It’s Official: I’m Bi!

Bi-processorial, that is. Meet the new computer: An iMac 1.8 GHz. 20″ screen and 1.25 GB RAM. I was planning to hold out for the release of Tiger OS later this month, but I want to write Ghost Brigades on the new computer and I didn’t want to wait any longer (I’ve got a tight enough deadline as it is). Also someone was selling this particular one on eBay for a price I could deal with. It’s near new (the guy had been using it for three months) and he jammed in a lot of RAM, which meant that aside from someone else touching it for a little while, it was a better computer than what I’d get off the shelf from Apple. QED.

As I’ve mentioned before, this doesn’t mean I’ll stop using my PC; for the moment the Mac is for book writing and the PC is for netsurfing, answering mail and etc (I need to buy an Airport thingie for the iMac before it has net connectivity). This is why I can claim to be bi-processorial. But I’ve very pleased, and the Mac looks even nicer than I expected it to. Tonight I’ll rearrange the real estate on my desk to accommodate both computers and then we’ll be ready to go. Whee!

26 Comments on “It’s Official: I’m Bi!”

  1. Is there a reason why you wanted to write your book on a different computer? Is it the blank-slateness of it being only used for that one thing or is there more to it then that.

  2. Right, before you have a chance to pick up habits.

    Go get Quicksilver ( Seriously. It should be be the second thing you do. The first thing is to find a tool (there are lots) that puts the Dock into the upper right where God meant it to live.

  3. Jess: Yeah, basically I’m sick of this particular computer, and the annoyingly hard slog of the Science Fiction Movie Book has made me less then enthusiastic about the idea of sitting down in front of it to write another book on it. Getting just another Windows machine would have been silly, so I went with a Mac. A very poor excuse, but there you have it.

    It does have a practical use, however, in that I can use it to sign on to AOL and give AOL Journal Mac users tips based on my own experience with AOL’s Mac client. That’s worth a tax deduction.

  4. Congratulations. You should get the ceremonial robe and cult membership pin in the mail shortly.

    Also, I third the Quicksilver recommendation. It’s outstanding. Makes it really easy to find anything on your computer.

    I also recommend Window Shade X ( It allows you to do more with your windows. Make them transparent. Minimize them to the side of your screen. Roll them up like a window shade. It’s a good program.

    Anyway, congrats again, and good luck with your bi-processorialness.


  5. John, I’ve been enjoying your site for several months. I can’t believe I’m delurking here with the classic AOL newbie “me, too” response but such is life.

    A fourth for Quicksilver.

    Merlin Mann at has a wiki about it ( He also has a roundup of “what’s on my mac and why it’s essential” links on his main site.

    But all of that productivity optimization might take time away from the actual writing.

  6. Add me as another “wow, yeah, get Quicksilver” vote.

    The tool you want to tweak the dock is TinkerTool — it lets you set a bunch of hidden preferences in the Finder, and is super-useful.

    Also, it’s worth checking out Apple’s ‘Pages’ word processor — I like it a lot, and it generally irritates me less than Word does. It gets the hell out of my way and just lets me *write* things instead of constantly trying to autocorrect and check everything.

  7. Re: Pages — already purchased. Also an iPod (actually an iPod mini, and actually for Krissy for her birthday. And after this I’m not buying anything for at least six months.

  8. Naturally, Apple officially announced OS X Tiger (10.4) today. Not available until 29 April unfortunately. But, guessing at what you paid, you can probably still spend the $129 on Tiger and get a better deal than a new Macintosh. So it’s a win all around.

    Of course, probably better wait until Ghost Brigades is done before upgrading the OS. Unless you like living on the edge (and burn a backup CD or three before starting).

  9. I like how you have the Mac on the light side of the desk and the PC on the dark side. Even the lighting matches. (I’m not sure which computer belongs on which side, though.)

  10. John (and others), if you’re looking for a Mac word processor that’s an alternative to Word you might want to take a look at Mellel ( It’s not really aimed at writers but at scientists and researches who need to write in multiple languages – it takes the OS’s support for multiple languages to the next level, supporting several dozen languages in all possible directions. Nevertheless, it’s an excellent program, and the creators keep in contact with their users through a forum on their website. It’s not expensive, and there’s a trial version on the website.

    Congratulations, and welcome to the tribe!

  11. John, I’ll be very interested in what you think of Pages for writing. I’ve been fed up with MS Word on the Mac for a long time now (it’s just so *patronizing*, always trying to tell you what to do), and I’ve heard mixed reports on Pages. But most of those people are using it for fancy page layouts, and what I really want to know is how it is for churning out page after page of prose.

  12. Actually, check out MacJournal for writing. It has heirarchal organizing, full screen mode, tabbed text browsing, and some nifty backup features.

  13. Yes, although still one of them, too.

    PNH: Thought you’d like the computer wallpaper. For the rest of you who haven’t a clue (which is all of you), let’s just say that the wallpaper on the PC has an important role to play in my literary future. Ha! I love being referentially opaque!

  14. That is facinating writing talk. John, How do you feel about the Flat screen vs the Tube monitor? Just from looking far away it looks like you have a Sony high-end for the PC.
    The reasons the MAC looks better is becase of the brighter color and the flat screen. I don’t like the vanella look of PCs so I choose Black or another color all around. The bulky tube monitor just never looks good no matter how you place it. i always looks like a fridge.

  15. Oh, and for God’s sake, get a two-button mouse for the Mac. OS X supports all kinds of handy stuff on the second mouse button; I have no idea why Apple is still shipping single-button rodents by default.

  16. Yeah, I’ve been noticing that the mouse is not exactly useful. What’s getting me isn’t the lack of the second button (yet) — it’s the lack of a scroll wheel.

  17. Because Apple has done 1,000 usability tests that demonstrate that new computers users get confused as hell over left- and right-clicking. So they split the difference: you never *need* to right-click on a Mac, but if you want to, you can add a multibutton mouse and go for it.

    FYI to anyone who doesn’t know, “control-click” is right-click. And naturally, I think of right-click as the replacement for control, not the other way around.

  18. Your PC mouse will work fine, including the scroll wheel—NeXTStep (the source of most of OS X’s DNA) boxen shipped with multi-button mice so this should come as no surprise.

  19. I just finished your book last night, very enjoyable. As a matter of fact I would say that it is a potential classic. Spider Robinson needs to be looking over his shoulder. Best of luck.


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