Timbuk2 Factory Tour

Interesting look inside Timbuk2’s San Francisco Factory by Jose Fermoso.

Mini Review: Retina MacBook Pro

I’ve been hurting for a new laptop for a while now, my old 13” MacBook Pro departed a long time ago, replaced with an HP Elitebook 8440w which was starting to show its age. After seeing the Retina MacBook Pro in person I could no longer bare holding on to my heavy, thick, washed out screen Elitebook - time to make the switch back to Mac.

Having a Windows laptop for IT work defiantly has its pluses, and therefore (since business has picked up) I was reluctant to switch back to OS X as my primary work computer. However I could not picture myself buying a top dollar Windows laptop considering how much I hate their design efforts and Windows 8. So I made a smart move, I bought a 15” Retina MacBook Pro: 2.3Ghz, 16GB Ram, 256 SSD.

This laptop is so amazing from a hardware perspective that when I jump on my desktop at home it makes my ZR2740w (2560x1440) monitor look like complete crap. I find myself not wanting to use my 6-core desktop anymore, which is actually sort of sad. The Retina display is absolutely astonishing, it literally is going to change mobile computing like the iPhone did for smartphones.

The Retina MacBook Pro is fast, scoring an 11947 on Geekbench - for comparison my 6-core AMD workstation scores a 12258.  I also ran a comparison transcode with handbrake (1.5GB 720p x264 .mkv -> .mp4). The Retina MacBook Pro averaged 42.5 fps while my desktop averaged 37.2 fps, which equates to roughly a 5 minute faster transcode time for the Retina MacBook Pro.

So far, the only flaws I have found are relatively minor, but annoying at times. The well documented scroll lag is noticeable because of the high resolution screen (scrolling is rendered at less than optimal FPS). Also, the login screen seems to do some sort of weird screen tearing lag when selecting your avatar for logging in, but this is more than likely a OS or file vault issue perhaps. I won’t mention non native Retina apps to much as this is more growing pains than flaw.

From pictures the thickness of the Retina MacBook Pro may not seem like much, but in practice it makes a huge difference - I love carrying this machine. I used to think the 15” MBP was a monster, but I don’t really feel this way anymore. If my desktop was not such a work horse, I would consider ditching it all together, but there is also the issue of Company of Heroes 2, which will not be available on Mac (that’s a problem).  So knowing me, I will build a new Haswell workstation anyway, which is the complete opposite of ditching my current desktop. 

Things 2 vs. OmniFocus

GTD (Getting Things Done) is a relatively new concept for me, and my beginnings with the method was maintained via the much loved OmniFocus application. OmniFocus is great, but it does come with a slight learning curve, and I purchased the app for my iPad after many recommendations. Still, there was always this drawl for me to try Things every time I saw it’s simple to use UI, but these GTD apps come at a steep price, so I refrained due to lack of cloud sync and cost. After trying my hardest to love OmniFocus as so many others do, I realized that maintaining it was a task in itself, and finally decided to give Things a try after version 2 was released with cloud sync. 

After making the switch I quickly became familiar with its intuitive UI and simple workflow, for me it works exactly the way I want my GTD app to work - simple, intuitive, fast. OmniFocus required to much organization, navigating and structuring for a guy like myself. Now don’t get me wrong OmniFocus is a GREAT application, but I picture someone who has more time and way more things “to-do” than than me using this app. Things just works for my personality, If you ever find yourself not checking your GTD app I advise you to check out Things 2 by Cultured Code and see if it helps kick start your to-do list.

OS X Server 10.8 Tutorials

Krypted.com has been in overdrive recently with tutorials on setting up various services in OS X Server 10.8. These are great, free resources for anyone looking to run a Mountain Lion Server at home or for small business. I keep copies in Instapaper for reference, and recently setup a NetInstall Server for Mountain Lion at one of my clients offices and it works flawlessly.

Here is an index of tutorials available as of 8/10/12:

Open Directory - Master
NetBoot Services
File Services
Wiki’s & WebDAV
Managing DNS
Software Update Service
Alerts
Contacts Service
Messages Service
Time Machine
VPN Server
Calendar Server
DHCP Server
Upgrading to Mountain Lion Server

Update:

Open Directory - Replica
Setting up Mail Server 
Ars Technica Power User Guide to OS X Server 

Have a great weekend!

Re: Backup

Backup is important, and as Shawn Blanc describes — once it is setup little effort is needed to maintain your backups. There are plenty of great backup solutions out there, but one I notice many people don’t mention is Crashplan, so i’ll chime in.

Crashplan’s backup software is great because it is a one stop shop for all of your backup destinations, and it works flawlessly. Using their software one can backup any folder you want, to multiple locations. For example, you may choose to keep a backup on an external hard drive, and pay less than $5.00 a month for unlimited space on Crashplan’s remote backup servers. With their client software one can do this, all from one console. Another great perk is that you can remotely backup to a friends computer for free.

My colleague has a server at his house which I remotely backup to after an initial seed from an external hard drive (Due to massive size). I have all my data offsite, but easly attainable, for free. 

My current backup method is Dropbox + Crashplan. All my working files, documents, and random iPhone photos are in Dropbox, which gives me anywhere access and backup all in one. Then, my photos, personal videos, and other media is remotely backed up to my friends server at his house. Also, in this remote backup I choose to include the Dropbox folder on my workstation to be backed up, just encase something happens to Dropbox (Security and all :sic:). 

I urge anyone considering a Backup solution to look into Crashplan, it is simple and it supports Windows, Mac, and Linux to boot. All of my clients remote backups at Tech & Theory are managed with Crashplan PROe (It is the enterprise equivalent of the consumer version) and it’s a fantastic solution, plus they get free seeding and onsite restore for a great price.

A couple SoundHound download codes.

A couple SoundHound download codes.

Server, simplified: A power user’s guide to OS X Server

Great article to reference.

Handbrake Adds Apple TV 3 Preset

I’ve been waiting for this awesomeness.

Mini Review: LunaTik Touch Pen Alloy

After the long waited arrival of my LunaTik Touch Pen Alloy via Kickstarter backing, it has arrived. Two things I have been searching for recently are the perfect pen and the perfect stylus. I hoped after backing LunaTik’s design project I had found both in the same package. My first impression of the Touch Pen Alloy is that it is well designed and constructed (it is aluminium BTW). The first thing I did after tearing open the package like a kid on Christmas was whip out my Moleskin and test the ink — it writes fantastic. The pen portion is devised of a Japanese roller ball, custom built for LunaTik, it feels like the venerable Pilot G2, and probably is. 

LunaTik stylus

LunaTik Touch Pen Alloy

I preceded to my iPad with Paper app waiting to be loaded, Paper is an awesome app. The first thing I noticed is that the LunaTik stylus is not as smooth as the Pogo Sketch Pro, but smooth enough none-the-less. Also, the LunaTik is not as sensitive, requiring a little more pressure, so right off the bat i’m going to say if your an iPad artist this may not be the stylus for you. As far as writing and annotating docs, it works great since maximum precision is not key. With that said the pen feature, plus build quality far outweigh it’s slight lack in sensitivity and smoothness on glass, which the Pogo Sketch is known for. I’m curious about it’s wear characteristics — time will tell.

LunaTik Touch Pen Alloy

LunaTik Touch Pen Alloy

I love this thing, and I look forward to using it each day. As far as I know LunaTik are the only one’s with anything of this caliber on the market right now, and if your using it for a productivity tool your going to love it.  

Portrait Lenses: Which One Is Best And Why?

This article from SonyAlphaLabs on portrait lenses is just awesome. I recommend reading it if your considering a new lens, or want to learn a little bit more about what specs are important.