An Apple a Day

As a programming note, if you didn’t read the last post, there will be a lack of woodworking content for the foreseeable future.

I was on the London Underground on one of our visit days, and I saw an advert. It was, paraphrasing, that you could equip your whole office with Apple products – Macbooks, iPads, iPhones, and I think Watches – for around £75 a week. There were at least 10-15 items of each, so I thought that was a pretty compelling price.

But the real reason that ad was relevant to me was that it reminded me of a curiosity I’ve had for several years now – the desire to try out Apple as a computer. I have had an iPhone of some kind for 12 of the last fifteen years, as well as having iPads in the past, a few Apple TVs, a Watch, and a pair of AirPods Pro. I am fairly entrenched in the Apple ecosystem without using what they became famous for. This hadn’t always been the case. In school, there were the educational Macs. And I also had an Apple IIc when I was a young kid.

What kept me as a Windows user was the need to cohesively interface with my work environment, which was achieved through Remote Desktop Protocol. However, a couple of years ago, this need was removed as we switched from remoting into individual computers to a server-based workspace. Since this was achieved with a browser and Citrix Workspace, my need for Windows for work was removed. I had done some experimenting with a Android tablet (a Fire HD 10 Plus converted to full Android), so I knew I didn’t necessarily need a Windows desktop or laptop. I was free to check out Mac, and the advertisement on the Northern line reminded me of the possibility.

There were two aspects to this. One, if I was going to switch to Mac I was going to get some minimalism/space-saving benefits of it. Two, if I was going to switch, I was going to fully switch. For the first, my mind immediately came to getting a Mac Mini to replace my tower. It would use a good bit less power, which is useful because I am always at my computer). It could also sit on or just under, just about any workspace and not need special accommodation to house. Or, what I would do, would be to just use a laptop. I had my doubts about this, because I didn’t want to abuse a laptop by having it on for 18 hours a day. So, I found a refurb Mac Mini from 2014 on eBay, which was at a price point that would allow me to test out the environment for work.

Once I determined that it would allow me to continue to work at just about the same comfort as Windows, I swapped out the 1TB platter drive for a 512GB SSD to speed up boot time and storage. I had successfully swapped out my tower for a Mac Mini, and aspect one was complete. Now there was aspect two to investigate. I have an XPS 13 from a few years ago, and I’ve liked it ok. It is pretty small, though, and that small of a screen would not be great for mobile working or using as a second screen even if I stayed with Windows. What I really wanted, and had for quite some time, was the older MacBook Pros with the light-up Apple logos. Those were discontinued with the 2016 release, which also brought worse keyboards. Buying new at this time wasn’t an option, so I started to do my research if I should wait for a while, or if something older would fit my needs and still be a smart purchase. Eventually, I settled on the 15″ MBP with discrete graphics. It just so happened that a week later, I found a good price on Amazon for another renewed model. Amazon carries a good deal less risk thank eBay with the easy returns, so again I pulled the trigger. When it arrived, it was absolutely gorgeous. Just some light scratches on the bottom, but the top, keyboard panel, and screen was just in all pristine condition. The screen was also big enough to satisfy my needs for content, for work, and for anything else.

The only thing I miss about Windows thus far is the lack of compatibility with some games, and I did have a dedicated graphics card in my tower that handled anything I need to. That said, I could install Windows on either machine, and if the card goes in an external GPU case, I could easily hook it back up.

After 35 years, I’m a Mac user. It’s pretty good thus far, and I can’t wait to see how Apple develops their in-house silicon. I am enjoying the integration with my other Apple products, and can see myself sticking with this for a very long time to come.

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