Two Months with the 2016 MacBook Pro

Update November 25, 2017

In this review, I mention that changing volume and brightness on the Touch Bar are a minimum of two taps away, unlike the single key presses of the old function strip. However, I recently discovered that you can tap, hold, and drag the brightness and volume "buttons" on the Touch Bar, so I consider that small part of this review irrelevant.

I’m a serious computer user. It’s my job to be. But even if it wasn’t, I’d still be spending a ton of time on the computer. Every day, I spend hours upon hours typing away at my desk. On a daily basis, I develop software, use Photoshop, manage my finances, organize daily tasks, write blog posts, emails, and more. Any computer I own gets put through its paces and Apple has always delivered ever since I switched from Windows Vista back in 2009.

I had been using a 13-inch MacBook Pro for a few years and it was time for me to upgrade to a 15-inch model. My eyes are finally starting to outgrow 13-inch computer screens and I had been eyeing the new “Touch Bar” MacsBook Pros since they came out last year. So two months ago, I purchased a refurbished 15-inch MacBook Pro 2016 (the Space Gray Touch Bar model). The 2017 updates didn’t offer enough extra to justify spending hundreds of dollars more, and I didn’t want to upgrade to a “new” 2015 computer, so 2016 it was.

Overall, I’m happy with my purchase. It is definitely an upgrade from my older 13-inch MacBook Pro. It’s noticeably faster, has a larger, amazingly bright “retina” screen, and has twice as much RAM and disk space than I had before. But unfortunately, unlike every other MacBook I have ever purchased from Apple, this time my experience hasn’t been all good. I guess it was bound to happen eventually.

I’ll go ahead and get the bad out of the way first.

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Who Killed the Encyclopedia? is the latest topic on Tedium. Remember Encyclopedias? They were mostly on their way out when I was a kid, but I fondly remember Encarta ‘95 (it came with our Windows 95 family computer). It even had a wacky adventure-game-like thing (called MindMaze) where you answered trivia questions to progress.

As a side note, I recently discovered Tedium and I’m loving it so far. Very interesting deep dives into topics that on the surface don’t seem very interesting. Like the other day’s issue on lint — that issue’s sponsor, Space on Earth III, by the way, led me to discover ambient music and how great it is to listen to while programming.

Plain Text Notes System

Back in February of 2016, I wrote about my plain text notes setup and why I decided on the simple medium over dedicated apps and services that offer more robust features.

Seeing as to how that article is one of the more popular posts on my blog, I thought I’d publish an update on my plain text notes system. Long story short: I tried another app but ultimately came back to plain text. There’s just nothing more reliable and flexible.

If you aren’t currently putting digital notes to use, you really are missing out. I encourage you to give this plain text notes system a try because it’s easy to set up, doesn’t require pricey subscriptions, and will definitely stand the test of time.

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Better StatCounter Code

Recently, I switched to StatCounter for my web stats. I briefly used Piwik, which seemed great until I realized all visits were being logged as a “Direct Entry” and there seemed to be nothing that could be done to fix the problem (I checked mod_cloudflare, etc. to no avail). StatCounter has everything I need and is accurate.

However, looking at the JavaScript code StatCounter provides to be included on my website, it could definitely use a few tweaks. Here’s what the original code looks like:

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I tweaked my theme to be more minimal, and moved the search bar over to the archive page. Overall it feels a lot leaner, and is much cleaner. This is an evolution of the previous design, not a complete re-do.

I just re-designed this website recently, and while I liked it, after a few days of use the new design was feeling a little clunky and the there really was no need for such a heavy header bar when there was already a sidebar. Some changes were in order.

I also added a new responsive menu that shows up on narrower screens (such as phones).

Extending BBEdit with AppleScript

In my previous article where I speculated on when Bare Bones will release BBEdit 12, towards the end of the article I made a statement comparing BBEdit to my other most-used text editor, Sublime Text:

Whenever I switch to Sublime Text, I miss the “look and feel” of BBEdit (which is important, I think, for someone who spends most of their time with a text editor), but when I’m in BBEdit I miss Sublime Text’s editing capabilities.

What I forgot to mention is that BBEdit can be extended to sort of mold it into the text editor you want it to be (to a certain extent, of course). I just haven’t explored that aspect of it just yet—until now, that is.

And when I mentioned missing Sublime’s “editing capabilities”, I’m not talking about some crazy text wizardry that BBEdit happens to not support. I’m talking about some pretty basic things by modern text editing standards:

Continue reading... has a JSON feed now. Despite Hugo not supporting the brand new spec out of the box, it wasn’t very difficult to implement. I much prefer this over the bloated, XML-based RSS spec.

5K Versions of Every Default macOS Wallpaper, by Stephen Hackett.

I was looking for something like this a few months ago but couldn’t find anything. Nice to know that high resolution versions of the old wallpapers now exist.

Setapp Is Really Good

Yesterday, I came across this article on TidBITS: Setapp At 5 Months: 10,000 Users and Better App Discovery.

I remember when Setapp launched, and for some reason, it didn’t really interest me at the time. But this time, social proof got the best of me and I decided to check it out. On their website, I saw that it’s about $10 a month (not bad), with a free trial (nice), and that they had CleanMyMac 3 on their list of software.

I’ve been meaning to purchase CleanMyMac ($40), but I hadn’t got around to it yet. I’ve had the same early-2015 MacBook Pro for a while now, and I knew there was a bunch of crap lingering in the system that needs to be cleaned out. After seeing a couple other interesting apps on their list, I decided I really needed to give the trial a shot. At $10 a month, it seemed like a really great deal.

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Preload Styles and Scripts to Improve Load Times

In a world of heavy websites that take up way too much bandwidth, there has never been a more important time to make sure your website loads as quickly as possible (it also affects SEO and conversion rates). One way to improve your website’s load time is to preload stylesheets and scripts that you don’t absolutely need right away, so that the browser can focus on displaying content to the user as quickly as possible.

If you have a largely content-driven, HTML website, this should be pretty easy. However, if you’re running a single-page web app, it may be a little trickier to know what you can preload and what you’ll need right away—it all depends on the project. Either way, the way to do it will be the same and that’s what I’ll be going over.

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