The MacBook Pro 13-inch 2018 Review

There are two posts preceding this one which are New Laptop: Windows, macOS or Linuxwhere I try to explain why I’d like to buy a laptop and what options I see for myself and Why a MacBook in Favor of Windows or Linux Laptopsthat explains why I bought the MacBook Pro that I’m reviewing here or, to turn it around, why I didn’t go with a non-Apple mobile computer running whatever operating system.

This won’t just be another review of the kind you can find on other tech or Apple focused sites. I’ll not be showing any performance benchmarks or review every aspect of the device to check off items on a check list. That horse has been beaten to death already by manymanyother sitesafter the MacBook Pro had launched in 2018. Of course, I’ll be touching on a few controversial topics like the keyboard and the Touch Bar, despite which I still decided to buy it. For the past few months I’ve been using the computer regularly and I think I got enough experience with it to be able to tell whether I like something in the long run or not. It’s not just a first-look-kind-of-hands-on. It’ll be a combination of hardware, because that’s the physical good you’re buying, software and on being an Apple user (again).

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The Writing Application Conundrum

While I’m actively procrastinating on my backup application and finishing my MacBook Pro review, I was pondering on what tool I should continue to use or start to use for writing my blog posts. I’ve tried a few things in the past, one of them being Markdown in Byword way back in the early stages of my blogging efforts, Libre Office and the ODT file format sometime after that and more recently Microsoft’s Word using its DOCX format. To generalize it a bit: 

  • Markdown using any capable editor.
  • A full featured Word processor.

Both tools have their pro’s and con’s, but none of them are the perfect solution and I’m finding myself doing a bit of this and a bit of that, but never being really satisfied.

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Using TagLib with pytaglib in Python

I tend to write a lot of background to paint a picture why I’m doing things, so I’ll try to keep it short for to move on to the code quickly.

I have a digital music collection that was sorted by the first letter of the artist (A, B, C etc.) and then the artist and underneath that the albums. While that is good to find things, it’s not optimal for listening in my car (via USB stick). Sometimes I find myself wanting to listen to all of Melodic Death Metal on shuffle play. My car doesn’t support this like iTunes, with its internal music library, which is why I wanted to group artists and albums by genre. Since I didn’t plan to do this all manually, I opted to write some scripts in Python.

The code is available on GitHub. If you have suggestions for improvements, please comment or create a pull request. I’m not a Python pro, so I’m sure there’s some room to make it better.

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Why a MacBook in Favor of Windows or Linux Laptops

As discussed in a recent blog post, I was in the market for a laptop. Several days after I had written about that topic and spent countless hours researching pros and cons, I had made the decision and went out to buy one. As the title suggests, it resulted in the most expensive product of the three options I was looking at and I’m here to write about it. This, however, is not the review as it would clearly blow up this piece. I’ll leave that for another day (I have written >1000 words already *tease*). In this blog post I’ll be explaining myself. Why I went with the MacBook Pro over the much more affordable and better equipped non-Mac laptops.

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Writing a Custom Backup Solution

If you are a user of any form of computer and care one bit about your sanity, then you probably have a backup strategy. Otherwise, if all hell breaks loose and your whole computer burns to ash or the hard drive melts to a heap of metal, turning it into an ugly door stop, you’ll likely be kinda angry, maybe slightly pissed, your pulse most definitely at 180, that you’ve lost all your data. I’d certainly be, especially about all my pictures of all the festivals and places I’ve been to. 

(And maybe some family 😅)

But, to be honest, I’ve been a bit lazy about backups for some time now. I do have copies of all my important files, but that’s not a backup. It’s a copy. A backup lets you go back in time and get an older version of a file or folder, not just the most recent one that has been synced.

So why is it, that I’m not as diligent as I should be? There are a few factors in that equation. It’s laziness for one, knowledge that I do have at least one copy, the fact that I haven’t had any data loss so far and stinginess. Why the latter? Up until now, being a Windows user (not any more though, on my main machine), I was relying on Acronis True Image, a commercial backup software. However, the version that I own – 2014, I think – stopped being reliable in one of the past Windows 10 versions. I simply don’t want to spend the money any more.

I’m not here to tell you that I have changed my mind on that. No. I’m, of course, coding my own solution. Why wouldn’t I? Everything is done multiple times in the Open Source community.

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New Laptop: Windows, macOS or Linux?

I am pondering the idea of buying a laptop and I’m having troubledeciding on the platform. Ultimately, sometime in the future, I’dlike to get rid of my stationary PC and replace it with

  1. a laptop as the center of my data and (hobby) work and
  2. a console for gaming.

The latter is a long term plan because I wouldalso need a better television. Right now, all my gaming is Windowsbased and therefore I’m still somewhat bound to that OS. But that’sa different topic.

I do not explicitly need a mobile computer.There’s nothing technically wrong with my PC. In fact, moving to alaptop would mean to sacrifice a lot of performance. But I really donot like to place myself in front of the desk to get something done.I don’t even play games as much any more. And that’s solelybecause it feels too much like work-work. Apart from it being apretty sleek looking PC tower instead of a notebook hooked up to twomonitors as is the case at work, the act of sitting in a chair infront of a big desk feels too much like being at work. Don’tget me wrong, I like my profession and I even like going to theoffice (again; after switching jobs). I’d even like to tinker athome some more. But, as I was saying, I don’t want it to feel likework. Sitting at the desk is also very constraining. I have to be inthis one particular spot to do some computing. In that regard I’meven more flexible at work because I could just pop out the computerfrom its docking station and go somewhere else. Why can’t I freelychoose where I want to sit with my computer when I’m at home? I amactively procrastinating as a result. I do have ideas for projects tocode and to write and it makes me sad that I do not want to pursuethem.

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Jules White Programming Cloud Services YouTube Video Series

In my search for information about what a web.xml exactly is and does, I ran across a video series on YouTube of Dr. Jules White who created over 70 videos explaining the basics and advanced topics of creating web services for mobile applications. The videos are roughly between 5 and 15 minutes long, so they are ideal for in-between watching, without sacrificing in content. You can binge them too, of course.

What I found most pleasing is that his presentation style is very informative and professional. There are no awkward pauses or anything else that would make me cringe. It’s very pleasant to watch and there’s a lot of good information in it, even for someone that already has a background in building web applications.

I created this list of links to all the individual videos because wanted to have more structure and information than a YouTube Playlist can provide in case I want to go back and watch something particular. Additionally, there’s a little sorting and numbering bug in the YouTube Playlist 😉

So, here you (or I) go.

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