Categories
Tech

I Bought A MacBook Air M1. I Like It.

There’s a fantastic quote in Isaac Asimov’s The Naked Sun that sums up the disparity in experience enjoyed by macOS and Windows users alike: Any world is queer to people who do not live on it. I suppose this sums up my journey when it comes to explaining my experience (Asimov’s quote is also quite relevant to another post I wrote on this blog) on both sides of the pond. But it also explains why I bought the MacBook Air M1.

My old MacBook Air

My 2014 MacBook Air was getting long in the tooth, and had some battery issues that affected my productivity; this was one of the main reasons why I opted for the MacBook Air M1. I think the main reason for this issue was that I upgraded to Big Sur. But, to be honest, I was pretty bad when it came to looking after the battery as well. I always used the device while keeping it plugged in. I understand that this issue is not applicable to the M1 since this was possibly an issue with the Intel chip as well. (I stand to be educated on this issue, and would appreciate any feedback, which you can provide by leaving a comment below.)

I know that there are many opinions being bandied about, and what you’re reading on this right now is an opinion as well. One life lesson I’ve learned is that it is good to function from two extremes — scarcity and excess. In a way this defines Windows and Apple. The reason I say this is because Windows is ubiquitous while Apple is still residing on the edges of niche-dom.

The Purchase

One of the greatest inconveniences as a writer is lugging around a heavy laptop with a charger when meeting clients. Add insult to injury here when the battery crashes to 75% within seconds and then blips out into darkness within a nanosecond or two. I loved this device while it lasted and couldn’t see myself choosing anything else. But it really was time for a change.

The packaging remains uninspired

They said that in your youth you start out as a liberal and become a conservative as you get older. In other words, you become set in your ways. I used to have Windows laptops throughout and buying a MacBook was like upgrading from a Nissan to a BMW. I just didn’t have the cash. Competition is great, and it is this requirement to push boundaries that has led Windows to come up with some excellent devices. But more on that later.

Inconspicuous yet aesthetically pleasing

One of the most endearing aspects of an Apple product is how minimalist their design philosophy is. Compared to the older MacBook, the packaging of the newer MacBook Air M1 seems, well, uninspired. The big reveal isn’t such a reveal either with the device being smaller while the backlit Apple logo being absent. I prefer the aesthetics of the MacBook Air M1 since it is finally inconspicuous (well, sort of).

The older Mac was bought from Abans while I decided to check out some other outlets and found that Techmart had some great user reviews on Google. The owner was super helpful and I made the purchase. The MacBook Air M1 cost LKR 238,900 while the 2014 MacBook Air in 2017 cost LKR 157,999. That’s quite an increase, but, hey, what can I say except that tech costs.

The Main Benefits

There’s been a huge hue and cry about the new MacBook Air M1 ever since it launched and there’s been a great deal of advertising on its speed etc. It’s all good stuff. Even Windows fanboys and Apple haters had to admit that this device is something that’s extraordinary.

1. Big Sur

For an entry level laptop, the premium quality really does shine through on this Mac. The macOS Big Sur update was the Achille’s Heel for my older Mac simply because its hardware just couldn’t handle the update. Yet I experienced Big Sur on the older Mac and on the newer Mac there’s no difference. There’s just the comfort of everything being same, and this is one of the highlights of Apple products. It’s a comfortable and easy transition from one device to another.

2. M1 Chip

I’m not a hardcore techie by any stretch of the mind, and while everyone says that this is a fast device, I’ll accept it. There have been no major issues per se. I just need my work done, and this new MacBook Air delivers on all fronts. The battery is fantastic as is the charging facility which is fast. The battery lasts forever and one really cool factor here that helps a lot when it comes to productivity is that you can just flip open the laptop and you are ready to Touch ID your way to action.

3. Retina Display

There’s no doubt that the screen on the MacBook Air M1 is fantastic, and watching YouTube videos and Netflix is a thrill. The brightness is great as is the viewing experience. It’s easy on the eyes, and just makes the world seems a better place (and it is all thanks to the super cool retina display).

4. Touch ID

Now, this is a feature that I’m relying on a lot. When it comes to privacy and easy access, Touch ID is certainly far better than anything else that I’ve used. I’m seriously impressed by its speed, and it has not faltered even once. This is probably not a fair comparison but the fingerprint scanner on my Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Lite sucks BIG TIME! The fingerprint scanner on my iPhone 7 is still functional and works much better than the Lite. This is just one example where Apple can justify the high prices that it commands.

5. Magic Keyboard

This is a nice touch. What is even nicer is the shortcut key for dictation, which is something that I use a lot. And compared to the older Macbook Air, this is far more effective and precise. The shortcut keys are easy to access and really does help when it comes to functionality.

6. Trackpad

The trackpad got some getting used to, but it has touch variations that are super useful. There is not much to say in this front since I’ve accepted this facility and it has reached a sense of normalcy where I don’t see anything special in it. This is just another perfect Apple feature that, well, works perfectly.

7. Siri

I rarely use Siri. I know it’s great, but there has been no need for it at present. (A note to self: Learn to use it more often.)

There Are Issues

I created a YouTube video using Filmora on How to Install Hyvor Talk on WordPress. It came out pretty well, but had a few issues mainly thanks to the screen size of the MacBook Air M1, which is a 13.30-inch display that has a resolution of 2560 x 1600 pixels.

Some applications like Filmora are best used with a bigger screen

There were a few instances where the spinning wheel of death stopped my productivity in its tracks. Most of the time it was caused when rendering took place. The spinning wheel happened quite a lot on my older Mac.

This is a headache

The spinning wheel usually appears when an application freezes, or overloads your Mac’s processing power. Checking the Mac’s available storage space and RAM capacity can shed light on the potential causes of a frequent spinning wheel. But all is well that ends well. I suspect this probably wouldn’t have happened on a MacBook Pro M1. One other issue I face with the older Mac( and sometimes this Mac) is that Safari freezes. This is why Chrome is my go to web browser.

Enter The Mouse

I was always curious about the Magic Mouse 2. It is a fantastic experience with the whole novelty of swiping gestures promising a seamless and intuitive experience (yeah, I know, it’s all Apple lingo I’m throwing here, but it has been true to date). The mouse, which was also bought from the same place as the MacBook Air M1, cost north of an exorbitant LKR 20,000. Is it worth it? No, not really. But neither is a BMW, but I’m paying for the experience more than anything else.

Not such a big deal, but it’s certainly an enjoyable experience

Once the novelty wears off, it is just peaceful co-existence that you can look forward to with the Apple Mouse 2. There’s just one down side to this contraption and it’s known as being on the heavier side, which can be tiresome on your wrist.

Why I Left Windows

Remember the allusion to Nissan and BMW above? The truth is that both cars can get you from A to B, and that’s the main requirement, right? The same thing applies to both a Windows and Apple device. To put it succinctly the main reason I left Windows is because I was bored, and just required a change. That said the macOS ecosystem is a comfortable place to be in, and is something I don’t see myself leaving.

The Dell XPS 13 was in the running to help me make the switch to Windows

Actually wanting a change is not the only reason why I switched to Apple. I had a very bad experience with one particular Windows laptop in the shape of a HP ProBook 4520. I used to call it Hot Plate since it heated up so much that you could literally fry an egg on it. Add other issues like malware and a system that slowed down and crashed one too many times, it ended being physically abused out of pure frustration.

That said I wanted to check out the Dell XPS 13, but, the prices in Sri Lanka were just crazy. I came across the base model, which commanded north of LKR 300,000. This made no sense whatsoever, and so I decided to stick with Apple. So far no regrets at all.

Psychology Led To This Purchase

The Romans coined a term: de gustibus non est disputandum, which means tastes are not to be disputed. I think we’re drawn to call something beautiful whenever we detect that it contains in a concentrated form those qualities that are deficient within us.

I think the above paragraph gives a justification as to why people choose what they choose. I think this is why people choose religions as well. Our understanding of the psychology of taste can in turn help us to escape from the two great dogmas of aesthetics, the view that there’s only one acceptable visual style or that all styles are equally valid.

The diversity of styles (in this case either Windows or Apple) is a natural consequence of the many fold nature of our inner needs. It’s only logical that we should be drawn to styles that speak of excitement as well as calm, of grandeur as well as coziness given that these are key polarities around which are own lives revolve.

Final Thoughts

The real deal is that all Apple products offer you an experience and it promises ‘a something’ that goes beyond just pure functionality. If you want just functionality, which based on most complaints I hear, is a flawed functionality (aka Windows). I’m not going to bash Windows too much rather I will say that based on my experience thus far Apple certainly does things better. Yet this blog post is an opinion based on personal experience and comes from a person who is mainly a writer and a content creator. I’m sure Windows does a lot of things better and certain things like Power BI does not cater to Mac devices. Different strokes for different folks is what I’ll leave you with, and I’ll just say that the decision in choosing the right device ultimately lies in your hands.

Categories
Life

Death Is Inevitable And That’s Alright

Death has been a running theme in my life, and that has been a reminder enough that death is inevitable. Just like how a doctor is desentisized to sickness and death, I too have been desensitized to the specter of death. This largely is due to the LTTE conflict and JVP insurgence that Generation X grew up in.

This blog post may come across as being quite morbid and despondent, but it doesn’t have to be. Life and everything that it entails is based on perception. Just like how happiness is a decision, you have the choice of choosing your perception.

Our minds alone can defeat the fear of death. It is what we have been taught since childhood that makes us fear the grin of The Grim Reaper. I have a serious bone to pick with monotheism. Death and fear of it was always central to our lives. Such was the fear death commanded, we ended up not living. The irony being we were dead to the world with no drive, ambition or creative spark. Life was spent preparing for the afterlife completely ignorant of the fact that we are just animals and like animals we too will die. Remember this — We’re just another statistic. And this is something that should be liberating.

I’m writing this post as a reminder to myself that just like Thanos, death is inevitable and very necessary. I will reference The Buddha at this juncture — Life is impermanent, and we are nothing, and nothingness is the best thing we can embrace. I think the real reason I chose to write about death is because of how I was forced to deal with it when my mother passed. It was a traumatic time and dealing with it was hard. I hope this post shifts the perception of death and how it is a necessary end to a life that can and should be fulfilling based on the decisions you actively make.

My Mother Died Of Cancer

Cancer doesn’t discriminate

It took the death of a celebrity for the conversation of colon cancer to make its way to the mainstream. That’s just how the world works; importance and value is allocated to those who are rich and famous. Accept it. It is reality.

My mother passed away due to colon cancer

There’s nothing peaceful about passing onto the next life. It is painful, eerie, traumatizing and excruciating. The idea that you die peacefully in your sleep is, I feel, a lie. Your last breath is your last defiance of the inevitable. You’re suffocating with plenty of air around you. This idea that you slip into the arms of some angel is fantastical. No one is there to document the struggle for breath as major organs shut down.

Don’t romanticize death. Romanticizing is that act from the 1800s with its fantastical stories (created by us) to soften the last uppercut dealt by death. I can’t encapsulate the trauma of looking after a dying mother, watching her suffer, and leaving this life with a strained breath as I held her hand. Instead I can write a book or two. Either way as much as it was a terrible time for me, I found meaning in looking after her. It took some time, but I accepted that day of separation.

From an objective point of view, dealing with death was hard because of the lies perpetuated by monotheism. What is religion but just another story to keep questions under lock and key, and wrapped up in a veil of fantasy about heaven and hell.

We are just animals, and just like animals we will die. And it is this thought that is liberating for me. Parking those nebulous tales of life after death at the entrance of your ears, and living your life to the fullest instead is liberation. Period.

I Too Might Die Of Cancer

The statistics are clear. Those who have a family history of cancer have a higher chance of dying of cancer. This is a fact. Colon cancer is one of the most common inherited cancer syndromes known. Among the genes found to be involved in colorectal cancer are: MSH2 and MSH6 both on chromosome 2 and MLH1, on chromosome 3. I possibly have them.

Normally, the protein products of these genes help to repair mistakes made in DNA replication. As many as 1 in 3 people who develop colorectal cancer have other family members who have had it. People with a history of colorectal cancer in a first-degree relative (parent, sibling, or child) are at increased risk. In life, you need to deal with the cards that have been dealt to you.

Here’s Why I’m Okay With That

I’m okay with it because it is reality. We all got to go someday, and the best way to go is having lived by doing what you want in life. I’m also okay with this reality because there is nothing called immortality and there’s no other option. To understand this better, consider this poem, which is about the ancient Egyptian pharaoh Ramses II. Life is built up of memories and moments, and what you have today is fleeting at best. In other words, enjoy life while you can. That is all you can do. Maybe it’s a defeatist attitude to have, but, in reality, it is just a case of self admission. I’ve had the fortune of studying existentialism during my London A’Levels, and Jean-Paul Sartre is an excellent focus of enlightenment when it comes to understanding life and death.

How I View Death

Grin evilly at death and you’re assured of an evil grin back. I’m firmly placed in a culture that believes in its fair share of demons and devils. But the fear of death took on greater importance at church. I viewed death with paralyzing fear, and there’s still pinches of dread that present themselves every time I read a Stephen King novel or watch some morbid Netflix flick.

Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.

Friedrich Nietzsche

The above quote by Nietzsche is one that I admire. It is more relevant to the example of someone who fights evil and ends up being evil. I guess you could, in one sense, end up talking about death in this manner, too. Death is inevitable, and it can change you for the worse. Instead of letting our cultural and religious beliefs dictate how we should fear it, simply accept it for what it is — an eventuality.

Until Death This Is How I Will Live

It is best to approach life from a position of blissful ignorance as opposed to arrogance. This isn’t wholly true. What is true and better is knowing your predicament and dealing with it. Carl Jung gives the best advice on how to live. Just be prepared for the next adventure after death, which most probably is a state of nothingness. But, we humans live on hope, and don’t want this existence to end.

Life expectancy has increased throughout the last few decades, and that’s great, and yet we are constantly reminded that death is inevitable. Modern healthcare has pushed the boundaries of discovery and have created panaceas for most illnesses, and the aspect of health is a personal decision you can make today.

Life is fantastic in itself, and it is we who are trying to make this a terrible situation all by ourselves. There is so much to enjoy and experience in life and that is great.

“Sometimes people don’t want to hear the truth because they don’t want their illusions destroyed.”

Friedrich Nietzsche

Another quote I appreciate by Nietzsche is highlighted above. We may be surrounded by darkness, but there is still a sense of beauty in the mundane and in the dark side of things. Seeing reality is comforting, and one way to do it is practicing mindfulness or Vipassana meditation. Death is inevitable, but so too is life, and this is something that should be embraced fully. The meaning to life is to make it less meaningless. This is what we all must do. We need to find our own meaning whatever it is.

Categories
Tech

The Social Dilemma Is Why I Left Social Media

Do you know why this post has a title that states — The Social Dilemma is Why I Left Social Media? Read on to understand why. Whether it’s eloquently stated by Tristan Harris, Yuval Noah Harari or Cal Newport, the evils of social media are well-documented. It’s true online toxicity is real, and so too is suicide. Ironic then how I went from being a Social Media Manager at a Digital Marketing Company in Sri Lanka to someone who left social media twice. That said I will state that social media has its place in any content strategy, but that is a different topic for a different day.

Have you noticed the lack of civil discourse, the misinformation present, fake news, and the division within relationships present on social media? The Social Dilemma attempts to raise awareness around important issues like design ethics and data privacy (like the Cambridge Analytica data breach), and succeeds.

Tristan Harris reminds us that — If the product is free, you’re the product. That realization never dawned on me until much later. The first time I left social media was in 2014 when the whole process of posting how fantastic life was just plain tiresome.

This will be the best documentary that you’ll watch this year

The second time was in 2020, and the social media landscape seemed more dysfunctional than the first time. Tristan Harris speaks of how Facebook is a social persuasion machine and is excellent at monetizing your attention. And with all the brands I handled working for the above-mentioned digital agency that was exactly what I was doing.

We hear of how social media companies use attention engineers to make these social media entities as addictive as possible. Profit can be maximised thanks to you giving attention and handing your data over. The University of Stanford talks of the Magic of Maybe, where we really do care about what others think of us — think Likes, Comments and Reactions. This is all a reference to the shot of dopamine you get. Some sources say that this shot of dopamine is equivalent to the levels experienced when consuming cocaine. Additionally there are ethical implications of data extraction even with the new products of Facebook.

Social Comparison Theory

Facebook Depression is a thing

Showiness is often mistaken for reality. What you can gather from this is that more often than not, social media perpetuates that endless cycle of being fake. And I’m not talking about political fake news. Social Comparison Theory is something that is pertinent at this juncture. We have a proclivity to compare ourselves to people who have similar characteristics to us. This can boost or destroy our confidence.

Leon Festinger has a theory, which suggests that there are two types of social comparison — Upwards and Downwards. Upwards is where we compare ourselves to someone who is less than or inferior to ourselves. Downwards is where we compare ourselves to someone who is superior or better than us.

The theory basically states that individuals determine their own social and personal worth based on how they stack up against others they perceive as somehow faring better or worse. No surprise then that so many suffer from what is known as Facebook Depression, which leads to less life satisfaction and more sadness.

The Antidote To Social Media Is Deep Work

A truth bomb

Seth Godin makes a mention of how — one should not become a wandering generality, be a meaningful specific. That’s a pertinent thought for any individual or company. Social media is a waste of time, unless you’re a brand. It does have its place in crafting out a brand’s journey. And if you’re career-minded, it can assist unless you commit yourself to that heinous dopamine-driven feedback loop, which affects your cognitive function.

Cal Newport mentions how our attention is being fragmented to such an extent we cannot concentrate. The solution is deep work that’ll help you focus on rewarding work minus the distractions. We are all part of the attention economy, and social media companies are competing for your attention. But with social media morphing into more of a business than just a social interaction tool, it became an entity that could be best described as being nefarious.

Unsubscribe

All the moral panics are real. The Trauma Floor showcases the issues faced by Facebook moderators, and it is harrowing. More so are the issues with your supply of attention, which focus on your short to midterm goals being decimated. Chamath Pahaliyapitiya said it best — If you feed the beast, it will destroy you. And so, this is my conclusion, especially if social media doesn’t benefit you in a way that’ll help you becoming a meaningful specific (like an author): Unsubscribe.

Categories
Tech

Here’s Why I Switched To Android

Here’s Why I Switched to Android isn’t a tale about how bad iOS is. Rather it is a tale of boredom. Tolstoy defined boredom best — a desire for desires. Boredom does lead to terrible things like: starting a relationship, whoring around, busting up the last few thousand rupees on your credit card, or drinking a bottle of arrack while gurgling a melody in some ditch. 

Boredom: This is the Reason

Boredom can also lead to wonderful things like the start of something new like this blog. It’s fitting then that this is my first post. I would suppose it would be prudent to Thank God for modern capitalism, which has multiplied amusements and consumables. And, capitalism probably is the reasoning behind the statement — Here’s Why I Switched to Android.

I popped my smartphone cherry with a flagship phone (back when virginity was a thing). The first Android smartphone I had was a Galaxy Note 2 that ran on Kit Kat. One inebriated night, I slipped and the Amoled screen fell flat on its face and became a mosaic of shards. Despite a list of fancy vanity specs, there were hiccups like S Pen Notes crashing while typing important articles etc. 

Then I bought an iPhone 5S. This led to a 6S Plus, and finally an iPhone 7. There’s a reason I stuck with Apple products including a Macbook Air, which I bought in 2017. Everything was just better. And predictable. Any writer worth his salt will fall in love with Apple’s catchy terminology. The Apple Watch Sport’s glass is actually Gorilla Glass that had been used by many electronics for so many years. 

But trust Apple to serve up such plainess with a description promising goosebumps: “We used an alumina-silicate glass that’s especially resistant to scratches and impact. It’s fortified at the molecular level through ion exchange, with smaller ions being replaced by larger ones to create a surface layer far tougher than ordinary glass.”

Apple Music coupled with JBL headphones IS fat loss

Before I bought a Samsung, I’ll be honest: I was looking at an iPhone 11, but I was curious about what delights an iPhone 12 would bring. Yet, based on research, I realized that iOS 14, which the iPhone 12 would be powered by, is slated to offer the comfort of predictability, and not the chaos of excitement. Widgets are also on the cards, something that Android had since Adam and Eve romped around Eden. 

The Transition

So, what was the final deciding factor? It was cost. I trundled over to One Galle Face, checked out the iPhone 11, gave it a grunt and a look of derision (similar to one deployed by a Colombo 7 aunty from behind her Gucci spectacles), and went towards Samsung Lanka. 

The iPhone 7 cost me north of LKR 130,000 three years ago. The Galaxy Note Lite was just over LKR 100,000 with a JBL speaker thrown in; this purchase was made in August of 2020. When you have passed the 40 year old mark, you tend to be more pragmatic and conservative. The zeal to be cool is something that you resist (this is mainly because you are guaranteed to fail). It is this desire for pragmatism that leads you to research any future purchase with manic fervor. 

There are a few things that I miss about iOS like the buttery smoothness of the transition from app to app. I miss the privacy features and the industry-leading security that iOS offers. Apple Music is something that I use a lot, and this app crashed twice on the Note while playing Muse, which destroyed my sweaty rhythm on the treadmill. 

2 Reasons Why

Forgiveness can be extended to all these gremlins since the Note 10 Lite is a completely different beast powered by Android 10. Two important factors are key for me: 

  1. The incredible battery life thanks to a 4500 mAh battery and a 25W fast charger, which lasts close to 1.5 days with heavy usage, and 
  2. The ginormous screen at a price that the iPhone cannot beat. I’ve actually moved onto using the Lite for all my article writing much to the chagrin (I suspect) of my MacBook Air. 

I could go on about the camera, which is on par with the camera setup on the iPhone 11, but this is a redundant subtopic. Gone are the Instagram (ahem, foodstagram) days, and now functionality is what I’m after. I don’t hate iOS by any stretch, and I enjoyed how incredibly reliable it was/is. But, for now, the Lite as a midrange smartphone has got my vote. Speaking of midrange phones, the Lite behaves like a flagship, and I do think, at present, that midrange phones are the new flagships

The battery life on this thing is crazy good

Things have changed drastically in the smartphone world, even more so with our individual desires and requirements being all over the place. The best takeaway I can offer you today is that there’s a phone for everyone whatever the budget, and that Android and iOS are on par when it comes to most things.

Stuck wondering what to choose? Maybe a quote in Paco Underhill’s book, Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping may offer an idea; an idea that you could unbox like your next smartphone — “How you present your ideas and information is just as – or more – important as the ideas themselves.” 

I’ll Conclude by Saying…

It is after all the idea that you are subscribing to, which you buy. Both operating systems are great like the devices they support themselves. Android, for me, is all about flexibility, functionality, and freedom of choice — it’s the perfect mix of ingredients to keep the spectre of boredom at bay.

iOS, on the other hand, changes people into an audience that has good taste in digital products. If you do decide to transition, remember that there’s a great deal to love in both ecosystems. The level of difficulty adjusting is all based on how long you’ve spent in the comfort of one operating system.

And on a final note, remember that a smartphone (whether it runs on Android or iOS) is merely a tool to access your content that is happily residing on the cloud.