Tag Archives: Mac Book Pro

One year with a MacBook Pro (Is the grass really greener…?)

It’s been a little over a year with my (then) prized purchase of a 13” MacBook Pro. You can read the initial impressions here

One year on, time to write down a follow-up on what I love, like and hate about the famed MBP.

Love

  • Looks/Design:
    • Yes the famed industrial design at work. It’s looks are much envied and it’s one of a kind. Love the profile.
    • Glossy Display. The display is a love-hate thing. But I put it in the Love category because I don’t really like the Dell IPS’ hard coat anti-glare layer. So if anti-glare does that to IPS displays I am fine with a glossy finish.
    • Backlight keyboard: Though it’s not unique to the MacBook Pro, the fact that it comes by default is a big plus.
  • In OSX: OS X is every Mac fans’ crème-de-la-crème. The so called world’s most advanced operating system impressed only in a few ways
    • Boot up time and shut down times are super awesome.
    • Power Management is fantastic.
      • The advantage of control over hardware is evident as OSX works very hard to you give you optimal battery life. Though I couldn’t get anywhere near the touted battery life, I did consistently get 3-4 hours of normal use (browsing, pictures etc.)
      • Sleep mode is also very very stable. The only restarts required were when the upgrades required them (or to boot up into Windows 7)
    • The dual monitor support is awesome. Windows 7 still can’t do two monitors right.
    • Photo Library: It’s an awesome picture management software. No comparison with anything in Windows 7 out of box.
    • Performance: Though not mind bogglingly different, but I’ve run multiple XCode instances without too much trouble.

Dislikes

  • Looks/Design:
    • The sharp edges: Good aesthetics or not, the edges hurt. It’s disgraceful. They should be blunted a wee bit so that they don’t bite into your wrists when typing.
    • The (lack of keys in) Keyboard: It’s absolutely horrendous and irritating to not have Page Up/Down, Home/End and Print Screen/Delete buttons. The keyboard reminds me of the first 8086 computer we had. World has moved on, time to stop being a snob and put those keys in there Apple. Yes in a 13” laptop too.
    • Temperature control. It’s really pathetic that the system doesn’t respond to temperature changes till the temperature hits high 80’s (in C not F). Even then it seems reluctant to crank up the fan and allows system to run hot. I have to use smcFanControl to keep temperature in control when watching Flash or Silverlight movies.
    • Apple’s blaming Flash for all ills: It’s simply hypocritical of Apple to blame Flash of being power-hungry when you don’t expose the APIs for flash to use hardware resources through the browser. (This is changing now and both Windows and Mac versions of Flash are getting h/w acc support). Apple’s iTunes is no saint itself and syncing large number of photos with an iPad or iPhone takes the mickeys out of the system with temperature shooting up and battery life getting hosed.
  • In OSX
    • The Finder:
      • It seems archaic when compared to the Explorer in Windows. I find it irritating not to be a able to navigate to a folder by typing out the path directly.
      • No left navigation tree. The concept of one column for every folder you select is, okay, but I don’t like it.
    • Functionality
      • Photo Library: I haven’t figured out how to attach pictures that are imported into my Mac using Photo Library. So if I have to send a mail from Gmail’s webmail interface I can’t. I’ve to do it the other way, select images from Photo Library and then email them using Mail. The fact that a regular user has to ‘figure out’ how to do it is pretty ‘non-user friendly’.
      • Not being able to print your own Calendars using Photo Library feels a little ‘nickel-and-dimey’.

In Conclusion

I didn’t really use the MacBook Pro much till I had my regular software installed (Office for Mac). Even then it wasn’t much used because I just couldn’t devote enough time to iPhone development which was the primary reason for buying a Mac in the first place.

After I boot-camped it and installed Windows 7 I now use it more often. That only reflects the fact that I work on MS technologies and a Windows 7 OS serves me better.

OSX is a nice OS, but has some Apple specific idiosyncrasies, which if Apple were to drop would make it even more user friendly. Overall, the grass isn’t ‘much’ greener on the other side…

Updates [June 14, 2011]

1. I figured out how to navigate to an iPhoto folder to retrieve images directly. Right click on the photo in iPhoto and click ‘Show File’ to open it in Finder. Now you can attach it to any web-mail. Still the flow to get to my own pictures sucks.

2. As Navin commented below there are some shortcuts for the missing keyboard buttons, but I still miss my Alt+Prt Screen (Invaluable when blogging or writing articles), Home and End.

3. Temperature issues have improved vastly. I have the latest updates (Currently running 10.6.7), not sure at what point it improved but now the OS automatically cranks up the fan when I am running VMWare for my development. Still temperature hovers around 70+ without any intervention from smcFanControl, which I am okay with.

4. New irritation has cropped up, the damn thing emits shocks now. I googled it up and it’s supposed to be ‘common’ if you don’t use the three pronged plug. I am using it and I still get shocks. Unlike fanbois in the forums discussing the issue I refuse to say I enjoy them because I don’t. Haven’t narrowed down the exact scenario, but to add insult to the injury of sharp edges now I get shocks from those edges.

The ability to crank two VMs + itself all in 8 Gig memory (I upgraded the memory myself) is impressive. I am using the laptop all but like a server. So yes, annoyances aside, I am fine with the performance of the laptop.

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First time with a Mac

After a lot of waiting and contemplating, I finally took the dive and got my first personal laptop. As you might have guessed it’s a Mac. It’s a sweet little 13″ MacBook Pro @2.53GHz, 4Gb, 250Gb.

This is my second apple product, first one being the iPhone 3GS. I will be listing my learnings here, as a first time Mac user.

First Impressions (Jan 30-31, 2010)

1. The hardware is simply amazing. Sleek and Sexy. It ‘looks’ like a really well engineered product. (The apple on the monitor does give a ‘show off’ feeling. It’s got absolutely no other functionality ;-)).

I was warned about how ‘hot’ a MBP gets. So far it’s not hotter than my Dell Latitude 630. It does get warm towards the hinges. That’s where all the vents are (very well hidden, really aesthetic but hope it does it’s job of getting the heat out properly). So the heat it’s not a big deal (yet). Also I heard it’s noisy. But I haven’t heard it yet. In fact apart from the clicking sound of the empty DVD drive on booting, I haven’t heard anything from the computer yet. It’s amazingly quiet.

Heat Update: It’s been running for about a couple of hours and now I have it on my lap. It’s was bearable initially, now it’s getting a little warm ;-).

The edges are really sharp. They don’t give you a cut or something but since it’s Aluminum it’s likely to get dinks easily, spoiling the sharp edged look. Blunting that edge slightly would probably prevent that from happening so easily.

2. I heard it’s Wireless reception is bad.

As of now I can get full coverage all over my house. So that’s good for now. (Okay so the house is a 2 Bed condo only).

3. First time boot up was painless, since I didn’t have it hooked to a wireless connection in office it saved the registration information. I thought the bit where it takes a picture while configuring your account the first time was really cool.

4. iPhoto

iPhoto was the first app, whose demo I saw. So it ended up being the first app that I tried. It’s a neat app. Some really nifty features that make it a pleasure to use.

Biggest surprise came when I downloaded pictures from my iPhone. I found they had geo-location information in them. I was really really surprised. Yes it’s an iPhone feature nothing to do with the Mac, just that iPhoto kind of made it obvious.

No point in raving about all the features of iPhoto, it’s a nice app. Yes, the face detection functionality rocks!

‘iCrash’ 🙂 and to disappoint all the fanboys, iPhoto crashed twice on me :-). I believe if you have the initial splash screen enabled and you try to access a photo collection before that splash screen comes up it crashes iPhoto. Happened twice. Then I disabled the splash screen. Hasn’t crashed since.

‘iDont’ It doesn’t like MPEG videos. Had to download Handbrake to convert them. Need to download VLC player I guess to play them natively.

5. Firefox

First use of Safari was to download Firefox ;-). And Microsoft has a Silverlight plugin for Firefox (and Safari) on the Mac Platform. BIG SURPRISE!!! Netflix works like a charm.

Firefox too crashed once. But has been steady since. Beginning to use Safari as well.

6. As a developer

Signed up as a part of the developer community but couldn’t download the iPhone development kit. Stupid Qwest is blocking me from downloading the 2.8Gb installer, atleast I think it is blocking me because I was able to download XCode which was 750 odd Mb. Yet to do my first Hello World.

Initially had trouble figuring where it got installed. Had to go through the manual again to discover where it is installed. Was looking for the ‘ShortCut’ to launch the IDE. spoiled by Windows ;-).

Well, that’s about it for the day. Will keep updating as I learn about the Mac.

This is like relearning how to use computers :-). To do it 20 years after you started using one is an ‘experience’ in itself :-).

Update: February 14, 2010

Haven’t got a chance to play with my MBP in the last couple of weeks much. However this weekend was relatively tension free hence I am at it. Wanted to make a couple of updates to my Mac user experience.

Heat Update 2: In my first post itself I had made a heat update on how the MBP tends to heat up but at the time it hadn’t managed to hit levels of my Dell. Today however I ‘heard’ it for the first time. Not sure what combination triggered it but it was running for a while (idle browsing thru blogosphere) when it showed low on battery. I plugged it in, and then decided to use Handbrake to convert a MPEG video. I selected some settings attempting to improve on the quality of the previous conversion (which showed the converted video as heavily interlaced). Soon after Handbrake started I heard the fans kick in for the first time. Temperature of the MBP went to beyond ‘lap bearable’ and I had to put it down on a table.

After frantic searching finally found smcFanControl and downloaded it. To my horror the CPU temperature was 60 C. By this time Handbrake had finished and OS X had turned down the fan speed to less audible levels. However, I immediately cranked it up to 4000 and got it below 60. After about 20 minutes it came to about 54. I tried to set the fanspeed back to 2000 but that again jacked up with temperature to high 50s. Currently it is running at 4000 rpm for the last 30-40 minutes and CPU temperature is steady at about 50-51 (which I am not very happy about). Waiting for the charging to finish to see how it goes. Not sure about the long term effects of a constantly fast(er) running fan, but back in India where ambient temperature is going to be definitely higher, it might just end up as choice between save CPU and save CPU Fan.

Also downloaded iStat pro widget. Nifty tool. smcFanControl and iStat Pro are a must have for system health monitoring. Couldn’t find any default fan speed monitoring tool as a part of the OS.

I remember when Intel launched it’s P4 back in 2000-2001 it had a plethora of these tool as a part of their drvier set and all of them used to run in ‘red zone’ in India. Keeping fingers crossed.

Well as I finish writing this, temperature is hovering around 45-47 C. That’s probably because nothing else is using the CPU. Charging at 97%. Once done smcFanControl should step the fan speed down. Then I’ll monitor how stable the temperature stays.

TextEdit: This is the default text editor in Mac OS (that I found). It can save to a variety of formats that includes Office 2007 docx format. That’s really really cool. I am taking down my Cocoa tutorial notes on it.

Citrix not working with Firefox: The Citrix plugin is not working in Firefox. Not sure why. The Safari plugin got installed properly but unfortunately it says “The archives required to make an SSL connection are not found” and asks me to contact my metaframe administrator. Not sure if “Metaframe Administrator” will be willing to turn it on for a un-official laptop to be able access official VMs. So as of now I cannot use this laptop for any work (which is not so bad 🙂 ).

MS Remote Desktop Downloaded: Downloaded the MS Remote desktop app too, but as of now it doesn’t have any use.

That’s it for now. Watch out for more ‘Heat Updates’.

Heat Update 3 There is definitely a problem with heating upto 74 deg C. I just ran a flash movie and the temperature shot upto 74 deg C. This is going to need close monitoring. Need to setup similar monitoring for my Dell Laptop for a comparative analysis.

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