Well, the 15” MacBook Pro with Touch Bar arrived around 7:15 this evening and I’ve started the process of setting it up.

I had a little problem setting up my Apple Hatch to unlock the computer, but after a dozen tries it finally worked even though I didn’t change anything. Setting up Hail is always weird. I have an IMAP mail account and I always have problems setting the “Trash” folder. This happens every time I setup a new iPhone and I ran into the same thing here. So I bit the bullet and figured out how to map all the folders and made them match on the iPhone and the new MacBook Pro. I hope that will make my email life a little easier because I won’t have to wonder why some emails get put in one folder and not another.

It First Batch of 3rd-Party Software

The very first piece of software I added was_1Password! I had to have all my logins and licenses for software that I will install so it was the first thing I needed. Next I needed Alfred App. Alfred is my launcher, but it is also my clipboard manager, file action shortcut mechanism, and shortcut manager. I’ll even think it’s managed to replace TextExpander, but the proof will be in if I don’t have to install TextExpander. And to get my Alfred settings from my old computer I needed to use Dropbox so I had to install it.

That’s enough for the first night, but I’m still writing this post from my old computer, so my task tomorrow will be to see what I need to install to be able to write and post from the new computer.

Hardware First Impressions

It’s not GPU panicking! The screen is bright and the colors are much better than the old computer (which I suspect had to do with the bad GPU]. I’ve had matte laptop screens forever because most glass or plastic screens had way too much reflection for me, but this screen has minimal reflection and is actually pretty hard to find reflections unless you are looking for them.

I like the giant Force Touch trackpad. The click isn’t quite as satisfying as a mechanical trackpad, but having a consistent click press pressure on the whole surface is worth the exchange. The Butterfly 2 keyboard will take some getting used to. I like that the keys are bigger and more stable, but the shallow travel, sound, and overall feel will take some getting used to and not in the good way I enjoyed getting used to my cherry MX green CODE keyboard. The arrow keys are interesting. I’m used to the half-height up and down arrows but throwing in full-height right and left arrows is throwing me off a little.

Finally, the Touch Bar. First, I don’t miss the function keys yet. But I won’t know how I really feel until I use a debugger which is the only time I ever rely on the function keys. I’ve already used the playback controls more times than I did on my old machine. It’s really the brightness and volume keys that I used in the past and I used them by spatial awareness meaning I didn’t know exactly which key to hit but I knew the general area and could hit the keys in that area until I found the right one. It wasn’t efficient from a keystroke perspective but it was convenient and took no mental cycles. Now I have to look at the Touch Bar to find the control and then think about volume and brightness levels. It adds cognitive load to something that was mindless. I’m not saying it’s a big deal, but those little shifts from making things mindless to making you think can be annoying.

I’m excited to keep this record of my experience with this new machine and to thoughtfully and intentionally set it up to make me as productive as possible.

As I prepare for the move to a new machine I’m planning how to migrate all my software and documents. In previous transitions I have used Apple’s Migration Assistant to pull over my existing programs and documents and that has worked well. This time however, I want to take and essentialist’s approach to what I add to this new machine so I will only bring documents and add software that I truly need to accomplish my goals. As part of this, I expect to have a series of posts that document my justification for why I’m adding various tools. Hopefully this will help me better think through my decisions and help others think about their own tool choices.

Development tools

  • Xcode - While I’m not focusing on iOS or macOS development at this time, I do have an app to support and there is always a part of me that thinks about jumping back into iOS development. Additionally, Xcode also installs some tools that are necessary for development on the Mac in general
  • Homebrew - It is the most popular package manager for the Mac and I’ve found that using it to manage installing open source software and their related dependencies much easier to manage with Homebrew than to do it manually. That being said, I’ve run into version and package availability issues that have made me unhappy. I’m not sure if this is due to a lack of support by Homebrew or lack of understanding on my part. This go around I plan to be more deliberate and intentional when installing packages and I will make a concerted effort to understand the issues I have when I run into problems with package installation.
  • Visual Studio Code (VSC) - It has become my goto editor and pseudo-IDE for web development. It has even become my primary text editor (I’m writing this post in VSC). I like the support it has for the various web programming languages and styles and the way it integrates with external tools like git and the command line. I’m not convinced that it works well with large text files or system files so I may need to install BBEdit on the new machine, but I will hold off on that for as long as possible and will definitely have a post for that because that is a non-trivial decision in my mind (from the perspective of an essentialist).

Since the announcement of the new 15-Inch MacBook Pro there have been lots of criticism about its limitations and flaws. I’m not going to refute the criticism because I have some of the same misgivings, but I want to share my thought process for why I bought the particular configuration I decided on.

Need

First and foremost I needed a new computer. Multiple, daily GPU panics are not a recipe for a happy computer user and in the last 9 months as I waited for Apple to release new computers my frustration had turned to dread. Not what a software developer should feel about his main tool.

Is It a Great Computer?

I don’t know. I haven’t used the Touch Bar and I don’t know if I’ll be frustrated by the lack of an escape-key. The 16GB limit doesn’t faze me because I wouldn’t have gone with 32GB as that would have probably pushed the machine toward $4K. Did the price point move up? Yes, I was planning on going without the discrete GPU because of my GPU panic problems, but without that option my price point got bumped up a couple hundred dollars. Is USB-C only going to be a problem and are dongles of the devil? I have Firewire 400 devices and deal with projectors that are old and only have VGA inputs so I’ve had and will have adapters and dongles for my many years.

Existential Crisis

Most of the criticism I’ve heard isn’t really about the machine but about what signals Apple is sending because of the choices it made when designing the machine. While this type of analysis can be useful, it doesn’t really factor into how I buy a computer anymore. My buying decision is based on hardware build quality, capabilities, and software quality at a price point I can justify. What the computer says about the future prospects of the company would only concern me if it limited the useful life of it. I feel comfortable in saying that the choices Apple made with the 15-Inch MacBook Pro won’t limit the 5-7 year useful life expectancy I have for it.

What and Why

I bought the higher-end 15-Inch MacBook Pro because I wanted the 512GB SSD. I could have gone with the lower-end model and bumped up the SSD and saved a couple hundred dollars, but decided that the higher-end stock configuration was a better balance with the faster CPU and GPU. I got it in silver because Space Gray looks dirty in my eyes after using my current MacBook Pro for 6 years and a Titanium PowerBook for 5 years before that.

Next

Buying the new machine was the easy decision. The next steps of deliberately deciding what software to install and intentionally integrating it into my life are much more important.

I have the most difficult time with procrastination during the times between two things. In this case, the time between now and getting my new MacBook Pro. I’ve put off updating to macOS Sierra for purely pragmatic reasons, but I’ve also put off some tasks I should be doing because it’s easy to say, “I’ll just wait to set that up on my new system instead of doing it twice.” I almost used this procrastination technique with this blog.

I’m going to try to intentionally and thoughtfully setup my new computer and part of that process is blogging about the move and that includes my thoughts about this current machine and the thoughts behind moving to the computer I selected. After the last post that kicked off this process, I found that my installation of Ruby, which is necessary to generate the blog, had been corrupted. At that point I nearly gave up on the idea of walking through this process and just waiting to start blogging after I had the new machine. That certainly would have been the easy thing to do, but I decided that blogging the process was important and did the grunt work of fix my Ruby installation.

I don’t think that procrastination during times of transition is unique but the biggest danger I have is that I can turn almost anything into a time of transition. The end of the month, the end of the week, etc. are such easy times for me to say, “Well I’ll just wait put it off until the start of next (week, month, year),” or “I’ll wait till the new version of the (device, app, os, framework, language) comes out and then I’ll dig in.” I am aware of this thought process in myself and yet I have trouble overcoming it. Anyone have any thoughts on overcoming it?

I could make this a post about turning over a new blogging leaf, but I’ve broken that promise too many times to kid myself into thinking this time I’ll stick with it. No the “new era” for me is the move from my 2010 15” MacBook Pro to a new 2016 15” MacBook Pro. This will be one of the last posts from this old workhorse which has served me well.

It is amazing to me that this computer has served me so well and for 6 years. The only upgrade I’ve done is the 512GB SSD drive. It has held up wonderfully except for the GPU panics that have always plagued it, started getting worse a year ago, and finally became a near daily occurrence 3 months ago. When I got the machine I paid extra for the matte screen and I feel like I’m going to really miss it, but getting a Retina display and brighter colors should balance out my screen concerns.

One of my goal is to become and essentialist which means I want to make more deliberate and intentional choices. To that end I plan to make future posts discussing my choice of the MacBook Pro, how I’m migrating to the new machine, the software I install, and any of the other myriad of choice I make. My typical M.O. is to make a well thought out and carefully planned initial decision, but once things get rolling I start doing things haphazardly, letting momentum take me where I don’t necessarily mean to go.