Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Laptop Love

I had a spending breakthrough yesterday. Most of you know that I have a slight problem with shopping, in that I am compulsively driven to find the best deal possible, and frequently that means buying something for the lowest dollar amount possible. After a car-buying fiasco that has left my family being the last people on the planet who have to manually crank down their windows, I am attempting to uncouple good deals from lowest price. You would be so proud of me - I did not buy the cheapest model MacBook laptop yesterday, and I am so happy I did.

How does Apple make products that are so fantastic to look at that even a non-techie person like myself feels a gut-level desire to own them? They could make a pooper-scooper look sexy, and if they added an iconic white earbud to it, there would be a pooper-scooper in every college students backpack. Ryan's theory is that a race of super-intelligent beings came to take over the Earth, took one look at our current PC design and remarked to themselves, This is going to be too easy. And then they founded the Apple Company.

After doing the self-imposed many, many hours of research and price comparison, I found myself in the showroom of the local Mac store, pretty convinced that the lowest end MacBook would be sufficient for me. After all, I was basically looking to upgrade to something more reliable with a larger hard drive than the 30gb I currently had, and any laptop would meet those requirements. And I'm not one to be lured into paying an extra $300 just to get more color options. While waiting for the salesman to walk over, though, I glanced at the one-step-up model and found: The Trackpad.

Sweet mother of all that is holy. I love that trackpad. You have to understand the perfect functioning of this all-too-often overlooked piece of a laptop. Normally you've got an area for your finger to act like the mouse, pointing and moving the cursor, and then you've got a button (or two) for the mouse buttons. The MacBook has one large area for moving around the screen and the Entire Area Is Also A Button. All I have to do is tap my finger anywhere on the trackpad, and it registers a click. Plus, it incorporates some of the functionality of the iPod Touch screen, where you slide your fingers different ways to make it do different things. Pinch your fingers to zoom out, pull it back to zoom in. Flip through pages of documents or photos. Scroll down with two fingers along the trackpad and it's almost a love caress.

The Trackpad is to my new laptop what power sliding doors could have been to my minivan. I opted for manual doors, and every time I have to hike around the van to close the door after children with atrophied biceps who can't possibly close the door themselves, I curse myself for not spending the extra thousands of dollars for that feature. I looked at the next four years of laptopping and knew I could not live with a regular clicking trackpad now that my eyes had been opened to the possibilities. I know the arguments: You grew up without Apple's Trackpad and you turned out just fine. What about all of the starving children in Ethiopia - none of them have two-fingered scrolling. How can you live with this luxury when there are thousands, nay, hundreds of thousands of PC users that will forever be toiling away at their clunky, two-button touchpad.

Look. There will always be inequality in the world. That's no reason for me not to celebrate.

One other thing that I am loving is the new version of iPhoto. It's always been a great program, and I've always not spent the money to upgrade to the newest versions, so iPhoto '09 was a real treat. I imported my existing library, and when I next saw my pictures they were neatly stacked in piles according to date, piles that I could flip through with one swipe of a finger and see all of the pictures at a glance. Apparently it also uses the camera's GPS coordinates to place all of the photo locations on a map. I don't know why that's important, but it sure seems cool. Oh, and check this out: It has face recognition software, so once you label a couple of pictures with people's names, it goes through your entire library and labels everyone. All of this means that with absolutely no effort on my part, I can have all of my photos instantly organized by date, by location (i.e. every trip to Maryland), or by person. As always I can edit the photos, make slideshows from them, burn it to dvd, upload directly to Facebook, order a photo book. In any other company's hands, this program would be clunky and unwieldy and difficult to use, but it's Apple, so it is perfectly elegant.

There's probably tons of other things this computer can do that I haven't figured out yet. The kids love a program called Photo Booth, which uses the built-in camera to take pictures of you, which you can then play around with. Personally, I don't see the attraction, but Ryan and the boys played with this program for over an hour. Here are some of the results:

Bunch of wierdos, if you ask me.

So possibly my love of Apple products is speeding the world towards our eventual doom at the hands of aliens/product designers, but frankly, I don't care. If all us Earthlings can come up with is Microsoft, maybe we deserve to be destroyed. Or better yet, let's welcome our new overlords, they promise to make our world a more beautiful place.


rachel said...

I love the "sweet mother of all that is holy" statement! I went on apple's website the other day and saw that track pad and thought "I wonder if Emily is getting this thing, because it looks pretty cool". I am telling you, I may just convert to mac afterall! (My least favorite thing about laptops is the stupid pad thing - I am a mouse user).
I loved this entry. :)It makes me really want to at least go get that ipod touch.

Drake Steel said...

I stand by my earlier statement that misery brings out your best writing. When things are going well for you, the wind is at your back, the kids are content and all appliances are working as advertised you talk about school, there's a concept that's broke!

Anywho, not only are you correct about what a dreadful design PC's are... I don't even have a funny way of describing how awful they are! And I like them! We used to have a saying about computers (back in the day when people had a terminal to talk to the computer) Cheap, Fast and Good. Choose two. With PC's there aren't two there's one, Cheap. With Mac's its all three. That being said we are de-evolutioning, or at least I'm considering it, the company is offereing a tiny 9" screen version of a laptop for $300. Why would I want such a thing? And it comes with Vista, which is so awful that they offer the upgrade to XP which after many years they've finally got it to work okay.

Thanks for the opportunity to rant.