I returned my 2016 MacBook Pro with Touch Bar

tl;dr: After two weeks of use, I returned my 2016 13" MacBook Pro with Touch Bar and bought one with Function Keys instead. Read on for detailed Battery stress tests, performance tests, and an exploration of how Apple's botched this year's Pro lineup.

I've owned almost every generation of Mac desktop and laptop computers, and have survived many transitions: 680x0 to PowerPC, Classic Mac OS to OS X, to the PowerPC to Intel switch. I've also owned almost every generation of iPhone and iPad. I even maintain a huge list of all the Macs I've owned! I could justifiably be labeled an 'Apple fanatic'.

I use a Mac as my daily driver, and have rarely made a tech-related purchase I regretted. And I've never returned a Mac, until today.

A Tale of Two Apples: AirPods and the Touch Bar

Yesterday UPS delivered a BTO 2016 MacBook Pro 13" with Touch Bar (to replace my 2013 11" MacBook Air), and a set of AirPods (to replace three different headsets I use daily in my work as a remote employee).

AirPods on 2016 MacBook Pro 13" Touch Bar Safari address bar in Charging Case

The two products tell a different story about the company that makes them:

MacBook Pro with Touch Bar

The MacBook Pro fails to 'thrill' in a way that no other Apple device I've made the conscious decision to purchase has.

Upgrading from a 2013 MacBook Air 11" (portability is king to me, but I needed more performance), the only major external difference is the retina display—something most other 'pro' Mac users have been enjoying since 2012. The Touch Bar itself is mostly useless to me for two reasons:

Apple giveth, and Apple taketh away — the Escape key

In Apple's 10.12.1 macOS update, the file 'ApplePaySplashSA.tiff' seems to spilled the beans on Apple's new MacBook Pro's (and possibly other laptops') contextual function row key replacement. I'm guessing this change won't make it's way to Apple's Magic Keyboard for some time... but for users of Apple's laptops, having a 'software-defined' escape key might be a pill that's hard to swallow.

Macbook Pro Escape Key missing OLED contextual keys

2013 MacBook Air WiFi Problems (high latency, dropped connections) [Updated]

Update (3/4/14): Mac OS X 10.9.2 seems to fix at least the latency issue—and possibly dropped connections as well, at least for most users I've spoken with... We'll see!

Update 2 (11/25/14): If you're having trouble with iOS 8 and/or Yosemite, it could be related to AirDrop services over WiFi. Please see WiFried: iOS 8 WiFi Issue

For the past few months, I've been battling my 2013 11" MacBook Air's WiFi problems. I've taken the MacBook to the Genius Bar twice, and have attempted dozens of fixes. Judging by the number of individuals who have posted to this thread on Apple's Support Communities forum, among many other similar threads, I'm not the only MacBook Air owner suffering from WiFi issues like high latency, slow throughput, connection dropouts, and other random problems.

Here are some of the symptoms I and others have encountered:

Replacing the hard drive in a (non-unibody) MacBook Pro

A friend of mine had an older 2008 MacBook Pro (the kind that does not have the modern 'unibody' construction), and he noticed it was getting slower. He upgraded the RAM to max it out at 4 GB (I think it might be able to go to 6 or 8 GB if needed). But a lot of things took a long time to do, even though the Mac had a 1.86 Ghz Core 2 Duo processor (not a slouch by any means).

He asked me to replace the hard drive with an SSD, so I did. I followed this iFixIt guide, and put in a new OCZ Agility 256GB SSD, which is way faster (especially for random access, like when you boot the computer or launch an app) than the old disk drive that I removed from the MacBook Pro.

Old Mac of the Month - Macintosh IIci (on 512 Pixels)

This month, my old Mac story about a IIci was featured on on the excellent Apple-related blog 512 Pixels, by Stephen Hackett: Old Mac of the Month: Macintosh IIci.

My old Mac IIci

I briefly mention the IIci in my (not-yet-complete) Computing History article here on Life is a I really liked the IIci, and it's probably one of my favorite Macs of all time, especially considering I probably owned and used it the longest!

Special thanks to my brother and dad, who not only helped me get into electronics and computing, but also helped me edit the article.

Rooting Android - General Observations and OG Droid + LG Ally

After a couple years having had no experience with an Android phone of any variety, a generous Twitter follower I had met donated two older Android phones, an original Motorola Droid (running Froyo 2.2.2) and an LG Ally (also running 2.2.2), so I could learn the Android UI and work on porting a couple of my iOS apps.

One unfortunate reality of the Android ecosystem is that phones are often abandoned by their manufacturers after only a year (or less time), and even if not, they are not kept up to date past one or two minor Android OS releases. For instance, both the Ally and Droid are more than capable of running Android 2.3 Gingerbread (and I'm now running 2.3.7 on the Droid, faster than 2.2.x ever ran), but Motorola has ended support for the device.

MobileMe Stuck on 'Registering Computer...'? Try this

I was having tons of trouble getting my brand new 11" MacBook Air to get MobileMe Sync set up, and it kept getting stuck with 'Registering computer...' either when I checked the 'Synchronize with MobileMe' checkbox or when I clicked 'Advanced...' and then 'Register Computer'.

Since I've subscribed to iTools, then .Mac, and now MobileMe (soon iCloud) since 2000, I figured this may have something to do with the fact that, after all these years, my default AppleID would change to (rather than, as it has been for years).

The steps you should try before giving up are as follows:


As many of my colleagues mourn the death of a great tech icon, Steve Jobs, I pray for his soul, and hope (sincerely) that he makes it to Heaven. For all his flaws, he was a good neighbor, an optimist, a great strategist, an opponent of pornography, and he built up the tech industry in ways the future history books will show.

Steve Jobs

Much of my life has been lived along with products created or conceived by Steve himself (see my ongoing computing history here), and my current profession would be nowhere near as interesting as it is without his continual push towards extending the reach of technology into my life.


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