Another Apple Event Wallpaper

Apple updated their Apple Events app for the Apple TV today and it of course has its own Apple graphic to go along with it. And in true BirchTree tradition, I’ve made some wallpapers to go along with the artwork.

These are, you guessed it, 4k square images that should look good on whatever you throw them at.

Full res link – six colors

Full res link – orange

Full res link – purple

Full res link – yellow

My (Tech) Desires Are Unconventional

My uncle once told me I should consider fasting for a couple days. He had done it many times and was a big proponent of fasting now and again. “No way, I love food too much,” I replied, but he wasn’t having it. “That’s exactly why you should; you’ll appreciate it so much more when you come back to it.”

I obsess over finding the best of every piece of tech out there. Whether it’s tablets, phones, computers, task managers, or watches, I’m intent of finding the best out there. I have strong feelings on which products are great and which ones simply don’t make the cut. In large, I think the stuff Apple puts out is best-in-class.

But I can’t just say “I like Apple stuff,” and not use anything else. Sure, I could, and that’s what most people do, but sticking with one thing all the time leaves me wondering what’s on the other side. “The grass is always greener on the other side,” they say, and I desperately want to know just how damn green that grass really is. This is why I’ve switched to Android again and again and again, and it’s why I’m trying Windows on the Surface line right now. I want to know not only how green it is, but what shade of green it is, how many blades of grass there are, and why people choose to spend their time in this grass.

It’s not true for everyone, but it’s absolutely something I enjoy doing. Putting myself in a bit of discomfort for a while every so often lets me understand what’s happening on the platforms I don’t personally prefer, and it makes me appreciate what we have on the Apple side ever more when I inevitably come back. Yeah, iOS 12 on the iPhone is great, but after a month or two with Android, it’s effing fantastic (for me).

Do They Even Know Excel Script? Hmmmmm?

Jason Ward writing for Windows Central:

Despite rivals’ success, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella isn’t chasing an Apple- or Google-esque definition of cool. His mission for Microsoft is to make its brand a pervasive, intricate, and in many regards, a behind the scenes presence that helps make others cool.

I was going to write a response to this, but I honestly got lost reading the comment section at the bottom of the piece. The discussion being had is…next level crazy. There’s nothing I can write that would be more entertaining than this comments. Wow, just wow. For just a taste, here’s one response to someone saying Chromebooks are a threat to Windows:

Tell me… what are the jobs that can earn a freshman 3k~ 10k+ a month? Def not arcade or convenient store staff.

How do you work efficient without menu key, shortcuts, multitasking, multi-windows, window snapping (with kb)?

Sure, maybe chrome os is eating US, but you aren’t creating next-gen work force. Do they even know Excel Script?

From Go to Pro: A Whole New World

While the Surface Go is a “sub-$400 tablet” in the absolute sense of the word, it’s not really when you consider the basically required accessories you need to get for it. Here’s the whole set:

That’s $627 just to get a working Surface Go setup up and running. That’s a bit more than I’d like to pay for something I’m not totally happy with, so I had 2 options: return the Go and call this whole thing off, or spend more to get something better.

I was going to throw this whole experiment away, but then I got turned onto this bundle: a Surface Pro with a Core i5 processor, 128GB of SSD storage, and a Type Cover for $7991. Yes, that’s 2x what I paid for the Surface Go, but it was also only 27% more than I paid for the whole set of Go accessories. So I did it2.

The Benefits of Going from Go to Pro

The short of it is that everything is doubled compared to the Go model. The SSD went from 64GB to 128GB, the RAM went from 4GB to 8GB, CPU performance measured in Geekbench almost preciesely doubled, and the total screen resolution went from 2 million pixel to just shy of 5 million. Oh, and the bezels, while basically the same size, look half as big on this large screen device.

First Impressions

My first impressions of the Surface Pro is far more positive than my impressions of the Go. Setup was mostly a breeze, and very similar to the macOS setup experience. I signed into my Microsoft account and Windows logged me into all my Microsoft apps. Edge was a weird case (isn’t it always?) in that it synced about a quarter of my bookmarks and none of my passwords came over. Even after about 24 hours with this device, they’re still not here, so I guess it’s time to add them all…again.

In better syncing news, OneDrive allowed me to have most of my documents and desktop back in working order in little time. It even synced my desktop wallpaper over too. Much like iCloud on the Mac, it immediately had all of my files displayed in the file manger, but they were not downloaded until I interacted with them. This mercifully means that my many gigabytes of stuff I have stored in the cloud didn’t load itself onto my relatively small 128GB hard drive.

In terms of performance, it’s like a glass of water in the desert. No longer does the simplest of task bring this computer to its knees! Things are pretty quick, and while it’s still quite poor in terms of games, it’s a very capable productivity and content consumption machine. I don’t think the Surface Go needed to be quite this quick, but there is a line where computers get acceptably quick, and the Go was decidedly on the wrong side of that line. The Surface Pro doesn’t feel like a super high end computer, but it certainly feels like it can keep up with me.

And then there’s the hardware. Hardware is almost uniformly as good as it was on the Go, but for reasons I’ll get into later, there are more ports, but I like them less so far.

More to Come

I’ll surely have more to say about this device as I use it more, but up front I’m much happier camper than I was at this point in the Surface Go’s life. How much more I like it is up in the air, but now I feel like I’m using an honest-to-goodness functioning computer again, which is very nice.

  1. As of this writing, this is now sold out on Microsoft’s website, but hopefully it will be back. 
  2. It also helped that I sold my Pixel 2 and all Pixel accessories to pay for the Go, and those worked out to enough to just under $700, so I was not really losing that much money on this endeavor. 

Gone Pro

Last Monday I posted the first part of my Microsoft Surface Go review, a review that started out positive, but took a sharp turn when the conversation turned to performance. I enjoyed many parts of the Surface Go, but it was betrayed by a god-awful Intel processor that felt like it was being pushed to its absolute limit when doing literally anything. But I enjoyed some elements so much that I felt sad that I had to throw that all away just because it was too slow.

In my conclusion of the Go review I said:

If you want this hardware and accessory quality with decent performance, the Surface Pro is going for $599 right now and looks to be a much better performer for only $200 more. That may be a notable difference for some buyers, but I also think that computer will last you much longer.

I thought on that for a while and then saw that Microsoft had a bundle with the i5 model and a Type Cover for $799. I looked at my $630 in Surface Go plus accessories, and decided it was worth $170 to get a version of this I could actually use reliably.

So here I am, typing this into a Surface Pro, and while I’ll have a more complete review in the coming days, here are some of the benefits I’m getting from the small upgrade in price:

  1. Intel Pentium Gold upgrades to a 7th gen i5 (an still fanless).
  2. 4GB RAM to 8GB.
  3. 64GB eMMC hard drive to 128GB SSD.
  4. 10 inch 1800 x 1200 (217 PPI) display to a 12 inch 2736 x 1824 (267 PPI).
  5. Windows 10 Home to Win 10 Pro (not really sure why that matters, but it’s a difference).

Worth noting that the one thing I am losing here is USB-C, which is actually quite annoying, as I really liked having that universal cable that I could do anything with, including charging. I can get USB-C by buying Microsoft’s $200 Surface Dock, but that seems insane. I’ll have to switch to the mini DisplayPort to run my external monitor, but charging will have to go through the proprietary Surface Connector.

I’ll have much more to share soon on this new device.

Its worth noting I returned the Surface Go (with like 2 days to spare on the return window). I don’t have 2 Surfaces…that would be insane.