MacBook Pro Touch Bar Update

Post by Mark

When I posted my MacBook Pro review a couple of weeks back I mentioned that the Touch Bar was still new and people were still trying to figure out what it could be useful for. Well I think people are starting to figure it out. One thing I found out since I published that post was that the app BetterTouchTool supported the Touch Bar. I already had BetterTouchTool installed and had been using it for years because it allowed me to customize my trackpad gestures. Now it also allows you to customize the Touch Bar which is useful because some apps like Chrome don’t support the Touch Bar yet.

So using BetterTouchTool I started creating useful buttons for the Touch Bar I could use when in Chrome. Then the developer added the ability to display the date and battery life time remaining information in the Touch Bar. When he did that I realized it would be super useful if I could display my Spotify track names in the Touch Bar while I was browsing in Chrome. So I contacted the developer and requested that feature and sure enough, a few days later, BetterTouchTool got the ability to display what track was playing in the Touch Bar. The picture on top is of my current Chrome Touch Bar setup, I have a button to take me in and out of full screen mode, a button to view my download list, a button for incognito mode, a track play/forward button, track/artist name display area plus my battery remaining time which Apple doesn’t allow you to view anymore by default.

People are still creating interesting stuff for the Touch Bar, one guy for example created a translator, whenever you highlight a word or phrase in the browser, it would automatically translate that text and display it to you in your Touch Bar using a predefined language of your choice. There are also a ton of fun/silly/useless things you could do to the Touch Bar like displaying an infinite loop of Nyan Cat or turn your Touch Bar into Kitt from Knight Rider. You could even install an app that would turn the Touch Bar into a piano or play a game of Pong using the Touch Bar to control the rudder. You can check them all out in the video above.

So yeah, looks like the Touch Bar is getting more and more interesting. If you have the new MacBook Pro Touch Bar, make sure you install BetterTouchTool so you could customize things the way you want.


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MacBook Pro Touch Bar vs MacBook Air – My Review

Post by Mark

I don’t think any notebook has ever gotten as much hate as the new MacBook Pro’s have and I can’t understand why. Last week I replaced my 13″ MacBook Air with the new 13″ MacBook Pro with the Touch Bar and I just love it.

Before I go ahead and explain why I love the new MacBook Pro so much and why I think its so much better than my already amazing MacBook Air, I’m going to first quickly explain why the biggest issues people have with the MacBook Pro don’t really affect me. This review is also fairly long compared to my regular posts so I’ve titled all the main paragraphs that way you can skip down to the area you care more about if you don’t feel like reading.

No USB Ports
This is probably the biggest issue people have with the new MacBook Pros, they don’t have the regular USB Type-A ports and instead Apple replaced them with the newer, slimmer, faster, better but also less popular USB-C ports. In my case I rarely used the USB ports on my MacBook Air, the only time I ever used them was when I traveled I’d charge my iPhone from my Air’s USB port and when I wanted to copy stuff onto or off memory sticks. I barely used USB so for me if the ports are USB-C or Type-A… I don’t really care. I bought the USB-C to Type-A Apple adapter so IF I ever need a regular Type-A port, I’ll just use the adapter. I’d rather have a slimmer notebook without any USB ports than a thicker one with. But again thats because I rarely used the ports to begin with and I can always move things around wirelessly.

No SD Card Slot
This I was more upset with than the lack of USB ports. I take a lot of photos with my camera for the blog and when I travel so it was very practical having an SD card slot in my MacBook Air. But it’s not that big a deal really having no SD card slot. My current camera’s SD card has WiFi anyway so I’ll just wirelessly transfer the photos onto my Mac. Actually, most of the time I copy the photos over to my phone first, edit them in VSCO and then AirDrop them onto my Mac. That’s what I did with these pictures in this post for example.

Battery Life
This wasn’t an issue until Consumer Reports tested the new MacBook Pro’s late last month and got battery life that ranged anywhere from 4 to 18 hours. They cited major inconsistencies which I have yet to encounter with my short time with the notebook. So far my MacBook Pro is lasting me as much as my MacBook Air would which is to say all day of on and off use.

Max 16GB of RAM
A lot of people have made a fuss that the maximum amount of RAM the new MacBook Pro’s support is 16GB. I had 8GB of RAM on my MacBook Air and I was doing design work and editing large files on it without any issues. I have 8GB of RAM on my new MacBook Pro and I expect it to perform even better than my MacBook Air so I’m fine with the 16GB limit since I don’t need more than 8.

The Review
Now with the controversial items out of the way let me start my review. I’ve never owned a MacBook Pro (or PowerBook). My first notebook ever was a white 12″ iBook G3 Dual USB back in 2001 (considered the most unreliable Apple notebook ever). Since then I’ve had a bunch of other low end Apple notebooks until I moved up to the MacBook Air. I got my first one in 2011 and then replaced it in 2015 with the updated model. Anyone who owns a MacBook Air will tell you they’re incredible notebooks and I really didn’t need to replace mine, it was more than enough for my needs, but something about the new MacBook Pro’s attracted me, I think it was the Touch Bar but once I saw them I knew I needed one. In the week I’ve owned the MacBook Pro, a few things have really impressed me compared to the MacBook Air:

The Size
Somehow Apple has managed to make the MacBook Pro smaller than the MacBook Air and also weigh the same. Side by side when compared to the MacBook Air, the MacBook Pro is clearly smaller and more compact.

The Screen
My biggest issue with the MacBook Air was the screen, not because it didn’t have a retina display which I could care less about, but because the viewing angle was terrible. I used to constantly adjust the screen tilt to make sure I was getting the best viewing angle. With the new MacBook Pro I don’t have that issue, no matter how much I move the screen looks great. The color difference and brightness is another thing I instantly noticed, side by side the MacBook Air looks dimmer and the colors duller when compared to the Pro. I’d find it really difficult to move back to the MacBook Air now.

The Sound
The speakers on the new MacBook Pro are much better than the MacBook Air. Like the difference in sound quality is pretty dramatic, other than the fact the sound is much more louder on the MacBook Pro, it also has more bass and much more clarity to it. And because the speakers are pointing towards you (with the Air the sound is indirect), the left and right channels are also a lot more clearly defined. I’ve started listening to music on my notebook which I never used to do before.

The Keyboard
Based on the reviews I read online about the keyboard, I was worried I was going to hate it. I don’t, it’s now one of my favorite things in the new MacBook Pro. I type better with it, I type faster and it just feels so much more solid when compared to the MacBook Air keyboard which now feels too squishy to me.

What About the Touch Bar?
This is one area I have yet to make up my mind on. There are two parts to the Touch Bar, the main touch display area and the TouchID (fingerprint sensor) which is located on the far right. I love the TouchID since it allows me to sign into my MacBook instantly. I’m also hoping that soon I could use TouchID to unlock 1Password like I do on my iPhone, that option alone would make this MacBook Pro worth it over the Air.

Now the touch display area of the Touch Bar is what I’m still trying to get a hang of. Right now it really isn’t that useful. It looks cool for sure but it’s currently not that much more practical than keyboard short cuts. Also not all apps support it yet and the ones that do don’t allow that much customization to it. Because of the way I rest my hands on the keyboard while using the trackpad I also keep accidentally touching the Esc button which is annoying (I’ve done it 3 times while writing this article) but I’m getting used to it. While I’m typing this post up I have Spotify showing on my Touch Bar but for I wish instead of the audio scrubber showing (pictured above), I could choose to show the name of the song and artist in that space instead. The Touch Bar is still new though so I’m hoping we’ll get more customization options over the next year as companies start understanding what people want from the Touch Bar.

MacBook Air vs MacBook Pro
This is a really easy recommendation to make, the MacBook Pro is a much better machine over the Air in every way. The MacBook Pro weighs the same as the Air but is also smaller in size so the biggest advantage the Air had over the Pro series doesn’t exist anymore. The MacBook Pro screen is better, the keyboard is better and if you’re used to listening to music on the Air’s speakers, then you’re gonna love the MacBook Pro. The only thing I have difficulty recommending is the MacBook Pro with the Touch Bar over the version without the Touch Bar. Is the Touch Bar worth an extra $300? I think I’m leaning towards a yes, but only if you’ve got the money to spend. If you don’t thats fine, you aren’t really missing much.

I ordered my MacBook Pro from eBay and it cost me KD548 ($1,789) and another KD10.5 to ship to Kuwait using PostPlus. It was considerably cheaper to buy it on eBay since Apple charges tax and I would have ended up paying KD600 ($1,963) if I had purchased it from the Apple Store. It was also quicker since when I was ordering the MacBook Pro, the wait time on the Apple Store was 3-4 weeks before shipping. But, the advantage of ordering directly from the Apple Store is you could customize your Mac with more RAM or a faster CPU. I also purchased the “Space Gray” color which is what you see in the pictures in this post. Let me know if you have any questions.

Update: Turns out 1Password already works with TouchID, I just needed to enable it in the settings!


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My Abandoned Apple Store Photos are Popular Again

Post by Mark

apple

Back before the iPod came out and Apple became popular, there was an Apple store located across the street from Salhiya. As a teenager I used to walk by the store and dream about owning a Power Mac which I thought back then was one of the hottest looking computers on the market. Fast forward around a decade later and that Apple store was abandoned. I ended up taking some photos of it in that abandoned state and published them online as part of my Miskan project. The photos got picked up by the likes of Engadget and Gizmodo since the store was like a time capsule. After my 15 seconds of fame that was it.. until this week.

Somehow the photos have started making their rounds around the internet again, they first got posted on reddit and then the popular YouTuber EverythingApplePro who has like 3 million subscribers shared the photos in his latest video. Gotta love the internet. My pictures make it in his video above at the 2:10 mark but you can check out all the photos I had taken back then [Here]

apple2

I eventually ended up getting the vinyl ‘Think Different’ campaign banners that are in the photos. I still have them tucked away in my closet and from what I’ve been able to gather, they’re now worth a nice penny or two.

Thanks Salah!


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How to Block Spam Messages in iOS 10

Post by Mark

block1

Previously on my iPhone, whenever I got a spam message, blocking it was fairly simple, you clicked on the sender on the top and then a “Block this Caller” option appeared and I’d click it. But, with the new iOS, things are a bit more complicated and the “Block this Caller” option is now hidden in a different menu without an obvious way of getting there. It actually took me a bit of googling to figure out how to block callers in iOS10 so I figured I’d share it on the blog since spam messages are pretty common in Kuwait.

Step 1
Instead of clicking on the sender like you previously would do, you now need to click the little “i” on the top right of your phone (photo on top)

block2

Step 2
In this second menu, you need to click on the senders name

block3

Step 3
Once you’re at the last menu you’ll now notice the “Block this Caller” option is available again at the bottom of the screen.


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iPhone 7 Prices in Kuwait

Post by Mark

iphone7

Below are the current prices of the iPhone 7 in Kuwait, the cheapest online seems to be Best Electronics. Check out the list below and if I’m missing a website let me know.

Best Electronics
iPhone 7 32GB: KD238
iPhone 7 Plus 32GB: KD326

Blink
iPhone 7 32GB: KD259
iPhone 7 Plus 32GB: KD375

Lulu
iPhone 7 32GB: KD240
iPhone 7 Plus 32GB: N/A

Mr Babu
iPhone 7 32GB: KD239
iPhone 7 Plus 32GB: KD329

Quick
iPhone 7 32GB: KD270
iPhone 7 Plus 32GB: KD370

Taw9eel
iPhone 7 32GB: KD245
iPhone 7 Plus 32GB: N/A

uBuy
iPhone 7 32GB: KD240
iPhone 7 Plus 32GB: N/A

Xcite
iPhone 7 32GB: KD240
iPhone 7 Plus 32GB: KD330


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New Taxi App – Abi Taxi

Post by Mark

abitaxi

Haven’t tried using this app yet but hopefully it’s more reliable than the other taxi app I’ve tried using before, Q8 Taxi. I tried ordering a cab with Q8 Taxi when I had to drop off my car for detailing and the drivers kept canceling my taxi request. Whats taking Uber so long to launch in Kuwait??

To download Abi Taxi on your iPhone just search for Abi Taxi in the app store or click [Here]


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Dizly – The Social Gifting App

Post by Mark

dizly

Dizly is a locally produced app that allows you to buy and send a variety of gifts to people. I’ve had the app for awhile now but they’ve recently made some changes to it that have improved the experience dramatically with the most important change being that you no longer needed to create an account just so you could browse the products.

Since Christmas is in a few days I figured now would be the best time to post about the app. They’ve also given me a promo code “Diz248am” to share with my readers which will give you a 15% discount on all the items. The app is available on iOS and Android and you can check out their website for more details [Here]


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Get Your Car Washed Using an App

Post by Mark

ghaseel

“Ghaseel” is an app that allows you to order and pay for a car wash using your phone. The way it works is fairly simple, after signing up and filling your address, you proceed to order a car wash. You choose your date and time you want them to come and wash your car and then you’ll get a list of different companies that are available at your specified time. You choose the company and package you want and then check out and pay.

ghaseel2

It’s not a bad idea at all but there are a few things I think they can do to make it even better. Firstly the way the different carwash packages are featured is not very consistent. Some are written in Arabic, some English, some are very detailed information wise while others are very vague. It makes the app feel very amateurish. Secondly there is no rating system. So if you had a good or bad experience with one of the carwash companies there is no way of let other users know.

Still not a bad first attempt. The app is only available for iOS devices at the moment and is free to download from the App Store by searching for “Ghaseel” or by visiting their website [Here]


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iPhone 6s Launching in Kuwait this Saturday

Post by Mark

iphone6s

If you’re planning to buy an iPhone 6s in the next coming days I’d put a hold on that since I just found out that phone is officially launching in Kuwait this coming Saturday. Ooredoo sent out an invitation awhile ago for a midnight launch party this Friday to celebrate the launch of the phone. So if you were going to buy an iPhone this weekend you’ll most likely get a better price if you wait until till next week.


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My Phone Knows Too Much

Post by Mark

hampton

Have you guys noticed how much information your phone knows about you? Back in January while using google maps on my phone to get to my hotel I noticed something weird. Under the hotel name on google maps was my check in and check out date. I was like WTF? How did it know? I then realized that google must have read my booking information when I got it in my gmail inbox and then shared that information with google maps. Impressive.

But now things are starting to get creepy. I’m currently vacation in the States and earlier today I was in Versailles, Kentucky when I got a notification on my phone telling me I should leave and head to my next city if I wanted to check into my hotel on time. I didn’t add anything to my calendar nor did I add a reminder so I figured my iPhone is now also reading my emails and setting up my calendar for me. Not only that but it also reminded me 3 hours before check in and my trip to my next destination was going to take 3 hours by car exactly. Crazy shit.

Later in the day I was telling my friend about it and she asked me what time my flight was tomorrow. I told her 5:30 but I’m not sure and as a joke I was like let me ask Siri. So I ask Siri what time my flight was the next day and she replies telling me 7:27. I was like whaaaaatt… So I open my airline app and check and she was right, my flight was at 7:27.

It’s all pretty creepy the way my phone and google read my emails now but I also kinda like it. It’s the good kind of creepy I guess.


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