Hi, I've been considering for a long time purchasing a new Mac. I don't want to deplete my cash reserves too seriously because I plan to move in about 18 months or so, and on my salary as a grad student it takes a long time to save up. So I can't spend too much. My current computer is a Toshiba Satellite Pro from 97-98 with a 1 GB hard disk and a broken keyboard (I use an external keyboard, and a heavily hacked up keymap for when I want/have to use the built-in one), 32MB of RAM, and a fried battery. I run a really trimmed down Linux install on it; I'm able to run the essentials like bash, X (with only a very basic wm), emacs, g++, GnuPG, make, and whatever. Really, I could get done what needs doing on this beast, but it isn't pleasant. And I've not started writing the dissertation yet. Also, (La)TeX is not possible because of disk space considerations. (I do most work on the office machine, this thing is just what I have at home). I have decided that I could probably afford, for less than (CAN)$2400, a tricked out 12" iBook (max the memory, HD, AE, bluetooth & wireless mouse), and get a really nice 3rd party bag to put it in. I could probably sell the surplus 128 MB memory stick, too. What I want to know is: 1. While I'm sure this computer will outdo my current setup many times over, I would want at least 3 years or so of useful life out of it so that I didn't feel I was wasting my money. Is this reasonable? Will I be able to enjoy the computing mainstream (in terms of software) for about 3-4 years? 2. I am not a professional designer, artist, or musician. I would nevertheless like to play with modern web design, and put my iBook through some amateur recording, musicianship and DJing tasks, especially once the PhD is done. Is this something I should reasonably be able to do on this set up without aggravation? Since I can run GIMP on a much older linux machine, I'm guessing that graphics utilities such as Photoshop are not beyond this set up. 3. I am not above a firmware hack to get screen spanning. Is the screen spanning hack as good as people make it out? i.e., will my iBook crash in the middle of my defense presentation or something if I do this? 4. I will be doing a lot of code development on this machine. The really computationally hard stuff I have access to much better resources for, but I would like to be able to run my codes on toy computational grids without thrashing the swap for an hour. Reasonable? Compiling without having time to walk to the coffee shop. Reasonable? 5. Comments on making the switch Linux -> Mac are welcome. 6. Maybe serving as a DVD player with the S-Video patch cord. Reasonable? 7. Sometimes I like console mode. Is there such a thing as switching between the window manager and console mode, as in Linux? 8. Is it possible to get european keycaps, even though I would be ordering on a student discount from Canada? (I have this thing for ISO specifications) 9. Hobby level video editing. Feasible? 10. Games (like Ghost Recon or whatever). Feasible? I'm not seriously into these, but I'd like to know I can play without the computer making it a pointless exercise. 11. How's the keyboard on these things? Will it (and my hands) take the typing of a dissertation? 12. How's the display on these things. I currently run at 800x600 on 12" at home, but comparisons with modern displays are welcome. 13. Any weirdness with the current 12" iBooks that has been noticed? I guess, in short, am I really asking for a powerbook (in the sense that these are the things I'm expecting to be able to do) ? I plan to do more work than just websurfing and email on this thing, and it will be my computer for a year or two when I'm starting a real career. I plan to probably wait, anyway, until the next speed bump or redesign, which I expect will be roughly coincident with the next Powerbook improvement. I'm hesitating over an 800 MHz processor, which sounds slow to me. (But then, not 1 year ago the 12" PB was at 867MHz or so). Thanks.