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Ask HN: What discontinued company/product do you wish was still around?
393 points by cellml on Oct 16, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 1052 comments

The Macbook Pro chassis before the OLED touchstrip. I'm a web developer and learned on MBPs. The touchpad was the right size, the keys had the right amount of travel, the form factor and weight were perfect.

Right now I'm considering moving to developing on a Galaga Pro and using Windows/WSL. I've got most things setup on my desktop how I like using HyperTerm (I had too much trouble with Cmder), VS Code, and ZSH. I can't seem to figure out how to install PHP 7.2 correctly to work on Laravel, nor get my GPG and SSH keys for Github working.

The bright side is if I move to Windows I wouldn't have to give up very many programs, or they have some rough but useable equivalents (Spectacle, Sequel Pro, Gifox, Bear).

I was tempted to go with Elementary on the Razer Blade Stealth, but I still want 32gb of RAM, and Propellerheads Reason doesn't work on Linux.

Apple has ditched so many cool things in the MacBook line.

1) MagSafe. I know they really want to go all in on USB-C, but the original MagSafe connector was awesome. Even the weaker 2.0 version was nice. There were two instances where that connector saved my laptop.

2) The laser-drilled power indicator. That was so cool. It looked like the light magically appeared through the aluminum. Now there's no indication whatsoever if your laptop is on or asleep or off.

3) The 2007-2011 keyboards. The ones with the real travel. Even the 2012 version with slightly reduced travel was okay. But my 2007 MacBook had the best laptop keyboard I'd ever used.

4) HDMI and SD Card slot. These are the kinds of things that you happen to need when you least expect it. When you're least likely to have that dongle with you. They're also thin ports that will fit nicely without bulking up the chassis.

5) Of course, function keys and an ESC key.

I'm going to keep my 2012 MBP going as long as I can. But when it dies or is no longer supported, I'm pretty sure ThinkPad is where I'm headed.

While I also love MagSafe and its features, wouldn't having a more standard port is much better?

iPhones are constantly bashed by a group of users because of not having USB-C connectors. Having four USB-C ports with identical capabilities on a MacBook pro is a more pragmatic and flexible solution to have, when compared to MagSafe.

On the power level and power button issue, Apple changes its features to shape customer behavior and expectation from its devices. Apple removed battery meter from Macs since it's standby is too long (30 days) and robust (auto-hibernation), so you're unlikely to run out of juice.

They also believe in the stability of MacOS such that it's not important whether the machine is off or in standby. Because it boots in ~10 seconds and wakes up in ~2. They want to remove these distinctions from their computers and try to lower your cognitive load. Actually this is one of the finest features of the Macs IMHO. They don't make you think to use it.

Open the lid, and if the screen doesn't come on, press the power button, done.

>>While I also love MagSafe and its features, wouldn't having a more standard port is much better?

I don't understand why it can't have both. Have a magsafe port, ship with a magsafe charger. But if you happen to connect a USB-C charger to one of the USB-C ports, charge through that too. No issue. Playstation portable was like this - you could charge it through proprietary playstation charger, or if you connected a mini-usb cable it would charge through it. No issue.

Surface Book does that. It can be charged via either a USB-C port or a Surface Connect port (which also happens to be similar to MagSafe i.e. magnetically attached).

Ah but then you'd have TWO different kinds of ports on your laptop. We should be thankful already that Johnny Ive let us keep the headphone jack on the 2017 MBP, although I don't expect it to last much.

Given how things are trending, I predict the MBP of the future will have no ports, no keyboard, and the screen will be just a static image of the apple logo, although at 4 times retina resolution.

you mean an ipad? i guess that's the joke.

It's also possible and a sound idea, however I think that idea is filtered by Johnny Ive's "remove everything which is not strictly necessary" rule, and his love for clean designs and symmetry (which is an evolution of Sony design philosophy BTW).

Well Johnny has gone way too far. My needs include more than the bare minimum. I get wanting to standardize in USB-C. Maybe move the magnet up a bit on the cable?

What I don’t appreciate is the over-emphasis on useless symmetry or minimalism. Good design is more than looks and polish. Functionality is the reason I buy the thing. Design is why I choose the brand. If the functionality isn’t there, I don’t care how pretty it is.

IMHO, Macs are much more functional than they look, but they need a different way of thinking and some adjustment. Apple likes to move in front of the curve in terms of connectivity and its utilization. It's their way of design, and they like to show it as a part of the brand.

However, I'm not implying that everyone should be comfortable with the operation principles of new MacBooks or their devices in general. I love the challenge and the different perspectives they bring, but it's sometimes limiting and slowing down until finding the best way to utilize them.

This is why we have different brands and designs, because one design indeed doesn't fit all.

To continue my Rams quotes from above: "[Good design] makes a product understandable". If having to find out how to best use your tool is a challenge (especially when the new iteration seems to be such an apparent step backwards compared to the old), maybe it simply isn't good design.

You're right.

I also like Rams and aware some of his work. Also I see traces of his work through Mac/iOS calculators (which nods to Braun's ones), and apple's software (low level) design philosophy.

That adjustment, at least in my case, doesn't come from the tool itself. I'm also a heavy Linux desktop user, so making two systems work nice (for my standards) took some time when I introduced Macs into my workflow ~10 years ago. Currently I have no friction. I think if I was solely a Mac user, that initial friction should be non-existent.

OTOH, the newest Mac I have is a Mid-2014 MBP. I don't know how the new ones compare.

Honestly, I'm way too flexible and adaptable when it comes to new designs and paradigms. I think I don't have the complaint circuitry in my brain. I like to just accept and adapt. I see it as a way to counteract the tendency of being fixed on things I like, but are outdated. I also love to bring good ideas and features from new things to the old, to refine my old habits and increase productivity.

But, as I always say, that's just me.

>> If having to find out how to best use your tool is a challenge (especially when the new iteration seems to be such an apparent step backwards compared to the old), maybe it simply isn't good design.

Cough, cough......USB-C. Looking at the plug there is no way to tell whether the cable will support fast charging, video, or even 3.0 or just 2.0 USB. All of those cables share the same socket but provide different functions.

Well, this is where Apple gets it right - every USB-C socket supports everything. (Ok, mostly. Looking at you, MacBook 12!)

Socket - yes. But you can walk into an official Apple store, buy a brand new MacBook Pro + an "apple approved" LG USB-C display, and guess what - the USB-C cable that is bundled with your MacBook Pro cannot be used with the display that you just bought. What's worse, MacOS won't tell you why it doesn't work - it just won't. It's the worst and most user-hostile design in computers I have seen in years.

Ah, of course, I misread - the cables. No disagreement from me here. :)

Well, Ive's a huge (self-proclaimed) Rams/Bauhaus fan, that's where the philosophy primarily stems from. It just seems that he seems to emphasize Rule 2 ("[good design] makes a product useful") less and less.

And one could argue they're not following that rule; I don't think the touch bar is particularly attractive, and on the iphone it has (had?) a bulge for the camera and an indentation in the screen, both of which aren't "good design" IMO. They're compromises to support certain features (face ID / front facing camera array AND a big screen, good camera)

I doubt Ive is driving these design regressions. (Unless he’s always been a rubbish designer from day one.) It seems the khakis are running the show at Apple since Jobs passed.

Symmetry, huh?

Please explain the protruding camera from the back of the phones.

Magnetic usb-c cables do exist for those who are unaware. My only problem with them is many of them only support power or usb 2.

I've had to replace my Macbook Pro USB-C charger twice in a year, and I'm fairly certain my magnetic USB-C adapter are to blame. The first problem appeared some time after I got the adapter, but at some point I just stopped using it, because the magnet are too weak, and because it have to be oriented a certain way. A few weeks ago I used it again, forget the laptop in the charger overnight, and it was dead the next morning.

I think the adapter was from the brand Baseus.

Re the now removed power light, it’s a real pain point for me as I now cannot trust my laptop is truly asleep when I close the lid. Previously I’d just wait for the light to start “breathing” and I know it’s sleeping.

I’ve been caught out several times now on the new units where I closed the lid and came back hours later only to find the laptop still on and very warm.

Mostly seems down to VMs or backups running that don’t seem to want to suspend. So now I always suspend my VMs and stop backups. Which slows down my workflow greatly since it takes a minute each to suspend and resume the VM itself. I also find myself holding the laptop undercarriage right up against my ear listening for the whirring of the fans and if they stop. I look like a right idiot doing it, but there’s no other way to tell.

I will say I understand the benefits of standardization, but the MagSafe has saved me so many times. I wish all companies would have adopted that. I have kids and a dog, and many times my power outlets are not in the most convenient of places meaning I need to connect to them using an extension cord, etc. That thing has been pulled out of my machine more times than I can count, and I fear even thinking about how many times my laptop would have been pulled on the floor, port broken etc. without it. It is absolutely one of my favorite features.

nope. i've had my usb-c mbp for 1.5 years and the usb ports are already wearing out. the power cable slips out of 2 of the ports just from gravity.

my last magsafe macbook air lasted 5 years as a daily driver. i doubt this piece of shit will last another year. i've already had to send it in once for a logic board replacement once.

the keyboard on this one is starting to go as of this week (one key not registering), so i think i'm gonna have to send it in again.

not to mention the pain in the ass of carrying dongles everywhere

I honestly consider buying a 2015 mbp and selling my newer one at least once a month. That was the last good laptop apple made.

> iPhones are constantly bashed by a group of users because of not having USB-C connectors. [...]

I found that most (if not all) people who rave about a USB-C-only future do not actually use more than 1 or 2 peripherals. Or they want it for power connection only.

Anybody who a) has a significant number of USB-A peripherals (in my case, I'd say the number is above 30 distinct devices), b) understands that the USB-C label doesn't mean that it will work when you plug it in, has a more sensible approach: USB-C is fine, but don't remove our USB-A (or lightning) ports just yet.

> Having four USB-C ports with identical capabilities on a MacBook pro is a more pragmatic and flexible solution to have, when compared to MagSafe.

A more pragmatic solution to what? Everything I plug into these ports is via some ugly after-market adapter. There is not a single natively USB-C peripheral or cable that I have ever needed to attach (other than the power cable, of course). Even the iPhone itself is incompatible.

Luckily it's only a work machine and I get to use my older personal MBP at home...

Fun fact: While the later (PSP3000) models could, early models (PSP1000) couldn't charge via mini USB. Not too relevant but it's a common misconception.

> Having four USB-C ports with identical capabilities on a MacBook pro is a more pragmatic and flexible solution to have, when compared to MagSafe.

Four ports costs extra. The base model, which is ostensibly also a "pro" computer, only has two ports. That's one for power and one for everything else. If all of the pro machines came with four ports, then complaints about the USB-C transition wouldn't be so great.

I might love my iPhone even more with a MagSafe lightning port connector. Especially with a light to tell me if it’s charging or won’t take power because I forgot to unlock the phone.

>While I also love MagSafe and its features, wouldn't having a more standard port is much better?

And to piggyback off of this, I imagine the future will be wireless charging in this realm, so in theory you wouldn't need to worry about charger cables plugged into your laptop at all.

My current Macbook Pro is probably the first bit of Apple hardware in two decades that's made me actively consider alternatives. It's been the one laptop - premium at that - from Apple which I've had continual frustrations with compared to its predecessor, for all the reasons listed above.

I love USB-C, but not for power. Already, two of my ports are loose. I've never had that on any previous Apple power connector. MagSafe was a brilliant solution to real problems, and just dropping it without a superior alternative is not at all what I expect from Apple.

I also like the universality of USB-C, but it's not like Apple didn't opt to keep one legacy port for usability reasons - that little headphone port. SD and HDMI would have been enough.

And yes, the keyboard is terrible. For a machine I spend all day on, designed for pros, its a disappointment. Like most people here, it always takes me a little time to adapt to a new keyboard; unlike in the past, after more than a year I still loathe this one.

Perhaps the only thing that doesn't bring out my inner rage is the Touchbar. I'm largely ambivalent about it - the lack of esc/f-keys was annoying for a few days but I adapted. Obviously, others disagree, but on this list its the one choice I could have found a way to rationalize.

I could have written this ^^^ comment myself; I've been very disappointed with my 2017 MacBook Pro. They keyboard keys feel unpleasant, and now my H key has become unreliable (about 50% of the time it works, about 25% of the time it fails to register, and 25% of the time it types 2 characters). Dealing with dongles is not worth the headache. The touchbar is a step back in UI. The new trackpad is so large I bump it all the time. MagSafe was beloved for a reason.

Yesterday the last straw landed and I started setting up my 2012 MacBook again, at least for my writing, where I need a reliable built-in keyboard. I know Apple has a repair program for the 2017 MacBook keyboard[1], but it's my work machine, it's really hard to part with it for 1-3 days of repairs.

Edit to add: Moments after posting I run across this link: https://theoutline.com/post/6409/the-new-and-improved-macboo...

[1] https://www.apple.com/support/keyboard-service-program-for-m...

I have had my keyboard repaired twice on my 2017, and the last time I went in (last week) they told me 10 days for the repair, which probably makes sense (as they are getting lots of repair orders) but seems totally unacceptable to me as a developer who is only lucky enough to be able to afford a 2nd machine.

For all the same reasons, I upgraded from a 2012 MacBook Pro to a 2018 model and returned it right away. I bought a lightly-used 2015 model on eBay instead. 2015 was the last model with a real keyboard. It feels just like my 2012 but with a small bump in all the specs.

> I'm going to keep my 2012 MBP going as long as I can. But when it dies or is no longer supported, I'm pretty sure ThinkPad is where I'm headed.

ThinkPads have garbage quality control. My last three: two T450s that had bad backlight bleed. Then a X1 Carbon 6th Gen that doesn't have backlight bleed, but LTE that just stops working randomly. (At least once a day, usually when waking up from sleep--so bad I've just disabled it.) Also, the X1C6 has the best trackpad on the ThinkPad line, or so I'm told, but it still sucks compared to a MacBook Pro. My next machine is going to be a Surface Laptop, I think.

Ugh, the touchpad. You’re right about that, and I’ve forgotten about it because my current work-issued ThinkPad spends almost 100% of its time on a dock.

Maybe the Surface is my next machine. Who knows what will be out there when I finally have to let this laptop go.

My 2008 MBP has a cool feature I miss: regardless of whether the laptop was o switched on or off, lid open or shut, you could press a little button on the left side and a number of LEDs would light up to indicate how much battery you had left.

Just to clarify, that's #2 in op's list. I did not know this was discontinued. I'm gonna go home and hug my 2012 MBP extra hard.

I was referring to the power light on the front of the early aluminum MBPs.

But this battery level indicator should be #6 on my list. I forgot about that. It was cool, too.

I forgot to list magsafe as one of those awesome things that was lost. I could take or leave the power indicator but it was kind of cool. It's such a no brainer that I'm surprised it's not been copied. Apple must have patented it too well.

Microsoft's Surface connector is Magsafe-ish, with USB and DP lines running through it as well. When I get to the office I put my laptop vaguely near the connector and it snaps into place, giving me two extra monitors, an external keyboard, and gigabit Ethernet.

My understanding was that they purchased the company that specialized in the laser perforation and all of the proprietary equipment required to make the metal thin enough for the light to shine through, which is a big part of the reason we haven't seen it elsewhere. And yeah, probably IP too.

Bang & Olufsen have the same thing on some of their products, as does Koenigsegg for the center console in their cars.

There were several articles around that...

It was a very special manufacturing procedure, something that is hard to copy without the special hardware.

And Apple bought all that supply. You couldn't get the production line to do it...

(IIRC, bit my memory may fail me on that. Please Google it, I would be interested in rereading it!)

I'd like a power and / or activity indicator, especially my previous mac (2013 or 14 Retina) had Issues in that it just wouldn't start up with no indication whatsoever that it was on, starting up, or there was a problem.

I mean just show an error on the screen. It's not the end of the world.

It's been copied. My Dell XPS has it :)

My absolute favorite feature from older Macbooks was the access panel on the bottom for swapping the battery and hard drive. I'm not sure what models have them; I have a standard Macbook from ~2008 that has it. You just press a lever and the panel comes right off, exposing the user-serviceable parts. You could swap the battery using no tools in about 10 seconds. Or you could swap the hard drive using a screwdriver in a few minutes.

I thought I'd miss MagSafe. After nearly two years without it, it turns out: I don't, because USB-C cables will disconnect in a lot of situations where MagSafe would've disconnected as well and USB-C has the advantage of allowing me to choose the side to plug the charging cable in, which is pretty convenient.

Same here.

The funny thing is, some people have a hard time losing features no matter what. There are alternatives to MagSafe, such as the Griffin BreakAway, but they don't buy these.

MagSafe wires insulation always breaks at both ends and the connector is too wide to fix that with a heat-shrinked tube easily.

SD Card slot is an essential thing, I can't believe they've removed it.

Lack of HDMI is not a problem IMHO, I've bought a great Thunderbolt-HDMI converter for about $10 on AliExpress, out it on my HDMI cable and forgotten about the problem.

Lack of some keys has always been a pain, removing even function keys and an ESC key looks like they really hate people that use terminal.

Removing classic USB ports was too ahead-of-time, they should have waited at least some years before doing this (BTW I actually am not sure USB-C is going to become the standard, there are a lot of problems with it).

> SD Card slot is an essential thing, I can't believe they've removed it.

Is this sarcasm? I don't remember the last time I used an SD Card on a laptop.

You probably don't have a DLCR camera and are comfortable with the built-in SSD capacity. Not having an SD slot while having a cam is like not having a car in LA, many Macbook users also rely on SD cards for "hard drive expansion", there even are SD cards designed right for this (e.g. https://gizmodo.com/this-leave-in-sd-card-merges-with-your-m...).

All these talks about SD Cards, it would have been fine if Apple were actively pushing an Energy Efficient Super High Speed Wireless Direct Transfer from Camera ( Do you mean DSLR? ) to Mac.

Then getting rid of SD card is more about moving towards the future, and not the past. The problem is not only does such standard not exist, Apple isn't working on any, the industry couldn't care less.

This is very different to all previous Apple's removal, where there is a clear better alternative, that might not be as good now but it is in their Spring as Steve Jobs would likes to put it.


Sure. I was very tired and couldn't remember the correct abbreviation, excuse me (believe it or not it's the first time in my life I actually typed it :-)).

> Then getting rid of SD card is more about moving towards the future, and not the past. The problem is not only does such standard not exist, Apple isn't working on any, the industry couldn't care less.

Makes sense but in fact I'm glad nobody is inventing a replacement. There are things that just work great, are simple and don't have to be replaced. Like headphone jacks. And SD cards are among of these things.

I am really excited about crostini on Chromebooks. I think a year from now a lot of us 2012 MBP users will find a new home in the Chromebook world.

ChromeOS + Android Emulation covers a lot of ground for UI needs in the developer workflow. For everything else, you have Linux via Crostini.

They have a much better security model than even OS X + little snitch + little flocker, too. I have both nvme pixelbook and touchbar rmbp and find myself using both a lot.

There are hacks for the magsafe desire...


I just switched to a new 2018 macbook pro. The missing esc key isn't so bad. Thought I would hate it, but like everything else, including new FB redesigns, you get used to it and move on.

No esc key? They just crippled vi/vim users. For a piece of hardware that was the preferred laptop for Linux admins, that's stupid.

Hitting an escape key in the far upper left is more likely to cripple you than almost anything else.

I use press-and-release on the alt key to send 0x1b, as DEC intended.

If I wanted to bother with hacks I wouldn't have Apple products.

I'd suggest looking into remapping caps lock to esc if you miss it. This is something I do even on my Dell XPS.

But then you can’t use caps lock for control...

You can do both! I always remap my caps lock to act as escape when tapped and control when held. I wrote a blog post on how to do it: https://www.dannyguo.com/blog/remap-caps-lock-to-escape-and-...

> 2007 MacBook had the best laptop keyboard I'd ever used.

You mean 2007 Macbook Pro right ? One of the best tactile responses I'd ever experienced on a keyboard. Thinkpad T520 was another I really enjoyed typing on.

In my case it was the white plastic MacBook (non pro).

The design is terrible. I never use the touchpad for anything regular keys wouldn't do better. The keyboard on my 2017 MBP13 failed three times in the year I've owned it. The first time, the Apple Store person "cleaned" the keyboard, fixed things for a while. A couple of weeks later, the problem came back. I insisted on a better solution, and they replaced the keyboard.

Five months later, a different key failed, and the Apple Store people sent it to Memphis. This time, it came back with one of the "new and improved" keyboards. They also replaced the screen because of 'delamination' which I hadn't noticed. The total amount they spent to repair this computer is approaching the cost of the machine at this point! So far, the new keyboard hasn't failed yet but I'm not holding my breath…

I had a similar experience with a top spec late 2016 MBP, which I switched to from a PC for web development. It was my first and last Apple product.

After opening the lid one day there was a loud crackling noise and the speakers were both blown. To repair it, the Apple store had to replace the entire top case (top half of the chassis including keyboard, trackpad, speakers) and also replaced the battery, which would have cost ~£500.

I got it back two weeks later after dealing with a smug 'Genius' who treated me like an idiot. He also claimed that the software diagnostics were clean, so there was nothing wrong with the laptop. I had to drive 1 1/2 hours each way to the store for a second time during business hours just to argue in person with them, because the speakers were clearly broken.

The exact same problem happened twice more over the next year, taking two weeks to fix each time. The final time was outside of the 1yr AppleCare warranty, and they wanted to replace the top case, battery and logic board for ~£800.

Coupled with the useless touch bar, 16GM RAM cap, awful display scaling issues/confusion when external monitors were attached, sluggish performance for video editing and OS updates that broke the machine, it convinced me to avoid Apple products completely.

I got a full £3100 refund after 18 months under EU consumer law and build a powerful desktop PC (16 core ThreadRipper, 32GB RAM, 1080ti) with £1500 left over.

Are the touchbar Macbook Pros still experiencing widespread screen delamination? I thought that was specific to the previous generation.

would love to see a parts list for the ThreadRipper build.

It's something like this: https://i.imgur.com/0cXRPGB.png

My CPU is actually the 12 core / 24 thread version, which I got for £340 on a flash deal during a meet-up event. My case is also better than listed, but was the same price as part of a weekly deal.

Note that it's pre-VAT price (£1499), because it's a business computer. The Macbook was ~£3100 pre-VAT, and this thing shreds through video exports maybe 4-6x faster than the laptop. I do miss the MacOS terminal for web development though.

I personally find function keys useless (I’m mostly in Vim and map things to leader + mnemonic key sequences), so the Touch Bar tends to offer more value for things like media control. It really boils down to personal use, rather than a fundamentally flawed design.

Yeah, I’ve been interested in the touchbar as a way to get emacs-mode-specific shortcut keys.

WSL is terrible. It's basically a tech demo (look up what happens if you `cp` a file from `C:\...` to `/home/user` versus `copy` or going the other direction.

It's alright to boot up a linux "VM" using docker, but then you have to pay extra for windows pro or whatever so you can unlock hypervisor privileges.

I recently bought an extra SSD to put into the windows desktop I bought and am happily running linux, don't miss windows since I put it on there (even some steam games are quite nice and convenient).

Anyway, just look into WSL before you bet the farm on it.

I don't see the issue with this, they clearly warn you not to modify the WSL filesystem from Windows because you'll break it: https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/commandline/2016/11/17/do-n...

They advertise it as being useful for development work, and it perfectly fulfills that purpose for me

I use it daily with zero issues. I don't know why people keep perpetuating this, but it works great, as if it were native.

Same. I've found it to be really great overall. The default colors are basically unusable (looking at you, blue), but the functionality leaves little to be desired.

The Command Line team recently updated the default colors (especially a less terrible blue), but unfortunately it doesn't auto-apply to existing profiles for backwards compatibility concern reasons. Highly recommend grabbing the ColorTool and updating to the new colors if you get a chance.



huh. I tried to run our rails app in WSL, and it was so slow that it was unusable

I too use it daily on multiple machines (albeit Windows Pro with Hyper-V) and it's changed my day to day dev work dramatically.

Combined with Docker there is no reason for me to even look at MacOS or running Linux natively (which I have done before for years.)

For me it's the best thing to come out of Microsoft in a long time.

> For me it's the best thing to come out of Microsoft in a long time.

Agreed, I think it's an amazing feature. Have been a full time linux user for 20 years, my new laptop is BIOS locked ( ugh ) so I _cant_ install linux ( didnt know that before buying it ) , but it's actually not an issue because of WSL, it's exactly what I always wanted in Windows.

Please name and shame the brand, so we can avoid it. A BIOS that prevents you from installing Linux should be illegal IMO.

When my Windows laptops get too old and slow for the latest Windows plus patches, I get another 3 to 5 years of life out of them by installing Linux. I still have a little Dell laptop that I first put into service in 2004 as a Windows box, converted it to Linux in 2009, and it still runs.

What laptop is it? Was it part of an OEM sort of purchase through an employer, or something consumer off-the-shelf?

Interesting... I haven’t had any issues using WSL recently (since they fixed the networking stack).

I tried WSL briefly and discovered that the overhead of forking processes is annoyingly high, just like when I'd used cygwin in the past. (Maybe I should have expected that, but...) Try doing something like:

  time for i in $(seq 1 100); do /bin/pwd; done | wc
Compare on Linux (or even Mac OS) vs WSL. I was disappointed.

Did you report this as an issue? They seem to be fairly responsive to feedback. Would be interesting to see what their take is.

I believe Windows Defender is responsible for a lot of the IO overhead within WSL. You can get around that by marking your development directory as "don't scan" within Defender.

This is not accurate. I used WSL professionally for 2 years until recently switching back to Linux for unrelated reasons¹. The only issue I have had with WSL is filesystem performance. However, that is largely a result of the real-time virus protection in Windows Defender. Real-time protection is practically useless and slows down the rest of your computer as well, so disabling it is a pretty easy fix.

WSL is actually a fantastic piece of software. I can't believe how easy it is to install literal Arch Linux onto my Windows machine. It's also fairly simple these days to integrate VS Code with it.

¹ I've gradually lost enough vision in both eyes that I frequently lose track of the mouse cursor, so I switched to Linux for i3wm and better keyboard controls. Otherwise I would likely still be using Windows + WSL.

I moved my development side to WSL on the PC after giving up hope that Apple is ever going to replace my 2008 MacPro tower. The experience has essentially been flawless, and I'd consider it basically magic on how well it works. Best of both worlds. Any future Apple is just going to be whatever is cheapest as a daily driver, while the PC is going to handle heavy lifting from now on (Gaming, Development, Editing).

I'm a grad student and I'm using WSL for working on coding assignments. The only gripe I have is that it doesn't support launching IDEs (or any GUI applications for that matter) yet. You can jump through hoops by using an Xserver to connect to WSL but I haven't tried that out.

You may have heard it before, but I would recommend using Docker over faffing about trying to install PHP etc on the host. For Laravel look into https://laradock.io/ . Very simple to get a full environment setup.

Looking into how Docker works properly takes some time, so there is some overhead with that, but being able to switch environments between projects, test upgrading libs etc and instantly being able to switch back has been a game changer for me.

If you want 32gb of RAM, it's not an option, but I recently bought a Lenovo Carbon X1 laptop and it's really great [1]. I used to develop on a 2015 Macbook Pro, which was a fantastic computer, but I don't like the new ones as much. I've also used a 2017 Dell XPS 13 and it was good, but the Lenovo feels better to me.

Things that make it great:

1) Slightly larger screen at 14" is very nice, but the overall computer is still lighter than a MBP.

2) Keyboard is fantastic

3) Build quality feels like it can hold up to more abuse than MBP or Dell XPS

4) Has USB-C ports, but also has old USB-A style ports, so no need for adapters.

I dual boot with Windows and Linux. For better or worse, I still need to use Excel sometimes and LibreOffice's version doesn't cut it. The only thing I miss about macOS over Ubuntu is the ability to install Microsoft Office (without using Wine).

[1] plug for Costco who sells a nicely loaded (i7 processor, 16gb RAM, 512GB hard drive) version for $1500, or $1400 on sale.

Would you not be better with a VM for Excel, if that's all you need Windows for?

At a previous job I persuaded IT to build a Windows VM with all of their normal stuff in, so that I could boot Linux natively - it was a good way of working.

I hear ya. I just payed $600 to get the top case replaced on my mid-2014 mbp. With any luck that'll buy me another year or two of good use out of this thing because there's very little compelling about the new models. I wouldn't mind 32gb of faster ram and a slight CPU boost, but not at the cost of a worse, more error-prone keyboard with no hardware escape button and an awkwardly large trackpad.

I'm sure I could get used to all of those things eventually, but ideally there are more things in a new laptop that I want than things I have to get used to.

You should give Ubuntu an experimental try. I have only ever used Windows most my life, but for hobby projects I use Ubuntu/PopOS!.

If you are doing Web development I highly recommend that over Windows. Just last night I tried to setup a Phoenix project on a fresh install of windows and after 5 hours I was still installing C++ build tools, setting up path variables etc etc. It honestly is a world of pain.

I remember setting up the same project on Ubuntu in five minutes. Not to mention it is infinitely more responsive.

I just built me a new pc. First one in 15 years. I used to tinker with Linux a lot at that time.

Ubuntu 18.4: Hangouts screen share doesn't work, WiFi dies after resuming from sleep, and other minor things.

It has been 15 years and it still feels clumsy ... I was not impressed.

I had a similar experience with Ubuntu ten years ago. But now I have been using PopOS!_os https://system76.com/pop which is an Ubuntu distro, which has been the totally opposite experience. After the install I kept expecting everything to go wrong, and wifi not to work etc, but honestly "everything just works" seems to be the fitting description.

I still predominantly use Windows 10 due to gaming and doing a lot of .Net development, but I am changing jobs soon and I might just run Linux for a while. See what happens. Honestly my experience in Windows these days is one of pain and confusion. The file system is even annoying me quite a bit. Anyway, I probably just hit the hardware configuration sweet spot that mean't my Pop!_os installation wasn't riddled with driver issues.

That might be true, but on the flip side I have had things go horribly wrong with ubuntu where it either took me more then half a day hacking away at it, or worse case I just reinstalled ubuntu all together. Bad upgrades that break dependencies, video card drivers failing in strange ways, a bad boot that just drops me in grub, and etc. I even jump ship on distos when they annoyed me so much I wanted them dead. I mainly run lubuntu for my desktop needs and every now and then I think gentoo wouldn't do this to me gentoo might take 3 days for a upgrade to complete, but it wouldn't fail me like lubuntu is right now. Plus systemd makes me scream at night.

I'm trying to eventually move to just a laptop with an eGPU as both my work and game machine. I'd love to ditch Windows for Linux now that Valve's Proton is a thing. However I've spent too much money on Propellerhead's Reason and its Rack Extensions to easily give it up. Bitwig and Ardour are of course 1st class choices for a digital audio workstation on Linux, but I just found out that VSTs are OS specific as well.

No matter what I end up doing, I'll miss texting from my computer through iMessage.

That is exactly what I am doing. I just got an Aero 15 with a 1060gb, which I honestly think will suffice for most games I play.

But if I ever get into more graphically demanding games I can hook up an eGPU and throw in a 1080Ti or something.

WSL gives you an Ubuntu shell in Windows without virtualization. It's really the best.

Good joke.

Glad to see saying Windows users should experiment with Linux is still so controversial ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Not controversial. Ubuntu specifically makes me unhappy.

Completely agree. Just started at a company about a month ago and was given a 2017 MacBook Pro. After 2 weeks of hating the entire experience (keyboard and touchbar) I asked for an older 2015 machine. Got it, much better now.

I just opted for an Ubuntu notebook in exchange for a MBP. At my new gig they let you choose between a MBP and a Thinkpad 470 (with two monitors each), and I think Ubuntu is WAY better for development. Saying this as someone who used Macs from 2003-2015 almost exclusively.

After my 2017 mbp developed several concurrent issues (screen, keyboard, speakers) I switched back to running Ubuntu on a lenovo x model. I'm satisfied, honestly, and won't be returning to Apple until they veer off this almost comical form-over-function course they're on (and that frankly seems unlikely)

My recommendation would be a ThinkPad with Fedora.

I have 32GB of RAM in mine and they are easy to open, service and upgrade :).

I use both and the last year has been the single best year I've had with Linux in terms of 'it just works', before that I used Ubuntu and while it was generally fine I prefer Fedora.

The cinnamon spin is superb and it makes windows 10 feel clunky by comparison on the daily usability.

How much money did you spend on it? I've looking for a Lenovo with 32GB for a while but always find just customized versions by third-party sellers

I paid £1368 for the T470P with the i7-7700HQ,2560x1440 screen, nvme ssd and 16Gb RAM and put the other 16Gb in myself.

It's a little monster of a machine.

Why not add the RAM yourself?

If you want to use a distro with first-class cinnamon support try Linux Mint.

I never liked Mac touchpads and hate even worse when Windows PCs copy them. Having left and right-click buttons is 1000x more ergonomic.

The PC implementations are really horrible. I have an HP Z Book 3 and the trackpad is unusable for me. I was desparate to get a mouse instead.

I'll just add: 17" MBP...

A lighter version with a retina screen, updated internals, and 2015 MBP style keyboard? Yes, please!

WSL is very, very slow. Be warned.

It's really not slow, I use it for everyday work in webdev and I basically have very few complaints

With anything involving virtual hardware and such it is hit and miss across the board. Even if both your machines have 16GB doesn't mean your ram functions perfectly. I have a linux box that has a failing hard drive in it that causes the folder program to crash when it fails to read from it. If I didn't understand it was a failing hard drive issue I would either blame linux disto or the folder program.

There is no virtual anything with WSL. It’s Linux userspace running on Windows kernel.

WSL involves no virtualization.

WSL is slow at creating processes, and pretty quick at everything else (in my experience).

This can mean some git commands (for instance) run slowly due to all the processes launched in the associated bash scripts.

I posted this above, could be helpful: I believe Windows Defender is responsible for a lot of the IO overhead within WSL. You can get around that by marking your development directory as "don't scan" within Defender.

I use it every day. It really is perfectly fine!

I also use it every day and have very few issues ( one problem where it became corrupted and I had to reinstall ).

It's not a production machine no one is using it that way, its perfectly fine for development.

Yes, it felt quite slow in certain situations (the last time I’ve tried). Because the WSL works by emulating syscalls from Linux, anything related to I/O can be quite slow...

It's not quite the same as emulation, and the overhead is less. It natively supports these syscalls, and in some cases the syscalls trigger the same code as their windows counterparts

In others, like fork, entirely new and unique code is ran.

The only time that it’s painfully slow in my experience compared to native Linux is installing packages with apt.

> Right now I'm considering moving to developing on a Galaga Pro and using Windows/WSL. I've got most things setup on my desktop how I like using HyperTerm (I had too much trouble with Cmder)

Hyper's got a few critical bugs, and Cmd is just ConEmu). If you want iTerm2 like functionality on Windows, Terminus destroys Hyper, ConEmu, Alaciritty and everything else.


I really like my Dell Precision 5520. They keyboard is a little inferior to Mac or ThinkPad, but in most other aspects there is good attention to detail, and it has good Linux drivers.

I completely agree about the 2015 gen MBP. Unfortunately the Galaga Pro is disappointing in it's own way: only 2-3 hours battery life.

I would suggest using a docker image with a mounted volume for development - there are alternatives, vagrant being one of them. As your production server will _most likely_ be a flavour of linux, this can help weed out "works on my machine" issues.

Checkout Laragon (laragon.org). It comes with php, nginx/Apache, mysql/mariadb, etc in a way that you can swap them out. Cmder is nicely integrated and the binaries can be added to PATH, so they will work in Cmder or a y other shell too.

For Laravel development on Windows, use https://laragon.org/

Thanks for this. I'll check it out.

> nor get my GPG and SSH keys for Github working.

This definitely works, I've used it back in the day (needs "enable-ssh" in config).

Good to know. I was following instructions for Windows on Github and just felt ultra dense as it kept not working.

I always just installed git for Windows and put keys in my user\.ssh folder and that's worked for me for as long as I can remember. What issues is everyone having? Am I just missing something?

They are using GPG Authentication subkeys for SSH.

I have them on a smartcard and it works really well (you can also connect Yubikey 4C to Android via OpenKeychain and login to servers using Termbot on the go using hardware stored keys - secure and convenient!).

Ah so I'm just much more cavalier with my ssh keys. The 4C looks interesting though, thanks for the recommendation!

Nowadays it's probably 5C, or 5 if you need USB-A connector.

An added benefit of Yubikey backed keys is touch to use so that you need to physically touch the token to use the key. A critical matter when using ForwardAgent!

[0]: https://developers.yubico.com/PGP/Card_edit.html

Oh I think I used ssh pageant [0] once and Putty support in GnuPG, I think it was more reliable (I don't remember clearly, sorry for that!)

[0]: https://github.com/cuviper/ssh-pageant

The macbook pro 2018 keyboard makes me want to cry. My fingers don't flow the rate my brain does anymore :(

> I can't seem to figure out how to install PHP 7.2 correctly to work on Laravel

Overall probably a net benefit for society honestly, if it means less PHP in production. (I kid)

The Zune (media players) and Windows Phone (upto 8, not even 8.1). The fluid interface with focus on readability and content.

The photos app was amazing. Live tiles are amazing. The music player and it's live tile was amazing. The performance was the same whether on a low end budget phone or the top of the line model.

So many good ui and ux decisions like the lack of hamburger menus and placement of all menu items along the bottom of the screen with the extra items being hidden away in a drop-down using ellipsis. System wide light and dark themes jazzed up using an accent color that all of your apps respected.

The People hub (contacts app) was the central point for all social media. Facebook and Twitter were integrated. I didn't need fb messenger. Skype and fb messenger were integrated with the messaging app.

Damn, I wish we made it.

Imo, the hubs were really what made WP special and it would've been amazing with more third-party buy-in (which realistically was never going to happen). Going to a single centralized spot for social media or whatever else, instead of browsing through a dozen different apps, is such a great idea.

I was totally on board with WP but then Microsoft bungled the later WP updates (my phone wasn't supported, and it was one of the last ones with a physical keyboard) and third-parties never really supported the platform.

Blackberry 10 OS had the same thing -- a unified location (called the hub) where all of you communication would go. It was great, except that third-party apps rarely (and decreasingly) integrated with it.

Oh, cool. Didn't know that. Getting third-parties to integrate with something like this is a huge uphill battle - they just don't have any incentive when they don't get to design/dictate how users interface with their platforms. Ceding that kind of control to a company like Microsoft seems like a losing proposition to them, even if it may be convenient for consumers.

With Android, Blackberry changed its strategy and now integrated all social notifications into the Hub. But it just opens the corresponding conversation in the social app, you can't respond directly from the Hub (which should be possible to implement now with Nougat-style answer to notifications)

I must say, the first time in ages I used a modern windows phone was some Nokia in 2014ish, still running wp 8. I was really positively surprised how well designed it was. Pleasing to use, at least what I could judge from in a day of use. This whole tile bullshit from the desktop finally made sense and felt great. Also Scrolling felt smoother than on any Android device I ever held for some reason.

Absolutely loved the windows phone for what it was.

The UI and UX were both extremely well thought out and worked smoother than any Android phone on equivalent specs. (apart from the confusing settings menus)

My dad's 100$ nokia 840 still runs like a champ. I can't think of any $100 Android phone with that sort of smoothness over 4 years.

The lack of adoption from both devs and users killed it.

I woul love to see it being revived at some point, but I doubt we will see that day.

> The lack of adoption from both devs and users killed it.

Both of these fall square on Microsoft. Developers didn't care for the platform in part because there weren't users, but also because every version had a completely different UI framework that wasn't compatible with older oses, but if you didn't use it, your app wouldn't fit well on the new oses (and occasionally never start up). Developers of Windows mobile 6 apps had no path to wp7, other than rewriting everything.

Users got a very weird upgrade story. Sometimes, upgrades were just not available, despite promises that they would be. Windows Mobile 10 was a mess, Edge is worse than mobile IE, but users don't have a choice to go back. Microsoft pushed back on a mobile Firefox in the app store early, and if they changed their mind it was too late.

Finally, Microsoft decided to retarget towards the high end with Windows Mobile 10 devices -- somehow they forgot that most of the devices they were selling were low end devices, where they could have a lot better responsiveness than a similar cost Android, because of platform differences (single app at a time is probably a big part, but maybe there's some other components).

Windows Mobile 10 also lost all the boxy UI which I loved :(

I finally "upgraded" from a Windows 8.1 phone to an Android phone because no one makes apps for Windows phone. I miss the Windows phone UI. Tiles are just a superior to Android's menu/launcher.

had the same transition few month ago, i can highly recommend `Square Home 2`, i was able to recreate my winphone layout 1:1 sans the hubs

Wow terrific thank you.

I had the Nokia Lumia 920 with Windows Phone 8. That was really where smartphones peaked. I dislike both iOS and Android, they've just tried to migrate the desktop metaphor to the phone and it's not really working.

For me they peaked with the Lumia 925. The swiping keyboard had an accuracy unmatched by anything since, including the Lumia 950 I'm using to type this, which sucks (win 10 mobile rebuilt it for some stupid reason. It was perfect!)

I still think about going back to the 925. Battery life was great, camera was decent, and it was the perfect size for hand and pocket. Only the browser lets it down and that's mostly because modern js sites don't support ie mobile and a lot of stuff breaks

I still have all generation Zune's and I still use them quite often. They're off the grid, Zune software still works with no online features, FM radio, and the interface is pretty decent. I wish they didn't get discontinued as well.

That feature set sounds pretty similar to the $20 mp3 player I used before I had a smartphone. You can still buy really cheap mp3 players that have FM radios and work offline.

I miss large tap targets and easy one-handed nav on those systems.

What was a live tile?

On a side note I do wish there were strong 3rd or 4th choices for a phone OS. A shame Blackberry is now just an Android flavor.

A live tile in windows phone, 8, 10, etc is an app icon that contains realtime info like weather. I've never used the particular app mentioned, but live tiles are just a cool way to display info.

Yeah you could flick open your phone and the live tile said the current Temperature. Or rotated your latest photos in the photo app (or favourite photos depending on config), showed the latest headline in news app.

I spent alot less time on my phone cos information was at a glance and I didn't need to open/close many apps all the time.

The next step in the evolution was MixView similar to the Zune software. See this for a demo https://youtu.be/uoZw5PK_6XQ. Do look at the date to see how ahead of the times they were.

Also dedicated camera buttons on mobile phones with two step capture. On the first slight press the focus was adjusted and then on a harder press the image was clicked.

Just looked them up on Youtube. It looks like a very good UI/UX idea. Surprised Apple or Android hasn't copied it, except for the useless live clock icon on their clock app.

I have a ton of widgets on my Android home screen which are exactly that. Google at-a-glance, music player, calendar, stock screener, photos, it's awesome.

Widgets are nice but in the last 3 years of using an Android I've only ever used widgets for my podcast app, music players, a few tap to dial contacts, a calendar widget with the day view.

Widgets are a good idea but they look horribly inconsistent.

> what was a live tile?

Similar to android's "widgets".

yeah but with consistent design ;)

And consistent performance / battery life

Isn't a hamburger menu just a two-dimensional ellipsis?

The difference is that instead of being in the top left or right corners all the all menus / buttons were placed at the bottom of the screen which made them infinitely more accessible to use.

Pebble - they created a series of smart watches that had:

- long battery life (2-7 days depending on model)

- e-ink colour screens, that were always on

- an extensive app/watchface ecosystem

- actual attractive watches

I had a series of them and was all-in on the new models announced via kickstarter, when they suddenly disappeared and were bought by Fitbit. All forthcoming products were killed off.

They've been pretty reasonable with sunsetting the servers and helping the community move towards an open model, but it's only a matter of time before my Pebble Time Round bites the dust and I can't fix it (my partner's has already gone)

The Pebble Time 2 was going to be the ultimate watch as far as I was concerned. Such a shame it never got made. I still love my old Pebble collection and wear them regularly. I have a Garmin, and it's good for running but garbage as a smartwatch compared to the experience I got used to with Pebble.

I settled for an Amazfit Bip, which is not a Pebble but in some respects it's the closest thing there is right now AFAIK.

Battery lasts a month, screen is not e-ink but it's always on (I believe LCD), watchfaces are customizable but there's not a lot of good ones since the resolution of the screen and the colors aren't great. Functionality is pretty limited, but good enough for time, gps and notifications.

I have one and I'm satisfied with it, and I'm looking forward to what they do with v2.

+1 for this. The Bip is great for the price (I paid £60). If the SW was a little better (e.g. music control, some better watchfaces) it would be perfect. Maybe being a tad smaller + a bit nicer looking as well. It's great as a notifier on your wrist that works well as a watch.

+1. I paid around $50 USD for my Bip, and it's great for time, step/heart rate tracking, and the occasional notification.

Battery life is ~40 days for me, which is awesome.

Have you tried it as a running app? I want to compare it to Tomtom Spark 3.

When I go for a run I usually bring my phone with me and use it as a gps recorder, but I also use the watch as a backup. I haven't checked how accurate it is. It usually takes a minute to get a good gps signal, and sometimes there's a lot of noise at the beginning of the route. It vibrates at each km mark, which is nice.

I believe there are some online reviews with better info about the physical activity recording.

Try FitBit Versa, apart from the always-on screen, it has everything you're looking for. The battery life averages 4-5 days depending on usage. I personally own it and it's the best purchase I have made. Drastically improved my life.

Fitbit bought Pebble just to kill it. I will never buy a fitbit.

Fitbit bought Pebble to catch them before they swirled down the drain. If Fitbit bought Pebble to kill it, they're idiots, because Pebble would have done that on their own (sadly, says the owner of a box of Pebbles).

Pebble went out of business and some of the assets were sold to Fitbit.

I have a Garmin sport/smart watch, it lasts for weeks and it has always-on color display. Smart watches from other brands also last for many days or weeks.

The Fenix 3 is still going strong for me after two years with it. I don't usually use GPS on it, so I charge it about once a week when it's around 50% charge (sometimes I forget to check, which is why I plan for about weekly charging).

Also, the edge is slightly raised above the face on it, so while there are a couple of nicks on the bezel, there are no scratches on the glass. The sapphire glass may also be part of that.

App ecosystem is minimal, but I honestly don't need any apps anyway.

I got mine for running/swimming/activities but I actually really like it as a daily smartwatch. Like you said, some nicks on the bezel but otherwise it seems indestructible.

Pebble was my watch for years until Garmin released the vivoactive HR. While Garmin loses style points compared to Pebble, it has much better features and durability.

The first weekend I had it, I tested it by wearing it on a Tough Mudder...it survived without a scratch. 2 years later and the Garmin battery life is still over a week. If you miss Pebble and want something still being updated, look at the Garmin watches (but I wouldn't go any lower than the current vivoactive3 line)

I have a refurbished 235. I use it mainly for running, it lasts forever, it's light and you can see your activity history on it - unlike the fitbit i previously had.

Seconded. I really like mine. It does all I need from a watch and then some.

I also got mine replaced without any hassle after it failed.

I still wear my gold pebble time steel every day... I dread the day it stops working and I can't get it fixed or updated..

It's the nicest watch I've ever had (to be fair I'm not a big watch guy) and my favourite thing about it is that it doesn't look like I'm wearing a computer on my wrist.

Oh and I only charge it every 5-6 days.. :-)

I still miss my Pebble, but picked up a TI-Chronos after losing mine years ago. It hits a sweet spot for me between being user configurable, having limited communications and display and y'know, being a actual wristwatch. It's not nearly as full featured as my Pebble, but it also has a multi-year battery life and long range subghz RF for notifications and whatnot.

I'm still bitter about this. I loved the low resolution e-ink color display. It was good enough with great battery life, unique and easily readable in the sun. I wish more smartphone makers would use this.

Was looking to buy one these in the intermediate future. Was bummed to hear the news.

I'm still wearing my Kickstarter Pebble daily!

Altavista. I miss it every single day.

Searching for technical (unix, programming, etc.) content is so much easier when you can use nested parens and proper boolean language.

This is in contrast to google where searches return things that don't even contain your keywords.

This is in contrast to google where the modifiers like allinsite: and '+' and "quotes" are not respected or change their behavior over time.

Man I miss altavista...

> This is in contrast to google where searches return things that don't even contain your keywords.

This has become so frustrating as of late, especially when you search for something like "c++ map" and it decides to completely ignore the "c++" part of your search, leaving you with pages of actual maps. Slightly exaggerated example since I can't remember any concrete ones off the top of my head, but the actual situation happens way too often.

google's "must include" feature is one of their worst features ever. it nearly always removes the most unique, defining search term. it has been showing up with increasing frequency. i can't remember a time where it was actually useful or wanted. and if i didn't want the word in the search query, i wouldn't have put it in there in the first place!

I have the same problem.

I think this is a function of trying to make searches more effective for unsophisticated users at the expense of users who know how to be more precise.

Similar to Apple and GNOME, it ends up penalizing the expert users to cater to non-expert users.

This is why you need to have the regular interface for people who shouldn't be expected to be experts, but have a separate interface for people who know what they are doing, because supporting both types of users is often mutually exclusive.

I also learned recently that if you search for a quoted string in gmail and there are no matches it will just show a few partial matches, instead of just telling you there were no hits. The google behavior you describe got so annoying for me, along with the inability to copy the link in the results, I switched to DDG. It still provides results that don’t include one of my search terms all the time. It’s really annoying behavior.

I just did a Google search on “c++ map” and didn’t see the behavior you describe.

What if I told you Google search results are partially based on behaviour data, meaning the results you get for a search potentially differ from mine

It doesn't happen to me so it doesn't exist does not apply in this case

Use duck duck go, my lad.

Thanks for reminding me! Just set it up as the default search provider in my browser.

Google search doesn't really work for power users anymore and I don't see that changing for the better anytime soon.

Alternatively, if you can't do without the google search algorithm, use startpage. Doesn't track and bubble you, anonymises the queries.

Indeed. Every single result in the first "page" was about c++ maps.

Google fixed this specific case and a few others last year: https://blog.google/products/search/improvements-searching-s...

"Slightly exaggerated example since I can't remember any concrete ones off the top of my head"

I can confirm what they say is true, but probably not with this specific sentence. It's also really not useful while searching for phone numbers (which it changes completely without a second thought).

My favorite feature was 'near' queries. One could project n-dimensional spaces to any arbitrary lower dimension with the right semantic and spatial distances.

With Altavista, the limiting factor was the searcher. And my nostalgia that over-estimates the size of their search database.

> One could project n-dimensional spaces to any arbitrary lower dimension with the right semantic and spatial distances.

I'm incredulous. Doing this well for unstructured text would be worth a lot in many industries today, let alone the entire web. If they did this well, they'd still be alive and well in another form.

Near queries are easy on unstructured text. Here's the Elastic systax: https://www.elastic.co/guide/en/elasticsearch/reference/curr...

Maybe a smaller search corpus made it feasible, but this is an accurate description of AV's functionality. From http://jkorpela.fi/altavista/ , which is worth reading in its entirety: The operator NEAR ensures that both are within ten words of each other in the resulting documents. The operator NEAR binds less tightly than the operator NOT and associates to the left.

I also do not recall Altavista ever banning me with a CAPTCHA for "searching too hard".

Can probably blame dogpile for the evolution of that

You just caused me to have a flashback. Waiting for dogpile results was such a pain.

Never heard of "dogpile" before. Are you referring to dogpile.com search engine?

A week or so ago I was frantically searching for "hidden bird illusion", and could no longer find the animated gif on wikipedia, and also nothing related to it on DDG nor Google, until about an hour later...

I just tried "hidden bird illusion" and it gave the michaelbach.de page within first page...

Thanks for the recommendation if you guys were referring to dogpile.com it's always good to have a backup search engine...

yes was referring to dogpile.com

dogpile was/is a metasearch engine. Back before google days there was so much unindexed stuff out there each search engine could bring back different results. Going to this one site and searching would bring back results from all the popular search engines at one time.. querying sites like (altavista, lycos etc.)

I remember distinctly when someone introduced Google (ca 1999) to me as an Altavista alternative where the good results were actually on the first page. As in, with Altavista you needed to rummage through the first couple pages (luckily back then you only had a couple pages' worth of results) to find what you were looking for.

Maybe what we miss is not exactly Altavista but a mid-2000s Google, also with the low occurrence of spam and sponsored content that we had back then. How about duckduckgo, does it fit the bill?

Try selecting "Verbatim" in the tools menu - it can really improve your google search on technical topics.

Can't believe I didn't know that. Thanks a bunch!

Learned something. Thank you.

I hope someone somewhere makes a new version of Altavista search, if only for the developers. Searching via google is easy for basic errors but is a huge pain if you are slightly advanced. With the capabilities being extended (and more and more people writing code everyday), having a separate search engine dedicated to the developers could cut short the search times tremendously.

There is still http://symbolhound.com/ for search that doesn't ignore special characters but the index is probably not that big.

I was just asking about this Google "feature" on Twitter [1]. I can't imagine why anyone would want "must include" to mean anything but, and if it doesn't mean exactly that to Google, then they shouldn't say it.

> does anyone know why Google does this with search their results? what does the word “must” mean here, practically?

1. https://twitter.com/albedoa/status/1047502325005336576

The "must include" bit is a link. If you click it, you're telling Google that results must include that term (rather than may include, which is the default).

Oh man I used the shit out of altavista! I swear I could find anything on there no matter how obscure, it seemed like magic at the time.

Yeah, Altavista was the shizzle back in the day. I miss it, too.

IIRC, it didn't even have its own domain name for a long time, it was altavista.digital.com. There's another company I miss, having used Vaxen back in college.

First decent index of the web and designed to let you find what you want to find instead of things paying to be found

I wasn't coding when Altavista was around, but I totally agree that Google is terrible for searching code snippets etc.

Fortunately, there's SymbolHound [0], which is designed for just that! Check it out

[0] http://symbolhound.com/

I miss the graphical clustering representation.

If you searched for something like "rust", you would clearly see multiple clusters which would include a big chunk of stuff around "ferrous oxide" and a smaller cluster around the "programming language".

You could click on the specific cluster you wanted, and the results would rank/limit to just that.

I would kill for that back ...

So true. So, so true.

Grooveshark had a better interface for managing "currently playing" than anything I've used before or since. Most apps don't even track what's currently playing in an intelligent fashion.

Similarly, rockbox was really great mp3 player firmware, when I used to use one of those. It had a funny feature I've never seen elsewhere: multi-lingual article-ignoring sort. I had German band "Die Prinzen" on that mp3 player, and that sorted under P, just like all it sorted the Beatles under B.

Grooveshark was the only music streaming service I’ve been ever using. The way Grooveshark was slaughtered was despicable and turned me down to pay any subscriptions to the online music hienas. Years long curated playlists lost unrecoverably with the shutdown of the service :’(

I might be able to help! If you have the same browser your playlist is store in html5 local storage. I was able to pull mine about 6 months after the service shut down.

> The way Grooveshark was slaughtered was despicable

Well, maybe they should have licensed the content they offered. They streamed unlicensed music - what did they expect?

My wife still rues the loss of Grooveshark. She’s never recovered. I don’t blame her. All other streaming services suck horribly.

The ability to quickly spin up a "radio broadcast" in Grooveshark for friends was amazing. With a small group of five friends we set up a Friday DJ rotation where one person would queue songs all day and the others listen in. All the "broadcasts" got saved as playlists, which you could "favourite" from your own account and go back to whenever you wanted. People could make requests when they had a "next track" that would segue well with what you were already playing. It was really fun!

I have never had a period of more high quality music discovery and I sorely miss those playlists, many of which featured obscure/rare/live tracks that simply aren't available in today's music services.

You might like https://jukebox.today/ for listening with a group.

There was a good episode of the podcast Startup about the Grooveshark story. They didn't quite understand how strong the UX was. Too much of the episode's focus was on the exhaustive free library. But it was still cool to hear about it and made the loss sad again.

I brought a premium account, even though I was a student at the time. They had some music tracks that I still haven't found anywhere else. Groveshark introduced me to filk making fun of Scifi I didn't know existed.

Paying for music isn't an issue, but it sucks when copyright is used to control music.

I have google music, and it is good, the music they have is generally of higher quality, but the selection does not compare.

Their "radio" generation from a playlist of relatively few tracks was also out of this world, in contrast to spotifys ““daily"" which only gives me a new list every two years or so. Despite using the desktop application an hearting the living bejeezus out of it...

Have you tried Google music? It can do the same and I can't complain about the quality.

The only extra I wish for would be the last.fm's slider between "mainstream" and "obscure".

I use Google Music now and it still pales in comparison to Grooveshark and Songza

Rockbox's latest release was in May 2017 with a ton of changes and features added and the last change in their git repo was from today (Oct 15) with additional commits over the past few weeks, so not totally dead. However since music players as a whole are practically out, I don't know how much good that'll do you.

If you don't mind me asking, I'd be curious about your setup, I'm considering installing it on an old Sandisk e200 I have around.

Mine was definitely one the 200 series SanDisks! I can't say for certain which device I used. I got the device from my roommate, who got it in a woot.com "bag of crap" that included a couple refurbed mp3 players.

I remember the default firmware being extremely slow to use. It spent cpu time it couldn't afford to render animations between "apps" that added nothing. I think it may have been extensor picky about which codecs it supported, though I wouldn't have had much that wasn't mp3s.

I really loved rockbox. I liked how configurable it was, and how minimal it was. I'd previously used sdd based mp3 players. A dell dj (I was crushed when they canceled that line, and more so when the Seagate hard drive failed) and the first gen video ipod.

Rockbox worked very well for music, which is all I used it for. I always used windows explorer to transfer files to /from, and that worked well.

I found installing rockbox very easy. More so than installing ddwrt or homebrew on a wii. I don't think I ever updated rockbox. I probably used it for a year and a half, max.

I only stopped using it when I got a smart phone. I would certainly still be using it today.

I have a ~5 year old Sandisk Sansa Clip with Rockbox. I use it almost every day. I remember the first time I tried Rockbox on it; when it didn't take 5 minutes to boot because it was scanning every file (like the stock firmware did), I loved it immediately. When 3.14 came out last year, I got excited when I discovered that I could play Opus files on it. (Before, it crashed hard every time I tried.)

I got one for my dad last year, and was surprised that Sandisk discontinued the Rockbox compatible models, and used players were going for $~50, presumably because of their Rockbox compatibility.

Same! I threw a 128gb microsd into mine, and it works perfectly. It a very solid mp3 player overall, and the Opus support is fantastic for podcasts. Also Doom support.

I used the Sansas hard for about 6 years, and bought all my kids one. Rockbox had the best interface of any music player ever (along with WinAmp), and even though having all my music in the cloud is great, neither Amazon nor Google seem to have taken into account that you might actually have a large music collection when designing their Android players. Both are often insanely slow.

Grooveshark was the best. There had also been a similar Chinese service I used (it was not that pretty and all in Chinese but this is not a problem as soon as you learn where to click, no need to actually understand what's written there) but they have banned access from non-Chinese IPs one day.

I miss grooveshark, don't forget that semicolon. There wasnt a good replacement afterwards. Just a bunch of people playing shitty songs from games pretending to DJ

iTunes sort of has the sort thing: if you open up the track info window, you can specify sorting versions of the various pieces of metadata

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