A tribute to an old friend

My iBook G4, gforce, is on its deathbed. It looks like the video card (a chip, really) is dying. I've had the screen lock up several times; the last time I tried to log in, it coughed up some strange rectangular pattern on the screen. It's no longer reliable. It could be anything, really: RAM, a bus, CPU. The thing is ten years old! When I first bought it, I ran my business on it; now I can't even run Facebook. I used it pretty regularly though, for writing -- no distractions. You can't get distracted by your Facebook alerts if you can't even run Facebook. I could barely run Gmail, too, unless I used the old interface. I used it as a "beater" portable, and I took it places where I'd be reluctant to bring my fancy MacBook Pro, SilverSurfer. Of course, any old notebook that isn't your primary computer can serve as a "beater," and I'm sure that SilverSurfer will end up in that category too, after I buy a new notebook one of these days.

I maxed out the RAM and replaced the battery; otherwise, it's the same computer that I bought a decade ago. I was running the latest iteration OS X 10.4 on it. I considered upgrading to 10.5, the most current version of OS X that ran on that model, but I really didn't need any of the new features, and I loved that it didn't need much RAM to boot up and load the desktop. It also sipped the battery power and ran very cool. It turns out the PowerPC was a pretty decent chip.

It's amazing to me that Apple has gone from the PowerPC chip to Intel and now to the custom "A" series that run their iOS devices. Also, ten years ago, the cutting edge in portable devices for the Apple line was the 11-inch iBook and the 3rd generation iPod (holds up to 7,500 songs!) Apple also launched the iTunes store that year, giving iPod owners a way to put music on their devices that didn't involve stealing. Apple also shipped OS X "Panther" in 2003, version 10.3. The iPhone wouldn't even be introduced until 2007.

 Now, 10 years later, the latest iPhone is orders of magnitude more powerful than my iBook G4, and the PowerPC chip is the answer to an Apple trivia question. Interestingly, my 2003 iBook had better battery life than my 2007 MacBook Pro. Since I replaced the battery on both computers, I'm gong to assume that the battery technology is roughly the same in both. The difference is that that the PowerPC chip uses electrons than the newer Intel chips, and also that OS X 10.4 uses less (much less!) RAM and CPU resources than 10.7. Sometimes a computer model hits a nice balance between software requirements and hardware requirements; my iBook was poised at one of those sweet spots. For a more recent example, compare the battery life on the iPhone 4S (which is pretty good) to the 5 (which is abysmal). The new iOS 7 MAY also result in shorter battery life, too, until Apple tweaks and debugs it.

I don't think I'll be using my iPhone 4S for ten years, though.
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