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The In-Laws

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The in-laws are in for a visit. They regularly hop the globe, visiting their offspring, and they caught up with us. They'll be here just over a week. Time to catch up all around.

Father-in-law (FIL) brought along his unibody MacBook Pro. He bought it about half a year ago. He's a Ruby programmer, does web apps. The MPB is not yet his main machine - at least not at work - but he's learning it bits and pieces.

Mother-in-law (MIL) borrows it when she needs it. She has a travelogue blog online and uses it to update with new articles (very well written) and photos from their adventures. She loves the MBP because everything is 'so easy'.

FIL's mother - today as old as the hills and much stronger - runs a dual boot Ubuntu/Windows box at home. She boots into Windows only to play FreeCell. She and her husband (who recently passed away) had a goal of playing every one of the 65,536 FreeCell games. She's convinced it's possible to play out every possible deal of the game, although that's not likely. She ticks off each game as she wins it and then proceeds with the next one. But when she wants to go online and do webwork - meet up with the clan on their Facebook page, do email and so forth - she's in Ubuntu.

'The Hated One'

FIL's mother has absolutely no love for Windows anymore - or for Internet Explorer. She calls Internet Explorer 'The Hated One'. She's totally sold on Ubuntu and has no problems with it whatsoever.

Back to the unibody MacBook Pro. I wasn't sure what I was looking at when FIL first laid it out on the table. It looked so small, so sleek, not like any computer, laptop or otherwise, I'd ever seen. It looks so small, I told him. That's because I got the 13-inch model, he said. He opened it up.

The unibody MacBook Pro - at least this 13-inch model - has got to be the most beautiful computing machine I've ever seen. There's a gold piping around the lid as seen from the inside. The screen is glossy. Perhaps a glossy screen can result in eye strain, but I don't think the machine would look as beautiful without it.

I never thought I'd say that black on metal gray looked good. We'd seen so many Wintel laptops with this colour combo and they were all downright ugly to the last one. So I wasn't too enthused when I saw Apple's designers went with the combination. But suddenly - when *they* do it - it works. Black backlit keyboard - seriously: it's about the most beautiful thing you've ever seen.

I think about all those Windows vultures ranting about 'freedom of choice' and I think to myself, looking and pointing at the unibody MBP, 'OK, my choice? I WANT THAT ONE!'

MIL uses the Apple mouse with the box. It's this white thing with no moving parts, looks like it's a miniature for a Star Wars movie, and she lifts it up and shows me the underside with its little red light, puts it back on the hard table top, and goes to town. No moving parts, no visible buttons. 'You just move your finger around here to scroll', she shows me. It's white and the computer is black/gray but what the hell. It's just gorgeous technology.

When you think of all the work gone into that design. The circuits. The RAM chips. The mobo. All the rest. And all this has to be meticulously arranged and assembled. And out the front end of the assembly line comes this sleek flawless slab of a box that's absolutely brilliant to look at and even more brilliant to use.

FIL is getting used to the ACP suite right now. Sydney is showing him how the different utilities work. FIL's been holding off on getting any additional software until he had Tracker installed. Sydney took him through a dry run of Tracker, so now he knows how to use it. She also showed him the customised text editor we designed and wrote, Xscan, and Xfind, all of which she uses for her other websites. She gave him a quick tutorial in regular expressions and he was already familiar with them. I showed him single user mode (SUM) boot on the box and he thought that was very cool. I also explained he needed a SUM boot to remove certain system file flags. And he's getting familiar with Xfile, even though it fills most of his screen (in which case he'll probably have to hide the 'Accessed' and 'Changed' columns if he wants any real estate left for other things).

FIL's got folders in his dock. And those folders open with the 'iLife' graphics. They're beautiful and a great way to organise and the actual graphics are dazzling - much more so than on the previous generation MBPs: the colours are better defined. I'm not sure how they've done it but the eye can see the difference.

FIL's got big hands and the keyboard for the 13-inch might be a bit too small for him. But he's working at it. What I'm thinking about is the 15-inch (which would otherwise be my first choice) might just not look as good. The 13-inch fits nicely in a suitcase or attaché and doesn't need a special case of its own. Another plus.

And so I'm sitting there, watching MIL work, and thinking about all the Apple laptops we have there under the same roof - half a dozen - and thinking about FIL's mum running Ubuntu back home, and I'm thinking what a wonderful world it would be if everyone would be such smart shoppers. Scott Charney with his ridiculous proposal from the world of the weeping and gnashing of teeth; but here we have computers that just work and they're dazzling to look at and a pleasure to work with too. Think of how well the Internet would work if everything was so bloody obvious to everybody. For people finally have adequate choices today. No one needs Windows anymore (nor should anyone use it - at least not online) and what's available is more than enough choice for everybody. Suddenly everything can be truly easy.

I really pity the unfortunate running Windows on Wintel hardware. You don't know what you're missing.

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