MacBook Pro two year check-in

It’s been an interesting couple of years with nothing but a maxed-out MacBook Pro 17″ as my only home machine.


The hard drive died but time machine held my hand. At ALT.NET Seattle 2009 my backpack took a dive that left a dent in one corner. The battery was replaced and I roped GrinGod into obtaining a replacement UK-style \ key from the UK after some frantic typing.

A friend cracked the display when his key-fob sprang from his Batbelt culminating in a visit of the Apple Store in Bellevue. Ten days and $700 later got that fixed and included a bonus disconnected thermal sensor, a couple of new scratches, an extra screw to rattle around inside and a line of grease around the Apple logo.

Sticking with it

When I find myself eyeing the unibody I wince at the glossy ‘matte finish’ screen, the multi-touch track-pad clicks that sound like Robocop is nearby and a US keyboard that requires my pinkie to hit a single-height enter key. That little pink dog won’t learn any new tricks. I’ve tried.

Still the OpenCL benchmark show the 8600M outperforming the newer 9400M and it does everything I need and at least one thing I don’t (gets hot enough to bake bread on). Short of switching the hard disk out for an SSD – I’ve ordered twice and then recalled after a Twitter volley of “no, you don’t want THAT one” – it’s here to stay for at least another year.


One thing that is always changing is the bunch of installed applications as I search for a combination that deliver a nirvana between productivity and enjoyment. Apps that perform a set of focused useful tasks with a shiny, eminently lick-able user interface, score highly.

I’ve rounded up my favorite apps before but here’s the latest specials on the menu.


This great-looking app helps reclaim wasted space making it a pre-requisite for SSD switchers.

Combining the PowerPC and foreign language code-purging of XSlimmer & TrimTheFat is also adds cache & log purging in with application uninstalls ala AppZapper etc.

Despite using XSlimmer already on my machine it was able to reclaim another 1.8GB and V2 is out soon which I hope will remove & alias duplicates given we’re not getting ZFS which had this feature (how many copies of Sparkle.framework do I have on my machine….)


This year I rewrote my blog’s WordPress theme from scratch and given the PHP requirement I found myself looking for an alternate IDE to Visual Studio. I already own TextMate but the feel of a raw text editor with bundles of extra bits feel didn’t have the gloss and usability I wanted such as fast preview, remote FTP sync etc. with a minimal of setup fuss.

I briefly toyed with Espresso during the early development cycle but Coda won me over in the end with it’s sheer simplicity and elegance plus the addition of built-in documentation for PHP was very helpful when working offline.


Yes, when the Magic Mouse hit the street I picked one up. The idea of a mouse with track-pad multi-touch technology was appealing but a few minutes of use and no amount of twiddling would make it track  or let me configure it to take full advantage of what it should be able to do.

Until Apple sort this out BetterTouchTool is your friend letting you speed up the tracking of the Magic Mouse, or indeed your track-pad, and assign all sorts of interesting shortcuts and abilities to combinations of finger gestures.


Mac apps tend to expose only the common options in their user interfaces but sometimes developers add some additional tweaks and settings behind the scenes that live in the Mac’s equivalent of the registry (known as “defaults“). While you can set these manually using the defaults command-line tool you still need to know the setting exists, it’s name and what options are available and so secrets exposes this.

Secrets is similar to Deeper and TinkerTool but the difference is that the secrets web site lets people add new options which then are automatically available within the installed preferences pane making them easily discoverable, searchable, applied… and occasionally undone.


Screenshot of the game MachinariumThis point-and-click adventure game will appeal to people who enjoyed Monkey Island although it feels more like the gorgeously submerging Beneath a Steel Sky.

The scenery is brilliantly imagined, stylistic and shows that very real lived-in cities can be beautiful especially when populated by cute robots capable of assembling themselves from their own body-parts (just like a triple 8 but infinitely cuter).


2 responses

  1. Avatar for steve

    I'm still on my 2007 MacBook Pro and although I hanker after the multitouch pads, unibody and glossy screens (yes, I still prefer them for view angle and colour reproduction), I can't deny that my current machine does everything I actually need perfectly well already.

    I tend to use Eclipse for my non-C++ coding (I use XCode for the latter, which keeps getting better while still not quite equalling the magic MSVC + Visual Assist combo). It's great at Python particularly which is good for the small amount of time I have to hack on Mercurial related things, and it's got good plugins for almost everything (SCC, modelling, database etc).

    steve January 28, 2010
  2. Avatar for Andy

    Let me know next time you need to physically repair a notebook. I usually order the replacement parts and do it myself. Just replaced the LVSD cable of my display, also on my MBP 2007. A display would have cost you about $250 from and an hour of work. No loose screws or scratches!

    Andy January 28, 2010