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This $900 Dell Gaming laptop probably has everything she needs, including discrete GPU and good Premiere video editing performance, lacking only Thunderbolt 2 support (but it has 10Gbps USB 3). ...
Yes, it looks nice. We've been looking at the XPS 13 (her current MacBook Pro is 13"). For ~$2k AUD she gets 16GB/512GB 8th Gen (I'd also get 6000 Qantas frequent flyer points :). The equivalent Mac is about $2900 running a 7th gen chip - almost 50% more.
 


Honestly, if she needs a fully functional computer, get a "PC" laptop. My department at work has been largely Mac-based since forever, but more and more are switching over to WIndows laptops from Dell or Linux laptops from System76, simply because the plethora of usable ports on them (including a place for a security cable) make them far better choices for a "real" work environment. Paying a premium for an Apple laptop (and all of the problems that go along with them these days) and then having pay hundreds more for adapters and docks to make them usable simply isn't palatable anymore.
This really needs to be evaluated on a case by case basis. Someone not very tech-savvy and unfamiliar with Windows (and comfortable in macOS) would not be well served by getting a PC, unless they have someone to support them.
 


... we looked at the cost of buying Apple-branded dongles (unlikely, but revealing), it was close to $200 AUD for what she needed. She's studying film and video at university, and she regularly uses SD cards and presents with HDMI. Her backups are all USB3, and she has a Thunderbolt 2 drive she can use for video files. But cost aside, it's the hassle of carrying them around everywhere. She takes buses and trains to the university every day, and it's just extra stuff to carry and store (or lose).
As Jim Cutler mentions above, there are economical choices for breakout boxes/dongles. Right after getting my 2016 MacBook Pro, I purchased for $70 US or so a featherweight, small (115mm x 45mm x 16 mm) unit that has powered USB-C, SD Card slot, HDMI, 2x USB [3.0], and Gigabit Ethernet. On the go, it fits in my computer carrying case or a pocket. I also carry a single USB C-USB Type A dongle, plus a short USB [3] cable, should I need to plug in a thumb drive or a"regular" USB device.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
This really needs to be evaluated on a case by case basis. Someone not very tech-savvy and unfamiliar with Windows (and comfortable in macOS) would not be well served by getting a PC, unless they have someone to support them.
That's a very good point, but the next question is: Does this also apply to Chromebooks, or do they represent a simpler, more attractive alternative to macOS than Windows does? Here are some issues that came up for friends and family members in exactly that sort of situation:

First, and perhaps most importantly, you're right that it's all about support (which I can personally provide at a high level for Macs but barely at all for Windows). Chrome OS radically simplifies support and has proven an ideal solution for a friend's mother, who lives several hours away, even though he’s a Windows expert.

When someone has years and years of critical documents stored on a Mac, these aren't easily usable, migrated, nor stored on a Chromebook. So the support advantages of Chromebooks can actually turn into a liability and a very high labor cost (for both client and provider) to migrate from macOS (or Windows) to Chrome OS.

A third problem is Internet availability, because a Chromebook assumes, and is dependent on, Internet access. This ruled out the option for another friend's mother in a rural location with very poor Internet availability.

Fourth is Chrome's inability to run non-Web apps. This is often a showstopper for people who need even one or two specific apps only available for Windows or macOS.
 


That's a very good point, but the next question is: Does this also apply to Chromebooks, or do they represent a simpler, more attractive alternative to macOS than Windows does? Here are some issues that came up for friends and family members in exactly that sort of situation...
The big difference being: with a Chromebook: everything you do on it goes back to the Google mothership. Everything. (We don't need no stinkin' privacy.) With all things Apple, not so much.
 


The big difference being: with a Chromebook: everything you do on it goes back to the Google mothership. Everything.
I was interested enough when Google started offering Chromebooks to buy the very first Samsung model sold to the public. It was supposed to run smoothly because of the minimal OS, but was, and remained, a grave disappointment because of its awful Intel Atom processor. The screen, keyboard, and battery were excellent....

I learned on that machine, and some subsequent purchases, that it is possible to run software locally. Had a very nice little simple word processor that, in theory, didn't connect upstream to Google.

Time moves on, and Google adds Android apps to Chromebooks. Given the amount of analytics in Android and Android apps, I'd presume they're phoning home. I've read it may be possible in ChromeOS Developer Mode to side-load Android apps, which would enable the more private app selection from F-Droid, but Developer Mode disables at least a part of the vaunted ChromeOS security feature set.

It has long been possible to install Linux distros on Chromebooks using the Crouton extension developed by one of Google's employees. I did that on an i3 Toshiba Chromebook and a ran a tailored-for-Crouton Ubuntu under ChromeOS. Again, possible only in the less secure Developer Mode. I just presumed, since Crouton was a ChromeOS extension running "inside" ChromeOS, Google could "watch" what I was doing. Never saw any tech site analysis of that, and I looked.

Now ChromeOS will run Linux and individual Linux apps in what amounts to a virtual machine. It remains a work in progress, and, again, I've seen no analysis of whether or not doing so provides additional privacy.

I've moved deeply enough into Linux that I'm no longer using Chromebooks. As long as I'm not using Chrome, the browser, I have some confidence Linux does provide some additional privacy, compared to ChromeOS, Windows, and even macOS (just ask Little Snitch).

I've given Chromebooks to friends and relatives to protect them from Windows. ChromeOS really is better for people who are malware magnets. Given the state of Window 10 privacy, they're probably no more exposed on a Chromebook, and their bank accounts should be safer.

macOS is less of a malware magnet than Windows, but it's an expensive option for folks who just want to read Facebook, check bank balances, and send emails. I've already given Chromebooks to most of the Windows malware magnets I know who won't pay for a Mac, and while I'm no longer using ChromeOS, I still recommend it for some users.

In the last couple of months, I've tried to gather information on how to be more secure and private while remaining connected to the Internet. G Suite can be HIPAA compatible, which doesn't seem particularly straightforward, but at least implies it is possible to use a Chromebook and maintain some privacy but clearly not at the consumer level with a personal Gmail account.

This privacy thing is very difficult. It isn't just Google that's insinuated itself so deeply into the 'net, and on our hardware it can follow most everyone. So has Facebook, Microsoft (Windows is everywhere), and Apple. Most of us use email services from one of these companies, or others possibly worse. Want privacy? You may be able to get it from Proton Mail if you encrypt everything, and send to other Proton users. Short of that, if you send an iCloud email through Apple to a Microsoft or Google email user, both sending and receiving sides have access to your content.

Not long ago I received a notice from AT&T that my old-fashioned landline had different terms and conditions AT&T had to adopt because it had purchased TimeWarner. The new privacy terms, as did the previous ones, enabled AT&T to use the metadata from my calls for marketing, meaning if I called a funeral home to find when a friend's service was scheduled, I might start receiving a deluge of marketing materials from cemeteries, funeral homes, insurance companies.... And darn, if it wasn't difficult to exercise my rights to opt out of that "benefit." Couldn't be done on my account page on AT&T's website but required a phone call eventually answered by an employee programmed to tell me I really wanted the "benefit" then make it difficult to opt out. Reminded of trying to call AOL and cancel an account.

Remember when Apple promoted "Apple Pay" as a way to protect privacy? All those tokens used to keep the store from tracking you by your name, and possibly even your credit card company from getting details of your purchases to track and use for marketing? Funny thing, every store that has an app for "customer rewards" blows right through that. And using one of those handy little key-tags from your pharmacy for your "rewards?" Use it when paying for a prescription, and forfeit that secret.
 


The Kuo note that is being referenced here is more focused on the timeline of Apple rolling out mini-LED (and micro-LED later?) displays than it is on the MacBook Pro. While Apple is currently using OLED displays in a large fraction of the iPhone and Watch line up, the rumors are that they want to eventually move to micro LEDs....

There are some laptops coming out this year that have OLED displays, but it looks like Apple is going to skip that tech and jump straight to mini/micro LEDs. Apple has filed some patents related to microLEDs and reportedly has in-house equipment to build research displays themselves (probably more of a bargaining chip to have them made to their standards than Apple jumping into the display panel business).

However, that is just the display. That are other parts of the laptop they could upgrade in far less than two years. It would be a bit odd to hold up the MacBook Pro completely to compose a large set of "big bang" changes that aren't necessarily coupled.

I think it is pretty likely that Apple will use these mini/micro LED displays the same way they used "Retina" displays about 7 years ago. There will be, at that point, very mature, more affordable "Retina", and Apple will use the "newness" of mini/micro LEDs to keep the prices on the rest of the line-up high (or higher).
 


The big difference being: with a Chromebook: everything you do on it goes back to the Google mothership. Everything. (We don't need no stinkin' privacy.) With all things Apple, not so much.
Are you sure? With each successive macOS version, the number of Little Snitch alerts for attempted connections to Apple servers that I see has increased markedly. It really seemed to take off after El Capitan. I suppose Apple would say this is all in the pursuit of a better user experience, but I am becoming more skeptical.
 


As as aside, the university used to use Final Cut for all their editing, but they've recently switched to Premier. I guess that makes a move to Windows that little bit easier. Maybe they've had enough, too.
To add to this aside but also add an Apple-or-not purchase perspective, my daughter is also doing video production as a major at her college in NY. There are Apple products involved in the hardware of the department but not in software - it's all Premiere.

She's due for her first new laptop in seven years, mostly because she will be working on her projects at home between semesters and needs a well-deserved upgrade from her modestly appointed 2012 MacBook Pro. It's more likely than not she'll be the first one in the family to get a new, production-capable laptop that's not a Mac. Even though I could pass down my 2015 MacBook Pro and get a new one, the odds are that it will be a tricked-out Dell suited for video editing, and she's looking forward to that, no Apple emotional ties at all.

These days 16 GB of RAM isn't a luxury if you're doing audio or video on a serious level, and neither is a 1TB internal SSD. With those as starting points, and moving from there to not needing to carry a dock with its power supply and cables everywhere, it's really an Apple hardware purchase that needs convincing in this longtime Apple ecosystem family, not the other way around anymore.
 


That's a very good point, but the next question is: Does this also apply to Chromebooks, or do they represent a simpler, more attractive alternative to macOS than Windows does?
If simpler is a goal, but privacy is a concern, another option is an iPad with a keyboard case. But again, it's all a balance of the user's requirements and capabilities, and what support they have.
 


I've moved deeply enough into Linux that I'm no longer using Chromebooks. As long as I'm not using Chrome, the browser, I have some confidence Linux does provide some additional privacy, compared to ChromeOS, Windows, and even macOS (just ask Little Snitch).
Linux, the OS, doesn't phone home for anything. But some distributions will include applications that do. Most of the time it takes the form of auto-update daemons, which periodically connect to the distro's servers to check for and install updates. There may also be communication if you have apps that synchronize with cloud data.

The big difference here is that all of this communication can be disabled either by configuring the app/package or by uninstalling it.

In the Windows world, some OS features can be uninstalled, but definitely not all. I don't think Apple gives you the option to uninstall any macOS features (and disabling doesn't always stop the external communication).
Remember when Apple promoted "Apple Pay" as a way to protect privacy? All those tokens used to keep the store from tracking you by your name, and possibly even your credit card company from getting details of your purchases to track and use for marketing?
I don't remember any such promotion. I know Apple has promoted Apple Pay as being secure, in that a data breach won't result in your card information being stolen. The tokens aren't so much for privacy (the vendor still gets your name), but to prevent a third party from using your device-specific account number (DAN) to create unauthorized transactions.

The only "privacy" feature I can think of is the ability to remove and re-register a card, generating a new DAN. This might prevent some amount of tracking, if the store is tracking your card number, but that's not a whole lot. Apple Pay does not generate a new DAN for every transaction, so it can be used to track you just like any other card number, unless you manually change it a lot.
With each successive macOS version, the number of Little Snitch alerts for attempted connections to Apple servers that I see has increased markedly. It really seemed to take off after El Capitan. I suppose Apple would say this is all in the pursuit of a better user experience, but I am becoming more skeptical.
The industry as a whole (Apple, Microsoft, Google and many others) is focusing more and more on cloud services and connectivity. Apple, for example, provides quite a lot of software that relies heavily on cloud services (music, photos, notes, file storage, keychain, address book, maps, books, App Store, software updates, Back To My Mac, Find Friends, Find My Mac, FaceTime, and many more). Some require use of an iCloud account (which most people have, either because macOS insisted or because people have bought content from iTunes), and some use services independent of iCloud.

All of these necessarily involve communication (both foreground and background) with remote servers.

Is all of this necessary for the software to work? Not all the time, but some functionality certainly requires it. Is there unnecessary communication? Almost certainly. Does Apple collect data for analytics? Definitely - they say so in their license terms. Do they keep the collected data private/anonymous/aggregated? They say they do, and I haven't yet seen evidence showing otherwise. Do other vendors violate their privacy policies? Definitely - you only have to read the news to see plenty of examples.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
If simpler is a goal, but privacy is a concern, another option is an iPad with a keyboard case. But again, it's all a balance of the user's requirements and capabilities, and what support they have.
I support multiple non-technical people using iPads, and I can't stand doing it anymore, as Apple has made it more and more difficult by constantly changing and complicating the user interface, dumping unwanted stuff into the device, making remote access virtually impossible, creating nightmarish security changes, update failures, demands you can't deny, etc.

Bottom line: I will no longer recommend an iPad to anyone I have to support.
 


This really needs to be evaluated on a case by case basis. Someone not very tech-savvy and unfamiliar with Windows (and comfortable in macOS) would not be well served by getting a PC, unless they have someone to support them.
My usual advice to people looking to get a computer and who are not particularly invested in a particular platform or are not particularly technically inclined has been to choose a platform primarily based on the availability of support. Whether through strange choices by Apple or improvements by other providers, the days when Macs provided a dramatically superior experience to novices or the less technical are long gone.

I'd also like to offer a bit of advice to my fellow MacInTouchers (hmmm... not sure that's the best word): Although many of us enjoy providing the occasional bit of informal support to family and friends, sometimes the best thing to do is to "just say no," especially when alternate sources of support are available. In the case of the original poster's college student, perhaps the best thing is to direct the student to the college's IT support department when issues arise. Sure, the quality of support can vary from day to day and person to person, but it often can be surprisingly good.

This is even more the case if you act as the informal help desk at work. Think hard about exactly how much benefit you and your employer get from you performing unofficial help desk duties versus finding ways to improve the support provided by the people who actually get paid to provide support. Early in my career, I found that when I stopped being so free with informal support and advice, others actually became more tech savvy, and, to my surprise, I ended up getting treated with more respect, and I was able to get more of my own work done.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
I support multiple non-technical people using iPads, and I can't stand doing it anymore, as Apple has made it more and more difficult by constantly changing and complicating the user interface, dumping unwanted stuff into the device, making remote access virtually impossible, creating nightmarish security changes, update failures, demands you can't deny, etc. Bottom line: I will no longer recommend an iPad to anyone I have to support.
By contrast, support for friends running Linux (Ubuntu 16 LTS) has been incredibly great for me - virtually no problems at all! And it's been no cost for my friends, with a free old PC and no software expenses (except one reasonably priced, cross=platform app they needed). A USB WiFi adapter failed, so we needed a new one, but that was an easy fix.
 


By contrast, support for friends running Linux (Ubuntu 16 LTS) has been incredibly great for me - virtually no problems at all! And it's been no cost for my friends, with a free old PC and no software expenses (except one reasonably priced, cross=platform app they needed). A USB WiFi adapter failed, so we needed a new one, but that was an easy fix.
As part of the adventure to [assess] Apple alternatives, I installed Linux Mint (Ubuntu-based) onto a 2008 iMac today. Took about 30 minutes from download to booting up.

At this stage everything is working except the bluetooth keyboard. It's familiar enough that I'm not getting lost, but I'm sure it will take a bit of work to become truly comfortable with it.

Monday's task is to install Apache, Nginx, PHP and WordPress. It will be interesting to see where it ends up.
 


I don't think Apple gives you the option to uninstall any macOS features
By disabling SIP, it is possible to remove some of Apple's applications that are not integral to the OS. In the past I've removed Game Center, Spotlight, Safari, Photo Booth, the iWork set, Maps, iBooks, Calendar, Mail, Messages - lately Apple has made that more difficult. Game Center used to be an application that was actively alarming Little Snitch. Now it's a process I've no idea how to remove. Spotlight, which I once completely removed through the Terminal, also seems beyond my reach.
I know Apple has promoted Apple Pay as being secure, in that a data breach won't result in your card information being stolen. The tokens aren't so much for privacy (the vendor still gets your name),
ZDNet said:
Apple Pay isn't magic, and it isn't 'private'
The merchant knows what specific goods or services were purchased for that amount, but not who bought them.
Apple says it is possible to affiliate merchant rewards cards with your Apple Pay methods. Do that and you're subject to the merchant's privacy policy. Not a good idea if you're paying for a medicine at the pharmacy for a condition you're rather keep under a HIPAA blanket and away from data miners.
 


By disabling SIP, it is possible to remove some of Apple's applications that are not integral to the OS. In the past I've removed Game Center, Spotlight, Safari, ...
I would consider that hacking the OS. :-)

What I am describing is the fact that Windows provides you an official GUI-based mechanism to turn Windows features on or off, and there are quite a lot of optional features on the list. (If you didn't know about this, you should go look now - there are almost certainly things you're going to want to change!)
 


I support multiple non-technical people using iPads, and I can't stand doing it anymore, as Apple has made it more and more difficult by constantly changing and complicating the user interface, dumping unwanted stuff into the device, making remote access virtually impossible, creating nightmarish security changes, update failures, demands you can't deny, etc. Bottom line: I will no longer recommend an iPad to anyone I have to support.
Is there a comparable, or – dare I say it? – better alternative in the Android world?
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Is there a comparable, or – dare I say it? – better alternative in the Android world?
That's a great question, but I haven't spent any time with Android tablets, so I don't know. For me, Android has too many security problems, which is why I'm still using (and paying excessively for) iPhones myself.
 


Apple has made it more and more difficult by constantly changing and complicating the user interface, dumping unwanted stuff into the device, making remote access virtually impossible, creating nightmarish security changes, update failures, demands you can't deny, etc.
Bottom line: I will no longer recommend an iPad to anyone I have to support.
Although I was eager, at the iPad's birth, to jump on that bandwagon, I never really found myself able to do so. My work involves a lot of "creating" (mostly words, but also tons of "original" animated slides containing images and movies for Keynote presentations, and original documents with graphics and images, etc.). I have found the iPad interface difficult and kludgy... and, for that reason, it slowed me down. I wanted to love it, but never could. Today, my iPads languish as consumption devices (browsing, crosswords, etc.) rather than anything involving writing or graphics creation. Not even email.

For me, a "late 2013" Retina 13" MacBook Pro, with 16GB memory and a 500GB flash drive (not "fusion") has proven an incredible workhorse. Fast, lightweight, extraordinarily flexible (with USB, memory card slot, magnetic power supply connector and two (old) Thunderbolt ports... even an earphone jack and a built-in HDMI port). Keyboard that never fails and feels great. Bright, readable monitor. Great battery life (though it's beginning to show its age). Runs Mojave beautifully and fast.

It was expensive when I bought it, but has been worth every penny since then. I'm gonna miss it when I'm forced to "upgrade" to the less functional MacBook Pros available currently.
 


For me, a "late 2013" Retina 13" MacBook Pro, with 16GB memory and a 500GB flash drive (not "fusion") has proven an incredible workhorse. Fast, lightweight, extraordinarily flexible (with USB, memory card slot, magnetic power supply connector and 2 (old) mini-Thunderbolt ports... even an earphone jack and a built-in HDMI port). Keyboard that never fails...
... but has been worth every penny since then. I'm gonna miss it when I'm forced to "upgrade" to the less functional MacBook Pros available currently.
My thoughts exactly. I love my 2015 MacBook Pro 15" and see every MacBook Pro since as a functional downgrade, hence our recent forays into the world of PCs. We were an entirely Mac company, but in the past two years I have purchased 4 PCs and no Macs. If Apple can't produce what we need - in both software and hardware - I see little option but to change.
 


For me, a "late 2013" Retina 13" MacBook Pro, with 16GB memory and a 500GB flash drive (not "fusion") has proven an incredible workhorse. Fast, lightweight, extraordinarily flexible (with USB, memory card slot, magnetic power supply connector and two (old) Thunderbolt ports... even an earphone jack and a built-in HDMI port). Keyboard that never fails and feels great. Bright, readable monitor. Great battery life (though it's beginning to show its age). Runs Mojave beautifully and fast.
That is the configuration that I have, except I have only 8 GB of memory. And I have been extremely satisfied with performance as it is. And, if necessary, I can boot off a Samsung T5 (USB3) that is almost as fast as the internal. The only thing that could make this better is if the battery and memory could be (easily) swapped out by the user. I hope this continues to work as I have no desire for any of the new MacBook Pros.
 


For me, a "late 2013" Retina 13" MacBook Pro, with 16GB memory and a 500GB flash drive (not "fusion") has proven an incredible workhorse. Fast, lightweight, extraordinarily flexible (with USB, memory card slot, magnetic power supply connector and two (old) Thunderbolt ports... even an earphone jack and a built-in HDMI port). Keyboard that never fails and feels great. Bright, readable monitor. Great battery life (though it's beginning to show its age). Runs Mojave beautifully and fast.
My 2011 MacBook Pro 8,2 will not run Mojave without using Dosdude's patches—something I am unwilling to do with an otherwise great machine. So I decided to buy a used 2012 MacBook Pro 9,1 which now has a 1TB Samsung 860 EVO drive, 16 GB memory, and it runs Mojave.

It seems a bit strange to purchase a used machine that is seven years old, but the more modern laptops simply do not suit my needs. So now I have two great laptops—one running Sierra and the other Mojave.

And I just got iTunes 12.6.5 running on the Mojave machine. Woo-hoo!
 


The middle school where my wife works moved to Chromebooks a couple of years ago, mainly because of lower price and because the school used software on Chromebooks. But they didn't give her one. I'm not sure to what extent Apple's futzing around changing things affected them, but she is still using an iPad 2 or 3, and the poor old thing is wearing out.

Schools are a special case of users, because they need to control access to part of the machine to keep the kids on focus, especially in middle school. I suspect it was just another thing that Apple didn't bother keeping up with.
 


By disabling SIP, it is possible to remove some of Apple's applications that are not integral to the OS. {...} Game Center used to be an application that was actively alarming Little Snitch. Now it's a process I've no idea how to remove. Spotlight, which I once completely removed through the Terminal, also seems beyond my reach.
If you really want to disable the "gamed" background process (a system daemon), you need to disable SIP and configure the associated LaunchAgent via the Terminal. If you search for your specific version of macOS and "com.apple.gamed" you should be able to find tips on how to disable it.

If SIP is off, you might also be able to disable gamed using a graphical utility like Lingon X, though I've only tried it with third-party processes.
 


At this stage everything is working except the bluetooth keyboard. It's familiar enough that I'm not getting lost, but I'm sure it will take a bit of work to become truly comfortable with it.
Having converted both my personal systems at home and my main system here at work to Linux (specifically Mint), I'll tell you now that some things are easier to do in Linux, and some harder for inexplicable reasons. It's worth the effort though... it can feel very liberating to be using something like Linux successfully and not having to deal with all of the privacy nonsense that's infested the computing world over the last several years.
Monday's task is to install Apache, Nginx, PHP and WordPress. It will be interesting to see where it ends up.
If you need to run a server I'd strongly suggest you look into what Turnkey Linux has to offer. They have ~150 different versions (including a LAMP server), each specifically tailored for certain kinds of server duty. All of the software (including the entire admin system) is pre-installed and pre-configured so you can get things up and running quickly. It even automatically updates itself so you don't have to worry about it. I converted several of my Mac servers over to Turnkey systems and couldn't be happier.
 


I support multiple non-technical people using iPads, and I can't stand doing it anymore, as Apple has made it more and more difficult by constantly changing and complicating the user interface, dumping unwanted stuff into the device, making remote access virtually impossible, creating nightmarish security changes, update failures, demands you can't deny, etc.
This is also my experience. If anything needs a 'simple mode' these days, it's (ironically) the iPad. Trying to keep my elderly mother online and connected is profoundly challenging, and frustrating for all of us. Anything requiring 2FA (or any form of account management) is immediately a problem, also the ease in which it's possible to get into the settings for the device and unintentionally break it. Is there a way to lock this down? (And don't even get me started on Skype and the constant UI tinkering of Gmail).
 


My thoughts exactly. I love my 2015 MacBook Pro 15" and see every MacBook Pro since as a functional downgrade, hence our recent forays into the world of PCs. We were an entirely Mac company, but in the past two years I have purchased 4 PCs and no Macs. If Apple can't produce what we need - in both software and hardware - I see little option but to change.
I was recently in the market to purchase a MacBook Pro to replaced my "Staingated" 2013 MacBook Pro. I had the money to buy one of the latest and greatest, but after doing some research, opted, instead, to purchase a "gently used" 2015 MacBook Pro with 16GB RAM and 512GB SSD.

I love it! Not much different externally from the 2013 but what a world of difference inside. And I can actually view the screen comfortably without "Staingate" getting in my viewing way.

Great machine!
 


I would consider that [ disabling SIP ]hacking the OS. :-)

What I am describing is the fact that Windows provides you an official GUI-based mechanism to turn Windows features on or off, and there are quite a lot of optional features on the list. (If you didn't know about this, you should go look now - there are almost certainly things you're going to want to change!)
I've researched the possibility of running Windows 10 and simply can't get past that it apparently isn't possible to keep even Windows 10 Enterprise from phoning home. The best suggestion I've seen is to set up a Pi-Hole or equivalent, as Win 10 blocks attempts to modify an individual Win 10 system's hosts file to block Microsoft telemetry.

My wife worked for IBM when Siri arrived on the iPhone. IBM management promptly sent out an edict banning Siri at the workplace because of the possibility it might phone IBM data, or IBM customer data, to Cupertino. Not sure how, or if, that changed when IBM started pushing iPads and even Macs.

I understand most corporate Apple gear is set up through Jamsoft but don't know how much control that gives IT over what data Apple can collect. I find it difficult to imagine the IT department at the R&D center of a Fortune 500 is sanguine about Windows 10 telemetry, but if there's a way to control it, it must be under NDA.
 


If you really want to disable the "gamed" background process (a system daemon), you need to disable SIP and configure the associated LaunchAgent via the Terminal. If you search for your specific version of macOS and "com.apple.gamed" you should be able to find tips on how to disable it. If SIP is off, you might also be able to disable gamed using a graphical utility like Lingon X, though I've only tried it with third-party processes.
Back when Lion replaced Snow Leopard, I gave Lion a spin, and found it pretty awful. One thing I really resented was how Preview changed. I loved Preview. I could edit, crop, resize, annotate photos, then easily email out the new edit. With the "death" of File > Save As... I was presented instead with "Versions," and as I recall, a much more difficult process.

I found a "trick" to supplant the new Lion Preview with my old favorite from Snow Leopard. PITA, as every update required a new transplant of my old Preview, and eventually it stopped working.

I don't like feeling I'm at war with the supplier of my OS. Little Snitch just rubs in the irritant. Maybe I could use Terminal to disable gamed and photoanalysisd and more. They'll just return, unless I give up on updating my Macs to obtain security updates. It's a game in which Apple writes the rules to serve Apple's interests.
 


I don't like feeling I'm at war with the supplier of my OS. Little Snitch just rubs in the irritant. Maybe I could use Terminal to disable gamed and photoanalysisd and more. They'll just return, unless I give up on updating my Macs to obtain security updates. It's a game in which Apple writes the rules to serve Apple's interests.
This denial of my right to control what servers the software on my computer may contact is one of the main reasons I have not upgraded my 2013 Retina MacBook Pro 13” from the OS X 10.9 (Mavericks) it came with.

Now that It has become imperative to upgrade, due to disappearing support for Mavericks, I hope that something better than the Little Snitch I have been using will allow me to implement the following firewall rule:
Browsers are permitted to access the Apple domain via https:, but all other outgoing connections [to Apple] are prohibited.

I plan to investigate the Murus firewall software described on the MacInTouch home page today (4/15/2019).
 



Ric Ford

MacInTouch
In early summer 2018 Apple still sold a brand-new mid-2015 MacBook Pro that has since proven more rugged and reliable than its successors. Apple briefly allowed buying this three-year old model as a new laptop, fully tricked out for RAM, SSD storage, and a Retina display. I got lucky.
I did the same thing in late 2017, and it worked out very well for me, in spite of Apple's exhorbitant pricing (especially for internal flash storage). I didn't get a discrete GPU but was OK with that configuration after all the previous nightmares with MacBook Pro GPU defects. The integrated graphics can easily drive 4K (and higher) external displays.

I miss having an Ethernet port, I wish there were more USB ports, and the HDMI port only supports 30Hz, but this MacBook Pro runs macOS 10.12 through macOS 10.14; and its SD Card slot is great, as is the MagSafe power connector and the two Thunderbolt 2/DisplayPort ports. You can even use Thunderbolt 3 devices (at reduced speed) via an Apple Thunderbolt 2-Thunderbolt 3 adapter (and a Thunderbolt 3 powered dock where needed).

By comparison, a 2018 MacBook Pro 13" is noticeably faster, has all the advantages of 40Gbps Thunderbolt 3, including eGPU support, is smaller than the 2017 MacBook Air that Apple is still selling, and its USB-C ports are both more physically secure and double the speed of earlier USB 3.0 ports. The biggest issue for me is that it won't run macOS Sierra and requires macOS Mojave, which still has plenty of bugs, some publicly documented and others not. (It's not clear whether macOS 10.12.6 or 10.14.4 actually has more bugs; only Apple knows that.)
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
In early summer 2018 Apple still sold a brand-new mid-2015 MacBook Pro that has since proven more rugged and reliable than its successors. Apple briefly allowed buying this three-year old model as a new laptop, fully tricked out for RAM, SSD storage, and a Retina display. I got lucky.
And Apple is still selling its 2015-era MacBook Air as a new computer... at an absurdly outrageous price.
 


I bought a refurb 2015 in December, in order to have one Mac here that could be used to run an OS later than Sierra, if and when that becomes necessary. I also got an Ethernet dongle for it. Fingers crossed that its glued in battery is robust. Buying any of the recent models was never under consideration, which is a sad state of affairs for a long-time Apple user.

Nothing else Mac that we have is more recent than 2012. Some of them can run High Sierra or Mojave, but they are not going to.
 


I bought a refurb 2015 in December, in order to have one Mac here that could be used to run an OS later than Sierra, if and when that becomes necessary. I also got an Ethernet dongle for it. Fingers crossed that its glued in battery is robust. Buying any of the recent models was never under consideration, which is a sad state of affairs for a long-time Apple user.
During late summer 2017, I bought a used 2015 MacBook Pro 13" with 18 months remaining on AppleCare, because the price/features of post-2015 models left me cold. With recent reports of their mechanical/thermal issues, potentially costly repairs after AppleCare expires, and very limited user-replaceable components; it seems Sierra will be my last macOS, because, though I hope to be surprised otherwise, I'm no longer confident about Tim Cook's Apple altering the direction of their industrial design language to prioritize functionality over vain aesthetics.

Anyway, my options then will be either a hackintosh or a jump to Linux. For the latter, I'm considering something from System76. This company seems to be offering compelling hardware, and a highly rated OS, as well as formal support for the whole package.
 


Anyway, my options then will be either a hackintosh or a jump to Linux. For the latter, I'm considering something from System76. This company seems to be offering compelling hardware, and a highly rated OS, as well as formal support for the whole package.
We've purchased a number of System76 laptops for our budding collection of Linux users at work. I've become quite enamored with the Galago Pro... it's a great mix of size, weight, power, and expandability at a reasonable price. I'd definitely say System76 has matured as a computer vendor, and their quality is now comparable to several mainstream PC vendors. I still prefer Linux Mint to their homegrown version of Linux (Pop!_OS), but hey, it's Linux, so you can put Mint on it if you like. :)
 


Speaking of the 2015 MacBook Pro…

A year ago my 2013 MacBook Pro's problems finally became intolerable, so I looked around and found a 2015 MacBook Pro (A1398) new on eBay, at a decent price, and bought it. Right away it started giving me trouble.

My computer usage is relatively simple; I don't really need the power (and relentless connection changes and other inconvenient changes every year) of the MacBook Pro, but my aging eyes require the 15" display (set to 1280x800, which looks fine on the Retina display) for comfort. My most used applications are TextEdit (an excellent app, not flashy but very capable in its niche), Safari and Mail. I do a lot of text copying from Safari/Mail into TextEdit, and vice versa. So a new "feature" I discovered in the 2015 MacBook Pro quickly became a persistent, frustrating annoyance.

For as long as I can remember, copying text in these applications has been facilitated by a neat little trick: Double-click the first word in a phrase, then move the cursor to anywhere in the last word in the phrase, hold the Shift key and click, and the entire phrase is chosen, including the complete last word.

This "intelligent" text selection is the kind of little detail done right that was once the hallmark of the Macintosh. (Though not everywhere; for instance, Pages' text selection is "dumb" – a constant annoyance when working in that word processing and page layout application.)

However, when I moved to the 2015 MacBook Pro – with the same exact software setup I had in the 2013 MacBook Pro (macOS 10.12 Sierra) – this behavior changed: now the text selection ended at the point where I clicked the (I-beam) cursor, i.e. part way through the last word. Thus, in order to get the whole of the last word, I had to carefully, precisely position the cursor over the last letter therein, or use the shift + arrow keys to extend the selection. This behavior change occurred in Safari and Mail, while TextEdit retained the old convenience.

This may seem to be a small thing, but if, like me, you often copy text from Safari or Mail, sometimes many times in a day, this change can be a considerable annoyance. It was working fine; why "fix" it?

The new MacBook Pro had numerous other problems as well: drives unmounting on their own, frequent spinning rainbow disk, et very cetera.

Chronic illness considerably complicates my life; I just don't have the mental energy to deal with much computer grief. So, after a few months with the new 2015 MacBook Pro, I gave up and returned to the 2013, which was usable so long as I didn't ask it to do anything very taxing.

Then 2019 arrived, and I realized I'd better do something about the 2015 MacBook Pro before its warranty expired. So I moved all my data back to it and started using it again, keeping a journal of the frequent problems I encountered.

Finally, a few weeks before its year was up, I called Apple, to get at least a case number while the warranty was still live. I spoke with a helpful person in Tier 2 (the first tier was, as usual, useless), got a case number and a couple suggestions, and went back to struggling with it. I had already reinstalled the OS numerous times – and tried the computer with every other MacOS version that will run on it (Yosemite through Mojave, internal and external) – but the problems persisted quite consistently, including the text selection bug.

I composed a document listing the problems in detail and sent it to the email address given to me by the "Senior Advisor". No response. So I called the number she'd given me, left a message. No response.

After a few days, I called the main Apple number again, this time was connected to a competent... Tier 2 fellow (with the same first name as mine – an omen?), who, after listening to my rant, set up a repair, which was done quickly (good grade for that), and now the 2015 MacBook Pro seems to be working okay.

Except for the text selection bug, which continues as before. But, in the meantime, I had figured it out. The Apple guy had suggested connecting a mouse to the MacBook Pro and trying that. Text selection worked in the traditional manner. So it's something with the trackpad? Turns out to be the new "Force Touch" trackpad: when "Force Click and haptic feedback" is On in the Trackpad preference pane, text selection is faulty as described above. When this feature is turned off, text selection works as traditionally.

I don't get out much, don't have the energy. But I got together enough to visit the local Best Buy, our town's Apple dealer, and check the computers there. Indeed, the newer portables, with the Force Touch trackpad, showed the bug, while older portables and desktops did not. So it's not just me, or just this MacBook Pro.

Am I the only Macintosh user who's found this new-style text selection frustrating? (None of the Apple people I talked to had heard of it.) I suppose the Force Touch features are useful to some, but I don't really need them. Okay, so I can turn "Force Click and haptic feedback" off (as I have) – except that then the trackpad moves only a fraction of a millimeter when pressed, which I don't like. And why am I paying for a feature I can't use without compromising my workflow, simple as it is?

Oh, and by the way: I discovered that Google Chrome and other Chromium-based browsers offer the same "intelligent" text selection, which is not affected by whether the Force Touch features are on or off. If Google can do it in Apple's OS, why can't Apple?
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
The Apple guy had suggested connecting a mouse to the MacBook Pro and trying that. Text selection worked in the traditional manner. So it's something with the trackpad? Turns out to be the new "Force Touch" trackpad: when "Force Click and haptic feedback" is On in the Trackpad preference pane, text selection is faulty as described above. When this feature is turned off, text selection works as traditionally.
...
I suppose the Force Touch features are useful to some, but I don't really need them. Okay, so I can turn "Force Click and haptic feedback" off (as I have) – except that then the trackpad moves only a fraction of a millimeter when pressed, which I don't like. And why am I paying for a feature I can't use without compromising my workflow, simple as it is?
I have a 2015 MacBook Pro running macOS Sierra 10.12.6. Force Click and haptic feedback are turned off, but I see the same behavior you describe in TextEdit - different for the trackpad and the mouse. But this defective TextEdit behavior with the trackpad doesn't occur in other apps - in fact, it doesn't occur in Firefox, with which I'm typing this message, nor in an old version of BBEdit that I use constantly.

(As far as the trackpad response goes, I don't believe it actually moves at all - I think it only gives the remarkable and effective illusion of moving, thanks to clever haptic feedback.)

#userinterface #textedit
 


So, to follow-up on my trackpad issue, it's possible that the battery was the culprit.
I removed the old battery from my MacBook Pro (which is around 5 years old at this point; note that you'll need a tri-point screwdriver if you do this). There was a small degree of swelling/give around its periphery (a blistering approx. 2mm x 3mm), which may have impinged on the trackpad. I also took the opportunity to make sure all connectors were tight on the logic board and used a can of air to de-fluff things.
On reassembly, everything's been working fine for the past couple of hours, so hopefully the issue is solved. I'll dispose of the old battery through the proper channels at my university.
Following-up on my follow-up of a malfunctioning trackpad on mid-2012 13" MacBook Pro:

I replaced the battery, and everything was fine for a week. Then the erratic mouse pointer re-appeared, along with the falsely registered clicks. So I replaced the trackpad and connecting cable with a part ordered from Amazon (a non-trivial task, but iFixit's guide proved useful).

Again, everything worked for a few days, then the issue reappeared, sporadically, and the laptop was unusable unless an external mouse was plugged in (and the trackpad disabled via the 'Accessibility' System Preference). The (expensive) conclusion I draw from this is that I suspect a component is failing on the logic board. Since I spend a lot of my day writing, and need a working laptop, I bit the bullet, rolled the dice, and ordered a 2018 MacBook Air.

My first job on receiving it was to put a TPU cover on the keyboard. Surprisingly, I actually like typing on it. Once I'd adjusted to the key spacing I found it preferable to the scissor keyboard on the machine it replaced. Your mileage may vary. My main concern, of course, is robustness.

I also miss the MagSafe power connector; the Thunderbolt 3 connector is stiff, and the supplied cable has a smooth and slippery grip, which is not ideal.

Other than that, it's a fine machine. The screen is a dramatic improvement over its predecessor, the speed boost noticeable (as it should be), TouchID useful, and the haptic trackpad nothing short of miraculous. But I wish I didn't have to worry about the keyboard breaking.
 


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