The Nice Sales Lady: "I'm sorry, the Apple Cult Initiation product line is only available bundled with our G5 series of workstations. If you were considering a G5 we could probably arrange the necessary Fireworks permits for late Tuesday afternoon. Would you like me to check with the council?"
Me: "No, thank you. I think I'll stick with the iBook for the time being."
I then made the long trek - a bus, another bus, a train, a few blocks walk, another bus, a sudden fifty foot drop - and I was soon home. Incidentally, for the whole journey home I was trying to both grasp the iBook in a wrist lock safe from all but the jaws of life, as well as maintain a relaxed air of nonchalance and inner strength to deter any would-be bag snatchers. Fortunately the journey went without incident, but only through my staring down a number of no-good troublemakers. I don't care what the damn sign says, I'm not getting off my seat for some strange woman, pregnant or otherwise.
I sat down on my living room couch and breathed a sigh of relief, and proceeded to open the package. The house was eerily quiet, it too seemed to have been anticipating this moment for some time. Either that or the power had gone out again.
I had heard the general consensus that Apple puts a great deal of effort into the overall experience associated with their products, and I was glad to see this philosophy extend as far as their packaging. Unlike the Acer, the box itself did not open in a manner that encouraged you to physically damage the contents; on the contrary it seemed to almost invite you to explore the many accessories that accompany the new machine. I was delighted to find a standard VGA adaptor enclosed (enabling me to use my old monitor), as well as a handy extension cable for the power adaptor. I lifted the machine gently out of the case and noticed immediately how sturdy it felt. Other laptops I have used have been quite flexible in all the wrong places, but the iBook seemed to exude physical strength to even the lightest touch.
I plugged the machine in and turned it on, and was prompted to insert the first of the included CDs. It did not occur to me that the OS would not be preinstalled - particularly on a machine from a company that prides itself on producing "The Whole Widget" - but I suppose it makes sense from a security point of view (certainly, when I first took ownership of my previous laptop there were one or two precious tidbits of crapware that I was compelled to remove before I felt the machine was truly mine). Personally I would have preferred to simply turn the machine on and be presented with a "This is the first time you have booted this machine, please answer these few questions.." or some such wizard, but the process of installing the OS took very little effort, and required no hand holding.
Finally the machine was ready for use. This was the big moment, I wouldn't feel one hundred percent comfortable until my personal data was back in the safety and comfort of a hard disk. I've never liked CD-Rs, I've always considered them a little too flaky for permanent data storage. This fear has very few actual facts to support it, however a past experience with some el-cheapo blue/green CD-Rs a few years ago left me with a deeply ingrained fear and distrust of most forms of removable storage. I only use gold CD-Rs nowadays, and I have a habit of slowing down the burning speed just in case, but there's always a niggling fear in the back of my mind that one of my disks will go coaster on me when I need it the most. I popped the first of my backups into the (ooooh, slot loading!) drive, and...
...it worked perfectly. I copied the entire backup set to the hard drive of the machine and begun the process of sorting my data into the relevant places. I had been an enthusiastic user of iTunes on Windows, so managing my (perfectly legal, thank you very much) music collection was something of a no-brainer. Our collection of digital photos had previously only been organised by me (by hand, in Windows explorer. Yes, I prefer it that way) so I thought I might give iPhoto a whirl instead of trying to do things the old way on the new Mac. All our other documents were quickly swept aside into the (appropriately named) "Documents" folders to be dealt with as needed.
I then turned my attention back to iPhoto, that elusive photo management tool that had come so highly recommended. This is not intended to be a review of iPhoto so I will save the details, but I will point out a few quirks I noticed on the way;
1) iPhoto doesn't allow for nested albums. This was a problem for me, as I had to rearrange "/Engagement Party/Roll 1/" into "/Engagement Party - Roll 1/" so it would show up as a separate album. Not Good.
2) When iPhoto "imports" images it doesn't sort them on the hard disk in any meaningful way. A better example is given by iTunes, where a song is typically stored in "/artist/album/". In iPhoto the date information is extracted from the image file itself and the photo is stored in "/year/month/", or some such system. When I import a bunch of photos from a folder called "Engagement Party" I would expect iPhoto to store them in its own tree in a folder called "Engagement Party", no ifs, ands or buts about it. The metadata should be used to sort and categorise, but not store. This leads me to my next problem,
3) iPhoto doesn't have a mechanism to import a heirarchy of photos and maintain the structure of the imported folders. I had a master "Photos" folder with a whole bunch of sub-folders ("Thailand Holiday," "New Years Eve," and the like), and when I first imported the master folder into iPhoto it just threw all the pictures into "Photo Library" and completely ignored the structure I had arranged. Not Good.