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Apple Event 03.08.22

Posted on March 8th, 2022

Dave!AND LO DID TIM COOK DESCEND FROM THE HEAVENS TO BESTOW UPON THE WORLD NEW APPLE PRODUCTS, AND IT WAS GOOD!

Or not. I haven't quite decided. But there was indeed an Apple Event™ today, and Tim Cook did indeed drop a bunch of stuff on an undeserving world. As usual, I just can't seem to shut my mouth about it, so here we go. If you want to watch the actual Apple Event™ before reading my commentary (or watch as you read) then here you go...

AppleTV+
Some of the forthcoming movies and shows look interesting to me. The addition of Friday Night Baseball is an intriguing idea, but the only way I would want to watch it would be if they're showing a Red Sox game, so who knows how useful this will be to me. I'm not quite understanding where Apple is going with all this. Television series (like my beloved Ted Lasso) and movies (like the wonderful CODA) make sense. But baseball? I don't get it. This is not a big missing piece that is filling a hole in Apple's lineup to attract subscribers.

iPhone 13
Whoop-dee-doo. A new green shade for iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro. It kinda makes me upset that A) Apple adds colors after you've already bought the latest model... and B) the Pro models always get "sophisticated" (i.e. boring) colors. Let me know what I can have when a product is released. And, for the love of God, give the Pro users cool bright colors like the non-Pro models get. I want my (PRODUCT)RED iPhone Pro, dammit.

iPhones in green and greener.

iPhone 13 SE
This is the "budget" model iPhone that's not exactly "budget." But it is a more affordable option for people wanting a newer, faster iPhone with a better camera and 5G. What's surprising is that the SE is actually more bang for your buck than what you get with a standard model iPhone 13. Because with the exception of FaceID (which I love) this is a pretty sweet feature-packed mobile phone for $430.

iPad Air 2022
Yada yada yada... better, faster, stronger than the last model. This means nothing to me, because what I want is a 17-inch iPad Pro. That's all I want. Until they offer one that's sized for graphic artists, there's no need for me to upgrade from my iPad Pro 12.9-inch model. But for somebody wanting an iPad that slays? This is for you. This is the model I would have bought for my mom. In purple. At $600 it ain't cheap, but there's a lot of bang for your buck in that price tag. Inexplicably, by adding the M1 chip, Apple pushes this into "Pro" territory, which makes me wonder why they have "Pro" models at all. Unless there's new "Pro" models around the corner which will leapfrog this new Air? M2 perhaps?

iPads in pretty colors.

Mac Studio
Studio Display
And here we go. Pro users want to upgrade their machines faster than the average iMac user. But it's always a waste because the 27-inch display on the iMac Pro is integrated with computer, so getting rid of one means you're getting rid of both. And the trade-in value ain't that great. So separating the computer from the display makes a lot of sense. Unfortunately, doing so means that you have to pay more to get what you need (even though upgrading will be cheaper because you can hang on to the monitor (and this monitor is really sweet, featuring 5K, great sound, and a very good camera)...

The Mac Studio computer and Studio Display display.

My MacBook Pro with M1 Max is the ideal laptop because it redefines power computing on the go... all while getting sublime battery life. I couldn't be happier with it. Finally an actual Pro laptop! The new Mac Studio allows you to choose between this very capable chip... or the shiny new M1 Ultra. This beast of a processor is essentially "ultra-fusing" two M1 Max chips together into a single processing unit that's more powerful and efficient than using two separate chips that are soldered to the motherboard. Plus the system sees it as a single chip, so developers don't have to do anything special to take advantage of its power. Naturally, I covet a computer using one of these chips... but, even with the intensive work I do, it's likely overkill. Hopefully my office will spring for one of the cheaper models for me, because my 8 year old iMac is dying and takes forever to do simple tasks.

The $2,000 and $4,000 price tag is a lot of cash. But when compared to equivalent high-end PCs it's actually a pretty fair price. And compared to the iMac Pro it's replacing (at $5000) it's a hot bargain. Then there's the Mac Pro, which is still for sale on Apple's website and still using Intel chips. They start at $6000. I'd rather max out a Mac Studio for that kind of money. At least until Apple upgrades the Mac Studio to whatever ungodly powerful chips they're developing.

And that was all she wrote.

And speaking of "she"... interesting to note that all the developers interviewed when talking about the M1 Ultra were women. Appropriate as we celebrate "International Women's Day," I guess. Hopefully all these women are getting equal pay for their work... because that would be something to really celebrate.

But anyway...

Here's the Apple product matrix as it currently stands...

  ENTRY MID-RANGE PRO
iPhone
iPhone SE
iPhone
iPhone Pro
 iPad
iPad Air/Mini
iPad
iPad Pro
iMac
 
iMac 24"
 
Mac
Mac mini
Mac Studio
Mac Pro
MacBook
MacBook Air
 
MacBook Pro
Watch
Series 3
Watch SE
Series 7

So... inconsistent and all over the map then. Steve Jobs must be turning over in his grave.

Though Steve was innovating in a different, simpler age. Tim Cook seems to be more interested in filling needs than filling boxes, which is probably how it should be. No, it's not simpler than having a neat matrix with clearly-defined labels... but it does make sure that people will get devices that are a good fit for what they are wanting to do with it and how much money they have to spend. And that's probably a better approach.

I dunno.

All I do know is that I wish money was not an option, because I would just buy the biggest, baddest, most expensive model of everything Apple makes every time they release it.

Fantasyland is so much nicer than Reality.

   

Bullet Sunday 752

Posted on February 20th, 2022

Dave!Do not go gentle into that good night... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• LEGEND! To say that Roy Kent is my favorite television character of all time is kinda underselling it. And to them get him to do something like THIS?!?

Perfect.

   
• Well, Fuck! Doesn't it just figure? After decades of finally trying to find the perfect frozen pizza, I actually DO, only to have Red Baron fucking change it...

Old vs. New

The cheese, which used to be creamy and gooey has been cut bigger and now tastes chewy... like I have a mouth of pencil erasers. The crust looks the same, but it doesn't cook up light a airy like bread... it's more pasty and dense. This could be because the cheese and sauce has changed... but it really doesn't seem the same. And it's like... WHY?!? Why change something that's actually good? Oh well. I was eating way too much pizza anyway (I was buying six at a time)... so that problem is solved.

   
• Marple! Ever since not being able to go to the theater to see the remake of Agatha Christie's Death on the Nile, I've been obsessing over other Agatha Christie adaptations. And I think that I've found the book which has been adapted the most... A Caribbean Mystery. This evening I started with the 1983 Helen Hayes movie, which is my favorite. Then tomorrow I'll finish up with the BBC/ITV versions from 1989 and 2013...

The three different versions of A Caribbean Mystery

The BBC version with Joan Hickson is likely the most faithful version... but I'm just such a huge Helen Hayes fan that it's difficult for me to see past it.

   
• MIWANDA! Dead. Legit dead. If you've seen Sex and the City: And Just Like That... this is one of the funniest things you'll see (here's a link in case TikTok is being a dick)...

@zzzachariah Justice for silly Steve 🤪 #satc #sexandthecity #ajlt #andjustlikethat #mirandahobbes #stevebrady #carriebradshaw ♬ Sad Emotional Piano - DS Productions

Steve was thoroughly trashed by the sequel series, and this puts a cherry on it.

   
• Threat! For whatever reason, I have been getting a shocking number of viruses attempting to take over my computer these past few weeks. Four appeared just yesterday...

Threat messages from BitDefender.

There was a day that Mac users didn't have to worry so much about viruses, but now? Yeah. If you're a Mac user, I would install some kind of virus protection sooner rather than later. I went with BitDefender because I got a deal on it, but anything you find is bound to be better than nothing.

   
• EmmyEmm! I find it fucking hilarious when dipshit ass-clowns like Rudy Giuliani dare to talk shit about anybody. They just don't have the brains to do it without getting fucking roasted in the rebuttal...

Gotta hand it to the writers at The Late Show, this parody of Eminem is funny as hell. Not that it was very difficult for them to come up with something... Giuliani is basically a parody of himself.

   
• Peace, Mutherfucker! The season finale of Peacemaker was sublime. Absolutely perfect. Thanks to James Gunn for such a terrific show... but especially for Vigilante, who is easily one of my favorite characters now. Freddie Stroma was inspired casting! And then there's Adebayo. Holy crap did she get an amazing character arc in this series! "I was made for this shit!" is right! Cannot wait for Season 02.

   
Until next Sunday, true believers...

   

Bullet Sunday 746

Posted on January 9th, 2022

Dave!I'm still buried in snow, but Blogography will carry on... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Return! Okay... we already have a contender for Most Remarkable Story of 2022: Abducted son finds family by drawing map of village he last saw aged four. His hand-drawn map is remarkable considering is was made from memories of 30 years ago. And then there's another layer of remarkable coming from the fact that people were able to help him find his original village by looking at his map and remarkable because he was reunited with his mother...

Jenny waits for me to get off my Zoom call.

"Abducted in 1989, Li was sold to a family in Lankao, more than 1,100 miles away. Child abductions are common in China and Li was probably taken because the family wanted a boy."

   
• Aliens! A big surprise last television season was Alan Tudyk in Resident Alien. They really went for the jugular with the concept, which is based on a comic book series I liked. Now season two is imminent...

Looking forward to it, Dr. Vanderspeigle!

   
• Lara! I passed on the Tomb Raider reboot because it didn't get a terribly good reaction. But it was on sale a while back, so I bought it. Finally got around to watching it and I really liked the film! Some of the reviews I read said that the actor playing Lara was wooden and boring. And I'm like... did we watch the same movie? I thought she was excellent. Though... Angelina Jolie has this wry delivery with a hint of amusement that worked so well in her two Tomb Raider films. I just wish she had better stories to work with.

Tomb Raider Poster.

I hope that the sequel manages to get made! (UPDATE: Apparently it's in active development, COVID-willing, and will be titled Tomb Raider: Obsidian! Nice!

   
• Free Ride! Okay, this is pretty great...

My favorite part of visiting Costa Rica (after the natural beauty of the country) was the sloth sanctuary that we got to visit. They are such remarkable creatures.

   
• Hole of the Tiger! ZOMG! Lego made the Year of the Tiger piece anatomically correct! Kinda. Still a few things missing, but... nice! (here's a link in case TikTok is being a dick)...

@hollyonfilm This LEGO Tiger is the best thing that will happen in 2022 don’t @ me #lego #yearofthetiger #legotiktok #newyear ♬ original sound - holly

And, yes, Survivor's Eye of the Tiger is playing through my head right now.

   
• Paid! Yesterday I needed to make bread because my sourdough starter hadn't been used in almost two weeks. But I forgot that I had used the last of my yeast last time. And while I could make sourdough bread without it, I didn't want this to be an all-day affair. Then something weird happens. I didn't think "I better make sure that I grab my wallet so I can pay"... instead I think "I better make sure that I grab my iPhone so I can pay with Apple Watch." And since Washington State hasn't done a damn thing to start implementing digital driver's licenses, THEN I think "I better make sure that I grab my wallet in case I get pulled over." I truly long for the day that I don't have to carry a wallet at all. But I'll probably have to move to a more forward-thinking state than mine so that's actually possible. Because knowing how utterly incompetent Washington State legislators are at moving anything forward except higher taxes... digital driver's licenses ain't happening here any time soon.

   
• COVID? Last Friday I was going to take a third COVID test just to make sure I wasn't carrying 'rona to Christmas (my previous two were negative)... but then I woke up that morning and smelled the horrendous dump that Jake took and figured I'm probably good. Though the smell was so bad that I'm guessing it could break through even COVID loss of smell! If anybody else wants tests, I've been ordering directly from iHealth Labs... which has a CDC-recommended antigen test available. They are running behind on orders right now (not surprising) but they do eventually come. Omicron may be "less bad" than Delta (except for young kids, apparently), but it is still causing hospitals to fill up (even in my local hospital, they're recording a rise in admissions), so it's nice to know if you should isolate. Fortunately data suggests that the vaxed adult population has been able to avoid hospitalization (for the most part) even though the current vaccine wasn't designed for it. Really, really hope that they offer up an Omicron Booster soon. That will better prepare our bodily defenses against what gets mutated into next (Lord help us).

   
And that's all the bullets I can muster this fine Sunday.

   

Technological Timeline

Posted on December 17th, 2021

Dave!Being born in 1966 puts me in a unique position in time... technologically speaking.

I was there for the birth of computing. I was there for the birth of personal computing. And the internet. And MP3 players. And video games. And mobile phones. And smart phones. And so-on and so-on. In many ways, this is a very cool thing, because people born after me don't know of a world without the stuff we have today. It's also a bad thing because I'll be dead before the unimaginably cool stuff is ever invented.

Oh well.

Looking back I can remember outlandish pre-modern-technology shit that kids today would completely balk at. People existed without a mobile phone? Without internet ON your phone? That's crazy!

Recently I saw a video about the ol' PDA days and it all came rushing back to me. Personal Data Assistants were a huge deal when they debuted (computing in your pocket!) and I was an early adopter. I had the Apple Newton, the Palm Pilot, the Handspring Visor, the iPaq, the Treo, and even the Sony CLIE (my favorite of the bunch, which was PalmOS-based) and the Sony MagicLink. And the minute a new one would debut with even cooler features I would sell my old one and get it.

Eventually they didn't really go anywhere so I gave up on PDAs. I just wasn't using them.

Then the iPhone came along, and the rest is history. Bye bye PDA, hello smart phone.

Two companies that have been mostly lost in the tome of modern technology I remember fondly. And there's some cool videos on YouTube that will give you a taste why I feel that way.

The first is General Magic (the people behind the Sony MagicLink)... sorry the music trounces over the people speaking, it's annoying as fuck, but this documentary is awesome...

And the second is a new interview doc about Handspring (the people behind the Visor and Treo...

Now we're at that lull stage where technology is coasting. My iPhone gets faster and has a better camera every year, but nothing truly new is happening. But that next leap is coming soon. Maybe it will be Apple's wearable glasses? I dunno. But I hope I'm alive to see it!

Because I look forward to the generation who cannot comprehend a time before computer chip brain implants. YOU HAD TO TYPE STUFF ON A SCREEN TO ACCESS THE INTERNET?!? THAT'S CRAZY!

Indeed it was.

But I had a fun time watching all that technology happening in Real Time.

   

The Brick You Shit

Posted on December 2nd, 2021

Dave!On Monday I sent my old Intel MacBook Pro back to Apple to fulfill my trade-in agreement.

The first thing Apple tells you to do is back-up your data so you can transfer it all to your new machine. Well, I never do that any more because all my data is either in the cloud or on my local NAS drive array. I prefer to start fresh on a new machine, which easy to do because all I have to do is re-download all my apps (which is probably a good idea regardless since it assures you that you're running all the latest versions.

I had already been using my new M1 MacBook Pro for a week and nothing was amiss, so when it was time to pack up the old laptop, I just wiped the drive and that was that...

My old MacBook in a box ready to ship.

And then today I opened up Adobe Lightroom, which is where my tens of thousands of photos are catalogued.

Oops.

My original photos are all safe on my NAS. But the actual catalog with all my previews and corrections and such wasn't there. I had forgotten to transfer it to my new laptop. It could all be recreated no problem, but the previews alone would take many, many hours to regenerate. It would take days to get back to where I was.

I can't be certain, but I think I stopped breathing for a minute.

But before I shit a brick over being so stupid, I remembered that I transfered my Adobe Lightroom catalog to my new iMac when I got it (a process that I documented here).

So... crisis averted, apparently.

Until the next time I open an app and find something missing.

Next time I think I'll make that backup. Just in case.

   

MacBook Pro M1 MAX Second Look

Posted on November 23rd, 2021

Dave!The speed of my new MacBook Pro M1 MAX is more than just "fast." It's revolutionary. I know I touched on this yesterday with my "MacBook Pro M1 MAX First Look"... but this machine is just ungodly fast. And I can't get used to it. It's so fast that sometimes I have trouble believing that something happened because I don't see it happen.

As an example... dragging a 5MB image to Photoshop and having the program pop up with the image already loaded! I keep asking myself "Did I already open this image so Photoshop had it in memory when it switched to the app?" Then I'll close the image and re-open it just to see. And, nope, I didn't already have the image loaded... the MacBook Pro is just so fast that it deems like I did.

And I still can't get over how the fan just doesn't kick on except in the most extreme circumstances. My old Intel MacBook Pro would feel like it was on fire and the fans would kick into high gear just watching frickin' YouTube videos!

And that battery!

It's phenomenal how I can go all day without plugging in. And I could probably go even longer if Dropbox wasn't such a battery-draining piece of crap. I am guessing it will improve when they get off their asses and make it M1 native. But they have a lot of bloat in their app, so maybe not. I am going to give Microsoft OneDrive a shot and see if it's any better. They have the features I want (i.e. Smart Sync) without a bunch of crap I don't. It's not native M1 either, but Microsoft it will go into beta here soon and be released in early 2022. If I had to hazard a guess, OneDrive will finally be the cloud storage solution I've been looking for.

I know that I commented that the speaker system on the MacBook Pro 16-inch M1 was pretty great. But the more I listen to it, the most I'm blown away at just how fantastic it is. The sound envelops you. Every once in a while I'll listen to music on my laptop instead of playing through my SONOS system and while it's not the same experience... it is far, far better than expected. Talk about overdelivering on a promise.

After a couple days of use, I have found a negative, however... the bottom plate on the new MacBook Pro is very, very thin. And while it's not a big problem because it's up against internal components and is supported, there are a couple of times I've picked it up and have felt a bit of a buckle. Is it thinner to save money? Dissipate heat? Both? It's not a huge deal because it doesn't seem to affect structural integrity, but it's worth noting.

And so... yeah. This is easily the best computer I've owned... by a wide, wide margin. I have to return my old laptop to Apple to complete my trade-in, but I still plan on doing a side-by-side on some tasks before then just to see how it goes.

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MacBook Pro M1 MAX First Look

Posted on November 22nd, 2021

Dave!And he's here!*

As I mentioned a while back, I had enough Apple Cash saved that I could afford to get a new MacBook Pro M1 MAX laptop (with trade-in). When my base-model iMac with an M1 chip can run circles around my Intel chip laptop, it's a performance gain that I simply cannot ignore. I use my laptop for serious work far too often, and time/speed equals money.

Which is to say he's money and he's pretty...

And let me tell you... this thing is a frickin' beast. Not just for M1-optimized apps, but for all apps... even old apps running under emulation. Which is not surprising. The GeekBench score for my old laptop was 1010/5293. The GeekBench for my new laptop? 1764/12380. That's 75% faster for single-core processes and a whopping 134% faster for multi-core processes. But those are just numbers. The more important metric is that my new MacBook Pro feels faster.

Like, a lot a lot faster.**

And now, because I'm sure you're dying to know my thoughts, here we go...

DESIGN
The look of the laptop is gorgeous... but different that what we've come to expect from Apple in recent years. It's actually looks a bit retro to me because it reminds me of my beloved Titanium PowerBook G4 (which was way ahead of its time)...


2021 new hotness on the left, 2001 retro goodness on the right

Instead of tapering to the edges, the new model is flat all the way out. And while it isn't much bigger than my old 16-inch model, the flatter stylings makes it look a little more "chunky" by comparison. Given my love of the TiBook, I don't hate it at all. I am using this laptop to work, so if the trade-off for ditching a curvy chassis is more battery life and a more powerful machine? WHO GIVES A SHIT?! Yeah, it's a more utilitarian look, but that's the hit for what a pro machine should be. If I want thin and curvy at the expense of performance, I'll buy a MacBook Air. Apple has gotten this wrong for far too long. But whereas the look is fine... the extra weight takes some getting used to. It's not just a hair heavier than my old one, it's noticeably heavier (by nearly a half-pound). But, again, I'll gladly take the extra weight if it means I am getting pro performance and great battery life. 100% worth it. Apple also made the Apple logo bigger on the lid, which is just pure cool points. As you can see in the above photo, it's back to the size it used to be. Note that the name "MacBook Pro" is nowhere to be found on the display bezel like it used to be... it's emboss-stamped on the bottom. Also impossibly cool.

DISPLAY
The "Super-Retina" display on my 2019-era laptop was very nice. I have zero complaints. Vivid, bright, accurate... it's everything I could want. Until I saw the new one. The deep blacks and clean highlights creates a stunning contrast that makes stuff look amazing. The color is full-HDR-native, which means I can edit in HDR colorspace right on the laptop, something that I could only do with a special external monitor before. This thing is gorgeous. It makes my old display look positively dim by comparison. So bright. So rich. So responsive. And that responsiveness is due to the 120hz adaptive display rate which makes things buttery-smooth when scrolling or dragging. I honestly didn't think I would notice it that much, but now I have a tough time going back to a 60hz display. It just feels wrong. The small bezels on the side of the display are great because they maximize your real estate. The rounded corners at the top (which don't eat into the screen because it's in the menu bar) look classy as hell. An interesting aside... the native resolution of the display is so dense that it feels easier to "read" than my old one despite elements being slightly smaller. Things that could get a little fuzzy on my 2019 model are razor sharp now. That's pleasing to my aging eyes. Putting all the other benefits aside, the display alone makes me happy that I upgraded.

THE NOTCH & CAMERA
First of all... whatever. If you really hate the notch you have an option in the Get Info box to force apps to put the menu bar under the notch. Doing so just gives me the same screen ratio I had previously (the space around the notch is actually extra space you can use... it doesn't take away from anything) so no harm no foul. I got an app called De-Notch-ifier that camouflages the notch by turning the menu bar black (since the display has such deep blacks this makes the notch become invisible). But while I am not bothered by the notch, I actually do have a beef: no FaceID is included. WHAT THE FUCK, APPLE?!? You have it on your frickin' iPhones, and the MacBook Pro is bigger than that by a country mile. So why the hell did you leave it out? TouchID to unlock is fine, but just using my face like my phone does would have sure been nice. I can only guess that Apple is saving this so they have a "new feature" to sell future generations, but this is not a new feature. It's been on my iPhone for years. Literally. At least we finally get a 1080p camera for video conferencing. It's damn embarrassing that it took Apple this fucking long to upgrade from 720p. All is not golden, however. With the camera on the iPad Pro, Apple has a "Center Stage" technology that can zoom and follow you as you move through the camera's field of view. This allows you to get up and move around while video chatting. Nice! The MacBook Pro doesn't offer this, however, and I don't understand why. This is your premiere laptop and it is less well-equipped than a frickin' iPad? Are you kidding me? Ultimately, the fact that the only thing actually in the notch is a camera is kinda stupid. If that's all that's going to be there... then just punch a camera hole in the top of the screen. Why notch at all?

SOUND & MICROPHONE
At the keynote where the new MacBook Pros were introduced, Apple went on and on about how much better the new laptop sounded due to the new speaker tech they had put into it. My comment was something like "Nice, but they're still laptop speakers, so I'm not expecting the moon here." But then... Apple actually gave me the moon. This thing sounds incredible. Especially the "spatial audio" that attempts to trick your ears into thinking that sounds are playing around you. It's very impressive. Bass response is surprisingly good... not just for a laptop, but for a computer of any kind, really. No, my MacBook Pro not going to replace my SONOS home theater setup, but it does have me thinking that I won't be so quick to reach for my Beats Pro headphones. If I have a criticism, it's that the highlights are not so bright... a little fuzzy... but it's not a deal-breaking by any means. When it comes to the microphone, Apple claims that the new "Studio Quality Three-Mic Array" is vastly superior, but people I Zoom Chat with say that they can't really tell a huge improvement when I bounced between my old and new MacBook Pros.

KEYBOARD
I'm not sure about the black background for the keyboard. It looks very cool, but dust shows up easier and the keys are a little hard to pick out, even with back-lighting turns on. Fortunately I am a touch-typist and don't need to look at the keys in order to type, but on those occasions when I do have to hunt-and-peck, it's not quite as easy as it used to be. AND MAY I PLEASE GET AN AMEN THAT THE STUPID FUCKING TOUCHBAR IS GONE?!? I was ambivalent about the thing when it was introduced... until my TouchBar MacBook arrived and I was forced to deal with its bullshit. Since the layout of the controls on TouchBar is fluid, you can't just memorize where the volume buttons are... you have to stop what you're doing, angle the keyboard towards you, look down at what's where, adjust the volume slider, then put the laptop back to where it was so you can look back up to the display and keep working. How THE FUCK Apple ever thought this productivity-killing crap was a "feature" is beyond me. It's one of those things that sounds cool until you actually experience it. I thought I might use the TouchBar all the time because it could morph into applicable controls. But I used it only when forced because it was just so shitty to deal with. The actual typing "feel" is almost identical to my old MacBook Pro. A good laptop keyboard. Unlike that shitty fucking "butterfly keyboard" that Apple insanely stuck us with for FIVE YEARS. I still get infuriated by that idiocy.

BATTERY
Stunning battery life. Stunning! For much of the time I just kept my old laptop plugged in so that I'd have enough power to get through a long work day. But now? Not even necessary. It may be a different story if I'm cranking out complex renders all day, but for now I only plug it in overnight. I think of how awesome this would have been pre-pandemic when battery life on the road was always a concern and my mind boggles. This is probably the one thing that shocks me more than any other. A pro machine that does pro work on a battery??! No need to plug in so you can get the fastest performance. You have the option to initiate "low power mode" (saves battery) and "high performance mode" (runs the fans more often) but I just set it to "automatic" and let the MacBook figure it out. Performance doesn't seem to suffer compared to when I have it plugged in and set on "high performance." Interesting to note... the battery is reported to be fairly easy to remove, WHICH MEANS YOU CAN REPLACE THE FUCKING THING ON YOUR OWN (assuming you're not squeamish about that kind of thing). That's a pretty huge change, because Apple is fond of gluing every damn thing together.

MAGSAFE 3
When Apple introduced their magnetic-attaching power cable (dubbed "MagSafe") they basically said that the old click-plug-style power cables were stupid. And they were right. Which makes it surprising that Apple would reverse direction and get rid of MagSafe on their MacBooks. They made their laptops stupid... by their own metric! I was furious. Well, it's back. You can still charge via USB-C if that's all you got (cool!) but I'm thrilled that I don't have to. Needless to say, the new standard "MagSafe 3" is not compatible with MagSafe 1 or MagSafe 2. That's understandable given how much more power is getting shoved at the newer machines (the only way to "fast charge" my new laptop is to use MagSafe... it's not available over USB-C). BUT I HAVE A BEEF! To buy a new MagSafe 3 cable so I can use it with my old USB-C chargers costs FORTY-NINE DOLLARS!!! WTF?!? Is it made with diamonds in the cord wrap? Guess my "couch charger" and my "travel charger" will just continue to use USB-C cables. That's frustrating. That cable should be $20 TOPS. This is a rip-off cash-grab of the most egregious kind (and ripe for third party manufacturers to step in and make affordable). But, hey, at least you can replace it. Apple's old pre-USB-C chargers were shitty because if the cable ever became damaged you have to buy an all new brick. AND SPEAKING OF THE BRICK... in every MacBook I've ever purchased, the brick had an extension cord and a plug that you could swap out for the cord to save on space in your bag. I never used the plug. I always used the extension cord because the plug comes out of the wall too easy and the extra cord length is handy for hotel rooms with limited outlets. This new MacBook Pro? No cord. You only get the plug. This is pretty crappy... and Apple knows this because they will sell you the cord for an additional $19. Fortunately I have a half-dozen cords from my old power bricks, so I'm covered. But, damn. This is a computer costing thousands of dollars! They can't toss in a cord that costs maybe $2 to manufacture? That's a weird omission.

WI-FI
Like my iPhone and iMac before it, this new laptop has Wi-Fi 6, which can be over twice as fast as the older Wi-Fi 5 standard. This works nicely with my Wi-Fi 6 router, giving me the highest speed currently possible. And, believe me, I notice. Especially when it comes to accessing my local network storage. There have been times that I've actually trudged upstairs to use my 24-inch iMac just because transferring files to my SSD drive is so much faster. No more of that, so thanks, Apple.

PORTS
My old laptop came with four USB-C ports and a headphone jack. That's it. I had to run out and buy dongles to be able to read an SD card or hook up to a projector. This time around I got three USB-C ports, an HDMI port, and an SD card reader. The only way this could have been made more perfect would be if they also had a USB-A port, but I guess you can't have everything. It's puzzling that Apple is using older standards though. HDMI is at 2.1, but the MacBook Pro has 2.0. So no future-proofing there. But it's the fact that you only get UHS-II in your SD card slot that's really puzzling, since UHS-III is standard now (and the newer EXPRESS standard is showing up everywhere). This is really unforgivable, and I have no clue what the reason could be. When it comes to the ports, the headphone jack is the only thing ahead of the curve because it's said to support high-impedance headphones that pro audio mixers use. As for me? I'm just happy there's still a headphone jack at all. I like my AirPods and wireless Beats Pro, but I still have a couple pair of really nice headphones that are corded. Good to know I can still use them if I need to.

FEET & AIR-FLOW
I ordered my MacBook Pro before the review embargo was lifted, so I haven't seen a lot of reactions to it. But the reactions I have seen (or read) mention the feet. They are bigger to allow for a bit more air-flow when sitting flat on a table, but it's not as big a deal as some people seem to be making out it. I don't even notice. And speaking of air-flow... Apple has made some changes to the case in order to open things up and allow the motherboard to vent more hot air more easily. There's slots on the sides just like before... but there's more, deeper slots at the hinge. Apple really wants the fans to run as little as possible. And I'm like "Hey, whatever you gotta do..." because I don't like fan noise. Except the fans aren't quite as bad this time around. And speaking of...

FANS
My 2019 MacBook Pro would kick the fans into high gear whenever a 3-D render was processing. It was annoying, but not overwhelmingly so once I got accustomed to it. But still... distracting. The M1 MAX chip uses less power and runs cooler, so the fans don't turn on unless I'm really cranking through a heavy render. Even then, they are fairly quiet and unobtrusive (and don't turn on for very long). It's as if my new laptop is bored performing the intensive tasks that I give it, and doesn't stress about it. On one hand that's a little insulting to the HUGELY IMPORTANT WORK I DO... but on the other hand, how nice is THAT?!?

HEAT
It will come as no surprise that the M1 MacBook Pro runs considerably cooler than my old Intel MacBook Pro. Even doing minimal work would make the laptop uncomfortably hot sitting on my bare legs. But now? Not a problem. It does get hotter as I do more intense work (like renders), but even then it's not blistering.

PRICE
Look, these are not Macs for the casual user who mostly writes Word documents, watches an occasional movie, checks their emails, and surfs the web. These users will be better served by a much more economical MacBook Air or an iPad. No, these machines are built for power users whose time is money and being able to do more in less time has a tangible monetary benefit. That's precisely me. I am spending money to save money. Or, at the very least, be able to work faster so I don't have to work as many hours. That would sure be nice. All those minutes of waiting around being unproductive add up. I have the M1 MAX 10-Core CPU, 32-Core GPU, with 32GB of Unified Memory and 1TB of SSD Storage which is $3,500. Subtracting my $1,210 trade-in, that's still a whopping $2,290... plus $400 AppleCare plus $223.10 tax... equals $2,913.10. Yikes. But... worth every penny for what I do. Worth more than that to me. People have dunked on "the Apple tax" for years because their stuff is more expensive than non-Apple stuff. But you get what you pay for, and Apple has always delivered value for the money. At least to me. With the 2021 MacBook Pro, this is even more true than usual.

CONCLUSION
In the end, this is a pro laptop that actually feels like it was made for professionals. That hasn't happened in a long, long time (and fuck you, Apple, for shitting on your pro users like that for so long). I don't know if it's because Apple engineers actually listened to what their pro customers were telling them this time around... or whether the Apple engineers were forced to use their shitty "pro" laptops and got so tired of them that they listened to themselves. Whatever the case, I'm very happy to be working on a MacBook Pro that lives up to its name. Powerful, lightning-fast, and possessing the features that professional users need, it's worth the jaw-dropping price tag.

And speaking of that...

When I bought this machine, I lamented that I couldn't get 64MB of memory and instead ordered 32MB because I couldn't afford the $400 price tag (so close to my dream machine!). But now that I've been using it, I have to say that the 64GB isn't really needed for what I'm using this machine for. It's unified (shared) memory, so there's no duplication between the CPU and GPU which helps you do more with less. Also? The MAX chip has super-fast access to the SSD storage, which means virtual memory swaps are very fast.

Ultimately this entire machine is overkill. The new M1 architecture is so good that I could have saved myself more money by skipping the M1 MAX and getting the mid-tier M1 PRO, which would have saved me another $800. The 16MB of memory would be tight when I'm working on larger files, but even without the larger MAX SSD pipe, virtual memory is pretty speedy. Oh well. Live and learn. That's five months of payments I could have avoided, but I know that I will get enough use out of the extra resources to make it worthwhile.

At least that's what I'll be telling myself as I live off of peanut butter and ramen for the last four months of 2022.

AND THAT'S A WRAP!
I'm guessing there will be more to follow as I live with the machine longer. I am especially looking forward to seeing what happens with video editing, something I don't do a lot... but steals huge chunks of time from my life when I am doing it. The M1 Pro chips have support for ProRes video built into the hardware, so I'm sure Final Cut Pro going to be darn impressive.
   


   
*Yes, yes... I know that things like cars, boats, and computers are usually female. But I'm studying Russian at the moment and "компьютер" (computer) is a "male" word, so it's a "he" to me. That way I'm conjugating him correctly in my head (because Good Lord is Russian conjugation a frickin' nightmare!). Hopefully those who are deeply offended can deal.

   
** REGARDING SPEED: Simple things like navigating the Finder are instantaneous. Complex things happen at a noticeably faster clip than with my old MacBook Pro. The most processor-intensive stuff I do is 3D rendering and, while I haven't timed anything yet, I'm not sitting around tapping my fingers any more. With my old laptop I could go to the kitchen, grab a Coke Zero and a bag of Lay's, then go back to the living room and still be waiting for a big render to finish. Now those same renders are complete by the time I've set the laptop down and managed to get my ass off of the couch. Which is to say I can do more work in less time. My cycle of render-tweak-render-tweak-render is a productivity void that has been drastically reduced.

But the rendering package I use (Blender) is (mostly) M1-optimized. What about old Intel apps? Those have to be run via emulation (which Apple is calling Rosetta 2). Surprisingly, most of my most recently used apps (including most Adobe apps like Photoshop and Illustrator) are M1-optimized already. The most intensive Intel app I use is Home Designer Pro, which is a 3D home-building and visualization tool. It's what I use to design all the locations for the comic book I've been working on. And by "use" I actually mean "abuse" because I am using this software in ways it was never designed to be used. I don't just design a home... I design a frickin' estate with two massive homes and a hotel, all in the same scene, all of which have been fully furnished! I've even used it to design space ship interiors because it's just so wonderfully flexible. But anyway, the true test of my M1 MAX MacBook Pro is viewing 3D renders in real-time from Home Designer Pro and, to the shock of nobody, the M1 ship handles it like a champ. When Chief Architect (the company behind the app) optimizes Home Designer Pro for Apple silicon, it's going to be an entirely new ballgame for me. But don't worry... I'll just find new ways to abuse it!

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Walking Tall… and Boxy

Posted on November 18th, 2021

Dave!I got a notification that my iPhone trade-in was received by Apple and is in excellent condition, so my Upgrade Program return requirements are now closed and I'm good for another year. So happy that upgrading via mail works so seamlessly as opposed to the TOTAL FUCKING NIGHTMARE that ensued when I upgraded at the Apple Store. Never again.

Today I went to get my snow tires put on. It was an absolute mad-house, because we're supposed to get snow this weekend. I had made my appointment over a month-and-a-half ago, so I was covered... but apparently there was a line out the door when they opened up, so people were mad that all the walk-in appointments were gone.

Turns out that two of my tires didn't have enough tread on them, and the other two had 80%, so I ended up having to spend $268 to get the two replaced. Ouch. But... better to part with some of my sweet, sweet cash than to be unsafe on the roads. Still... ONE HUNDRED THIRTY-FOUR DOLLARS PER TIRE?!? I mean, I always go for the mid-grade stuff, nothing fancy, so how?. I could have sworn they were $68 last time, which means they've doubled in price? Yikes. Life is too expensive any more.

I am not somebody who's into fashion. Honestly I'm not. I wear jeans, T-shirts, and maybe an occasional henley or a button-down shirt.

That being said, I want a really nice light jacket and am willing to pay for it. BUT EVERY SINGLE ONE I FIND THAT I LIKE IS NOT AVAILABLE IN TALL SIZES! It's next-level frustrating. I am sick and tired of having sleeves that aren't long enough. And when I do find tall sizes, they usually have long torsos, which look silly. I'd like a fitted light jacket that ends at the waist, has long sleeves that taper, but then flare out at the wrist so I can wear gloves underneath. And I'd really like zippers on the cuffs in case I want to wear heavy gloves. And if it can look nice and not painfully plain and basic, that would be a plus.

Doesn't exist.

Which makes me really, really want to buy some patterns that I could alter so I can design and sew exactly what I want. Problem is, my sewing machine can't sew through thick fabrics... like multiple layers of denim... so I don't even know that I could do that. Even so? I'd like to try. Maybe I could design one out of regular fabric, then turn the pattern over to somebody with a capable machine or something. Because I'm not going to pay a premium price for an ill-fitting, boxy-looking, long-torso jacket any more.

And, last thought of the day... #NotAllMen...

@mortgage_mike Not all men are dumb #men #guys #dumb #millennial ♬ Surrender - Natalie Taylor

Pretty much me, any time I start to think I have a handle on life.

   

Buh Bye, Tomato!

Posted on November 9th, 2021

Dave!I have many times sang the praises* of the iPhone Upgrade Program. It allows you to make monthly interest-free payments on the iPhone of your choice... then you can either trade it in after a year and upgrade to a new model... or you can finish out your two years of payments and keep it. This really is the best of both worlds. When the next model iPhone comes out, you get to decide whether or not it's worth it to start all over with two years of payments or skip a year and own your phone.I just like that the program means I can afford a top-of-the-line model. Maybe you have $1,100 laying around to go buy one, but I sure don't, so this is the only way I was getting an iPhone 13 Pro MAX.

Today was the day I prepped my old iPhone 12 Pro MAX for return to Apple.

It's been a good phone, I've gotten a lot of use out of it, and I've enjoyed having it, so I'm a little bit sentimental about having to part with Tomato (the name I gave him because of his tomato-red case). Back when I first used the program to upgrade, I Googled to find out what happens to returned iPhones. I found a YouTube video (since removed) which explained that more recent models in good condition have components replaced to get refurbished, then get sold. If your iPhone is too old or too busted to be refurbished, Apple takes it apart and salvages what materials they can so they can turn them into more modern parts for newer models. Pretty slick. And a good investment for Apple, since they can continue to make money off of phones that were already purchased!

My iPhones get slapped into cases the minute I unbox them, so they get returned in prestine like-new condition. I'm relatively confident that they get refurbished and resold, which means somebody is getting a terrific phone at a discounted price. Which is far better than chucking the thing in a cabinet with the rest of my old iPhones to collect dust.

My return box arrives tomorrow. At which time it will be buh bye Tomato.

Hopefully your new owner likes you as much as I did.

   
*WARNING: DO NOT GO TO THE APPLE STORE TO TRADE IN YOUR iPHONE! ABSOLUTELY 100% DO NOT EVEN THINK ABOUT IT. WHEN I DID THIS, THEY DIDN'T LOG MY PHONE AS HAVING BEEN RETURNED SO APPLE SAID THEY WERE GOING TO BILL ME FOR BOTH PHONES SINCE I DECIDED TO KEEP IT. THIS TOOK *MONTHS* TO GET STRAIGHTENED OUT. MONTHS!!! HOURS OF WASTED TIME TALKING TO APPLE SUPPORT... AND GETTING HUNG UP ON. HOURS OF WASTED TIME TRYING TO TALK TO THE APPLE STORE. HOURS OF SENDING EMAILS. IT WAS HANDS-DOWN ONE OF THE WORST EXPERIENCES I'VE HAD WITH ANY COMPANY EVER! SO UNTIL APPLE STARTS HANDING OUT RECEIPTS FOR TRADE-INS AT THE APPLE STORE, HAVE YOUR NEW PHONE DELIVERED SO THEY CAN SEND YOU A RETURN BOX WITH A TRACKING NUMBER! DO *NOT* MAKE THE MISTAKE I DID!

   

Bullet Sunday 737

Posted on November 7th, 2021

Dave!I may be dealing with some very upset cats now that Daylight Saving Time has ended, but fear not... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• MEME! One of my all-time favorite memes... if not my most favorite... is the "How do you do, fellow kids?" meme (taken from 30 Rock) by Steve Buscemi. This year for Halloween he went AS HIS OWN MEME, and it's glorious...

Steve Buscemi dressed as his own meme for Halloween.
Photo from @DebraWexler_ on Twitter.

And if, somehow, you've never seen the original context for this meme... here you go!

I've always been a fan of Steve Buscemi. The guy ran to Ground Zero after the 9-11 terrorist attacks to search for survivors. He was a firefighter before becoming an actor and wanted to help out. He's had my respect ever since. On top of that he's a great actor. Every time he pops up, you know his part is going to be interesting... or hilarious.

   
• MATH DUEL, FIGHT! I am not a mathematician. I just don't have the headspace to get into the maths is requires. But the history of mathematics is something I absolutely love. Most all the discoveries and advancements made have some fascinating and highly entertaining stories around them. The Veritasium YouTube channel excels at bringing these stories to life in a way that's interesting even if you have no idea about the maths. This new one is really good...

I mean... come on. There's always been drama since the dawn of humanity. There's drama in The Bible, for heaven's sake. But back before the internet and telephones, it was some truly bizarre shit. And I love it!

   
• 80's TV! I love love love Acapulco on Apple TV+. This is a "behind-the-scenes" video that gives you a taste of what the show is about...

It's actually a sequel (of sorts) to the movie How To Be a Latin Lover, but you don't need to have seen it in order to enjoy this series. Highly recommended.

   
• Pink! I went to watch The Wheel of Time on Amazon Prime Video only to find out it's yet another freakin' "zero" non-episode. Then I saw Amazon was recommending a movie I never heard of called Touch of Pink. And it's truly bizarre. Jimi Mistry plays a gay guy who escaped his traditional Muslim family in Toronto by moving to London, England. He's in a relationship there and their lives are thrown into disarray when his conservative mother comes to visit. What makes it different than dozens of other movies following this formula is that Jimi Mistry has an imaginary friend... who is CARY GRANT?!? Played by Kyle MacLachlan?!? It's actually kinda charming, and Jimi's mom is fantastic...

But here's the real surprise.... as I was watching I was all "What the heck ever happened to Jimi Mistry?" Turns out he fell in love with his dance partner from an appearance on Strictly Come Dancing and they moved to the countryside to become farmers! The guy hasn't done any acting since 2015! Hope he's happy in his life away from our screens and televisions.

   
• Alexa Say What? Why are we constantly settling for crappy apps that we pay for? All I wanted was to listen to the Kylie Minogue track Better the Devil You Know when I got home. I don't know much about her, but I love this one song. I had INXS on in my car, and it reminded me of the rumor that the Kylie track was about Michael Hutchence. So I tell Alexa to play it when I walk in the door. Instead of just playing the song I want, it starts playing... well... SOMETHING. I'm guessing it's some kind of remix or whatnot, but since the Amazon Alexa app is 100% SHIT, you can't even read what the hell it's playing...

Echo displays an incomprehensible mishmash of chopped text to show what's playing.

After yelling different ways (ORIGINAL! LIVE! OLD VERSION!) I finally just play it via the YouTube music video on my phone. Does anybody on Amazon's dev team actually use their own app? Because surely they would notice this, right?

   
• SCIENCE! So the reason I hate broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussel sprouts can be explained by actial science! Bitter salad greens like arugula and kale are awful to me. And now we know why. Probably the same thing that makes some people think that cilantro tastes like soap?

   
• Pro! What happens when Apple stops treating the MacBook Pro as a vanity project and actually builds something that has what professionals need to get real work done...

I've been waiting for this for nearly a decade.

   
And now back to our regular Day Light Saved programming...

   

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