Jon Simpson

Replacement PowerBook

16 Mar 2005 — apple, powerbook, mac os x<

Ok, so the replacement for my previously damaged PowerBook arrived today. It’s as expected, and at this point I think I’m going to wait a few days before making any sweeping statements about its functional state.

Again, it seemed just as I had got used to the iBook, the PowerBook came along and impressed me with its vastly superior keyboard, screen and performance. A few small catches, that applied equally to the first machine I received, but I didn’t note at the time: the iBook I’m using originated in the US, and is fitted with a keyboard that has # above 3 and no £ on the keyboard. The PowerBook is obviously UK spec, and has a pound sign on the 3 key. This requires you to press ALT+3 to get the # symbol.

This causes issues using things like irssi via ssh, which work best with ALT mapped to meta, leaving you unable to actually write a # when needed, such as coding in vi, which I also frequently do. For now I’ve left the default ESC binding to meta, which is troublesome because you cant just hold it down and hit number keys to switch between irssi windows, but I’m slowly getting used to it. Maybe I’ll work out a better solution. (Ideally being able to change this one key to behave like its US equivalent would be nice, maybe there’s an option for that somewhere in System Preferences…)

Other oddities on the UK Powerbook keyboard include the key next to 1 being a weird squiggle thing instead of ~, which when you’re used to the old ~ position, gets quite annoying to press (it generates weird codes in the terminal, instead of its actual form). The ~ position on the PowerBook is generally better though, so this one is just a case of getting used to.

The fact that the keyboard illumination takes up F8-F10 was also a bit of a strange discovery, given I’d got accustomed to using Expose instead of Alt+Tab or the Dock for application switching, and i cant actually reach FN+F9/10/11 with one hand, never mind the speed of one keypress. I’ve since enabled the option that means the F1-F12 keys only behave in the default way when combined with FN, allowing me to use expose as I used to.

One thing I also wonder, is why there’s a second enter next to the cursor pad on both the iBook and PowerBook. Having a second FN key there would be extremely handy for doing page up/page down, and I can’t say I ever use that second enter key.


I have always wondered the same about the second enter key.

I would also prefer a second cmd key on the right side… but that is b/c I have 20 years of conditioning with a standard keyboard.

msbob, 22 Mar 2007