Saturday, August 22, 2015

Hey Mac,

So pretty recently I switched from Windows to Linux then back to Windows then as a last resort—to Mac. Yes, I went to the Dark Side of the computer force, I am almost ashamed to say, but the simple truth is, I am simply tired of dealing with the common problems that I encounter with Windows. The most prominent being the limitations (I will explain soon) of the best version before 10 and the built in Microsoft approved spyware. Just google search Windows 10 spying. To tell you the truth, I was very excited when I heard about Windows 10. It looked like it was going to have a beautiful GUI with multiple desktops and live tiles in the start menu. It looked amazing from the video I saw on youtube, whose creators dubbed it as “It’s Actually Not Terrible,” just so you know that they were not just fanboys. If you are not familiar with Tek Syndicate, you can check them out on YouTube right here.*
The deal with Mac is that it is user friendly and well designed. The hardware/firmware compatibility is probably the biggest thing going for it. Everything in Mac is specifically designed to run on the hardware it is preinstalled on. You will never find an HP, Dell, Toshiba, Lenovo, or any other kind of computer that has Mac preinstalled or an operating system tailor made for it, or perhaps it is the hardware that is tailor made for the operating system. There have been very few hiccups in my outset of Mac besides being rather tired when I first did the unboxing. I didn’t video tape it or anything. I wasn’t that excited, but I was very happy with it from the first moment I turned it on.
So I am writing this as a review of Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite, if you are interested. You will be able to find this same review on my computer programmer blog right here.
First of all, The entire UI is gorgeous. From The preinstalled wallpapers to the fluidness of the genie effect when minimizing and un-minimizing windows. I have to say that the genie effect is my favorite feature of the desktop. The entire feel of it is laid back and I would almost say restful. 
Although Mac is a good option for computer n00bs since it’s easy to understand, I would also say that it is a good option for computer power users. It can make a lot do with a little. When I first thought about getting a computer for myself I thought that I would absolutely need at least a fourteen inch model, but because of the way multiple desktops works, I can pretend that I have five (or more) monitors, easily accessible with a swipe of my fingers. The filing system Finder is also relatively user friendly and really almost identical to Windows Explorer.
The other thing I like about Mac is that it is Unix based, meaning that it is very stable and not requiring a reboot more once every week and a half for me. This is something that I find very useful because I don’t have to shut down my computer every day and leave it shut down over night. 

A transition from firmware to hardware is the SSD. My neighbor, who is a veteran Mac user told me that the new SSDs that come in the new MacBooks can have data loss overnight, which I believe could be true, because the lithography of the new SSDs is so small that it’s hard to keep the correct charge in the correct cells, but this is not an issue in Mac, because it is not designed to be shut down for any extended period of time. I have not once left my computer shut down for more than five minutes since turning it on for the first time. You can’t get away with that in Windows, and even in Linux, with the distros I was using.

But moving on from The OS and on to what I actually touch.
The best thing about Apple computers is the trackpad. Keyboards are a dime-a-dozen, but the track pad has the be the most well designed feature if the device doesn’t come with a mouse, and Apple has, I think, the best trackpad available on any computer out there, for the new MacBook Pro Early 2015 model. You can actually adjust the amount of pressure it takes to left click, and there is also an extra layer called ForceTouch which allows you to push a little harder to bring up the Apple dictionary definition of a word in most programs, and especially when browsing the internet. Unfortunately at this time only Apple designed apps have support for ForceTouch but that could change soon (I hope).
I said that keyboards are a dime-a-dozen, but the apple keyboard on the MacBook Pro is slightly better than most. My favorite feature is the backlight, as battery hogging as it is when not connected to power, it is very handy when typing in a dark place at night or in a restful sort of dark environment where you don’t want to disturb others, or something like that. I never thought I would really needed it—until I needed it. One night I was editing a sermon for church on our porch when I couldn’t see the keys anymore because it had gotten too dark. I thought about turning on the light when it occurred to me that I didn’t need to do that. I fumbled for the correct key, accidentally opening Launchpad while I was at it, but soon could see the keys, letters glowing softly in the moonlight. (Not really, but it sounds so poetic.)
Another thing is the ports. The Early 2015 Model has five ports. Two USB 3.0 ports, two Thunderbolt Ports, and one HDMI port. Just a little FYI on the HDMI, that was one of the things that I hated dealing with in Windows setting up an external monitor with HDMI. In Mac it’s pretty much plug and play.
I don’t know if I will ever use Thunderbolt even once, I probably will eventually, but now I’m just content to know that I have it. It also features the handy MagSafe power connector, which has already saved me from possibly harming my computer.
Next is the display. The Early 2015 Model features the retina display, with a resolution of 2560 by 1600 pixels for a pixel density of 227 PPI, which is probably my favorite feature of hardware. It is absolutely crystal clear, and though I can still see the pixels if I look up close, there is really no way to tell that there are pixels at all when looking at it from eighteen inches, which is a pretty usual viewing distance.
The last thing I think is the battery. Out of the box it was nearly fully charged, and I don’t know how long it was on the shelf in BestBuy, but I think that’s pretty good for maintaining the charge. The funny thing is that some nights when I leave it unplugged and make sure that it’s fully charged before putting it on the shelf, I wake up in the morning to a battery that is usually either 94% or 96%. I don’t know what’s special about these numbers, but that’s what happens sometimes. Other mornings I wake up to a 100% charged battery. I don’t know why it depends on the night, maybe it has to do with the temperature of the room or something, but it’s just one of those curious things about things that are far beyond my understanding.

Now for the less fun to read part (Unless your anti Apple, then this will be your favorite section).

One thing is that iWorks doesn’t have the  Smooth Typing Animation. This is very, very minor, but it was my favorite feature of Microsoft Office 2013, and I was hoping to find it somewhere else. Hopefully someday it will be included as an extra option you can select.
The next one is not so much a bug as an annoying aspect being that applications developed by third parties like Audacity and Google Earth, as well as Finale NotePad appear pixelated and messy. I don’t know if this is the fault of the developers of these programs, or the compatibility with the operating system when trying to port the original Windows version to Mac. I believe it is most likely the latter because it appears most frequently with apps that I had originally had on Windows. This is by far the most disappointing thing I have found in dealing with OS X, but it is not the case with all programs. For instance, Skype has no issues like this, and I used it it Windows frequently as well.
This one is a little more serious. Pages (iWorks version of Word) only opens Apple formats, unlike Word, which will open almost any word processor format, such as .rtf .txt .odt, .doc, and .docx. This is a big issue for me, because I hate working with open office OpenOffice, and I’m afraid to use LibreOffice (which is better than pages) for fear of viruses.
I think that I really can’t say anything bad about the hardware, which is rare in the computer arena. The design team always makes one, sometimes two or even three design flaws. Not the case with this computer. I really can’t say anything bad about it, which is probably the best thing about the MacBook Pro.

All in all I would have to give the MacBook Pro Early 2015 Model  + 1/2.


And as always, thanks for reading.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Moving Stories

I love stories. They make me happy. They move me. Sometimes I read stories that make me feel so philosophically satisfied that I feel like sharing some of the thoughts I had on it.

There are several stories that were great when I first read them, but had no philosophical value, or the philosophy they were pushing was not relevant to me, or really anyone that the story was marketed to. Look at The Hunger Games. They're interesting stories and fun to read and have a philosophy behind them but really in the end no one is going to do anything about it, or really even take anything from it. There are other books, however, that do.

I wish to call your attention to a series of books that is relevant to everyone that reads them: The Chronicles of Narnia. I call your attention to these because I am sure that you, my reader, have probably read them. Each book has some very philosophical conversations in it that keep the reader thinking long after the book is over. I think of The Last Battle in particular. In it the end of the world takes place with the invasion of Narnia by the Calormens. With all of the destruction and the death that takes place as a result of it, many think it to be a depressing book. I prefer to read the last few chapters of it. In them it describes how a well meaning person doing good deeds in the name of someone evil, can take it back and offer them to God, and he will accept them as deeds done in his name.

I think of other books like The Giver, that offer some very interesting insights to the problem of perfection, and the lack of interest that ensues with it. Perfection is absolute. There is only one perfect for human beings because we all have the same nature. When we are given new bodies, we will be able to be perfect, but also have our own thoughts and desires, unlike in The Giver, which paints what I think is an accurate depiction of what it would take for the world to be balanced and perfect while still being in our current state of imperfection from sin.

I think that one story should cover one topic of thought. The last battle covers the end game of Satan and the even bigger end game of God. The Giver covers the cost of perfection. The Fault in our stars covers the reality of mortality. The Horse and His Boy covers the truth about any misfortune.

All of these stories are moving because they are not just a story. They are a collection of thoughts, ideas, and philosophies of the author. The books that make people think are the ones that people remember because they exercise the memory of them by making themselves the origin of the thoughts.

I myself love writing because of this very thing. It gives me an opportunity to write down my philosophies effectively, without stating them outright. It acts like a very useful buffer. I will always be outright with beliefs concerning faith, but most are not willing to listen to the outright views of a person of faith, but are willing to hear the conversation between their favorite character and his friend concerning what they believe to be true. These are always my favorite parts of the story when writing them, as well as reading them later. Even more I love reading what others have written in the conversations of their characters.

I believe that Frank Peretti says in his bio on the dust cover of his books that he writes stories that make people think long after the last page has been read. This is what I aspire to do. If you have a moving story that you suggest that I read, please email me. I would like to be moved by it*.



*There are some qualifications. Bad language must be limited. If any vulgar words are used by the lead character I will stop reading the book (unless already halfway through and he/she has been good so far). The same is true of thematic elements. Thank you for your suggestions.