New Apple stuff

Apple recently released the new 16″ laptop, and it’s a significant improvement over the fail-fest that’s been going on since 2016. Still a reduced selection of ports, still cooling any plasticky gaming laptop would easily surpass, but there’s the ESC key again, and the keyboard is no longer that terrible breakable thing.

However, I lost a whole day of vacation fixing the mess Catalina update made on my mid-2015 15″ retinabook, having disabled 32-bit code, which made Virtualbox not run, macports initially didn’t run so I had to wait for an update, GPG didn’t run, Synergy didn’t run, and half of other stuff either didn’t work, or had to be updated. Stuff that had no updates was a problem, but I replaced most of everything with open source stuff compiled from the macports library, but it left me wondering what would happen if Apple did another “upgrade” and simply blocked macports or at least its access to the xcode compiler. That would render the computer completely unusable to me. Also, something seems to be broken with the Virtualbox guest VGA driver, and so much of the functionality I relied upon was broken by that single update (including my mail archive no longer syncing due to Apple making “improvements” to the mail application, forcing me to get a paid upgrade for the archiving software) that I got incredibly pissed.

Also, after having used it for years I decided that the 15″ laptop is too big for what I normally use it for, which is to put it in my lap and write articles. The keyboard is too far away, the whole thing is too big and unwieldy, and the only plus is the screen and the speed. With everything else, I was able to get much more comfortable with my old 13″ Air, so I don’t think I’ll be getting another big laptop again, especially since I’ve been using an ultralight Asus (Zenbook Flip UX370UA) for half a year or so and I happen to be using it much more frequently than I do the big Macbook, and only due to a much more practical size, at least for what I use it for. Also, Microsoft integrated Linux into the Win10, so now I have full access to the CLI tools that I normally use even without OS X or virtualization, which makes Windows machines very usable to me, as usable as Macs. Sure, I can write text messages or pick up a phone call from the Macbook, which makes it very convenient at times, and the Macbook screen and touchpad are still significantly superior to anything non-Apple, but the gap is decreasing due to Apple screwing up increasingly more, and others doing increasingly more things right.

The Windows laptops still have significant problems. First, almost everything has a 16:9 screen ratio, which is terrible for small laptop screens; it starts making sense from 17″ upwards. Second, touchpads on Windows laptops range from significantly worse than Apple, to absolute garbage. Third, Windows has a nasty habit of not completing the suspend command if some process refuses to respond, which leads to closing the laptop that is still actually on, merrily overheating and draining your battery in the bag. This makes Windows behave terribly on laptops. Also, Win10 constantly updates, which makes it incredibly annoying after a while. Honestly, I don’t want to even see anything updating other than the antivirus. It can update itself twice a year and that’s it. The only improvement introduced by those updates was the WSL, everything else was cosmetics and had no business rebooting my system. Microsoft should seriously reduce the frequency of updates because this is getting on everybody’s nerves. However, other than that, Win10 is fine. It’s fast, it’s elegant, it’s comfortable to use, and for the most part it’s as reliable as Mac OS, and much more reliable than any Linux desktop. Essentially, Apple is one serious fuckup away from me switching completely to Windows/Linux combo. On the other hand, Windows was always one serious fuckup away from me switching to Mac/Linux combo, so things are quite equally matched now.