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there's my wireless keyboard dongle, the aforementioned mouse's giant dongle, the DisplayPort to HDMI dongle, because HP's own DisplayPort didn't work consistently with HP monitors (or I could just carry a nice VGA cable!), the giant power brick with enough cable to plug the laptop into another zip code...
I'd be interested to know which HP "business" laptop you have, and what ports it offers.

On the giant, flashing, non-rechargeable dongle thing, I've had good luck with Logitech's Unifying Receiver. One little 2.4Ghz USB plug for keyboard and pointing device. Works on Mac and Linux, and I'm confident on Windows. Especially useful on the little fanless Linux Mint box connected to my "media center."

Have several Mac Minis. We use them at work, rear facing forward, to have access to the power switch, USB, FireWire, Ethernet, and video out(s). Dongles galore there, too.
 



Ric Ford

MacInTouch
There were a number of 2015 MacBook Pro refurbs at the Apple Store online earlier this week. Only this one left. While they're older and heavier than the newer models, they are fairly bullet-proof and come with the excellent keyboard. Buy AppleCare+ for it. Additionally, you can upgrade the SSD yourself!
And you'd probably want to upgrade the SSD, because this model only has 256 GB and no Thunderbolt 3 option. Nice to see a discount down to $1700, though it probably should be a little lower, considering alternatives like this or this and other non-Apple options.
 


While I am sure the 2015 MacBook Pro is still a capable machine (and certainly a more reliable option than current models), I don't see them as much of an upgrade from my 2013 model. It's 2019 - how sad is the situation that refurb models with tech from 4 years ago generate excitement? For the same price from Acer you could get a new machine with:
  • Intel® Core™ i7-8750H processor Hexa- (6) core 2.20 GHz
  • 17.3" Full HD (1920 x 1080) 16:9 IPS
  • NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 1070 with 8 GB Dedicated Memory
  • 16 GB, DDR4 SDRAM
  • 1 TB hard disk drive, 256 GB SSD
  • 2 x Thunderbolt 3 Ports
  • 1 x USB-C Port
  • 3 x USB 3.0 Ports
  • HDMI Port
  • Ethernet Port
Ouch!
 


While I am sure the 2015 MacBook Pro is still a capable machine (and certainly a more reliable option than current models), I don't see them as much of an upgrade from my 2013 model...
100% agree with you, Darren. 2013 > 2015 isn't any reason to upgrade. My post was really aimed more at the owners of 2012 and earlier models for whom the 2015 MacBook Pro would really be a very nice upgrade.

I do like Acers, though. While their tech is usually not cutting edge, they provide excellent value for your $$.
 


There were a number of 2015 MacBook Pro refurbs at the Apple Store online earlier this week. Only this one left. While they're older and heavier than the newer models, they are fairly bullet-proof and come with the excellent keyboard. Buy AppleCare+ for it. Additionally, you can upgrade the SSD yourself!
I jumped on that upgrade back in December, in order to have one Mac here that could be kept relatively current with the macOS for a while, if it became absolutely necessary. Buying any more recent Mac laptop was an option I never considered. I wanted a better keyboard, and I wanted to be able to run Sierra if I needed to. I still considered it less than ideal, due to the nonsense with the battery, the lack of an Ethernet port, etc. I recently advised a client, whose 2011 MacBook Pro was acting up a bit, to get a refurb 2015 rather than any of the new ones.

I’m deeply disappointed that even if Apple releases new hardware that for my purposes is worth having, it will come with an OS that very probably won’t work for me.
 


I believe Apple doesn't want me as a customer any more.
I’ve come to the same conclusion, and as I plan to retire within the next few years, which will be before my next replacement cycle, I’m starting to look seriously at alternatives. Apple no longer has a simplicity, usability or reliability advantage to offset its price disadvantage, so as long as I can migrate my data without too much pain, I’m quite open to becoming a ‘switcher.’
 


I have to admit that my feelings about Apple have changed, and I feel that the company has gone from the true genius of the original Macintosh user interface and programming to a company that is disturbingly abusive:
I'm following this thread a bit now, and as it's been progressing, I've received a work email around designing for "calm technology." There's plenty that came up on a quick Google search about it, but it's something I'd never heard about. Interesting stuff to read and think about. I think it's fair to say that the original user interface might have been neat for the time, but the technology and expectations have greatly changed (and it ain't going back!).
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
I'm following this thread a bit now, and as it's been progressing, I've received a work email around designing for "calm technology." There's plenty that came up on a quick Google search about it, but it's something I'd never heard about. Interesting stuff to read and think about. I think it's fair to say that the original user interface might have been neat for the time, but the technology and expectations have greatly changed (and it ain't going back!).
I assume there's a difference between "calm technology" and hide-and-seek user interface design. There's also a difference between good user interface design and user interface design that flies in the face of sound, fundamental human interface principles that were exemplified and documented with the original Macintosh. None of this has anything to do with changes in technology - they are fundamental and essential concepts. And, of course, the original Macintosh user interface accomodated great changes in technology over a long period before it was replaced first by NeXTStep/Mac OS X and then by iOS. Basic human interface design principles are being contradicted and abused every day in Apple's current "user experience" designs and customer manipulation behaviors, as has been well documented here and around the web.
 


Ric's previously mentioned some Windows gaming laptops that offer substantial performance for the money. A review posted May 8:
PC Perspective said:
The Lenovo Legion Y7000 A midrange gaming laptop with a Core i7 and GTX 1060 graphics
The Legion Y7000 offers a very good cooling system with its big heatpipes and dual fans, and as long as this is sitting on a table or desk and not your lap (it needs air from the lower vents to cool properly) thermals should not be a problem.
15.6" screen. Comes with a six-core (12-thread) i7, 16GB RAM, a 256GB SSD & 1TB hard disk drive, 6GB NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 Graphics, backlit keyboard with numeric keypad, plus a full suite of ports, including Ethernet (but not an SD card reader). RAM and drives are user-upgradeable.

It's on sale at Costco for $900. Amazon's price is $1090.

It includes Windows 10 Home. Most Lenovos run Linux without problems, and one Amazon reviewer does mention running Ubuntu.
 



... the original Macintosh user interface accomodated great changes in technology over a long period before it was replaced first by NeXTStep and then by iOS. Basic human interface design principles are being contradicted and abused every day in Apple's current "user experience" designs and customer manipulation behaviors
It's interesting that you mentioned NeXTStep. I recall it being a joy to use, with a clear, consistent, user-oriented design viewpoint. Likewise, the old Silicon Graphics IRIX systems were remarkable for their focus on interface consistency and ease of use. Accepting the technical limitations of the systems' ages, I'd wager that any moderately skilled user of recent macOS versions would be able to sit down in front of an old NeXTStep or IRIX system and have a comfortable, enjoyable experience after just a short period of poking around the respective interfaces.

In the 30+ years I've been interested in computers, I've only seen three major computing companies engender strong emotional connections with users: Apple, NeXT, and SGI. (A case might be made for Be and one or two others, but none reached the critical mass of the aforementioned three.) By and large, users of those systems cared about those systems in ways that very few users of gray boxes running Windows or Solaris did.

It's not a coincidence that all three published extensive, book-length interface guidelines with strong expectations that both internal and third-party developers would follow them. While Apple continues to maintain Human Interface Guidelines, the modern versions feel breezy, perhaps even superficial, compared to earlier versions, and it seems Apple violates the guidelines at least as often (if not more often) than third parties.

The idea of a platform is to provide something consistent and lasting, something that is safe to build on. Good platform interface guidelines provided a basis for creating a mental model of how a system worked today and would work in the future, safeguarding one's investment in learning, yet still allowing for advancement and change over time. That sense of safety and consistency has greatly diminished, and it has been replaced by a feeling of shifting sands and constant flux. Why invest in learning the details when they are likely to change in a few months and be poorly documented when they do? Steve Jobs famously declared an objective to surprise and delight users. The modern Apple still surprises, but how often does it delight?

One unsung benefit of strong, consistent implementation of good interface guidelines is that it creates a certain tolerance of missteps and mistakes. Steve Jobs's Apple had its share of flubs and questionable products, but there was a sense that Apple's big picture was worth buying into, so users could interpret missteps as aberrations having low likelihoods of repetition. Basically, users could forgive Apple's mistakes. However, when "mistakes" pile up, it's hard to be so forgiving.

I think this is why Apple's recent direction has been so distressing to so many. Over the years, Apple's tools have provided a safe environment that allowed many of us to learn to be creative and productive in ways we didn't previously imagine, and we expected that relationship to continue. Some of us even built careers around it. We came to care about Apple and its products, but Apple no longer seems to care about us, at least not in the way it once did. It's less and less of a tool "for the rest of us," and more and more of a luxury statement for the most fashionable of us. If Apple is lost, will we ever find a platform that gives us the same satisfaction again? Maybe, but probably not.

The thrill is gone.
 


Just want to add my dismayed agreement. Apple today is not the Apple we once loved - for good reasons on both sides of that time span.
... I remember using my Commodore 8K PETs and being very happy that they were not Apples! Editing BASIC programs on them was a snap, using cursors to move around and edit the code as needed. Then the Commodore 128 came out that could run more than one language, had an available fabulous Word processor that could sort paragraphs of text and insert graphics, and life was great! Then Commodore went out of business, taking the PETs and the Amiga with them.

The Apple of that time frame sold over-priced machines, and the local Apple dealer, in Tucson, was arrogant and difficult to deal with.... Personally, I like my Retina MacBook Pro and what it can do now, warts and all!
 



Re: Lenovo Legion Y7000P, $900 at Costco
A quick look didn't indicate any Thunderbolt 3 ports, which are a feature of the Dell gaming laptops.
Is Thunderbolt that important in this class of laptop? The GTX 1060 with 6GB of RAM is far superior to an Intel HD 630. Buying an eGPU and graphics card that would be a a lot better than the onboard GTX 1060 could cost as much as the laptop. Storage? There's already 1.256 TB aboard, and that's easily and inexpensively upgraded internally.

That said, even though the linked PCPer review of the Y7000 was just published May 8, it's on closeout. Both Dell and Lenovo have refreshed their "mid-range gaming" laptops, and both lines now include Thunderbolt 3. At higher prices, after all, they're new, and not on closeout.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
That said, even though the linked PCPer review of the Y7000 was just published May 8, it's on closeout. Both Dell and Lenovo have refreshed their "mid-range gaming" laptops, and both lines now include Thunderbolt 3. At higher prices, after all, they're new, and not on closeout.
As documented in previous links I've posted, Dell has been selling low-priced, high-powered gaming laptops with Thunderbolt 3 for quite a while (i.e. multiple CPU generations). While you're right that an internal GPU reduces the necessity for an eGPU, and fast, upgradable internal storage is similarly beneficial (assuming M.2 support), I'd probably still want Thunderbolt 3 in any serious/business laptop purchased at this point. A friend bought a Dell G5 Gaming laptop for about $900 a year or more ago, and it has been great. Compare that price/performance to Apple's offerings...

$799.99
8th Generation Intel® Core™ i5-8300H​
(Quad-Core, 8MB Cache, up to 4.0GHz w/ Turbo Boost)​
15.6-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS Anti-Glare LED-Backlit Display​
8GB Memory​
128GB SSD+1TB hard disk drive​
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 6GB​
3x SuperSpeed USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A including one with PowerShare​
1x Type-C™ Thunderbolt™ 3 with support for 40 Gbps Thunderbolt and DisplayPort​
1x HDMI 2.0​
1x Gigabit Ethernet RJ45​
1x 2-in-1 SD / MicroMedia Card​
1x Headphone/Mic​
Height: 0.98" (24.95mm) x Width: 15.32" (389mm) x Depth: 10.82" (274.7mm)​
Starting weight: 5.76lb (2.61kg)​
 


The thrill is gone.
I think you've hit on the real problem for the Mac, the iPhone and the whole world of personal computing. The technology was amazing when it emerged in the 1980s, and it's come a long way since then. But the technology has reached a plateau where we no longer find the latest innovations as exciting as they were. That may be partly within ourselves; many of us have been working with the technology for decades, and it's more than we expected would be possible, and we're getting tired of change for the sake of change. But it also reflects the real limitations of the technology.

What Apple (and the rest of the industry) is doing now reminds me of what the auto industry did in the 1950s. The technology had hit a plateau, so they started adding tail fins to make it look flashy. The tail fins got bigger in the early 1960s until they reached a point of functional absurdity, and the big US automakers lost their focus until air pollution and gas shortages forced them to concentrate on efficiency.

The computer industry's problem now is that they need something to persuade people to buy new smartphones and other gadgets every year or two in order to boost their sales, so they push change for the sake of change -- innovations that add little that we want but break things that we relied upon. It sells to people who have more money than they know what to do with, and they try to drag the rest of us along with them. It's a revival of planned obsolescence, which the automobile industry helped invent more than half a century ago, but which has become even more ecologically unsustainable in today's world. What we need is a change from emphasizing growth to offering sustainability, and that's a hard thing for any big public company to do.
 


Well, I like my touchbar MacBook Pro. I drive the machine hard, using the machine for teaching, web development, and GIS/data visualization work. I like the light weight, since I'm moving around my building all day and commuting by bike or public transit. Somehow, the thinness helps, too. The screen's a joy. I'm constantly glad to be able to run an operating system with high usability, good security, great access to Unix tools, and the ability to run Adobe software.

Dongles: I have to carry several display dongles to conferences, but that's only because of the wide variety of video connections I can expect on projectors. I've always had to carry adaptors.

Apple's current offerings aren't without their faults. My primary machine's owned by my university, and I'm holding off on my purchase of a new personal laptop until Apple fixes the keyboards. Given the non-upgradability of those machines, the RAM/storage prices are disappointing. I truly wish that the spatial Finder would return, but that won't happen and no one, not even old-fashioned Mac users, seems to care.

I would prefer a return to the high standards of interface design that brought the Mac Human Interface Guidelines, but I recognize that we are several generations farther into computing, and there's less need. Don Norman observes, in his 1988 landmark The Design of Everyday Things, that users were likely to understand a failure of the device as a sign of their own lack of ability; anecdotally, my students today are wholly lacking that instinct, and they know it. That's one small shift, but there are others: faster machines with higher-resolution interfaces, and a vast expansion of what computing means.

Yes, I'd like something as upgradable as a MacBook circa 2003, with the design standards of 1989, the software quality of today, the prices of a low-end Intel/AMD machine, and even less weight, but that's not really going to happen. Mac folks have been grousing about Apple changing [for a long time], the instability of the Mac OS 8/9 era, giving up SCSI, the shift to USB, and the non-upgradability and horrid input devices of the original iMacs. And have Apple RAM/storage upgrades ever been reasonably priced?
 


But it's important to remember that Mac customers are very much an equal Apple target and market for the company's services businesses (along with Windows and Android customers...).
Windows and Android customers outnumber Mac customers by factors of 10. If Services will work with iOS, Android, and Windows, Apple will have 90-95% of the market covered.

Doing the bean-counting here (since Apple no longer seems driven by anything but numbers and an unhealthy obsession with thinness), why bother with the expense of maintaining a competitive desktop/laptop platform/OS to hold 10% of the market?
 


I think you've hit on the real problem for the Mac, the iPhone and the whole world of personal computing. The technology was amazing when it emerged in the 1980s, and it's come a long way since then. But the technology has reached a plateau where we no longer find the latest innovations as exciting as they were....
I wholeheartedly agree. I regularly upgraded because each new computer was significantly faster and had compelling new stuff. Of late it was battery life. Now that airports and airplanes are getting significantly more sources of phone and laptop power, the need for additional battery power is not as compelling. For most people, processor power is adequate. The latest problem for me is the web pages that do not work because of security enhancements of my browsers, and constant Caller ID spoofing by robo callers, and the rise of hacking has caused a degradation of the internet. Apple has responded with security measures that I find to be difficult to implement. Hence stagnation and new features that I do not use.
 


Intel is way behind its promises in delivering smaller CPU lithography, with its lower power requirements, and there's nothing Apple could do about that...
With my layman's understanding of the benefits of smaller die size, the purpose is smaller transistors, closer together, generating less heat for equal "power."

If Intel were able to compress the architecture of its current state of the art processors into 7nm [circuits], or even the more attainable 10nm, in theory they would use less power, produce less heat, and be faster, because electrons have less distance to travel.

On the other hand, if in the current race with AMD to have the most cores and threads, Intel loads up smaller dies and more cores, there might be no power or heat savings.

AMD is currently selling the Radeon VII GPU based on a 7nm process. It's the most important 7nm product I know to be currently available for general computing.

From everything I've read, AMD has a history of continuing to improve its GPUs by releasing improved drivers, and that's already benefited the Radeon VII, which released in February. However, refer back to the usual glob of reviews that accompany a new release and are never refreshed, and you'll find the 7nm Radeon VII considered underwhelming and power hungry.

This link is a "Reader's Digest" of Radeon VII reviews from its release, with links to the reviews:

Consider the Mac Mini. Unlike ever-thinner laptops, there's air space and room for ventilation and fans. Yet its 65-Watt TDP 100C 14nm i7 8700 with Intel UHD 630 integrated graphics throttles. Tests by users who connected Thunderbolt 3 eGPUs to unload graphics from the internal SOC showed no thermal benefit. The Core i3 and i5 Minis seemed no better. As the Intel chip in the Mini is (apparently) one unique for Apple, perhaps Apple could have paid Intel to build chips at 45 or 28 Watts, with better than UHD 630 graphics, actually delivering more useful performance to consumers at a lower price (ha!) or higher margin for Apple? Same theory regarding chips for laptops

Which brings us back to Linus.
Macs are SLOWER than PCs. Here’s why.

... As for why Apple doesn't just equip its machines with processors that are more suited to the form factors that they target, remember, guys, a slower CPU that doesn't throttle is not slower than a faster one that does...
Pay more, get less?
 



The general consensus among us here (including myself), and other places, as well, is that Apple computers and software aren’t what they used to be. I’ve been using them since 1984 (Apple//, then Macs), was really enthusiastic about them for many years, but have become increasingly disappointed for the past few years. As a business, Apple seems to be doing fine. They’re selling a lot of services, phones and tablets, and tout iOS, and make lots of money for themselves and their stockholders. But does anyone understand why they’re running their computer (Macs) business down, inviting disappointment and frustration among its user base, and making competitive computers more attractive to first-time buyers? It doesn’t seem to be a necessary result of the focus on their other business interests.

Surely the people in Cupertino are smart enough to know what they’re doing, so I can hardly believe it’s a case of bad judgment. Is it possibly because keeping Macs on the high-quality cutting edge, as they used to be, requires too great an investment with too little return? Even that doesn’t explain it for me. Why have they introduced unnecessary and even some flawed new stuff which just pi**es people off, especially at the prices Apple’s asking? It almost appears that Apple’s trying to turn people off, so that they could justify discontinuing Macs altogether. But I can’t believe a company would do that. If they decided computers were no longer important, or not paying their way, they’d just stop making them, wouldn’t they? “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” would have been fine, with the occasional introduction of more capable and modern innards - which Apple could easily have done. So what might be the reason(s)? Anyone have any theories?
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
... So what might be the reason(s)? Anyone have any theories?
It’s pretty clearly Tim Cook (the iPad guy), and I’d be surprised if Jony Ive has any interest in the Mac, given all his completely unrelated projects, and he seems like an Apple Pencil/iPad Pro kind of guy. Tim’s running the show, and I have no clue what he’s thinking.
 


It’s pretty clearly Tim Cook (the iPad guy), and I’d be surprised if Jony Ive has any interest in the Mac, given all his completely unrelated projects, and he seems like an Apple Pencil/iPad Pro kind of guy. Tim’s running the show, and I have no clue what he’s thinking.
You think maybe Cook's so intent on destroying Steve Jobs' legacy that he wants to prove one of Jobs' first babies needs killing off? I never figured him that way, but who knows what danger lurks in the hearts of men?
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
You think maybe Cook's so intent on destroying Steve Jobs' legacy that he wants to prove one of Jobs' first babies needs killing off? I never figured him that way, but who knows?
Not at all. To me, Cook seems to be attempting to "channel" Steve Jobs (which could never possibly happen, and I find it very uncomfortable to watch, e.g. in Apple keynote events). Of course...
The Guardian said:
Steve Jobs obituary
As Jobs had said before the NeXT takeover: "If I were running Apple, I would milk the Macintosh for all it's worth – and get busy on the next great thing. The PC wars are over. Done. Microsoft won a long time ago."
 


Not at all. To me, Cook seems to be attempting to "channel" Steve Jobs (which could never possibly happen, and I find it very uncomfortable to watch
Speaking of Tim and being uncomfortable, I was watching TV last night, and there was one of those 20 to 1 type shows, where they count down various things. Last night was something like 'epic fails'.

Number 2 was Tim Cook and Apple forcing the U2 album onto people a few years back. It was only topped by members of the Australian Cricket team cheating (which, for an Australian, is just unforgivable).

They were most uncomplimentary to Apple - and U2. I thought the entire exercise smacked of Tim being starstruck by U2 and totally misreading the Apple customer. It was embarrassing.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
I have to admit that my feelings about Apple have changed, and I feel that the company has gone from the true genius of the original Macintosh user interface and programming to a company that is disturbingly abusive:
  1. As a quintessential example of abusive behavior, you can't say "no." Apple won't let you stop its very forceful demands for confusing and problematic "upgrades", Apple ID, iCloud, and 2FA (with its Apple device dependencies), its invisible A.I. "photo analysis" daemon, various forms of advertising, and you can't even remove unwanted Apple apps.
  2. Apple's pricing for memory and storage upgrades is abusive.
  3. Apple's confusing hide-and-seek user interfaces are abusive.
  4. Apple lies to customers in Apple Stores are blatently abusive.
  5. Apple "stonewalling" on product defects is extremely abusive.
  6. (Apple's treatment of developers and partners also offers examples of various abuses.)
... Tim Cook and Apple forcing the U2 album onto people a few years back.
7. Apple forcing unwanted content onto customers' devices without asking permission: quintessential abusive behavior.​
 


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