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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.

   

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...

   

MacBook MacDebt

Posted on October 25th, 2021

Dave!And so I did something I swore I wasn't going to do... go into debt again.

The only reason I can afford the latest model iPhone is because of Apple's "iPhone Upgrade Program" which charges you a monthly fee and allows you to trade in your phone for a new model every year. To buy the thing outright when it costs over $1000 is money I don't have. Essentially it's leasing with an option to own, and I'm perfectly fine with that.

Alas, there's no such "upgrade program" for my MacBook Pro, which costs over three times what an iPhone does.

Which means I have to put money aside whenever I can and save for a new model, which takes three to five years. And this is fine. MacBooks now-a-days are plenty powerful enough to go that long, so I just accept that this is my only option and move on with life.

But Apple did something financially smart (for them) and financially not-smart (for me). Right after you read all about the new MacBook Pro laptops, they have this...

Get a credit for a new MacBook Pro with a trade-in and earn 3% cash-back when you buy with Apple Card.

Now, I naturally assumed that my two-year-old MacBook Pro with an antiquated Intel chip would be worth almost nothing... $500 if I were lucky. So I didn't even bother to check. But I did want to take a look at my Apple Card to find out if I got my 3% cash back when I bought my new M1 iMac. Turns out I did. But then I noticed something that I hadn't anticipated. A surprise of the best possible kind... My Apple Cash card is the last card in my Apple Wallet, so I never see it. And it turns out I had Real Money sitting on it... $1312.48

Without realizing it, I had already saved up over 1/3 the amount needed to buy a new MacBook Pro.

So now I was very interested in how much money Apple would give me for my old Intel Apple MacBook Pro. Another surprise of the best possible kind... Apple would give me $1,210.00 for it. Far, far more than I was expecting.

And so here I am sitting on $2,522.48 that I didn't even realize.

So now it was time to crunch the numbers.

My dream MacBook Pro (M1 MAX with 64GB memory and 1TB storage) costs $3,899.00 plus tax plus $400 for three years of AppleCare coverage. $4,299. HA! Yeah, coming up with the additional $1,776.52 needed might as well have been $20,000. But what if I drop down to 32GB of memory, saving $400? That's double what I have now. Doing that means I'm at $1,376.52 needed. That's still a massive heap of cash. But how much for a monthly payment? After trade-in, it's $224 a month (including tax and AppleCare)... but 3% Apple Card cash-back brings it down to $217 a month. Which is to say that my $1,312.48 in Apple Cash covers six months of payments, during with time I can scrape together four more payments. That's ten out of the twelve payments covered. Factoring in my tax refund money for the final two payments... annnnnd... DONE!

I use my MacBook Pro for work whenever I'm home. Several hours a day every day. And if I ever start traveling again, I use it constantly. The benefits of going into debt to get a newer model outweighed my desire to not be saddled with debt...

  • The far better M1 chip will allow me to work faster, doing more work in the same amount of time.
  • Annoying problems... like trying to find an SD card dongle to load photos I take for work... are eliminated since there's an SD card slot built-in.
  • That stupid fucking TouchBar, which I hate to use because I have to stop everything I'm doing and angle my MacBook towards me so I can see what I'm press on the damn thing, is finally gone... replaced with REAL KEYS I can actually memorize.

Also? The thing will take a month to ship, which means another month to save money for the payments, which means those four payments at the end will be less of a burden. I may not end up eating nothing but peanut butter sandwiches and ramen noodles after all!

Worth it.

If, for no other reason, to get rid of that stupid fucking productivity-killing TouchBar.

I'd eat peanut butter sandwiches and ramen noodles for a year just to get rid of that idiotic shit.

And so... here I am. Looking to see if there's a sale on peanut butter and bread. If there is, then maybe I can start saving for those payments early!

   

APPLE SUPER MIRACLE AWESOME SPECIAL EVENT TWO!

Posted on October 18th, 2021

Dave!Another week. Another Apple Event.

Where the last time was for iPhones, this time was (mostly) the new models of MacBook Pro.

As hard as it is to believe that you'd rather watch the event yourself and not listen to my take on the proceedings, I've gone ahead and posted the YouTube video at the end of this post...

Music

From the start of things, it seemed like Apple was about to make some kind of dramatic announcement regarding music. But all we get is a new Apple Music level, playlists, AirPods, and a new color of HomePod mini. Which we'll get to in a minute. But first? This really cool video that opened the event...

Nifty, huh?

AirPods. I detest the original AirPods. The slick plastic would not stay put in my ears and they were forever falling out. Eventually I had to buy a pair of silicon covers so I wouldn't lose them. Which was annoying, because I had to remove the covers every time I charged the things. And here's Apple releasing the same shitty slick plastic crap they did before... at $179. New features, but nothing worth having to add sillicon covers. I'll be sticking with my old AirPod Pros, thanks.

Cheaper Apple Music. I am an Amazon Music Unlimited guy. I tried buying a HomePod to switch to Apple, but we all know how that turned out. So no $9.99 a month subscription to Apple Music for me. Now there's a new tier for just $4.99 a month. It's only good on Apple devices (from iPhones to iPads to Apple Watches to Macs to AppleTV), does not come with spatial audio Dolby Atmos, does not come with lossless audio files, doesn't allow viewing the lyrics, doesn't allow downloading, and doesn't allow sharing features. Otherwise? Alle the cool Apple Music stuff you could want. Alas, again, since HomePod is fucking bullshit, I'll stick with Amazon.

HomePod mini in Colors! Yeah, not a chance. I am not wasting more time with Apple's shitty fucking "experience" when it comes to this disastrous pile of shit.

M1

I'm just going to put this right up front: my "low-end" Apple Silicon M1 iMac is glorious. It runs absolute circles around my previous-generation MacBook Pro. Not even close. Apple's bargain basement iMac completely trounces my pro-level Mac of two years ago. Which begs the question... what happens when Apple releases a professional version of this chip for power users given that their cheapest solution is already pro-level for me. Enter the M1 PRO (which we were all expecting) plus the M1 MAX. Which crams a lot more power on that little chip...

Circuit comparison between the M1, M1 Pro, and M1 Max chips.

M1 PRO. It's ridiculously powerful.

M1 MAX It's more than ridiculously powerful.

Look, I can pop up all the graphics Apple shared about how the new M1s consistently outperform the competition in every possible metric. But why? Suffice to say that you can do stuff on these new MacBook Pros that couldn't previously be done on a laptop this compact. That's how powerful they are. And the fact that it does all of it with far, far less power consumption for longer battery life? Well that's icing on the cake, right? That's exactly what you want on a laptop. And so here they are...

MacBook Pro

16-inch and 14-inch. Apple starts out by saying how the smaller 14-inch version doesn't cut corners to have the smaller size (why would it when the Apple Silicon has made everything so small?). Turns out they aren't lying. The M1 MAX isn't available in a default configuration... but you can configure to have it if you want. That's pretty sweet.

Wakey Wakey. Instant awake. It's like... my current MacBook Pro wakes up really quickly... but you notice it. I love the idea of not noticing that!

Keyboard Faith. I'm hoping Apple didn't "new and improve" the keyboard again (which is how we ended up with those shitty fucking "butterfly" keyboards that Apple forced on us for FIVE DAMN YEARS). From what I can tell, TouchID is the same and the only difference is that the background behind the keys is black. So yay?

The new TouchBar-free MacBook Pro keyboard.

TouchBar Free. As you will note, Apple has finally given up on the stupid-ass TouchBar which was new levels of annoying. Now we get keys that you can memorize instead of an ever-changing interface that requires you to physically look at where stuff is to operate. Thank God.

Stupidity Recant 101. The SD memory card is back. Losing this was next-level stupid and I'm happy it's back.

Ports! Apple has standardized on USB-C (you get three plus an HDMI port) and ridiculously claims that you can attach a bunch of stuff (namely a bunch of monitors) "...all without a single adapter!" — Except NOT. Because there's not a single USB-A port. Yes, everything is moving to USB-C... but there's still tons upon tons of things that are USB-A, so you actually will, in fact, need those damn dongle adapters for non-video devices. At least a headphone port is still there for people who haven't gone wireless.

Screen Real Estate. HA! They brought the iPhone notch to the MacBook Pro display! Which... eh... I wanna see what happens when the apps I use that have a lot of menu items is used. Do they wrap around the notch? Get truncated? Abbreviated? What? Yeah, I'm glad to have the extra screen real estate, but what's the trade-off? What's the cost?

ProMotion Display. Another iPhone tech makes its way to the Mac. Nice. Scrolls like buttah. Plus 1000 nits brightness and deeper blacks! I'll bet HDR looks spectacular.

Selfie Camera. 1080p. At last. Apple has looked fucking stupid all this time stuck with their shitty cameras. The one on my iMac M1 is very nice. I'm guessing this one is pretty much the same.

Soundly Sound. The sound is better. It has spatial audio. Which is nice, of course, but it's still laptop sound. I'm always in headphones when listening to audio on the MacBook Pro, so it's not something I'd really use.

Mass Memory. Up to 64GB unified memory. Which... which is pretty phenomenal for a portable platform. You can also have up to a whopping 8TB of storage. EIGHT TERABYTES! This will come in real handy for those wanting to edit 8K video on the road! It is expensive, however. An additional $2,200 from the 1TB standard.

Battery Life. The energy efficiency of the new M1s gives you up to 21 hours of video playback on the 16-inch model, which is stunning. But it sounds like any app can benefit from big power savings... even running under Rosetta 2 emulation. Always a plus when working on the road.

Fast Charge. 50% in just 30 minutes? Well that's pretty sweet!

Stupidity Recant 102 Gee, Apple, thanks for bringing back a huge feature that you fucking humiliated yourself with for omitting in the previous generation: MadSafe power. All those ads that touted MagSafe as THE way to charge... and Apple threw it away for USB-C? So stupid. Though... I have to wonder if you can still charge via USB-C if that's all you have? (UPDATE: Yes you can). I didn't hear them mention that.

The ad they came up with (which hasn't been posted, but is in the event video below) is actually... um... scary? Apple's hinting that the new MacBook Pros are so powerful they might be able to become sentient or something.

Just for fun I put together my dream MacBook Pro. 16-inch M1 MAX with 64GB Unified Memory, 2TB Storage. And the grand total is... FOUR THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED AND NINETY-NINE DOLLARS! Wow. Now, granted, that's an awful lot of power that is probably reserved for 8K video users and the like... but just to experience that every time I sit down to work on large projects? Must be magic. Interesting to note that the M1 MAX only adds $200 to the price tag of a "standard" MacBook Pro. So a more reasonable Apple M1 Pro with 32GB Unified Memory and 1TB of storage that clocks in at a fairly reasonable $3,099 just jumps to $3,299... which is probably the route I would go if I had $3,300 burning a hole in my pocket (which I do not).

AN ASIDE: If it's only a $200 difference, why not just put the M1 MAX in all the machines? Having a lower tier pro that's just $200 different seems ridiculous. People are spending thousands of dollars, so what's $200 more for the better chip that offers so much more? I don't get it. Unless they want to make people feel good about spending the $200 or something. The logic... it baffles.

Interesting to note that if you pay with Apple Card, you'd get 3% cash back, which is $100. If Apple gave a more reasonable 5% cash back (like Amazon and others) on Apple purchases, you'd get $165. Which is just $35 shy of getting the M1 MAX for free. It's strange that Apple doesn't make a thing of that. "FOR A LIMITED TIME, SPEND $3000 OR MORE ON A M1 PRO MACBOOK PRO WITH YOUR APPLE CARD AND WE'LL UPGRADE YOU TO THE M1 MAX AT NO CHARGE! (cash back not applicable)." If Apple were to do something slick like that... or do a double cash-back promotion ($198)... I would probably go into debt to get that laptop. So it's maybe a good thing they aren't doing that!

Anyway...

Do I want one of these things? Lord, yes. Will I buy one? I can't really afford it because I ain't going into debt when I have an existing MacBook Pro that's loads inferior, but still works for my needs. Maybe when they unleash next year's models?

AN ASIDE: I like Apple CEO Tim Cook. He'd be great to hang with and go out to dinner with. But there are times I long for a bastard perfectionist like Steve Jobs to be in charge so Certified Apple Whores stop getting the shitty experiences we've been plagued with. For MONTHS MacOS X file search has been broken. And by "broken" I mean "useless as a pile of dog shit." Which is why I was screaming at the Apple Event stream with "THESE PRETTY NEW MACBOOKS DON'T MEAN SHIT IF YOUR SEARCH IS BUSTED! WHEN I TRY TO FIND MY WORK FILES, YOU RETURN PICTURES OF MY CATS... HOLY FUCKING SHIT, APPLE! SEARCHING FOR FILES IS A CRITICAL EVERYDAY FUNCTION! HOW CAN YOU ALLOW THIS TO GO ON FOR THIS LONG? WHY NOT TAKE TEN MINUTES TO HOP OFF YOUR M1 PRO/MAX TRAIN AND FIX YOUR FUCKING FINDER FILE SEARCH SO PEOPLE WHO BUY YOUR HARDWARE CAN ACTUALLY USE IT!!! DAMN!" As it is I have to use a third-party search tool in order to track down my files. That's some serious fucking bullshit.

And that was it. Short and sweet.

If somebody has $3,000 they want to give me, I'll order one immediately. Otherwise? I sure hope everybody who's been waiting for a shiny new MacBook Pro enjoys the ride.

And here's that Apple Event video I promised...

Happy Monday, everybody!

   

A Decade Without Jobs

Posted on October 5th, 2021

Dave!My personal hero is Steve Jobs.

He died 10 years ago today. I still remember when I found out he had passed. I had been out snorkeling at a reef in the glorious waters of Fiji...

Pretty red and orange fish.

TA sea snake!

Dolphins were all around the boat as we headed back to shore...

Dolphins jumping out of the water.

Dolphins speeding along at the bow of the boat.

It was a wonderful moment in my life. Then, as we came back into cellular range, I heard my iPhone beep that I had a text message. I ignored it because I didn't want to have an interruption of this perfect day. I loaded up my gear and trudged back to shore. For the entire walk back through warm waters as my feet gooshed into the mud below, my mind was distracted by the message notification. At the time I didn't get texts very often. Usually when I got a text it was bad news...

The guy ahead of me trudging back to the SCUBA shop in Fiji through the water.

So when I got to shore I was torn. Do I look at it or do I keep ignoring it? I pulled my iPhone from a waterproof pouch and saw that the text was from my brother. So now I had to read it. My brother never texted me, and the thought that something had happened to my parents or grandparents made avoiding it impossible. The text was four words: Steve Jobs has died...

TEXT: Steve Jobs has died!

I was absolutely crushed. I worshipped the guy, and the irony that I found out about his death on a device he had a hand in creating was not lost on me. But instead of being sad, I decided to appreciate the beauty in the world around me, just as Steve Jobs did. Since I was in Fiji, this was not difficult, even though it started raining like it had the day before...

Plantation Island in Fiji

When I flew back to Sydney, there were flowers piled in front of the Apple Store. THAT'S when I broke down...

Flowers in front of the Apple Store Sydney in 2011.

It was a gut-wrenching moment knowing that I'd never see him on stage delighting everybody with his "One More Thing" or hear new stories of his antics at Apple and out in the world. My life had been made more interesting with Steve Jobs in it. Now that he was gone, I knew there would be a hole there. And it's still there a decade later. I miss you, Steve...

Steve Jobs smiling and looking like a genius.

An interesting aside here... Steve Jobs died on October 5, 2011. But I was in Fiji, which was in the future because of the time zone change. Which means I always remember the date as October 6th, 2011... so for me, Steve Jobs had one more day on this earth.

If you go to Apple's website right now, there's a nice tribute movie to Steve Jobs and a statement from the Jobs family that's worth a read.

UPDATE: The video has been posted to YouTube...

   

Ultra Extra

Posted on September 29th, 2021

Dave!When T-Mobile was rolling out their "new and improved" 5G Ultra Capacity Network, I thought for sure that it would be at least 2025 before it arrived in my podunk little redneck town. BUT NOPE! I got an email that said my area now has it and, sure enough, I gots a new 5GUC logo on my iPhone...

My phone lock screen as a chicken with 5GUC in the upper corner.

Zooming in on the 5GUC in the upper corner.

The T-Mobile 5G here was already fast, so I'm not sure of the speed difference... but it's definitely feels zippy. I guess it's supposed to help more when lots of people are using the network at the same time? I dunno. All I DO know is that T-Mobile really blew past my minimal expectations for a mobile carrier, so good on them for that.

Happy hump day, everybody...

@xiongmaosh This year's autumn rain is better than summer rain#panda #eat #lovely ♬ 原聲 - xiongmaosh

I have no idea why I think a panda eating needs to be here, but it really does.

   

Computer… Blue(?)

Posted on September 3rd, 2021

Dave!A while back I introduced everybody to Lemon, my yellow iMac.

Except the yellow that was advertised on Apple's website was absolutely not the yellow I got. What I got was a gold iMac. It's colored shades of gold and urine-stained aluminum. At first I was just going to live with it... despite being more than a little upset that I spent $200 extra just to get yellow in the first place. But... it's not yellow...

My iMac mouse and keyboard.

Heck, even the sticker that comes with the thing is very clearly GOLD...

My gold Apple sticker.

But then...

With each passing day that I sat down at my computer, all I could think about was another tacky gold and urine-stained architectural abomination...

Trump's gaudy gold penthouse.

Trump's gaudy gold penthouse.

And I wasn't the only one who noticed it. Many people reviewing the "yellow" iMac commented that it was actually gold...

Comparing the gold iMac to the yellow iMac on the box.

Comparing the gold iMac to the yellow iMac on the box.
Taken from Tyler Stalman's unboxing and review.

Now, some people may love the gold, and more power to them. But since I don't live in the Trump Tower penthouse, I called Apple to voice my dissatisfaction.

Their solution? "Oh. We'll just exchange it for a different color. What color do you want?"

Apparently when Apple says "Free Shipping & Free Returns," they actually mean it. So... good on them, I guess. But just think how all of this could have been avoided if Apple would use actual photos on their website instead of Photoshopped color-adjusted photos. Because, seriously, the only way I could replicate Apple's "yellow" image is via Photoshop.

This is really dishonest on Apple's part, in my humble opinion.

At least they made it right at no charge to me though.

But anyway...

I replaced Lemon with the same iMac, but in blue. The only difference was that this time I got a matching blue Magic Keyboard with TouchID in American English and ordered an add-on Magic Keyboard in Russian. This way I can have an easier time typing in English... which I do 98% of the time... and just grab the silver Russian keyboard when I need to type in Cyrillic. The upshot being that Apple ended up making an additional $100 of me in the exchange because of it.

The blue iMac is closer to what you see on Apple's website. The lighter blue on the iMac stand (along with the mouse and the keyboard) is a nice steel-blue metallic aluminum color... the back is a gorgeous deep blue color. And the "chin" on the front is not a bright baby blue as I was fearing. It's more of a flat sky blue that has a little grey in it so things don't look ridiculous. So, all in all, it's a far better fit for me than the heinous gold thing was...

My new BLUE iMac.
They must have been out of blue mouse charging cables, because mine is for the silver iMac... but it looks fine.

My guess is that some crafty companies will make cling-skins for the "chin" which you can pop on in a variety of designs. I will likely be cashing in on one of those if I can find a design I like. I'd be happy with just plain dark blue to match the back, to be honest.

Setup was a piece of cake because I just used a Time Machine backup to copy everything over from the gold iMac. Once I rebooted it, everything was just as I left it. All that was left to do was wipe the old iMac's hard rive, put it back in the box, then call FedEx.

And there you have it. My all-new NEW iMac.

I am still calling him "Lemon" though, even though he is blue. I'm too attached to the name after using it for the past couple weeks to want to change it.

   

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