Posts Tagged ‘macbook air’

Apple laptops not made for enterprise use

Like my recent upgrade to 10.8, I was forced to upgrade to 10.9 because my 13” MacBook Air succumbed to an odd logic board error involving a heat sensor going kaput. Turns out that kernel_task would go up to 300%, ensuring that the load averages on my machine would be in excess of 40-60s. The only fix seems to be swapping logic boards, and that usually takes 2-3 weeks. Too long to live without a laptop.

For reference, the Apple Hardware Test revealed: 4SNS/1/C0000008: THSP–124.

So I had to order a new laptop, and chose the 11” MacBook Air. I was always conflicted between the 11” & 13”, and left the world of MacBook Pro’s for a 13” due to the same resolution. I travel a lot, so I think smaller is better now, and got the 11” – max specs. So far, I have no complaints. When home its docked to a much larger monitor. On the road, it seems just fine. In a span of a couple of years, I’ve gone from 15” -> 13” -> 11”. I can’t complain.

Apple hardware is just not made for enterprise use. Next day on-site warranties from Dell are amazing (I’ve experienced it plenty of times), but they just don’t exist in the world of Apple even with AppleCare. 

I’ve been locked into some software (I know, silly me but there are things I depend on in my workflow) which makes it hard to switch away from OSX. If I ran Linux, I know I could have bought another machine within a day, but because Apple is all-integrated, I had to order another MacBook Air (who would want a MacBook Air with an i5 processor, small storage (128-256GB) and 4GB of RAM?). I mean if Apple plans to integrate everything, sell top-end machines – picking stuff up retail is important in my opinion.

It took me 5 working days to get my custom-built Mac delivered. That’s just too long to be using hardware you’re not familiar with (I actually did a lot of “work” with a Chromebook – also known as answering a lot of email, but nothing more productive than that).

The upgrade from 10.8 to 10.9 was surprisingly easy with Time Machine again. The only problem was Mail was misbehaving (caching folders), so I had to upgrade to 10.9.2, and just wait it out. I’m not happy with Mail, but its about the only desktop client that handles multiple IMAP accounts and works in an offline fashion.

I read recently an article by David Sobotta about how he moved away from the Mac, and to me it felt like this was my path too. It is not going to happen anytime soon, but I’ve set aside 2 years to get things done. I want to live more in the browser, I want to be able to make use of OfflineStorage, and I want to be rid of depending on just one piece of hardware. It is likely that even after a move to the cloud I will buy Apple hardware, it just won’t mean I’m “locked in” to the wonderful application ecosystem that it has.

If anyone says the 11” MacBook Air is not good enough, I can attest that its got a small screen but in many of my use cases I have it docked to a 24” or 27” monitor, so for coding, comparative studies, etc, I find that to be a great environment. But walking to a cafe or working in a cramped airplane seat? You can’t beat the 11” Air (11.6” if you look closely).

Upgrading to OS X 10.8 and a new MacBook Air

Yesterday I unboxed my new MacBook Air 13″ (full-spec) laptop. I used a USB3 disk to backup via Time Machine the old laptop (which maxed out at USB2), and then did a restore using USB3 last night and today it seems that the laptop is ready to use. This is my first experience with OS X 10.8.2 as well – I was previously on 10.7.5. What did I have to change?

  1. I had to re-login to Dropbox, but at least it didn’t have to perform a full sync (there was some data exchanged, but it wasn’t the entire Dropbox folder).
  2. I had to re-login to Google Drive. This required a full sync as the old folder was not recognised as an original.
  3. I had to make sure settings for iCloud were sane again (as there was a popup).
  4. I was asked to re-download MsgFiler and login to the App Store.
  5. I had to change the caps lock key to become a control key manually again.
  6. The version changed and it has to reimport/reindex messages again (this takes some 1 hour 15 minutes on my machine with 33GB of mail).
  7. The F4 key for some absurdity goes to an application called Launchpad (that makes it look like an iOS device). I used to have Dashboard on F4 and I much prefer that. It seems the only way without a third party app like Functionflip is to press Fn+F4 to get my Dashboard. I think this is rather silly of Apple – changing muscle memory is difficult.
  8. My scroll continued to work from the old settings (I’m no fan of a natural scroll).
  9. Time Machine allows you to “inherit backup history”, thus using the same drive that brought you over to be the new backup drive.
  10. There now exists a Notification Centre. A little odd thinking that iOS styled notifications have made it here. Do I still need Growl which constantly reminds me that there is a (paid) update waiting?
  11. Seems the screensaver and the lock after it has been enabled needs to be re-enabled.
  12. CrashPlan would not work as you need Java SE 6 so you’d have to install it – seems odd that Apple decided to drop this rather significant piece of software. Then again, considering who drives ownership, and the recent security scares…
  13. sudo tmutil disablelocal – the local backups were enabled again, and I only want Time Machine to have backups to an external disk.
  14. I couldn’t print as there needed to be new printer drivers. Many apps had to be updated in the App Store. Gasp.
  15. Turn off most notifications with Notification Centre. I really don’t want to be “beeped” when mail comes in.

Initial impressions of the laptop? The machine is fast. It has a lot to do with the SSD disk, as well as the 4-core i7 processor. Out of the box, the battery capacity is meant to be 6700 mAh, though I’m getting 6669 mAh. Battery life is one of the strongest reasons why I picked up a 13″ over a 11″ – I just didn’t want to have to deal with flaky batteries a few years down the road… 7 hours brought down to say 5 is manageable, but 5 hours brought down to say 3 is annoying.

Another reason is resolution. Using a 15″ MacBook Pro to a 13″ MacBook Air has no change in resolution for me either – its all 1440×900. It seems 512MB of virtual RAM is reserved for the Intel graphics card (so I guess this Air won’t suffer the same fate as the first ever MacBook Air which was dog slow in terms of graphics).

Its good to note that the Thunderbolt port is also MiniDisplay compatible – all my old cables work. The only catch is that it is no longer on the left side of the laptop but the right side.

The Apple Store Malaysia Phone Experience

On the 24th of December 2008, I came back from my little hiatus in Georgetown, Penang (in where I discovered the heritage and history of the city), and immediately started ringing up Apple Authorised Resellers to find out where in the blue hell, the new MacBook Air was. (Emphasis on the new, because all the resellers try to push the old one, to clear out their stock – in fact, they actively discourage you from getting the new one, saying the only modifications are the bigger hard disk, and better video card. They don’t mention the new Trackpad option in System Preferences, that leads you to four finger scrolling which allows you to bring up Expose or switch between applications – Mac+Tab).

Its constant delays, the fact that it was supposed to be out after Thanskgiving weekend, and so on, started really getting on my nerves. I had been waiting for this feather-weight laptop for a while, since the announcement.

Machines had none, and didn’t know when it was coming. EpiCentre had none, and didn’t know when it was coming. So I thought I’d take a chance at calling up the Apple Store Malaysia at 1800-80-6419. They even advertise saying things like “Kami juga berinteraksi dalam Bahasa Malaysia!”, which I loosely translate as “We can interact in Bahasa Malaysia too!”.

I get someone who barely speaks any English. But she has an accent. I ask her why they don’t sell any Air’s, and the fact that Christmas is tomorrow, how am I supposed to make my loved ones happy? She tells me she has no idea why and EpiCentre is the best place to ask. If they don’t have it, no one else will.

I say I will come into their office to pick a unit up. They tell me that that is not possible, they’re not Apple Retail. I say I know where such an office exists (I’ve vaguely remembered it from eons ago), and then she tells me she’s in *drumroll* Singapore.

So there, Apple’s support line for Malaysia routes to Singapore, and they’re generally not very helpful. And apparently, their QA on language skills is just not there. In fact, had I started off a conversation with her in Bahasa Malaysia, I have a feeling she wouldn’t have survived – Mandarin, maybe.

As an aside, EpiCentre in Pavillion had a couple of units available on 30/12/2008. I think as of today, they have one unit available… Go, go, rush to get ’em :-)

Secure travelling with ipfw on OS X?

Dear (mac/bsd) Lazyweb,

Any idea how I can do the following, on Mac OS X?

iptables -t nat -A PREROUTING -p tcp -d my.pop.server —dport 110 -j DNAT —to-destination
iptables -t nat -A OUTPUT -p tcp -d my.pop.server —dport 110 -j DNAT —to-destination

Does ipfw(8) work in OS X? What magic will I have to use for this to work? All I really want is for my.pop.server:110 to point to localhost:1235, so if the SSH tunnel isn’t up, I can’t POP my mail. I wrote about this in Secure travelling tips with iptables and SSH port forwarding, as that’s what I do on Linux.

Why do I ask? I’m thinking that my personal laptop (currently a Dell Inspiron 640m running Linux) might actually be replaced with a MacBook Air in the near future (lighter, easier to carry, etc.). Oh, if you have comments about the Air, don’t hesitate to tell them to me as well.