Ever since I got my 2016 MacBook Pro, I have had a love/hate relationship with its keyboard. Yes, it’s pretty good to type on. No, it doesn’t offer much feedback and the travel is extremely shallow. There was the one (well, two actually) with the Touch Bar, which I got rid of because of its mediocre battery life and being unable to live with Apple’s latest “innovation”. Then I had to have one on my MacBook Pro Escape replaced.
Mozilla released Firefox 67 a few days ago and they introduced support Dark Mode, as Safari did a while ago too. This prompted me to finally tackle implementing this feature here, on Infinite Diaries, hacking through my CSS. I should have spent the time to rewrite it from scratch, using CSS variables, but that will have to be done another day.
P.S. You might have to clear your browser’s cache to get it to work.
Star Wars has been a part of my life for over 30 years and there are some characters I always loved more than others. Chewbacca was one of them. Tragically, Peter Mayhew passed away a few days ago…
The family of Peter Mayhew, with deep love and sadness, regrets to share the news that Peter has passed away. He left us the evening of April 30, 2019 with his family by his side in his North Texas home. pic.twitter.com/YZ5VLyuK0u
— Peter Mayhew (@TheWookieeRoars) May 2, 2019
Star Wars wouldn’t have been the same without him.
— Kev Hamm (@kevhamm) May 4, 2019
But he should have gotten that damned medal though.
I have used my first generation AirPods almost daily for the past two years. I started having issues with the right AirPod a few months ago, so I sent them in to get them looked at. They, surprisingly, replaced both AirPods (I got the old case back since it was fine) because Apple confirmed the issues that I had described. Quite frankly, going without AirPods for 5 days wasn’t easy — they’re easily the best product that Apple has created recently.
I expected AirPods 2 to get a 30% price increase and there being just one model available. Ideally, Apple would have introduced the second generation model with the charging case at the same price, but that’s just not how the world works. Instead, we got new AirPods with the old case for the same price and the option to upgrade to the Qi-enabled case for an extra 25%. This is better than nothing and honestly, you don’t actually need the wireless charging case.
There are rumours of AirPods with ANC. I will wait for them but I really hope they’re not going to charge even more for those.
Anyway, if you haven’t yet used AirPods (and they fit your ears), make sure to get a new pair. They really are extraordinary.
I really thought the iPad Mini was dead but when the rumours started coming in about a newer model, I kept my fingers crossed for Apple adopting the Liquid Retina display from the new iPad Pros, along with a similarly designed case. I had two Minis in my iPad history and I loved them both. They were most excellent for thumb-typing and fantastic reading tablets, especially for RSS, the web, Twitter, and even ebooks. The screen was a bit small for comic books and magazines but I blame my ageing eyes on that. While a new Mini is always welcome — it really is a great little tablet — things have changed in the last few years. I really expect more from the “most innovative” company in the world, than just a speed bump, a slightly better screen, and the same 7-year-old design.
The “new” 10.5-inch iPad Air is really just a 10.5-inch iPad Pro without ProMotion and the quad-speaker system. While most people won’t notice the loss of the former, they really could have retained the latter, since a lot of people like to use iPads for watching video. The good news is that the price is down slightly.
Apple finally updated the iMac with new CPUs and GPUs last week and while not much has changed in the design of this particular Mac — same design, same Bluetooth, similar configs, etc. — a speed bump is always welcome. Unfortunately, some upgrade pricing is still as insanely absurd as ever and the base models still offer spinning disk drives:
- The base models should all have SSDs.
- The 8 GB → 16 GB upgrade costs $200. You can buy an 8 GB module for around $40-50 and a 16 GB module to around $90, which means Apple is charging 3-4 times more.
- The 32 GB RAM upgrade is $600. A 32 GB set of two 16 GB DDR modules is around $180-190.
- The 64 GB RAM upgrade is $1000 while a similar set can range from $200-430, depending on the vendor.
- SSD upgrade pricing is 2-3 times higher than current prices for high-quality NVMe SSDs.
- Since the design hasn’t been changed, I’m assuming that dust will still accumulate on the back of the screen over time.
I’m glad that the iMac has been updated but I still cannot comprehend why they aren’t getting more flack for their absurd upgrade pricing. The i9-9900 configuration should make a nice hackintosh config though, which I can fix in minutes or hours should anything go wrong, instead of sending it in to Apple and waiting 5-7 days. This route also allows me to use much beefier GPUs. I just wish Apple and NVIDIA stopped bickering — MacOS really could use GTX and RTX support.
I was recently asked for a list of the subreddits I subscribe to, so here it is…
- r/Aww — For the cute animals.
- r/Battlestations — I just like looking at creative and clean computer builds.
- r/CommandLine — Easy to come across some useful tips and tricks.
- r/CozyPlaces — Always looking for inspiration.
- r/EarthPorn — Before we destroy it completely.
- r/Europe — Mostly for “local” news.
- r/Funny — Helps on Mondays.
- r/Gifs — Sometimes people post really creative stuff in here.
- r/GlobalOffensive — I play CS:GO in my spare time.
- r/iMagazine — This is subreddit that I run for our magazine.
- r/InternetIsBeautiful — For the memes.
- r/MacSetups — Lots of great minimalist setups for inspiration.
- r/MechanicalKeyboards — This is my current hobby (read: obsession).
- r/MechMarket — As above.
- r/Monitors — Mostly gaming monitors but interesting info on more professional models can be found here.
- r/Polska — Even more “local” news.
- r/StarWars — The Force is strong with this one.
- r/StarWarLeaks — I really shouldn’t be subscribing to this one but I can’t help myself.
- r/Travel — More inspiration for our travel plans.
- r/Westworld — Doesn’t look like anything to me…
Macs, like many other computers, have always had their share of problems. These past few years feel particularly bad though, so here’s my quick take on the current state of the Mac lineup.
I got a Raspberry Pi last year just to integrate some of my less-than-smart devices with HomeKit, so I could control them via Siri. Late last year I decided to get a Logitech Harmony Hub to be able to control my TV, receiver, and Apple TV with Siri but Logitech decided to change-up their plans, shutting down their local API which integrated with Homebridge. They backtracked on their plans after their users voiced their outrage and new firmware dropped a few weeks ago. I had to make some changes but I finally got my Harmony Hub working with Siri once again. Here’s what I had to do…
Every day, in the morning, while drinking a tea, coffee, or Red Bull, I’d first launch Twitter and catch up on events. For the past two weeks, more or less unconsciously, I have been slowly transitioning to Reddit.
I think the problem is the people I follow — they’re just posting less. Perhaps I could change things up by following new people but Reddit is partly superior in this regard — I can just follow topics that interest me instead. This naturally leads to more disconnect with specific people but there’s so much more variety and content.
I can’t hide the fact that I’m extremely disappointed with how Twitter itself is being run and I’m sure these feelings influence my usage but it’s refreshing to know I have found an alternative of sorts, especially since Twitter will die for me the day they pull the plug on third-party clients, such as Tweetbot and Twitterrific.
I have been using Apple’s keyboards almost solely since 2008, starting with the silver keys on my now sold 17-inch MacBook Pro. I then graduated to an Apple Wireless Keyboard, the 2013 MacBook Air and 2014 MacBook Pro keyboards, an Apple Magic Keyboard1, and I’m currently on a 2016 MacBook Pro butterfly keyboard, which has been already replaced once in April 2018. My frustration with the last two has led me on a long quest to find a mechanical keyboard, which would bring back to the joy to typing once more — I am currently using a Vortex Race 3, custom programmed to my liking, which I also use with my iPad Pro. So that’s my background, but what’s up with headline?
- I still haven’t found anything magical about it. ↩
My Vortex Race 3 arrived while we were away on our vacation, so naturally I spent most of last night playing around with it, instead of sleeping like any sane person would. I’ve already preprogrammed the first layer and it seems to suit my needs perfectly, connected to both the iPad and Mac.
I’m very excited to go back to a mechanical keyboard, especially since I’m frustrated with the one in my MacBook Pro.
Rainbow backlight turned on only for the purpose of taking the photo — I don’t actually use it.
I still rely on Resilio Sync (formerly BitTorrent Sync) to sync my files between Macs, an iPad, and an iPhone. It works perfectly but I have been considering switching to iCloud Drive ever since I upgraded to the 2 TB storage option (please give me a cheaper 500 GB and 1 TB option Apple — I don’t need 2 TB at this point in time).
I was trying to transfer an edited photo from my iPad to my MacBook Pro a few minutes ago. I saved it to iCloud Drive and went to look for it on my Mac. Not there. I checked my iPhone and verified it was synced. So I restarted my Mac. Nope, nothing.
Want to know what triggered the sync process? I created a new folder in Finder.
I recently learned that I can add a Logitech Harmony Hub, Logitech Harmony Companion or Logitech Harmony Elite to HomeKit, with the help of Homebridge. This meant that I would be able to control my TV, AV receiver, and Apple TV with my voice my HomePod and/or Siri.
I recently had a problem with my Control key which I finally fixed by taking out the vacuum cleaner and sucking substantial debris1 out from under it. Today, the Space bar will not register keystrokes on its right half.
(A few minutes later.)
Seems to be working fine again, after thoroughly vacuuming it at max power.
I am not happy with this keyboard and I refuse to buy another MacBook until they fix this issue with a completely new design — silicon
condoms membranes are not enough.
- A speck of dust. ↩
I’ve always really enjoyed using the iPad as a secondary device but the new iPads Pro take things to a whole new level.
I just can’t get enough of that gorgeous new screen.
As soon as all the rumours started consolidating around the new design of Apple’s tablets, I knew I was going to get a new iPad this year. I chose the 11-inch model with 64 GB of flash storage and LTE.
Apple recently unveiled new Macs, iPhones, and iPads. They are continuing their trend to increase ASPs and milking their customers. This is a hostile practice towards its users and completely unacceptable to me personally. I compiled a list of things which the company should remedy below, before it’s too late.
My new Apple Watch finally made it onto my wrist yesterday. I’m going straight from a steel Series 0 in Space Black to the aluminium Nike+ 44 mm in Space Grey, so this is going to be a huge jump in terms of… everything basically. I’ve only been using the new one for a few hours, but here are a few quick notes on the things I’ve already noticed…
I had my 2016 MacBook Pro Escape’s keyboard replaced in April 2018, because some of the keys were expanding under heat, making them “sticky”, e.g. when using it in the sun.
I’m extremely happy to report that today my Control key has gone on strike and will only work when it feels like it should, which translates to registering maybe one in ten presses.
This keyboard is great to type on, when it works, but it’s generally a disaster.
I was hopeful for new iPads at this event but given how big of an impression the Apple Watch Series 4 made on me, I’m not feeling let down. I will, however, complain about the prices because I consider them to be absurd. Not by much but nevertheless… absurd.
I pay an annual Adobe Creative Cloud subscription and I had my PayPal details on file with them but since receiving an email a month ago, asking me to verify and/or change my payment details before the charge goes through today, I removed all the PayPal details (Adobe is not authorized for recurring charges in PayPal’s settings either) and added my credit card instead. Since the charge was in Euros and I no longer had any Euros in my PayPal, I would save money on the conversion rate (around €10).
Adobe went ahead and charged my PayPal today anyway.
How is this even possible?
I have since been in contact with their phone support. They have cancelled my subscription and I should the amount in question charged back straight to my credit card1, but I assume this will trigger another currency conversion, which will mean that I’ll be paying for their mistake through no fault of my own.
Oh, and since my account is cancelled, and I refuse to pay for it until the chargeback comes through, my Creative Cloud apps don’t work.
- In 5-7 days. It never ceases to amaze me that it takes seconds to take my money but days to return it. ↩
The discussion under this tweet, in which a Twitter developer — Andy Piper — chimes in, is completely bizarre. I don’t know Andy, so I have no clue if he’s trolling or being extremely sarcastic — it sure seems that way — but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. Tim Hetzel answered one of his questions with the following…
Sameer Samat details the new Android Pie on Google’s blog:
The latest release of Android is here! And it comes with a heaping helping of artificial intelligence baked in to make your phone smarter, simpler and more tailored to you. Today we’re officially introducing Android 9 Pie […]
I wanted to comment on two of the new features…
That’s why Android 9 comes with features like […] Adaptive Brightness, which learns how you like to set the brightness in different settings, and does it for you.
I have been using iPhones and iPads since 2008, and always relied on Automatic Brightness. I don’t know what Apple did, but I never had an Android phone which handled this function, as well as iOS does — I’ve always had stuttering or sudden brightness shifts, including flickering while it’s been adjusted. All this on many flagship phones, including older Nexus devices and more recent ones like the Galaxy S8.
At-a-Glance on Always-on-Display: See things like calendar events and weather on your Lock Screen and Always-on Display.
I have always found it curious that Apple chose not to use the Lock Screen in a more productive fashion (widgets do not count). Just weather information could be easily included and it’s something I miss every day. And since we have a OLED screen on the iPhone X, that could be taken advantage of even further. Burn-in could present a problem and perhaps that is why Apple isn’t in on this, but I can imagine a scenario where one tap on a screen shows upcoming calendar events and the weather, while two taps wake the screen.
Computers are (partly) supposed to help us solve our problems. This isn’t being pursued as I had hoped it would be. We’re 11 years in and iOS still can’t do things that my simple Nokia could, such as setting it to Do Not Disturb mode for a precisely set amount of time. iOS 12 will introduce a few new features that help in this regard but there’s so much more that could be done. My iPhone know’s my daily schedule and how I use it — it should adapt automatically. When I walk into the gym, it should suggest launching Overcast and Workouts (on my Apple Watch). When I leave, it should suggest that I text my wife, informing her that I am on my way and share my ETA. When I get into my car in the parking lot beneath the gym, it should launch Waze and guide me to where she is. I do this every single day and I should not have to manually repeat these steps every time — the OS should have learned by now. It has my location, it knows my routine; it should help automate repetitive tasks automatically.
As expected, the #ThrottleGate controversy is being looked into by anyone who has their hands on the new MacBook Pros.
John Poole on Geekbench’s blog, running a CPU-only test:
Why does this test not replicate the throttling seen in other tests? Part of the issue is the test themselves. Premiere uses both the CPU and the GPU, while Geekbench only uses the CPU.
The i7 ran at an average 3.0-3.1 GHz, which is above the CPUs base 2.6 GHz frequency, but below the advertised 4.0 GHz Turbo Boost for 6 cores. So is it throttling or is the test just not maximizing load on the CPU?
Jeff Benjamin, for 9to5Mac, ran a test based on Final Cut Pro X:
Leaving the Core-i9 configured as default, I exported the video in 5 minutes and 30 seconds. Throttling was definitely noticeable during the export, as you can see from the following chart created from Intel Power Gadget log data.
Curiously, when he set the CPU to utilize only four cores, it was faster than when using all six.
Mike Wuerthele, for AppleInsider, opted for Cinebench 15:
We shifted to a different benchmark for our own series of tests. Using Cinebench 15, we ran 10 total runs on the i9 MacBook Pro.
Immediately after starting the first test, the CPU clock speed shot up to 4.17 GHz. It rapidly drops to 3.86GHz until it hits the chip critical temperature of 100C. It then drops nearly immediately to 2.57GHz and also nearly immediately drops to 84C.
The speed of the processor varied between 2.33GHz and 2.9GHz generally, with one profound dip to 2.02GHz, and then the range drops to a peak of 2.65Ghz.
I think it’s same to assume that all MacBook Pros will throttle under load, especially when both the CPU and GPU are being taxed. A potential solution for this problem is running an eGPU, which should help (in addition to being significantly faster than the one on-board). Surprisingly, an iMac Pro may not solve everyone’s problems when it comes to video editing — it was a slower in 9to5Mac’s test than the MacBook Pro:
Xeon CPUs lack onboard hardware video encoding, dubbed Intel Quick Sync Video. So even though the iMac Pro runs circles around the MacBook Pro from a thermal perspective, it doesn’t really matter in this test.
Dave Lee posted a video yesterday, showing a Core i9 mid 2018 MacBook Pro averaging 2.2 GHz under load, during an Adobe Premiere render.
The results show just how badly Premiere is optimized for the Mac — a Gigabyte Aero 15X is over 30 minutes quicker (39:37 vs. 7:18) — which has led AppleInsider’s Mikey Campbell to write the following:
It should be noted that Premiere Pro is not optimized for Mac, as evidenced by the Aero 15X performance. Lee failed to test render speeds with Apple’s Final Cut Pro X, or any other app for that matter.
While thermal throttling is nothing new, especially in portables, Lee’s findings are somewhat questionable in that assumptions are being made based on a single machine’s performance with an unoptimized app. Making blanket statements without thorough testing is reckless at best and disingenuous at worst.
While Lee failed to reach out to Apple for comment, it is highly unlikely that the company would ship a flagship product without first rigorously testing its performance. That goes double for a device like MacBook Pro, considering the company’s renewed vigor to serve the professional market.
It took me about 30 seconds to find the following video which exposes the same issues in the 2017 models. The render was done in Final Cut Pro X this time…
In fact, there are many more videos on the subject, so while it is possible that this is a problem with Dave’s specific machine, I’ll go crazy here and suggest that it’s a design problem, especially since there are many reports that just using an external display is throttling some machines, which has led some users as far as replacing the thermal compound that Apple uses on its CPUs.
I have the same issue on my MacBook Pro Escape (late 2016) when rendering larger projects in Final Cut Pro X (especially in 4K) — it slows down considerably the further the render is along.
I received a Surface Book 2 review unit yesterday, in the larger 15-inch size. It has a Core i7, 16 gigs of RAM, a 256 GB SSD, and an NVIDIA GTX 1060, which is more than sufficient for many. Unfortunately, I won’t be doing a full review here but I am very impressed with this machine (if you can read Polish, make sure to take a look over here, for my daily diary).
Apple released the updated MacBook Pros a few days ago, over which I’ve been gathering my thoughts on them. I’ll try to be as objective as possible, but since I don’t believe the future of the Touch Bar or even like it personally, I’ll probably be a bit harsh on some aspects.