Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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450 words on

Ugh, I’m not a graphics card person. I don’t play hardware intensive 3D games, I don’t do 3D graphics beyond drawing some graphs. And the computers I’ve used in the past years were up to the challenges I had for them. So I never cared. Even with the ‘no graphics chip’ situation of the MacBook that many people worry about, I’m not too concerned.

While I have heard that the 3D performance of the chips there isn’t stunning and that a fun Quartz Composer file I made on a friend’s iMac that gives you a rotating cube with the live image of the camera distorted by a different CoreGraphics filter on each file won’t run smoothly on the MacBook – that’s hardly a ‘real-life’ issue and I’ll have to do without that minute of fun then. An upside of the ‘no graphics chip’ situation as a more technical friend pointed out to me btw, may be that a lame garphics chip should use less power which means the laptop leaves fewer burn marks…

And as things go – literally on my last day with a computer that has a graphics chip worth naming and numbering – ATI 9550 or so – I was pointed to ATI’s add on software for the Mac. Something I never even bothered to look at, supposing that it’s for gamers only anyway. And how wrong I was! The software comes with a crappy installer and will give you a preference pane with a rather minimalist design…

ATI pane in System Preferences

… containing a single button launch to actual preferences application – without needing a restart to their credit. And that preferences application contains a rather cool preference: You can just rotate the screen contents in ninety degree steps. Not only to give onlookers from the other side a better glance, but even more so to easily enable a portrait mode.

Keeping in mind that my first Mac experience was on a LC III with Apple’s cool greyscale portrait monitor, I was excited to do that. Portrait mode makes a lot of sense for many tasks and it just looks cool. Unfortunately it’s a bit tricky to keep an iBook all plugged in while using it in portrait mode…

Using the iBook in portrait mode

See a more detailed screenshot of this. And as the switches happen within a second or so, start thinking about whether the Sudden Motion Sensor gives sufficient information to automatically rotate the screen’s contents when the *Books orientation changes – just like the newer Canon cameras do. The switch only takes a second or so, so that part of the game would work…

Oh, and using a mouse while looking at a screen that’s rotated by ninety degrees in surprisingly hard!

June 11, 2006, 0:59

Tagged as software.

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