Blog

Short blog posts, journal entries, and random thoughts. Topics include a mix of personal and the world at large. 

The old Apple is back

Apple at its best, and what drew me into the company back in high school, is when they announce products in the pro tier of their Mac lineup. Lust-worthy items with exorbitant prices that I desperately want, but cannot hope to afford. I remember when the 30-inch Cinema Display was first introduced: a display so unimaginably large that costs more than entire computer systems! I wanted one immediately, though sadly had to wait for that display technology to trickle down to the hundreds of dollars range many, many years later.

I also remember the first ever Mac Pro, a monster of a computing machine for three times the costs of my poverty-spec Macbook laptop. I couldn’t possibly utilize all that number-crunching power (much less pay the price), but the 'cheese grater’ tower just looks so damn awesome. Apple is clever like that, aren’t they? Their superb ability to make people pine for their products is one of the biggest reason I upgrade to the latest iPhone every year, even though for my purposes I’d still be okay currently with an iPhone 8.

So today it was a throwback of sorts for Apple at their annual developer conference, where they announced a brand new Mac Pro tower, and a 6K display to do along with it. The unit starts at $5999, and the monitor is $4999 for the panel only; the aluminum ‘Pro’ stand with the fancy hinge mechanism is another $999 on top! I could hear the collective groan from the audience over the keynote livestream when the guy on stage announced the stand was separate and costs the same as an iPhone. This is Apple pricing madness at its best, and it brings me back to youth.

Of course, the specs of the new machine and the display is out of this world, and just like a decade before with the old Mac Pro and pro display, it’s way more computing power than I can ever use in my current capacity as a photography hobbyist and a writer. The difference now is that I don’t want the new Mac Pro at all, even though I can somewhat afford it (just have to put a few things up on eBay). Perhaps its my adult sensibilities coming into effect: I no longer buy things for the heck of it; the item has got to serve a purpose. My two years old 27-inch iMac is still up to the tasks superbly, so there’s no reason to replace it with a far nicer box for marginal gains in speed.

Indeed, the new Mac Pro and Pro Display is strictly for the professionals, the type who can expense such extravagant acquisition on their respective company accounts. I’m definitely not one of those people, the type to work with three simultaneous streams of 8K footage, or mix 1000 tracks of sound at the same time.

Who am I kidding, though; I still want it.

Just some late night filings…

Mac Mini and Macbook Air is still alive

And just like that, the longest neglected two products in Apple’s portfolio - sans Mac Pro - finally received updates.

I woke yesterday to the Apple event in Brooklyn still ongoing: it started at 7am, and I tend to wake at 8am. An avid purveyor of Apple products I may be, I was not about to forgo precious sleep time just to watch a keynote. Nevertheless, I hopped on immediately onto MacRumors, ignored the presentation of the new iPad that was ongoing, and went hunting for details on the new Macs earlier in the event.

After four inexplicably long years, the much beloved Mac Mini finally gets refreshed. No longer are people suckered into paying the same price for hilariously outdated internals. I’ve fond memories of the Mac Mini because I bought one back in 2014, the last time it got an update until today. It was a relative powerhouse in a tiny package, and the unit served me well in my creative endeavors until it was replaced by a 5K iMac last year. Had today’s refresh been available then, I probably would’ve bought it.

The new Mac Mini receives innards that rival the iMac, as long as you don’t care about graphics performance. It’s got the latest 8th-generation Intel chips, alongside a completely flash storage architecture, featuring up to 64GB of memory and 1.5TB of SSD storage. With an army of IO ports at the back similar to the iMac, the new Mac Mini should make plenty of BYOP (bring your own peripherals) customers happy; even those wanting more graphics can attach an eGPU unit via Thunderbolt 3.

Here’s to hoping Apple doesn’t let this Mac Mini languish unchanged for another four years.

The other Mac product to receive a refresh, a genuine surprise for me, is the Macbook Air. Thought to be in purgatory since the introduction of the Macbook back in 2016, it seems Apple have decided to reharness the immense brand value of what is easily their most popular laptop ever. Essentially an entry-level 13-inch Macbook Pro by a different name, the new Macbook Air changes it up slightly by retaining the iconic tapered design, and adding Touch ID to the keyboard (previously only available on Pro models with the Touch Bar). The new laptop looks fantastic.

Macbook Air with a retina display: we’ve been clamoring for it endlessly, and after many long years Apple finally delivered. As a previous owner of an 11-inch Macbook Air which was unceremoniously forsaken at a TSA checkpoint, I’m dangerously close to plopping down the $1200 necessary for the base new one. If only I wasn’t saving up for a 911…

All of the lines.

All of the lines.

Saving up for my first DIY computer

Writing about AutoCad yesterday and how it’s best run on Windows PC brought me back to my early years of high school. I was super into computer games but as of sophomore year lacked a proper gaming computer. By then I’d already hacked together my first computer but being that it was the first computer I got blindsided by the components learning curve. 

What constitutes a decent computer processor was easy because it’s revealed in the Gigahertz number (multi-core processors wasn’t a thing yet), but I had no clue that graphics cards too carries a hierarchy. Deficient of that specific knowledge I bought just about the worst graphics card possible. Needless to say playing games on my first computer was far less than ideal, often times impossible. 

Growing up my family wasn’t made of money so they weren’t going finance yet another built computer in such a short period of time. Typing word documents and surfing the web hardly requires the latest and greatest so my parents were adamant that I continue to use the computer I’ve already got until college. Obviously then if I want a new one to game on I would have to pay for it myself. 

Which meant getting a job and saving up gradually, and I mean really gradually. I interned for a department at San Francisco City Hall and the monthly income from that was in the single hundred, often times less. The sum total of the parts I was looking to purchase amounted to well over a thousand dollars so saving was quite the long project, ending up over a year. 

The gaming computer was my first instance of setting a financial goal and actively working towards it. The experience taught me the value of working for money and the patience to wait for the rewards. For motivation I had printed out the list of components on a sheet of paper and stuck it in the top of my school binder. Funny how that habit have continued on: when I was saving to buy my first car I had the WRX STI set as my laptop wallpaper as a reminder to keep going after it. 

As for the present time: 

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