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The best laptop ever made

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Apple has made many great laptops, but the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro (2012–2015) is the epitome of usefulness, elegance, practicality, and power for an overall package that still hasn’t been (and may never be) surpassed.

Introduced in 2012, less than a year after Steve Jobs died, I see it as the peak of Jobs’ vision for the Mac.

It was the debut of high-DPI Macs, starting down the long road (which we still haven’t finished) to an all-Retina lineup. And with all-SSD storage, quad-core i7 processors, and a healthy amount of RAM all standard, every configuration was fast, capable, and pleasant to use.

At its introduction, it was criticized only for ditching the optical drive and Ethernet port, but these were defensible, well-timed removals: neither could’ve even come close to physically fitting in the new design, very few MacBook Pro users were still using either on a regular basis, and almost none of us needed to buy external optical drives or Ethernet adapters to fit the new laptop into our lives. In exchange for those removals, we got substantial reductions in thickness and weight, and a huge new battery.

There were no other downsides. Everything else about this machine was an upgrade: thinner, lighter, faster, better battery life, quieter fans, better speakers, better microphones, a second Thunderbolt port, and a convenient new HDMI port.

The MagSafe 2 power adapter breaks away safely if it’s tripped over, and the LED on the connector quickly, clearly, and silently indicates whether it’s charging and when the battery is fully charged.

The pair of Thunderbolt (later Thunderbolt 2) ports gave us high-end, high-speed connectivity when we needed it, and the pair of standard USB 3 ports — one on each side — let us connect or charge our world of standard USB devices.

The headphone jack was thoughtfully located on the left side, because nearly all headphones run their cables down from the left earcup. (External-mouse users also appreciate this frequently-used cable not intruding in their right-side mousing area.)

The keyboard was completely unremarkable, in the best possible way. The crowd-pleasing design was neither fanatically loved nor widely despised. It quietly and reliably did its job, as all great tools should, and nobody ever really had to think about it.

The trackpad struck a great balance between size and usability. It provided ample room for multitouch gestures, but without being too large or close to the keyboard, so people’s fingers wouldn’t inadvertently brush against it while typing.

Not every owner needed the SD-card slot or HDMI port, but both were provided for times when we might. This greatly increased the versatility and convenience of this MacBook Pro, as many pro customers use A/V gear that records to SD cards or occasionally need to plug into a TV or projector. The SD-card slot could also serve as inexpensive storage expansion.

The power adapter’s built-in cable management keeps bags tidy. And if you need a longer cable, the extension comes in the box at no additional charge.

Versatile USB-A ports allow travelers to standardize on just one type of charging cable that can charge their iPhones and iPads from the laptop itself, multi-port wall or car chargers, portable batteries, airplanes, many outlets, and nearly all other chargers likely to be found in the world around them.

The 2015 revision brought the modern Force Touch trackpad and used the space savings to increase the battery to 99.5 Wh, just under the 100 Wh carry-on limit for most commercial airlines. When paired with the integrated-only GPU base configuration, this offered an unparalleled option for great battery life without giving up the large Retina screen.

And I like the backlit Apple logo on the lid. Maybe I’m old-fashioned, or maybe I just miss Steve, but it — along with the MagSafe LED and the startup chime — reminds me of a time when Mac designs celebrated personality, humanity, and whimsy.

*    *    *

I recently returned to the 2015 15-inch MacBook Pro after a year away.

Apple still sells this model, brand new, just limited to the integrated-only GPU option (which I prefer as a non-gamer for its battery, heat, and longevity advantages), but I got mine lightly used for over $1000 less.

I thought it would feel like a downgrade, or like going back in time. I feared that it would feel thick, heavy, and cumbersome. I expected it to just look impossibly old.

It didn’t.

It feels as delightful as when I first got one in 2012. It’s fast, capable, and reliable. It gracefully does what I need it to do. It’s barely heavier or thicker, and I got to remove so many accessories from my travel bag that I think I’m actually coming out ahead.

It feels like a professional tool, made by people who love and need computers, at the top of their game.

It’s designed for us, rather than asking us to adapt ourselves to it.

It helps us perform our work, rather than adding to our workload.

This is the peak. This is the best laptop that has ever existed.

I hope it’s not the best laptop that will ever exist.

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samuel
4 days ago
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I don’t know what ya’ll are taking about but I love my 2017 MacBook Pro more than the other 3-4 Mac laptops I’ve had over the years. Thinner, lighter, and the keyboard is better in fact. Very excited for the iMac pro to go with it.
The Haight in San Francisco
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sirshannon
6 days ago
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2011 the year before the iMac started getting worse, 2012 was the year the best MBP and Mac Mini designs were released, and the last year of the last good Mac Pro.
MotherHydra
5 days ago
This. I have the 2012 quad core Mini and a 2015 MacBook Pro. For the first time in over 10 years I couldn’t tell you with certainty which devices I would replace both of those with because none of Apple’s current options are appealing/useful. Mr. Ive needs to get his shit metaphorically pushed in. Apple would never fire him but they really should. Along with some of the hardware folks. But instead Apple is content to try and sell a bicycle with square wheels while blowing smoke up everybody’s ass about how superior it is to the older, primitive, round wheel models that were replaced. Apple lately: “You must work how we say to work. You’ll take this well-designed yet shoddy product and like it.”
fxer
5 days ago
our dev team is still using our 2013 MacBook pros. every year when the company tries to buy us new hardware we say "honestly? no thanks". who the fuck says no to new hardware?? that's the situation Apple has created for us

Losing your grip on reality, in (a) BART station(s) in the Mission

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tumblr_ovqo37jhdv1qm4jy6o1_500

[By Burrito Justice on Tumblr, via Everyday Life]

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samuel
11 days ago
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Measure twice, cut once.
The Haight in San Francisco
infogulch
11 days ago
I don't get it.
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5 Ways to Design Products Customers Love

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nov17-07-523546310-Laura-Lezza
Laura Lezza/Getty Images

As a teenager, Mike Pfotenhauer loved to hike, but he hated how uncomfortable he felt carrying the backpacks then on the market. So, at age 16, he created his own, sewing all the pieces together himself. He went on to design and deliver customized outdoor equipment to clients who’d heard of him through the grapevine, and eventually he founded Osprey, a company that designs and manufactures all kinds of specialty bags and packs, with user-friendly features such as body-hugging contours, a top “lid” flap that converts into a spacious day pack, and a magnetic connector to secure the drinking tube from the built-in water reservoir.

This story exemplifies one type of empathic design, namely by a user-designer who combines deep knowledge of product use with the ability to foresee new possibilities for it. Another well-documented way to achieve the same outcome is through ethnographic research — surveying and studying the behavior of potential or actual users — which design companies such as IDEO have used to great effect in projects as various as coasting bicycles to redesigning patient experience at Kaiser Permanente.

However, in a recent study of a number of architectural firms, I found that there are three additional ways, employed less often, of achieving empathic design.

One of these approaches is to temporarily adopt the role of a user. For example, a designer who wanted to understand patient and family experience in a hospital emergency room feigned an injury. One result of her acting debut was that she identified the need to redesign the way that the nurses conducted triage, that is, deciding who needed immediate attention and who could wait. Many teaching hospitals hire people to simulate patients in a similar way. Although the intention is more to educate future doctors than to change processes, such simulations can offer insights rich in suggestions for improvements, such as additional questions that should be a routine part of the doctors’ diagnostic inquiries.

Another avenue to empathic design is immersion in the culture of the customer or client, so as to look at the challenge through a different lens and intuit unarticulated desires. For example, when a top architect at architectural/engineering firm HGA was assigned to help make a pitch for a synagogue project, she immediately started to study Jewish culture — although she was Catholic — starting with Judaism for Dummies and moving on to more intellectual books. By the time she was interviewed by the clients, she was so up to speed on the religion that they suggested, only half-jokingly, that she could teach Hebrew school. Recognizing Judaism’s strong emphasis on stewardship of the earth, she suggested a feature the clients (and competitors) had not considered: a small garden to be used for certain ceremonies. Her firm won the business.

A final way to achieve empathic design is through a cognitive artifact that may parallel or enhance a physical prototype. Just as drawings and models tap into users’ imagination and uncover latent desires, so too can an evocative metaphor or analogy. For example, when architectural/engineering firm SMMA was tasked with designing a “maker space” that would encourage collaboration, a free flow of ideas, and flexible work areas, and that would fit naturally into the rural environment, the design director suggested a tobacco curing barn as a conceptual archetype. Such structures are both tied to the land and built for an intended process, including directing and adapting to different air flows, with almost porous siding and adaptable interior spaces. By inviting everyone to brainstorm about features that would mimic or differ from this archetype, SMMA came with a more innovative, empathic, user-friendly design.

What all five of these modes of empathic design have in common is:

  • An emphasis on seeking out unarticulated needs and desires so as to get the job done — whatever that job may be — creatively
  • Looking at the world through the eyes of the customer. Of course, there are often different sets of users, whose priorities differ and must be negotiated into some overall compromise.
  • An emotional connection between design and its users. By definition, empathy includes emotion — a connection beyond satisfaction with the operational.

The backpack, the coasting bicycle, the emergency room, the synagogue, the maker space — all are examples of empathic design. But their designers used different strategies to get into the minds of the clients and ultimately the users.

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samuel
12 days ago
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The Haight in San Francisco
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Oct 27th, 2017: SNEKs

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Mark Laita is a long time photographer fascinated by the shapes and colors of snakes, preferably just
after shedding when the colors are most vibrant.



Quote:

Handlers assisted him in laying each snake on a piece of black velvet, which slowed these fast movers enough to grab the photographs. The dark background also allowed the eye to focus on the form, texture, and color of the species. “By putting it on a black background, it removes all of the variables. It makes it just about the snake,” shared Laita. “If it is a red snake in the shape of a figure eight, all you have is this red swipe of color.”


Quote:

While photographing a black mamba at a facility in Central America, the deadly snake struck. “It was a very docile snake,” he recalls. “It just happened to move close to my feet at some point. The handler brought his hook in to move the snake, and he inadvertently snagged the cord from my camera. That scared the snake, and then it struck where it was warm. That happened to be the artery in my calf.” Miraculously, though the blood soaked through his socks and shoes, he survived the bite.


Quote:

Considering the black mamba's venom is deadly and can potentially make a person collapse within 45 minutes, Laita is extremely lucky. In fact, he was so preoccupied with the shoot, he didn't realize he'd been bitten until the handler told him. After 20 minutes of feeling ok, he decided not to seek medical attention—something herpetologists later told him was a big mistake because something could have happened even hours later. It was only the next day he realized he'd actually snapped a photograph of the bite as it occurred.
When will people realize sneks are sneaky, slimy, agents of Evil from Hell. :smack:
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samuel
14 days ago
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Omg
The Haight in San Francisco
vitormazzi
13 days ago
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Brasil
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skittone
14 days ago
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That guy was luuuuuucky!

I Bought a $60 Smart Water Bottle and It’s Sort of Cool

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As of yesterday I believe I have hit peak millennial. It happened when I received my Hidrate Spark 2.0 smart water bottle in the mail. I wanted to start drinking more water, so I’d been using an app to track how much I drink for a few days. The app was fine, but it was easy to forget to do it every time I drank something and kind of a pain. The bottle tracks everything I put in it, syncs over bluetooth, and then saves it using HealthKit. So far it seems to work pretty well.

If you have an extra $60 and want to drink more water, it’s not the worst thing you could do.

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samuel
17 days ago
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The laughingstock of IoT, the connected water bottle, is kind of a good idea.
The Haight in San Francisco
fxer
17 days ago
Let me know when it can track the inordinate amount of water I consume directly from the chilled porcelain of my toilet
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jhameia: driftingfocus: anogoodrabblerouser: disquietingtruths...

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jhameia:

driftingfocus:

anogoodrabblerouser:

disquietingtruths:

universalequalityisinevitable:

Robert Sapolsky about his study of the Keekorok baboon troop from National Geographic’s Stress: Portrait of a Killer.

Thiiiiiiis, people, thiiiis!

1. Kill alpha male types
2. Achieve world peace

Got it.

I’ve actually read a lot of Sapolsky’s work.  He’s one of my favorite scientists in the neuro/socio world.

I just watched the documentary and there is so much more about the troop that isn’t in this photoset—not only does the troop have a culture of little aggression and greater cooperation, but any incoming jerk baboons learned within a few months that their shitty behaviour was in no way acceptable, that the troop only rewarded sociability, and they changed accordingly. 

Then it’s settled. We poison the BMWs.

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popular
16 days ago
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vitormazzi
16 days ago
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Brasil
samuel
17 days ago
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The Haight in San Francisco
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diannemharris
17 days ago
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I was pretty sure this was the point of wars, to get the alpha males to fight each other, so the rest of us could live in peace.
kleer001
17 days ago
It was until the rich ones figured out they could get poor people to die in their stead, thanks to technology!
steanne
16 days ago
not just peace, but health. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A4UMyTnlaMY
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