Why I bought a MacBook Pro part two

Last time I introduced you to my MacBook Journey. In part one I told about the period leading up to the purchase of my first MacBook, as well as initial impressions of working on a MacBook. In this blog I will focus on a critical period in my MacBook Journey: University.

Since I am a Industrial Design Engineering alumni I value well designed products and services. I will elaborate how I experienced using a MacBook Pro at university, and why this co-design of hardware and software proved to be a successful fit for me.

Hardware

During the first few months at university I realised how useful a Mac can be. Writing reports was actually fun for a change, compared to what I was used to on my Dell PC at home.

I noticed many of my fellow students using Windows laptops at times struggling to perform their work. Meanwhile I was not experiencing similar situations as much, if at all with my Mac.

For example, my MacBook was significantly lighter compared to the standard HP ProBook models many fellow students were carrying around. I heard many complaints about failing batteries, chargers or other hardware related issues, in the meantime my MacBook performed well.

There where downsides too, for example if I ever forgot my charger I had to go and hunt for another MacBook owner and ask if I could lend their charger for a moment due to the propetiary magsafe connector. Coming from a ‘normal’ windows based layout, the keyboard layout was weird at first but within a week I got used to it.

In my opinion do the downsides do not outweigh the benefits from using a MacBook over similar priced Windows laptops.

Software

This brings me to OSX Leopard. Before my Mac, I grew up using Windows 95 and later Windows XP on the desktop of my parents. When Microsoft introduced Windows Vista in november 2006, I could not get used to the redesign. Using Mac OSX was a breath of fresh air in comparison.

Usecase: productivity

Whenever I needed to get work done, the iWork suite worked very well for me. I wrote a significant amount of documentation about my projects, detailing every step and design decision. In design it helps to document your work if you want to be able to present your work months later. We worked in teams of four to five studens on a project for ten weeks.

Pages helped me out to be productive: I wrote my bachelor and master theses in Pages, both contained 90+ A4 pages and over 15.000 words. In industrial design you need to deliver reports with a nicely designed layout. Making well designed layouts in Pages is much easier compared to Microsoft Word, and requires a lower learning curve compared to Adobe InDesign for comparison.

Coming from Microsoft Word the ease of use inside iWork was a significant upgrade. The interface and features of Pages is exactly what I look for in a productivity application: a good balance between features and UI elements in logical positions. You only see the features you need, nothing more, nothing less.

Whenever I worked on a report by myself, I used Pages.

I loved to use iWork by myself, but in practice I could not work within a team without Office apps. Many projects had to be written together with a team of students and many of those worked on Windows based laptops, which are not able to run Pages. Luckily back in 2009 cloud solutions emerged, so we could work together via cloud apps such as Dropbox, which improved our workflows tremendously.

Eventually we discovered Google Docs with the useful feature of being able to work in one text document at the same time. Later I learned to use the Adobe CS suite of apps, such as Photoshop and Illustrator for my visual designs which luckily work both in Windows and on OSX. Being able to create visuals is an essential skill for a designer.

Later I did a year of graphical work as part of a study committee, which helped me to pick up skills with Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop and inDesign. We had to work inside SolidWorks. Sadly at the time SolidWorks worked only in Windows, installing a Windows partition was a requirement.

MacBook, late 2008, the first aluminium unibody model

When the white MacBook proved to be too slow for the heavy 3D design work, I upgraded to the unibody MacBook. I bought the MacBook second hand and eventually upgraded the RAM from 4 to 8 GB, and upgraded to a hybrid HDD with 8GB of SSD embedded on it.

I remember this MacBook fondly. 

This Mac was a significant upgrade in ’09, and was used 8 hours+ on a daily basis up until the summer of 2012. At the time I had a financial windfall, which enabled me to invest into a true pro laptop for my masters degree and beyond.

MacBook Pro 15” Retina, late 2012

During the introduction of the first retina MacBook Pro in the summer of 2012 I was blown away. I had saved up and it was time for an upgrade, which led me to check it out. I wanted to be prepared for my masters and afterwards. The retina screen was a significant upgrade over the built in screen in the MacBook I was using, and since I did lots of design and graphic work it was a perfect fit for my needs.

I know this is a hot topic nowadays with MacBooks, but for the time the first Retina was supplied with powerful components for it’s time. With a quadcore i7, 16 GB RAM, dedicated graphics card and a fast SSD this Mac still manages to be relevant today. It might surprise you, but I am writing this blog on the mentioned MacBook Pro at the moment!

This blog was part two of my MacBook Journey blog series. In the next part I will elaborate on how I work on a MacBook Pro Escape (13” late 2016 without touchbar) at work.

Why I use a MacBook for the past decade – My MacBook Journey part one

2017 is a special year for me. It meant a personal Mac milestone: 10 years of owning Macs. Why do I use Apple products, when alternatives are significantly cheaper? Simply put, what makes Macs worth the extra investment? Let me elaborate by telling you my MacBook journey.

Since ’07 I have been working on MacBooks for university work and for my first job. The machines I worked on are:

  • Mid 2007 White MacBook 13” from 2007 until 2009;
  • Late 2008 Unibody MacBook 13” from 2009 until 2012
  • Late 2012 Retina MacBook Pro 15” from 2012 until now
  • Late 2016 MacBook Pro 13″ without TouchBar (work provided) from 2016 until now

Before my Apple decade I used windows desktops only mainly to play games. When I was in high school I chose to work in the local supermarket to fund any fun projects, which enabled me to save up some money. After high school I wanted to study Industrial Design Engineering, which required a lot of graphical design work and 3D CAD work inside SolidWorks. Sadly at the time SolidWorks is Windows only, so installing Windows was a requirement. But that could be solved with a dual boot installation.

In ’07 there was a cool offer by the Media Markt, a local retailer. They offered all laptops without tax for a week! It comes down to a 19% price reduction, due to tax percentages in Holland, resulting in a €228 cheaper Mac! MacBooks were heavily recommended by fellow students during one of my visits at university during these participation days, so I bit the bullet and I bought my first MacBook. I had my fair share of issues using Windows and was curious to what Apple could offer. Worst case scenario, I could always sell it. Before I had owned an iPod Nano first generation (2005), an iPod Shuffle second generation (2006), and an iPod Nano third generation (2007). All in all my experiences with using Apple products have been positive. The well documented halo effect kicked in and I made the switch.

The first couple of days I had lots of issues, which mainly had to do with me getting used to a whole other kind of operating system. How do I install a program? How do I uninstall a program? What programs are worth my while? Do I go for office or iWork? And much more.

Within a week I got the hang of it, and started to enjoy the experience more and more. After a week I did not want to go back to Windows, and that has not changed since.

This is the end of part one of this blog series. In the next part I will look into my time at university with my MacBook.

 

Pictured below is my first MacBook:

 

 

Gaming PC build

Finally it’s here! I’ve been waiting for the 1070 for a month now, and it has been the delaying factor for this build from the start. It feels unreal to finally be able to say I’ve finished the build. Before the GPU got delivered I had been playing on either my MacBook Pro (2012 retina version with a 650m) or on this build but with a GTX 650 I could lend from my sister in law. I need to stress test this build to see how my temps are holding up, but so far there is no need to overclock just yet. Monitor wise I’d like to hookup a 1080p 144Hz/1440p 60Hz/4k monitor eventually, for now I’m enjoying a slightly overkill situation on my 1080p 60hz monitor.

Protip:

If you buy cheaper fans and buy a cheaper SSD you can probably buy a GTX1080 instead of a GTX1070. Captain hindsight, eh?

PCpartpicker list

Office setup

Januari 2017 Office setup

  • MacBook Pro 2016, without the touchbar
  • PFU Happy Hacking KeyBoard Pro2, also known as the HHKB Pro2
  • Logitech MX Master
  • Shure SE425 with an aftermarket cable from ebay with mic and inline remote

I work at an office with a flex setup, which means there’s a lot of considerations you need to keep in mind for your work setup. Firstly you need to find the right laptop, then there is the peripherals and last but not least: headphones for music and calling.

Macbook Pro 2016, non touchbar

As a OSX user for a decade, I wanted a laptop that would run on Apples’ OS. My employer listens to my input regarding laptop options, but price wise there were some limitations. I had been working on a personal MacBook Pro Retina from late 2012 up until now, which was suboptimal since I’d like to keep work and private life separated.

Although, I am not going to lie, the Macbook Pro lineup was quite dissapointing. I even considered making the switch back to Windows, considering the work I do at a Microsoft Partner.

In the end it came down to the following choices:

  • MacBook Pro 2016, non touchbar
  • MacBook Pro 2015, 256GB SSD option selected

The above mentioned models both have the same price. The difference is on two fronts: the 2015 model has a slightly better CPU, 2.7 GHz i5 vs 2.0 GHz i5, but the 2016 model has a more recent Skylake CPU which is more energy efficient and has a better performing iGPU relatively. In the end I chose the 2016 model.

PFU Happy Hacking KeyBoard Pro 2, with bluetooth mod

I write a lot for work, mainly blogs for on the company website. During college I had an episode where I had sympthoms of repetitive strain injury, which led me to research for ways to prevent it. As a result I discovered /r/mechanicalkeyboards and the rest is history: The HHKB Pro 2 is one of the most popular keyboards for on the go in that subreddit.