What exciting times we live in! I had a brand new computer delivered to my door the other day.
I grew up with there always being a PC in the house. I loved making my way through MS-DOS, looking at all the files we had and the folders they were in, and playing Prince Of Persia. My big brother programmed a maths game for me that was based on Silence Of The Lambs. I had to answer maths questions to get back to the asylum, to get the rocket launcher to kill Dr Lecter. On a green screen.
I still remember the glory of our extremely infrequent upgrades: getting Windows 3 and later upgrading to 3.1; upgrading our 386 to, as my brother explained it, the equivalent of a 686, and the miracle that was getting a colour screen to replace our old green screen. Not to mention years later, one of those fandangled screen screens that screened out radiation from attacking your face. And sound blasters! And CD-ROM drives that could burn CDs! And modems that meant I could dial my one friend who also had a modem! Man, things got exciting every few years.
I stuck with PCs, until around 6 years ago when I started recording music on my home computer. And, uh oh, weird things were going on. I could hear a strange hum when I was recording, for no apparent reason. I made the decision to get a Mac. I’d spent my youth chanting for team PC; and I was pretty surprised to be finding myself switching teams. But it was worth it; in mid 2010, I got my first MacBook Pro, and recording music with my analogue synths became easy.
5 years on, my old MacBook started giving me problems. Taking a good 3 or 4 minutes to wake up, phone calls reaching it a minute after the call had already been answered on my iPhone, and then there was the restarting itself whenever it felt like it. I decided it was time to upgrade to a new, mid-2015 15-inch MacBook Pro.
And so, what’s the new one like? The best thing for me yet is IT’S FAST. I felt gleeful when I was installing a program, was shown a dialogue box that said “all open applications must be closed for the installation”. When I hit “close all”, BAM, they all closed in an instant!! (2.8 GHz Intel Core i7 with 16GB RAM 1600 MHz DDR3. Apple will get the next generation of processors next year.)
Which brings me to the next point: this new MacBook has a solid state hard drive. I never realised how much I listened to the computer’s sounds and felt its buzzing for feedback, to know that it’s thinking. Having a virtually silent laptop is really strange. (I upgraded from 500gb to 1TB flash drive. Recorded music files are big.)
THE SPEAKERS ARE STEREO! AND they actually have BASS and depth! I was pretty impressed with the sound. It’s still crappy laptop speaker sound, but considering, it’s very impressive!!
There’s also this new “force touch” trackpad. I think it’s early days for what can be done with this feature. So far, I haven’t come across a list longer than 15 things for what it can be used for. Give it another couple of years, and the Apple genies and app developers will come up with some amazing things. For now, it’s most often cutting out needing to tap with 2 fingers to bring up the “right click” menu, and then selecting options from there. I guess it’s making things slightly more intuitive. Considering the same technology (which uses haptic feedback, rather than actually clicking) is also in the new iPhone 6s and the iWatch, seeing what uses app developers come up with is going to be very interesting.
The battery life is 4-5 hours, if I don’t have anything external plugged in to suck the MacBook’s power away. Since my old laptop battery was down to 45-60 minutes, this is luxury to me. And they’ve removed the CD-ROM drive, so the thing is lighter and slimmer. I bought the external CD drive, and it works great. It’s nice that I can just plug it in only when I need it.
And finally, it’s got a retina screen. Which….is cool, I guess. I didn’t fall off my chair when I looked at the screen the first time, but I think that’s more of a reflection on me not being such a visual person, as opposed to this retina screen not being awesome. Hell, I don’t even know what “retina” means in this instance, and also I don’t really care. (Graphics processor Intel Iris Pro 1536 MB)
When I was backing up my old MacBook and choosing which files to copy over to the new one, I found myself coming across random copies of photos that the computer had decided to make. That’s something that still frustrates me about Macs: the secretive nature with which it stores certain files. I can understand if they want to hide system files so that computer illiterates don’t delete them by mistake. But they make it so hard to find any files in the iTunes and photo library. It doesn’t feel logical to me! And it totally makes me miss the days of DOS where trundling through directories was easy and logically organised.
So, thank you Apple for making a lovely product for me to use everyday for work and pleasure. I wonder what features my next computer in 5 years time will have. Considering we have only had smart phones for 8 years and life has changed so drastically so fast, I am eager to know what the technology of the future will be!