hollywood blockbuster. Not only that, but it will also make you a nice cup of tea when you wake up in the morning, fetch a beer from the fridge when you get home in the afternoon, it is fully trained in both Shiatsu massage and yoga, and - with twelve years experience in Her Majesty's Secret Service - it will happily double as your own personal security guard.
So don't waste any time, you'd be crazy to pass up this offer. Crazy. CRAZY!!"