Posts for Tag: apple

Once you go solid state, you'll never have to wait

My hard drive died about a week ago and I've been in limbo. For all that the iPad can do, it is NOT a laptop replacement. It can do about 80% of the things a laptop can do but that other 20% is pretty darn important.

So if you're counting, this is the 2nd hard drive failure I've had in the last 3 months. Each time I was visited by the infamous click of death (hear below). I decided that the aggravation and loss of productivity was not worth the price-to-storage ratio of the standard platter hard drive. I vowed to never again hear the dreaded clicking of my hard drive failing so I upgraded to an solid state drive. Though these things aren't cheap ($400 versus $100 for 500GB of storage), I figured that it was worth it for a more reliable and faster storage solution. Well I can't speak to the reliability since I've only had the drive running for a few hours but the speed is unbelievable. From pressing the power button to being on the desktop took less than 10 seconds. Mac OS X opens all the previous programs I had open before shut down, so that means I'll have anywhere from 6-9 separate programs that need to open before I can really start working. This process usually took about 3 minutes but with this new drive, I'm ready to go in under 30 seconds. Opening Excel or Word would take 20-30 seconds each but now take less than 5 seconds. There is no way I can ever go back and would actually trade off CPU or RAM upgrades in place of an SSD.

So next time you think your computer is slow, the best thing you can do to speed things up is just get an SSD. The performance improvement is dramatic.

To MacBook Pro Retina or not to MacBook Pro Retina… That is the question...

Now that the WWDC Keynote has come and gone, the question I have to ask myself is whether to get the new MacBook Pro 15" with Retina Display. I was hoping that they would release a 13" version but alas, no. Judging by how the internals of the device are a big departure from the "regular" MacBook Pro, I'm thinking a smaller version won't be out any time soon. Plus, Apple is probably trying to differentiate their product lines to basically three classes of laptops - ultra portable, consumer and professional. Looking at the price/specs, there is virtually no reason anyone would buy the non-Retina Display 15" MacBook Pro. For $400 more, you're getting double the memory (+$100), SSD (+$500) and that before mentioned gorgeous Retina Display (besides the fact that it is thinner and lighter, plus has those "hidden" design improvements - quieter fan, stronger construction, etc). But hey, you do get a nice DVD drive on the old MBP that you'll use a handful of times a year.

The bigger question is whether I should upgrade from a 13" to a 15" MacBook Pro, at all. I like the portability of the 13" model but the new MBP is actually slightly less heavy even though it's 15". I'd have to probably get a new bag because the Brenthaven one I have is specifically designed for 13" laptops. Still, $2,199 is more money than I've ever spent on a laptop and I'm having a hard time justifying the cost. If it were $200-$300 less, it would be a no brainer but that psychological $2K number just makes me cringe. Perhaps I should go demo it at the Apple Store first.....................

Best $25 an iPhone designer could spend @Glyphish

I'm currently working on a new iPhone app and starting to understand how difficult it is to build something that is both good looking and also simple to understand/use.  There are so many small nuances to consider since there isn't a lot of real estate with which to get your point across.  One of the most maddening things to get right are icons.  People don't realize how difficult it is to build great looking icons from scratch.  There are only a handful of apps that I consider beautiful and even among those, I have issues with the icons.  After revision after revision of icons from my designer, I started to scour the web for examples of good icons.  To my chagrin, the answer was staring me right in the face - Glyphish.  Here was an extensive set of beautifully designed icons that are so simple and yet so clear in what the icon is supposed to represent.  How good are these icons?  They're used by little known companies like Google, Twitter, and a small phone manufacturer called Apple.  The best part of it?  $25 for a full pro license that doesn't require attribution and can be used in an unlimited number of projects (free version requires attribution, doesn't include Retina Display version of icons).  I've seen icon sets costing four times as much that are no where near as clean and well designed.  Kudos to Joseph Wain for creating these and providing them at a ridiculously cheap price.

Oh, and his $10 set of background images are well worth it, too!

Chinese manufacturing... Love it or hate it, you can't live without it

Apple released its annual Supplier Responsibility Report which discusses the status of its manufacturing partners (mainly in China) on issues of worker rights, factory conditions, etc.  Not so coincidentally, last week's This American Life episode centered around Mike Daisey and his one man show about what he saw while on a visit to Shenzen where many of the big manufacturing companies are located.

Though the first act of the episode was meant to illicit an emotional response in favor of the poor downtrodden workers, the second act painted a much more balanced and realstic view of the plight of workers in these plants.  The fact of the matter is that places like Foxconn have improved the lives of many of these people.  Are conditions as good as they are in first world countries?  Of course not, but that's a very first world opinion.  Ask anyone who used to make $50 a month in the country side doing back breaking labor if they would trade it for a $250 a month job doing a different kind of hard labor in Shenzen.  It's a no brainer.  As consumers in developed nations, we should absolutely push for better working conditions for the people who make our goods.  But progress takes time and why should we expect developing countries to suddenly leapfrog steps in their industrialization when countries like the US did not.

The one hopeful thing I took from the episode was that cold hard economics and not journalists or people like Mike Daisey will ultimately effect greater change.  As workers become more skilled, they also have more options to work at places that have better working conditions.  If places like Foxconn wish to retain these skilled employees that they've spent time and money training, they'll need to improve the environment these people do business in.  That, more than a sensationalistic one man show, will be how China and other developing countries move forward.

This is pretty deplorable

I don't know if this is just profiteering or a misguided homage. Either way, it's pretty disgusting. I knew people were going to try and make money off the death of Steve Jobs. Some were authorized, this is obviously not. The company behind this could have made some veiled attempt at sincerity by donating a portion of proceeds to cancer research. I hope Apple legal is on this and gets them shut down before they sell a single one.