Initial thoughts of the MacBook Pro 13-inch with Touch Bar


On Sunday I found myself working on my 2012 MacBook Pro. The model that still had a CD Drive, no retina display, and rocked a firewire 800 port. It was chugging along and at some point between trying to compile some SASS, run Photoshop, and use developer tools inside of Chrome I’d reached my breaking point. I pondered at the Apple website for a few moments, looked into my budget for the coming year, and headed out to the Apple Store. After over a month of Apple bashing on the internet, I thought I was dead set on purchasing the lesser MacBook model, but within a few minutes of using the Pro model I was hooked.

The good.

The Monitor: Coming from a non-retina display at 1280 by 800 resolution to what is effectively a 3360 by 2100 resolution screen has been game changing. I have more screen real estate, colors are richer, and text is easier to read. Even compared to my works 2012 retina model there is a great improvement.

The Speakers: I don’t remember hearing much about the speaker improvements before purchasing, but I would argue that the MacBook Pro is the best sounding Apple product to date. I did a very unscientific experiment of playing the “The Fate of The Furious” trailer simultaneously between my machines and muting one at a time. The results, a much louder experience, a more distinguishable left/right pan, and a significantly improved sound quality.

The Keyboard: I often hear that coders would not like the new keyboard as it has shallow key travel. It feels more engineered than previous models and I’ve found it to be the most comfortable laptop keyboard I’ve used to date.

The Profile: The new model is impressively light and comes in SpaceGrey, which is so freaking cool. Although the glowing logo will be missed.

The bad.

Charging via Thunderbolt 3: The death of the MagSafe adapter was a crime against humanity and I know there are Kickstarters for a MagSafe like adapter, but I am not going to give them money, wait 6 months, only for them to receive a cease and desist and halt production. Step up your wireless charging game Apple and then I’ll be impressed.

Adapters: Adapters sold by Apple are still laughably expensive and third-party are often unreliable or out of stock. I currently have a two-week wait for an HDMI adapter.

and the meh.

The Touch Bar: I never thought I’d miss the “esc” key until it was slightly relocated into the Touch Bar. When you go into System Preferences and search “Touch Bar” nothing shows up. It’s not until you go into “System Preferences > Keyboard > Customize Control Strip…” you get any editing options. I wish Apple had worked with a few more developers to bring Touch Bar features to the forefront, but I expect those in an update.

At least I get emojis 😎💻

Final thoughts.

I am very happy with the purchase, I feel a slight increase in productivity with the improved features, and I look forward to this being my main computer for the next 5+ years to come.

Update 2019:

This was the worst Macbook I had ever used. Slow, little things just crashed all the time, I ended up giving it away as I found myself never using it. I heard the later models fixed all of these things, but I got screwed.

First Impression of DigitalOcean


I have been desperately looking for a hosting company to house my personal and freelance projects. In my line of work, I’ve used a handful of hosting companies (HostGator, Dreamhost, DewPixel, Rackspace, and dozens more) and formulated an opinion on them all.

Where I work I’ve finally landed on Rackspace Cloud Sites, which I immediately fell in love with. To dumb down a much more complicated product Cloud Sites is basically like a shared hosting plan on steroids. I loved it because it integrated wonderfully with our team’s process and knowledge, easy enough for nontechnical folks to handle, yet robust to handle more complicated projects. It comes with a price tag starting at $150 a month and rightfully so, it is an amazing service. But that is a tad too hefty for my personal projects. I needed something that was reliable, scalable, fast to deploy, and affordable. After several months of testing and countless Google searches which didn’t wield me any closer to a solution, I turned to Twitter to see how my fellow nerds handled their hosting.

Which erupted into a 50+ reply string involving representatives from several hosting companies competing for my business (something I did not expect). After the smoke had cleared and statements made I found myself giving DigitalOcean a shot.

I had attempted to use DigitalOcean a year ago and found the service to be too difficult to be used on a regular basis, requiring knowledge of command line and server set up I did not have, nor the time to learn. To give a bit of perspective I am a web developer. I build things that go on servers and spend minimal time on the server setup. But I was assured that the service has matured and may suit my needs.

So it has been just shy of a week of using the service so it is a bit too early to determine its long term advantages, but so far I am completely nerding out over the DigitalOcean platform. With DigitalOcean you can launch a SSD VPS service which they call a “Droplet” for the ridiculously low starting price of $5 a month. Doing a very quick and crude comparison to similar packages on other providers it was obvious this was the most affordable VPS hosting.

I tested two separate methods of using the Droplets as well. The first method involved launching a fresh site from a Droplet that installs WordPress for you and the second method of migrating an existing site into a LAMP Droplet. Both took around 25 minutes to complete from start to domain propagation, which was acceptable being the first time using the service and both required a moderate amount of command line knowledge. Additional command line steps do not fit my current web development process, but their documentation and knowledge base are well written and vast making it easy to accomplish these tasks.

Also, response time is amazing, this site has hovered around a 250ms load time since moving.

So my next steps in using DigitalOcean for all my personal and freelance needs will be to set up a Droplet with some sort of Control Panel that can handle multiple domains and databases to limit my time inside of terminal manually setting up sites.

Overall I am pleased with my decision and I’ll keep you informed if that ever changes!