Voice Card  -  Volume 25  -  John Card Number 1  -  Tue, Jun 9, 1992 1:32 AM

This card is another first in Archapelago history: the first voice card written in bed! My long-suffering wife is curled up against me trying to fall asleep as I tap away on MY VERY OWN POWERBOOK 140!

Of course, she has no one to blame but herself for this. For months now I've been saying "I wonder which one of these Christmas presents is my powerbook?" or "Who will be the first person to get me a powerbook for my birthday?" or "Gee, I hope we don't get TOO many powerbooks for wedding presents!" To which Betsy replied, with increasing vehemence, "Shut up! No one is going to give you a powerbook!"

I did my best to maintain a smug air of certainty about this inevitable gift, but deep inside I was beginning to have my doubts. It had been months and still no sign. Surely the universe would not be so cruel as to deny ME a powerbook! Imagine, then, the unfettered upsidedown inside-out cartwheeling fountain of diamond-ring-in-a-Crackerjacks-box joy I felt when Janine handed me the following card from my darling Betsy mere SECONDS before I walked down the aisle to recite my wedding vows:

"Dear John, You lie peacefully sleeping in the bedroom as I write this, the slightest of sun rays kissing your lips. The past year has been one of sorrows and triumphs with you at my side; in short, my happiest. In token of my love for you, I offer you a gift that is temporal, because I believe it to be your heart's desire, and I would not deny you anything. Enjoy your Powerbook, Love, and know that I love you and always will. Betsy"

And inside the card, a certificate: "An Apple Macintosh Powerbook 140 for the period of one week is hereby awarded to John Frederick Cartan in honor of his marriage."

I had the decency, at least, to wait until AFTER our honeymoon to claim this wonderful gift. We returned from Hawaii Sunday, and Monday morning I drove over to Berkeley to pick up the powerbook. I've had it now for less than a day.

And, of course, I love the damn thing. I've been packing it around all day like a teddy bear. I am using it to write THIS very card and over the next few days I shall record my impressions as they occur to me...

For one thing, the powerbook (like all of the newer Mac models) is much faster than my poor ole SE. I just completed a quick comparison test. First, I placed the SE and the Powerbook side by side and had them calculate and display the classic shortest path using my Starmap Starmaze program. The powerbook completed this task in 125 seconds while the SE hobbled across the finish line after 410 seconds!

I then fired up the Telephone Name Finder and had both machines calculate all 243 possible combinations resulting from a five digit number. The results? 45 seconds for the Powerbook vs. a whopping 142 seconds for the SE. According to my rough tests, the Powerbook is about 3.2 times faster than the SE.

The screen, although not as fancy as the 170, is crisp and clear and quite easy to work with. It's a half an inch taller and a nearly two inches wider than the SE screen. The keyboard is cramped, but workable. I was surprised at how comfortable the powerbook felt on my lap. The trackball takes some getting used to, but typing from a sitting position is much easier than I thought it would be.

For my next experiment I downloaded some quicktime movies from AOL. The powerbook, unlike my SE, can play (black and white) QuickTime movies, and so allowed me to take the first steps into this brave new world. The discoveries I made there are chronicled in the voice card following this one.

In addition to letting me play with QuickTime, the Powerbook allowed me some day to day experience with System 7. Half of you are ahead of me in this, and although I am familiar with the new system I had not had a chance to play with it extensively until now. Unlike Janine, who accidentally banished her finder into ancient Greece, I had no real problems. Since we now have four megs of memory on both of our machines (thanks to a generous wedding present and a visiting friend who installed them for us), I will have upgraded to System 7 by the time you read this.

Sunday, June 14th:

It's a sunny Sunday afternoon and I'm sitting at a picnic table in a public park. Around me are swirling the noises of two basketball games, a softball game, and a playground full of children. In fact a baseball just rolled within a few feet of me and my machine. Tomorrow my week is up and I have to give up the Powerbook.

It's been a pleasant week, but I have to confess that I didn't use my toy nearly as much as I thought I would. As often happens, the dreaming was more entertaining than the doing. Mostly I used it to play solitaire in bed.

This is not a reflection on the machine itself. The powerbook is a truly wonderful gadget. It's just that with two Macs set up on a comfortable desk and ready to go at a moment's notice, I don't really need a third. If I were doing a lot of traveling the powerbook would be GREAT. The truth, however, is that I'm pretty much of a homebody.

So my week is over and another audacious wish has been granted. I have rediscovered a lesson I learned over and over again as a boy: toys are often more fun when they're on a shelf in some store just out of reach.

Now then, if I only had a Quadra with a big color monitor...