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!

Can I get a thin and light laptop with ports please?

2016 MacBook with USB-C

The new trend of thin and light isn’t new but the killing of ports in the name of thin and light computers is just getting silly.  I watched a YouTube video last night where they were showing off the latest Surface Laptop and the one thing almost none of the videos I saw addressed except one was ports.  The new Surface Laptop comes with a single USB 3 port, no USB C (not that I have any device that uses it) and some external display port that I have no use for. That’s it!  The Dell XPS 13 and any MacBook save the Air likewise has almost no ports for me to use.  This is part of some grand push into the wireless world where all your shit is in a cloud that you pay for on a monthly basis.  I admit that I have stuff in the cloud but my subscriptions are all free.  I don’t put a lot on the cloud because I don’t have documents, I have pictures and lots of external hard drives and I have a need to attach multiple drives to my computer for file transfers.  Having no ports to use sucks and buying a dongle or something is not appealing when older computers had plenty of ports so you just needed a cable.

Here’s my example, I have lots of iOS devices and they all are 128GB models.  iTunes in its infinite wisdom likes to save backups to the local hard drive and hard drive space these days is scarce.  A 256GB SSD will get full after doing a backup of only 3 devices with no room to spare.  I know “what about backing up to iCloud??” Umm I have 7000 music tracks, 2000 photos, and about 200 apps on my iPhone and iCloud doesn’t restore all that in the event of a crash.  It only really saves your apps and setting but not everything else.  Also I’m not paying for storage monthly just for iPhone backups, that’s just silly.  After doing some research I was able to enable NTFS read/write on my MacBook Pro and also moved my iPhone and iPad backups to a 2TB external drive.  So what does that mean?  I need 2 USB ports to sync and backup a single iPhone or iPad to keep my computer SSD clutter free.  Most companies have also removed the SD Card reader to a large extent, hello morons in industrial design a ton of us use action cams, DSLR’s and regular old point and shoots that use SD cards, what insanity would compel you to remove that port?  I think this is the argument that a lot of “Pro” users currently have about hardware makers not making the computers they need.  I’m not really a pro user, I just have a lot of shit to connect to my computer and I so happen want my computer to be portable.

2011 MacBook Pro with USB 2.0

When I first saw the Surface Laptop I thought “cool a windows device worth owning that would fit my needs!” But then I went “ahh crap another laptop with no ports”.  That means my current predicament hasn’t really changed since I know a new computer will probably be purchased this year when my MacBook Pro finally dies.  My choices aren’t great, maybe there will be a MacBook Pro refresh that will compel me to get one or someone out there will figure out “hey ports are still necessary and dongles are crap let’s not make out users buy those things.”

My computer upgrade cycle so far is something fairly new every 5 years, I’m at about the 6 year mark but there isn’t anything that I want to spend money on. If the MacBook Pro logic board was cheap (under $200) I’d just fix the MacBook Pro, I don’t need any of the newer capabilities like Air Drop or the next MacOS.  My real requirement is ports, or that someone at Apple let us install iTunes on a NAS/Server so we can sync and backup to a central location somewhere other than our laptops.  Only then would I accept a computer with only a single port, maybe just for charging.

Still blogging and not vlogging!

Its been a good 12 years of blogging and over 1100 entries during that time but unlike the recent trend in vlogging I’m probably going to stick to blogging for the forseeable future.  Admittedly, I actually watch a decent amount of vlogs on YouTube when I have the chance just for entertainments sake.  I don’t vlog mainly because I don’t want to film myself and its hard for me to come up with original content that would be good for a video.  I have a hard enough time putting together videos when I take out my GoPro for a spin.

I guess one of the biggest reasons that I like blogging still is that I can just make it up as I go and I don’t have to worry about how I look in the video.  Right now for instance, I’m just making this stuff up as I go along and its not going to take a lot of time either.  I respect the guys like Chaseontwowheels who put out content every week with their vlogs.  I have a hard enough time trying to put out content on my blog once a month.  The cool part about vlogging that its probably easier to monetize than blogging.  This seems to be a lost art of a sort but I still prefer typing than speaking into a camera.

I’ve given some thought to vlogging a few times but I haven’t been able to pull the trigger on it.  Most likely I need to start out kinda small like doing videos for my daughter that she can view when she’s older.  The cameras on the iPhone and the GoPro are good enough to start doing some of that stuff without having to invest a lot of money into a setup.  I’ve watched the vid on the Fung Bros. on what kind of gear you need to do vlogging and I can start off really simple since I don’t need fancy mic’s or cameras.

Maybe I’ll make it my 2018 resolution or something.  My friend Greg is actually doing it now on YouTube as part of his business and he does it all off of his iPhone.  They only last a minute but its effective I think, its just a matter of getting exposure and viewers to become more successful.

For the rest of 2017 I’m going to keep on blogging, although I’m not going to do much to raise my profile in the blogging world.  I also think that I missed the boat by not switching to Tumblr but I like things on WordPress.  I like the templates and the control that I have over the blog itself and I’m also too lazy to move services again.  Maybe I’ll refresh the cover photo later this year, something that screams Miami or maybe a photo that I took myself instead of a stock one.  Until the next blog post…..