While waiting for the latest MacBook Pro to be delivered, our columnist has some thoughts about a couple of recent Apple issues.
In my last Practical Mac column (Oct. 28), I bemoaned some of Apple’s choices in its just-announced MacBook Pro, such as limiting the maximum amount of RAM to 16 GB.
Since then, we’ve learned that memory ceiling is related to maintaining acceptable battery life with the current Intel chipset powering the machine. The MacBook Pro models are also more expensive than similar tiers in the past.
And I ordered one anyway.
While I wait for it to arrive, I want to pass along a tip for dealing with a new annoyance — calendar-invitation spam — and look at what Apple’s apparent abandonment of its AirPort wireless router lineup means.
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MacBook Pro to the future. Fanboy enthusiasm? No, I took a rational approach and listed pros and cons for my situation, which is something I recommend anyone do when considering a big purchase like this. It boiled down to a few key points (and I expanded upon them at my personal website), which may help you if you’re in a similar situation.
First, I’ve been purring along with a 2010 MacBook Pro, and although it’s still a good machine, it’s starting to get behind the technology curve. I’ve managed to eke out more life by swapping the original hard drive and optical drive for two solid-state drives, but it’s limited to FireWire 800 and USB 2 port speeds, doesn’t support Handoff for quick intercommunication among Apple devices and is starting to get pokey.
Second, I do all of my professional work on this machine. I considered going in a different direction and getting a 5K iMac as a main computer and an iPad Pro as a remote device, but I do too much work in disparate locations to be tied to a desktop. And although I adore the iPad Pro, it’s not a desktop replacement for much of what I need a computer to do.
And third, I don’t mean to sound churlish, but I’m a Mac guy through and through. I sometimes need to run Windows, which I do in virtual memory using Parallels Desktop, but I don’t want that as my main operating system. I’m not knocking those who do — Windows just isn’t my everyday choice.
Since I didn’t order the MacBook Pro immediately, mine won’t arrive until next week, so I don’t have hands-on time with one yet. But I am looking forward to a jump from 2010 to the 2016 model.
iCloud calendar spam. Just when you think you’ve got a handle on digital life, someone figures out a new way to try to scam you. The latest incarnation is calendar spam: an invitation to “attend” an “event,” which is actually just a nefarious link.
If you decline the event, the spammer still gets notified, which means your address is verified as being active. That, in turn, gets the address added to other lists and results in even more spam.
However, there is a fix (credit to Aaron Douglas, @astralbodies on Twitter).
1. Sign in to your iCloud account in a web browser on a computer at icloud.com.
2. Click Calendar to view your calendar.
3. Click the Settings button (the gear icon at lower left) and choose Preferences.
4. Click the Advanced tab.
5. Under “Receive event invitations as,” choose the Email option.
After you do that, all invitations arrive only as emails, which hopefully will be categorized as spam in your mail program. (I use SpamSieve to help cut down unwanted mail in Apple’s Mail app.)
AirPort’s last flight. It looks as if Apple’s AirPort line of Wi-Fi routers isn’t flying into the future. According to a report by Mark Gurman at Bloomberg, Apple has reassigned its engineers working on AirPort products to other areas.
I’ve recommended AirPort base stations nearly since the beginning of home Wi-Fi because they’re the easiest to set up and maintain.
One plausible explanation for Apple’s change is that wireless networking is shifting focus from a stand-alone base station to mesh networks made up of multiple devices.
Do you have dead areas where the Wi-Fi is spotty in your house? Instead of one base station pumping out signal in all directions, a mesh network made up of two or more base stations covers far more territory. And they’re smarter about handling traffic and managing phones, tablets and all the other wireless products we now use.
My colleague Dave Hamilton at The Mac Observer presciently published a comparison review of three systems: eero, Orbi and AmpliFi. My house is still fine with a one-generation-back AirPort Extreme for now, but I know that a mesh option will be its replacement at some point in the future.