Over Thanksgiving, I made my first Facebook application. Unlike most of the applications on Facebook, it is a desktop application (both because it does not make any sense for it to be a web application and because there is already a web-based application that does the same thing). I built it in wxPython so that it would be cross-platform.
When I was done, the code worked wonderfully in Ubuntu. I went to test it in Windows and OS X ... but then realized that I did not have access to a computer running OS X. Normally I would just shrug and decide that people running OS X did not really deserve my application. In this case, it was not an option, since the friend who asked me to develop it uses OS X.
As I pondered what to do, it occurred to me that if I had a MacBook with Windows installed through Parallels Desktop, I would have access to both OS X and Windows. While I have been previously been caustically dismissive of MacBooks in the past, a number of circumstances have aligned to make them attractive:
- Apple hardware upgrades unlikely: As the image from MacRumors shows, Apple upgraded the specification of its MacBooks on November 1, right after Leopard was released. From both a hardware and software perspective, this is the best time to buy a MacBook. Yes, Apple might add the new 45nm Penryn processors to its lineup at MacWorld in early January, but only desktops (like the Mac Pro) are likely to be affected.
- No more temperature issues: The first generation MacBooks had heat issues due to various manufacturing issues (plastic, thermal paste, etc.).
- Decent integrated graphics: The November 1 revision puts the Santa Rosa chipset into the MacBook, along with the Intel GMA 3100, an integrated graphics chip that actually gives decent performance. Since the graphics chip is one of the few differences between the MacBook and the MacBook Pro (their similar Intel processors and motherboard chipsets give them similar performance in non-graphics-intensive tasks) the Intel GMA 950 found in older MacBooks was a source of great derision for me.
- The resolution issue: In earlier times, I have been dismissive of the MacBook's 1280x800 screen resolution - it is much too small to get work done. My Thinkpad T43 has a resolution of 1400x1050, but I still occassionally find myself pining for my Inspiron 9100's resolution of 1680x1050. I assumed that my next laptop would be a 15.4" T61 or T62, which would have the same screen resolution.
Short of replacing the MacBook's display, it would seem that this issue would be insurmountable. Instead, I bought the 20" NEC LCD205WXM, whose wide viewing angles and decent prices earned it rave reviews by MacWorld. I wanted to get a 24" monitor, but figured it would be a bit ridiculous if my computer monitor was larger than my television.
More careful readers have, by this point, seen a flaw in my plans. Not only have I had serious issues trying to get Linux to recognize external displays in the past, but I previously wrote that "it would be hell to get everything [on a MacBook] properly working in Linux
." I still believe this, which is why I plan to switch to OS X as my primary operating system
More on the reasons why later on in the week.
 I am reasonably sure that I have referred to it as "craptastic" at some point in the past.
 I also almost bought a 26" television, but was glad that I did not while I carried it home from Inman Square.