I'm Brett Slatkin and this is where I write about programming and related topics. You can contact me here or view my projects.

28 October 2016

Lamenting "progress"

The new MacBook Pros were released. Many people I respect have already expressed what I'm feeling. Here's a small sample:

"I waited so long for new macbooks and now I feel like I don't want one :("Armin Ronacher

"<sigh> I guess I will keep the duct tape on my 2013 MBP a bit longer. The bag of dongles was not what this road warrior was looking for."Werner Vogels

"Hi, @microsoft? Listen, I know we haven't talked for a while, and I said some... things, but... Do you want to get a coffee?"Mark Nottingham (in reference to the Surface Studio)

My current personal machine is a 4+ year old 13" MacBook Air. I often hook it into a Thunderbolt Display, Natural Keyboard, and Magic Mouse (the one without the charging wire). The laptop is showing signs of physical wear, the battery has been losing capacity, and it's clear that I'll need a replacement soon.

When I look at the new Apple computers, my choices appear to be limited. The Touch Bar strikes me as a useless gimmick. I never look at my keyboard because I already know how to use it. I philosophically disagree with the idea of looking at your keyboard to comprehend its interface. That's not the purpose of an input device. You don't look at your mouse before you click, do you? Even if the programs I use the most (Sublime, Terminal, Chrome) integrated with the Touch Bar, I can't foresee how that would benefit me. I can only imagine that the Touch Bar's flicker during program changes would be an annoying distraction.

That means the only two Apple machines I'd consider buying are the 12" MacBook (with one USB-C port) and the 13" MacBook Pro (with the escape key and two Thunderbolt ports). The CPU, RAM, and graphics specs of these machines are essentially the same as my 2012 MacBook Air. The price is the same or higher. The ports they have provide far fewer options. The only significant improvement is that the screens are high-DPI displays. I'm disappointed.

I've been using Apple computers for nearly 30 years. I played Lunar Lander on a Mac Plus. I wrote my first Logo program on a IIgs. I dialed my first modem on a IIsi. I edited my first video on a 7100. I built my first webpage on a Performa. I wrote my first Rhapsody app on an 8600. I earned my degree on a G5. For the past 11 years as a professional programmer, I've written code on a Mac. I wrote my book on a Mac.

And now I feel that this chapter has come to an end.

For the first time, I am seriously considering not buying an Apple computer as my next machine. I can't believe it.
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