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November 05 2016

Gary Winchester Martin: An Open Letter To Apple From The Actual Working Photography & Motion Pros

Gary Winchester Martin talks with actual pros in photography & motion industry, concluding:

It seams that in the search to innovate, you’ve inconvenienced and alienated the actual working pros that use your devices and depend on your computers to make a living and streamline efficiency. In the quest to make things thinner, lighter, and faster we’ve made it harder to shoot tethered, too expensive to fit into an existing ecosystem, and full of features that pro’s don’t really want. I think it’s time to address that these computers aren’t built for pros but for the audience aspiring to be a pro, with the dreams that they can one day have a MacBook Pro hooked up to two matte screen monitors and a RED Dragon on their workstation.

Simply put, the people the author talked to, all complain about almost each aspect of the recent Apple event: no external monitors, the RAM limitation, the TouchBar vs larger trackpad and the USB-C only ports in the new MacBook Pros, the weight and size vs capabitilies trade-off.

Are these quotes representatives for the whole photography/motion community? I don’t know. But to me they sound more realistic than the demo on stage1.


  1. And I don’t even talk about the DJ part of the demo.  

Because the f***ing OS

Top comment on Hacker News from user veidr:

I’ve tried every iteration of Ubuttnu, CentOS, and FreeBSD since. Even OpenWhatever, before the goblins bought it. I have Thinkpads and Dell XPS “Developer Editions” and a drawer full of other crap like that.

Executive summary: it’s all garbage time. It’s like going back 10+ years. Nothing works right, on any of them. Copy/paste, batteries, wireless networking, drag and drop, high-res displays, multilingual input, even like fucking word processing and email and image editors and terminal programs… it’s all like Mac OS X Jaguar level.

We can’t give Apple the finger, even though we want to (and definitely after last week, we all want to) because there literally isn’t an OS in the world that can touch Mac OS for general-purpose workstation/laptop use. (For niche and limited-purpose, yes, there are options.)

Elementary OS is a fucking joke. Every OS mentioned disparagingly above is a better choice for almost any purpose. But those are still horrible.

Apple’s OS advantage is what lets them say “Fuck you peons, here’s some 3 year old technology and a bag of dongles, that’ll be $4000.”

But we’re mostly all gonna buy the new shitty MacBook Hipster, or gut it out with our old ones, until a better fucking OS happens. And that won’t be soon — it’s not even remotely on the horizon.

I’d say it’s the complete ecosystem with its seamless integration, better polish and user experience than alternatives that makes it hard to quit.

Rui Carmo: Elementary, My Dear Siri!

I have no real expectation of it working anything like macOS, but I do like that it looks close enough from an aesthetics and functional perspective because I abhore most other approaches at desktop UX (of which Linux has become a junkyard of sorts).

System settings. All of it. It has polish and care that the stereotypical raging neckbeards who espouse the mantra of Linux on the desktop are unable to appreciate (or, apparently, build), and it has to exist, even if merely as a counterpoint to all the ugliness.

Comments about elementaryOS are quite polarized. I usually find that intriguing enough to make me curious.

Switching from macOS to elementaryOS: A developer environment

I say this because I work in a very fast environment alongside extremely skilled professionals and need my tools to keep up. elementary OS and the tools available to me do so expertly.

I’m installing elementary OS as I write this. In a virtual machine for now.

Jonathan Zdziarski: Can we put the 16GB "Pro" myth to rest?

I fired up a bunch of apps and projects (more than I’d ever work on at one time) in every app I could possibly think of on my MacBook Pro. These included apps you’d find professional photographers, designers, software engineers, penetration testers, reverse engineers, and other types running – and I ran them all at once, and switched between them, making “professionally-type-stuff” happen as I go.

Nitpicking, but some regular applications seem to be missing from that list (e.g. Chrome) and some of the numbers in the Activity Monitor screenshot look unrealistically low (e.g. Firefox, Xcode, Safari)

Yuri Sagalov: The first half of my MacBook Pro has arrived

Rinat Ussenov: Leave Apple Alone!

You gotta be kidding me! Why would you need more than 16 GBs of RAM right now? This is a LAPTOP! When i factor in the cost/benefits of extra RAM, it’s clear that 16 Gigs is more than enough for me for my laptop, for my work, for my entertainment.

For the complaining majority Apple’s MacBook Pro is just a $3000 FaceBook machine. I don’t even want to think about those people, let alone hear what they have to say.

I don’t even know where to start. Maybe this could be a start?

I have to admit that initially I thought this is a similar post to Maciej Ceglowki’s Benjamin Button Reviews The New MacBook Pro.

November 04 2016

Not an Apple Store

Carturesti book store in Bucharest

This is actually the Carturesti book store in Bucharest. I must see it.

Vim trick: Paste text as Markdown blockquote

I just put this together tonight:

nmap <localleader>bq pmaV`]gw`a:s/^/> /g<CR>:nohlsearch<CR>o

Now copy some text (multiple paragraphs should work too) and in Normal mode do <localleader>bq. The paragraphs should be pasted, wrapped, and prefixed with >.

Steps:

  • p: paste
  • ma: set mark a
  • V`]: re-select the pasted text
  • gw: format
  • `a: select back to mark “a”
  • :s/^/> /g: replace beginning of line with >
  • :nohlsearch: remove the highlight from the previous command
  • add new line and enter insert mode

Update: I think the following shorter version should work too: pgw`]V`]:s/^/> /g.... It uses the paste markers instead of jumping back and forth and setting new ones.

The Oatmeal: 6 things I learned from riding in a Google Self-Driving Car

The unfortunate part of something this transformative is the inevitable, ardent stupidity which is going to erupt from the general public. Even if in a few years self-driving cars are proven to be ten times safer than human-operated cars, all it’s going to take is one tragic accident and the public is going to lose their minds. There will be outrage. There will be politicizing. There will be hashtags. It’s going to suck.

Add to that jobs lost, industries ruined, etc.

November 03 2016

Slack: Dear Microsoft,

However, all this is harder than it looks. So, as you set out to build “something just like it,” we want to give you some friendly advice.

I assume this wanted to be snarky. To me, it looks like scared. S***less. To the level that required a full page ad in New York Times.

Slack - Dear Microsoft New York Times Ad

Photo from Sumanth

Perfect UX for phone number input

If Satan was a web developer

My favorite is #5.

Phil Schiller answers questions about public reactions to new MacBook

Q: How would you describe the response to the new MacBook Pro?

Phil Schiller: […] I hope everyone gets a chance to try it for themselves and see how great the MacBook Pro is. It is a really big step forward and an example of how much we continue to invest in the Mac. We love the Mac and are as committed to it, in both desktops and notebooks, as we ever have been. […]

MacRumors Buyer's Guide

This paints a rather different story and I feel it’s hard, really hard, to fully believe only one of the sides.

Q: Are you surprised by how vocal the critics have been?

Phil Schiller: To be fair it has been a bit of a surprise to me. But then, it shouldn’t be. I have never seen a great new Apple product that didn’t have its share of early criticism and debate — and that’s cool. We took a bold risk, and of course with every step forward there is also some change to deal with. Our customers are so passionate, which is amazing.

We care about what they love and what they are worried about. And it’s our job to help people through these changes. We know we made good decisions about what to build into the new MacBook Pro and that the result is the best notebook ever made, but it might not be right for everyone on day one. That’s okay, some people felt that way about the first iMac and that turned out pretty good.

As pointed out in previous entries, there seems to be a disconnect on what Apple calls “really big step forward” or “the best notebook ever made” — note that these are subjective descriptions — and what some developers1 would consider as such.

The larger the audience, the harder, if not impossible, to make a product that satisfies everyone. As a product manager, I know that very well. Crafting a product for a clearly defined segment of the audience is the only way to create truly great products. Things are more problematic when you have to claim that such products are ideal for solving all jobs or that they are the best ever made.


  1. I’m trying to avoid any generalizations  

November 02 2016

Jason Snell on the 2nd generation MacBook keyboard in the new MacBook Pros

On stage Thursday, Schiller said that the MacBook Pro’s keyboard was a second-generation version of the MacBook keyboard and featured design changes to give it more movement feel. As someone who is not a fan of the very small amount of keyboard travel on the MacBook keyboard, I noted the phrasing. He didn’t say the keys moved more, just that they felt better.

Well, it’s my sad duty to report that the MacBook Pro keyboard has the same key travel as the MacBook. Apple says the stainless steel dome switch beneath each key has been honed to give you a more responsive feel, but to me it feels just like the MacBook’s keyboard.

— Jason Snell: Some more hands-on experience with the new MacBook Pros

I’m ready for the new, possibly crappy, keyboard. And I have a few more mechanical keyboards waiting for me to find the right Thunderbolt 3/USB-C connectors.

John Gruber on The downside of believing in Apple

But they can’t make a portable Mac with 32GB of RAM.

And, if you’re an illustrator or animator like my sister, they can’t make a good Mac for drawing (like Microsoft’s Surface line, for example).

— Baldur Bjarnason: The downside of believing in Apple

Neither of those are can’ts. They’re both won’ts. This might make people who want such things even angrier (than if they were technical limitations), but they’re both deliberate design choices.

John Gruber

I already said that the the Intel blaming spin off is possibly true, but not the main point, so I couldn’t agree more.

Baldur Bjarnason: The downside of believing in Apple

For a developer work machine, 16GB is the uncomfortable minimum requirement. It does not cover the needs of a developer’s average workday without us making some compromises in our workflow and productivity.

Most of us, if given the choice between making compromises to our productivity and compromises to the battery life of the machines we buy, would choose a shorter battery life every time.

Jackpot.

My work machine is 3.5 years old and even if it’s equipped already with 16GB of RAM, it can hardly sustain some of the jobs I want it to do.

The other thing that strikes me is that in over 3 years, Apple hasn’t figured out how to raise this limit. Even if Intel had a big contribution to the RAM limitation, I’d believe that 3 years would’ve been plenty to find a solution. At least for a company that prouds itself with innovation.

Apple really, really doesn’t care about its professional Mac users.

And that makes people angry. It makes app developers especially angry because they are the reason why anybody is able to use a Mac or iPhone for work.

Jackpot. Again.

One point I realized just now that I haven’t made very clear in Some thoughts on Chug Von Raspach’s How Apple could have avoided much of the controversy is that unfortunately the numbers are not in our favor. Apple’s stores are already filled with apps, there will always be others willing to replace the spots left open, and we are indeed a minority. This game is played over and over again by companies and external developers through the initially open platform mechanism. In all the cases though, it’s only the companies setting the rules and deriving the larger benefits. And in the end, there might be some lucky developers, while the rest will simply have to obey the rules and find the next game hoping that next time they’ll be among the lucky ones.

November 01 2016

Some thoughts on How Apple could have avoided much of the controversy

Chug Von Raspach starts the How Apple could have avoided much of the controversy article:

[…] but so much of what’s being thrown around is trivial and petty and often outright wrong, or just plain silly.

One thing is sure, such an opening made me both curious and circumspect. But it has also set the mood for challenging everything. Here it goes.

So, later in the event, Phil brings up a single slide that says something like “More is coming soon”, and adds some color about what that means — updated iMac, a new Mac pro, and — dare we dream — an update to the Mini?

Maybe there are reasons why Apple is not doing this. The most pessimistic I can think of is that there won’t be any such updates. Or maybe it is because they understand that such promises could have a significant impact on the sales of the top quarter. I know that if I’d hear even a whisper about an update of the MacBook Pro scheduled in the next 6 months, I’d cancel my current order now. Indeed this only speaks for myself as extending it to a larger group would assume that customers are aware of the latest gossip and they react rationally.

Anyways, Apple knows all these and they are still not doing it. It makes me believe that either the pessimistic case is highly probable or that Apple is not willing to take any risks with the winter sales cycle.

About the Mac Pro:

It was a technological marvel, it was a stunning design, and it was a terrible piece of hardware for it’s primary audiences […]

In a similar vein, is it possible that the current MacBook Pros could be considered less than

On dongles:

So if I’m spending $25-$30K on a car, spending another $100 on chains isn’t a big deal.

This makes sense. Putting $100 where you already put $25-30k won’t be seen as a big expense. I do doubt though that anyone actually loves being nickled and dimed. And that this makes for a good buying experience.

How about the dongles for the MacBook Pros? If we consider only a subset of the dongles in Apple’s list, one might end up spending an additional $100. Not a big deal, right? Now let’s not forget about the $200 price increase of the new models and thus people buying the new models will end up spending an extra $300. So for a $25-30k car we spend an additional $100 and for a $2-3k laptop we’ll spend $300 more. Does this still make sense? Not to me.

[…] we have to remember most people aren’t interested for computers as computers, they are interested in solving problems, and use computers for doing that.

This is very true. Each type of user hires a computer for specific jobs. Once a tool cannot perform those jobs anymore or becomes prohibitively expensive, users will have to look for a solution.

One of the most vocal segment complaining about the new models are developers. To avoid any confusion, this group is primarily complaining about the limited RAM and the GPU of the new models; not about the price increase or the dongle-hell. Unfortunately I don’t have any data that can back what follows:

Take a step back and think about this product: let’s say Apple releases a MacBook Pro, probably 15” with a special configuration for power users: you can build it out to 32Gb (probably comes in 16 and 32Gb only), has a beefier CPU/GPU — and gets 2-3 hours of battery life.

On the other hand, I do agree with Chug Von Raspach that Apple is looking at revenue numbers when making decisions and they probably have better data than my speculations.

So, think about niches and market sizes: If only about 10% (SWAG(1) numbers) of MacBook Pro users are likely to have memory issues at 16Gb and then only for specific tasks like 4K video rendering, and if only 40% of those users would consider buying this memory enhanced special product (at a premium), is it worth Apple doing?

I do wonder what will happen when developers will determine that the MacBook Pros are not able to fulfill the jobs they are hired to do for this segment. It won’t be all of them. But I can bet that many developers that were waiting for the new MacBook Pro models, probably since WWDC, are asking themselves what alternatives they could employ.

That 4% segment could be responsible for applications in the Apple stores or related services. Possibly the loss could be slightly larger. Check the names in Michael Tsai’s New MacBook Pros and the State of the Mac.

There is also this spin on the story blaming Intel for the RAM limitation. Part of it can be true, but if we follow the arguments of niches and revenue numbers, it can also be a sign of misaligned interests.

I am part of the small subgroup of the developer segment that actually ordered a new MacBook Pro. I’m concerned about this model and talk about that because:

  1. as everyone else I want to get the most out of my investment
  2. I hope that feedback will be heard and Apple will figure out some solutions that can continue to serve well the developer segment

And last, but most important, I want to know that I’m not locked into an ecosystem that is not meant for the jobs I want to accomplish. Migrating takes time and is expensive. Being able to interpret the signs can buy me more time and spread the risk and investment over a longer period. I’m afraid I cannot agree that these are silly or outright wrong. And I strongly disagree that:

A lot of it boils down to this concept: We demand Apple innovate, but we insist they don’t change anything.

Who's to blame for the 16GB RAM limit on the new MacBook Pros

John Gruber’s comment on a Reddit thread about the 16GB max RAM limit in the newly announced MacBook Pros:

Apple simply places a higher priority on thinness and lightness than performance-hungry pro users do. Apple is more willing to compromise on performance than on thinness and lightness and battery life. Intel just doesn’t make the chips that Apple needs.

Daring Fireball: Who’s to Blame for the 16 GB RAM Limit on the New MacBook Pros: Apple or Intel?

If the 16GB max RAM limitation would be a problem of Apple not finding the right technology from their suppliers, I’d probably understand it, even if we are buying (and paying the premium prices for) Apple’s products. But to me this looks more like a misalignment of priorities, as there are other laptop vendors offering beefier machines.

Benjamin Button Reviews The New MacBook Pro

The new MacBook Pro shows that Apple is finally becoming serious about developers.

Gone is the gimmicky TouchBar, gone are the four USB-C ports that forced power users to carry a suitcase full of dongles. In their place we get a cornucopia of developer-friendly ports: two USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt 2 ports, a redesigned power connector, and a long-awaited HDMI port.

Maciej Ceglowki

This is soooo good!

Apple Watch battery improvements after upgrading to 3.1

After upgrading my Apple Watch Series 2 to the recently released 3.1, I got the feeling that the battery lasted longer.

As a rather new owner of the Apple Watch, I’m still developing my recharging habits. I’m wearing the watch all day and all night, for sleep tracking which I still hope will become something better supported, then recharge it the next morning.

Until now, when waking up, my watch showed the battery being somewhere between 20-40%. But since the upgrade, I’ve noticed that in the morning the battery is around 60-70%.

It looks like others are noticing similar improvements:

Over the past few days a hidden advantage of 3.1 has been discovered, with users on the MacRumors forums and Reddit mentioning that they have vastly improved battery life on their Apple Watch Series 1 and Series 2 following the new update.

MacRumors

I will continue with my current schedule for recharging every morning, but I do appreciate the fact that 1) the recharge will take less time; 2) I don’t need to worry if I forget to recharge it immediately after waking up; and 3) I can sleep in for quite a bit before depleting the battery.

On the other hand, I’m wondering if Apple should change the wording about the improved battery life. I think the tricky part advertising a battery life longer than 24 hours is that it might lead some users to change their recharging habits and increase the chances to find themselves with the watch battery on the red. This is less of an issue for mechanical watches, or at least the automatic ones, advertising their reserve power in terms of hours, but usually somewhere between 24 and 48 hours, as these do not require an external charger.

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Don't be the product, buy the product!

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