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

We don't like the new 15 inch MacBook Pro. Not yet. 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 $2,000, 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 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, subpar. We need monster palm rejection for the new monster of a Track Pad. MagSafe and USB Type-C ports are not mutually exclusive; Apple can do both and allow you to charge from whichever you choose despite what you have heard. We think the old Apple would have combined MagSafe with at least one of the USB Type-C ports on each side, regardless of any standards body griping. 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. (See Consumer Reports).

We could have been impressed by Touch Bar, as opposed to thinking it the Wii-ification of the MacBook Pro... The Jar Jar Bar.


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 belong together, it is Touch Bar and Automator. Apple's October 2016 (MacBook Pro) Special Event, was devoid of any mention of 'Automator and Touch Bar' integration or any talk of 'an all new Automator built around Touch Bar'. We also now know that ‘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 for those of us who Automator and Apple Script and see its unrealized potential.

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 and compromise. Right now, we don't like it. Maybe we never will.



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.

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.

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.

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.  

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.

Macbook Pro clutch cover (plastic hinge cover) replacement

The hinge clutch cover is the long black plastic part that covers the mechanical parts by the hinge of your MacBook, or the only plastic part visible to you at the fulcrum of your machine. It's visible from the back when your MacBook is closed and also when it is open at the base of your screen. Over time, the clutch cover can become cracked and eventually even break, exposing some part of the internals of your machine. This typically doesn't affect the operation or functionality of your computer. However, in addition to aesthetics it serves the purpose of keeping dust and other undesirables out of your MacBook.

The clutch cover on my 2011 15 Inch MacBook Pro eventually cracked. I purchased a new clutch cover from amazon for under $17.00 USD, and replaced it in less than an hour.

Am I a fanboy?

Before you answer that question, let me tell you a few things about myself that may help inform your judgment. First, I have a computer science degree and usually make reasoned purchasing decisions when it comes to technology, not all of which is based on pure specifications. I have never waited in a crazy line or camped out to buy an iPhone. Second, I have a law degree; this may be relevant as an indicator that I have a modicum of logical reasoning ability. Third, I like engineers and companies that make some attempt or strive toward caring about more than the products they sell, if for no other reason than that it is good business practice. For example, I prefer Westinghouse and Tesla to Edison. Lastly, I like and truly appreciate, companies such as Intel, Microsoft and Google. I use their products daily and have done so for many years. For example, I’ve built my Windows desktops since the early days of the Intel Retail Edge program, and my personal Gmail address is simply ‘my very common name’ (at) gmail (dot) com.

Click the link below for 10 reasons why I easily choose iPhone and iOS over Android and the plethora of available Nexonaxy devices.

OWC Data Doubler: Replace that rarely used MacBook optical drive

You can stop living like an animal, and forget about backing up your MacBook by installing an OWC Data Doubler Optical Drive to HDD/SSD converter. For the longest time I had forgotten that my MacBook Pro came with an optical drive. Now, I know what some of you kids with brand-spanking-new MacBooks are wondering, "what in the world is an optical drive”? First, this post isn’t for you. Second, an optical drive is something Apple ‘puters used to come with wherein the user would insert a shiny plastic disk, that held all off, at most, about 8 GBs of data.

Click the link below  to find out why you should get an OWC Data Doubler.

4.7” iPhone 6 front Panel: confirmed super durable, super clear - likely sapphire

At this rate its safe to bet eating your hat, that at least the 4.7 inch iPhone, will have a vastly superior display cover to anything that has come before it. Sonny Dickson and Marques Brownlee has confirmed the iPhone 6 display cover as being super durable and high quality, and likely made of sapphire crystal.

I think I want an iPhone 6, but my 'Nexonaxy' envy is stronger than ever

I genuinely enjoy using iPhone hardware and iOS, and Apple's phones have been my phone of choice since iPhone 3G. However, I have never been more open to purchasing an Android phone. This is due in large part to: how I use my phone today, the availability of very good Android hardware that may better fit my usage style, and how good Android OS has become. With this in mind, I've been thinking about a few non-negotiables, that if absent from the next iPhone(s), would push me toward an Android phone. 

iOS 7: A Brief Visual Gripe

Below are a few reasons why I can't love iOS 7. It's a good operating system and I want to love the OS, as discussed in 'Why I Prefer Mavericks as an upgrade to iOS 7'. However, there is this looming feeling during use that Apple went too far or didn't go far enough. After several months of using iOS 7 I finally understand what irks me the most about the OS: iOS 7 is a bit of a digital oxymoron. It manages to be polished yet unpolished, a little too gaudy yet a little too simplistic, very systematic in instances and not not at all systematic in other instances. 

What do I mean? Below is a brief visual guide of a few of my gripes.

Why I Prefer Mavericks to iOS 7 As An Upgrade

Undoubtedly, both of Apple's latest and greatest operating systems have their positives and negatives. Mavericks seems like more of the same; iOS 7 is new and shiny. As most reviewers have pointed out, you would be hard pressed to find differences between Mavericks and Mountain Lion at-a-glance. In fact, after installation Mavericks left me asking what the hell my Mac had been doing for the past couple hours. There was simply no shock and awe visually speaking, or any real feeling of anything new or substantially new.

Touch ID in the MacBook Pro: Passwords are passive “gatekeepers”, Touch ID can be an active “bouncer”

Touch ID in the MacBook Pro: Passwords are passive “gatekeepers”, Touch ID can be an active “bouncer”

Though still being vetted by the public at large, Apple's Touch ID identity sensor seems to be a success based on early impressions. Most prominent reviewers have high praise for the biometrics tech included in the new iPhone 5s, after powerful initial skepticism[i]. Naturally, with such a successful launch and presumed security benefits comes speculation as to what other Apple products will get Touch ID next.

For starters, there is a lot of talk that Touch ID will be included in the iPad 5 expected to be announcement this Tuesday. Of course, inclusion in the iPad 5 is a no brainer. So it is with the iPad mini and Apple's forthcoming non-premium phone models from here on out, if not this Tuesday. This year Touch ID is a premium feature, but there will be no good argument for not securing ultra portable devices in the near future. Further, screen size will likely be the next premium feature or model separator for the next batch of iPhones released. Thus, Touch ID will be free to spread its wings. Add the fact that Apple's margins will increase with the proliferation of Touch ID, and we can bank on its inclusion in lower tier ultra portables. We can of course expect Touch ID to work in exactly the same way on the aforementioned devices, as it does now on the iPhone 5s. Thus, Touch ID will be far more interesting on the MacBook Pro than it will be on these devices, at least in its functionality. 

2013 iPhone (5S / 5C)

2013 iPhone (5S / 5C)

It looks as if there will be an iPhone announcement on September 10th this year. So far it seems all but certain that a fingerprint scanner will be built into the home-button of the next iPhone, at least the premium model. This has fostered a lot of talk about a convex home button, so designed to house a biometrics sensor. However, a convex home button seems wrong. It just doesn't seem to go with the aesthetic of the iPhone. Perhaps if it was flat, or just barely convex to the point where it is not discernible I could understand. Otherwise, I would think Jony Ive would not build in the equivalent of an obvious "outie" belly button into the iPhone for any reason. No offense to all the beautiful people with "outie" belly buttons.

The New Mac Pro: Expandability Outside The Box

The New Mac Pro: Expandability Outside The Box

Since when has the sole criterion for measuring expandability been how much crap one can shoehorn into an aluminum quadrate?  The new Mac Pro was previewed at this years WWDC. It looks amazing, carrying an all new simple stunning form factor. There's been a lot of talk that it looks like the Death Star. That's incomplete. It's much more like the Death Star and the Obelisk from '2001: A Space Odyssey' had a baby, a beautiful alien baby, come to kill us all. Additionally, the new machine sports seemingly quiet, innovative effective cooling, it's available in beastly configurations at the outset, the ports even light up on rotation, and of course it has a bunch of Thunderbolt 2 ports. 

So what's there for people not to like (the vast majority of whom will never buy a Mac Pro)? Well, in a word so called "expandability."

Hey SEGA, how about an iPhone game controller?

Hey SEGA, how about an iPhone game controller?

I wrote this a few years ago.  Of course, it either fell on deaf ears or more likely, was relegated to junk email abyss. Still, I think it was one of my superior harebrained schemes. 

Greetings SEGA,

What if you could make a handheld system that could eat into the Nintendo DS market by making what is essentially only a controller?

 Imagine that.  A fraction of the cost and you would have your own portable system more powerful than Nintendo’s DS, and rivaling Sony’s PSP, by only making an accessory.

... Analog controls coupled with a multi-axis accelerometer would be utterly amazing for controlling a fighting or first person game.  Imagine tilting the system to strafe, but still having a real button to fire.  All this in a Hand held system would put that system miles above the competition.  

Delve into the post for the rest of the letter and more mockup pics.