MacBook 2015 released with 12″ Retina Display. My Thoughts & Comparison

design_retina_large

On 9th March 2015, Apple announced (among other things…) an all new MacBook, I won’t go into the marketing details as you’ll find those everywhere else. Essentially however its an ultra low power, ultra light, 12″ MacBook with a Retina Display. As a heavy 11″ MacBook Air user I can confidently say I think they’ve really pulled it out the bag this time.

Firstly looking at the overall dimensions of the 12″ MacBook I was very surprised to see its smaller than the 11″ Air (just about) in every dimension, whilst also being lighter and having a 1″ bigger display.

Device Height Width Depth Weight
2014 MacBook Air 11″ 0.11-0.68″ (0.3-1.7 cm) 11.8″ (30 cm) 7.56″ (19.2 cm) 2.38 lb (1.08 kg)
2015 MacBook 12″ Retina 0.14-0.52″ (0.35-1.31 cm) 11.04″ (28.05 cm) 7.74″ (19.65 cm) 2.03 lb (0.92 kg)

To summarise, the thinnest part of the MacBook is thicker than the thinnest part of an Air by 0.05 cm (which perhaps is a good thing if you’ve seen how thin and almost transparent the MacBook Air 11″ display is) and its slightly deeper, apart from that its almost identical in its dimensions, which is great if (like me) you’ve invested in bags/sleeves and the likes, all your non-technical accessories will still work.

Additionally its battery life estimates and tech specs are very comparable if not identical to the battery in the 11″ MacBook Air. Meaning you get your retina display without any compromise… Except one…

The next part of this post is purely speculation until proper benchmarks arrive, however, after some digging into the Intel Core M, i’ve noticed only 5 Broadwell architecture CPU’s exist and one in particular matches the top spec CPU mentioned by Tim Cook in the Apple Keynote almost identically. I’ll take a look at that top spec CPU vs the top spec CPU of the 11″ MacBook Air.

Device CPU Power Cores Benchmark
2014 MacBook Air 11″ Intel Core i7-4650U 15W Max TDP 2 (4 logical) 4156*
2015 MacBook 12″ Retina Intel Core M-5Y71 4.5W Max TDP 2 (4 logical) 2780*

* according to cpubenchmark.net

What this shows is the 2014 MacBook Air 11″ in its top spec config scores 66% higher than the 2015 MacBook 12″ Retina. However what it shows me is that trade off has been made in choosing an ultra low powered CPU to maintain battery life whilst giving the user a Retina Display. Remembering, the benchmark used isn’t a real world scenario, its more of a point scoring benchmark and additionally, I have no idea what CPU the new MacBook 12″ Retina actually uses… This is just an intelligent guess. Interestingly again, both CPU’s support up to 16GB Memory, however the configs at Apple top out at 8GB.

Nevertheless if price wasn’t a factor, it’d be really tough to choose an MacBook Air 11″ over a MacBook 12″ Retina. Having a black bezel, retina display, edge to edge keyboard really sells it here for me. I was happy with the existing size of the MacBook Air 11″, but every little helps. Mondays keynote was the first time I truly agreed with and believed Jonny Ive when he said something along the lines of “we’ve really tried to optimise the efficiency of the MacBook’s design as much as possible”.

 

The next thing that sparked by interest was the inclusion of USB-C for… everything, (for those who don’t know, its a new USB standard that allows power, data + different standards over a single cable). I travel a lot and although my Air rarely runs out of a battery when i’m out of reach of a power outlet, its interesting to think that you could buy a 29$ USB-C to USB cable and potentially charge your MacBook 12″ Retina using the same portable battery pack you use to charge your iPhone / iPad, it is to be confirmed, but i guess it wouldn’t be reaching far to expect this. UPDATE: I can confirm you can charge your MacBook 12″ with a portable battery pack you use for your iPad/iPhone. 🙂

Power pack charging MacBook

 

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Those are my initial thoughts beyond the keynote and various tech blog info out there and i’ll try to update this post once my Space Grey top spec MacBook 12″ with Retina Display has arrived and i’ve (with sentiment) retired my trustworthy and fantastic MacBook Air 11″.

 

Swift the new Language for writing Cocoa and Cocoa Touch Apps

swift programming language

Introducing Swift

I’ve been at WWDC 2014 all week and one of the major announcements from Apple was a new programming language they’ve been working on named “Swift”, immediately it flashed me back to a really old WWDC where they announced an experimental language they were playing with named “Dylan” but I could be wrong.

Swift attempts to deliver a fast modernised language that looks and behaves as an interpreted language such as Ruby or Python but has all the power of a compiled language such as C++/Objective-C. From what i’ve seen on the interweb and twitter, there seems to have been a mixed reception from developers, but overall its looking more positive than not… My stance is… i’m gonna read more than 60 pages and wait more than 48 hours before declaring either my love or hate for Swift :)… If you’ve seen the blogosphere lately, you’ll understand what I mean.

Apple have released a publicly available (so i’m guessing not under NDA) Swift book on the iBook Store thats lengthy, doesn’t assume you’re an 8 year old and gives a decent overview of the Swift programming language, in what seems is from a “answer all of your questions and thoughts” approach, with some examples and exercises along the way.

I’ve attended the Swift labs almost everyday this week armed with questions, thoughts, suggestions and generally the engineers have been great at responding to everything. As a result i’ve filed radars, been convinced i’m not crazy and had some insight into the future of the language.

My main bone of contentions so far are:

  • No sensible/pretty way to selectively expose method A vs method B.
  • The threading model is still a little undefined and incomplete.
  • Autocomplete and LLDB seem to still be a very much work in progress.
  • Downcasting syntax is overly verbose.
  • Did I do it wrong? or did Xcode just shit itself?

However having said that, Swift was released early to us the developers, in order to get feedback/suggestions and help Apple build it to how we want… lets not forget, i’ve had (at the time of writing) 96 hours experience in Swift and its only been public for around the same amount of time… so a lot is likely to change.

What I like so far:

  • Generally a nicer more modern syntax
  • Less “falling back” to C for common things
  • Less unnecessary verbosity *(most the time)
  • Pretty seamless “bridging”/”interoperability” (or whatever the term should be) to existing Objective-C code
  • Namespacing, Modules & Frameworks
  • Explicit typing support with some intelligence from the compiler too
  • An emphasis on “tell the compiler as much as possible”

As soon as I figure out whether or not we’re allowed to talk about more, i’ll go into more detail on some of these points and post some sample code. I’m currently working on an iOS Framework written in pure swift that I’m sure people will enjoy, i’ll be posting it on GitHub in the near future here it is now, but its probably far away from prime time and perhaps a little useless 🙂 but a great way to learn Swift!

As always, thoughts and criticisms should be constructive and not defamatory and furthermore, have your own opinion, no one you follow on twitter is an expert on this yet 🙂 so don’t be afraid to voice your opinions and join in the healthy discussion.

If you wanna chat about it more, i’m @ArmstrongAtWork on twitter.

 

 

 

Instantly gain insight on someone else’s iOS App Architecture with MADebugTools

Just a quick post to say i’ve posted my first piece of code in over 5 years to GitHub. Its a clever little Objective-C iOS Category on UIViewController that seemlessly overlays a UILabel on every single view controller managed view with the class, nib or storyboard name that is used. Great for debugging old or inherited projects with minefield architectures. It uses some cool libobjc runtime techniques to accomplish this, but implementing the category is a case of dropping it into your project and Build+Go!

Category in Action

Grab the source code here as usual, follow me @italoarmstrong on twitter 🙂

 

 

Best of Gadget Show Live 2012


Last week I had the chance to take a peak at the Gadget Show Live event hosted at the NEC in Birmingham, UK. There were literally hundreds of vendors present, all showcasing their latest products and innovations; aswell as the usual suspects and big names you’d expect. Rather than bore you with a mash up of what I saw as you’ve probably seen all that over 1000 blogs.. I thought i’d post up a few photos I took at the event of various things…

Hope you enjoy them, photos after the break…

All photos (c) 2012 SuperArmstrong LTD.

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NexentaStor ZFS Bonnie++ Benchmarks

Following on from my previous post regarding AFP and iSCSI benchmarks i’ve decided (after many requests) to post a few raw benchmarks of the system gathered by bonnie++, the environment is as follows:

CPU: Athlon 64 3700+
RAM: 2gb DDR400
Controllers: 2x SATA-II and 1x SATA-I
Hard Drives: 7x Samsung 2tb Spinpoint F3 5600 RPM
OS: NexentaStor 3
ZFS Config: Standard raidz1 with dedup=off and compression=off

So I gathered a few results… after some annoying results I found a bottleneck in my system on 1 of the drives that seemed to bring the benchmark result down greatly, however once this was worked out I acheived the following: … 

 

NexentaStor AFP & iSCSI Xbench Benchmarks

UPDATED WITH BOTH iSCSI & AFP RESULTS

I’ve recently setup a ZFS raidz with 7 disks using NexentaStor, natively this doesn’t come with AFP, but I managed to get a package and get this all working (which i’ll demo in an upcoming tutorial), one thing i noticed however is that I could never find any benchmarks that tested the general use of a NAS… i.e. using CIFS or AFP over a network to another machine and testing performance. There are literally 0 AFP benchmarks for NexentaStor due to its non-native support. So here it is

Test Environment:

NAS: 7 SAMSUNG Spinspoint F3 2tb Hard drives connected via SATA & SATA-II, in a ZFS raidz running on NexentaStor 3
Network: 1000BaseT Gigabit LAN
Test Machine: MacMini with 1gb memory (disk tests are cached in memory for speed) running XBench to benchmark
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Bye Bye FreeNAS hello NexentaStor

Well, i’ve used FreeNAS for around 2 years+ now, and all has been good, however, in that time demand for large quantities of storage has now been joined by demand for high speed storage; Once I had replaced all of my drives with 2tb 7200rpm drives I realised that FreeNAS wasn’t giving me the performance on each drive that i’d like.

Welcome NexentaStor… a storage appliance natively supporting ZFS as its based on OpenSolaris! NexentaStor offers many of the same features of FreeNAS, however at a greater level of performance. This comes at a cost though, the free Community edition is limited to a some what large 18tb, whereas the paid version will cost you.

Also NexentaStor is a pure storage appliance, although it supports CIFS/iSCSI/NFS and the likes, it does not have all the bells and whistles of FreeNAS… but for me, there is no use having all these features if I can’t have the speed.

I’m installing NexentaStor now as we speak, after which I’ll be posting a review / tutorial on NexentaStor after i’ve got it up and running and configured to my liking 🙂 I hope you enjoy it!

 

Amazon Support Store

Hi everyone! I keep getting lots of emails from people asking where they can buy xyz to complete the tutorials and try out some of the things listed on CaptainGeek, well after I kept emailing people the same links i had a thought, why not setup an amazon affiliate store. Basically, i’ve setup a small amazon site with a small selection of products (only those used for the tutorials on this site + related ones), purchases and payments are handled by amazon, however a small percentage of the sale goes to helping fund the server this website is hosted on AT NO EXTRA COST TO YOU 🙂 so its a win win situation, please use the links whenever you can.

Our Amazon Store

 

IPV6 Tunnel Broker Comparison and Review

Hello everyone, this isn’t the forewaited big change, but i thought it was worth posting a quick drill down review of
the (in my opinion) 4 best tunnel broker services out there. In this review i’ll be covering UKERNA, Hurricane Electric, Sixxs & Freenet6/Go6.
At the end you’ll see my recommendation and why. All of the tunnel brokers have been tested for at least 2 weeks by myself, hope it helps you make your choice 🙂

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