Amazon.com Widgets

The 2016 MacBook Pro: “No sir, [we] don't like it.”

 

We don't like the new 15 inch MacBook Pro. Not yet. Maybe we never will. It is almost certainly not the best MacBook Pro Apple could have made. The new pricing is hard to justify where up until a few weeks ago, for less than $2000.00, Apple would have sold you one of the best laptops ever made – the early 2016 base model 15 inch MacBook Pro. (Apple will still sell you that laptop, but with no upgrades it is no longer as good as it was). The new MacBook Pro keyboard feels worse than the previous keyboard; per Apple, the 2nd-generation butterfly keyboard mechanism is “…more responsive, and gives an even greater sense of keyboard travel.” Maybe we’ll wait for that 3rd-generation keyboard with yet an even greater “sense” of keyboard travel. The 2nd-generation keyboard does not fool us enough – it feels like the new MacBook keyboard. We need monster palm rejection for the new monster of a Track Pad. MagSafe and USB C are not mutually exclusive; Apple can do both and allow you to charge from whichever you choose despite what you have heard. Also, we want more battery life and we want battery life for the late 2016 MacBook Pro to be as consistent as it was on the previous MacBook Pro.

We could have been impressed by Touch Bar. Currently, TouchBar seems like the Wii-ification of the MacBook Pro.

 

Without more, Touch Bar seems like a gimmick. What’s the “more” we speak of? Deep Automator integration for one. If there were ever two things that were meant to go together, it is Touch Bar and the Mac's automation prowess. The October 2016 Special Event, was devoid of any mention of deep Automator integration with the Touch Bar or an all new Automator built around Touch Bar. We also now know ‘some guy’ named Sal Soghoian is no longer at Apple. If Automator has truly sunset, and there is no replacement, Touch Bar smells like a stunt, especially to those of us who use Automator and Apple script to save time on a daily basis.

The display on the 2016 MacBook is beautiful, but the old retina display wasn't too shabby either. We like that there is now metal where the plastic clutch cover used to be when the laptop is closed; although for me, this will undoubtedly mean less money, it is a welcome improvement.

We like certain things about the all new 2016 MacBook Pro, but too few. It's not made for us. To own it requires too much justification, so right now we don't like it. Maybe, we never will.

 

 

Microsoft's Surface Studio is Beautiful

Microsoft's Surface Studio looks good. Really good. Preeminent technology companies seem to be on the same page these days. That is, if you want something done right and to your standards, do it all yourself; control the entire stack. Here is Microsoft's take on what total control looks like when building a modern desktop PC:

A stunning 28-inch PixelSense Display. 13.5 million pixels immerse you in TrueColorTM. At 192 PPI, the pixels are indistinguishable, delivering True Scale, where 12-point font on the display is identical to 12-point font on a printed page... All this, in the thinnest LCD monitor ever built at this size.
Effortlessly transforms from Desktop to Studio Mode. Surface Studio’s display moves weightlessly on the innovative Zero Gravity Hinge between upright Desktop Mode, down into Studio Mode. In Studio Mode, the monitor creates a stable 20-degree drafting table optimized for natural interactions... 
Workstation-class power and performance. With Quad-core 6th Generation Intel® CoreTM processors, a discrete NVIDIA® GeForce® GPU with up to 4GB GDDR5 memory, and up to 2TB Rapid Hybrid Drive storage... Surface Studio with discrete GPU is also powerful enough for the latest PC games or VR experiences, including HTC VIVE. Surface Studio supports Xbox Wireless, allowing you to connect up to four Xbox One-compatible controllers. (emphasis added).
Innovative and thoughtful accessories. Surface Dial is a new, wireless rotational peripheral with adaptive haptic feedback and 3,600 points of precision built for Surface. With customizable controls, Surface Dial delivers both on-screen and off-screen experiences that enable you to interact with applications in natural ways that deliver a fluid creative process... 
via Microsoft: see more specs

The Surface Studio is a brilliant implementation and refinement of the initial 'Table-PC' idea; we all remember the videos where your Windows PC was a coffee table that you would interact with through touch. Transforming your desktop into simply a desk is obvious, natural and smart. Satya Nadella’s Microsoft keeps streamlining its products and innovating at an impressive rate and it’s great to see the company all-in, combining its hardware prowess with its ever improving software. Speaking of software, the company is even more impressive when you consider that Microsoft’s continued success comes in an era where new Windows OSes – the sale of which was once the company’s primary source of revenue - have been available for free for the last few years. 

 

Apple and McLaren

The 'Apple may buy McLaren' rumor is my favorite tech rumor this year. I think such an acquisition would be great for many reasons, but I'll outline 3 here.

First, McLaren is a technology company that happens to make cars. After changing its name to "McLaren Technology Group" in 2015, the company stated:

The McLaren companies now employ more than 3000 people, three-quarters of whom are not involved in motorsport. Technology drives everything we do – creating the world’s most advanced road cars, working with blue-chip companies to enhance their performance and their products, and/or developing the world’s most robust electronic control systems. Our new name therefore reflects our ever-increasing focus on innovation and the creation of disruptive technologies that will have a positive and far-reaching impact.
McLaren

Having worked for a technology company, where my job involved working with OEMs, I understand how much differently car manufacturers think and operate than a technology company. Buying a car company would be an albatross around Apple's neck; the unbending 'mediocre-is-good-enough' mindset, the dealer network, the horrible buying experience, all seem to clash with Apple's sensibilities. A technology company is more malleable, and wrangling a technology company is familiar to Apple.

Quitter Icon

Alipeb Quitter Icon Pic

Marco's Quitter is handy - a great gap-filler where my app quitting falls short. Its useful for saving system resources and staving off getting sucked into that relentless and vast internet hole. I like everything about Quitter except for its icon, which made a little too much sense. So I whipped up an icon that is a little less sensible, but a bit more fun. You can grab it below, after you download the actual application, if you have not done so already.

Lexus is Ugly Now

Lexus used to be a bit boring, now it's vehicles are homely without justification. The Pontiac Aztec - seemingly the inspiration for the current generation RX - was at least in part "functionally ugly"... the other kind of fugly. We may then infer some level of awareness on the part of the Aztec 'design' team. Not so for Lexus.

Fix For Dialog Box/Pop-Up On Launch of MicroSoft Word When Using The Form Tool Via Crossover on Mac.

This is a fix for an error that may occur when using The Form Tool on Mac[i] via CrossOver; namely, an annoying dialog box stating that "TheFormTool cannot find a template" and requiring you to click “OK” before being allowed to use MicroSoft Word. The dialog box pop-up may occur whenever a person force quits MS Word and or the CrossOver application, causing "~$eFormToolPRO.dotm" to become corrupt. This corruption may cause said annoying dialog box to pop-up every time thereafter that you launch MS Word.

To fix this error and get rid of the annoying dialog box pop-up, do the following:

Tesla Model 3 in 2

The Model 3 is here (well almost anyway) and it looks quite good. This is important for the automobile space, and likely not just Tesla's most important vehicle, but perhaps the most important vehicle since Ford's Model T.  The Model T debuted a little over 100 years ago and the parallels with Tesla's Model 3 are truly interesting.

Ford called the Model T "the universal car," a low-cost, reliable vehicle that could be maintained easily...

Musk has essentially positioned the Model 3 as the 'universal electric car', a reasonably priced, reliable, fast, well designed all electric vehicle. Of course the concise Model 3 pitch is that 'the Model 3 will be the best car (combustion, electric or hybrid) that you can buy for the price'. Where Ford had its assembly line, Musk has his Gigafactory. Also interesting, Tesla has reportedly received more orders for its Model 3 in a couple of days than the combined yearly sales of the Acura TLX, Audi A4, Cadillac ATS, Infiniti Q50, Lexus IS, and Mercedes C-class. A few years in, Ford sold more Model Ts per year than its competitors combined, and by the mid 1920s more than half the cars on American Roads were Ford Model Ts.

Nifty Mini Drive for the 15 Inch Retina MacBook Pro

The Nifty Mini Drive is mostly great. You should buy one if you need additional storage for your MacBook. I ordered a Mini Drive after cutting too much into the hard drive space on my main machine, a 2014 15-inch retina MacBook Pro with a 256Gb SSD, which is of course a proprietary part. I love my rMBP, maybe because it was a gift from my uncle, maybe because it’s an all around champ. However, 256Gb of space just isn’t enough, and left me living like an animal with external hard drives and ugly thumb drives all breaking with every move.

The Best Legal Practice Management Software: Clio

Clio is easily the best legal practice management software I have ever used. While I have not used all the available competing "software" day-to-day, I have taken quite a few for a test drive, and have used Amicus attorney day-to-day in the past. Amicus Attorney seemingly dominates or at least dominated the legal practice management software space in my experience, and Amicus now provides Amicus-Cloud, a Clio competitor, which is less robust and less costly than Amicus Attorney at about $49.95 per user per month compared to $999 per license for traditional Amicus Attorney software. Clio starts at $39,99 per user per month. Still, this is not a critique of Amicus' offerings nor any other legal management “software,” so much as it is an explanation of why I use Clio, and why it is perhaps the best practice management software you’ll find.

The Best Slim Wallet: Bellroy Elements Sleeve

About 2 years ago I purchased Bellroy’s Card Sleeve in “cocoa”. It was great except for one thing. Prior to the Card Sleeve I had developed the sensible habit of only purchasing wallets with a spare key holder. Before my habit, I’d been locked out of my home on occasion as a result of losing my key, or forgetting to unbundle my home and car keys when loaning my vehicle to a family member. Incidents like that can easily lead to a “Gates Gate”, and that's no fun for anyone. Needless to say, though I loved my Card Sleeve, I missed the security of a spare key in my wallet. Back-up plans are a good thing. Speaking of contingencies, I also prefer to have a wallet with a couple of honest-to-goodness cards and identification, as opposed to solely relying on Apple Pay, or alternatively conjoining my phone case and wallet into the love-it-or-hate-it mutant wallet phone case. Sentinels hate it. Still, I am mostly a minimalist and refuse to carry an Indiana Jones satchel as a wallet.

Enter the Elements Sleeve.

The Best OEM Headlamp Bulb Replacement: LEDs

It would be remiss of me not to mention the difference between how LEDs and Halogen bulbs work at the outset, since many advantages and disadvantages of each lighting system, is tied directly to how they work. In fact while this post ultimately compares CG Automotive's LED bulb kit, with my OEM Halogen bulbs, you will find that the difference in processes and the choices made for the particular Bulb kit, imposed by the processes, drives the comparison. Lets dive in. Regarding the LEDs process, I can do no better than Phillips' explanation that:

as indicated by its name, [light-emitting diode], the LED is a diode that emits light. A diode is a device that allows current to flow in only one direction. Almost any two conductive materials will form a diode when placed in contact with each other. When electricity is passed through the diode the atoms in one material (within the semiconductor chip) are excited to a higher energy level. The atoms in that first material have too much energy and need to release that energy. The energy is then released as the atoms shed electrons to the other material within the chip. During this energy release light is created. The color of the light from the LED is a function of the ingredients (materials) and recipes (processes) that make up the chip.

Compare this to a Halogen bulb's incandescence process.

Its not your stream box, its your rubbish remote

If you care about streaming video and other media you’re probably familiar with the plethora of "stream boxes" available for media consumption. None are awesome; most of the ones you’ve heard of are decent. I've been using Rokus since 2008, or about the time Netflix lifted their cap on streaming. It has always been a solid option ("no one ever got fired for buying a [Roku]"), and now we have several other options, such as Apple TVAmazon Fire TV, or Google Chromecast - to name any other stand-alone stream box you should consider purchasing. Of course there are also the consoles, PlayStation 4Xbox One and Nintendo’s horribly underpowered, still-no-HD-Zelda-box, to name the latest. With the vast majority of these stream boxes you will be able to watch the non-negotiables: Netflix, HBO Go, Hulu Plus, YouTube, or Amazon Prime. As you might expect, there are a few annoyances in content procurement, like iTunes and Apple TV exclusivity. Streaming content on any of the devices mentioned above is a fair experience, but not devoid of stutter, lag and freezing during rewind, fast forward and playback - even with the abundance of processing power in the meekest of said devices.

Ultimately however, the biggest problem by far is not that you can't get content, but...

Tesla Powerwall

This is exciting. Tesla's rechargeable lithium-ion battery for the home, Powerwall, looks like the Future. It may be the first viable option for supplying sustainable electricity to remote locations, dwellings during devastating natural disasters, and for those of us looking to unplug. Although only time will tell, combining Tesla's Powerwall with a good solar panel setup, will likely be the best option for anyone who needs electricity but looking to live, or already living untethered.

Apple's Force Touch Trackpad: the hype is not enough

After this month's Macbook announcement I joked that the metal hinge and all aluminum chassis was its best feature. Of course, at most, the hinge is its second best feature. Earlier this week I stopped into BestBuy and made a beeline to play with the new Force Touch Trackpad in the 13-inch MacBook Pro. Initially, I wasn't sure whether BestBuy had updated their display-unit to one sporting the new trackpad. They did. As just about every tech journalist has stated, the Force Touch trackpad completely fools your brain into thinking that you are clicking a standard MacBook Trackpad. That fact alone is remarkable. However, it is even more impressive as you tinker with the tech a bit more; you quickly come to realize that this technology, in this implementation, is nothing like you have ever experienced before.

Best Feature of Apple's All New 2015 MacBook

With a smidgen of prematurity and even less information, I say the integrated metal hinge is the best feature of the all new MacBook. The graphic below shows that most people who visit this site by way of a search engine (overwhelmingly Google), typically do so after searching for a replacement for their troubled MacBook plastic clutch cover.  

Close to perfect: 2004 G35 Sport Coupe with modifications

In December of 2003, I brought home a G35 Sport Coupe with leather and premium package (see original Window Sticker for full Specs). I first saw the G35 concept at the New York Auto Show a year or so earlier, and immediately thought it would be one of the most beautiful affordable cars on the road if the production version stayed true to the concept. Well, as Infiniti promised, the production version was strikingly similar to the concept. This meant that the production G-Coupe looked as if it should easily have cost twice as much as it did. At $31,550.00 without the premium package, the price was not far from a well-equipped Honda Accord Coupe EX-L V6. However, the cars were worlds apart. The G35 was rear wheel drive, 280 HP, 270 ft-lbs torque, tiptronic, and had a beautiful exhaust note. Meanwhile, "boring" would have been an understatement for the 2004 Honda Accord. As the Q60 Concept looms large, I thought I’d pay homage to my old G-Coupe by posting the ways in which I modified it over the years, my reasons for each modification, and of course tons of pics. Dive in after the break.

The Infiniti Q60 and Other Stupid Car Names

According to Motor Trend, Infiniti is set to unveil its all new "very, very, very, very close to [production]" Q60 at the upcoming Detroit Auto Show around mid January next year. Without condemning the yet to be revealed vehicle too much, the fact that I am not eagerly awaiting the all new 2016 "G37” or “G38” has left a bad taste in my mouth, possibly the remnants of curse words. I am more than a bit annoyed that I will not be able to refer to the impending vehicle as the “G Coupe”. I’m troubled in part because people who truly like cars probably get what's in a name and understand that a rose called 'protoplasma' [sic] smells a little less sweet.

The annoyance has led to this post and the following free points for automobile manufacturers: (1) I don't care what Don Draper or the ying-to-his-yang from Wharton tells you, people remember words best, and, (2) where fortune smiles on you and more than a modicum of success exists with an arbitrary silly alphanumeric nomenclature, leave it alone. 

Found Flash-age

remember Flash Player. A while back during one of my favorite past times (deleting useless files from my MacBook), I found the .swf file below I created, still lingering, much like the mighty indomitable cockroach. It was the beginnings (and end) of my own "site assistant" for my long defunct web development operation - all well before iOS was a glimmer in its father's eye. Naturally it reminded me of Jobs' "Thoughts on Flash" (TOF). I had no trouble understanding why it made lots of sense to use open standards when TOF was first published. However, the annihilation of Flash was lost on me. As it turns out, Flash isn't like the cockroach at all.

iPhone 6 Plus: The Burden of Abundance and Choice

It has been one week since Apple announced new iPhone models. During that time, the commentary has been most surprising (although maybe it should not be) on many popular tech sites and from video bloggers surrounding the larger model, the iPhone 6 Plus. Some people seem taken back at just 'how large' the 5.5 inch iPhone 6 Plus appears. I use "appears" since many, like myself, have not had a chance to experience the phone in person. Even individuals claiming that the iPhone 6 (as opposed to the 6 Plus) will be their next device seldom talk about the iPhone 6. Stranger still, persons with no plans to purchase an iPhone 6 Plus, and with seemingly no good reason to do so, have heavily focused on this phone. Without ranting too much, I believe this exemplifies a common problem in our society; namely, the burden of abundance and choice.