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All Posts From : October 2014

Farewell to Arms

For as long as I can remember, I've always favoured function over form in my Laptops. From all the way back in the mists of 2001 when I got my first 15" Dell Inspiron, right up until my current (soon to be retired) laptop, my machines have been huge Cold War era looking slabs of plastic that you could beat a man to death with in a street fight if it came down to it.

All of my laptops have been beasts, none more so than my last one, which wasn't so much a desktop replacement, as a desktop motherboard and processor squished into a very large case with a battery that could charitably be described as a fairly decent UPS. That said, it was, and still is, one of the best laptops that I've ever owned. It could chew through hardcore builds and tasks like a chainsaw. It had more ports than you could possibly want to use, and was insanely expadable and upgradeable. But, it came with some significant downsides, which became more of an issue as I worked in client offices more, travelled more, and started cycling into work:

  • It was heavy (almost 10kg including the brick), it got to the point I was leaving spare bricks at random client offices, just so I didn't have to carry them round with me
  • I looked at folks using their laptops unplugged, and wept with envy, the 40 minutes or so I could get from the battery just didn't cut it
  • I couldn't travel with it, the laptop by itself took up pretty much my entire hand luggage allowance on most flights, in the end I ended up buying a smaller 11" machine for travel
  • It was noisey, the bottom of it had four huge fan intakes that ran constantly, which meant that being around me was like being around a 10kg slab that sounded like it was about to launch itself into the stars

That said, it was a fantastic bit of kit, and I always joked that no-one was going to nick it (anyone who could run off lugging that lot was welcome to it frankly).

But after a year of cycling everywhere with it on my back, and a few painful walks into Leeds, I decided enough was enough. After much thought and chatting to other devs, I decided to try a MacBook Pro and try something that combined reasonable performance with portability, and the chance to learn sme new stuff.

I'm pretty much set up on the system now, and I'm going to blog soon about how I've set my machine up to help others who might be interested in doing something similar. It's a 15" Macbook Retina and it's set up with Windows 8.1 running on Bootcamp (which I also run through a VM in OSX). My initial observations after a week are as follows:

  • The "Macs just work" crowd can go fuck themselves, seriously. I've had issues getting it set up, just like any other system.
  • That said, OSX is a much fluffier OS than Windows 8, it's much better OS for personal stuff than Windows is currently
  • The hardware is pretty damned excellent. It could do wiith a few more USB sockets, but hey ho
  • The trackpad is excellent, and I don't seem to be suffereing with the keyboard like some folks have
  • Windows 8.1 is really, really bad at handling high DPI displays, especialy with multiple monitors
  • It's light, gloriously so. Anyone who thinks the MBP is heavy is welcome to borrow one of my other machines for a month and see how heavy they think it is then
  • It's quiet, the fans only really kick in when I'm doing something nasty to either the processor or graphics card, and while they're surprisingly loud for such a slender machine, they're still an improvement on the beast

Hopefully I'll get my blog post up on the exact setup that I'm running and how I set it up done soon! Watch this space.......