Apple Macbook 2016 Review

I had been struggling with my Apple Macbook Air for a few years now. I was really excited when I started to read about Apple was likely releasing a new Macbook Pro this year. There had been rumours about having a new LED bar. However, by mid August, it was seemingly clear that Apple was unlikely to release a new Macbook Pro by September.

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Mac App Store launched – Does anybody really care?

The Mac App store was launched almost 3 months ago. Outside of it being hacked within the day and allowing for free apps, will users really care? In principle, I like the idea of having a centralized location where I can install my apps. Unfortunately, the immediate failure of the App Store is that it does not recognize the apps already installed on my Mac and its missing a whole bunch of apps that I have on my machine indicating that the list currently is not exhaustive.

Fortunately for Mac users there other viable alternatives such as MacUpdate Desktop, AppFresh and Bodega. I used all 3 applications side-by-side for a few weeks just to try things out. I really liked the UI for Bodega – it was very intuitive and user friendly. AppFresh was the one that I had the most hopes of being successful because I am a huge fan of crowd-sourced information and AppFresh leverages information from IUseThis. Unfortunately for me, I found that there were quite a lot of duplicate entries and it didn’t end up being as useful as I had hoped it would be. MacUpdate is a paid service for long term use but I find myself liking this the most.

On a side note, long before the iPhone app store was the existence of apt-get and the Canonical repositories for Ubuntu. There are a couple of things that I felt that apt-get did right but the biggest one is the ability to point to different repositories. The reason why this is a big win for me is that it allows multiple ways of keeping the repository updated. Commercial App Stores are great for commercial uses – pretty obvious statement, I’m sure. However, there are more and more great open source and free software that are just waiting to be discovered. 

Gestures make the Macs oh so much better

One of the reasons why I fell in love with the Macs at Zoocasa was because of the gestures. Frankly I thought the whole concept was gimicky at first never thinking it would be useful outside of mobile devices. After using it for a few weeks, it became a very intuitive way of accessing functions of the Mac. I became so enamored with the idea that I bought the Magic Mouse when it came out. Gestures become an even more powerful tool when you can do custom configurations with it and my favorite tool to do that is Better Touch Tool. Better Touch Tool is great because you can customize both your TouchPad as well as the Magic Mouse. You can also customize gestures globally as well as by application.

Lately, I’ve been doing some customizations and decided that it’d be nice to share it with people who are looking into customizing gestures on their Macs as well. Here are some of my customizations

Global

Magic Mouse

  • Show Spaces –> Three Finger Click
  • Application Expose –> Two Finger Swipe Down
  • Expose –> Two Finger Swipe Up

Touch Pad

  • Launch ScreenSaver –> Five Finger Click

Firefox and Chrome

Magic Mouse

  • Move to the left browser tab –> Two Finger Swipe Left
  • Move to the right browser tab –> Two Finger Swipe Right

Touch Pad

  • Move to the left browser tab –> Three Finger Swipe Left
  • Move to the right browser tab –> Three Finger Swipe Right

Here’s my gestures file for those interested in using it.

Tweaking my Apple Magic Mouse

One of the biggest change in my technology profile after working for Zoocasa is that I’ve now started to become quite a Macbook fan boy. When the Apple Magic Mouse was released, I opted to get one because one of the things that I really like about the new Macbook’s is that I really like the gesture concept on the trackpad. I was hoping that the Apple Magic Mouse would offer the same. However, I was quickly disappointed with the minimal amount of gestures offered by the Magic Mouse out of the box. It really offered no more features than any other mouse in the market.

Enter three handy utilities that extend the functionality of the Magic Mouse: MouseWizard, MagicPrefs and BetterTouchTool (BTT). MouseWizard is not free but it’s relatively cheap to obtain – it’s only $2.50 to purchase it. MouseWizard actually doesn’t come with many additional gesture support – all in all, I count 5 new gestures but the one cool thing it can do which I like is that you could do your whole hand to call the screensaver which I use to lock my Macbook. That is neat. MagicPrefs is free and definitely more extensive at least in terms of available gestures that you could invoke. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get most of them to work for me. My favorite is BetterTouchTool so far because it allows you to not only configure the gestures on your mouse but also on the multitouch touchpad of your Macbook.

For the time being, I have programmed my mouse to activate Spaces on a two-finger tap, Show Desktop on a two-figer swipe up and Application Expose on a two finger swipe down for the mouse. For my mouse, I have the five finger tap setup to show the login screen.