Ok, so even I would have to admit that this is a fairly trivial side of computational aesthetics -- how your machine looks. However, I couldn't resist designing my own "skin" for the new laptop. In addition to being sick of seeing just how quickly the white plastic was scratching, there's a certain utility in being able to tell your white laptop apart from the rest: I'm living very close to Cupertino now, and this is definitely Apple country.
So, I scanned in a page from Thomas Pynchon's V. and uploaded it to Unique Skins' skin-designer utility. Props to them for providing this service at the best price -- they undercut some of the other players in the "skins" business by about ten bucks.
If you're not hip to the skins (and why would you be unless you want people to know how cool you are just by looking at your iPod or, uh, MacBook) there is a thriving business of printing images on pre-cut slices of 3m ControlTac, which is a removable, non-gooey self-adhesive vinyl. There are a bunch of people doing this: GelaSkins, which specializes in images from hip graffiti- or anime-inspired artists, MacVatar, which is obviously Mac-oriented, and Skinit, which seems to serve more plebeian tastes...as well as dozens of others. They protect the finish of your new (disposable in three-five years) laptop investment, but mostly allow you to modify the appearance without spending a lot of cash, adding a bulky shell, or voiding your warranty.
Well, that will end the commercial messages for the day.
Nerd note: this is the place where Pynchon claims that the classic WWII-era graffito, the Kilroy, was derived originally from a band-pass filter; this ties into my obsession with the
history of computing, and WWII's influence in pushing the computer to the prominence it has today. Plus I think the band-pass Kilroy looks rockin'.