coconutBattery

coconut battery

 

CoconutBattery is a must have app for any mobile Mac users out there. It provides a comprehensive look at the overall health of your mac laptops, be it MacBook, MacBook Air or MacBook Pro. In addition to telling the amount of juice you have left, it also tells you the temperature, number of charge cycles the battery’s been through and overall condition of the battery. The app doesn’t just tell you the stats, it can also record the battery health on a regular basis, providing a longitudinal snapshot of the battery’s condition over time.

Personally, the neatest part of the app is that it also tells you the age of your laptop and the battery separately. From the moment the laptop was assembled and left the factory floor, coconutBattery is able to tell you the age of your device. For my MacBook Pro that I recently purchase a few days ago, as of today, it is telling me that my MacBook Pro is 27 days old. Meaning that the MacBook Pro was assembled 2 to 3 weeks before being shipped out and sold to me. The battery on the other hand is 38 days old, a little older than the MacBook Pro. It sounds logical, considering that the battery is just one of many components that makes the laptop and parts have to be ordered, produced and shipped to the factory (somewhere in China no doubt) only to be assembled into the final product. The battery that I have comes from a battery maker, Simplo. A simple Google search tells me that it is a taiwanese company specialising in battery manufacturing for small and large devices.

I used the same app for my MacBook Air many years ago. I tracked the battery condition over time. I noticed it deterioated after a year due to my extensive use over time back during my undergraduate days. I used it the whole day, every day without bringing the power adapter with me, often draining the battery from 100% all the way down to 10%-15%. Naturally, that kind of torture wears out the battery really fast. And because of coconutBattery, I was able to replace the battery before it does further harm to my laptop. All in all, I logged more than 1100 days with the laptop. I used that laptop for more than 3 years, before passing it on to my dad to use. Today, it is still very much in use, all thanks to the SSDs, that helped in keeping the laptop fast enough for normal use despite its age.

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The rationale behind the Macbook Pro purchase.

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Yesterday my Macbook Pro arrived. I ordered the laptop 2 days ago, which is just a couple of days after it was officially announced. On the day I placed my order for the new laptop, I put my Lenovo laptop up for sale on Carousell. I was pleasantly surprised to receive multiple offers to buy my laptop second hand. I finalised the deal with one of the buyer and decided to meet later during the night to complete the transaction. Meanwhile, it was a race against time to backup all my data and reset the laptop to its original factory settings. I had around 3 hours to do all that before our agreed upon meeting time and place.

Ever since getting my laptop, I have been reflecting deeply behind the true motivations in clicking that buy button. Why did I click it? My Lenovo laptop was perfecting fine. I like that laptop quite a lot, especially the keyboard. The keyboard is a joy to type on, and no doubt one of the best keyboard available out there on a mobile device. So what compelled me to click on that buy button?

Impulse is definitely at play here. It was a snap decision. Rarely do I make large purchases without thinking through it carefully first. It will take me weeks, sometimes months to finally make my decision, going through carefully every pros and cons. This time however, I immediately bought it after the official announcement at WWDC. But then again, one can argue that I buy because I know that Mac products are top notch. You can’t go wrong when it comes to Apple products. Having owned and used the Mac Mini (my first foray into the Mac ecosystem) and then upgrading to the MacBook Air, it feels natural to finally be part of the big league and get for myself a MacBook Pro. My gut instincts told me that this is a great time to get a new one. Despite only a spec bump and a new generation of CPU, the overall design of the MacBook Pro, in my opinion, is already highly refined. And the machine does look extremely beautiful and elegant. I had no problem with the weight, as the design philosophy has been adopted from that of the MacBook Air. So it seemed natural to sacrifice just a little bit of weight for a rather large increase in overall computing power.

Another reason might be the fact that deep down, I miss the Mac. It has been a couple of years since I passed on my Macbook Air for my dad to use. Ever since then, I’ve never used that laptop any longer. Then I got myself a DIY gaming rig, which I love it to death till this day because it was built with my own two hands. I have no intention of upgrading that PC or getting a new one anytime soon and expect that PC to last a very long while. So as far as a desktop PC is concerned, I have it covered even though its a Windows based PC.

My Lenovo was bought on a budget, with the rationale that it would only be used for school. Ever since I started my Master’s Programme in NUS, that laptop has served me well. The laptop is just 7 months old when I decided to sell it off. Like I said it’s perfectly fine. It’s all plastic, which is again, fine, but now that I have the Macbook Pro, the design and build quality is miles apart. Holding the MacBook Pro in hand in hands and on my lap, reminded me once again at the level of care and attention to detail when designing their products. There is just something magical about their devices. It may not be the most powerful devices and it don’t come cheap, but you are well assured that its a quality product. That X-factor of art and technology coming together to create a product not just to use but to enjoy and experience. That is something you don’t encounter everyday with other tech gadgets and products.

Will I regret splashing two thousand dollars on a laptop on impulse? Probably not, since I know Mac products really well and they have never disappointed me so far. Will I enjoy this laptop for many years to come? Hell yeah.

Sold my Lenovo, Bought Macbook Pro

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After using my Lenovo ThinkPad 13 for 7 months, I decided to sell it away. I came back to the Mac. When it was announced at this year’s WWDC that Apple is going to refresh the entire Macbook Pro line with the new Kaby Lake processors, I just could not resist it. I put my Lenovo ThinkPad 13 on Carousell and within minutes I had several offers of wanting to buy my 7-month old laptop. I barely even started to do a factory reset of my laptop including file backup when I started receiving several offers online. I sold the Lenovo within 2 hours, ordered the new 13 inch MacBook Pro (without Touchbar) online and within 2 days, it arrived at my doorstep.

Now, as I type this entry, I am already using my new Macbook Pro. So what were my first impressions?

Right off the bat, you are immediately struck by the beauty of this device. It’s absolutely gorgeous. The level of workmanship and design meticulousness is, to this day, unrivalled. ┬áThe Macbook Pro is a work of art, truly. When I opened the laptop and switched it on for the very first time, the next thing you noticed was how gorgeous the screen is. Colour just pops, everything is super sharp and it is really really bright when you max out the brightness setting.

That is the two most prominent feature I noticed the moment I started unboxing the laptop.

I am no stranger to using the Mac. My last laptop was the classic MacBook Air. Back then, it was considered a revolutionary device, known for its ultra portability and thinness that competing brands found it hard to replicate with grace.

But now, the Macbook Air has adopted some of the design principles of what made Macbook Air so great. You now get a far more powerful computer, but none of the added bulk, with a great, sharp, colourful screen to boot.

I got the non-TouchBar version. I figured that it is still largely a gimmicky feature that, while it adds some useful functions depending on the application that you are using, I am still not convinced that it would increase my productivity in incorporating the use of the TouchBar in my daily workflow. Add to the fact that a majority of reviewers on YouTube lamented the fact that they themselves don’t use the TouchBar extensively and you are better off saving a few hundred dollars and get the non-TouchBar version. They assured viewers of those reviews that you are not missing out on anything fundamentally important with regards to how you use the laptop.

I still cannot believe that I have a new laptop in my hands. Apple just announced the new refresh MacBook Pros and here it is right in front of my just days later. There are a few more accessories that I have ordered recently that have yet to arrive. One, is a sleeve by Tomtoc to safely store my laptop away and inside my backpack for use outside. Second, is a Thunderbolt 3 hub that would give me access to USB slots, SD card slots and additional Thunderbolt connections. Right now I cannot connect any peripherals to my laptop because none of them uses either the USB-C or Thunderbolt connections. I will have to wait for the dongle hub to arrive.

Adieu Macbook Pro.

For years I have always wanted a Macbook Pro. What started out as an experiment, plungin myself into the whole Mac OS ecosystem many years ago starting with the Mac Mini, slowly evolved into something more powerful, more mobile to the Macbook Air. As my needs changes over the years, so does the products that are required to meet my needs.

The Mac Mini and Macbook Air are both excellent computing devices. It was the first time I felt that art and technology can coexist peacefully. Something so beautiful can be at the same time be so practical. And the design philosophy behind those two products have no equals. And for many years I believed that.

The new Macbook Pro that was recently released violently shifted my paradigm. No doubt, Apple continues to release excellently designed products. Sleek, and minimalistic with a keen eye in the tiniest detail. But sadly, the new Macbook Pros were unable to meet my needs, much less my budget. There are criticisms to the new models, and they are all valid in my opinions. Things like the lack of ports, the absurd use of mutiple dongles, the questionable usefulness of a TouchBar, and the overall price increase of those new models were all aspects that were very much criticised.

And it was from then on that it made me realise that it is time for me to depart from the MacOS ecosystem and embrace Microsoft Windows once again.

It took me a while to come to grasp, especially in finding a worthy replacement to my aging MacBook Air. Actually, I would have been fine without a laptop. I am having loads of fun with my DIY gaming rig. But because I am going back to school, I forsee that I would need a portable laptop for school assignments and also work from time to time. But buying a whopping S$3000 on a MacBook Pro, just for my part-time studies is just too much for me. It was hard initially to change my perception on the overall quality of Windows laptop. For a long while, I have held to the belief that Windows laptop are far inferior than what Mac as to offer. This actually remains true. When it comes to design, nothing beats the MacBook Pro. Design wise, it is still widely lauded and a benchmark for all other laptop to aspire to. Thinner, longer battery life, powerful. And it is only recently that certain models from certain laptop companies are slowly hitting that benchmarks. They are not exact copies of the MacBook Pro or Air counterparts, but they are close in achieving the feel and look of Mac laptops that many people just love.

So I had to spend time to have a close look at what the market was offering. It was tedious to go through so many different Windows laptop. A majority of them were still very inferior. But a handful of them was quite well design.

But the tricky part was to find a good balance between finding a Windows ultrabook that is relatively thin, light, with long battery life and packing a fairly powerful CPU without bursting my budget.

It is only then I came across the Lenovo Thinkpad 13. Out in the wild, during my search, came up Lenovo. Lenovo, best known for business laptops. Chunky by design on most models, nothing worth lauding about. Its just a business laptop. Black, plastic, nothing to wow at. But I had to be realistic here. I had to find the perfect balance between price, weight and performance. Thinkpad 13 was the best I could find. And a good find it was. At just S$930, this laptop actually pack quite a punch. Intel Core i5 Skylake, 256GB SSD, 8GB RAM, 13inch IPS display, all day battery life. A middling spec of a computer but at a terrific price. The best aspect about the Thinkpad13 (and for most of Lenovo’s laptops) is the keyboard. Its an absolute joy to type on. Great travel distance and just the right size and distance between keys, typing on the keyboard is both accurate and fast. I dont think I have used a more comfortable keyboard on a laptop before.

So there you have it. It looks like a laptop from the 90s, but at least it’s cheap, reliable, sturdy enough to bring around in your bag, respectable battery life and just works.

I think Lenovo has opened my eyes to the possibilities that other laptop makers can be just as good when it comes to designing terrific laptops. I also came to realise that there are laptops out there that ticked all the right boxes for your needs, and it need not have to be expensive at all.

 

Watching Tech Review Videos taught me a lot of things

I have been watching a lot of tech review videos on YouTube. Channels such as LinusTechTips, Jonathan Morrison, Hardware Unboxed, Hardware Canucks are just some of many channels out there on YouTube that delivered excellent videos on the latest tech reviews, PC builds, gadget unboxing and more. Most of them are short, entertaining and informative.

The reason I started watching all these videos was this renewed interest in DIYing a PC. I DIYed my PC many years ago, before I jumped shipped to the Mac. Apple, and their gadgets, for obvious reasons doesn’t allow customisations, much less DIYing. For me, it didn’t really matter much because so long as they create great gadgets, and computers, it was a reasonable trade for stability and hardware reliability.

Recently however, after having watched all those PC build videos, and the latest graphics card and what not, I’m starting to find DIYing a PC exciting once more. But before I can do that, or before I want to embark on that road once again, I need to do a little research. Ok, maybe not a little. A lot of research. For someone who left the DIY scene, catching up on the latest hardware, motherboards, chipsets, DDR ram memory types, SSD storage types etc etc., it was overwhelming at first. Technology has jumped by leaps and bounds and the future of DIYing still remains remarkably bright. It’s been almost 7 to 8 years since I had my last DIYed PC and looking back, a lot has changed. And changed for the better. Greater customisations, yet greater standardisation of different hardware, makes DIYing easier, yet at the same time, innovative. In other words, the whole industry is somehow flourishing.

So as to whether I want a DIY PC in the near future remains to be seen. Recently, Apple distributed invites to the press on their upcoming WWDC conference on June 13th to 17th. Rumours started surfacing about a week ago on the possible design changes to the Macbook Pro line of notebooks. The venerable and prophetic analyst, Ming Chi Kuo, predicted a number of potentially impressive design changes that are about to be made on the Macbook Pro. And I have been waiting for ages to get a new one and replace my current MacBook Air. What remains to be seen however, is how well Apple can persuade me to remain in Apple’s camp. It would all boil down to the specs of the upcoming Macbook Pro, price, release dates, everything before I make my decision. Release date is every important.

To end my entry, a great shoutout to all those tech videos on YouTube out there. They are my teachers, my sources of reliable information, and my tutors for the crash course I took recently on PC DIYing. All those hours watching, was worth it.

The iMac with Retina Display

A couple of days ago, I walked into an Apple store and got a chance to physically look at the iMac with Retina Display. All those first impressions that you read online on how gorgeous the screen looks were 100% accurate. It’s that gorgeous and the screen totally sucks you in. You can’t tear your eyes off it. It just simply looks amazing. The default wallpaper you see of the Yosemite mountain cliff just screams with minute details you don’t usually see on an ordinary monitor. Every edge, every plant, every shade of the rock cliffs on that wallpaper shown in epic, vivid detail. I have never seen an image on screen with that level of clarity and color before.

I just simply fell in love with the new iMac. And, it’s pricey too. With the retina display, it makes it easier to decide which Mac computer I should be getting to replace my aging Macbook Air. Not that there is anything wrong with it at the moment. It’s still blazing fast, (thanks to the SSD) and everything is still in tip top condition. I really like my Macbook Air a lot due to it’s portability. That’s why I have been hesitant in making my mind on settling with an iMac. The new model with retina display is even pricier, coming at SGD 3,300. I would need to use at least 6 years for the same annual cost it took to spread out the price of my Macbook Air over the number of years used. 6 years! Will it last that long? Technology moves so fast, 6 years makes things like computers obsolete real quick. I have no doubt that the screen would last that long. But I’m not sure of the other components.

I may wait out on the iMac purchase. Perhaps getting a second generation due next year. As powerful as it may sound with its new ATI Radeon graphics card, it still somehow struggles with pushing that many pixels on to the screen at any given moment, according to report. While it performs really fast, certain graphical elements seems to be performing less than desired, which no doubt it due to the immense pixel density on the screen that the graphics chip have to push through.

The new iMac and future releases of it definitely be a must-buy for me. It’s just a matter of when. I’m still keeping my options open while homing onto the iMac. Who knows, the new upcoming Macbook Pros might just give a run for their money with its updated Broadwell chipsets in increasing power efficiency further that Intel has yet to release.

 

Happy two year anniversary MacBook air!

According to CoconutBattery, a small little program that tells you the overall battery health of your notebook, it states that my MacBook Air is officially two years old last week! Two year old! And it didn’t really feel like two years have passed! I replaced the battery once and the current one is still going strong. But still, this MacBook Air is super resilient! It has never given me any major problems at all. Boot up is super fast despite its age (although it’s a tad slower now that I have installed Yosemite, which is pretty natural for new operating systems on older machines.) and running day to day applications are still a breeze. Performance under Yosemite is holding out strong and I barely notice and major slowdowns at all.

This is my second major computer from Apple, the first being the Mac Mini, which lasted me almost 4 years and was crucial as a desktop during my college years. All those reports, presentations and research done during studies, all thanks to the Mac Mini, silently working hard, not giving any problems like hardware failures, or software glitches within the Mac operating system.

I have started my so called preliminary research into the next desktop system to get, given my needs now and in the near future. I have my eyes set on the next generation iMac with at least a 4TB desktop drive to complement the system. With the added storage space, I am now liberated from any storage space constraints. I can now download and keep movies and TV series that I have download. It should look pretty neat and beautiful on my desktop. I might still keep my current Dell monitor. I can use it as a secondary screen, positioning it vertically, which can be useful in browsing long articles from the New York Times, reading Twitter or Facebook Feed. I can use that secondary screen for research purposes, reading articles and keeping a permanent browser there, while the main screen can be used for other tasks.

But it’s still early, and I don’t want to give up using my MacBook Air as my main computer just yet. It has a lot of zest to go and there is always that joyful convenience of bringing a computer anywhere with you, without the burden, doing your work virtually anywhere you wish to. Besides, the current iMac is old and I am waiting for a refresh. Hopefully, there will be a major update to the graphics card and hopefully to the display without increasing the overall price of the iMac. I am definitely aiming for the 27inch version if I decide to get a desktop instead of a notebook in the future.