Showing its age – or is it

My main computer since 2013, has been a rocking MacBook Air. It is the first generation of the system based on the Haswell chipset, and it has been awesome. It came with Mountain Lion (10.8), and has been upgraded thrice now, recently to El Capitan.

When I got it, one of the huge benefits was the battery life. The data sheet said 12 hours, and it easily beat that. I often went several days between charging the battery. I think my record was 14 actual operating hours, and I still had ~ 10% of battery left.

Of course, as time has gone on, I use it more and more, but until the upgrade to El Capitan, it was still rocking the great battery life.

I held off on the El Capitan upgrade as long as I could, but in a moment of weakness, I hit "ok" when prompted.

Unlike many of my friends, my upgrade went smooth and frankly, it was the easiest upgrade, and for Apple, that is saying something. Two entries of passwords (I have different iCloud and Apple Store accounts, a long story, don't ask).

The changes were fine, no issues, and since I don't use Apple mail, there wasn't any re-index.

However, there is a downside. The battery life seems to be about 1/2 what it used to be. Of course, the laptop is 2.5 years old, so the battery might be wearing out. But I doubt it is that drastic. El Capitan really appears to be a battery hog.

Getting Spoilt – MacBook Air edition

In July, I splurged and bought a Mac Book Air. My MacBook pro was a little aged, and I wanted to go for a smaller, lighter laptop, yet I didn’t want to go too small. Plus I am a Mac person.

I have been using it pretty heavily, and it has been super solid. It has enough storage, it is fast enough, and while I would like the retina display, I am really grooving on the 12+ hours of battery life I am getting on it.

My macbook pro is semi-permanently attached to a sweet 24″ monitor, and my Drobo for backups, and the Mac Book Air is my walking around computer.

This last weekend, I was moving websites to my new hosting account (see ‘A Bad Day – Webhosting“) , so I unplugged the MBP and relocated to the couch. Oh. My. God. That thing is friggin HUGE compared to the Air. Yes, it is a 15″, and it is from the generation before the Retina display, but compared to the Air, it is heavy, huge, and cumbersome (it also has a quadcore processor, 16G ram, and a terabyte of disc).

It honestly felt how I thought a 17” laptop felt. Too big.

Nope, I don’t think I will be going back to that monstrosity. It will remain my stationary system until it dies, then I will probably replace it with a Mini.

First impressions: the 2013 MacBook Air – 13″

I took a plunge and went for one of the new MBA’s that were announced this month. (I am claiming that my boys got it for me as a Father’s day gift.  Shhhh, don’t tell anyone).

Of course, the design, the fit and the finish are outstanding. I got the 13” version, and I opted for the 8G memory on the system, so I had to wait until it built and was shipped from Foxconn. I gently unboxed it and fired it up.

Since I didn’t want to just migrate my user files from my current MBP, I have been selectively installing software, and copying files over. I am mostly done now, but I am sure there will be a few things that I set up and get tweaked.

Impressions:

  • This is fast. I worried that stepping down from a quad core i7 in my MBP to the dual core in this MBA would be a disappointment.  It isn’t. It is very snappy and instantly responsive.  I really haven’t been able to tell the difference.
  • Integrated Intel graphics. It has the HD5000 graphics built in. I am used to the discrete graphics on my 15” MacBook Pro’s, and I was worried about crappy performance.  Not an issue. It just works.
  • The battery life is superb. While I burned a charge with an external DVD drive plugged in (and USB powered to boot), after I got the big data migrations, and the software mostly installed, I am now expecting to get ~ 12 hours before I need to charge it again.  So far so good with that.

I took a big risk in going ultra portable.  I have historically favored the 15” MacBook Pro models, as it was a good fit for my lap, convenient to work with, and plenty powerful enough to drive anything I need. I know that I can’t fit all my data (mostly my huge music collection which with videos are ~ 140gig) and have enough room on this thing to be useful.

There are a few things I am worried about. Going from nearly a TB of disc space to about 1/4 of that will take some discipline. I did a good grooming of the essentials on my MBP before this arrived, and I am going to rely on DropBox to keep my “active” files synchronized between my systems. That said, I have nearly 200G free, and I will keep an eye on it, but not worry to obsessively.

I thought I could live with iPhoto for when I want to quickly dump photos off my camera. No can do.  I forgot how crappy iPhoto was (or my workflow has evolved to where I need Aperture), so I moved Aperture over to my new MBA, and I am sure I will not look back.  Perhaps the limited disc space will give me discipline to clean up and delete bad pictures. Now to delete iPhoto and reclaim 1.5G of disc space.

My goal is to use this as my everyday machine and keep my MBP hooked to the big screen on my desk.  I am very optimistic that this will be a successful strategy.

Cleaning up my computer (Mac)

One of the problems with how well integrated and how smooth moving from an old, tired Mac to a new machine is that a lot of old cruft gets carried along. For the most part, since you typically upgrade to a faster, with more memory system, it isn’t a big deal to carry a lot of baggage.
Additionally, it is really easy to migrate and bring all your old programs, data and other items to the new system. The net result is that after 2 or 3 upgrade cycles, you have built up a lot of cruft on your system. While I don’t advocate deleting data, and I consider all my photos to be must haves, if you are like me, you probably have installed many programs on a whim to try out, but never used them after installing them. This is a good time to clean that up.
The motivation is simple, in a week or so, my new MacBook Air will arrive, and with it a 256G SSD on board. My current MacBook Pro has a 240G boot SSD, and a whopping 750G spinning disk where the data files are stored. There is about 400G of stuff on that drive, and that isn’t including my video collection (another couple hundred gigs parked on my Drobo).
Clearly, some sacrifices must be made. I know that I am not going to be able to keep my iTunes library on the MBA. But, fortunately with iTunes match, and iCloud, I can stream my collection seamlessly. Besides, I have gone to using my Spotify premium account for most listening, something that will work well for my MBA.
Instead of moving my applications, I just decided to start from scratch. That way, I can install what is important to me, and by neglecting to re-install, I can keep my foot print to something reasonable.
I have gone to using Dropbox to sync and maintain all my “working” documents, so that they are available wherever I am at. My documents directory is going to be pretty bereft of files, but I view that as a good thing.
It is going to be a busy weekend, but I don’t mind. Tripping down memory lane, one file or program at a time.