August 13th, 2005


Shobus not dead!

I'm really enjoying the Shobus Blog.

When they went off air for four days last weekend I really thought the Frenchmen had crashed the painted, tatami- and technology-filled tour bus they're travelling around Japan in, or got thrown in jail, or tangled with tattooed yakuza in a sento. The latest spate of updates fills in the gaps. The video and sound pages are great.

The cult of Mac

My 14" iBook fried and died on Thursday. I recognized the symptoms immediately: a freezing screen which freezes again a couple of minutes after each successive startup (a tiny bit later if it's left for a while). This same thing happened in February when I was in Hokkaido and Apple Japan replaced the motherboard under the guarantee. The computer was then only nine months old. That new motherboard lasted a mere six months. This time it's out of guarantee, and so is the replacement motherboard (Apple guarantees replacement parts for only three months). I don't have Apple Care, and although Apple extended its guarantee on the G3 models when they started having logicboard and screen problems, it hasn't done the same for its G4 range. A new motherboard, AppleCentre Gravis tell me here in Berlin, will cost me 700 euros.

There's no point. That's almost the cost of a new computer. I will simply have to buy a new iBook. I didn't lose any data (you can still access the hard disk from another computer over Firewire), but it's pretty dis-spiriting. I'm an Apple loyalist, there's really no way I'm going to switch to PCs or anything. But I've had so much trouble with these white iBooks, trouble I never had with the clamshell model that preceded them (so sturdily built!), and they're still really the only game in town if you want an Apple notebook. (The brushed silver PowerBooks feel nasty to me, they give me static shocks, they're too expensive, their WiFi capability isn't as good as the plastic models because they're metal, they're heavier...) I can't even get excited about having the opportunity to buy a new machine. How do I know the same thing won't happen again? Why aren't there better choices? (At least I know to pay for an extended warranty this time.)

The irony is that it looks like I'm about to start writing a weekly column for a California-based tech and culture magazine. My editor there is a "high priest of Macintosh" who's published a book called "Cult of the Mac". I've spent the week writing three test columns... on Hisae's iBook. Can I still claim to be an initiate in "the cult of Mac"? Well, yes. I set up Quick User Switching on Hisae's little machine, and every time I see the whole desktop swishing round, a rotating cube, from my environment to hers, from English-language to Japanese, I get a little rush of joy. Apple, you bastards, you walk all over me, you hurt me, you rob me blind. But I still love you. I guess it really is a cult. You can never leave.