This just goes to show (1) how much I don't have a life and (2) how out of sync I am with the world around me -- until yesterday, when my manager at work brought it up, I'd totally forgotten that this week was Thanksgiving.
Of course, I'm not taking off any time for it (just getting paid an additional two days), and the other guy on my shift probably isn't, although he was making noises about maybe doing it last night. It's certainly fine with me if he does... I imagine it will be a little quieter than usual the next couple of days anyway.
So, I spent a little time today (between reading technical manuals at home and reading technical manuals at the coffeehouse) at one of the Apple stores.
First off... The design of their storefront totally sucks. Every other store in the (basically glorified strip-)mall has the name or something over their door -- not Apple, they just have the two apple logos next to it. I've been there three times, I know they don't have a sign, I know right about where the store is, but parking is a total pain because it still takes forever to visually ID the place, so I have to bloody park, spend twenty seconds trying to find it, then go park someplace closer because I was way off. Bad design. Bad Apple. If there are ever any accidental collisions in that parking lot, I'm laying the blame squarely at your feet.
Anyway, I've come to the following conclusions... The screen on the 12" isn't that bad, it looks really sweet with a 23" Cinema display hooked up to it, and I'm going to buy one just as soon as my bank account hits the magic number and the A9 discount kicks in. Which I figure might even be the end of this week (need to crunch the numbers to be sure, though, so it might be two weeks instead).
I did have some fun playing with it... Whoever used it after me probably thought two things... First, what are all those funky characters doing in Word, and second, how come it gives me these f*cked up characters when I type? (Yes, I was writing Japanese on the thing within thirty seconds of playing with it. MacOS X has kickass locale/language input support.) I suppose it was a little mean of me, but easy enough to fix. :)
The other thing, though, is that I'll need a bag/backpack for it. I figure my budget for that is in the $50 range (IOW, I'm looking for something decent, but not extravagant). I like the current backpack for my 17" Dell enough that I think I want a backpack, but something smaller (another one like the one for my 17" would just be way too big), but everything I've seen like that is ridiculously expensive ($179? For a padded backpack? Not even). Anybody have any ideas and/or suggestions?
For reasons that I probably shouldn't go into too much detail about (let's just say, it's one of the things making a PowerBook affordable), I've been diving into a new language recently -- Ruby.
Of course, when I started, I was pretty much just thinking to myself "ho, hum, another language," and I really wasn't that excited about it (not that I'm particularly resistant to learning new languages, if there's any reason at all to do it -- it's really not that hard picking them up, after all). But now... Well, Ruby is just cool. I never really understood why people were getting all that excited about Python, but if it's half as cool as Ruby, it's pretty cool, and maybe now I understand.
It seems fairly obvious to me that the person who wrote Ruby had been a Scheme programmer in a previous life. A lot of the nomenclature is the same (the ! and ? notation for methods immediately jumped out at me when I saw them), and it has a lot of the same features I hadn't seen since, continuations and lambdas in particular. In fact, the coolest (and most Scheme-like feature) of Ruby is the fact that it's completely typeless... A given "variable" can be any object, including an expression or a function. It's the sort of language that would make the computer science purists I've known happy (the sort of people that hate types and love garbage collection) and still work for the practical hackers like me (who tend to like the fact that you can do the same things in TCL, which achieves practical typelessness by storing absolutely everything in a string, including expressions. Ugly, yet powerfully useful for abstraction at times). While I'm more hacker than purist, getting both makes me unreasonably happy.
In fact... I'm planning on rewriting all of my Japanese drill programs in Ruby at some point. One of the reasons for doing that, of course, is just getting practice using the language. Despite the large amounts of time I've sunk into working on my drill programs, the truth of the matter is that a very small percentage of that time has actually been spent writing the programs themselves -- most of the time has been spent building datasets for the programs to work with (albeit sometimes writing programs in TCL or Perl to help me build those datasets). I imagine that if I wasn't working on anything else -- which, of course, I am -- I could rewrite and finish the whole set of programs in well under a week (finishing up my vocabulary dataset -- well, we're still talking months). Another reason is that TCL is kind of ugly and hard to maintain... And this is the first language that's tempted me enough to try using TK in it.
Maybe, just maybe, I'd even port the programs over to Rails and stick those datasets in a database. To tell the truth, it's actually kind of disturbing how easy that looks like it would be.