New MacBook Pro 13″

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I finally received my brand new MacBook Pro 13″ from the good little elves at Apple in China!  The computer came in an unmarked box and it said it came from some obscure company in China.  I’m guessing they did that so no one would steal the computer from the back of the UPS truck.  I didn’t go with the 15″ because it was too big and heavy and the screen on this thing is pretty awesome for a 13″ so I’m pleased with my purchase.

I got the one with the touch bar and so far its been decently useful.  I can’t say much about it since most of the things I’ve been using have been pretty standard.  It’s been useful for the volume and brightness so far and I’ve also started to experiment with audio and video playback using the touch bar.  I just noticed that there are spelling suggestions when you type just like the iPhone but I don’t know if I’m going to use it since I type fast and just let auto spell check do its thing.  I’ve spent most of my time trying to get all the data back onto the computer.  I didn’t bring stuff back from TimeMachine since there was a lot of junk on my old computer that I didn’t want on my new one.  It was a good thing that I was able to move most of the media to my NAS so I don’t have to worry about jamming up the SSD with a ton of files that can live elsewhere.

This MacBook you definitely can’t get in the store.  I upgraded the RAM to 16GB and I also increased the size of the SSD to 1TB.  I’m used to having large on board storage and I can’t give that stuff up now.  Even though I have my own private cloud, my internet connection at home isn’t fast enough to support media streaming except when I’m at home.  But that was the purpose anyway from the get go.  I am going to start using it more for iMovie which is why I got a more powerful machine this time around.  My old MacBook was struggling a little bit when it was trying to splice things together so I’m hoping that this will be better.

By far the coolest thing is unlocking my computer with my Apple Watch or with my finger using Touch ID.  When it recognizes my Apple Watch, I don’t even get a chance to use Touch ID!  Thats pretty cool!  I haven’t found any shopping websites that use Apple Pay (I mostly use Amazon for my shopping and they don’t support it really) but I’m keen to give it a go.  I did install some software like Paragon NTFS.  That thing costs $20 but I need it for reading and writing the NTFS drives that I still have at home because of my Windows 10 computer.  I should probably re-do those drives as exFAT or something so they can be read by Mac and by Windows.  I also got a HooToo hub so I have 3 USB 3.1 ports, an HDMI port, and a SD Card reader for my GoPro stuff.  I also have 2 adapters from Aukey to change my plugs from USB 3.0 to USB-C.  Using the HooToo and the adapters really isn’t as bad as everyone makes it out to be on YouTube.  I was able to use it just fine when I was doing my backups of my iPhone and transferring files over from my external drives.  It’s just one more thing to put away but thats a really small thing in my opinion.  This computer is really kind of like a desktop replacement for me so its not going to go many places and even if it does, I’m going to be pretty mobile and won’t need a lot of cables to sync or do nutty things like that.

The one thing I was concerned about was the keyboard.  I had tried out the keyboard in the store and it was just meh to me.  It wasn’t great and it wasn’t too bad but the key travel was kinda not the same.  I’ve been using it for about a day and a half and I’m typing up this post on it and I like the keyboard a lot.  It reminds me of typing on my iPad when I’m not using the external keyboard, the key travel is pretty short but theres just enough that lets me know its a real keyboard and not a screen.  The reason I was hesitant at first about getting this was the lack of input by using a pen to draw stuff.  When it really came down to it, I don’t draw that much anyway and it was a nice to have.  The Retina display is awesome since my old computer didn’t have it but all my other apple devices do.  I can tell there is a difference when I look at the screen and it not being touch doesn’t really bother me in the slightest.  Thats what I have an iPad Air 2 and an iPhone 7 for after all.

One thing that I have found kind of useful is using Siri.  I was attempting to move my backups from on the SSD to an external drive for iOS.  Instead of using finder, I just hit the Siri button on the touch bar and asked for it to bring up Terminal.  it was pretty handy since it worked similar to how it works on the iPhone.  I just asked her to “Launch Terminal” and away it went.  I haven’t had too many problems and its already done a few software updates to bring it up to speed.  I can’t wait to try out macOS High Sierra.  Unlike my past MacBook Pro, I’m not going to use the beta on this computer.  Maybe I should create a VM or something but that would take up precious space on my SSD.  Maybe I’ll look and see what software I can use to create a VM so I can try it out and off load the VHD somewhere so it doesn’t take up space.

I’ve got some traveling to do tomorrow so I won’t be able to mess with my MacBook tomorrow but I should have some time in the coming week to fine tune it so I have it just the way I want it.  Hopefully this thing will last more than 5 years, I’d like to keep it a little longer than the last computer.  It would be sad if my HP Desktop outlasted this MacBook Pro.

Got a new MacBook Pro!

Yesterday was Apples WWDC and while normally it’s software focused, yesterday they announced a bunch of hardware updates.  One of those updates was to the MacBook Pro which received the Kaby Lake processors.  Out of everything yesterday this is the only news I really cared about since it triggered my “buy” order on the Apple Store.

My other MacBook is pretty much dead right now, I’ve tried getting it to boot but to no avail.  I’m saving the SSD from it as an external drive or something that I can take with me to transfer pictures and other things.  Similar to my now dead Macbook, I just had to modify the configuration.  I opted for the 13″ screen instead of the 15″ screen since the 15″ was too heavy to carry around.  I also maxed out the RAM and the SSD to 16GB and 1TB respectively.  I left the processor alone at the 2.9Ghz i5.  The older MacBook I spiced up the processor so it was an i7 quad core but I don’t need that sort of thing.  It needs to do iMovie more and more since I take more video which is why the RAM and SSD are important.  I also have tons of things that take up space like pictures and video.  While I do offload that stuff to the cloud it’s part of my crazy backup strategy so I never lose a photo.

The unfortunate part is that I won’t get the MacBook until next week.  It takes 3-5 business days just to get out the door let alone ship it to my home.  I can survive a little longer with my daughters computer but I will say it was painful doing Azure on Chrome.  This one will hopefully last at least 5 years like my last MacBook Pro.  Although if it could last as long as my desktop that would be amazing since it’s 9 years old running Windows 10.  With the extra power, maybe I’ll update to Final Cut Pro for video edits.  The templates in iMovie are few and far between and the stuff from GoPro is good but the editing interface sucks.

The great thing with the MacBook Pro is that there will be minimal configuration needed.  Just a few apps here and there and that’s it!  I’m going to find a way to import my iTunes playlists and music from the NAS and keep that crap off the laptop so it’s not cluttering my drive. I had problems with it on my desktop but then again it’s running Windows.  Worse comes to worse, I have a time machine backup to make it a quick restore.

Microsoft just told me to buy a MacBook Pro

Today was the big day from Microsoft where the new Surface Pro would be announced in Shanghai and after watching some reviews and news snippets I can say MS will not be getting my money when I have to get a new computer.  The new Surface Pro is a little thinner and has the updated Intel processors but other than that there isn’t anything compelling me to buy it.  Sure I want to be able to use a stylus for drawing and stuff but thats mostly for work and not for personal stuff (and according to work, I might be able to get a computer with a stylus during the 2018 refresh).  The stylus is much improved from last year but since I draw pretty infrequently I’m debating my real “need” to have a pen with my computer.  I have a stylus for my iPad Air 2 (its not an Apple Pencil though) that I can use just fine although having an iPad Pro with an Apple Pencil would be awesome but the Air 2 needs to die first.  

The cost of the version of the Surface Pro that I would buy is about $2699 and thats without a type cover which is kind of essential.  Just on pure cost I won’t buy it, also it doesn’t have any USB-C which I think will be important in the next few years.  Also it only has 1 USB 3.0 port and I always have at least 2 USB devices plugged in all the time.  I can get something relatively similar with a Core i5 instead of an i7 processor from Apple for $2400 but with the 16MB of RAM and 1TB drive which matches the Surface Pro configuration.

I guess its time for me to wait until June to see if there are new MacBook Pro’s coming out.  I only need the processor bump and the date of purchase to make sure its supported for the next 5 years.  I still think its amazing that my desktop computer is still chugging along on Windows 10 after 9 years.  I’m very tempted to stick the SSD from my old MacBook Pro in it to speed things along and give it some juice and new life.  I think that’s what’s making it so slow, the fact that the hard drive is still an old spinning disk and not a microchip.  It’s only 2 or so weeks.  If they let me pre-order on the employee purchase site you can bet I’ll be doing that during the keynote.

Living without a personal computer is difficult

Recently my MacBook Pro died and since then I have resorted to using my daughters HP Stream or my old desktop computer, both of which are pristine since I reloaded Windows 10 on them.  It was a good thing that I had most of my data transferred to the NAS but not having my own computer to do backups, videos, surfing, and email has been a little tough.  The office computer isn’t always available since it’s in the office and my wife occupies it most of the time for work.  The thing is also painfully slow so it doesn’t give me a good computing experience at all.  The HP Stream is more recent but also suffers from its own limitations in that almost nothing can be installed on it since it only has 32 GB of hard drive space.  I did install iTunes just so I could do some backups of my iPhone because I have a tendency to mess it up and restore it.  The backups are incomplete because I don’t t answer over purchases.  If I did it would fill the drive in no time, I have almost 200 apps plus data on my iPhone 7 so pushing all that to a 32 GB drive wouldn’t be practical.

The biggest concern for me is picture backups.  I backup to Google and to the NAS but it feels incomplete by not syncing it with a physical computer.  Pictures are a reason for having an iPhone, I just shoot whatever and review it later.  I refuse to use iCloud because I’m not paying for cloud storage if I don’t have to.  Compounding my problem is that there are rumors that new MacBook Pro’s might be coming out soon with Kaby Lake processors.  I’m not one to be too concerned about processor speed but I want as much upgrade time with Apple as possible so buying the latest computer makes sense.  I also hear that the new Surface Pro’s will be announced today, maybe it will be compelling enough to get one of those but for the most part I’m convinced that I should get another MacBook Pro mainly for ease of use since I’m no longer concerned with tinkering.  I am going to reduce the number of apps I install on the next computer and limiting it to the essentials.  I’ll have to figure out if I need to start reformatting some of my drives since they’re mostly NTFS and loading those drivers last time was a real pain in the ass.

June can’t come soon enough, I can struggle on for another couple of weeks but beyond that I’m really going to have to put down some money and get me a computer, I don’t like being limited in what I do when it comes to my tech.

The MacBook Pro is finally dead

After 2 days of struggling with my Early 2011 MacBook Pro, I’ve finally given up on trying to fix it.  I keep on getting the green Apple log and then the white screen of death without being able to get into the OS.  I’ve tried everything I can short of buying parts but I don’t think its worth it at this point to pour more money into an almost 6 year old computer.  I decided to open it up and take the things that I wanted to keep from the computer, mainly to sell or to reuse.IMG_5643

There are still some good parts within the MacBook Pro in my view.  About a year or so ago I put in a new battery and SSD into the computer.  I know at the very least I can keep the SSD and put it in an enclosure and use it as an external hard drive for travel.  This is especially awesome since it has no moving parts and its a lot lighter than a spinning disk hard drive.  I’m going to reformat it as exFAT so that I can use it with Windows and Mac so I don’t have to worry about NTFS drives or junk like that.  The battery I have no idea what to do with.  It’s only had 4 full load cycles so it has something like another 996 load cycles before its dead.  I just need to find a way to sell it because I hate to have to recycle it especially since I paid so much money for it in the first place.

I think I’m going to get another MacBook Pro but this time I’m going to get a 13″ model so its a bit more portable than my 15″ MacBook Pro.  I’m probably going to miss the real estate on the screen but I am moving to a retina display.  All the reviews I see say the new MacBook Pro isn’t really a Pro machine compared to last years computer but my computer is 6 years old so the next computer should be screaming fast.  It also won’t be bogged down by all the crapware of my corporate computer.  I’m going to be a little more selective on the apps that I install too, there was a lot of junk on my MacBook Pro that I never used but I still might have to do something like use MS Office but Office Online might be just good enough.  I also might go with lower specs than my 15″ in terms of hard drive space, I might only go with the 512GB drive but I might kick things up to 16GB of RAM to get that extra speed for when I start doing things with iMovie.

Its time to wait and see what sales are going to come up because this thing is pretty expensive.  The 13″ is slightly more expensive than my 15″ from 6 years ago.  In the mean time I won’t be able to backup any of my devices or change music on my playlists until maybe at least Memorial Day.  Thats when I expect some of the more awesome sales to take place.  I think I’ll be fine with the Skylake processors, Kaby Lake sounds cool but for my day to day shit, this should be just fine.  And yes, I am choosing Mac over PC because even though Windows 10 has made vast improvements, its still a major pain in the ass to use and configure even on the best of days.

High tech gated community access

It looks like my community is going high tech for access with these new gate passes for our cars.  A year or so ago the old gate system was struck by lightning and our gate passes wouldn’t work anymore.  The gate guard needed us to wave our black box passes at them to show we lived in the community and then they would open the gate.  Not terribly high tech or efficient but it worked.  The old passes were normally stuck to the windshield like an EZPass or SunPass but they were transferable between cars.

The new system kind of permanently marks your car since it’s an RFID tag stuck to the headlight.  No more giving out your pass to others or not registering with the community.  Now they are taking better control of who can go in and out of the community easily.  I’m ok with this approach since it would be nice to know that people getting through the owner entrance is really an owner.  I even got one for my motorcycle and it fit in the corner of my windshield nicely.  What this forces the owners to do is pay their home association dues because the passes can now be turned off remotely.  Kind of slick really.  There was this crazy budget item for missing HOA fees so this should make that shrink.

What I’m not a fan of is sticking the thing on my headlight.  On my Accord it doesn’t look nice being there but here isn’t anything I can do about it.  If I want to live in my community I just have to accept some things like putting RFID’s on my car.  I’m actually eager to try out the new pass on my motorcycle.  They put it in a spot where it won’t look fugly but also won’t block my view of the road.  If it works as intended I won’t have to try weaving around the automatic gate to get home.  That would be a major improvement!

I’m curious to see what other neat technological tricks my community has up its sleeve.

Windows 10 S: Another Windows Version???

I watched the replay of the Microsoft EDU event and along with everything else that was announced was another WIndows version.  Ever since Windows XP there have been tons of versions of Windows.  My desktop actually came with Windows XP Media Center edition, but I upgraded it to Windows XP Pro which was the business version of XP.  I then updated to Windows 7 Ultimate which gave me every option under the sun for Windows so that I could upgrade to WIndows 10 Pro for free.  There are a few differences between each of the Windows versions in terms of features.  I personally always try and get the Pro version since it gives the most options even though I doubt I’ll use them all.
The latest iteration of Windows is meant to compete with Chrome in that you can only install applications from the Windows Store.  If you want to install anything else, you’re going to have to upgrade to the Pro version of Windows.  It’s nice that the price to upgrade to Pro won’t be that expensive so very few people should mind.  Given that its geared towards the educator market, it makes sense to limit things to the Windows Store to reduce the number of malware and bad programs being installed that can be installed with current versions of Windows.  That doesn’t mean the the occasional virus won’t cause some mayhem but its a good start to keep kids safe at school and for those that don’t end to do crazy stuff like use iTunes.

While I like the idea of Windows 10 S, I’m going to stick to the Pro version of Windows.  I have a need to install outside software like iTunes, Qnap Finder Pro, and a few other choice tools and applications.  MS is solving the Office problem by offering Office in the Windows Store finally.  I’m still fine using GSuite since its free and my needs are also not very heavy.  Worse comes to worse, I can also use the office offering from Apple, the downside with them is again the amount of storage that you’re allowed.  I would like to install Windows 10 S on my daughters laptop but it only has 32GB and I do admin stuff on it too so I would probably still need to keep it at Windows Pro.

I suspect a lot of the new Surface machines will start getting Windows 10 S as the default OS installed from the factory.  I can see the average user just sticking with it although it begs the question, will iTunes be in the Windows Store?  No matter how much companies push the consumer to the cloud, there will be hold outs like me that just want to install software and backup and sync files locally.  The lack of iTunes might push people like me to either upgrade to Windows 10 Pro or stick with OSX.  I personally might stay with OSX since there are a lot of apps that I use on my Mac that don’ have a Windows equivalent. And I also need iTunes for all my devices and I don’t see that changing any time soon unless I somehow am convinced to switch the family to Android but I don’t see that happening either.  For me, no Windows 10 S will be in my future, Windows Pro or OSX (macOS) all the way!