Deirdre Saoirse Moen

Sounds Like Weird

Archive of posts with tag 'macintosh'

: Explaining Some Hardware Whinging—I Love My MacBook Air

Apple Store Stairs-colorefex-700
First, I want to say this: though I worked at Apple to September 2013, I have no actual knowledge of Apple’s future hardware plans. So, on the off chance that I happened to sign an NDA relating to the device I’m commenting about, I honestly didn’t know that that was the case. I believe every hardware NDA I signed was for a product that’s already shipped.
9to5mac posted this mockup of a purported future 12″ MacBook Air.
In short, I hated it.
In 2013, I switched from a 15″ MacBook Pro—I’d had several over the years—to a 13″ MacBook Air. I did it after Rick made the same move, and for the same reason: believe it or not, it’s actually faster on day-to-day activities, despite the slower CPU.
It’s also cheaper.
So what’s in the new report that I hate so much?

  • No Thunderbolt. I rely on Thunderbolt RAID for backup. That RAID array is Thunderbolt only. I also rely in an external 2TB hard drive I use just for graphics library (and Aperture) storage.
    Look, I love Thunderbolt. I’ve invested heavily in it. If Apple’s dumping it on my preferred laptop model three years in, I’m pissed.
    I don’t use Thunderbolt for displays, and I understand USB-C can drive displays. Thunderbolt is still a better, faster technology. By all means, replace the existing USB connectors with USB-C. That makes sense.
  • No MagSafe Connector. It’s proposing to use power through a single USB connector. John Gruber talks about why that’s a mistake.

    As enumerated earlier, I have numerous questions regarding Mark Gurman’s report that the upcoming next-generation MacBook Air does away with all ports other than two: a USB Type-C and a headphone jack.
    But one that I keep thinking about is MagSafe. I can definitely see getting rid of classic USB — it’s old and thick. Thunderbolt, sort of. But MagSafe? When Apple announced MagSafe back in 2006, I knew they were solving a real problem, not an imaginary marketing problem. Tripping over power cables and yanking laptops off tables and onto floors was a real issue. I had an iBook way back when that ultimately died after one such incident too many. If anything, Apple has made MagSafe 2 even easier to pull apart, not harder. Switching to USB Type-C seems like it would take us all the way back to days when tripping over the charging cable would take your laptop along for the ride.

  • Keyboard squeeze. I don’t think I’ll like this. If anything, the 13″‘s keyboard is already too narrow.
  • Elimination of physical key feedback. That’s a big nope from me. If that’s the way Apple’s headed for all keyboards, I’m going to have to look to Microsoft as my preferred keyboard vendor. That’s a painful thing to say.
  • Elimination of the SD Card slot. I love that I don’t have to keep track of some small doodad, and I can just pack my laptop, my cameras, my iPad/Phone, a power cord and a lightning cable when I travel. It’s one more thing I have to track, and I’d really miss this.

In short, this looks like a light-use computer for people who either a) don’t use computers or b) use another computer as their primary computer. I’m one of those people who uses a MacBook Air as my sole computer, and that’s the way I’d like to keep it.

So Why Not Go to a 13″ MacBook Pro?

13″ MacBook Air tricked out with 8G (max) memory and 512G (max) Flash & 1.7 GHz CPU: $1,749 (before other things like AppleCare and any accessories).
Here’s the thing: a 13″ MacBook Pro does not have the same amount of area on the screen. So, in order to get the same effective 1440×900 resolution, I’d have to go back to a 15″ MBP. Further, I can’t go with an 8GB and have the same effective memory because retina uses more memory.
15″ MacBook Pro with 16G (only) memory, 512G (min) Flash & 2.5 GHz (min) CPU: $2,499. I could argue that, for a true replacement, it’d also have to bump up another $500 for the 1TB flash because, again, the retina machine will use more memory for things like swap, so the real price is $2,999.
Twelve hundred bucks is a lot of difference for better external drive support and a better power cable.
Update: more thoughts in this post.
Photo credit: Rick Moen.

: Apple Mail Tip: Unread Emails

I’m sometimes horrible about marking some kinds of items as read or deleting them.
Things like:

  1. People favoriting my tweets.
  2. LiveJournal comment notifications.
  3. Newsletters I don’t have time to read right away.
  4. New product notices from my very favorite vendors.

Unfortunately, I sometimes skip important messages by mistake.
At the moment, I have (gulp) 182 of these kinds of unread messages.
I don’t like the default way Apple Mail handles unread messages, as I feel they get lost.
Here’s how to create a new smart mailbox that contains only your unread messages:

  1. Mailbox menu -> New Smart Mailbox.
  2. Name your smart mailbox. Mine is cleverly named: Unread.
  3. Select “all” in the “Contains messages that match” popup.
  4. It’ll be pre-filled with “Any recipient” and “contains” and hopefully your email address. Keep that, or fix it if it’s not that already.
  5. Click the + sign on the right.
  6. Select “Message is Unread” from the second pop-up row.
  7. Click OK.

And you’re done.
Then you just need to go through and see if any of those things are things you can do without longer term.
Which is what I’m now doing.

: How I Came to Be a Mac Person

I never owned an Apple ][, but I did own an Apple ///. And yeah, the numbering really was like that.

I didn’t immediately take to the Mac. It was different in weird ways, and I was mostly working on CP/M systems at the time.

In January 1985, the year after the Mac was released, I went in to look at buying a DOS system for work-related reasons, and I had to wait almost an hour for a sales guy. I decided I was going to amuse myself with the store’s Macintosh.

One of the things I’d had to do in the past was engineering drawings (of things like circuit boards). On DOS. (Edit: not just DOS. One of the apps we used was actually on the Apple ///, now that I think about it.) Without square pixels.

Ten minutes with MacPaint and I was sold. Square pixels! How revolutionary. I walked out of the store without the Mac, but with the resolution that I was going to have to figure out how to buy one. Not much later, I bought a used Mac+.

Since then, I’ve never owned a DOS machine — or a Windows machine. I’ve owned a few Linux devices, including some weird ones (like a Corel Netwinder), but basically I’ve been a MacOS person at all other points in the last 30 years.

: New Shoes

I’ve got a new Mac, a Mac Book Pro. As this came at the end of a very long, exhausting week, I’m glad it’s done.

Unfortunately, I bought it because I needed it. Saturday afternoon, after my mother was sprung from the hospital, I discovered that my Mac wasn’t charging. Fortunately, it ran off batteries fine (though it had no charge at the time). Several long visits to the Mac store and some plastic later, and I had a new Mac with everything migrated.

Now it’s time to send the old baby off to be repaired and enjoy the speed of the new baby.