Parting with an old friend

In December of 2006, I had a decision to make.  I was getting into the meaty courses of my Electrical Engineering degree, and I knew I would be needing a laptop during the coming semester.  I was deciding between a 14″ HP Laptop, and the 13″ Black MacBook.  Apple had just released the MacBook models with the Core2Duo processors.

The cool thing about the Core2Duo processors at the time, is that they were the first legitimate dual-core processors.  The Core Duo processor was marketed as “dual-core”, but it only had 2 threads.  The Core2Duo actually had 2 cores.  This meant it was one of the first 64-bit processors to hit the market.  Since 64-bit operating systems weren’t widely popular at the time, I knew this processor would stand the test of time – for a LONG time – as the next big thing hadn’t even started yet, and this processor was ready to take it on.

The Determining Factor

The HP was selling for about $1200, and the MacBook was selling for about $1700.  What would make the $500 decision?  I just happened to be taking a course called ‘Multimedia and Music’ the following semester, and I knew the class would be focused on Macintosh software.

I was working a fantastic job, making close to $18 an hour, which is pretty damn good for a college student.  I was paying my way through college, and I was okay spending a few extra dollars on something I’d be using a LOT, so I decided to go with the MacBook.  Since Apple didn’t make the Black MacBook very long, I dubbed it the “BlackBook”.  I still remember exactly how much it cost – $1783.10 after tax.  I was thrilled when I hit the “complete order” button.

BlackBook - C2D 2.0GHz

Paradigm Shift

The MacBook arrived during the week of finals.  On the second day of finals, to be exact.  Perfect timing, eh?  I left it in my room unopened for a day, hoping I could make it through finals without playing with it.  On the second day of ownership, I gave in and took it to school with me.  We all oohed and aaahed at it, and little studying got done.

It took me three days to become acclimated with the Macintosh OS 10.4 Tiger.  Once I got acclimated, I cried a tear of sorrow for all the time I had been wasting with Windows computers.  (Side Note – having tested Mac OS’es previous to Tiger, I’m glad I came in the game at 10.4, as the previous OS’es just aren’t as good.)

My productivity shot through the roof, and it was time to start hacking around with this thing.  I triple-booted the thing, so that Mac 10.4 (then 10.5, then 10.6), Windows XP (then Vista, then Win7), and Ubuntu Linux could all take full advantage of the hardware during use.  I was putting the BlackBook to full use – likely doing much more with my laptop than 99% of Apple users do.

A trusty workhorse

I firmly believe that this BlackBook is the best computer Apple has ever made.  I never experienced ANY problems with it, throughout my 5 years of ownership.  I upgraded the ram to 4GB, only 3.3GB of which is visible to the operating system.  I also removed the optical drive and installed a bay, which housed a 64GB Kingston V100 solid-state drive.  I installed the OS on the SSD, and the laptop was flying again, like it was a brand new computer.

I took insanely good care of my BlackBook, and it took equally good care of me.  It has never complained while I’ve run iTunes in the background, Photoshop for editing large files, Cyberduck for FTP transfers, Textmate for web development, Firefox for YouTube videos, Handbrake for transcoding videos, and Thunderbird for email – all at the same time.  The Core2Duo processor is surely one of the best ever manufactured.

Only about two months ago did I start to notice that my power-user habits were being slowed down.  My laptop is my office, so it literally handles everything I do at once – save for making the coffee.  After five long years of ownership, my BlackBook had finally started to show its age.  It was still doing everything I asked but was just being bottlenecked by the processor.  Sadly, it was time to move on to a new workhorse.

Farewell, old friend

I searched for a replacement for about two months before I finally pulled the trigger.  When I bought the BlackBook, I bought it with every option available.  I don’t skimp on my laptops because I use them to the fullest extent.  I wanted this replacement to be extremely powerful, while still being respectful to the environment.  I ended up getting an open-box deal on the top-of-the-line previous generation 17″ MacBook Pro, for $1,000 off.  It was almost exactly the same price as my BlackBook was new.  (More on this new machine later.)

I listed the BlackBook on KSL and waited for the responses.  As usual, some lowballers contacted me, and I ignored them.  I could make what I wanted from it on eBay, but I preferred to see the buyer in person.  I finally got the right email and met up with the guy at Starbucks last night.

I couldn’t have asked for a better adopted parent for my BlackBook.  The guy was just out of high school and had been a long-time Mac user.  He runs a game server on his circa 2007 White MacBook.  He’s a programmer.  He’s a geek.  He’s like a younger me.  You might think it sounds ridiculous to speak about the BlackBook anthropomorphically, but deal with it – I live in a first world country, and I make enough money to do these things.  That’s just the way it is.

The buyer spent about 15 minutes setting up the laptop and making sure it was a good feel before he agreed to buy it.  I was a bit nervous as he walked away with the computer that took me through college, internships, and the beginning of my career – but isn’t it better that he will be putting it to good use now, rather than its going to a landfill in Asia or Africa and literally poisoning the people there?  I think so.

Why the drama over a machine?

This post is tagged as a “guide” because I want you to know that even if you’ve developed an emotional connection with your heap of plastic, coltan, and silicon, it’s okay to let it go.  I knew the day would come when I’d replace the BlackBook, but I didn’t know what it would feel like.  Being such a power-user, I depend on my computer for a lot more than most people.  When it delivers on those demands, it becomes an invaluable resource to me and gains my respect.

I’ll miss the good times I shared with the BlackBook, but it worked non-stop for me for five years and brought in 30% of its initial value upon resale.  Try to accomplish that with a Windows laptop.

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