Full stack web developer, interested in all the things, but especially the web, code, design, Linux, OS X, PHP, WordPress, JavaScript & robots.

Tagged: macOS

Why I left Mac for Windows: Apple has given up image/svg+xml

I don’t say this lightly, but Windows is back, and Microsoft is doing a great job. Microsoft is getting better, faster at making Windows good than Apple is getting better at doing anything to OS X.

Another post by another Apple user switching to an alternative OS, this time it’s Microsoft. Also, see the follow-up post for details about how the author has set-up their new Windows development environment. The interesting part for me was this remark about Hyper:

OK, there are a few weird bugs. For the most part, I’ve managed to avoid them, but there’s one I’m yet to figure out: how to escape nano. There’s no way to CTRL + C out, and you end up needing to close the terminal.

I’m pretty sure this is a known bug with Hyper and something that I experienced too. In my case, I was trying to detach a screen session with CTRL+A D, pretty basic stuff and I was surprised Hyper couldn’t handle it. I’m sure this will get fixed in the future, but until that happens, Hyper will be unusable to me, which is disappointing.

Provisioning a new MacBook Pro

Last night, I set-up a new user account for myself on a new (new to me) MacBook Pro. I purchased the MBP (Retina, 13-inch, Early 2015) from a colleague, a Windows guy who found that he had no use for a macOS device. The MBP is practically unused (really, not a scratch on it) and it’ll replace my MacBook, which I have given to Becky as a replacement for her ageing 2009 MacBook.

Everyone involved in this deal seems happy with the outcome, my colleague has some extra cash money, Becky has a shiny new (new to her) MacBook, and I have a slightly more powerful device with a lot more ports.

I should probably mention that before purchasing the MBP, I had considered (read as agonised over) buying a new ThinkPad t460s and installing Linux on it, but after watching a few YouTube videos (such as this one) of people suffering all the usual Linux compatibility headaches, I thought to myself, “Bollocks to that, I want something that just works.” Also, I have said before that I believe my previous MBP (Retina, 13-inch, Late 2013) was the best computer I’ve ever purchased, and I’ve no reason to believe the 2015 model should be any different.

Anyhow, regardless of how or why a came to acquire another MBP, it occurred to me that I don’t provision these devices very often, so I thought it might be a good idea to detail the software I installed. Below is that list, sorted alphabetically.

  • Amphetamine
    Because sometimes I like to prevent my laptop from sleeping. I was using Caffeine, but it doesn’t appear to be available any more.
  • Airmail 3
    A pretty nice email client. I use it with my gmail account and it works well. Has lots of options and features, yet performance is still really good. Oh, and it’s pretty too!
  • Bartender 2
    I’ve been using Bartender for a few months now. It’s surprising how many apps want to give you a menu bar icon under macOS and it doesn’t take long before things start to look cluttered. Bartender takes care of cleaning things up for you.
  • cfxr
    For making cheesy 8-bit sound effects for web games and videos.
  • Chrome
    Probably doesn’t need an introduction. I switched from Firefox to Chrome sometime last year, due to its outstanding developer tools. I still prefer Mozilla and Firefox over Google and Chrome, but I’m pragmatic and tend to use the best tool for the job.
  • ColorSnapper 2
    Nifty little colour picking tool. Has a nice user interface and options for exporting colour values in lots of different formats.
  • Downie
    I get asked to download YouTube videos a lot, don’t ask, Downie makes the process trivial. Recommended by MBW Picks.
  • Dropbox
    I’m an ownCloud user, but I still keep Dropbox around.
  • Etcher
    A great tool for burning Raspberry Pi SD cards. A bit worrying that it’s such a big download (it’s an Electron app), but it does the job well, so it’s forgiven.
  • Final Cut Pro X
    I’m often tasked with creating videos and Final Cut Pro X is total overkill for my needs.
  • Firefox
    As mentioned, I’m currently a Chrome user, but I’m still rooting for Firefox, so I like to keep it around.
  • GIF Brewery
    Probably the single most important application of all time. See.
  • Git
    Again, no introduction required.
  • HandBrake
    The open source video transcoder. I don’t use it as much as I once did, but it’s still a handy utility to have installed.
  • Icon Slate
    A nifty little tool for creating favicons and more.
  • ImageOptim
    As a general rule of thumb, I run all images through ImageOptim before uploading them to the web. Its simple drag and drop UI makes the job a breeze.
  • iTerm2
    One of the best terminal applications I’ve had the pleasure to use.
  • Magnet
    A recent addition to my software toolkit. Admittedly, it’s not super handy on a 13-inch laptop, but it does a good job of window management when I attach my MBP to larger external displays, where I have more screen estate to play with.
  • Microsoft Remote Desktop
    I’d be happy to not use Windows at all, ever, but when you work on a Windows Domain it’s almost impossible.
  • ownCloud client
    I’ve been using ownCloud for several years now and I love it.
  • Pastebot
    A clipboard manager with lots of options and features, including filters for converting lists into HTML etc. Another app recommended by MBW Picks.
  • Permute
    A handy media converter with a nice drag and drop user interface. Handy for extracting audio from videos etc.
  • Pixelmator
    Described as “Full-featured image editor for Mac”, I just use it to remove odd artefacts from photos. Again, it’s total overkill for my needs, but it’s not overly expensive and one day I might call on it for more.
  • ScreenFlow
    I use ScreenFlow to record screencasts/demos of the projects I’m working on. It’s quick and easy to set-up and has a surprisingly good editor for adding overlays, annotations, captions, titles and more.
  • Sequel Pro
    My go-to tool for working with MySQL databases. It has lots of handy features and it’s a lot prettier than MySQL Workbench (these things matter, honest).
  • Sketch
    I moaned about the subscription licensing model, but it didn’t stop me from using it. Sketch really is a fantastic app.
  • Skitch
    A handy tool for taking quick screenshots with annotations.
  • SSH
    macOS ships with SSH, so I just needed to create a new key and copy the public key to my servers.
  • Sublime Text 3
    I’ve switch from Sublime to Atom, and back again. Sublime is currently winning my favour due to its raw speed and performance. If Atom and Sublime were to have a race, Sublime would lap Atom many times.
  • TextExpander
    I’ve not signed-up for their subscription model, but I’m still using TextExpander, I love it.
  • TextWrangler
    I use TextWrangler as my auxiliary text editor — when I’m working on a project in Sublime, but I need to make a quick edit in a file outside of the project. This happens a fair amount.
  • Transmit
    Used for mounting remote drives over SSH. There are other tools available (Mountain Duck, ExpanDrive), but Transmit does the job nicely.
  • Transmission
    For downloading Linux ISO’s and nothing else, honest.
  • Tweetbot
    Used for tweeting random dribble. Probably the nicest Twitter client in existence.
  • VirtualBox
    I’ve been a VirtualBox user for many years, it’s perfect for setting up development servers.
  • VLC
    Because no system would be complete without the Swiss Army knife of media players.

The end. If you’re reading this and you know of some software that I might be interested in (based on what you’ve seen above), please feel free to post a comment and let me know. Thanks.

Finding an Alternative to Mac OS X — Part 2 – Bit Cannon image/svg+xml

An interesting follow-up to finding an alternative to Mac OS X. Reading this brought back memories of my own experiences with desktop Linux, but this struck home the most:

At this point the system was actively harming my productivity so I did what any rational person would do: blew it away and installed Arch Linux. I then compounded my lost productivity by constructing a GNOME environment I was happy with.

I dread to think how much time I’ve spent configuring and tweaking desktop Linux environments. Don’t misunderstand me, I’ve had fun doing it, but I could definitely have spent that time being more productive. I love Linux, but if you’re not mindful, it has the potential to be a real productivity sink.

P.S. I’m currently being unproductive with KDE neon.

From OSX to Ubuntu image/svg+xml

One man’s retrospective after switching from macOS to Ubuntu. I’m not sure why I find these accounts so fascinating, maybe I’m just a geeky voyeur, but I really enjoyed reading this.

Anyway, I thought his switch from Unity to GNOME to Unity was quite interesting. I know Unity catches a fair amount of shit, thrown by the haters, but I think it’s currently the most polished and usable desktop environment. I love it.

Finding an Alternative to Mac OS X – Bit Cannon image/svg+xml

As someone who has switched back and forth between Linux and macOS, I found this to be a thoroughly interesting read. I’m not surprised that Elementary OS was featured as one of Wesley’s top picks, it’s probably the most macOS’ish desktop Linux, at least in the look-and-feel department.

Also interesting was John Gruber’s commentary:

The truth is, for most of us, there is no good alternative to MacOS. Nothing. And it took so long — not years but decades — for MacOS to get to where it is that I don’t think any other OS could ever catch up. That’s what’s driving the arguably paranoid fear that Apple is abandoning the Mac. It’s not so much the evidence (lack of updates to Mac Pro and Mac Mini, and concerns about software quality) as the high stakes: if the Mac goes away, the world will be left without a Mac-quality desktop OS.

I’m hoping that all this talk of Apple abandoning the Mac really is just paranoia. That said, if they do, I guess I’ll just find myself using Linux a bit more often, again.

Review of My Software and Hardware Choices

Prompted by Chris Coyier’s post, Review of My New Computer Equipment, I thought I’d post a review of my current software and hardware choices. So, six months ago, I wrote:

On reflection, I’ve replaced all but one of the OS X specific applications, and the change was painless. As with the previous post, and if I remember, I’ll take another look at this list in another 6 months. I’m wondering if I’ll still be using desktop Linux? I’m thinking that I probably will.

I thought wrong, well sort of. I’m actually using macOS, Linux and Windows. Yup, I’ve ditched the silly idea that I need to run the same OS on every system and I now use whatever I fancy, or, I choose the best tool for a given job.

My workstation consists of 3 systems and they’re all sharing the same keyboard and mouse via Synergy. Throughout the day, I switch seamlessly between macOS, Ubuntu and Windows 10, across a total of 5 monitors. It’s fucking glorious.

I run macOS on my 2013 MacBook Pro, Ubuntu on a Dell desktop and Windows 10 on my X220 ThinkPad. The machines all vary in age, but they’re all fitted with solid state drives and their performance is more than adequate.

When I’m at home, I also have the same 3 operating systems available. My hackintosh desktop runs Windows 10 (mostly for Steam). I run macOS on my MacBook and both Ubuntu and Windows 10 on my X220 ThinkPad.

It’s quite liberating when you realise that you don’t have to belong to a particular OS camp. Computers and operating systems are just tools and whilst it’s normal to have a favourite or preferred tool, it’s not good to exclude everything else in favour of using it, especially if there’s a better tool for the job.

On reflection, I’m really pleased that I decided to breakout of my comfort zone and I’m really enjoying my current setup. My choice of software and hardware is like a melting pot of the best tools available and it enables me to get stuff done. It also provides for a varied experience and prevents me from getting too bored with one system.

If you’ve found yourself in the position of using just one operating system, whether that’s Windows, macOS, Linux, or some other exotic OS, I’d wholly recommend mixing it up and taking full advantage of what’s out there. OS variety is the spice of life.

Bartender 2 image/svg+xml

Bartender 2 lets you organize your menu bar apps, by hiding them, rearranging them, or moving them to the Bartender Bar.

My menu bar apps were getting out of control, so after hearing about Bartender 2 on a recent episode of The Talk Show, I purchased a copy. The app cost me ~£12, but it’s a nifty utility, so I’m happy to support the developer. Also, according to the FAQs:

A Bartender license is for 1 user, for use on all their Macs.

Cool beans.