The keyboard is different. It’s not terrible and I will get used to it, but I do wish that I didn’t have to get used to it. I’m wondering if Apple trying to prep users for a future non-mechanical keyboard. The feel is so different from any keyboard I’ve used before that I can’t help but feel like Apple is trying to move us in a certain direction.

As I’ve grown accustomed to the keyboard I found that I get a better experience with a lighter touch. When I first started using it and was pressing with the same force as my old keyboard, my fingers started to ache some. I’ve also found the keyboard sound more pleasant when touching with less pressure. I could hear the keys bottoming out and it did sound like I was banging things out on keyboard.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I use Karabiner Elements to map the escape key to the right option key. This is working well and I don’t think I could live with the Touch Bar escape key. I do need the physical feel for that particular key.

The full height left and right arrows continue to mess with me. I often press the up arrow when I mean to press down. The reason is that with the old keyboard that had half height right and left arrow keys, I would rest my index and ring finger on the left and right arrows. Resting my middle finger in line with them I would press the down arrow and putting it up a bit would give me the up arrow. With the full height left and right arrows, putting my middle finger in line with the index and right may or may not put it on the down arrow. In fact, I realize that I was used to feeling for the top of the half height arrows so I’m more likely to line my fingers up with my middle finger pressing the up arrow. I’m going to have to get used to feeling for the bottom edge of those keys so my in line finger placement puts my middle finger on the down arrow.

Sorry, I realize this was a little excessive. I’m just trying to put myself in the mindset and habit of examining, considering, and improving my tools and processes.

I added some more tools today:

  1. Installed MarsEdit which I use for my WordPress blogs. In addition to this blog which I run on Jekyll, I maintain 3 other blogs that are WordPress based. MarsEdit handles them well and I haven’t seen the need to change. If there is ever a new version I’d probably by it just to support the developer because I don’t need any new features but appreciate the many years I’ve used the tool.
  2. Installed PDFPenPro 7 which isn’t the latest version. I use this occasionally to work with PDFs. It’s one of those tools that I will use eventually and don’t want to hunt around for it and mess around with licenses when I do.
  3. Installed Audio Hijack for podcast recording. I’m currently doing most recording on my iPhone, but I will probably try the workflow on this machine at some point.
  4. Installed Fission for simple editing. I use GarageBand for long form editing like podcasts, but I use Fission for editing the sermons for the church because I just need to edit the beginning and end and export at a reasonable bit-rate.
  5. Installed Pocket Safari Extension because I use Pocket for bookmarking URLs. I do need to rethink bookmarking tools because my backlog of things to read and watch is reaching nearly 3 years. I’m not really sure this is the most effective way to manage stuff I want to read and links I want to save.
  6. Installed Pocket app to read my Pocket list. I could read it from the web app, but I like native apps because they typically have more functionality than a web app especially offline viewing.
  7. Installed Better Rename 9 for conveniently batch renaming files. It’s not something I do often, but it comes in handy when I do.
  8. Installed Eclipse for Java development. This is my workhorse tool at my day job so it’s another tool I need to test the suitability of this machine for work.

That’s all for today. I think I’m close to forming some solid opinions about working with this machine and I’ll have a write-up soon.

This is my first post from the new MacBook Pro.

Here what I’ve done so far:

  1. Installed Microsoft Remote Desktop as an experiment to see what it would take to use a Mac in my day-job environment.
  2. Installed VPN Unlimited client so that I have a VPN connection in untrusted network environments.
  3. Installed Karabiner Elements. This is a new one. I used Karabiner and Seil to remap the caps lock key to cmd-opt-ctrl-shift on my old MacBook Pro, but in macOS Sierra this no longer works. I dug around found this was the latest solution. Now why do I remap the caps lock key this way. The cmd-opt-ctrl-shift- makes a great shortcut to launch apps, go to websites, or open directories. It's part of my muscle memory and makes me more productive. I found that Karabiner Elements lets me map the escape key to the right-side option key and I've mapped the right-side command key to opt-ctr-shift which I also use for some shortcuts. These last two mappings are new to me, but the escape key mapping is helping because of the lack of physcial escape key and the opt-ctrl-shift mapping seemed like a good mapping to try. It was noticable from the wear patterns on the old MacBook Pro's keyboard that I almost never used these keys.
  4. Installed JDK 8 so I could experiment with day-job scenarios.
  5. Installed Xcode and Xcode Tools because I will eventually need to update some of my iOS apps or start new ones and also for Homebrew.
  6. Installed Homebrew to manage open source packages.
  7. Installed rvm and them imploded it because it seems that rbenv is now the popular way to manage ruby installations on the MacBook
  8. Installed rbenv and ruby-build
  9. Installed ruby 2.3.2
  10. Installed jekyll
  11. Installed Visual Studio Code as my text editor. I’ve come to like it for JavaScript development and it does mostly what I need from a general purpose text editor but I will monitor its strengths and shortcomings.
  12. I then played around with the bash prompt and uploaded my ssh key to my blogging host so I can rsync the blog without having to type in my password every time.

That’s all the software I’ve installed so far. I’m trying to stay in the bounds of only installing stuff when I have the need. I probably have a few more posts on stuff I’m installing and why. I think I want to use the machine a little longer before I start praising or complaining about the machine itself.

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).