The First Chance to Play in the Snow, Version 2019

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

I guess, by definition, this photo story wasn’t really the first snowfall of 2019. We had the biggest snowstorm on record hit our region in mid-October. But because of how quickly the snow came and how quickly it melted, this little gal didn’t have a chance to enjoy the first dump of fresh snow.

Fast forward to mid-November and we’re starting to see the first powdery stuff that’s expected to stay for the duration of the winter. This is our little girl’s first winter where she’s walking and eager to explore — there was a lot for her to discover outside.

Naturally, she had to model a toque in the process.

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My Very First Impressions of the New 16-inch MacBook Pro

Monday, November 18, 2019

I probably shouldn’t admit that I bought the new 16-inch MacBook Pro with absolutely no intention of keeping it. I purchased a 27-inch iMac back in July and I’ve been very happy with that decision.

That said, I remember stating on The Sweet Setup a few years ago that the ultimate computer would be a MacBook Pro that could power a 5K display. It didn’t take long for my dream to come true — the 2016 MacBook Pro was completely capable of driving a 27-inch 5K display and it had power left to spare.

It looked like that 2016 MacBook Pro was the one to rule them all. But of course, it came with the biggest caveat in the history of Apple’s MacBooks: the keyboard.

It didn’t matter that the MacBook Pro was capable of driving a 5K display — since you couldn’t type on the keyboard without worry of damaging the notebook, everything was moot. I resorted to using the MacBook Pro in clamshell mode for 95% of its life just so I didn’t push that keyboard to its brink.

Fast forward to 2019 and we have a 16-inch MacBook Pro capable of driving a 6K display1 and this new MacBook Pro has a functioning keyboard.

I finally have the MacBook Pro of my dreams.

Of course, it’s too little too late for me — the iPad Pro is far and away powerful enough to meet my needs when I’m out-and-about and there’s no long-term reality of this new MacBook Pro in my life.

So, with that out of the way, here are three quick first impressions from my first eight or so hours with the new 16-inch MacBook Pro.

On the new keyboard: This new keyboard is indeed everything we had hoped the 2016 MacBook Pro’s keyboard would have been — functional, initially reliable, quiet, and with relatively normal key travel.

I’ve read other reviewers suggest that this new scissor-mechanism keyboard combines the best of the butterfly keyboard and the 2015-and-prior scissor keyboard. I think this is a strong reflection of the typing experience, but I don’t agree entirely. Key stability is far and away improved in comparison to the pre-2015 keyboard, but this keyboard is definitely not as stable as butterfly keyboards. If you roll your finger over top of the space bar, there’s a definite wobble to be had. Each individual key has the slightest wobble as well. This wobble was never present in the butterfly keyboard. All this to say, the scissor keyboard is not as stable as the butterfly keyboard.

But wobbles aside, this keyboard has been a dream to type with so far today and I’m excited to be able to write my papers and the rest of this month’s blog posts with it.

On the new display size: I didn’t think 16 inches would mean all that much when compared to the 15.4-inch display of the 2016 MacBook Pro (and I especially didn’t think it would be noticeable after watching as many YouTube videos I could on the matter). But in person, the 16-inch display does feel more expansive. It’s entirely bigger, entirely brighter, and entirely more capable.

I’m a sucker for a massive 27-inch display for both PDF/research purposes and for photography purposes. But combine this 16-inch MacBook Pro with macOS Catalina’s new Sidecar capabilities with an iPad Pro and there’s enough screen real estate for most of my significant workflows.

Had this MacBook Pro been around in July, I probably wouldn’t have bought an iMac.

On the new size and heft: My very first impression of this new MacBook Pro came when the delivery man handed me the box. The box was so much bigger and so much heavier than I ever expected. Even after unboxing, I’m noticing the heft and density of this notebook every time I pick it up.

I wouldn’t venture to say the 16-inch MacBook Pro is more akin to the 17-inch MacBook Pro from years back than it is to the 2016 15-inch MacBook Pro, but it’s closer than I thought. This is a hefty notebook and one you won’t be able to hide in your messenger bag.

I’m planning on putting this new machine through the paces over the next few weeks and I’ll put together my more complete thoughts for early December on The Sweet Setup.

In the meantime, I’m sure glad I can finally say the MacBook Pro is a worthwhile recommendation again. After three-plus years of steering people away from Apple’s flagship notebook, I think it’s fair to say the MacBook Pro is back in the game.

  1. And two of them, at that!

The Twelve South HiRise Pro Stand (and BackPack) Review on The Sweet Setup

Sunday, November 17, 2019

I haven’t been one to point at my work over on The Sweet Setup in quite some time. The Newsprint went almost dormant for a little while there, but I still pounded out thousands and thousands of words at The Sweet Setup. If for some reason you’re ever curious about where I am, you can probably look at The Sweet Setup to find out.

This past week, I reviewed the Twelve South HiRise Pro Stand and the Twelve South BackPack — two awesome products that have greatly improved my home setup. The BackPack has moved my LaCie D2 Thunderbolt drive up and behind my iMac, while the HiRise Pro has boosted the iMac to new, more comfortable heights.

There’s also something particularly alluring about the walnut facade of the HiRise Pro. In my review, I talk about how the HiRise Pro wasn’t exactly my aesthetic cup of tea. But I’m a sucker for walnut and this HiRise Pro look has really grown on me.

Head over to The Sweet Setup to read the entire review and to take in all the photos. The ones shown here (among others) are some of my favourites.

Jedi: Fallen Order — The Star Wars Game No One Was Expecting

Friday, November 15, 2019

Ben Kuchera, writing for Polygon:

Yes, there’s a lot about this game that’s awkward. But to do something different, you have to do something different, and that means it may take some time for a game to find its footing. Jedi: Fallen Order is enjoyable, with caveats about its performance and some aspects of its design attached, but it goes places I didn’t expect, and it gets there by a route I would never have considered. That’s a bold choice for a game this inherently commercial.

Jedi: Fallen Order is a flawed, sometimes messy game, but it’s a Star Wars experience I didn’t know I wanted. And after finishing it, I definitely want more.

It’s Friday night, so naturally I bought and downloaded the game, and I’m primed and ready to go on a Star Wars adventure.

The last single player Star Wars game I enjoyed was the original Star Wars: Force Unleashed (the first one). I was onboard with a Force-sensitive child being abducted by Darth Vader and turned into an assassin. I was also onboard with being able to throw any object available in the map at vulnerable enemies.

Force Unleashed II felt like a gigantic gimmick in comparison. Something about that game was completely unmemorable. And nothing has been memorable since that game (though Battlefront II’s story mode comes close).

I’m hoping my Xbox One S can keep up with Fallen Order’s demanding graphics.

Getting Ready For His Big Day

Thursday, November 14, 2019

When it was time to come up in the clutch, Marius came through. We were all particularly dashing that day, but Marius came through better than anyone else.

Thank goodness Álvaro was around to ensure all our white shirts looked fresh and crisp.

The Vulture’s Review of The Mandalorian’s Pilot Episode

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Keith Phipps (be warned, there are spoilers in the linked article):

Part of the genius of the original Star Wars trilogy came from George Lucas’s decision to offer glimpses of a larger world and suggestions of who might live in it without providing much detail. Bizarre aliens and strange technology get only a few moments of screen time but have fueled the imaginations of viewers for decades. The Empire Strikes Back, for instance, features a gathering of bounty hunters, all of whom look like they’ve accumulated a lifetime of stories living hard in some of the nastiest parts of the galaxy, stories the film leaves tantalizingly untold. Successful franchises abhor a vacuum, however, and that same quality has helped inspire a whole industry of spin-off novels, comics, games, and animated series to fill in all those intriguing blanks. There’s something lost in that process, but when the spin-offs work, there’s also something to be gained.

I was super excited for the debut of The Mandalorian yesterday and wanted to pull off some sort of tongue-in-cheek tweet to deter folks from spoiling the first episode. I ventured into the archives to find all of Boba Fett’s lines in Star Wars, hoping to find something worthy of a funny tweet.

Boba Fett has four lines in all of Star Wars. Fett is one of the most intriguing and feared characters in the original trilogy and he only has four lines.

Fett isn’t the only bounty hunter with such a minimal role — Bossk is one of the main villains in EA’s Star Wars Battlefront 2 video game and he doesn’t really have a line in the official Star Wars films.

Every character George Lucas created has a deep back story, and it’s these spinoff shows and films which really build out the Star Wars lore.

I absolutely loved the first episode of The Mandalorian. From the feeling of a true Star Wars film to the revelation at the end of the first episode, everything about this first episode has me giddy for Friday at midnight.

Like big fans of the Marvel universe watching everything come together in End Game, I love watching how Disney has consolidated and improved the consistency of Star Wars shows. You need only look at the costumes of the various alien races in this first episode of The Mandalorian. There are Weequay, Ugnaughts, Rodians, and of course the species-that-must-not-be-named at the end. The weapons used in the first episode are no different — the little CR-2 repeater held by one of the four Stormtroopers is consistent with other Star Wars shows and video games, and the powerful rifle used by IG-11 is the same rifle used by Iden Versio in Battlefront 2. The consistencies from video game to TV show are so cool to see.

It’s this consistency and overall cohesive direction that make me most excited for The Mandalorian and other spin-off TV shows. I imagine this is just a taste of what’s to come — Ewan McGregor confirming a reprising role of Obi-Wan Kenobi after Episode III sounds pretty awesome right about now.