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2008 MacBook Review

 

Intro:

After some months of waiting for the new revision, I have finally been able to obtain one with my Dad’s financial help (he paid for it). After spending a good week with it, I feel compelled to write an initial impression of my experience. 

 

Unboxing:

Of course Apple is very well known for the quality of their packaging and the new MacBook are up to the same standard. Opening a box for the first time is probably the most exciting of buying anything new. This is probably the most expensive thing I have ever unboxed. Apple even pads the inside of the box. Everything is in its own compartment and it’s very minimalist. 

 

First Impressions on the Look and Feel:

The new aluminum casing is amazing. The metal is smooth and the edges of the laptop are very clean and defined. I found myself constantly running my hands around the top of the laptop and the edges of the keyboard because its seriously the best texture ever. The fact that the body is cut from a single piece of aluminum still astounds me; there are no seams or real “edges” so to speak. The only time the body really breaks form is on the bottom where the battery and HDD compartment is.

 

The size of the laptop is perfect. The screen is just big enough to display everything- but not so small that everything feels cramped. It feels bigger than the previous generation MacBook, but after a quick size comparison- its the exact same size, but thinner. Awesome.

 

Screen:

Although the screen keeps the same form factor from the original MacBook (13.3 inches) the quality over the previous generation has vastly improved. The fact that the screen now has LED backlit display is a HUGE change! When I’m in a dark room and I turn up the brightness, it actually hurts to look at the display. Its ridiculous! The colors pop better, the “warm-up” time of the screen is non existent, and the lighting is even. I did a side-by side comparison of my Mom’s old MacBook and you can see the difference. One is both of the screens at lowest brightness, and then the other is both at the highest setting.

Apple also changed the screens from having a glossy finish, to having a single piece of glass that covers the screen. This improves the clarity of the screen but it makes it really reflective. As I type this review in my living room, I can see pretty much everything behind me, so I guess this would be a good way to spot an serial killer or something. It can be pretty distracting, so I either have to actually angle the screen to the point where it doesn’t reflect, or just move into a darker room. The glare problem sucks, but you learn to block it out. The quality of the screen makes up for the bad reflection problems. 

 

Also another thing that will bug people is the fact that since the glass on the screen goes to the edge of the laptop, I found that every time I opened my laptop, my thumb would leave a print on the glass. This can get annoying, and I find it to be bad design because the iSight camera is right where you would put your thumb to open up the laptop. At least they give you a cloth to clean the screen. 

 

Touchpad:

This is probably one of my favorite new features on the new MacBook. The trackpad is now one big square on the surface. No visible buttons. It took about a day to get used to, but I found myself actually using the gestures (tap to click, double tap and hold to drag etc). The trackpad itself is actually button. You press it and it makes an audible click sound (a little too audible for me). The pad can be assigned to right click depending on where you click on the pad, which is pretty useful. For those who still like the idea of having a button to left-click, you can have the bottom of the trackpad assigned to do that. 

 

Apple now put a layer of glass over the trackpad so that it reduced friction. Its not the kind of glass you would find on a window- its more like a cloudy matte glass that’s used for privacy. The feel of it is very nice and smooth without being too slippery to the point where it feels like ice. Just the right amount of friction.

 

But where the trackpad really shines is the multi-touch! This means the pad can recognize more than two points at a time- just like the iPhone- so you can do all those fancy zoom in and out commands with the pinch gestures. This is a Godsend for the people who love all things GTD (Getting Things Done) and people who just like making things more efficient. Thanks to my brother Jimmy, I am now using this application called MultiClutch. What it does is essentially assign key commands to difference multi-touch gestures. Example- to minimize a program, instead of moving your cursor up to the top left corner to click on the icon, you can just take three fingers and swipe them in a downward motion on the trackpad to minimize the active window. 

 

Here is a video to clear up some confusion you might have:

http://media.macworld.com/media/vodcast/mwvodcast50.mp4

 

I love using this application. I use it all the time and it makes me feel like I’m from the future. It’s something that Apple should really implement into the OS. No one should be without this. Period. 

 

Keyboard:

I’ve always been a fan of the MacBook keyboard. I liked it more than the MacBookPro’s and the white keyboards that came with the older mac desktops. I like the fact they made them black because it fits the design better, and it just looks cooler. The throw of each key is nicely spaced  and it takes little time to adjust to the keyboard. I haven’t had a problem typing. The spring of the keys is soft and resilient so you feel compelled to type more on it just because it feels nice. 

 

My model didn’t include the backlit keys, which is a shame because its a really nice feature. I would’ve had to pay about 300 dollars more to get that, 400 Mhz, and about 90 more Gigs of hard drive space. Not worth it in my opinion.

Other than that, its pretty much the same keyboard that we’ve seen for the last few years. 


Graphics:

So this actually surprised me. The fact that Apple actually decided to put in a dedicated graphics card to the less expensive models like the MacBook. I thought they would stay with Intel’s crap integrated graphics forever!

 

So this is a very pleasant surprise and a very nice change for me. What was the first thing I did? Install WoW of course! Threw in the first 5 install disks- it took about 30 minutes or less. About average. The thing that sucks about installing WoW is that it takes forever. Not because the install takes long- its the numerous amount of patches that one has to keep downloading before you can play! Even after you install all the patches for the first game- you then have to install the 2nd expansion and THEN you have to patch that. Luckily, Blizzard managed to streamline the installation process somewhat. Instead of having to install both games, all you have to do now is just install the first game and patch it- without having to install Burning Crusade. Although the latest patch 3.0.2 makes it so you don’t have to install BC, you still have to download the patch- which is a 2.6 Gigabyte file. That took a few hours. 

Anyhow, its faster to install now and that’s a nice change.

 

Enough about the install time- more on how it runs! Good news guys, it runs WoW pretty well! I was actually impressed. I was worried that the new graphics card they put in wasn’t going to cut it- but now my fears are alleviated, as I now can run games like WoW at an average FPS of 50-60 depending on the area. Although gaming on a laptop brings up another issue.

 

Battery Life:

The battery life is good, if not great. As long as I don’t have the screen at full brightness, or use any programs that are processor/graphics heavy, I get about 4+ hours. Now keep in mind I haven’t timed anything- these are just estimates. I can post more accurate times later. Although when playing WoW- the battery life was cut down to about half.


Camera:

Same ol’ iSight camera. As far as I know its the same VGA (640×480) resolution. It looks more clear, but that could just be because the screen is brighter. Also just to mention the microphone quality is very good. I recorded some video and both the sound and video was very clear. 


Conclusion: 

I love this laptop. This is the first mac I have ever owned and there is a big difference from just using a mac to actually owning one. I’ve used alot of macs for different classes in school and my impression of them was just “meh”. It could be just because the computers I used at school were abused.

 

As a kid, I vowed to never use any Apple computers just because of how sluggish and awful they were back in the day. Today, things are much, MUCH different. This laptop is really snappy and responsive. Leopard is a very stable and pretty looking OS. There is not much else I can say because I’m pretty sure most of the readers already know most of the stuff I mentioned in this review, its nothing new really. 

 

One thing I can say though, if you’re thinking about buying a MacBook- you will have no regrets should you decide to purchase one.

Yeah, you knew it was coming. If you despise World of Warcraft (or MMORPG’s in general), maybe you should stop reading here if you don’t want to throw up.

I started playing in September 2005, right when I started my job (where both my coblogger and I still work) because about half of the employees there played religiously, so I figured, why the hell not.

At that time I had been exploring multi-user dungeons, which are basically text-based MMORPG’s, but I guess WoW sounded more appealing when everyone got into talking about it. It was a nice sort of ice-breaker, too — I’m not a big initiator of smalltalk, so actually having something real (if you can call it that ) to talk about was a good way to pass the time.

You could probably view my track record with WoW as a tipsy relationship. You could say we went out for about six months, but then we got bored of each other and separated. You could then say we got back together a few months later with more passion than ever — I was always bad at sticking to one character, but during this passion period, I played only my mage for about three or four weeks, getting him from the mid-30′s to 54 — which was the largest spike in our relationship.

You could also say that once the effects of the spike dwindled away, our relationship again grew repetitive and boring, so we took another break — one that lasted about two months.

And now, after the serious lows and the serious highs, it’s almost like we’ve landed right in the middle — right at the sweet spot. I like to play it enough to maintain my characters, but not enough to cut myself off from all the other good games out there — it’s an open relationship.

I’ve given up on getting better gear for my 70 (the mage I leveled in such a hurry for Burning Crusade) because of the upcoming release of Wrath of the Lich King. Instead I’m just leveling a handful of alts, trying not to rush through them.

These include an 11 priest, a 32 druid, a 40 warlock (free mounts ftw) all on the same server.

I would review the game itself instead of my history with it, but reviewing MMORPG’s is a touchy subject — my opinions would probably be way more biased than usual, and (not even as an affect of that) people would probably exaggerate the review depending on their attitude towards MMO’s.

And apparently because it’s Christmas, my family and I are going to do family things like make waffles and play Monopoly. So I should wrap this up.

Blegh.

(not at the waffles — waffles are the pwnzage)

Yesterday we broke our old record of 45 views! For the past 2 1/2 weeks this site has been hitting a traffic spike! Its remained consistent in the 35- 45 views per day range, which is really odd considering that we haven’t done all that much to advocate ourselves (with the exception of getting a small plug on WoW Insider, courtesy of Skoh-Fley). So I would just like to dedicate this post to our readers, (who also might be just horny people who happen to come across the picture of the whale penis link in my Revolutionary Link Fest 2007 post. Either way, to us, this seems like a big mile stone and we would like to thank our readers! Woot!

kthnxbi!

-Neverhitboxes

EDIT UPDATE:

Seriously, whats going on? The traffic spike hasn’t slowed! We just hit 66 today! We’ve set 3 consecutive records for the last 3 days! This is awesome!

I guess this deserves a post.

You have no doubt noticed (unless this is your first visit, in which case, I welcome you) that our theme is a little different.

Okay, well, it’s a different theme, it just looks similar to our old one. Commentator, friend and all-around swell guy Giga pointed out that the old theme was a bit cramped in terms of displaying post content in an at-a-glance sort of page organization manner.

So this one takes the more streamlined blog look, with posts listing downwards ’til they can’t list no more (or until they reach 10 in number, whichever comes first). It kind of permits easier skimming, instead of putting each and every post up on the pedestal that is (was) its own page.

We still rebel a bit with the one-column layout; imho it helps to establish a more content-centric blog. Instead of looking like a whole website’s front page, it just looks like a big list of stories and thoughts, with some sprinkles of navigation down at the very bottom.

I guess that’s it for now. I’m also semi-working on the next game load.

Well, mentally.

Oh, and the theme is called ChaosTheory, and I wish I could credit the author(s), but no names are anywhere to be found.

Hey alright guys, this is a true story thats original to this blog only- AND – it happened today! Hurray! Ok, so today I got out of my piano lessons at 4:30pm. There is a bank next building over. So usually my Mom picks me up afterward in the parking lot, (yeah she picks me up I can’t drive- cue laughter whatever) I noticed that she wasn’t waiting there so I walked around the parking lot just to make sure. As I was passing by the back entrance of the bank- there were a few people inside staring at me. I didn’t think of it much at first, I was calling home and walking around in a circle. After I finished getting off the phone, the people who were staring at me were gone from the windows and there was a woman who was locking the back door. She gave me a odd/fearful look and so I just gave her the “whatever” expression and walked off.

So it usually takes my Mom about 10 minutes to get to where I was so I took out 1984 (which is a good read, I recommend it) and using my backpack as a pillow, laid down and read on the small strip of grass that was in front of the bank. About 1 1/2 minutes later, this cop car pulls up beside me (because the lawn strip was close to the parking lot) and I looked over and was like, “wtf”. I get up and the cop gets out. He was a bald guy of about 30+ years.

Cop: “Can I see your ID?”

Me: “Ah yeah, sure.” [pulls out student ID]

Cop: “Alright” [Takes ID, scribbles some notes]

Cop: “When is your birthday?”

Me: “February 26th, 1990″

Me: “Can you tell me whats going on?”

Cop: “Well, last week this bank was robbed by a young man, who was thin, had dark hair, lightly tanned skin and a black bag. Before he robbed the bank he hung around the back parking lot area for a few minutes before he went in and held the place up. And the people at the bank reported that there was a guy walking around the back of the bank who matched the suspect who robbed the bank last week.”

Me: [Thinking, oh shit, because I totally match the description, I was carrying my black messenger bag AND I was making phone calls while just walking around the back of the bank]

“Oh………funny you never hear things like that….”

Cop: “Yeah, you look like the guy, but you’re not the guy. The real guy was about 20 years or older and everyone was sure he had a wig on.”

Me: “Really? Man, thats pretty crazy.”

Cop: “Yeah, sorry to alarm you or anything.”

Me: “Oh its no big deal, but you scared me there for a second.”

Cop: “Sorry about that….by the way, you waiting for someone or what?”

Me: “Oh yeah I was waiting for my Mom to pick me up- I just got out of my piano lessons like 10 minutes ago over there.” [points at building]

Cop: “Hm. Well take it easy- now I just gotta go tell the people inside its ok.” [laugh]

Me: “Good day!” [at that moment my Mom arrives and I jump in and drive off without any other hassle- oh and I say good day a lot to adults because I've worked as a cashier at a few jobs and I'm so used to saying it]

Overall it was a jarring experience. I had no idea why those people inside the building were freaking out and locking all the exits, but now I do. XD It actually crossed my mind that maybe they thought I was attractive or something and they just couldn’t keep their greedy eyes off me- Ha! Wow! Totally wrong!

-Neverhitboxes

-Staring does not equal hotness. -Neverhitboxes

Pretty much anyone who has watched any family sitcom or movie knows that a lot of the comedy that comes out of things like that is through certain main characters getting frustrated, angry or fed-up with someone or something.

Maybe that’s a little vague. Let me give an example.

Right now Are We There Yet? is on TV, and I’ve been passively watching it. One of the scenes involves the two kids Nick (the main character, played by Ice Cube) is taking care of pretty much stealing his car. They trick him into getting out of the car, then they lock the doors and speed around the parking lot.

Ha-ha, comedic scene. That’s what I want to talk about.

As a side-note, I have nothing against this movie; it just happens to be the most handy example.

I can only assume, and I guess I can understand, that most people find those kinds of things funny. But for some reason, I just don’t. Instead of laughing or just saying “Those silly kids”, I kinda hate them at the moment. As much as if they were doing that kind of stuff to me.

I don’t know why; I just hate them. It’s like I get too attached to the characters or something. I understand their feelings too much.

And I’ve got to say, it really bugs me. I can no longer watch Everybody Loves Raymond comfortably — I admit, it was getting old anyway, but it’s just so annoying now. Every time Marie makes a passing insult at Debra, or every time Debra does something crazy to Ray — like throw a spoonful of brownie mix in his face for making a stupid remark — I just get so angry.

It’s like I’m the victim, like I just got a spoonful of liquid chocolate in my face just for saying something stupid by accident. I mean, imagine if that was you. Imagine if you accidentally said something stupid or insulting (we all have) to a spouse (or friend), and they just gave you this death stare and threw a spoonful of chocolate in your face.

I don’t know about you, but I’d be hella pissed. I mean, that would be totally unnecessary. I’d get so mad, I don’t even know what I’d do to cool off.

So why is this funny on TV? I can understand that things on TV can be funnier than similar things in real life (believe me; I’m a hardcore Seinfeld fan), but I don’t know about this whole anger thing. As far as I know I haven’t met anyone else who has this problem (not that I ask upon meeting someone or anything).

It’s a real burden on a person, relating to a fictional character’s emotions. I go through so many internal mood changes so quickly it’s ridiculous.

What’s weird is that I never show them, though. In fact, sometimes it’s the opposite: I’ve often been accused of looking depressed or angry when I’m just in deep thought.

And I like being in deep thought. Because all the emotions in deep thought are my own.

That, and Deep Thought calculated The Answer.

You ever have those periods of time during your day, when you don’t have quite enough time to start doing something (like playing a game) but you have too much time to just wait out?

I’m totally having one of those periods of time right now.

So I can finally follow the trend and say I have dug one up from the archives. This one balances itself out — it’s a little deep (psychologically), but short:

The human mind always thinks ahead.

It’s why excitement is a greater emotion than happiness; why fear is a greater emotion than disappointment. It’s why we love Fridays but hate Sundays.

If our minds never thought ahead, we’d never do anything that would benefit us in the future.

In example, we would never make shelter unless it rained. We fear it will rain, so we make shelter.

In retrospect, it seems like one of those “uh, duh!” things, but maybe it’s just one of those things you know but never really realize. Maybe read over the second sentence more carefully if you’re not sure what I’m talking about.

I’ve still been meaning to write some more Game Loads posts, but having lots of games to play makes it easy to skip out on writing about having lots of games to play.

Meh, I’ll get around to it.

PRE-PUBLISH EDIT: Apparently, the first (or maybe dominant) tag called “fear” ever used on WordPress was actually “F.E.A.R” (the game), so when I try to tag this post with the emotion, it kindly tags it with the game instead.

Um, thanks WordPress?

Ok, so this past month has been crazy! So many games have released in such a short frame of time! Its insane! On top of all this, I have just received a new computer from my brother, (thank you Jimmy!) this has opened up a WHOLE new world of opportunities! Now I can actually play games that I was previously not able to on my old computer! (pictures of my rig soon to come!)
So first off, I made a “pact” with Skoh-Fley. If I got a new computer or if I reformatted- I would start playing WoW (World of Warcraft for the acronym inept) again. So I have new computer so I started playing WoW again- and man is it awesome! It runs way above 60 FPS virtually all the time now! When I first started playing WoW- I thought it was “ok” because not only did it look ugly on my old computer- but it just seemed like boring complex game. Second time around, my opinion has changed- the game is really fun and addicting! All my friends play it and it looks great!

Now, not only do I get to play WoW again, I can play HL2 (Half-Life 2 for the people who hate all things good) at a decent frame rate finally! No more blurry ass textures! No more slowdown! Yay! Skoh was nice enough to lend me the Orange Box, so I have been basically playing through HL2:Episode 1+2 and Portals. I still cant get over the initial fact that my computer can now run these games. Whenever I read about a new PC game coming out I was like- whatever, I won’t even be able to play it anyways- BUT now thats not the case! I can totally play virtually any game! HELL YEAH!

___________________________________

Title: “Headhumpers.”

So now with that update and excitement out of the way, I can fill you in on a story! If you clicked on this story and saw the title and expected to find porn, well, there is none. This story will only really interest the people who played HL2:E1 or likewise.

Its late at night, on a Wednesday, I had just finished a episode of my podcast (PopCast- soda reviewing). We reviewed Redbull and we ended at like 10pm. Totally not a good idea to drink a full can of Redbull and have it already be 10pm because I felt like I should still stay up and do something. Naturally I booted up HL2: Episode 1 since my rig can tear it up. Bad idea. I’m not really a wimp, but when it comes to tense games like F.E.A.R and Doom III, I hate them. Being scared sucks and it makes the game not fun. So I’m playing HL2 in the dark, with headphones at what is now 1am. Worst thing ever! I was scared shitless! There is a part in HL2:E1 where you are in an underground parking garage and its pitch black except for what your flash light shows. The thing is that the flashlight dies out after like 25 seconds of being continuously on and you have to turn it off to recharge it! So I’m running around seeing tons of zombies, headcrabs and other shit coming at me- and then my flashlight dies and I can’t see anything but I can hear all of their fucking zombie moaning noises! So I’m freaking out trying to find a place I can at least run too but I can’t see anything so I end up running into either more zombies or a wall! Ah! I hate it so much! I had to use all of my determination to get through that level. And after I stopped playing I was paranoid that those goddamn head crabs would start pouring into my room or zombies would be hanging around my bathroom. Never again. Never again will I drink caffeinated drinks, stay up late and play scary games in the dark at 1am. Terrible idea. They don’t mix. Its like what police officers are always telling teenagers. Don’t drink and drive. Don’t drink and play survival horror games at night.

-Neverhitboxes

I still have nightmares about that cat……

This couldn’t have been more horribly timed.

As some of you may know, I’m in the middle of a slew of awesome games right now. There are just too many I need to play — it’s like when two of your favorite shows are on at the same time. And, uh, you are twenty years in the past. Where, y’know, you can’t download/stream/browse on demand for/digitally record them.

But watch your back — the gaming gods get mad at you when you play with fire — I’m proof of that.

Today, my DS broke. Broke is a rather vague word, so I’ll explain.

Only a couple days ago, I noticed my L button wasn’t functioning as smoothly as it’s supposed to — one of the games I’ve been playing lately is Megaman ZX (which I haven’t covered in my rounds yet), and one of the fastest ways to travel is by using Model Hx (the biometal of the wind) to dash-jump, air dash, and repeat. Both of those moves require the L button (dash), which is how I first noticed it (of course, that constant use probably didn’t help, but hey, I didn’t do anything wrong).

Instead of being able to press it from the edge, I had to hug my finger around the top of the DS and push it down, and pretty hard.

Yesterday, it stopped functioning altogether. I was playing Geometry Wars and kept wondering, Why are all these new levels not giving me any bombs? And of course, I still don’t know which symbol means bombs and which means lives.

So yeah, point made, my L button is broken. And I’m sad. Because there are five DS games in queue for me right now (yup, those are all upcoming game loads), and I have to send off my DS to get repaired.

At least it’s in the warranty. And Nintendo’s usually really cool about this kind of stuff, so I don’t expect any problems to come up.

Maybe the gaming gods are looking out for me after all.

A second game I’ve been trying to play lately is Overlord, which, despite its lack of hype (that I’ve heard of, anyway), is actually a pretty great game (then again, it came out almost six months ago). I’ve been told by my fellow blogger that it’s extremely similar to Pikmin, which I, of course, never bought.In short, you play as a dark overlord (who would guess?), and you do battle by sending in your minions, who are a little like demonic gremlins, to fight for you. You have a huge axe you can fight with too, but according to your advisor, you’re too good for that.

An appealing part of the game is the number of uses for the minions, and the awesome ways in which they’re applied. Aside from fighting (which can get pretty awesome, what with your minions jumping onto your enemies’ backs and pretty much riding them around), the minions can do things like move large obstacles out of the way (which will require x minions to do depending on the size of the object; this makes for the revelation of new areas pretty smooth as you can command more and more minions at once), turn big wheels to open doors or drop drawbridges, and fit through or across small areas like tunnels or coincidental bridges made of small tree branches.

Your minions also pick up random stuff that can help them along their way, ranging from makeshift weapons (like pieces of fences, if I remember correctly) to pumpkin helms. That’s right; if you tell your minions to attack random things (which they will sometimes do on their own if they’re in the area) — like pumpkins — they’ll do crazy stuff like put them on their heads, even if it doesn’t help them one bit. That’s one of the things that really brings them to life: they’re not just mindless creatures who obey your every word and only your every word (although they are quite loyal) — they like to have some fun, too.

You also have a huge castle that you can customize with enough money — a nice perk, but (so far for me) has served no super-meaningful purpose.

And the last thing I’ll mention is paths. Lots of games have been adding this lately to dynam-ify storylines — you can choose your character’s personal path through the the actions you perform. In most cases, your actions end up deciding whether you’re good or evil in the end (Dark Messiah is an excellent example of this), but since Overlord‘s whole concept is pretty much based around being evil, you get to choose between evil and really evil.

As you might guess, killing innocent people leans you towards the really evil side. Every time you kill someone who would otherwise befriend you, you get their life force, and 1 life force = 1 more minion you have available to summon. You also get some decent cash from their pockets.

The disadvantage to doing this, as your advisor states, is that to rule an evil empire, you actually have to have people to rule over — so killing everyone isn’t too much of an option. I have yet to complete the game, so I’m not sure of the gameplay differences between the two paths yet, but I’m sure there will be some.

One last thing, because I know you’re waiting for it: graphics. They’re very decent. If you’re talking about sole graphics, they’re up there with Half-Life 2, but that doesn’t take into account physics, the actual use of the graphics, and the cooperation between the two. And some unrelated things could use some work.

For instance, you can set fields of dry grass on fire once you get the appropriate spell, and the trees in that field will switch to a dry and burnt model when the fire spreads to them (which all is very cool to see happen), but the trees just swap from one model to the other, and the instant change is very noticeable. At least cross-fade between the models or something.

Definitely not something to cry over, though — from the first time you set foot into non-evil lands, you can feel the happiness vibes emitting from everything from the sheep to the swaying grass — one of which you will slaughter and the other of which you will set fire to.

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