As I flip open my PowerBook, whether it’s at the beginning of a presentation, plane flight, or just about anywhere, people invariably ask me about it. Most are Windows-only users, so I just give them the basics; yes, the screen is big, yes, I can read Word documents, no, I don’t use Outlook, yes, I can run Windows on it, but I don’t have any need to do so, this browser is called Safari, this is how iTunes works, etc. But, sometimes, like at Macworld Expo, in an Apple Store, or even in a coffee shop somewhere, I run into a Mac user.
Of course, we all know there are two types of Mac users: those who run Mac OS X and those who don’t. Yet. For the latter, I run through the OS including the Dock, Column View, applications they can’t run like iTunes 4 and the iTunes Music Store, the Genie Effect, Force Quitting applications without crashing the whole shebang, not setting memory allocations, Mail, Safari, etc. But, it’s those who run Mac OS X, especially on a portable Mac, that I learn the most from and can really get into discussing how to run a portable Macintosh with Mac OS X. After almost four years now with OS X, I’ll tell you how I think a PowerBook or iBook should be run.
I never shut down my computer. Well, hardly ever. My PowerBook has been on or asleep for over three weeks currently. This excludes any restarts due to software updates since I have to keep current. I must have gone over two months at least without restarting or shutting down at times in the past.
Although the frequency of Apple’s incremental OS and other application updates sometimes makes me wonder if they are forcing me to restart when I normally wouldn’t for a reason or just to mess with me.
I use a 21-inch CRT monitor at work at 1600×1200 resolution, monitor spanning with the PowerBook’s display. I use another monitor at home, an Apple LCD display the same way. Obviously, at other times, I just use the PowerBook’s screen. My day starts with sliding the PowerBook into my BookEndz Dock at work, opening the lid, instantly awaking from Sleep, hitting Detect Displays from the Menu Bar, banging to Location under the Apple Menu which sets my Network Prefs with a single click, and starting work from any of ten or more already running applications.
At the end of the day, I simply close the lid, the computer goes to sleep, slide it out of the Dock, slip it into my backpack, and head home. At home, I either open the lid while on the couch or side the PowerBook into my home BookEndz Dock, Detect Displays and start computing again. I have Airport at home and a hard-wired connection at work and various Wi-Fi points in airports and other places.
The next day, I do the same thing again. Just Sleep, no Shut Downs.
After talking with many people running similar hardware and Mac OS X, I’ve concluded that there is almost no need to ever shut down your computer. While in Sleep mode, the PowerBook consumes almost no battery power. I restart very infrequently and I hardly ever Quit applications like Dreamweaver MX, Photoshop, ImageReady, Mail, Safari, BBEdit, iTunes, etc.
I will admit, though, that as a long time Mac user, I still use the Desktop heavily and have drives on the Desktop. It’s a vestige of having used the Classic Mac OS for so long, I guess. Though I hardly ever click on the drives sitting there on the Desktop because I have my hard drives in the Dock and have customized my Finder windows with commonly-used Folders and such.
I’m interested in hearing from you if you’re running your iBook or PowerBook the same way or think I’m crazy for how I’m using my Mac or a little of both.
is a long-time Macintosh user, web designer, multimedia producer and a regular contributor to the MacDailyNews Opinion section.
MacDailyNews Note: This article is an updated version of the original article from June 5, 2003 where other reader feedback comments can be found regarding this subject.]