Wine update: Three days into the process I realize there is no way to be discreet about winemaking. It's lucky it is not illegal. We have achieved what is termed in the literature as a rollicking ferment. You could hear the bubbling from across the room. There is a faint odor of sulfide from the first, larger bucket. Rotten egg gas, a byproduct of fermentation. is the #1 problem of winemakers everywhere, but it is not necessarily serious in and of itself yet. I will check again today. The control batch, made with corn sugar, is a day younger and is simply wonderful. It is about 3-4% alcohol and already tastes delicious.
Computer issues: I will be buying a laptop here in the States. It has to be a 15.4" widescreen with excellent battery life. Those are pretty much opposites, of course. (Weight is not an issue. My current laptop weighs 9.5 pounds with the brick and I consider it light enough.)
And it should be under $2000. But really, under $1,500.
Naturally the MacBook Pro is on the shortlist. It is pricey but the OS is of course included, it being a Mac. And it would be virus-free, which may save time in the long run.
But I am leaning toward a ThinkPad T61 or maybe a Dell Vostro 1500. The ThinkPad is ahead because I need a solid, best in the biz keyboard that is good for three years of nonstop pounding. (The Mac is said to have some "flex" in it, whatever that is). The fact that the ThinkPad looks "boring" is actually a pro, not a con, for me. I could care less about what my computer looks like as long as it is a sturdy business class build. Something makes me think that Macintoshes are beautiful, odd, expensive toys for the status-conscious. There are some real issues with Macs that have never been resolved in my mind.
I am typing this on a G4 -- the computers here are all Macs -- but consider:
* The 1992 Powerbook (which originally retailed at $2000, my absolute maximum budget in 2007). This was my road computer for light word processing as late as 2002. Then it suffered a fall of 12 inches from my car while in its case and the screen shattered into tiny pieces. I do not care that this was a machine from 15 years ago. No $2000 piece of hardware designed for portable use should be that fragile. Have things improved?
Contrast that with my current notebook, a $2000 (as marketed in Estonia in 2005) Fujitsu Siemens Amilo, a hot and heavy but powerful 2004 notebook -- I have landed on it with my full weight in a bicycle wreck, it has been nicked and dented and thumped around, yet it still works well. The only problem is that dust clogs the fan and overheated CPU will cause it to shut down without warning, but regular vacuuming resolves this problem.
* Safari, Apple's browser, used to take 45 seconds to boot on this G4. Now it looks like this problem has been fixed. But I don't know why or how.
* On my Fujitsu, I have only lost maybe 8 hours of work in three years of heavy use, even with my bad habits -- such as not saving or backing up as I should. The AutoRecovery utility was up and running on Word when I installed it. Never had to do anything. I am happy with Windows XP. Even adware hasn't been that much of a problem -- maybe an additional five hours of fixing in three years. Nothing that Safe Mode or a System State Restore hasn't resolved. On the other hand, I have suffered just as many application crashes on various Macs, and always the data is gone for ever.
* My wife is unable to access the wireless Internet at Portland's Public Library with her Mac PowerBook 12". In a number of other locations, there have been problems with AirPort.
* I rely heavily on the Delete key and right mouse button. The Mac lacks them. Tapping twice on touch pads (the Macintosh's way around this) doesn't sound like a good substitute to me. I had a problem accidentally brushing the touchpad for the first few months using my current laptop.
* My translation interface is a Visual Basic script summoned within Word -- like a big macro. Would it definitely work on a Mac? It works without a hitch on XP, but it is a Polish written programme that is a reverse engineer of a much more expensive translation programme, Trados.