Sunday, December 28, 2008

Bookley - Year One

Almost exactly one year ago, I purchased my first-ever laptop computer: a MacBook Pro which I dubbed Bookley. I had been tempted to wait until the new product announcements at MacWorld Expo last year, in order to avoid buying a computer that would immediately be out-of-date, but desire overcame my caution and I ended up sauntering into the Apple Store in Southdale to make my purchase.

As it turned out, waiting wouldn't have made much difference -- the MacBook Pro line was announced for an update later in January, but only for a small increase in processor speed and a slightly larger hard drive. The 'Book I'd bought was hardly rendered obsolete by that refresh.

Now, after a year, if I had to describe my MacBook Pro experience in one word, that word would be 'convenient'. Though I could likely survive just fine without Bookley, he makes my life easier in a number of ways:


I work for a company doing application support, and once every three to four weeks have to be the on-call person for emergency weekend or overnight calls. Once I was able to configure Bookley to use the company VPN to allow remote access to my work PC, I no longer had to worry that any call would require me to hop in the car and drive to work just to see what the problem was. In fact, the ability to remote into work was more convenient than just connections from home -- I was also able to connect from activities like the Tuesday night bridge group or the Friday gaming sessions without having to completely remove myself from the event. The money, time, and gas I've saved just in the last year is probably enough to justify Bookley's cost right off the top.

Of course, all good things must end -- our new corporate parent, in accordance with their network policies, is going to shut down remote access for all employees at our site, so the single biggest advantage of having Bookley is about to go out the window, for no fault of mine or my laptop's. C'est la vie.


Bookley enhances my free time in a number of ways:

- My current desktop machine is a MacMini from a few years back, when it still ran the G4 processor. While this is good in a number of ways (it allows me to continue to use the backward-compatible OS 9 layer to run my really old Mac software), the bad part of using the Mini as my main machine is that many new games and other software programs are being released for Macs with higher end processors. (Civilization IV was one such title.) Bookley lets me run those programs.

- By setting up a partition on which to install Windows using Boot Camp, I can also participate in games with no Mac client. The main advantage this has been for me is in interacting with Wizards of the Coast's software development arm, who has tied themselves to Windows development as the smallest investment leading to the largest possible payoff. When I boot Bookley into Windows Vista, I can run Magic Online and the beta of the D&D 4.0 Character Creator with no problems. (I've also been playing City of Heroes on the Windows side, but with NCSoft's announcement of an upcoming Mac client, I'll be switching from PC to Mac for that game soon!)

- By using scanning and OCR software, I'm able to carry most of my D&D 3.5 reference books on Bookley's hard drive rather than in an arm-breaking pile of physical paper. This makes it a lot easier to find a relevent spell, rule, or other piece of gaming minutiae on demand in the middle of a fight at our Friday D&D sessions.

Bookley also helps me keep up with this blog, with the additional aid of the MarsEdit blogging package, a drop-dead worthwhile purchase if you plan to do any significant online writing. I use MarsEdit to connect both to this blog as well as put in my share of work on The AL Central Blog (though we'll see how that blog fares in the off-season).

I was even able to take Bookley on the road and make a few posts from far-away places, like GenCon 2008.

Not everything I've done with Bookley has been filled with win -- I got into the preview for MobileMe and discovered that I didn't use it nearly enough to justify the $100 per year price tag, for instance. On the whole, though, owning Bookley has been a great experience, and well worth the price.

Still, my resolution for 2009 is to do something so significant with Bookley that I'll feel compelled to finally set up some kind of backup regimen for him.

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