So the laptop has been returned. From the experience, I’ve learned these things:

  1. If a box powers up but doesn’t do the BIOS screen, and the check that all the jumpers on the motherboard are clean and properly seated.
  2. Never use a vaccum cleaner to clean out a system (I didn’t, but considered it).
  3. Always research before purchasing, even if it requires extra work to find someone with a working internet connection (yeah, this is a pretty obvious lesson, but I have the excuse of “nerd-computer withdrawl syndrome” :-P).
  4. MacOS X requires more than 512M of RAM to do a 100s-of-files file-transfer from the Finder without slowing down the system (both OS X and gnome-vfs have a “preparing to copy” stage, which lists all the files to be transfered and their sizes, which caches all that information in RAM—this is unsurprising since most of Eazel’s hackers [who wrote gnome-vfs] were ex-Apple employees who worked on the Finder).
  5. Nearly everything about file sharing on OS X is really nice :-).
  6. FTP is over 25x faster than “Windows Networking”/SMB for file transfers — this is because SMB is a horribly noisy protocol, and a true standard for incompetance. Something to think about when setting up your own network.
  7. When returning a computer, remember to copy any pre-installed fonts, images, etc. you think are cool (I forgot). This is probably illegal, but I consider it fair due to the outrageous restocking fees (after all, the employee wages required do a turnaround on my laptop [see if it all works, reinstall the stock setup, update their inventory, and put it back on the shelf] cannot be more about $10-20, but I was charged the standard 10% [well over 10x that amount]).
  8. If you’re considering buying a laptop—especially if you’re a linux/unix software developer—wait another year and get a G5. They are supposed to be 64-bit, and therefore will give you two axis of tests for your code (endianness and platform) vs. a PC running Linux.