New MacBook Pros – sticker shock!

Sticker shock. 🙁

My late 2013 MBP retina’s AppleCare warranty ends in December and I was looking forward to maybe upgrading. But really, the only thing I currently feel is lacking is storage. My 512 GB SSD is just too small now, since my Photos library is like 140 GB. So I have all my Photos on an external USB drive. I was looking forward to integrating everything again.

Right now I have 16 GB RAM, so if I went for the 15″ with 16 GB of RAM and upgrade from the default 512 GB SSD to 1 TB it would be – $3,200!

There’s no way I can afford that – even after selling my current MBP. The 13″ models aren’t that much better, after you add in needed RAM and storage upgrades.

Plus all the funny business with the USB-C ports-only is annoying.

So, while it’s still under warranty, I’m going to get my current keyboard replaced (some letters are worn down and are illegible now) and I guess just continue using my current MBP for a few more years. Or maybe in a year this new 2016 models will come down in price and I might rethink then.

But right now, the new models are just too expensive for me. And my current MBP speed is basically fine.

 

Just before sunset, by the Nakagawa

Sunset was at 4:52 pm today. Early! Just before, by the river, I took some photos of the leaves changing color, and caught the sun between two buildings.

Note there is no “green dot lens flare” in the sunset river photo. I found a great app to retouch things like that. It removes all sorts of problems from photos. It can even remove hanging wires! Also, if you click the photos you can see them full size.

 

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Tech note: Back using Apple Mail for Gmail and other kinds of email

This is a summary of where I am now (back to Mail.app after a long time away). You can read about all the problems many of us experienced in Mail with Mavericks and Yosemite in this long thread: Yosemite Mail still has sync problems with Gmail – any solutions?

First I stayed away from Mail.app for 6 months because of the Mavericks/Gmail problems. I tried again after the 10.9.3 and 10.9.4 updates, but it still wasn’t reliably working all the time.

Finally after trying the latest update for El Capitan 10.11.2 Mail seems to be working for about a week now, with three Gmail accounts and one iCloud account, including hundreds of thousands of emails going back over 15 years.

I set up each Gmail account one-by-one, waiting for each account to finish syncing. There were a few issues. In particular, after each Gmail account was added, I needed to disable and re-enable the iCloud account otherwise the default send address for all the accounts became the iCloud address. But toggling the iCloud account off and on again fixed that. This is a known issue to Apple support which recommended that procedure to me.

I also turned off “save drafts on server” for each Gmail account. With it on, duplicates of sent mail end up in the trash.

I did not need to do anything special with settings for my iOS versions of Mail, and all my mails between my iPhone, iPad and Mac have remained in sync.

Things have been working well for the past week, there have been no delays in mail delivery and I’ve enjoyed using Mail and will continue using it for now again, after a long hiatus, unless something else goes wrong.

During this time away I have been using Mailplane for Gmail. Mailplane a fine application, and the developers are great to work with. And I will certainly keep my Mailplane up-to-date and may even use it from time to time.

But in general I prefer using Mail.app for the following reasons, in no particular order:

(1) It’s a lot easier on the eyes than Gmail via the web, or in Mailplane. It just looks nicer. There is generally better use of space. I feel more relaxed using it. It also supports retina resolution better.

(2) Image attachments are quicker to add and work better and more seamlessly.

(3) You can have multiple signatures per account (that’s useful in a multi-lingual environment).

(4) You can move messages between accounts.

(5) You can easily reply to an email from another account.

(6) Editing is much better. For example, in Gmail/Mailplane you can’t enter a tab character to line things up! That always drove me crazy. You can in Mail.

(7) In Mail you can “send again” which is really useful. For example, re-sending an invoice later in the month, with some extra notes. Or sending the same email to different friends, but not cc’ing them all. You might want to do that to keep down traffic, or to make a minor tweak in each sent email. It’s useful. But in Gmail/Mailplane there is no send again! Or redirect. Mail has both. (I keep on suggesting a “send again” feature to the Mailplane developers. I hope they add that at some point).

(8) I think conversations are much easier to read in Mail than in Gmail/Mailplane. They are expanded by default, and much more nicely formatted, which makes it easier on the eyes. And it’s easier to focus on just one message in a conversation, and operate on just one message.

(9) Finding very old messages is easier. In Gmail/Mailplane the search results only bring up one page, and then you have to page through lists of results if there are many. In Mail they are all there because they are on your computer, so without hardly any loading time at all you can find messages going back more than a decade even.

(10) Even though it’s IMAP, I also like having the mail actually residing on my computer as a backup rather than just relying on my connection to Gmail, and the assumption that Google won’t accidentally lose my data in some big accident.

(11) Message windows work better in Mail. They pop up naturally and automatically, while in Mailplane you have to go through extra steps all the time to edit replies in a separate window.

(12) Messages enter more instantly and smoothly than in Gmail/Mailplane.

(13) Attachments also work better. Everything will open up directly from Mail, while with Gmail/Mailplane you often have to download first and then open up an attachment (though you can get previews of some type of content, like PDF files). Drag and drop of attachments from mail to folders also works better in Mail.app.

The missing piece for me was that I got used to Gmail shortcuts for doing things quickly, like going to a folder, filing in a folder, etc.

And Mailplane’s menu bar notification is nice. You can get a preview of what’s waiting for you in different accounts very easily. It would be nice if Mail.app added that.

For keyboard shortcuts to file messages in mailboxes and quickly jump to them I’m using the MsgFiler app available from the app store. It’s not free, but it works very well. I do miss the ability to sometimes add multiple labels to a message (which is like having your message in multiple mailboxes at once in Gmail). But it’s not a major problem for me. It would be nice if Mail added that feature at some point.

So I’m feeling very at home, at least for now, in Mail.app again.

Excel in Office 2016 is very buggy – so I installed Office 2011 and it is better – wondering why I upgraded from Office 2008 now

I had been an Office 2008 user. When Office 2016 came out I subscribed, deleted Office 2008 and installed Office 2016. But Excel in Office 2016 is very buggy!

For example:

  1. When editing text in a cell, the blinking vertical cursor input point is different from where text actually gets input, which makes editing difficult.
  2. When trying to format an entire column to “wrap text” it doesn’t work.
  3. When in a cell in one spreadsheet, if I use CMD-tab to switch apps and then CMD-tab to switch back I end up in a completely different spreadsheet in a different cell! This makes copy/pasting from another app very error-prone and time consuming.
  4. Large spreadsheets open up slowly.

So with Support’s help I installed Office 2011 side-by-side. I’ve never used Office 2011 before.

All the above-mentioned bugs don’t occur in Office 2011 (they didn’t in Office 2008 either).

Anyway, since both versions are installed and Office 2016 should get automatic updates I can check periodically to see if the new bugs introduced in Office 2016 are fixed.

But I have to admit I’m wondering why I upgraded at all at this point. The 1 TB OneDrive was one attraction, but the limitations (10 GB files so I can’t backup Parallels VMs, inability to sync certain folder hierarchies because OneDrive thinks there are strange characters in folder names) made that fairly useless to me as well.