(Note: I published this impromptu piece last week on my main website, but I think it’s worth republishing here due to the nature of its content, and also for the benefit of those who only follow this blog.)
Right now I’m writing this in TextWrangler 2.1.3. When the post is finished, I’ll copy & paste it in WordPress’ Web interface and publish it here.
I’m writing this on a clamshell blueberry iBook G3/300. It has both Mac OS 9.2.2 and Mac OS X 10.3.9 installed on it. It has 288 MB RAM. It has what now can be considered a tiny hard drive: 3 GB. Of those 3 GB, the OS X partition only has 803.4 MB of free disk space. But everything works fine. The screen is bright: brighter than, say, my other clamshell iBook G3/466 SE, which is a newer model.
Across the table there is a PowerBook G4 12” burning a CD-RW of stuff to archive (mostly documentation and manuals in PDF format), and a PowerBook 5300ce performing a backup on a few ZIP disks.
I’m writing this with three other apps opened: Preview, NetNewsWire 2.1.5 (which is very snappy and configured with some essential feeds I want to be able to read even from this machine), and Opera 10.10, which is the last version of this fine browser that is compatible with Mac OS X 10.3.9. It has six tabs open at the moment, two of which let me keep an eye on Twitter and App.net.
I’m writing from this old iBook because 20 minutes ago I decided to boot it with the intention of downgrading it to just a Mac OS 9 machine. Once this Mac had a very long-lasting battery (more than 5 hours) and an AirPort card. But I neglected it for a long time with the battery drained, and last time I tried reviving it was all in vain. The AirPort card was removed and given to a Titanium PowerBook G4, which needed it more than this iBook.
I’m writing this while connected to the Internet via Ethernet cable. It feels quaint, but I still smiled at how quickly the iBook connected to the Internet just four seconds after plugging in the cable.
I’m writing this while the battery — oh so magically, oh so surprisingly — is recharging after refusing to do so for so long. It’s at 11% now, and in 3 hours and 35 minutes the battery indicator says it will be fully charged.
As I’m writing this, I feel my writing flowing out rather effortlessly: is this vintage, minimalistic setup? Perhaps it is. Perhaps it’s just how I roll, no matter where I am, or which device I’m writing on. But now I’m having second thoughts and maybe I won’t wipe Mac OS X. Maybe with a full battery, I’ll still find some use for this iBook. Its design may look dated, but boy is it comfortable to write on. My wrists just rest in the right position. My fingers reach every corner of the keyboard without effort. I even like the feel of this keyboard more than when I type on my MacBook Pro’s keyboard.
When you browse the Web, you realise how cramped and slightly impractical a screen resolution of 800×600 is today. But in some sites it somehow helps you focus more on the articles, while ads, banners and other visual interferences remain hidden outside the browser window’s width and height. There’s more scrolling, there’s just a bit more effort, but it’s not as annoying as you’d expect. Not for me, at least.
I’m writing this and I’m thinking about all the obsession about workflows and frictionless setups and I’m thinking “Screw it, sometimes the best workflow is what you have with you” or something like that. Maybe a bit of friction is necessary to make you go just a wee bit slower, enough to make you think about what you’re doing and not simply do stuff in auto-pilot.
I’m writing this and I’m thinking about all the obsession about when to write, and how often, and that inspiration is a myth, and that you just have to sit and write everyday, and so on. I still think that inspiration is what makes you write a bit more meaningfully. But everything works. Why does a method have to be better than another? Perhaps something starts in the most unassuming, trivial circumstances, and ends up being more meaningful than something else you’ve been mulling over for days, while consuming dozens of cups of coffee.
I’m writing this on this iBook because I love vintage technology and thankfully when it comes to working with text, I’m lucky enough to be able to use any of my Macs or devices, no matter how old, in a productive way. And that feels good.