Geeky interlude, Apple Mac edition

Having worked my way through numerous laptops over my working life I had been very happy with a small number of vendor products. This blog has a no-name-and-shame policy but some laptops I have used have been hell. And rhymed...
I did always want to get one of these Tadpole Viper but have never really found a reason to explain that to management.  I did once put together a business case to buy one of these Tadpole ALPHAbook but never did get the purchase order signed off.

I was always a big fan of IBM Thinkpad and Toshiba.  Since Lenovo acquired the Thinkpad business the quality has dropped so I am not sure I would invest in Lenovo product. Toshiba seems to have gone down the big screen/touch screen route which is fine for fun but not so good for the road warrior carting round a laptop for business.

So, I decided to make a bit of a change and get an Apple MacBook Pro.  The non-retina display 13" is slightly hidden on the website but it's in there. I upgraded the CPU to the 2.9Ghz i7, upgraded the chip memory to 8GB and took the hard drive to 1TB of old-fashioned spinning metal.

So - first impressions.  It's quit a nice bit of kit.  Due to work reasons I need to get office and Visual Studio working so I put Windows 8.1 Pro on the bootcamp partition.  I gave that 200GB and installed Office Professional, Visio, Project and Visual Studio.  Not a huge fan of the new look and feel for Windows 8.1 Pro but it'll be ok for what I need.

On the Mac partition I installed Virtual Box.  Within Virtual Box I installed another instance of Win 8.1 Pro.  I then cloned that virtual hard disk (VHD) and now have a sandpit in which I can play around with various tools I download from the internet.  I also created further VirtualBox installs of Ubuntu and Windows Server 2012.
In order to use Spring Tool Suite you need Java.  But OSX Mavericks 10.9.2 does not include Java.  So a download is needed to get it running.  You can see that Apple is trying to create a software+hardware+services walled garden and they do an excellent job of pushing folks to go "all Apple" in order to make it work easily.
As a simple example of this, I have a couple of Toshiba USB3.0 1TB portable hard drives. These take slightly more than the mandated power load.  Every other non-Apple computer I have used will push out enough power to get the Toshiba HDD to work.  But MBP will not.  A quick google shows a theory that this issue is caused because Apple do not want to push out enough power to charge up non-Apple devices. Whereas if you connect an Apple iPhone via a lightning-to-USB adapter cable the MBP will push out enough power.  Frustrating.  A powered USB hub resolved the issue but it's clearly a design decision made to push more product.

For a hobby project for fun I will install an instance of QNX and a Blackberry playbook emulator.  QNX is a true real-time OS that was acquired by Research In Motion (Blackberry).  Unlike most operating systems QNX has been used for nuclear power plant control.  It's also used to underpin a lot of automotive control systems - a quick google shows you how prevalent QNX is.  My plan for this will be covered in another post.
I also picked up an Apple TV device and a cheap wireless router.  This allows you to use a TV as a monitor.
Next steps for the MBP:
  1. Get Apple Xcode up and running and having a look-see about what it can do.
  2. Have a look at Spring Tool Suite on Mac.  I have never developed on an Apple Mac so it will be interesting to see how well it works.
  3. See how I can get my HD video camera files onto the MBP hard drive
Longer term:
  1. When I can get a decent 1TB or more SSD drive I will install that - for the time being I will stick to old fashioned HDD.  Apple don't sell an SSD with more that 512GB but that's no use if you are running multiple operating system instances within VirtualBox.
  2. Get a decent NAS to collect media and code. 
So - what's the conclusion?  Apple MacBook Pro 13" is a nicely made piece of kit.  Has a satisfying solid feel.  But overpriced - the Apple tax is real (anyone remember the uproar about the Windows tax?).