The Mac Webb

The Fully Utilized Computer

- 2001.12.31

I know I am not the only one who packed up his PowerBook and associated gear and brought everything they needed with them on Thanksgiving day, although I may be the only one who did it to travel only a half hour.

We buy portable machines to make sure we have access to our data and applications when and where we need them. If you are like me, you may pull your machine out to check email or surf the Web, but you really find it a reassuring piece of home. It makes you feel comfortable. Although you rarely do anything that could not wait until your return, you like to carry the gear with you just in case a need arises.

This Thanksgiving I was able to put my setup to good use and impress the family with the computing capabilities of my PowerBook G4. As we left the house, I grabbed my Targus case, which happened to have my entire outfit loaded from the last day at the office. I was not planning on using anything but my computer, but did not bother to unpack anything.

My rig

  • PowerBook G4
  • Canon N650 U Scanner: small, USB powered
  • MCE lucid CD-RW drive: small, bus powered

Additional gear

  • Canon Elura DV camera (my brother's)

My brother arrived and brought his Canon Elura DV camera for us to play around with. As the day progressed, we had accumulated a good deal of footage of my children and the rest of the clan.

As we sat down to watch the Dallas Cowboys game, I pulled out my PowerBook for my brother to play with. He is a casual computer user who is running an older HP notebook I gave him last year. The stylings of the PowerBook impressed him quite a bit, and he was having fun with my MP3 collection.

While we were playing, my mother was watching some of the video we had taken while she was preparing lunch. She wanted copies of some of the video of the kids, and my brother promised he would send her a copy of the film. It suddenly dawned on me that we could take care of that on the spot.

I grabbed the AC adapter, the burner, and the scanner, and I moved to the dining room table, long since cleared of any debris. We connected the DV camera to the PowerBook, and, as you would expect, the files were easily transferred to the computer.

I started iMovie, and we began to edit the raw footage into something a bit more polished. I keep about 20 GB of my 48 GB drive free for video, although I must admit that may be silly - this was the first movie I tried to edit on this machine. We edited the raw footage and created a good summary of the day's events.

Once the file was complete, I used the MCE burner to create a CD of the QuickTime file. Once the disc image was ready, it was simple to make a copy for the entire family. Everyone was thrilled, although I am certain I will have to spend time helping the non-Mac folks figure out QuickTime.

Flushed with our computer success, my brother and I grabbed a batch of family pictures and began running them through the scanner. I chose the Canon scanner based on its small size and the fact that it draws power from the USB cable. We eventually distributed the pictures on CD as well, giving everyone a thrill and making many understand the power of a fully utilized computer.

I made made the point to all who were impressed that they should constantly look for new ways to use computers. They are one of the most expensive purchases we make, and to let capabilities sit idle or unexplored is a waste of funds. LEM

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