MacBook 13.3

I liked the Mac Mini so much that I bought a Apple MacBook 13.3, with an Intel Core2 Duo P7550 at 2.26 GHz, 2 Gb RAM, 250 Gb SATA2 drive, DVD+-R/RW/DL, and WebCam with microphone.  I wanted a very portable notebook computer with good battery life so that I could carry it to client sites without having to take along a power adapter.  It also supports all common flavors of wireless networking (including 802.11n) and has a Gigabit Ethernet wired adapter built in so I can connect to my clients’ networks easily.

Before I did any “real” work with it, I used BootCamp to partition the hard drive and installed a copy of 64 bit Windows 7 Ultimate.  It took a couple of months after I bought the MacBook for Apple to release the 64 bit Windows 7 drivers for the wireless network adapter and for the dual-use (both optical and eighth inch stereo) jack, but after installing the drivers the MacBook is a really nice Windows 7 PC.  The reason I installed Windows was because all of my clients use some version of it (WinXP, Vista, Windows 7 or Server 2003) and I wanted to be sure I wouldn’t have any problems with remote desktop or other networking issues.  If I had been a little more familiar with Mac OS X at the time, I might not have bothered – OS X has an SSH (Secure SHell) and an RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol, Microsoft’s solution for logging on remotely to a PC or server), and it very easily mounts Windows shared network drives.  I don’t remember the last time I booted the MacBook into Windows 7, so I should probably do that today and update Windows and the anti-virus software!

Speaking of anti-virus software, I found a nice, free package available for OS X called  iAntiVirus from PC Tools (I use it on the Mac Mini as well).  So far so good on that front, but then aside from the anti-virus software OS X always asks before making any system changes (Windows Vista and Windows 7 now do this by default as well – probably the single best additional security feature that Microsoft added).  Also, I’m very careful where I click, I have my email client set to not show a preview of unopened emails, and I use Google’s Chrome browser whenever possible (some brain damaged web sites require “features” only found in some “other” browsers that will not be named here 😉

I like the MacBook a lot.  I installed OpenOffice for word processing and spreadsheets, GNUCash to handle accounting chores, and Skype for video calling to friends and clients.  I installed TunnelBlick, which is the GUI (Graphical User Interface) for OpenVPN for Mac OS X (several of my clients use OpenVPN for secure, remote access), and I installed VirtualBox for when I need to run Windows or Linux in a VM (Virtual Machine) to do some specific task or another.  The MacBook makes a great RDP client for logging into Windows servers and I can open a terminal window and run some useful network diagnostic tools or connect to a Linux or Unix server.  The “Spaces” feature built into OS X provides seamless virtual desktops which I don’t think I could live without but also can’t explain in the context of this post (if you’re a heavy computer user and don’t use some type of virtual desktop utility, check out the included link to the Wikipedia article ).  Yeah, and I also downloaded and installed a game called Avernum, but I don’t get to play it very much.

I ordered my MacBook on November 12, 2009, along with a be.ez 100572 LA robe Sleeve for 13.3-Inch Macbooks (Black/Wasabi) padded sleeve-type case to protect it when I take it to a client site.  I’ve not had any hardware or malware (malicious software) problems at all.  The battery life – which for the model I bought was claimed to be around 6 hours at the time (the newer ones claim 10) – is actually about 4.5 hours for the way I use it, so I’m happy with that (I almost never spend more than 3 hours at a client’s site, and when I do it’s planned in advance).

So, would I buy one today given the same requirements?  Maybe; but I’d take a close look at an iPad, which I think would do everything I need in a thinner, lighter package with better battery life, not to mention more geek factor.

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Andy Anderson

Andy Anderson

The Information Technology "Renaissance Man." With a formal education in Computer Science and over 33 years of professional experience, Andy lived through the personal computing revolution and into the Internet Era. While still providing and managing mainstream commercial products, he now specializes in applying Open Source solutions and virtualization technology to small business IT issues.

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