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Write Often

There are many reasons why I don’t post updates here more often.

Sometimes it’s because I prefer long form writing and procrastinate when it’s time to write, other times it’s because I’m lazy.

But as we’re reaching the midpoint of 2020, and the world is being turned upside down due to COVID-19, perhaps it’s time for a new approach, one that prioritises regular short updates, instead of trying to focus on occasional longform ones.

In the end, I don’t believe there will be a clear right or wrong in this, but let’s take things a step at a time, and see how things go.

I’ll be increasing the frequency of my posts, whether it’s here, or on the BakingPixel that I run together with Jenxi.

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MacBook Recommendation: Q2 2020

Earlier this month, Apple updated its 13-inch MacBook Pro, and while there weren’t too many changes under the hood, there were some significant improvements that I felt would be great to take note of.

This also isn’t meant to be a detailed review, for that, you may check out some decent reviews at:

The butterfly keyboard is finally gone

The issues with Apple’s horrible butterfly keyboard are well-documented, but Joanna Stern’s famous article is probably the best example of the whole issue.

All I can say is that the replacing the flawed butterfly keyboard with the new Magic Keyboard is the biggest selling factor of this updated machine. I previously refused to recommend any MacBook that used the butterfly keyboard.

The confusion over naming

While the current line is called the 13-inch MacBook Pro, it’s important to know that there are two very different variants of it. Basically the version touting the 8th-generation Intel Core processor with 2 Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports, and more powerful model with the 10th-generation Intel Core processor with 4 Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports.

There are other differences between then, but it’s definitely something to take note of.

Storage and RAM

These were sticking points for me, as my current 13-inch MacBook Pro is feeling the strain with its 250GB storage and 8GB of RAM. If I were to upgrade this round, I’d stretch to include 32GB of RAM and 1TB (ideally 2TB) of storage.

For the average user, I’d recommend to get at least 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage, especially when you take into account that you can’t really upgrade the storage and RAM at a later date, so get what you need for the next few years.

Conclusion

It’s lacking a dedicated graphics card, but this is basically the machine I’ve been waiting for. If you don’t feel the need to get the extra bit of power that this machine provides, the current MacBook Air might be a cheaper and lighter option, otherwise, this is definitely my choice for 2020.

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MacBook Recommendation: Q1 2020

It’s been roughly a year since I last wrote about a portable macOS computer, but considering that Apple just announced an updated MacBook Air, the timing is right to update my recommendation.

Context

My views here are based on the daily usage of a regular office person. This means email, browsing, music, file management, and other basic tasks. I’m not considering heavy tasks such as photo or video editing, or anything more taxing.

Recommendation

Get the 2020 MacBook Air.

I’m not bothered about processor speed (and you probably shouldn’t either), but bump the RAM up to 16GB (you’ll thank me in a year or two) and see if you’re willing to stretch for the 1TB storage space, though 256GB-512GB will suffice for most users.

If your computing needs are more demanding, and you can afford it, the 16-inch MacBook Pro is a real winner. Though it really is very pricey.

Benefits

It’s an “affordable” portable macOS computer that is physically lightweight, and yet powerful enough to handle day to day work.

More importantly they’ve rolled out the updated (read: fixed) keyboard that is currently working very well in the 16-inch MacBook Pro.

Concerns

  • Dongletown: We’re still living in a world where USB-C devices have a premium attached to them and aren’t as commonplace as USB-A. Things will only get better, but as of now, dealing with dongles and is still going to be slightly uncomfortable.
  • 2 USB-C ports: You only get 2 USB-C ports, and one of those parts is going to be taken up by the charging cable, so you effectively only have 1 USB-C port to use. That should be fine for light use, but it could get tricky when you need additional ports.

In closing

Considering that the keyboard should be fixed, there really isn’t any major reason why I wouldn’t recommend the latest MacBook Air, it’s a great general purpose computer with a small physical footprint. While it’s not exactly cheap, it’s still affordable for what you get, especially when we live in a time where people are happily paying well over RM5,000 for an iPhone.

The last thing I’d mention is that aside from the past few years of well documented keyboard design hubris from Apple, MacBook Pro computers have been extremely durable and age well. I’m typing this on my late 2013 model, and the only time I remember that I’m using an old computer is when I’m typing articles like this, or when the 6-year old battery doesn’t hold up well.

At least I no longer have to recommend folks buy a 2015 MacBook Pro anymore. That’s the real relief.

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Design Updates: 2020

It’s that time when I start to think about changing the layout and direction of this blog.

As with life, I believe this blog should always be evolving as I go along. For the last 10-15 years it’s been through blogging platform changes, server migrations, theme changes, and other little development experiments.

The next step will be a simple one. Cleaning up the layout slightly.

These changes are going to be implemented:

  • WordPress Twenty Twenty theme. While Jenxi and I are still strong proponents of StudioPress themes, my personal blog has never been a design showcase, rather a test bed for me to play with the annual themes from Automattic, and this trend will continue for now. To see the actual designs Jenxi has crafted, you can check out our work at Rubycoded.
  • A static home page. Twenty Twenty uses really big and bold fonts, so it doesn’t quite fit how I feel the landing page should be. A simple landing page will do.
  • Ditching Contact Form 7 for Jetpack Forms. I’m a longtime Contact Form 7 user, but as with support for the Twenty Twenty theme, I want to keep in touch with developments on the Jetpack front too.

Hope it turns out well.

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Switching to a MacBook Air in Q1 of 2019

It’s been a really long time since I did a post on hardware recommendations. I guess it’s better late than never.