2016 Apple MacBook Pro with TouchBar: The Good, Bad and Ugly Review

Here is a short video review of the new MacBook Pro from blogger and pundit Dave Taylor. Bottom line: he really likes it, but thinks Apple made a couple of product changes on the new 'Pro that he doesn't like. I agree with him. The new 'Pro doesn't have the MagSafe connector; the cord no longer has a light indicating whether the Mac is charged or not; and there's a definite shortage of ports. Looking at this review, and other reviews I've read, I'm very pleased that I bought my new, older version, of the MacBook Pro back in May. It doesn't have any of the shortages mentioned by Taylor, and mine was cheaper than the new one. My MacBook Pro doesn't have the new Touch Bar, and probably has a slower processor, but as I type on my older 'Pro, I'm quite happy with my decision. Of course, opinions may, and do, vary, and I'm sure the proud owners of the new 'Pro are quite pleased.

Jim Hamm


Marginalization of the Mac

There's been much blogging recently about how Apple is, apparently, marginalizing the Mac and not doing much to improve it. Here is an article from the TidBITS Newsletter that talks more about this. It is a bit startling when one realizes that Macs only comprise roughly 10% of Apple's business. Apple definitely is focusing on their core business, which isn't computers. And computers have been around for a long time and have become more of a commodity, whereas the smart phone, smart pad and smart watch are newer and more exciting, with more growth potential. The article doesn't prognosticate on the future of the Mac, and Apple isn't going to just walk away from $22 billion of business (I hope), but the market might walk away if the Mac continues to be marginalized.

Jim Hamm

Apple's Routers

Well, this is sad to read: Apple apparently is going to drop routers from their product lineup. At home I use both an Airport Extreme and Airport Express. They may not be cutting-edge technology, but they have served me well for many years, with nary a problem. I guess I'm more than a little surprised to read this. One wonders why? For right now, I'll just let my two Apple routers keep chugging along.

Jim Hamm

MacBook Pro hub that Apple should have made

Here is a story about a nice-looking hub that, in theory, will soon be released. It is available for pre-order now. Some caution is to be taken, though, as one doesn't know if, for example, it will actually be released, nor are reviews about it available yet. Will it work as advertised? If I were in the market for such a hub, I'd wait and see what the reviewers have to say about it.

Jim Hamm

This is the MacBook Pro hub that Apple should have made BGR

Apple's solution to the new MacBook Pro's lack of conventional ports is dongles. A lot of dongles. $250 of dongles, actually. But if you're not a fan of carrying around a bunch of white pieces of floppy plastic, there are other options (apart from buying a different computer, I mean). The most visually appealing is the Arc Hub, a new concept that sticks all the ports you'll ever need into an elegant circular hub. Despite the fact that just looking at it makes Jony Ive's dulcet tones appear Read the full story

Apple's Optimized Storage

iCloud, iCloud Drive, and now Optimized Storage in macOS Sierra. How all these function and work together is a bit confusing -- at least for me. Here is an article from the TidBITS Newsletter that offers an explanation of some of these features that may help in your understanding. I don't knowingly use iCloud for anything, and much prefer Dropbox for its simplicity, among other attributes. Apple has gotten too fancy and complex for me in these functions. For example, I just now tried to log into my iCloud account just to see what was in there. Wait! Before I could get in I had to review my security questions and change my Apple password, which I've used for years. Apple, in its wisdom, decided it wasn't strong enough and made me change it before I could log into my iCloud account. Then I have to go into settings on all my other Apple devices (iPads and iPhone) and update my new Apple password. What a pain.

I don't like Apple -- or any other company, for that matter -- deciding what I must use for a password. But that's a complaint for another day, I think. Anyway, read the article, and see what you think about Optimized Storage.

Jim Hamm

New MacBook Pro

You are probably aware that Apple has released a new MacBook Pro, with a new feature: the Touch Bar. How well is that feature being received in the marketplace? Well, meh! -- at least that's what it seems like to me. Here is a review by noted pundit Walt Mossberg, and here is a review from a writer for Gizmodo. From these and other reviews I've read, the new MacBook pro is expensive, and the Touch Bar doesn't appear to be all that useful for most people. But Apple is dipping their toe in the water, so to speak, for this feature, and I'm sure we'll get more ideas and improvement to the Touch Bar as time goes on.

Jim Hamm

SSD Tips

If your computer has an SSD, and in case you haven't read it, here is an article with some useful tips on what to do or not to do with an SSD. Simply put, just leave it alone -- your OS knows best on how to handle an SSD. That's my interpretation of the article, anyway. While we're on SSD's, here's another article discussing fragmentation on an SSD, and whether it happens or not. Short answer: it does.

And last, here's another article discussing whether one should just shut down a computer in the evening, or perhaps use the sleep or hibernate options. For years I've turned my computer off at night, then turned it back on in the morning. Of course, this is the slowest option in the morning, when I have to reload all the programs I was using. I'm rethinking this approach.

During the day I just shut the lid to my laptop and put it to sleep. At night, and if I'm on my PC, I'll just use the hibernate function. If I'm on my Mac, I don't think hibernate is available as a standard option. Here and here are two articles discussing sleep options on a Mac.

Jim Hamm

Bose in-ear Headphones

For your possible interest, Best Buy is having a sale on Bose in-ear headphones. Regular $99 for just $40. See here. I picked up a set yesterday at a local Best Buy store. They work fine, and seem to be reasonably comfortable. I listened to music from my iPhone with them last eve, and they worked well. This particular model is not noise-canceling, but since it is Bose, it is of high quality (in theory, anyway). I also have Bose over-ear, noise-cancelling, headphones, and they are wonderful. But big, slightly heavy, and not easy to travel with. The small, in-ear, Bose SoundSport headphones will be nice for traveling. In my opinion, these headphones are worth $40, but I wouldn't pay $99 for them. I like to listen to music, and these will be handy for me. They will work with any device that uses a standard sound jack.

I'm just passing this on in case you might have a need and interest in a decent in-ear headphone. Unfortunately, I'm not on a commission basis with Best Buy. Some user reviews are available on the Best Buy link shown above.

Jim Hamm


Kibbles & Bytes #1008: Universal Clipboard Tips, Triple-Press the Home Button, Inductance Loops

If you've upgraded to macOS Sierra on your Mac, and iOS 10 on your iPhone or iPad, you've now got a feature titled "Universal Clipboard". The article in the following link explains what all has to transpire to be able to use this feature. Although it is a bit convoluted (it seems to me), perhaps you may find it useful. What I've done in the past, if I want to get, say, a link from one device to another, is simply email it to myself. Then I can either open or save what I've emailed. But, in the spirit of exploration, on my home wifi network I may just give this "Universal Clipboard" feature a try and see what I think about it.

Jim Hamm



You probably know if you use Google's search engine when you browse the net, Google maintains a record of where you've been. Although this doesn't particularly bother me, some people prefer more privacy. If you'd prefer more privacy when you browse, I just became aware of something you might try: StartPage by ixquick. Take a look here. And here is a video that explains more about how it works. Your searches go through StartPages' server, which strips out your IP address and any information about you, before it sends your request on to Google. It acts as an intermediary between you and Google.

Now, using StartPage will slow your search down a bit, but if you have a high-speed internet connection, it may not make much difference. It also looks like one can set up https (a secure, encrypted connection) for your searches. This may be helpful, say, when you're on public wifi and aren't using a VPN. I'm just in the process of trying it out, just to see what I think about it, and how it works.

If you like to experiment a bit, and do try StartPage.com, let me know what you think about it.

Jim Hamm

Popular Mechanics Articles

Elaine Hardt refers to the November issue of Popular Mechanics, (with cover that shows space drones).  An article on page 92 asks the question, What did I just agree to?  Each person needs to find out how it might apply to them. Also in this issue are short pieces: How to protect yourself from hackers, How much cloud do you need in your life, Is it safe? Why I hate the cloud, Why I love the cloud, What the heck is the cloud? Where does it all go? You already use the cloud, here’s how. Elaine Hardt

Apple's Siri

If you've upgraded to macOS Sierra, then you know you now can have Siri do your bidding on your Mac. You can activate Siri by clicking the icon in the menu bar or the icon in the Dock, or by holding the Command key and space bar together. But you can't activate Siri by voice unless you do a bit of work first. Here is an article that explains how to set up Siri voice activation on a Mac. Is it really worth the effort when it's easy to activate Siri by just tapping on an icon? Well, that's for you to decide after reading the article. If you've upgraded to iOS 10, then Siri is ready to do your bidding on your iPhone and iPad as well. Again, a little voice activation setup is required. Just go to Settings, scroll down to Siri and turn her on. The iPhone or iPad will tell you what to do next. Starting with the iPhone 6s and above you can voice activate Siri without being plugged into power. With the iPhone 6, though, which I have, it has to be plugged into power before Siri will respond to a voice. This is no big deal as Siri quickly responds just by holding the Home Button a bit.

Although I haven't used Siri extensively, she can be quite handy. Here is an article with 67 handy Siri tips you might try. For example, if you're flying somewhere and want to know the status of your flight, just ask Siri. I like that. Look at tip #16. All these tips should keep you busy for awhile with Siri.

Jim Hamm

When traveling, my iPad is essential and my Mac is the add-on | Macworld

Here is an article by Jason Snell (former editor of MacWorld magazine) wherein he explains how the iPad has almost -- but not quite -- replaced his Mac when he travels. I can identify with this article. I have both a Mac laptop and iPad, and find I tend to take my iPad with me when I travel. For several reasons: it's lighter; it has cellular capability (which I find very useful); and with a Zagg Bluetooth keyboard it makes typing so much easier (for me, anyway). Having said all this, though, overall I still prefer the greater capabilities of using my MacBook Pro at home.

Jim Hamm