Since 2010

Switch to Windows?

Monday 8 April 2019

There are a few things to consider in this disappointing saga.

Now, I already use Windows daily and Windows 10 is fine. Granted I run it in a virtual machine, so whenever it bugs me I can just close it. And running virtually probably eliminates a whole bunch of hardware driver issues that I hear are still a thing in the Windows world.

While we’re here, let it be said that Linux ain’t gonna cut it. I use a few modern desktop Linux distributions fairly regularly in virtual machines and the reliability and experience just isn’t where it needs to be for me. Hell yeah for servers, but not for desktop computing.

All that aside let’s see what else I’d need to consider.

Well, it has to be a laptop. I travel for work, and I don’t want to maintain and synchronise a portable and a desktop. Been there, tried that, and it’s not happening. So a portable which will be quite happy to be docked for 70% for the time.

Also, I have a small collection of peripheral hardware. Mice and keyboards won’t be any trouble. I’ve got an external monitor which will work with anything. But they’re all hooked up to a stupidly expensive ThunderBolt 3 hub which I suspect will not work particularly well with anything that’s not a Mac. That could be an issue, as my partner and I will still be using the same docked setup at home. I’ll revisit that, but in theory any decent not-designed-for-Apple ThunderBolt (or USB Type-C) dock/hub should work, it just means more $$$.

But here’s where things finally get interesting: there are a lot of really great looking PC laptops out there. I’ve read gushing reviews about Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Carbon and Dell’s XPS range. Microsoft’s Surface line-up looks nice and presumably plays really nicely with Windows. Every day I see a review of a new laptop which packs the latest hardware, tiny screen bezels, nice keyboards, and they’re all cheaper than Apple’s outdated offerings. And none of them have that stupid fucking Touch Bar.

13 inches is a nice size to travel with, and I’m not looking for something much bigger than that. I’m also not particularly bothered about internals beyond about 512GB of solid-state storage and at least 16GB RAM. Graphics could be anything (but want a high resolution display), and I don’t do anything that would tax any modern CPU. As mentioned above ThunderBolt/USB Type-C is essential - we spent a few bucks a while back replacing USB cables and it’s amazing to be able to plug anything into anything without a second thought.

And I’d like something a bit more… utilitarian than I’m used to. I desperately miss status lights. Is the charger turned on? Is the computer asleep or powered off? Useful features like that.

That’s all I can think of to say about hardware at the moment. In some ways being in the Apple ecosystem can be nice as there aren’t many decisions to make, but as I’m finding out it can also lead to nasty lock-in. I truly am jealous of the bewildering array of PC laptops out there.

I’m saving the tricky part for last: software.

MacBook Pro keyboard

Monday 8 April 2019

It started in August 2004 when I bought my first Apple product - a green iPod mini. Boy was it somethin' special. Things spiralled somewhat from there. I have since purchased - with my own money - two Mac minis, two iMacs, at least three MacBook Pros, an iPod nano, an iPod touch, a Thunderbolt Display, half-a-dozen different iPhones, several keyboards, mice, and trackpads, and to hammer home a point, I even bought the Apple Battery Charger. Yes, that was a thing.

I’ve also owned an iBook G4, a PowerBook G4, an iPad, and a couple of Apple TVs. Oh and I used a noisy Power Mac G5 for a while at work back in the mid-2000’s.

Plus software, dongles, AppleCare, iTunes purchases.

And I’ve converted friends and family.

Well, you get the picture.

But I am pissed at Apple right now, and I’m feeling a bit dumb for letting myself becoming such a locked-in fanboi. To nobody’s shock, it’s the current MacBook Pro keyboard that may well prove to be a tipping point for me. I’ve used two of the fourth generation models as my daily drivers now - a 13-inch 2016 model, and the current 2018 13-inch model. The 2016 is still being used daily by my partner and it’s just started developing keyboard issues. The 2018 model, which I use to earn my living, has already had it’s keyboard replaced once and the “E” key on the replacement has just started to act up.

Now getting worked up about a few dodgy keys over the space of 15 years might seem a bit dramatic, but Apple have been making keyboards for a really long time. And the thing is, the keyboard I’m typing this on right now is Apple’s second or third attempt at fixing this style of keyboard. There’s absolutely no way Apple engineers didn’t know this keyboard was junk when they launched it over two years ago, yet they’re still delivering it to their pro customers with fixed-not-fixed solutions.

As a self-employed software developer I can’t afford to be without my computer for a few days while Apple replace a dud keyboard with another dud keyboard (again), so the whole experience has got me wondering:

Could I switch to Windows…?

Chrome extension manifest v3

Wednesday 23 January 2019


Could this have been Google’s plan all along? Create a web browser and use it to combat the use of content blockers? Block some annoying ads, allow basic content blockers, and block any other form of content blocking to make sure that Google’s advertising business improves again?

Yeah, no shit.

The State of Web Browsers

Friday 7 December 2018

This is a depressing read. There’s no point in adding my own comments, because the middle section of this article reflects my feelings much more eloquently than I can:

I root for Firefox’s success. I have been doing so since they made the first crack in Microsoft’s IE dominance and have been doing ever since. Not because I think they have the best browser, instead because of sentimental reasons: they are the only independent browser, guardians of an open, shared web. They have superior, human values compared to the rest. I want them to do well.

Increasingly I’m seeing sites, code experiments, all kinds of things not working well or not working at all in Firefox. And nobody cares. The behavior of seeing Firefox as an unimportant browser is slowly normalized. The question of whether Firefox is relevant is already answered: it isn’t. The only question is how irrelevant it will become.

The sad, sad kicker:

When choosing between convenience and principles, most people pick convenience.