The Mac Webb

What a Long Strange Trip Back to Pismo

- 2004.03.29

Hello LEM fans!

For those who don't remember me, I was a semi-regular contributor until this previous year slowed me down. Growing kids and new jobs will strip away your time at the keyboard. I thought I would let you in on a little secret that I have slowly been realizing over the last few months: I seem to be a Luddite when it comes to PowerBooks.

Maybe it's simply that certain models remind me of better days, or maybe it's the fact that OS 9 is now a rebel, unsupported OS (cool huh). Since we last spoke, I have continued my trend of flying through computers like they were jogging shoes (bad analogy, but I am out of practice).

When we last spoke, I had grabbed a great titanium PowerBook 667 on eBay and was set for the foreseeable future. True to form, I traded that machine in on a revision A 12" aluminum PowerBook. I loved the machine's compact form factor, and it has one of the best keyboards since the 1400s were released.

The problem was that as great as this machine was, it never captured my fancy.

PowerBook PismoMaybe it is something about "cold" metal exteriors (actually scalding hot, but you get the point) that makes the machine hard for me to love. I just never felt as great about this machine as I have about others. I began to long for my all time favorite PowerBook, the Pismo. The lovely wet suit look and the bronze keyboard make the machine a stunner. The upside down Apple and the yo-yo power adapter are great. (Wait, that adapter stinks.)

The Pismo is still considered a wonderful machine almost five years since its initial release. The machine holds value because it expandable, durable, and has some important technology (FireWire especially). When I hit the local Starbucks and see a Lombard or Pismo, I make it a point to talk to the users.

As I do many Friday nights after the kids are asleep, I jumped on eBay while drinking some "daddy juice." I am not a lush, but that combination has been responsible for at least five computer purchases in the last three years. As I searched the listings, I noticed large groups of Pismos were coming off of corporate lease. This seemed like a golden opportunity to recapture the spirit I seem to have been lacking of late.

I grabbed a machine with a low RAM and hard drive count (by my current standards) in order to keep the initial costs down. I was planning to replace both the current drive and add RAM, so this was the best choice.

The machine arrived in excellent condition and passed all of my initial checks. The screen showed no pink tinge, the hinges were good, and all of the pieces were in place. I picked up a new drive, some new RAM, and in 20 minutes I had a Pismo 500 with 1 GB of RAM and a 40 GB hard drive.

Then I grabbed an AirPort card from the box under the couch, and I was in Pismo heaven.

My first installation was OS 9, which I have spent little time in since migrating to OS X on its release three years ago (on my old Pismo!). For grins, I spent the weekend running OS 9, just as I had when I bought my first Pismo in 2000. I had a blast revisiting that time in my computer life. I have written many articles about this, but let me say it again - the Pismo is one of the greatest machines Apple ever built. The blend of form and function is second to none.

As I have grown older and work has required more of my attention, I spend less time using my computer to explore technology. I don't have time to continue my experiments in Unix or to make use of all of the things that make OS X cool to the technologists. If you look at what I do, it consists of browsing the Web, listening to music, writing emails, and a few other very pedestrian tasks (by today's standards).

The Pismo seems to be the perfect level of computer for me at this time, neither too much nor too little. I like the ability to run OS 9 and OS X, FireWire for my peripherals (iPod is a must), and the large screen. I will install Panther in the next few days, as I have about two years worth of emails I need to access, but I am enjoying this week in OS 9. It reminds me of the joy of first learning about the OS and Apple's portables.

Thanks, Apple, for making the Pismo. Now take that machine, add a G5 and 64 MB of VRAM, and you will sell them through the roof. LEM

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