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Return of the Mac (2005) (paulgraham.com)
121 points by rocky1138 206 days ago | hide | past | web | 191 comments | favorite



> The reason, of course, is OS X. Powerbooks are beautifully designed and run FreeBSD. What more do you need to know?

This. I have actually lost sleep since the announcement. I keep going over in my mind alternate hardware, but the fact is that macOS (OS X) is the single best operating system for developers today. I am generalizing "developers". For any embedded development, or HDL stuff, OS X will not be a nice experience. But for web or mobile development (which I anticipate is quite larger than development that could not be done in OS X), it's just better. Things work. If the don't, there is a massive support system in place and worst case scenario you can drive <1hr to an Apple store and let them take care of it. Sure, there are edge cases there as well, but compared to the ultrabook you bought from Costco or any distribution of linux, you have much more support available. I do love my macbook pro (glass trackpad, backlit keyboard, good display), but I absolutely must have macOS. At this point my only hope is that a new distribution of Linux evolves that can seriously compete and works flawlessly on off the shelf hardware (such as the Dell XPS), but we're not there yet. Elementary OS looks promising. Perhaps developers would fork Darwin completely and make a macOS competitor.

I guess I should have seen the warning signs. The biggest was macOS Sierra that offered me no reason to upgrade. Apple seems to be stuck inside of an "innovation" echo chamber. Innovating for the sake of innovating.

Sorry for the wall of text, but if you have any suggestions for me, please share them.


I must live in a parallel dimension. I never got why people like OSX to develop web apps, it's a different system from the server, lots of tricks are needed to make it work invisibly (either with a VM or a lighter equivalent), there's the Control/Command non-standard placement, the different keyboard layout, Terminal.app which is borderline unusable (almost as bad as cmd.exe), no package manager and the shell commands which all seem (very) outdated.

I'm not making any comments on the UI itself because it's subjective but I also find the UI a bit strange and not very intuitive myself.

Yeah sure, you can configure all of this and have something which works but why not using a Linux (whatever flavour you prefer?), everything is just there already.

Every time I use my colleagues Macs, I just feel completely powerless and I feel that everything is getting in my way to prevent me to do something.


Oh come on. It's not so different from the server ( POSIX ), there are not a lot of tricks and there is a package manager ( homebrew ) & also there is iTerm, that replaces Terminal.app.

Linux on the other hand does not have mature desktop environment, Safari, Sketch, Photoshop and a lot of other really good software that comes built-in with OS X.

As a matter of fact I've never seen a tool that works only on Linux ( except probably some low-level kernel-dependent tools like iptables & others ) and does not compile on OS X.


> there is a package manager ( homebrew ) & also there is iTerm

Yeah sure, if you install some tooling it then becomes fine, but you need to install that.

> Linux on the other hand does not have mature desktop environment, Safari, Sketch, Photoshop and a lot of other really good software that comes built-in with OS X.

I don't use any design app personally so I can't comment on that. I also forgot to comment on Safari but I also hate Safari as a developer, I find that it lacks in the tooling part and prefer Firefox (I alternatively use Chrome also sometimes). I'm not also a fan of Safari's UI personally.

On the desktop environment part, I also forgot to add that I hate the file manager which prevents you to see the path, maybe there is a way to configure that somehow? When I use my colleagues computers, I always use the terminal instead of the file manager to browse because of this.


> Yeah sure, if you install some tooling it then becomes fine, but you need to install that.

I think you're the only Linux person I've ever met who has a problem with installing things.


>> there is a package manager ( homebrew ) & also there is iTerm

> Yeah sure, if you install some tooling it then becomes fine, but you need to install that.

What distro do you use that abstracts the need to install things?


Appart from Slackware (is that still the case?), I don't know any distro which comes without package manager.


> Yeah sure, if you install some tooling it then becomes fine, but you need to install that.

You could say that of any tooling. Linux doesn't come installed with Grunt, or Gulp or <insert build tool here> by default. It doesn't mean that it's a poor environment for a development workflow that includes those.

Unless you use a standard Linux or Windows without any extra software installed, then "well, but it doesn't come pre-installed" isn't really a valid criticism of the platform. It may be annoying that you have to install the package manager from a third-party after OS install, but this is a one-time cost during the initial dev environment setup, not an on-going cost to development.

> On the desktop environment part, I also forgot to add that I hate the file manager which prevents you to see the path, maybe there is a way to configure that somehow? When I use my colleagues computers, I always use the terminal instead of the file manager to browse because of this.

My file manager of choice is ranger, but Linux doesn't come with ranger installed by default. Hell, Linux doesn't come with any file manager that supports Vim shortcuts. It's a really sucky development environment! /s

(By the way, in the Finder go to "View » Show Path Bar" to have a UI element that will show you the path.)


> ...prevents you to see the path, maybe there is a way to configure that somehow?

First hit on searching [macos] [finder] [full] [path].


>iTerm

What doesn't Terminal.app have that iTerm has? Asking because I'm heavy user of the terminal on osx, and wonder what you're really missing there.


Killer feature for me is being able to cmd+click on file paths in the terminal to open them. I use this constantly. There are plenty of other features too such as being able to reopen a tab you closed accidentally.


And that tab will have the same shell environment?

>open file paths

That is convenient if you get lots of paths in terminal, maybe "svn stat" is a good example. Btw, cwd may be opened via "open ."


For a while it had a lot of features that Terminal.app was missing. Terminal.app has fixed a bunch of these things, but iTerm is still my preferred terminal app on macOS. iTerm has overflowing with features (though that doesn't necessarily mean that they are useful to you).


Even for developers, there are often apps available for MacOS but not Linux that can be very important for specific tasks. Audio/video/photo editing apps, Office, Exchange support, etc.

(I'm sure there are many workarounds for Linux for all of these, but I'm willing to bet they take a lot more to get working than on Mac.)

So Macs are in a sweet spot, of being both outstanding development machines, great application support, and no questions about hardware support.

Also, Mac OS absolutely has package managers for command line software.


Yeah but if you want to develop in C++, Java or C# you're gonna need visual studio thus rendering macOS useless.


For C#, there is an obvious need for a Windows machine (at least for now). But I don't see the reason why I need to have visual studio to develop C++ or Java. Especially Java, where IntelliJ is just simply better and it's available everywhere.


Xamarin Studio is good enough for Unity3d and Mono.


Why would you need VS for c++, or especially java? The both have plenty of IDE's.


What are the top IDEs for C++ and Java for macOS? Thanks.


For java you've got eclipse and intellij, probably more. I don't know about c++.

There's always emacs/vim in any case.


Emacs is s o f u c k i n g h a r d t o u s e


A high learning curve is fine for a tool you'll use the rest of your life.


It's 3 in the morning and I've been tinkering with Emacs since Noon. Is it just me or is Emacs oddly addictive?


I develop in C++ and have been happy with a combination of Qt Creator and XCode.


If you want to develop in C#, anything except msw10 renders useless, including that program.


Can you elaborate? I don't understand.


Can you elaborate on the unusability of Terminal.app?

It's one of my most used apps and I have no issue with it.

Also, I didn't know many of these until recently:

http://mjtsai.com/blog/2016/09/26/mac-terminal-tips/


It looks like this if I remember? http://www.thewwwblog.com/images/apple/traceroute-terminal-a...

So the contrast is to bright, there is no tabs either from what I remember, The font itself looks bad, is not anti-aliased and also everything is way too small by default. It looks like some kind of 80's monitor that got somehow transformed into an app.

Actually, to find this image I just typed "osx terminal.app" on Google and the first two results where already to replace it with another alternative so I don't think it's really popular.


I remember that it looked like that, by default, 10 years ago. It can be customized very easily and comes with a few different themes out of the box, you can add your own. It has had tabs for a while.


The default terminal in linux used to be quite ugly as well, seems unfair to compare the defaults from years ago to the current status in either.

I came to OS X in 2006 (grad school, prior laptop had just kicked the bucket, a new battery was a couple hundred, and it was dog slow anyways being a ~2003 laptop three years later (hardware moved much faster back then)). So that was OS X 10.4. Terminal.app suited me just fine. The default was indeed ugly, but that was quickly remedied. I don't recall when they got tabs, but as a screen (now tmux) guy, that never bothered me. I've personally never understood the desire for multiple tabs when a better solution existed that didn't take up big chunks of your (especially on a laptop) limited screen real estate.


Launch an XTerm and you can see how awful terminals can truly be.


I usually use iTerm, but I just opened Terminal and it looks like this:

http://i.imgur.com/JPSgL9K.png

contrast: perfect

font: pretty good

anti-aliased: yes

size: not way too small

tabs: yes

Really, the only reason I use iTerm instead of Terminal is because TotalTerminal dropped support for newer versions of macOS.


It's quite easy to customise. A lot of people's complaints are along the lines of "no bookmarks manager", but while not UI-friendly, ~/.ssh/config is as powerful as it gets.


The Control/Command placement is _perfect_.

I get all my unix commands on Control (emacs keybindings everywhere including ctrl+a to go to the beginning of the line, ctrl+c to SIGINT), and all my GUI commands on Command (cmd+a to select all, cmd+c to copy). Meanwhile in other OSes, how to copy/paste depends on what app you have open.

(And meanwhile I get accents and special characters on Option, while non-ASCII input is a mess in other OSes)

The package manager isn't preinstalled, but installing Homebrew is really straightforward, and if not having something installed by default is a problem, I don't know any OS that does any better.

I am not sure you've used Linux if you think "everything is just there already" is an accurate description of it... Do modern Ubuntu versions even come with gcc built-in? Maybe you have some obscure distro that bundles literally everything, but using a package manager is seriously not very hard.

Ten years ago, when I tried to switch from Windows to Linux, the defaults were ridiculous, and I bricked the install trying to make it usable (I messed up a poorly-documented config file trying to set up multiple monitors). Meanwhile, ten years ago, multiple monitors worked out of the box when I switched from Windows to Mac OS X, and everything else had sensible defaults.

Like one year ago, the last time I touched Linux, I tried Ubuntu again, and when I plugged in an NTFS drive, it told me something was wrong and it needed to be mounted in read-only mode. It didn't tell me how to mount it in read-only mode. It didn't have a button for mounting it in read-only mode. I had to google for it and type in an obscure terminal command. Meanwhile, I can plug in an NTFS drive to Windows and it just works, no need to touch Google.


> Terminal.app which is borderline unusable (almost as bad as cmd.exe)

This is the point that I stopped reading. Terminal.app on OSX 10.1 was better than cmd.exe... and Terminal.app was a fucking pain in those days. But you know what? I didn't have to use lynx to surf to linux-usb.org to figure out the arcane incantation to issue to mknod to get my USB mouse working when I wanted to install Linux on a computer (this is not an exaggeration, and both experiences are circa the same era).


> it's a different system from the server, lots of tricks are needed to make it work invisibly (either with a VM or a lighter equivalent)

I used to use Linux for this reason, but it's no longer a factor in my opinion.

Ideally your development environment should mirror the production environment, and just saying "the server is running Ubuntu Server 14.04LTS and I'm running Ubuntu 14.04LTS" is a pretty lazy and incomplete way of half-achieving that goal. What about your nginx config? What about your permissions? What about your PostgreSQL version?

Whether you run Mac or Linux, you're still forced to solve that problem, and the best tools to do it are all available and work great on a Mac. Vagrant is relatively painless and works really well.


Hmm, I've never worked at a company where this was a requirement. In fact, I've worked at companies where the majority of the time, the developer environments never came close to the production environments.

What has mattered most is that a staging env mirror the prod env. This I have experienced and built numerous times. Also, an integration env between development and staging has also been fairly common.


Another philosophy I've always had: always writing for one system means you end up making platform-specific assumptions, even in higher-level languages. For example, concatenating file paths with / by doing "{}/{}/{}".format(var1,var2,var3) rather than using os.path.join(var1,var2,var3) and letting the system handle it.

Developing on one platform and deploying on another means you find more little incompatibilities, and can expose a lot of bugs that failed silently or did the wrong thing on one OS but broke visibly on another OS.


Out of curiosity, what system do you use primarily?

The reason I ask is I suspect you use something very specific that allows you to be very productive.

Also, what kind of work do you generally do?


I spent '95-'01 using Linux and in '01 switched to OS X. If you do find the UI strange and unintuitive, then I have a few contrasts.

All Linux desktops that I've used look like a cartoon. There's a lot of design theory you can read about but one thing I've never liked with any of the icons is the dark outline and thick lines and over-use of shadows. Still, to this day, even when I tried Elementary, it's not much different. This has been going on for over a decade and it's the accepted look and feel.

Fonts. Granted, Google fonts are avail now, but Mac font rendering just looks better. Linux still, in my mind has not improved much on this. Honestly, I think Helvetica looks great and there's a reason: it's battle tested and has a long, successful history. Linux distros couldn't/didn't want to license Helvetica. Windows made Arial and the rest is history. (ClearType in my mind looks much worse than Linux, so points for Linux there.)

For the Mac terminal, I use it every day and have for a lonnnng time. It's gotten better over the years for sure with tabs and better rendering. I run fish shell in mine and I don't feel like I ever run into any issues with it. I'm not sure what all the hubub is about Terminal.

As for key layouts, Windows is similar. A Windows key where the Mac command key. I use a wireless Microsoft split kbd at work and it works fine with my Mac. I use my Apple keyboard on Linux servers sometimes and I don't get lost in some dark place trying to type my way out to no avail.

ALL my servers are CentOS. I never have any problems shelling in, using vi, getting work done. This has never been an issue for me. And frankly, I dunno why it would be. The Mac Terminal has never blocked me on these things.

I spent a lot of time with Slackware, Redhat/Fedora, Gentoo, and FreeBSD on the desktop. I think Linux is great, but I'm just over fuckin around with things. I wanna work, read/post the web a little, and then have a life. It's awesome if you have and want to spend the time compiling your kernel - I did that and I'm glad I did years ago. But I think after a while, endless configuration becomes old.

macOS is not perfect and I'm actually waiting for the 'Snow Leopard' bug fix release that hasn't happened in a long time. I'm not sure what's going to happen with macOS over the coming years. For me, it hasn't gotten so bad that it's unbearable. I do dislike A LOT the stupid animations for desktop switching. The fact I have to find a utility that disables that (for anyone looking for this it's called TotalSpaces) is moronic. But overall, I've been fine with each upgrade.

The UI is rock solid for me and stuff pretty much just always works. I might be one of those outliers that doesn't experience backups not restoring or iCloud completely dissolving people's music libraries. Dunno..

To each his own I guess. I'm not super excited about some Apple releases this year, but I think there's a lot of drama queens whining about things that don't matter much. And only Apple gets this type of attention. We'll see what next year brings.


To be fair, with stuff like this:

> It's awesome if you have and want to spend the time compiling your kernel - I did that and I'm glad I did years ago.

you're being just as bad as his asinine assertion that Windows' cmd.exe is/was better than Terminal.app. It seems more like you're committing the same sin of using experiences from years gone past to colour what you think today's situation is.


Does Reduce Motion in Sierra help you with the animations?


"but the fact is that macOS (OS X) is the single best operating system for developers today" Please, to each his own. I'm a developer too. To me Windows/linux is better. I won't generalize by adding "for developers". "But for web or mobile development ". Its about the tools.


Honestly Windows 10 isn't so bad. I primary do my development on a Mac as well but have switched on and off with Windows 10 machines. Naturally the build quality of the hardware has a crazy scale for Windows machines but stick with good hardware like the Surface line or at least Microsoft Genuine.

With the new Ubuntu capabilities of Windows the terminal isn't so bad. It still leaves a lot to be desired but I think they're well on their way. I wouldn't be surprised if in another year Windows 10 is just as good in nix. At least that's what I'm hoping for.

I do feel like MacOS does a better job multi tasking though...


Yah, I think Windows has gotten a lot better since the Vista days. But, VS - I was trying out porting some iOS Obj-C to run on Windows. Impressive that it actually worked, but VS was like, blech.

Granted, Xcode is a piece of crap too - it's so buggy and unstable a lot of the time. But I can at least read or figure out what's going on. VS, tiny fonts, things you can't read, tons of "what's this for?" configuration.

After my playing around with it (and I used the first few versions of VC years ago) I was thinking, yah, I don't think I could get into this dev environment again.. :-\


> but the fact is that macOS (OS X) is the single best operating system for developers today

For contemporary web and mobile app development: absolutely, no argument.

However, if your doing VR development, you're much better off with Windows. If you do lots of systems-level programming or ML with stuff beyond toy data sets there's a non-zero chance that you're better off with Linux.

These days, VR and ML are pushing the envelope and Apple isn't building hardware To keep up.


> At this point my only hope is that a new distribution of Linux evolves that can seriously compete and works flawlessly on off the shelf hardware (such as the Dell XPS)

No Linux distributor is ever going to do this on its own. Windows and Mac have good hardware support because the hardware manufacturers make sure the OS works on their hardware. The legions of Linux powered devices show Linux is perfectly capable of running anything; it just needs the support of whoever makes the hardware.

What about Dell preloaded with Ubuntu? Dell should be making sure Ubuntu works, and if it doesn't, you can at least call Dell and blame them, just like you call Apple and blame them if OS X doesn't work.

http://www.dell.com/learn/us/en/555/campaigns/xps-linux-lapt...


Idea: Dell could make an incredible coup by launching their own Linux.

Dell is limited by Windows not being Unix-based and not being open-source. Dell is losing thousands of sales by not having a Linux – Apple users don't switch even though everyone wants Dell laptops today. Dell has a very pro image, have sold reliable hardware and as far as I'm aware, their OEM drivers on Windows aren't compete crap (Is it Lenovo who shipped a root CA?). Dell could capture an incredible market by launching a stunning version of Linux, even if the OS doubled the price of their laptops. Heck, Dell could charge for the OS separately.

Whether they do it or not, Dell's future heavily relies on Linux' success today. I wish an independent software editor would do it, but if Dell does it, fine enough. We've finally succeed to align the incentives between open-souce and big powers at play.


> Dell should be making sure Ubuntu works

But why? Imagine a sea change such that 30% of new desktop Dell machines are used under Linux by 2020. How would that benefit Dell? They appear to have passed on (or mostly passed on) the savings of not buying a Windows license to their customers in the past. Hardware manufacturers making Linux drivers work flawlessly is to be lauded and hoped for, but the current desktop Linux market isn't high enough for it to be anything other than a pet project or PR exercise: spending the cash to make drivers work perfectly on Linux doesn't seem likely to do much to improve sales or lower costs, costs money, and for many drivers would even help competitors to the extent that they use the same components.


> Perhaps developers would fork Darwin completely and make a macOS competitor.

Don't you think that it's rather stuff on top of Darwin (e. g. Cocoa and the default apps) and the hardware support that make "things work" on macOS?

> Sorry for the wall of text, but if you have any suggestions for me, please share them.

What Linux distributions / desktop environments have you tried so far? Setting up dual-boot on a Macbook is rather good supported IIRC.


> Don't you think that it's rather stuff on top of Darwin (e. g. Cocoa and the default apps) and the hardware support that make "things work" on macOS?

You're right. I have never actually used a BSD OS that is no OS X, but I have a suspicion that a lot of the stability in OS X is due to BSD.

> What Linux distributions / desktop environments have you tried so far? Setting up dual-boot on a Macbook is rather good supported IIRC.

A few years ago I spent quite a bit of time playing with Ubuntu. I grew up with Windows, but after 8 came out, I had essentially no desire to ever touch Windows again. People claim Windows 10 is not that bad, but not that bad isn't good enough. Linux Mint was pretty nice as well. Elementary OS seems cool. CrunchBang was nice for a super lightweight system.


> I have never actually used a BSD OS that is no OS X, but I have a suspicion that a lot of the stability in OS X is due to BSD.

I'm pretty sure it's due to the drivers, Linux would be fine too with official Hardware support.

> A few years ago I spent quite a bit of time playing with Ubuntu. I grew up with Windows, but after 8 came out, I had essentially no desire to ever touch Windows again. People claim Windows 10 is not that bad, but not that bad isn't good enough. Linux Mint was pretty nice as well. Elementary OS seems cool. CrunchBang was nice for a super lightweight system.

You might also try Fedora (my current favorite). Korora is a nice way to have it configured out-of-the-box: https://kororaproject.org


I've used and enjoyed System76 for quite some time.

https://system76.com/


System76 seems cool, but their hardware is just kind of clunky to me. I would much rather by an old Thinkpad, but even still that doesn't fully solve my OS dilemma.


> For any embedded development, or HDL stuff, OS X will not be a nice experience.

My day job is embedded electronics and I prefer to use macOS. I recognise this limits some of my choice of tools but also makes tools available that aren't options for my Windows-using colleagues. Comfortable access to Mac-like tools (OmniGraffle, Acorn, various office suites and code editors) and unix-like tools (gnuplot, LaTeX, simulation and scripting languages) makes up for the fact that I have to run a VM for the accounting software (MYOB) and the occasional Windows-only configuration utility or firmware uploader. Thankfully the business uses the cross-platform Eagle for schematic & PCB work. I've been and Apple guy all the way back to the Apple II so to me, it's nicer to use an OS that I grew up with and suffer the occasional trip to a VM.


Linux works just fine on lots of off the shelf hardware. E.g. I'm running Debian on a Dell E6330 and everything Just Works, same goes for lots of other hardware.

The only hassle is that I have to get the WiFi firmware from non-free in Debian, but that's just a Debian-ism.


I honestly hope the Touch Bar doesn't survive longer than one generation of MacBooks. I believe the whole thing is a gimmick (a well intentioned gimmick) meant to drive forward one thing, Apple Pay on the MacBook. Most likely it's internally perceived as a situation where the end justifies the means, if Apple Pay is widely adopted on the MacBook this will look like a genius decision down the line and make a ridiculous amount of money in the long-term. If not, blame the Touch Bar.

Apple should have done a full touch input screen on the MacBook. It might not have been perfect, but it would have been lauded as revolutionary by the mainstream media. By not doing it they have now given their competitors the chance to grab that market.

When Apple does eventually make a full touch input screen MacBook, Apple Pay will be a part of it. The Touch Bar is just a stepping stone to get to that point, but it's a step they should have skipped.


Maybe it's just me, but I dislike any sort of touch input on a laptop besides the regular trackpad.

The Touch Bar seems distracting since I don't really understand why one should look down and search for what to press instead of simply using a keyboard shortcut via muscle memory. But I have yet to try one and I understand that for stuff like a video editing timeline overview it may be suited - it's an additional display showing information afterall.

On the other hand, a full screen touch input like the dell XPS feels like the least ergonomic thing. How are you supposed to interact with it? Holding your arms up extended to the screen? [0]

[0] http://i.dell.com/sites/imagecontent/products/PublishingImag...


If you've never used a Windows touch screen PC, I can imagine that you can't imagine why you'd want a touch screen. If you have, then you know that after a day or so, you just start reaching for the screen intuitively, and it's a rude reminder of the bad old days when it's not a touch screen. This is what Apple missed: none of them use a touch screen, none of them bother to check out Windows, so they can't imagine how important it can be. The Touch Bar is a poor substitute for it, and calling any laptop "premium" in 2016 without full touch is marketing, not reality.


"This is what Apple missed: none of them use a touch screen, none of them bother to check out Windows, so they can't imagine how important it can be."

I surprised you don't envision that there must be a huge product development testbed at Apple, where they go over all these options in detail. They sold 4-6 million macs per quarter for years. They've been a product-development company ever since their inception. Sometimes it seems as if people think Phil Schiller and a summer intern are making these decisions on the basis of gut feeling.

This is like when Apple pulled back the curtain after the "Antennagate" brouhaha a few years ago, and it revealed things like a huge EM test facility, a CT scanner, etc., etc. (http://www.macworld.com/article/1152771/wireless_lab.html)


The power of Windows 8/10's UI has been severely compromised by the need to support both touch and mouse at the same time. The requirements/strengths of these two input modes are in conflict and trying to combine the two results in an interface that's not great for either:

* while the mouse is precise and allows for high information density, touch requires big targets since a finger is not so precise - so Windows 10 has big targets that waste lots of space relative to a UI that is designed solely for mouse/trackpad use

* touch allows interactions like swiping, pinching, and multi-finger gestures, but because Windows 10 has to support a traditional mouse as well these are rarely used or aren't used effectively

A touchscreen does not work well with an interface that's designed primarily for use with a keyboard mouse, likewise a keyboard/mouse can't replicate all touch interactions effectively. Trying to design for both in the same UI creates a lot of compromises that will delight neither group.


To me, it's about moving in this direction. Apple shows no interest in doing the work in MacOS to go here, and it's puzzling. Microsoft has iterated and iterated on it until it's pretty good. Not perfect, but they've already moved through a lot of the pain of making touch work well, and they're not stopping. When Apple figures out in 2018 that they need to ship touch screen laptops, they'll be years behind in UX on them... it's not as if they'll get it right on their first try, either.


I've had Windows touchscreen laptops for ~2 years and the only time I even remember it's there is when trying to point at something in conversation and accidentally clicking on it. Are there really use cases that matter for a touchscreen on a standard laptop? I understand it on a convertible, but not your standard clamshell.


I don't know how common these use cases are, but I find touch support useful while doing some web dev stuff. For instance, in Chrome, pinch to zoom is more precise than ctrl-scroll / ctrl-+. It preserves the existing screen dimensions (ctrl-scroll / ctrl-+ makes the actual font size larger and alters dimensions).

I'm not so vision impaired that I need to do this on a day-to-day basis, but it's great for zooming in to see if I need to adjust a CSS border by 1px or something.

I haven't tested this thoroughly but I believe Chrome also supports the same set of touch events it does on Android. So if you want to make sure the mobile version of your site is touch-friendly, having a touch screen is less clunky than trying to emulate it with a mouse.


The use case that matters for me is: when I'm using them as laptops. Most of the time, my Windows laptops are connected like desktop machines: external monitors, mouse, keyboard. When I take my devices off the desk and go to a cafe or my living room, I use the touchscreen all the time. I don't reach for my mouse to click a button when I have a finger to do it. I probably don't go more than two minutes without touching the screen in that scenario, even while writing code. Scroll up/down is much easier with a finger. Pinch-to-zoom is obviously easier.


I have little experience with vertical touchscreens. Some friends cheap PCs and my tablet attached to a Bluetooth keyboard.

I discovered that I was naturally touching the buttons in dialogs and web pages and the checkboxes and radio buttons in forms. It's faster than reaching for the mouse or the trackpad. With the trablet it was the only way and it was good. No gorilla arm.

Touching links in browser can be fast too, but the target must be big enough. HN is particularly bad at that.

Basically everything that is easy to do with the touchscreen of a phone and a tablet is easy also with the screen of a laptop. But the screen must not move when you touch it.


>This is what Apple missed: none of them use a touch screen

Some Apple employees might use iPads or iPhones.


> I don't really understand why one should look down and search for what to press instead of simply using a keyboard shortcut via muscle memory.

From a personal perspective, I agree. I think we generally forget though, we are vastly in the minority and this technology is designed for the layman

Basically my litmus test for this stuff is "would my technologically illiterate mum use and understand this. Will it enrich her computing experience". If yes, it's not a dumb idea. We'll see how the market reacts though


Yup, but why would a video editor buy a laptop that's limited to 16GB of RAM these days?


Because when your disk IO subsystem can do 2+ Gigabytes/second, RAM is much less of a factor.


Not really, unless you want to use it for a swap file. I'm currently sitting at 12 GB of RAM in use, with about 21 GB committed. I'm on half dev mode (watching netflix while hacking a bit)

Right now I only have 1 VM with one IDE open (thank god for vagrant), but I can have as many as 3 VMs and two IDEs (mixed .net and java shop here). Pushing 24GB of RAM in use is not uncommon for me (including the 50 or so chrome tabs and what not).

Could I make do with 16GB? Probably, but I'd have to change my development habits, and I don't really want to.


I was mainly referring to the video editing use case, where video could be streamed off disk quickly enough. For your use case, 16 gigs may indeed may not be enough.

What do you do with 50 tabs? I usually keep 10 open at most.


I think the Touch Bar has potential, to be honest. The main selling point is that it offers apps a way to make previously hidden functionality much more discoverable. The traditional row of function keys is flexible and simple, but it also places a lot of demands on the user -- it's up to you to research what each key does in all possible contexts and to commit that to memory. The odds are very high that there exists at least one context in which some function key performs a function that would be useful to you but you weren't aware of it. The Touch Bar could be a remedy to this situation.

That said, I haven't used it and don't want to sing its praises too early. But I also don't want to wish it dead on arrival.


Macbooks don't have a row of "function keys" though. They have a row of keys that do very specific things in the OS:

* Adjust screen brightness (x2)

* Adjust volume and mute (x3)

* Adjust keyboard brightness (x2)

* Power button (x1)

* Play/pause and next/previous (x3)

* Rearrange the desktop windows (x2)

So, if you launch an app that uses the touch bar, will you lose the ability to adjust the brightness and volume?


No, a portion of the bar (the "Control Strip") is always reserved for system stuff and can be expanded to full width with a tap.


> Macbooks don't have a row of "function keys" though. They have a row of keys that do very specific things in the OS

If you look closely, those keys have things like "F1", "F2", etc. written on them. They're function keys.


They are actually 2 modes (you switch between the OS keys and the Fx keys by pressing the fn key). There is also an OS setting to switch which mode is enabled by-default (without pressing the fn key).


Right, so TouchBar increases the number of possible modes to basically infinity. Isn't there already a way to make the TouchBar just render the function keys?


Yes. Now the Touch Bar will (by default) display the function keys when the `fn` key is pressed, and display the current set of functionality per the application otherwise. There is, per the presentation and reports, an OS setting that allows you to switch which is the default.


One of the first things I do on a new Mac is to toggle the preference that lets you use the function keys and function keys and the "fn" modifier to coerce them to do things like volume control. Macs (until now) absolutely do have function keys for anyone who wants them.


The only one of those I use regularly is volume. As long as they have an easy way to change volume I think the touchbar is a good thing


> Apple should have done a full touch input screen on the MacBook. It might not have been perfect, but it would have been lauded as revolutionary by the mainstream media. By not doing it they have now given their competitors the chance to grab that market.

What makes you think they would do this? The arguments they've made about MacOS fundamentally not working well with touch input make complete sense to me. iOS was designed for touch input, MacOS was designed for pointer input.

I think they could have added the fingerprint sensor without adding touch bar if they had wanted to - they're not the same hardware.


> I honestly hope the Touch Bar doesn't survive longer than one generation of MacBooks.

Have you used it?


> Have you used it?

This. This x 1000.

Everyone is complaining without any hands on experience. The "magic mouse" is one of my least favorite pieces of tech to come from Apple (I use a trusty Logitech) and I do 95% or more of my work with an external mechanical keyboard. I wouldn't even notice the change and I think a lot of people wouldn't, either.

The track pad is lightyears beyond anything I've had from Lenovo (can't speak for HP) and has to be the One Killer Feature™ that would make me ^happily pick a brand new MBP.

They really should support more ram though...


> The track pad is lightyears beyond anything I've had from Lenovo

This. If I want to pick one feature on Macbook (Base/Air/Pro) hardware side (Obviously I can not live without macOS because of its Unix-like nature plus all the major supported 3rd party softwares) then that would be Macbook's touchpad. It's absolutely irreplaceable and lightyears ahead in scrolling experience than any other damn laptop.


> can't speak for HP

HP, Acer, Dell... Nothing comes close.


I'm growing tired of people saying that they want a full touch screen. Good luck holding your arms up 8 hours a day while sitting.

Every new thing that Apple does gets a lot of negative attention, remember the launch of the iPad? It was being mocked and laughed at but now everyone seems to have a tablet. Remember this?

https://cdn-images-1.medium.com/max/400/1*9tNGJOMAcFprbQrUFp...

Another argument I saw is "they force users to look down at their keyboard". I still have to meet the first user who uses the function rows blindly, besides the esc key it wasn't that useful and everyone was looking down at the keyboard to find the right keys already.

It intrigues me and I would like to try it out.


I have a Lenovo Yoga with touch screen and it's frequently easier to just touch the screen than guide the mouse over. It is convenient enough that I probably will never go back (willingly). It doesn't mean that I'm pointing 8 hours a day. Most of the time I'm just typing.


Why would you use the touchscreen for a full 8 hours expecially on a large desktop monitor? It's ok to use it sometimes on a laptop, where the screen is close to the hands and much lower than the shoulders. I tried and sometimes I was using the trackpad, sometimes the screen.


The Apple Pay fingerprint scanner is attached to the (still physical) power button, so it really doesn't have anything to do with the Touch Bar.


Both Apple Pay scanner and Touch Bar display run on a separate ARM processor.


Which must explain why they're only available as a pair. I would have been tempted to buy the non-Touch Bar 13", but it lacks Touch ID which seems really nice. Though I'm not sure I'd want to trust FileVault (i.e. full disk encryption) to a fingerprint, since a fingerprint it can be coerced.


Does it do that? I would have hoped password on boot, fingerprint when bringing back from sleep or locked screen.


And a password can't?


Not as easily. Police can simply grab your hand and stick it on the sensor in 10 sec, and there's nothing you could do about it. A password on the other hand, would require either serious torture to be effective.


Sure, but even if they ditch the bar I don't see them ditching Apple Pay.


They would need at least a portion of the bar to display the Apple Pay recipient. I guess they could make the bar screen smaller and restore function keys.


They could just display the recipient on the screen, like they do currently without the Touch Bar.


I think is somewhat of a gimmick, too, but withhold my judgment until I've tried it or at least have heard from many people that it indeed is

  No escape key. Less touch space than a Surface Studio. Lame.
I suspect that the missing physical escape key will not be much of a problem because, from what I have read, the left and right edges of the TouchBar have a fairly fixed layout, so muscle memory will work there. Also, those who really need haptic cues to find the key will learn to slide in their finger from the left end or use the number keys to find where the TouchBar starts without having to specifically look at it.

Also, I don't think Apple would add such an expensive piece of kit (I doubt the price difference is mostly margin. Can you buy LCD panels of that size or were they specially made for them? How hard is it to make such a thing robust? A thin stroke of glass breaks easier than a full screen) if they thought it to be a UI nightmare.

But since I know so little details of this, that's mostly guessing.


The only thing I have to say, to play devils advocate, is that I wish they would've made it so that the escape key was in the very very left when it is there, so that I wouldn't have to learn a new offset location The only thing I have to say, to play devils advocate, is that I wish they would've made it so that the escape key was in the very very left when it is there, so that I wouldn't have to learn a new offset location. I'm assuming the location is offset by about the width of one key, based on the pictures I've seen.


You can remap Caps Lock to Esc from the keyboard preferences pane in the latest Sierra update.


>Apple should have done a full touch input screen on the MacBook

why repeat somebody's else mistakes?


Exactly.

I don't want fingerprints all over my screen, there isn't much real value in a touchscreen laptop for 80% of users, and their tablets already cover those bases (especially with the advent of the iPad Pro).


Have you actually used the touch bar?


If we're going to do gimmicks, let's see some useful gimmicks. As Don Draper said on Mad Men, if you don't like what's being said, change the conversation.

- Built in LTE modems on all devices

- 1 TB RAM optional

- 4k Touch Screen

- Two Day Battery


All for a price tag of $6k for an 8lb machine that no one would buy.


I have not used the Touch Bar, yet I agree that's a gimmick.

The problem is that it needs software support. Which means adoption. And that's a problem, since it is only rolling out in the newest MBPs. Had the entire line been refreshed, developers would at least count on it being there and could justify allocating resources supporting it.

Also, what's the external keyboard for, now?

I disagree that Macbooks need touch screens. Touchscreen ergonomics are terrible, unless you change the form factor.


It's easy in Xcode to pop up a simulation of the Touch Bar for Macs that don't have them. Obviously not as good as the real thing, but I expect we'll see at least basic Touch Bar use become a standard feature very rapidly.


> I believe the whole thing is a gimmick (a well intentioned gimmick) meant to drive forward one thing, Apple Pay on the MacBook

If that's the case, wouldn't it have been a lot easier to replace only the power button in the top-right corner rather than creating a whole interface device to replace the function keys?


i would agree except why bundle touchbar at all with the touch id/apple pay? and why remove it from the base macbook pro.

i figure if touch id was a priority they would make a huge effort to update the mac line with a touch id sensor at a bare minimum. as it stands now the decision making seems fragmented and unfocused.


Pretty much nobody has been able to turn touch into a "must have" on the PC. Microsoft has tried valiantly, but it's shipping a million Surface devices per quarter versus five million Macs and 10 million iPads.


> Apple should have done a full touch input screen on the MacBook.

And make you move your hands off the keyboard area? No, thanks.


I think the negative reaction to the new MacBook Pro seems excessive. The only real objections I have are the increase in price and the new keyboard though I'm open minded that I'll get used to that.

Apple like to make slim, light products. And that's a good thing! There's always a compromise between size/weight/power usage and performance, and I don't think the choices they're making are bad ones. I'm sure if they could have put 32Gb in there without sacrificing some other aspect of the design they would have done so.

The negative reaction to touch bar seems to be mostly from people who haven't used it, the press reaction was positive. I use vim but the escape key is horrible to reach on a Macbook Pro anyway so I rebound it a long time ago. I've read bizarre complaints that developers 'need function keys for single step debugging' as though that's not going to be possible with touch bar.

But then I never really got the 'Apple software quality' meme either so maybe I'm not representative.


A wild rant appears.

The negative reaction is not because the new MBP is terrible when viewed in a vacuum, it is because people who would like (or actually need) more powerful hardware than the one-size-fits-all approach that seems to be Apple's current course are no longer catered to, or so it seems.

Personnally, I don't really care about the touch bar one way or another, but what I do care about is that I would like to have one machine I can do all my work on, which involves a wider range of things one a daily basis than is typical (e.g. video/image editing, GPU powered number crunching, coding, and sitting in moving vehicles plugged into a bunch of stuff). In the past few years, the 15" MBP has been the machine to do it all, but in it's newest incarnation(s) I am no longer sure it would still be the best tool. It seems like gimmicks are added, but useful extras are stripped away. Maybe it's just in the uncanny valley of progress with USB-C, but for the moment the way they went about it all or nothing seems like a major inconvenience, with all the "legacy" hardware I need to attach. And there's minor things like removing the power brick's cord.

As such, my first instinct is also to bitch and moan, as now it looks as though I need to find a new setup in the near future, and damn Apple for building something for the median user, but not for me. I, too, like to think that though I have an atypical usage pattern, what I do and how I talk about it benefits Apple enough that they should at least invest a bit of effort to try and keep me on their platform.


But it is more powerful hardware. The CPU is upgraded. The SSD has read/write speeds that smoke most competitors. Graphics got a big boost (though people found an excuse to rant about it not being Nvidia). The only thing that's not better is the ability to upgrade to 32/64GB of RAM. That's really it. And the problem here is the Intel's lack of support for LPDDR4. Apple was faced with choosing two out of three between thin/lightweight, good battery life, and support for up to 64GB of RAM. I think the decision Apple would make here is more than obvious. Look at the existing market for 64GB capable laptops and all of them are either bulky or just suffer in battery life performance. And the whole deal with only Thunderbolt 3/USB-C is way overblown; just buy the 1-2 cables you need and your problems are solved. The only genuinely valid complaint I see is the price. I don't know how much of that is attributed to more expensive components (CPU/GPU) vs the cost of the TouchBar itself.


Yah, I definitely hear ya. I'm totally scratching my head on the power things. The fact that they invented MagSafe and then toss it because of the C connector really boggles my mind. Especially since a 3rd party - Griffin - made their own tear away magnetic connector. And again, no cord for the brick seems really idiotic too. I just don't get that. Those things were _progress_.

I don't mind getting new connectors. I wasn't outraged at no headphone jack on my iPhone, even though I listen to my earbuds every day. Ok, so I need a little 2" dongle, big deal. Apple used the space for other things, cool, makes sense, moving on. An all C-style port MBPro, ok, that's fine with me. Progress. Move on and I'll take the latest Thunderbolt speeds.

But, the touch bar, yah, I dunno. One one hand, I was totally one of those people that, when I saw the iPhone and Steve said we're going to use a virtual kbd, I was like, awesome, makes sense, move on. Touch bar I _could_ see some cool uses. I do like the touch id part. That seems useful. I would agree tho on underwhelmed on specs that were late and raising the price. I've always maxed out my Mac laptops, so they've always been expensive, but technology is supposed to get cheaper every year and besides touch bar, there's no real new tech in the MBPro.

I like Tim Cook, no grudge against him. But it does feel like the peak of Apple innovation is over. iPhones are all just incremental every year. Apple TV is like, meh (even tho I have one and that's all we use on our tv). The Mac Pro is stagnating while Microsoft (of all companies) actually released a kick ass looking new desktop - hell hath frozen over. Apple has exited the screen business. Their Airports, which once (a long time ago) were really good, are now just meh. I have all these products and more and there is now a definite push going on to dumb down of all their products in regards to the Pro user. The sun is setting on us.

I'm not horrified by this per se since what really seems to be going on is Apple is milking it now. They probably have another 5-10 years where they can do this, but after a while, I think people in general are going to start looking for alternatives. Developers I work with are already talking about this - the influencers are on the move.

All a company has to do is create a good enough MBPro circa 2010 with modern specs, clean up Elementary so it looks less like a cartoon desktop, and get some bigger name native apps and they would be set. If you could enable 'grandparents mode' while keeping pro mode in tact, then the influencers might be able to recommend it.


I understand your frustration, I guess the question is if they try and cater for too many preferences would it ultimately compromise the focus of the product? It's very similar to the original 'too-soon' shift to USB on the iMac, though as a consumer product you could argue that was more justifiable.


I'll wager £5 you end up buying one.


As a longtime PC user, I'm very thankful how the excellent Apple offerings really propelled the PC laptop market over the past decade to focus on both build quality and high-end specs, most notably Dell XPS and Lenovo/Thinkpad X1 series.


Intel also invested in Ultrabook and 2-in-1 reference designs to help PC OEMs compete with Apple.


What's key about this is that Apple didn't make a laptop for hackers. It was a nice confluence of factors that made Macs attractive to hackers, but Apple never set out to court them. You should keep that in mind if you're a hacker and you feel 'betrayed'. I've been seeing a lot of cringeworthy takes lately which basically amount to trying to guilt a corporation into making your ideal laptop.

I can't find the link to it but one of them said something like "I'm an influencer too so you [Apple] should care that I'm switching!"


At least before the iPhone era began, Apple has played up the fact that OS X has *nix roots in order to draw hackers to the Mac. Check out this switcher's testimonial from 2002:

http://web.archive.org/web/20021030230932/http://www.apple.c...

And another switcher story explicitly mentioning Unix:

http://web.archive.org/web/20021031010139/http://www.apple.c...

And notice this from the tech specs of the Titanium PowerBook G4 circa 2002:

"Whether you use a Mac, Windows, or UNIX system, your search for the world’s best high performance thin and light notebook computer is over."

"Complementing this performance platform is Mac OS X—a supermodern operating system that combines the power and stability of UNIX with the elegance of Macintosh."

http://web.archive.org/web/20021004151455/http://www.apple.c...

And don't forget about the former NEXTSTEP/OPENSTEP users who more than likely migrated to the Mac in order for them to continue using an updated (if with a different UI) version of the operating system they loved.


Sure but it wouldn't be that hard for them to keep macbook pro "pro", and it makes them money and earns them maven users


When they went with a Unix based OS, they did.


Which is why it was a happy confluence of factors. Unix wasn't a call to action though, just an implementation detail.


For what it is worth, no Apple fan I know was seriously disappointed by the Touch Bar on the new macs.

They (myself included) are disappointed by:

* A pro machine with underwhelming specifications * Connectors that now few people know which is what. I feel bad for the amount of arguing and screaming workers in Apple stores are going to get over USB vs USB C vs MagSafe vs Lightning vs HDMI vs Thunderbolt vs Headphone jack -- Heck I own macs and I'm not even sure what all you need for a new iPhone and a new MacBook Pro

As a great example, someone I know that describe's himself as an "Apple Fanboy" spent a half hour talking about what a flop the new MacBook is while wearing his Apple watch. That really makes it sink in what a lemon people think the new MacBook is


Money quote:

"How big is the hacker market, after all? Quite small, but important out of proportion to its size. When it comes to computers, what hackers are doing now, everyone will be doing in ten years. Almost all technology, from Unix to bitmapped displays to the Web, became popular first within CS departments and research labs, and gradually spread to the rest of the world."

Today, hackers are leaving Apple.


> the Mac was in its time the canonical hacker's computer.

Yeah... not really. Never happened.

In the 90s, the canonical hacker computers were Amigas and Ataris. And soon thereafter, Windows PC, during the Windows 3 -> 95 transition.

Or if you want to go back another decade, Apple ][ and C64. Now these were the ultimate hacker computers.

Macs at the time were mostly used to create newspapers, slideshows and graphical assets. We're talking MacIntosh and Mac+, here. You never saw these in LAN parties, trust me.


I laughed at the dig about Intel and Microsoft stickers. They're much easier to remove that the giant glowing billboard ad built into the Mac chassis.


Well, supposedly you like the logo of the product you buy, especially if it's tastefully done. No one tries to remove Lenovo from their thinkpad, right? The "Intel inside" and "AMD graphics" are crumby stickers your wrist can feel and add nothing to the design.


> No one tries to remove Lenovo

Cerainly they do. Black electrical tape is an effective logo-hider for laptops and cameras.

It is also great for suppressing those bright blue LEDs that feature on many devices.


Which no longer glows at least. (2016 MacBook and MacBook Pro models)


It doesn't glow any more on the newer models. Also there's a difference between a manufacturer's logo and stickers. You'd be hard-pressed to find a laptop that doesn't include the former.


As others have mentioned the new logos don't glow but even when they do glow the important thing is that it's on the back of the screen. So I as the user am not really aware of it when I'm working.

It's kind of a shame they've re-added the "MacBook Pro" text below the screen, I loved the debranded look of business end of a MacBook Pro.

On my late 2013 MacBook Pro the only Apple branding I can see is the small Apple in the menu bar. That's really cool.


The new Macbook Pro supports max of 16GB RAM while Thinkpads support 32GB. This makes it hard to justify getting a Mac.


It's a tradeoff someone down the chain is making, LPDDR3 has a max of 16G and LPDDR4 is not supported on skylake/kabylake.

LPDDR3 being 30% less power drawing than standard DDR4.

So. More ram or more battery..

However I have a personal vendetta against Lenovo for their absolutely abhorrent practices in terms of consumer safety and their declining hardware standard.


Apple has reduced the battery from 74.9 to 54.5-watt-hour(27%). This makes the new macbook pro very thin.

https://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/MacBook+Pro+13-Inch+Function...


Phil Schiller, their marketing chief said:

> To put more than 16GB of fast RAM into a notebook design at this time would require a memory system that consumes much more power and wouldn't be efficient enough for a notebook.

ref: http://www.theverge.com/2016/10/28/13460496/apple-macbook-pr...

Nice to get a reply from the top as I was wondering why it was 16GB max too. I can't comment on the veracity.

I'm a Windows user, if that makes any difference.


It'll be interesting to see if & when this starts to influence desktop software design. Since the early 90s, it's largely been considered a waste of time to optimize client programs for speed or memory usage, because a new machine will just come out in a couple years with double the memory and double the processing power. There's a lot of low-hanging fruit in application-level performance, optimizations that could be done but aren't because the user won't perceive a difference. Now that Moore's Law has largely stalled out, I wonder if we'll start seeing innovation in software platforms (languages, frameworks) to optimize for speed & space instead of ease-of-use, to try and recover that performance that the hardware isn't giving us.


Bill by milliseconds (AWS Lambda and the like) is going to push us into that direction. The 100 ms billing unit could become a benchmark. It will punish languages with a long startup time. Luckily for Java it's introducing ahead of time compilation. Many scripting languages are going to suffer. Too bad because they are usually the ones that make programming easier.


Jumping on the next-big-thing trend, but: Compilers with an AI that give you zero-cost optimisations. Plus IDE plugins for interpreted languages.

Actually, I'd guess someone is already working on it :)


To add to that, the FFA caps the maximum battery size to 100 watt-hours, which is probably the main reason why it's limited to 16GB. I posted it here yesterday: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12841293


Unless you don't need more than 16GB for the near term future. My MBP has 16gb and never seems to be near an issue for me even running kube-solo, a few vboxes, and light PS work. I would have liked the option to get 32 just to future proof since I tend to keep my mac laptops for 4-5 years but I'm willing it trade that off for the better screen, trackpad and software.


My MBP has 16gb as well and no problem whatsoever with that. But it's a 5 years old model and when I bought I had only 4gb. So 4x in 5 years. By extension I would probably need at least 2x 16gb in 3-4 years but instead I will be stuck with 16gb.


What part of your workflow are you finding increasing dramatically in memory used? I'm just a programmer so most of my stuff is pretty steady except I use a lot more virtual machines these days. But even then I can comfortably run a half dozen on my laptop with no problems and still do other work.


Factoring in the real world battery performance between those machines helps understand the Thinkpad tradeoff. One I'm not willing to take.


Thinkpads are supporting up to 64GB of ram. 4 slots, 16GB each


Yes, with the more power-hungry DDR4 modules. They take ~1/3 more power than their LPDDR4 counterparts.


Really? What about for a user who doesn't have a pressing need for 32GB?


I got a new computer relatively recently. It's a modest looking plastic Dell Inspiron; but it has a 4k touchscreen display, an i7 CPU, a GTX960M GPU, 16GB of RAM, and an SSD. It cost ~$900, on sale. I, frankly, can't imagine paying the Apple tax, especially now.

I kinda suspect we're going to see a replay of the long slow decline into mediocrity that Apple experienced before Jobs' return. With higher prices and a seeming lack of product vision going forward, I suspect the shine on Apple products for developers will fade.

I mean, maybe I just don't get it, but the touchbar seems kinda like a boondoggle (and, if it is going to exist, I wouldn't want it to kill my esc key). Then again, I still don't really get the touchscreen on laptops. I have one, but rarely use it.


> I got a new computer relatively recently. It's a modest looking plastic Dell Inspiron; but it has a 4k touchscreen display, an i7 CPU, a GTX960M GPU, 16GB of RAM, and an SSD. It cost ~$900, on sale. I, frankly, can't imagine paying the Apple tax, especially now.

Without meaning to be rude, this comes across like a 90s platform wars usenet post. There is no tax - it's two different products with different features and different prices.

If you're happy with your choice, that's great! I like and use computers a lot and don't buy them that often, so I don't mind spending a bit more to get the machine I want.


Sure, it may be more fair to compare to an XPS model. But, even so...big price difference.

Admittedly, if you really love macOS, buying a Mac is a reasonable choice, and the only realistic choice for non-technical folks (building a Hackintosh is non-trivial, and a license violation). But, I'd just be installing Linux on it, anyway.


"I got a new computer made with worse materials and having worse specs and it was cheaper(when on sale). (insert quip about apple tax)".

I've personally seen this exact same form of post in various places for almost a decade now. There isn't an Apple tax though. Once you look at actually comparable hardware from the other manufactures you end up with similar prices.


An XPS is a more fair comparison, sure, but even an XPS can be had for 2/3 the price of a comparable MacBook Pro.

And, sure, it's an argument that's been made for years...because it's mostly been true for years that Apple products are expensive, even when compared to similarly spec'ed and similarly high build quality devices.


I've never seen an actual fair comparison in all that time though. People always skip the cost of/quality of the screen when comparing laptops, or the trackpad, or the battery life. They almost always look at cpu, gpu, memory, hdd/sdd size as if that tells the whole story.


Whenever I meet someone who says, "You seem really smart, you must use a Mac," I understand who they are made for.


I'm not sure I understand what you mean here.


Status signalling.


So by posting this are you suggesting he writes a follow up article about the return of the PC? I think that might be premature, but definitely Apple has forgotten which group started the surge of people buying Macs.


I think I read a later article by Paul Graham advocating thin client netbooks (aka Chromebooks et al).


Everybody seems to complain about a 16Gb max ram, but I've yet to see anyone have a laptop with 32Gb of Ram anyway, nevermind actually needed all those 32Gb. It seems lately people are just trying to complain for a sake of complaining, they don't care about a reason, just to say something negative, find a flaw, I recently watched some podcast after a apple and microsoft event, they first blamed apple that macbook has only 16gb of ram max, but at the same time they found excuse in microsoft studio that it has a crappy 965m in a $3200+ machine saying that it takes a long time to develop a product and it's understandable that Microsoft is using an old hardware.

I love new macbook pro, I think it's great, especially its new touch bar, lighter and thinner form and a longer battery life, not much else I wanted honestly.


My 2015 rMBP is currently using 14.23GB of RAM with an additional 14.56GB swap file.

Almost all of it is Chrome on macOS. This is without VMs, video editing, etc. Just standard development tools.

Sure, I may have some untrusted code hijacking my threads, but I'm pretty sure I'd enjoy a MBP with 32GB of RAM.


Don't you think it's a bit ridiculous that Chrome is using 28GB of your RAM?


I tend to virtualise a lot of infrastructure and dependencies during development and testing on my local machine. With "infrastructure as code" this is becoming more common, especially with integration work.

I agree most developers won't need that amount of RAM, but having to shut down parts of the network that aren't applicable to my current work is annoying to the point I'm switching away from macOS to Linux on a 32GB Thinkpad.


1. Apple did pretty good job at popularizing Unix on laptop. 2. Apple's market share is around 6%. In last 3 years Linux doubled it's market share and went from 1% to 2% https://www.netmarketshare.com/report.aspx?qprid=11&qpaf=&qp... 3. If Apple will fail with their new products for developers, then they will switch most likely to Linux and serious growth of Linux market share on desktop is quite probable.


I popped into the Apple Store on Regent Street in London today, where they have a couple of these on display in plastic cylinders (but can't touch).

They have a constant rolling demo, and two things struck me.

The changing touchbar display constantly distracted me from the screen.

Also, the little square area on the far right for the touch sensor doesn't blend in nearly as well as the photos make out. Worse, presumably for symmetry, there's a square of the same size at the other end - so the display for the 'Esc' key is actually the distance of one key in from the left hand edge.


Note that in actual usage, the Touch Bar will only be changing substantially when you switch between apps/contexts or are interacting with it. From the Touch Bar HIG at https://developer.apple.com/library/content/documentation/Us...:

Use the Touch Bar as an extension of the keyboard and trackpad, not as a display. Although technically it’s a screen, the Touch Bar functions as an input device, not a secondary display. The user may glance at the Touch Bar to locate or use a control, but their primary focus is the main screen. The Touch Bar shouldn’t display alerts, messages, scrolling content, static content, or anything else that commands the user’s attention or distracts from their work on the main screen.


I've recently thinking about how to submit more stories that get traction, and I have to take my hat off to rocky1138 for capturing the zeitgeist perfectly with this submission.

This essay resonates strongly with me, and I wish Tim Cook saw things this way. But in my heart I realize that it is probably only an accident of history that the most polished consumer computing device company in history happened to make a great Unix developer box.

Although it's undeniable that developers were key to Apple's resurgence, the need for embracing open source and modern free software was only necessary because of Apple's weak market position. We know this because of Apple's failed attempts at pushing their own standards in the 80s and 90s when they got their lunch eaten by Microsoft. Interoperability was something that Jobs grudgingly got on board with when he realized he didn't have the market clout to force standards down people throat. Apple now has that clout. No matter how bad the Mac gets, there will still be developers for iOS as long as Apple keeps delivering on iOS.

Personally I think I have to stick with the Mac for a while because no one else is producing a software/hardware package that is anywhere near as nice overall, but maybe I'll take pg's advice and walk around some college campuses to see what are the kids who can't afford Apple's immaculately overpriced machines are using.


Alas, Apple has lost its way and no longer make machines with real performance like those 2005 PowerPC laptops that were so very fast.

Also the old Jobs-era Apple would never have released a machine where you couldn't plug in any of your existing peripherals without adapters... I'll just leave this here: http://lowendmac.com/wp-content/uploads/bondi-imac-right.jpg


Ten years (or a bit longer, depending on how you measure it) is a good run.


"And open and good is what Macs are again, finally. The intervening years have created a situation that is, as far as I know, without precedent: Apple is popular at the low end and the high end, but not in the middle. My seventy year old mother has a Mac laptop. My friends with PhDs in computer science have Mac laptops. [2] And yet Apple's overall market share is still small.

Though unprecedented, I predict this situation is also temporary"

Did PG's prediction come true?


Yes - they lost the low end.

Perhaps "lost" is too strong a word - they weren't interested in keeping it.


March 2005 :)


I immediately clicked ("return of the Mac" + "Paul Graham" = perfect clickbait, given what's been going on these past few days). Got me.

It's a pretty good read though. At the end, there's a mention of % of YC people on OS X. I bet anything that OS X would be the dominant platform in that demographic these days.


After some initial thoughts about the reveal, I gave it some more thought. I wouldn't mind revealed MBP 15" if it were the same features in 13" form. That's what it missed, IMO. 15" features feel more like what a 'power' laptop would look like in 13" form, and 13" one is a MBA basically, and 'true' 15" is missing.


18th March 2005 APPL: $6.14 Today APPL: $111.49

I hope his father bought the shares this time!


The new MacBook Pro's Touch Bar is meant as a halfway point between keys and a touch screen. It may replace the application dock, it may replace the menu bar, it may do more granular things like offer local variables, or word completion.

Typed input is slow. Until USB can wire into the brain, we will continue needing input help. Perhaps the Touch Bar will, with the help of software, make the data channel to between brain and machine a little faster.

The UX of the Touch Bar's software will effectively determine productivity increase and adoption. In a world where Moore's Law has run its course, I believe an improvement of above 20% input speed will make it a success.


So did Paul's dad eventually listen to his son's stock market advice?


Mods - needs a '[2005]'.


How can an posting dated from 2005 with only 19 points (at time of writing) reach number 2 on Hacker News? Does anyone know how the ranking algorithm works?


Methinks domain plays a significant role...


Time since submission is an important factor. Take a look at /newest; this is by far the most upvoted article on it, and most articles there have 1-3 points.


19 points are worth exponentially more the younger the post is, and exponentially less the older it is. If you're trying to understand why a post is where it is, age is just as important as votes.


Someone recently submitted the post.


It was posted 20 minutes ago (at time of writing) - the algorithm works based on submission time, not authoring time.


I guess the algorithm counts a coefficient (num_of_upvotes / time).


Maybe the author's name has some weighting around these parts? ;)


points / time_elapsed ^ 2 ?


Steve Jobs founded Apple. Apple changed the world. They fired him. They became a joke. They brought him back. Apple changed the world, again. Steve Jobs died. Apple became a joke, again.


The richest company in the history of the world could hardly be called a joke, unless you were joking of course. I for one am concerned about their current trajectory, but their R&D budget is $25m per day so I don't think they can be written off just yet.


fingers crossed




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