Earlier this Summer, in late May I saw The Mountain Goats perform in Chicago at Thalia Hall and opening for them was Will Sheff from Okkervil River. I had not really heard of this band in more than passing before this but I really liked the music and afterwards looked up all of the songs I heard. My biggest problem however was there was one called “Nothing Special” that I could not find anywhere. I tried all the normal places: Spotify, YouTube, Google Searches, Internet Archive, etc. I couldn’t find it anywhere but today it was announced on the Okkervil River YouTube page that it will be “Coming Soon”. And while I can’t listen to it yet, I am happy it is coming down the pipeline.
by Dustin Bucher
This upgrade has been a long time coming. Up to this point, the 13-inch has always felt less like a “MacBook Pro” and more like a “MacBook Air+”. This year, Apple chose not to fix it (the M1 13 inch is still sold and in stock), but instead they decided to create a laptop that fits the needs of a better 13 inch Pro, with the MacBook Pro 14 Inch.
Before getting any further in this review, I feel it is important to give perspective; this upgrade for me came from the 2019 MacBook Pro 13-inch with a butterfly keyboard sporting an i5 and 8 GB of Ram. My new laptop is the 14-inch MacBook Pro with the M1 Pro, 16GB of Ram, and a 1TB SSD
The first thing you will notice when picking this laptop up is it feels thick. In reality, it is not much thicker than an older MacBook Pro, and it is the same thickness as the M1 MacBook Pro. This is not and does not feel like a MacBook Air, and I would even argue that is a good thing, from starting design alone, it removes itself from that class in a way that previous Macs had not. It feels substantial without compromising on portability.
Of course, we didn’t get this thickness without reason; This laptop runs cool as a cucumber, and in my one week of owning it, not once have I heard a fan despite various installations and virtual machines (using UTM). The second and most obvious reason is to accommodate the ports we get: 3 ThunderBolt 4’s, MagSafe, Headphone Jack, HDMI and the SD Card Reader. Despite being slightly upset that I lost a Thunderbolt 4, having more options and now going out knowing that I won’t need an adapter is nice. And given that I still can (and do) charge, using Thunderbolt on either side or on MagSafe is more than enough. One thing to note, however is that this MagSafe port is not like the old MagSafe; it is stronger, so strong that at times I question its purpose, matched with slippery feet, I have a similar fear that if I tripped over the nicely braided cable, I could end up with a shattered MacBook. In the end, this laptop feels like a MacBook at its core in some of the best possible ways.
In feeling this is an awesome keyboard, but it has some questionable design elements. To begin with, the awesome: the keys feel nice and look awesome, and there is a nice black background that while I didn’t like in photos, in person looks correct. Then whats wrong? The function row is a little… different, and I am not simply talking about the Touch Bar being gone (thankfully). The function row is huge, (not the least is the escape key) in a way that is slightly offsetting if you’re used to keyboards that are similar to the MacBook Air. And speaking of the MacBook Air, they switched up the function row keys from what had been previously established on the MacBook Air, and the original MacBook Pro 13 inch without Touch Bar (2016). Gone are the days of changing your keyboard brightness or opening Launchpad straight from a single keyboard button. Instead they replaced them with a button for Spotlight Search (understandable), Siri (okay?), and Do Not Disturb (???). Was anyone strongly requesting to toggle Do Not Disturb from the keyboard? And if so, did those same people want it to ONLY toggle Do Not Disturb and not even give you the option to switch into a focus mode? What Menu Bar icons were in the running? Wifi? Bluetooth? the Battery Indicator? Joking aside and despite the weird choices made, this keyboard is a pleasurable experience and definitely an upgrade.
This screen is simply stunning, it is everything you could want: a higher resolution, brighter, and bigger with smaller bezels. This comes at a cost; the notch finds its way in the Mac Lineup, starting with the newest Pro’s. Is it a big deal? No. Does it cause issues? Depends on how many apps you like to have in your menu bar. It handles menus phenomenally, but actual apps, not so much. It has a tendency to hide them behind the notch if you have too many. This issue will not affect a large number of people, but for those like me it just might. I recommend using an application like Bartender 4 if you need a quick fix, or just wait for it to possibly get fixed via software update.
The M1 Pro and Max are the same game-changers that the M1 was but even better. More cores, more GPU computing cores and more RAM. All of these allow multiple choices so you don’t pay for what you won’t use. And they are able to operate all those cores with incredible battery life and fast charging. The great thing about the battery life is that I know longer think about my battery life. If I am at home at my desk, I charge it. If I am not, I am always fine. There is no concern of running out, or fear that I might not have my charger in my day-to-day, and that is how a laptop should be. In comparison to my Intel Machine (which still had one of the best battery life to any laptop I had ever owned before) it is a peace-of-mind improvement that now I could not live without. Being able not have to worry how much of my day I will need my webcam and how badly it’ll drain my battery is incredible. And speaking of the Webcam, it no longer looks like a potato, it is 1080p, how it should be, and in my experience now it is just as suitable as using your iPad or iPhone for a FaceTime call. Its a nice touch. These are a more than suitable upgrades to the M1 However, one thing that must be noted is if you value having the ability to plug into greater than two external displays, you must get an M1 Max. I have yet to see any DisplayLink solutions work on these laptops, and even then, they are not officially supported. Everything on this Mac loads quicker and feels quicker than on my Intel Mac. from display scaling to even just installing and loading apps. On top of that, the ability to load iPhone and iPad Apps is a nice touch to give just one more quality of life improvement.
Should You Get It?
If you want a powerful laptop with a sharper, larger screen, then of course. It does everything it should do, and while some of Apple’s decisions were weird, as previously discussed, none were bad, making this laptop easy to recommend. HOWEVER, if your needs don’t require the GPU cores, if you don’t need 3 Thunderbolt Ports, and perhaps you only want one or fewer external monitors, do consider the M1 MacBook Air. It does not have the new design, but it does have enough of the features and all of the battery life that makes this laptop incredible and only at a fraction of the price. Regardless I have 0 problems recommending this machine.
Windows 11 Notepad Redesign
Credit for image goes to @FireCubeStudios on Twitter
This update is mainly, if not only in aesthetics but was much needed. Prior to this Notepad was rocking a decently Windows 8 look and was insufferable to use even if just for simple editing of a .config file, let alone doing anything substantial. Despite being a Mac user first, this update will make the work I do use Windows for a little less painful.
But if I can use this as a jumping off point; this update highlights some of the best features of the Windows 11 redesign, increased touch-ability, but wrapped in a sleek, modern design from the bottom up. This should be the model all Windows apps take moving forward. The big problem is that Windows isn’t taking this approach everywhere. The best example is if you right click on text in Windows 11, “Copy”, “Paste” and “Cut” no longer have words next to them in the menu, instead they are traded for simple icons. This can be gotten used to but is not user-friendly or expected behavior at all. It really brings into question is the Future of Windows 11, really to fix inconsistencies in Windows 10 or is it to stick us with a new layer of unusual UI for the decade?
This was inspired by this article by Andrew Cunningham.
Honestly for me this one ended up being a surprise, but after I ended up accidentally running a machine learning process on my primary laptop that ended up taking several days, meaning that my computer had to be plugged in exclusively, this tool came to the rescue. The fact it is free for non-commercial use and allows me to remote into my laptop or desktop from even my phone or iPad is indispensable. Now with better planning I can put those same extreme workloads on my desktop and not worry about whether or not I can access them on the go. Even if you just have a laptop, and want access to only a couple things on the go I can not recommend this program more.
I have no particularly novel takes on what caused Facebook to go down on Monday. There are people far more specialized in Network protocols who can do a far better job than I could ever do, one of which is linked to by Stephen Hackett at 512 Pixels.
And while this story did strike my interest and led me to do some reading on what caused it or how much money was lost ($60 million), what hit me most was a remark Stephen Hackett made in the post linked above:
“I honestly think the world would be better off if they never came back up.”
This really makes you consider, “What even is Facebook?” or “What function does this serve?” Is it connecting us with others really? From my personal experience I don’t feel like I see people post that much of their own content on there. Is it entertainment? I mean, sometimes but overall its far from being the best in comparison to other forms of “Social Media”. Is it just ads? And us sharing those ads and redistributing those ads the same way that bee’s do pollen? Is this something that we really care about that much? Is it a net benefit?
Those questions are all pointless because it gets at the frustrating point that feels obvious and anyone could tell you. Facebook is overall “eh” and isn’t really worth the time, space, or consequences it causes us to deal with. But we continue to let it exist because “eh” is tolerable, and the negative effects don’t feel tangible.
The frustrating part is that we know that this isn’t good for us individually or overall, and as Stephen Hackett said, the world would be a better place, but sadly we don’t just tolerate but feed it, either through Facebook, What’s App, Instagram or Oculus. And because of this we have very little hope of it ever coming to an end, because we are all just so used to it.
(This post was made by a frequent Instagram Scroller who loves using the Oculus Rift, Dustin Bucher)
Coming up I intend to post more regularly to the schedule I set forth, I think that consistency is my friend here. Today I want to talk about one of the more boring images in my camera roll. It was taken on a Saturday Night, around 1 am, at a place that is fairly insignificant by any measure that a college town could have. But this photo is extremely sentimental to me. This was a night I felt I truly got to know two friends and become fully apart of a larger group of six friends. And while it is not like I have ever lacked things to do, places to go, or people to spend time with, the two people I was with that night and the larger group of six, really changed my outlook and gave me a place, to be apart of something I never knew I wanted. I am grateful for these friends and because of that this photo I randomly took of the ceiling means the world to me.
I apologize ahead of time for the lack of structure in this post. I am still not entirely sure how the weekly review will be formatted or structured, primarily this is a commitment and tool to make me think about my week. As far as this week goes I have been feeling a little under the weather (just a common cold) so while I can not say productivity “thrived” in these conditions, neither did it come to a halt. Once again keeping queues of tasks based on due date and priority continues to be beneficial. And while I do use Omnifocus I am beginning to see how more simple non-pro apps can work for me.
My recommendation for this week is if you do not already, whether it be Reminders or Google Tasks, find a check list system that organizes and works for you to take the pressure of your head. That was the saving grace of my week and maybe this next one it can be yours.
Music Recommendation for Friday:
The Phantasm at Lake Wallenpaupack - EP by Fever Dolls
In starting a new era for this blog, I had to chose a selection of music that started a new era of myself. The Fever Dolls influenced how I feel about my music taste, before them I felt each song and every band I listened to was only appeasing my underdeveloped music taste. Nothing ever felt like what I wanted, it felt like a simple “good, I want more of this” or “bad, I don’t want more of this”. But this changed with the Fever Dolls. Each single they produced (and later the collection in the deluxe edition of The Phantasm at Lake Wallenpaupack) had a weird slant on different styles of music that feels like home, no matter where you are or where you are from. Their own website refers to them as a music variety act and genre-bending. And they fulfill on that promise in every song. It will change how you perceive your taste in music, and loosen up any strong feelings you have on what “genres” mean in music. I cannot recommend it enough This album means something very specific to me, it means growing up, it means moving forward and it means being content. Check it out, I hope it does the same for you.
I say this because starting now I have a new posting schedule for my website that I plan to start this coming week. From now on the schedule will (hopefully!) be as follows:
Monday: A Random Recommendation or A Photo and Story
Tuesday: Upcoming Product I think looks interesting
Wednesday: A tool I am using that I appreciated
Thursday: News that seems both interesting to me
Friday: Music recommendation
Saturday: A Week In Review of Productivity. What worked well for me and what didn’t.
Everything I post here will be crossposted to Twitter at @dustin_buch so please follow me there and let me know what you think. I appreciate any and all feedback.
I hope you have a good week,
UPDATE: Since this post I continue to work and refine what I think my schedule should be and what posts encourage and inspire me. All changes I make to my schedule should be reflected on my About page.
Today I did the first episode of my new radio show: The Mountain Goats Explored, at WIUX 99.1 FM Bloomington, and I can honestly say while it wasn’t the smoothest or the best show I am proud of how it turned out for a first one. Looking forward to many more.
2021 The year Microsoft got its UI together (Hopefully) https://ntdotdev.wordpress.com/2021/02/06/state-of-the-windows-how-many-layers-of-ui-inconsistencies-are-in-windows-10/
Sorry if my posts come out weird, I am working on using a new tool for writing to Twitter and my blog.
Recently while at the mall I got the opportunity to get this stereo, relatively cheap for my bedroom. So far so good, I love listening to The Mountain Goats on it!
There is nothing like a week where you hardly have time to breathe to help set things into perspective, such as what project you’d rather be working on!
Dawson & I have posted the second episode of our new productivity podcast Due By Midnight, This episode is on Calendars/Scheduling as students, Check it Out! bit.ly/2YKyLhz
Today I finally got a little bit of time to reorganize my notes, and reconfigure how I file stuff. Now, I feel ~refreshed~
Hello! Recently my friend Dawson Reprogle and I created a new podcast called “Due By Midnight” all about how we stay attempt to stay productive and the tools we use as students. We’ve worked hard to make it available everywhere where you listen to podcasts (iTunes, Spotify, YouTube, etc.) I hope that you give it a shot if you are productivity oriented, and/or a student. If you are willing to listen please give feedback, I would be really appreciated .
Our website is due-by-midnight.com but as previously stated you can find us wherever you get your podcasts.
I think it’s time to deploy the nuclear solution of wiping my Mac and reinstalling the necessities for Spring cleaning. 😜
The Things That Comfort Us
I think right now is as good of a time as any to share what comforts us in times that are uncertain and troubling. I know not everything that works for me will work for others so hopefully bellow you can find at least one thing that works for you. Whether you do or don’t I hope you will also take this as an opportunity to share the things that comfort you with others who might be struggling, and maybe help them through this.
The Mountain Goats: * Beat the Champ (Album), * The Jordan Lake Sessions Volumes 1 and 2 (Album) Green Day: * American Idiot - The Original Broadway Cast Recording (Album) Fever Dolls: * Adeline (Single), * Gennifer Flowers (Single), * The Distance (Single),
- The Big Lebowski,
- Knives Out,
- Brooklyn Nine-Nine,
- The Flash,
- New Girl,
Reminder these are not necessarily what I consider to be the best in these categories but the most comforting ones.
For anyone who is under great stress, I would like to reccomend something that has helped me lately. open.spotify.com/album/4G9…
Today I set my phone to delete any messages older than 30 days, and it felt good. I’m ready to start 2021 with peace.