The Keeper of the iBook

Rollie McFly's Guide to Solitaire

By Mark Newhouse, <>
March 27, 2000

I teach a science class every other week to high school aged homeschoolers. I have been teaching them image processing using NIH Image, a free, Mac only, scientific image processing program. Since we meet in a church I have had to cart in several Macintosh computers each week. It turns out that all of the computer users in the group use Wintel machines. So as I set up the computers I hear lots of the standard arguments against Macs, but in the form of respectfully asked questions. But of course they still all want to use the iBook.

A recent conversation went something like this:

"Are there very many programs for the Mac?"

"Over 17,000. And all of the most popular Windows applications have Macintosh counterparts."

"How fast are they?"

"The two desktops are four and five years old, so they aren't as fast as the iBook, but they still run much of the latest software. I don't know of any 5 year old Wintel machines that can do that."

Discussion of benchmarks and G3/G4 speed versus PIII/AMD chips ensues.

Beginning to soften...

"How much was the iBook?"

"They start at $1600."

From the back of the room...

"Are there any games on these things?"

"No, I borrowed them from work, so there are no games, but let me show you something."

At this point I fire up Virtual PC on the iBook, just to show them that I am familiar with, and can run both platforms. They seem impressed that I can run Windows on the iBook.

"Here, let me show you the free game that comes with Windows," I say as I follow the twisted path through the Start menu to Solitaire. As the cards appear on the screen, the same voice comes from the back of the room, "Hey cool, you can play solitaire..."

A short discussion about who is best at Mine Sweeper ensues while I quit VPC (saving for a quick start first). Then I launch Bugdom, saying, "Here is the free game you get with the iBook."

Most of the kids have gathered around the iBook by now as I start Rollie running around, kicking nuts and freeing a few Lady Bugs.

"It's time to start class," I say as I quit the game.

After class, as I am packing up I hear, "I usually don't like Macs, but this was fun."

Well said.

Mark Newhouse is the Web Designer for the public outreach arm of the National Optical Astronomy Observatories in Tucson, AZ. He has been using Macs for over a decade, and with the recent addition of a Grape iMac to his home network, is a proud user of all four products in Apple's grid.

The iBook image is courtesy Apple Computer, Inc. The iBook icon is courtesy the Iconfactory.

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