Switching to Spark Mail because of an SMTP error

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I’ve been using my new MacBook Pro and everything has been going pretty good except for sending out email.  Apple claims that everything just works but for some reason Mail is not working right out of the box.  I’ve tried looking for advanced settings to set some specific ports and encryption but those settings seems to have disappeared with macOS Sierra.  There have been a few times in which I’ve wanted to send out mail and it says that my SMTP server can’t be contacted. I’ve done diagnostics, I’ve done verbose diagnostics and I can’t figure out why its not working.  I think it has something to do with the 2 factor authentication with Gmail and Hotmail thats causing the issue.  I’m too lazy to try and figure it out because it should just WORK!

I’ve gone ahead and downloaded Spark Mail on my MacBook again.  I have the app for my iPhone and iPad and I haven’t had any major problems with it.  I can do a unified inbox and I can create smart folders as well to catch all of my unread mail.  The thing thats great?  It just WORKS!  There are some things that I’m going to miss like seeing the inline pictures in my message (I can live without that) when I create it and the integration throughout the OS.  The interface for Spark Mail isn’t bad, at least its familiar like my iOS devices but the one limitation is that it doesn’t have real time updates to my mail account.  I kind of have to wait a few minutes before everything updates.  It’s probably because there is some caching involved at the Readdle server side.

I’ve gone ahead and pinned this to my task bar on my Mac and turned off all the notifications for the default Mail app.  I hope they fix this in MacOS High Sierra so that I can delete yet another app on my Mac.  I don’t want to clutter it with a ton of apps that I’m not going to use. One example is me not installing Flash for Safari.  I am fine with not installing it since I’m not missing much. I do however refuse to install Chrome again since its such a memory hog.

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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.

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.

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.

My MacBook Pro Lives?

Last week my MacBook Pro was experiencing some issues booting up and I did everything that I could find on the web short of restoring the computer from a backup.  I even had two different conversations with Apple Support to see if they would repair it but since it’s vintage they don’t repair it or even make parts since it was manufactured in early 2011.  I was able to get some last minute backups of my MacBook just in cas I bought a replacement MacBook so I could restore my settings, programs, and some of my data. Just in case I also started moving data to my NAS so I’m the event of a total failure my data was safe.

I went away to Disney this weekend with the family to do some races and left my MacBook Pro here at home unplugged and powered off.  I fully expected it not to boot on Sunday but to my surprise it booted right up like normal.  I tested the functions just to be sure and did a quick reboot to see if it would crash.  To my surprise again the MacBook booted up just fine again.  I took the opportunity to see if I could do some more file clean up and data transfer to the NAS.

It’s now Monday and the MacBook Pro is still humming along just fine.  I’ve started to use it like I used to but I’m not adding data to it that I need to preserve.  The thing could just crash and I intend to be ready if it does.  I think I’ve decided on at replacement, I’m going back to Windows and potentially getting a surface pro but only if the computer is totally dead.  I can then try and use the MacBook Pro SSD I installed and stick it in my desktop.  That should give it a nice little speed boost.

Due to it’s now vintage status, I won’t be getting anymore OS updates (maybe critical fixes???) but it’s not like my MacBook could take advantage of cool things like the new night shift mode, air drop, or other things like that.  On to reviewing more stuff about Azure! So not exited…..