macbook

MacBooks and Caps Lock and Control

I learned to touch-type over 30 years ago, on an IBM Selectric typewriter. I'm a fast and accurate typist, compared to most programmers. I've always considered typing to be a basic skill that all programmers should take seriously. What goes on in your head is more important than how fast you can type, but the more efficient you are in getting your thoughts into the computer, the better you are going to be at your job.

I've been dismayed at one "feature" of my MacBook: to prevent accidental triggering of the Caps Lock key by incompetent typists, Apple makes it necessary to hold down the Caps Lock key for an extra fraction of a second. If you just tap it quickly, it does nothing. See http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1192 for Apple's explanation. They have also baked this behavior into some of their keyboards: see http://support.apple.com/kb/TS1578.

While I'm sure that many people welcome this feature, I do not. I type quickly and confidently, and my fingers hit the Caps Lock key at the appropriate times without me consciously thinking about it. I hit and release it so quickly that my MacBook ignores it. So when I type "UNIX is awesome!", "Party in the USA!" or "New York, NY", I see "unix is awesome!", "Party in the usa!" or "New York, ny" on the screen.

There is no easy way to disable this feature. When I complain, most people respond "Big deal. We hardly ever use Caps Lock." Well, I do. I've been using it for 30 years, and it has always worked fine. Until Apple decided It Should Just Not Work.

So, I looked into what I could do.

New 15-inch MacBook Pro

A few days ago, I bought a 15-inch MacBook Pro. For those of you keeping score, that brings the number of Macintoshes in our household to five. We also have two iPhones and several iPods. I wish the local Apple Store had some sort of customer loyalty program.

I bought this machine for work. (My wife will snicker at this statement, but it's true.) I've been toting a Toshiba tablet with Windows XP to the office for the past couple of years, but with each passing month, I've hated it more. Most of my development work has been for Linux, and I haven't needed Windows much. So, I've decided I'll finally ditch PC's for good.

I will have VMWare Fusion running Windows, Linux, and FreeDOS. For a contract programming gig a couple years ago, I ran Windows on my 13-inch MacBook with Parallels, and that worked pretty well, so I'm confident that a beefier Mac with VMWare can handle all my Windows needs from now on.

The new Pro is pretty. For the past few days, I've been preparing it for service by installing all the necessary software. On Monday, I'll take it to work, but I'll also take my old Toshiba for a few days until I'm sure the new machine can take its place.

MacBook Display Problem

A couple of weeks ago, my Macbook's display started "flickering." It seemed like I was getting some electromagnetic interference, so I didn't worry much at first. But, it got progressively worse, and now the screen is unreadable.

I took it in to the local Apple Genius Bar, and they took it in for repair. I should have it back in a week or less.

I'm glad I have a Genius Bar nearby, considering all the problems I've been having with recent Apple products. I've been using computers for almost thirty years, but have never needed repairs or service until I bought the iMac G5 and the Macbook.

UPDATE 2007/07/19: Got the Macbook back, and it's working fine now. According to the service form, the following parts were replaced:

630-7691  PCB, MLB, 2.0GHZ DC, SMS/KIONI
607-0199  ASSY, HEATSINK, M42(1.0mmConnect
605-0994  SVC, TOP CASE W
646-0302  DSPL 13.3 GLOSSY AUO
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