April 22, 2014

My 4-year-old, Perfectly Adequate MacBook Pro

I call this: computers,tech — Posted by KP @ 7:00 am

MBPat4I’ve been a computer geek basically my whole life. I started taking computer programming classes at gifted camp when I was 8 years old, and as a result of that managed to get my first computer when I was 9. Although my career isn’t in the technology field, and my knowledge of programming languages is pretty pathetic, I’ve always wanted to stay on or close to the bleeding edge of computing power and new technologies. For as long as I can remember, four years has been generally accepted as the amount of time a computer remains useful if used for anything more complicated than browsing the web, emailing and word processing. I certainly have never been satisfied with a computer any longer than that.

Another driving force in my life is my desire not to have to have a “survival job” while making a living as a professional stage manager. In the course of my career, I’ve had good jobs and bad, long-term jobs that barely pay the bills, and great-paying flops that ran a month. When I used to work more regularly at Phantom I could very suddenly end up with a lot of disposable income. Getting offered somebody’s vacation week meant I could go out and buy a computer just for fun. Last month I got offered a rehearsal and performance in the same week and thought, “Oh thank God, I can turn my cable back on!”

What I’m getting at is that sometimes the unpredictability of my career has forced me to put my dreams of computing on hold. Maybe I’m just getting older and more mellow. The money that buys the shiny new computer thing will probably be needed for rent, so I look more carefully at what I have, and what it can and can’t do, and really ask myself if I need the new features, extra speed, etc. that comes from the latest models.

Which leads me to my MacBook Pro. I purchased it when I was on the road in Philly, in April of 2010 (4 years ago today). You can read my post from the day I got it, if you like. It was something of an expected emergency. My 2007 MacBook Pro had been having problems with the screen for a long time. I waited for a refresh to come out for the 15″ MBPs, and from that point on, every time we got to a new city I’d call the local Apple Store to find out if they had 15″ high-res matte screen MBPs in stock, just in case it died. Finally in Philly, it was too far gone, and I brought home (to the hotel) my current model, officially known as the “Mid-2010” model. I liked it better when the names were a combination of construction material and processor speed, like “1.25gHz AlBook.” It’s rude to say how old a lady is. You’d never know it by looking at her.

File transfer in progress (note the show's lighting monitor that I brought home to use the old computer)

File transfer in progress (note the show’s lighting monitor that I brought to the hotel so I could use the old computer)

Its first performance. Philadelphia, April 2010.

Its first performance. Philadelphia, April 2010.

Anyway, to give you a brief montage of the life and times of this living legend (for this isn’t an “in memoriam” post for a computer being retired, as I’ve done in the past — this baby is still going strong as my primary machine), here are the highlights I can remember of its life so far:

  • Two tours with The Acting Company (the end of the 2009-2010 tour, and the entire 2010-2011 tour)
  • Morning on the bus.

    Morning on the bus.

  • Has been a stage management computer for at least 25 productions and other events (I keep terrible records of all my jobs)
    Who needs paper groundplans?

    Who needs paper groundplans?

  • Until recently had a relatively modest career running projections, having done only four benefits, until this month when it was pressed into service overnight before a matinee, when the PC running my current show died. It not only took over the multiple-projector show, but did it running Windows.
  • Occasionally runs QLab, serving as a rehearsal sound computer (including my current production)
  • Has edited two short films (one in progress), a music video, two other short videos, and countless personal projects just for fun
  • Suffered a video card failure in the middle of tech for Triassic Parq, and took several sick days to go to Texas for a new logic board
  • Tragedy strikes at the dinosaur park.

    Tragedy strikes at the dinosaur park.

  • I don’t think it’s ever needed a battery replacement, which is really quite remarkable. If it did, it must have been a really easy repair process, cause I don’t remember it. Battery life is maybe not quite what it used to be, but I go lots of places without my charger.
  • Now runs Windows 7 and has taken over some of the gaming responsibilities from my “gaming rig,” which hasn’t been updated since 2008.
  • A little hotel gaming.

    A little hotel gaming.

  • Began life with the 320GB 7200rpm hard drive from my old computer, and about a year ago was upgraded to 750GB/7200rpm. Presumably the last laptop I’ll own with a mechanical hard drive.
  • Getting naked for a hard drive swap.

    Getting naked for a hard drive swap.

    Saving Up

    When my last computer died its tragic death, I didn’t have the money to replace it, so I had a lot of debt on my credit card, which I was hoping to pay off during the following year’s Acting Company tour, but basically defeating the purpose of returning from tour with a lot of money. While we were in rehearsal for said tour, I got a check from Phantom, which was forwarded to Minneapolis. I said, “Oh, they’re probably paying out vacation pay. I haven’t worked there in forever, it’s probably like five dollars.” Around the same time I got an email from the company manager letting me know he had sent my vacation pay because it was “a significant amount of money.” At this point I’m thinking it’s like $50. So the check arrives in the rehearsal room one morning and I open it to see how much free money I’ve gotten. It was nine hundred dollars. Which was pretty much the remaining debt on the computer. Once again, Phantom provides the deus ex machina to all my financial problems. It’s like my employment with them is some kind of parable meant to teach me about the difference between wanting money and needing money.

    Anyway, the need to replace the computer without having any money saved up made me vow to be more prepared next time. Figuring I could get at least 3 years out of my new purchase, I began very slowly putting money away. Any time I found myself with actual cash (like birthday money, friend pays me for theatre tickets, etc.) I put it in a drawer. Sometimes I used that drawer money to pay the Dominos delivery guy, but over time I noticed the pile was getting bigger and bigger, too big to keep all of it in a drawer. It was actually becoming enough to significantly offset the cost of a top-of-the-line MacBook Pro, and that made me even more eager to put money aside. About six months ago, with my computer three-and-a-half years old, i.e. too old to be repaired if it breaks, I stopped putting money into the fund, because I had enough to pay for the computer, the taxes, and a couple hundred bucks of miscellaneous expenses I expect to need, like new adapters and cases. I was really proud of myself, especially given that I had had some long periods of unemployment and under-employment during those years, and despite my checking account coming very close to zero many times, had never had to give up my computer fund.

    So now I’m just sitting on the money, waiting to be unsatisfied with my 4-year-old computer. And it hasn’t happened.

    Looking Ahead

    Recently my iPhone needed a new battery, and I was left to wander the Apple Store for a half hour while the repair was performed. Having not had much disposable income in several years, I don’t think I own a single thing that was on display in the store, so it was an opportunity to get a little more acquainted with the current hardware options. First on my list was the newer, thinner 15″ MBP, as being the owner of 4-year-old, out-of-warranty MBP means that every time I open the lid there’s a chance some tiny component has fried, and whether I like it or not, the current top-of-the-line 15″ is going to be my new computer.

    I love the thinness, I love the lack of an optical drive, I love the resolution, I love the SSD. I hate glossy screens. The actual gloss has been much improved over the years. They seem much less reflective. But the other problem is that the glass is heavier than the matte screen, which means that the “thinner, lighter” form factor is not really that much lighter than my current model, because the screen is a pound heavier.

    I’ve been lucky to have purchased my last two Macs at a time when they were offering matte screens as an option. It seems they’re currently in another phase of forcing gloss on everyone, which makes me want to wait as long as possible in the hopes they change their minds and decide to be nice to their visual-artist type customers again. So that’s reason #1 that I’m underwhelmed with the current upgrade options.

    Thunderbolt seems cool in theory. I’d love to have a Thunderbolt display which I can connect all my other stuff to, streamlining the number of cables I need to hook up when I get home. Then I looked at a Thunderbolt display in the store. I couldn’t even tell how the picture was because it was so glossy all I could see was the reflection of all the lights in the store. I turned away in disgust without even using the machine. I believe it’s relatively late in its product life and probably due for a refresh, so I won’t judge too harshly, but it’s obscenely expensive (currently $999), 27″ isn’t unusually big for a high-end monitor these days, and it looks like crap! So consider me underwhelmed about the Thunderbolt connector, which is the biggest “you-don’t-have-this” item on the new models. Also, I expect any refreshed monitor will be like $1,500 and still be some degree of glossy. If I’m going to buy a monitor that costs more than a couple hundred bucks, it might as well be matte.

    One thing I am looking forward to, whenever the day shall come, is that the current MBPs can drive two external monitors. Mine can do it with a USB adapter, but it’s not native support and slows everything down. Now that I’m making a little money editing, it’s more than just something that looks cool to post on /r/battlestations on Reddit. But it will require a significant investment of money to do it right, between getting another mounting arm, and possibly needing to buy two monitors that match and fit together nicely, rather than just adding one. I’m crossing my fingers that I have a good job when the time comes, and have the flexibility to make quality purchases that will give the most benefit in the long term.

    In the years since I made my last purchase, I’ve stopped touring (although I’d certainly do it for the right job), and I’ve stopped gaming as much. I have little need for portable gaming power. But I’ve also started a side business as an editor. So raw computing power isn’t as essential as it was before, but I still need enough to work with HD video comfortably. I definitely wish my computer was faster, but it’s not so slow that I want to throw it out the window. It’s teetering on the windowsill, if you will. But I’m trying to be patient to see what’s coming down the road.

    I’m really amazed that after four years, and with the money in place, I don’t have any particular desire for a replacement. I’m not sure if this says something about the quality of the Mid-2010 model, my mellowing as a geek, or the lack of innovation in the last 4 years. I guess it must be all three. I don’t know how much longer we have together, but for now I wish a happy birthday to my strong and loyal friend, who I hope will be some part of my computing arrangement to its 10th birthday and beyond!

September 5, 2010

Let Me Tell Ye: Windows 7 Upgrade

I call this: computers,mac,pc,tech — Posted by KP @ 11:20 pm

It’s been a while since I’ve done a “Let Me Tell Ye” post, so just a reminder / warning that in addition to some useful computer tips, you’re going to get some snark.

I’ve been using Windows XP since late 2001, shortly before I switched to Mac (basically WindowsME was what made me switch, and by the time XP came out, my mind was made up, but I bought it just to get me through the last couple months before I could afford a Mac). Since then I’ve always had an install of Windows on my Mac, which until this week has always been XP. I also have a gaming rig, which also runs XP. I recently hit a point where I felt that Windows 7 had been around long enough that I trust it will be compatible with my games and peripherals, and will provide better performance with modern hardware (such as my 4GB of RAM). Over the summer it made it to the top of my short list of things to buy when I get a little money.

As part of preproduction for my upcoming tour, I’ve been focusing on Windows a little more than usual because I have a PC-using assistant. So I thought it might be a good idea to take the opportunity to buy Windows 7 now, so that if we ever need to do something Windows-based, there won’t be a chance of it not working because I’m using an obsolete OS.

So let me tell ye, without further ado, my experience installing Windows 7 on my MacBook Pro, over an install of XP. I wrote this throughout the process:


So here’s what I’m working with:

  • mid-2010 15″ 2.66GHz i7 MacBook Pro
  • 4GB RAM
  • Mac partition with Snow Leopard 10.6.4
  • Windows partition with XP SP3 32-bit
  • Windows 7 upgrade disk (which comes with 32-bit and 64-bit install disks, I will be attempting 64-bit)

The Begininng

I made sure I had the latest Boot Camp update (3.1) for Windows 32 bit, which gets run on XP before the update. Honestly I’ve never been quite clear how Boot Camp works, but I know it’s necessary for driver support, so I need to make sure that’s done first, and everything I’ve read says this is necessary before installing Windows 7 in Boot Camp.

Step 1: Open the Box

When I had recovered from the optical spectacular that is the hologrammed install disc, I found a loose piece of paper in the box making it sound like if I’m going from XP to Win 7 my life is going to be miserable. So I grabbed one of my spare hard drives, reformatted as NTFS, and got ready for an ordeal.

The instructions sent me to a website to download a helper. I carefully typed in the address (in IE, cause I figured they’d do something stupid like make that important). But because I was using IE, it didn’t send me to the page because I didn’t put “http://”. Sorry. I must have been looking for that other internet, so it’s a good thing you sent me to Windows Live Search instead, where the only result happened to be the page I was looking for.

The first instruction cautions me that when I start the installation I need to select the “custom” option if installing from XP. Well, I know the OS is old. To me it feels like just yesterday because I switched to Mac just a few months after it came out. But let’s not pretend that the only OS in between didn’t suck. Plenty of smart people, and lucky ones who didn’t need to buy new computers, skipped over Vista. So stop acting like those of us still on XP are some kind of technology-shunning aberrations. Thanks.

So it checked that my computer is compatible with both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows 7. Then I was instructed to download the optimistically-named Windows Easy Transfer. Now this “easy” transfer doesn’t actually transfer all your stuff intact, it takes your files, but you need to reinstall your programs. That seems like a pretty smart idea when changing OSes anyway, but I’d call it more like, “We’ll Kinda Help You Transfer.” Like if a friend offers to help you move and all they do is hold the door open for you while you carry the stuff out, and then leave you at the door to your new place with a list to help you remember all the stuff you have to unpack.

While Windows analyzed my computer for ease of transfer, I heard my Mac reboot. Apparently spontaneously and unintentionally, because when I restarted it said the bit about “Windows has recovered from a serious error,” and actually used the word “blue screen” somewhere in there. I wish I had been looking, it would have been a great photo op.

With this comforting sign before I’ve even begun my major upgrade, I started over with the “Easy Transfer” program. That time, it alleged it was able to back up all my files. Then while doing absolutely nothing, my computer initiated a shutdown. It wasn’t a blue screen or anything, just a very calm “windows is shutting down now,” like any other shutdown, except that I hadn’t asked for it. Now I’m hoping that this install will wipe everything, cause obviously it’s F’ed up.

Side note: Dropbox is being real slow. I wonder if Evernote might actually be faster for transferring single large files. I’ve been researching and downloading the files I need from my other computers and then just putting them in my DropBox so I can get them from the machine I’m updating.

So finally I put in my install disc. Because I’m going from a 32-bit OS to a 64-bit one, I have to boot directly from the CD, it can’t be done with the OS loaded. Check out this futuristic loading screen. I’m so excited to be computing in the 21st century!

Of course the progress bar has no bearing on actual progress and freezes at 100% for an uncomfortable period of time. Maybe I should just play a game of Civ 4 or something while I wait so I’m not tempted to mess with it. I’m not kidding, that’s what I’m doing. Let’s see how many millennia I can get through while it loads files.

…I started in 10,000BC, by the year 435AD I gave up.

I came to discover through more googling that apparently while you can upgrade from XP to 7, on a Mac it’s not so easy. Something about how it boots off the CD, and the differences in how Macs and PCs boot. The only path seemed to be to do a clean install. Which is more or less what it was going to end up being anyway, as I understood it, so I didn’t find that to be a problem. Back to the same “loading files” screen… This time I got beyond it. There were even some greater-than-1-bit graphics.

Finally the whole thing installs beautifully. Then I go to put in my product key and it says it’s invalid. I come to find out that you can’t do a clean install from the upgrade disk, despite the fact I had read that you could. It doesn’t bother to ask you for a valid XP product key or install disk. So now I’m back to square one of reformatting and installing XP (which also means an upgrade to SP3 and all other updates since then) before I’m ready to try the upgrade to 7 again.

Total elapsed time so far: 3 hours.

5 hours in, I am now back where I started. I got interrupted when The ’70s called, asking for its progress bar back. I said it was still frozen on my screen and I’d return it when I got it unstuck. I even tried using the 32-bit install disc, thinking that would be an OK solution temporarily until I can figure out how to fix this. But that still told me it needed to boot from the disc, and still froze in the same place.

I googled some more, and found that getting stuck on “Windows is loading files” is very common, for Mac users and regular PC users alike. One lucky fellow I read about said he found the solution to his problem in that after randomly restarting about 10 times, all of them resulting in the process freezing at “loading files,” he was rebooting again, giving up and trying to boot in OS X and suddenly it worked. Mine had only failed about 3 times, so I decided this ridiculous “solution” was worth trying. And on the fourth time, suddenly it loaded fine. So far so good. Back in the 21st century.

If I EVER have to go through this process again I will not be happy. I would just like to point out that this is one of those situations where legitimate users get punished. I can only imagine how many people have installed pirated copies and had none of these troubles because they could have done the clean install and avoided the incompatibilities with XP.

6 hours and counting — it accepted my product key and I’m using the OS. Haven’t installed Boot Camp drivers yet, but it’s run its first software updates.

Boot Camp installed, so I can now see it in full resolution. This is the ugliest OS I’ve ever seen. I don’t think it’s supposed to be. When I start tinkering with settings I’m sure I’ll figure it out. Right, Microsoft?

Well I found the personalization settings. Yeah it does get a little more attractive with all the Aero effects turned on.

The default wallpaper is hideous. I’ve always thought Microsoft was pretty good about that in the past. I don’t like any of the built-in wallpapers. I decided to start with an orange theme, and found a wallpaper I liked online. I’m not sure I like it, but I would have died of boredom with the default theme on. My buttons still turn blue when I mouse over them, and I don’t see a way to change that.

Overall performance seems good. I like that I finally have an OS for gaming that can see all my RAM. I haven’t done a lot of gaming yet, but what I have done feels very good. Sorry, I don’t have any before-and-after FPS comparisons.

So to summarize, if you run into this problem that a lot of people face with the install freezing at “loading files,” the highly sophisticated solution is to just keep doing it over and over and one time it might work. Which, incidentally, is also the definition of insanity.


After getting everything up and running in Boot Camp, I checked it in Parallels. I had to go through a bit of a reinstall, but Parallels handled that pretty well. There was a point where Windows tried to do a repair on itself and failed, but I used the tried-and-true method of “just try it again” and it worked. I wasn’t given any grief about activation. With virtualization you can have problems because the OS sees your machine as having different hardware in Boot Camp and Parallels, and thinks you’re a filthy pirate trying to install it on two different computers. I actually don’t know how they check it, but I’ve never had it reject me since 2007, when I had to call a number and explain to them what I was doing. The nice woman I spoke to in India cleared it without giving me any argument, so it wasn’t a terrible experience. I’m just amazed that as many times as I’ve messed around with that install, it’s never happened again.

Performance in Parallels is something I’ve been struggling with for quite a while. I had finally gotten it to a level I was happy with, which involved devoting less than half my RAM to the virtual machine. Unfortunately Windows 7 requires 2GB of RAM, so I have not tried giving it less than that. I’m still experimenting. I really would like 8GB of RAM, but it’s still pretty expensive.

I wish the install hadn’t sent me on a wild goose chase, but when it was all done, I was able to get the OS I wanted installed, and so far I like it. Of course I won’t really be spending much time in it, but I like what I see so far.

April 3, 2010

Son-of-a-Bitch: The PC Edition

I call this: computers,gaming,pc,tech — Posted by KP @ 5:40 am

So you know, I’m home on vacation for five lovely days.

What’s the one thing I want to do on the rare occasions that I’m home? Why, play on my gaming PC, of course. It’s big and heavy and can’t go anywhere, but I’ve put a lot of money into it over the years, and sometimes I’d like to play it a little before it’s obsolete.

Well when I got home, I noticed that it was making a strange sound. It sounded to me like there was something wrong with one of the fans in the back. Upon further investigation, I realized the noise was coming out of the power supply. This got me nervous.

First of all, the PSU is one of the only original parts from when I first built it in January of 2005. I was going to replace it at the same time as the motherboard, CPU, video card, and RAM, back in 2008, but I ran out of money. It’s a 600W, which was really good at the time it was new, and when I discovered it could just barely run the more power-hungry components I was adding, I decided to stick with it until I had more time and money for an upgrade.

Sometimes it does weird things. Sometimes when the computer is off, the lights on my joystick and headset flicker. Sometimes all the case lights don’t come on. A lot of times, the light on the power button doesn’t come on. Sometimes peripherals would light up when the computer was off when they never have before. There doesn’t seem to be any logic to it.

My basic assessment of it has been, “yeah it’s sketchy, and I’d feel better with a PSU that’s really designed to handle newer parts.” But I’ve been on the road ever since the upgrade in 2008, and naturally I haven’t felt it was wise to invest in any upgrades since then, since computer parts lose their value so quickly.

So today I started to really worry about the noise. It rises and falls with the activity level of the PC (i.e. it starts or gets louder when opening or saving large files). I did some research online, and it seems like it’s fairly common in old or cheap PSUs. Something to do with the transistors getting loose. Apparently it’s not a sign that your PSU is going to explode, although the general consensus seems to be that it’s a good sign you should get a new one.

There’s also the strange fact that my TrackIR receiver for some reason stopped working while I was gone (like has no reaction at all to being plugged in, like it’s totally dead). It was one of the things that would light up for no reason when the PC was off. The other strange new behavior is that the computer will not turn on right after the switch on the back of the PSU is turned on. Based on the flickering of the lights on my peripherals (which luckily pretty much all have lights), I can see that it’s as if it’s summoning up the power to turn on over the course of a minute or so. First my headphones will flicker, then get stronger, and finally light up fully, then one side of my X52 joystick, then the other, then once both of those are lit, or at least starting to flicker, then the power button will actually succeed in turning on the computer. Scaaaary!

Oh, and also when saving the BIOS settings, instead of a restart, the computer suddenly shuts down, and again has to go through this building up of power before it will turn on.

I am beginning to seriously worry about what this unstable power might be doing to my peripherals, and if it has indeed killed my TrackIR, I don’t want to lose anything else!

While the expense of a new PSU is an inconvenience, if the damn thing does blow up in the next day-and-a-half, I can’t replace the whole computer. So as much as I want to play while I’m home, the fact is, ordering a $100 part from Newegg after the tour is over is the smarter thing to do, rather than trying to squeeze a few hours of fun out of it and frying $2000 worth of parts that I wouldn’t be able to replace for years. It would all be over — that’s it, kaput — gaming on a Macbook Pro till the end of time.

Speaking of which, those new Macbook Pros rumored to have the i7 chips still aren’t out yet. Mine is behaving lately, so I’m actually OK with the delay. I really still love this machine, although on this last leg of the tour I had some more time for gaming, and couldn’t help thinking how much better it would be with a faster CPU and more video memory.

Anyway, perhaps this unfortunate situation will cause me to spend a little less time gaming, and more time doing productive projects, like working on the database, and some expansions of the site that I’ve had in mind.

August 11, 2009

15″ Macbook Pro Now Available with Matte Screen Again!

I call this: computers,gaming,mac — Posted by KP @ 12:43 pm

A followup to this post, in which I debate whether I can handle buying a 17″ Macbook Pro, partially as a result of the fact that it was (until today) the only Mac laptop still offered with a matte screen.

Well today I read on TUAW that the 15″ is now being sold with a matte option again.

This is good, since if I decide the 17″ is just too big, I have options. On the other hand, if you look at the other post you will see that although the screen was the dealbreaker, there were other reasons I was still considering the 17″, mostly related to the idea of having a more desktop-like experience while living on the road.

That being said, I have lived my entire professional life with a 15″ Mac laptop, and have rarely used a larger computer or external monitor for work purposes, even when living at home. Of course a larger screen would be nice, but it has never been necessary, and the balance of the 15’s size being large enough to work on for long periods, but small enough to walk around with makes it possibly the ideal form factor.

I could use a larger screen and higher resolution for seeing more of a spreadsheet on one page, coding my website with code on one side and a larger preview on the other, those are legitimate purposes, but the main reason I felt I needed a larger screen was for gaming on the road. I was starting to get a bit of cabin fever gaming in 15 inches for a year on end, and getting ready to go back for at least six months more of that.

Gaming isn’t necessary, but it also is part of my life that I enjoy and I think it is a professional concern, as there have been times when circumstances have prevented me from enjoying certain activities that are normally part of my lifestyle, such as listening to music on my commute, having alone time in the car at Reagle, and when these things are taken away they start to affect the delicate balance that keeps me sane and calm. Somehow I have found a way to enjoy doing a job that most people refuse to do because it’s too stressful, and my continued ability to do my job well requires that I take care of my mental health and give myself opportunities to unwind so that I can go to work happy and with a positive attitude that will filter down to the rest of the people on the production.

I don’t know if an inch-and-a-half of additional screen real estate will make the difference, but if so, the ultimate benefit is that I would not resent my job for taking me away from things that I enjoy, and on a day-to-day basis, I think that’s a huge deal.

On the other hand, I have to consider how much the size of the laptop will negatively affect my work and free time. On the road I find myself actually using it on my lap — or balanced precariously on something else — a lot more often, since I’m often in improvised situations where I have to make a desk out of what’s available, and I will probably be writing the show report from a couch, either at the venue or on the bus.

I looked into how much Tekserve charges for Macbook Pro rentals, and it’s $100 per day, or $200 per week (and upwards from there). As much as I’d love to have an opportunity to run around with a 17″ for a while before dropping $2,500 on it, I don’t think it’s worth nearly 10% of the total cost to have just a week to decide if I like it.

Anyway, the decision is still far away (I hope), but I need to keep paying attention to all the ways I use my computer during the day, and how many of them would be impractical with a larger machine.

July 31, 2009

Entertaining Notions of the 17″ Macbook Pro

I call this: computers,mac — Posted by KP @ 1:01 pm

First, an astronomy lesson.

Our Solar System


As you can see, with the new unibody design, the 17″ Macbook Pro is now slightly smaller than Jupiter. ¬†If you count Saturn’s rings (which also do not fit on airline tray tables), you could even say it’s smaller than Saturn. ¬†Which brings me to the point of this post. ¬†For the first time in my life, I’m letting myself even entertain the notion of maybe for some reason in the future considering one.

I love love love my current 15″ Macbook Pro (I forget it’s official designation, I guess it’s 2nd gen, 2.4gHz Core 2 Duo). ¬†I bought it the day they released the model with the LED backlight. ¬†June 2007. ¬†First of all, when it died on the road this past spring, I had to face the possibility of needing to replace it. ¬†I was not happy about this, in that “oops! my computer’s broken, I guess I need a new one!” kind of way. ¬†The problem is that ¬†Apple in their infinite catering to the non-Pro users of their Pro lineup, have done away with the option of getting the 15″ with a matte screen. ¬†Apparently, despite the fact that the Macbook Pro now comes in three sizes, only the 17″ is now Pro enough to include the features professionals need like a matte screen or Expresscard slot. ¬†The nomenclature is all screwed up now. ¬†It used to be if you wanted an OK laptop you got a Macbook (or an iBook). ¬†If you were a professional, and needed more power or options (which you were willing to pay for), you got a Macbook Pro (or Powerbook). ¬† Now the division between those two things has nothing to do with where the word “Pro” appears in the lineup, it’s inexplicably between the 15″ and 17″, as if all the professionals of the world are giants who only fly first class. ¬†OK, rant done about that. ¬†But it’s the first step in understanding why we’re even having this discussion.

First of all, the timeline. ¬†I’m not shopping for a new computer. ¬†As I said, I love the one I have. ¬†Aside from the fact it completely up-and-died on me an hour before a performance in Phoenix, it’s been otherwise rock solid, and with its new logic board and battery, it’s in many ways only a few months old. ¬†The only feature it’s lacking is the new touchpad that can do zoom gestures, and it still has a separate physical button, which I find just fine. ¬† It’s just over two years old, but lately I’ve started to think long-term about its life. ¬†It just love it so much. ¬†I do not love the current model, so an upgrade essentially would be a downgrade. ¬†But someday, there will be a feature much better than the glass touchpad, that will start to make an upgrade a must-have. ¬†Maybe it will be processing or graphics power. ¬†Maybe built-in GPS (after a year with an iPhone, I go to Google Maps on my laptop and I’m like, “‘Enter starting location.’ ¬†Oh that’s easy — here. ¬†What do you mean, you don’t know where here is?! ¬†Do I have to do everything for you!?”) . ¬†Maybe Blu-Ray will become useful for something and Apple will start including it. ¬†Anyway, although I see no reason to upgrade now, my average satisfaction with any computer I’ve ever owned is about three years. ¬†After four years I become willing to sell my body or carry out hits for the mob in order to raise the money necessary for an upgrade. ¬†There’s also the unfortunate possibility my current computer will have another catastrophic failure, get run over by the tour bus, or be stolen, and I will have no choice but to upgrade.

But since in all likelihood its desired retirement is about a year away, I have (quite responsibly, in my opinion) begun to make plans to ensure that whenever that time comes, I will be ready for it.  Mostly that involves having a large pile of cash saved up over a long period of time, rather than having to scrounge it together and go into debt when out of the blue I realize I need to upgrade.  This includes decisions about which jobs I take, what I buy at the supermarket (no Pom juice this week), ways to pocket more of my per diem on the road, and careful consideration of any expenses that are not rent and food.   So I am very proud of myself that hopefully I will be able to afford an upgrade before I even know I want one.

So as I said, this upgrade is still a ways away, I hope, and the current lineup of Macbook Pros is not necessarily a reflection of what my options will be when the time comes. ¬†But instead of looking at the current lineup and praying it changes because I don’t want any of them, I have recently begun to think if I had to make the decision today, maybe the 17″ is an acceptable choice.

Some thoughts:

  • Matte screen. I covered this in my rant. If I go with anything other than the 17″, I will have to settle for the glossy screen. Not cool. I’m not always trying to fit my computer on a tray table. Percentage of the time I spend looking at the screen… hmm, maybe 100%.
  • Screen size Speaking of gaming. The biggest reason I’m thinking about this is because of a discussion I had with someone who also plays Battleground Europe, and happens to be a lighting designer who travels a lot, and also plays on a Macbook Pro, except on a 17″. The thing that makes me miss being at home the most is the screen size — it’s just not the same gaming experience playing on a laptop, largely because everything is so small and it’s hard to aim effectively when everything is compressed to just a couple pixels. A 17″ is not going to compare to a desktop monitor, but that extra 1.6″ and 1920×1200 resolution (which is the same I play at home) would help a lot in easing my frustration with being on the road so much. The larger screen and resolution would also help with the graphics work I do, and make for a more comfortable user experience in general.
  • OK, the size So the thing is big. My primary bag (see review) is designed to accommodate up to a 17″ MBP, so no problem there. The sleeve I bought to go with it would have to go (even if I replaced it, I don’t think sleeve+Macbook would fit in the slot). Some of my other bags are designed for 15″, but at least one of them was really designed for the Powerbook and never quite fit the extra millimeters of the MBP anyway. The 17″ would be more inconvenient to carry around casually (and my casual laptop-and-little-else bag is custom fit for the 15″ and would need to be replaced), but it depends on what the circumstances of my life are. There is no “casual” mode when I’m on tour or doing summer stock anyway. There’s one bag. It has all the stuff in it all the time.
  • A lot of the sacrifices I’m talking about making are adjustments to the idea of never being home. Of course as soon as I invest a lot of money in making that lifestyle more comfortable, then I’ll book a Broadway show and never need to leave New York again. But should I be so unfortunate as to have that happen, at least I could afford to buy a different Macbook Pro every month!
  • 8-hour battery life This is kind of inconceivable to me. I refuse to believe it’s even remotely possible. If the thing lasts for five hours for more than a year, I will still consider it a miracle of science. But at any rate, the 17″ reportedly gets an hour more battery than the 15″ due to the extra room.
  • Extra USB port Not a huge deal, but I could do my gaming without needing a USB hub, which is one less thing to unpack and plug in every day. I would also imagine it would provide slightly better performance than my $5 Radio Shack hub.

So these are the considerations currently floating around in my head. Of course whenever the decision needs to be made the current Apple product lineup will need to be compared, as well as what my job prospects are looking like at the time. I wish I could borrow somebody’s 17″ for like a month. If I had no dignity I should tape blocks of wood to the sides of mine and count how many times a day they piss me off.

UPDATE: I had to go to the Apple Store today, so while there, I took a look at the 17″ which was conveniently next to the 15″. It’s huuuuuge! In both the good way and the bad way. I picked it up a few inches off the table, and it’s noticeably heavier than my current machine. I actually sometimes get nervous that I’ve left my MBP behind when I’m carrying it because I can’t tell it’s in my bag. I don’t expect that would ever happen with the 17″. It’s definitely not small, but I’m not opposed to the idea of getting one.

UPDATE: New Post

July 30, 2009

Apple Releases 2TB Time Capsule. Karen wishes for 320GB hard drive.

I call this: computers,mac,theatre — Posted by KP @ 11:11 am

Today I read this article on TUAW about Apple’s release of a new Time Capsule (router with included hard drive for wireless backups) with a 2TB capacity. Suddenly I feel like a Luddite because the scale of everyday storage capacity is starting to exceed the amount I work with exponentially.

The largest hard drive I own is 160GB. I have three of them. One in my laptop. One that was the backup drive for my laptop and once got knocked on the floor. And the one I bought to replace the one that got knocked on the floor, even though to this day it appears not to have been damaged. One can never be too safe. Of course one could also back up to multiple locations, but one doesn’t have the time for that, or a 2nd enclosure for the other drive, and one is too cheap to get a nice one, and too techno-elitist to get a crappy one.

Anyway. All this to say, I would love to upgrade my laptop drive to a 320GB 7200RPM drive, but I must admit to being a little bit wary of doing the installation myself (my Macbook Pro is out of warranty and Apple Care, so that’s not really a factor, I’m just trying to keep this machine happy for another year or so). However, my computer is now just over two years old. The logic board was replaced four months ago, the battery three months ago. At this point it feels in many ways like a spring chicken again. Which makes the hard drive even more likely to be the thing that fails, though I must say it has always inspired confidence, and doesn’t even make any kind of noise, as one that’s as old as it is, and moves around as much as it does could be expected to make. I check its SMART status every now and then, and it just keeps chugging along. Except it doesn’t chug. As I said, it’s silent. Fujitsu. Damn fine little machine in there. Western Digital tends to be the HD maker I trust, but I think that may need to change for these future drives. I’m impressed.

Yes I said “drives.” In order to back up said drive, I would then need to purchase a second drive at the same time, of 320GB or bigger. So there’s a bit of cash involved beyond just the cost of a single drive at Newegg. The plan currently is that I would only do the installation at home, where I have all my stuff, tools, spare parts, etc. in case I ran into unforeseen complications (I did bring my precision screwdriver kit to Reagle just in case I got inspired).

I’ll see how I feel both technologically and financially when it’s almost time to head home in about three weeks. I also have a phone interview in a few hours for what could potentially be a rent-paying job for the fall, so if I book that I think I can handle a couple hard drives. I actually have been entertaining a number of potential jobs, but hadn’t really thought about it so specifically. It needs to be this one. Momma needs a bigger hard drive!

My concern about the upgrade also is that while I can see that my hard drive is creating the bottleneck in speed, I worry that 7200RPMs will damage my battery life. Which it might. But although I like the freedom at work to sit at different places without having to find an outlet, I do spend most of my time plugged in. Paul has been Super Electricity Assistant this year. Wherever we sit, he’s right on it with a power strip and extension cord. Usually with the power strip gaff taped to the table too, and the cables nicely dressed.

For the external drive I would need more space. Originally when I bought my backup drives it was back in the days B.T.M. (Before Time Machine). Back then you just cloned your drive and that was it. I specifically wanted a drive that was an exact duplicate of the one in my machine, so that in the event of a complete hard drive failure, I could physically swap them and carry on like nothing happened. The way Time Machine works, by keeping multiple backups as far back as your hard drive capacity allows, encourages that your HD be many times the size of the drive it’s backing up for maximum effectiveness. Not to mention it would be nice, since Time Machine does not store its files in a way that’s bootable, to have room for another partition that could be an actual clone. Or even a third partition for storing stuff totally unrelated to backups (like large video files, movies, anything big that doesn’t need to actually be stored on the computer).

The only problem with all of this is that going bigger than 500GB wrecks my whole backup system, because that’s currently the biggest any 2.5″ hard drives come. I like using a laptop drive for my backups. It’s small, light, runs without external power, and serves not only as a backup of my files, but as a backup for the hardware itself. Being on the road all the time, the ability to have a spare hard drive in my computer bag that travels with my laptop 24/7 is a great security blanket.

If I lived at home most of the time, a Time Capsule would be a nice idea for a second, non-portable nightly backup (either an actual Time Capsule hardware, or a hard drive plugged into an Airport Express). I don’t have a Time Capsule, because as is just my luck, I upgraded to the Airport Express “wireless n” router just before the Time Capsule came out. In fact I think I missed the cutoff date to turn it in for an exchange by like 2 days. So needless to say, I really won’t need a new router for some time. And as you can see, I have no idea what I would do with 2TB of storage if I did.

June 18, 2007

The Macbook Pro and Me

I call this: computers,mac,summer stock,theatre — Posted by KP @ 1:34 pm

Since the purpose of this blog (ostensibly) is to discuss theatre and technology, and ideally both at the same time, now I’d like to examine a few ways that my latest purchase can be used to help me in my job in ways that my Powerbook couldn’t.

The camera

Last year I was supposed to have a MBP before starting the summer season at Reagle. I had the money saved up, but then the IRS took about half of it, and I moved right before leaving for the summer, and the expenses added up to a lot more than I was expecting. So no MBP for me for another year. I thought I was OK with this, until we were planning the second show of the year, Thoroughly Modern Millie.

Our director was coming in from California, but we needed to have a production meeting before he could get to Waltham. We bonded quickly over the phone when we discovered we were both big Mac users, and since the Reagle office is not really set up for meetings or conference calls, we decided to set up my Powerbook in the lobby and have an iChat conference, with everyone gathered around the table and him on iChat. This was the first big moment when I said, “Damn it, if only I had a Macbook Pro!” He had an iSight, and if I had only been able to make that purchase, we could have had a video chat instead of audio, which would have been very helpful for seeing who’s talking (since he hadn’t met any of us) and holding up diagrams to the screen. If there ever comes the need to do that again, now I will be able to do it.

The Remote

This was round 2 of my disappointment on Millie. I ran the projection of supertitles for the show on my Powerbook via Keynote. It was a big deal to get the 100-ft cable run from the projector over the house, up through the ceiling to the booth (this is now a permanent installation and we will use it again this summer). Unfortunately, the cable was run before tech. In theatre it’s customary for the tech and initial dress rehearsals to be run from one or more tech tables, which are usually just sheets of plywood bridging over some seats in the middle of the house, to form a large desk to hold the light board, communications equipment, and for the stage manager and designers to put their scripts, computers and other stuff on. This allows us to see and hear the show up close as the audience will see it, and be near the actors, director, choreographer, etc. for easier communication. Because the video cable was already run, I had to leave my computer in the booth. The result was that I did all of tech from the booth, which is not the ideal way to learn to call a show, or to run a tech. The director and I both had God mics, and every single thing I said or was said to me by anyone in the house, had to be done over the God mics. We got through it, but I kept wondering if it would have been possible with the remote for the MBP to have had the computer sitting in the doorway of the booth (where the cable was just long enough to put it) and for me to have been at or near the tech table and cued it over my shoulder with the remote. It sounds a little unlikely that the remote would work at any helpful distance, and I never tried it for Singin’ in the Rain. Because there are relatively few, and relatively easy video cues, I just got the asst. sound engineer to run it for me during tech.

Improved Wi-Fi Performance

The Powerbooks always had trouble with Wi-Fi because of the metal case interfering with the signal. Somehow the MBP has been redesigned to make this no longer an issue. The antenna is actually in the hinge between the screen and keyboard, which is lower than the old location on the upper edges of the screen, but I guess it gets better signal because the area exposed from the metal is much larger.

Since I usually don’t work in places with good or any Wi-Fi coverage, this improvement could very well be the difference between broadband or no broadband if I’m connecting to a base station far away in the building, or even spilling over from the building next door or across the street. I’ve rehearsed a number of shows in locations where the signal was intermittent or there was a specific spot you had to stand in to get reception. With this machine I’d probably have been able to sit comfortably at my desk and get a decent signal. I’ve heard a rumor from one of my followspot operators that the magsafe cable actually acts as an antenna for wi-fi, but I have yet to confirm this anywhere else. That would be cool if it did, though.

Battery Life

This is a two-part advantage, one part which I will consider cheating. I’d make an unscientific estimate of my MBP’s battery life at somewhere over 4 hours. My Powerbook currently gets about 7 minutes. That’s cheating. But I’m currently writing this on a train, where I’ve been for the last hour and a half, and with my brightness all the way down and wi-fi turned off (but bluetooth going the whole time for internet access, and USB charging my phone), I still have more than half of my battery life remaining (supposedly), and haven’t had to bug the lady next to me to let me use the plug (which is good cause that plug is huge and I don’t think I’d actually ask). The point is, if this model gets better battery life, that’s a big advantage in real-world use when it could mean an extra half hour or more of work gets done.

June 16, 2007

New Goodies Have Arrived

I call this: computers,mac — Posted by KP @ 11:28 am

Since I got my Macbook Pro, I have been busy with some other purchases that I’d been waiting on to go along with it.

Adobe CS3 Design Standard

I plan to use this for a long, long time, especially since it could take me the better part of a decade to come up with money for an upgrade. This one arrived most recently and I haven’t actually spent much time working with it yet. After an installation that seemed to take forever, I’ve mostly just been using the Adobe Bridge app to organize my commonly-used images and give them keywords and stuff. I mentioned that I find iPhoto unsatisfactory for my image-organizing needs, and Aperture and Lightroom too expensive. This fills the gap in some ways, at least. I’m looking forward to playing with it more.

4GB of RAM

I was planning to wait a while on the RAM upgrade, but when concerns came up about the quality of video playback on the projections for Singin’ in the Rain, I decided to have 4GB sent overnight from Crucial so they would arrive in time for tech. Crucial’s $369 was not the lowest price I found, but I’ve ordered from them several times before and trust their quality and service. The RAM arrived in the morning on the first day of tech, but as the computer was already busily projecting things, I didn’t get a chance to do the upgrade until the meal break. When I did, it was pretty amazing. After putting in the new RAM and screwing the cover back on, I turned it on and it flew through the boot-up process. The loading OS X progress bar went by so fast it was almost invisible. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not some magical instant-everything solution. There are some things that happen very fast and others that go along as always, probably due to the rather unimpressive hard drive I wound up going with.

External Hard Drive

I mentioned before that I didn’t bring a backup drive with me to Waltham, because I was waiting to buy one for the new computer. What I really wanted was an external enclosure offering Firewire 800 and USB 2.0, not requiring its own power source, and holding a 2.5″ drive that would be the same capacity and type as the one inside my MBP (thus the reason for waiting), so that in the event of a HD failure I would have an immediate replacement.

So upon purchasing the MBP, I hopped on to Newegg and was surprised to find that the number of 2.5″ enclosures with FW800 and USB is… ZERO. After some Googling, I found a total of ONE. I wound up ordering both enclosure and drive from a company I’ve never purchased from before called OWC (Other World Computing). They specialize in hardware for Macs. They make this enclosure which looks nice, it’s clear, which is kind of cool. It comes with cables (which is good cause I’ve never had a reason to buy a FW800 cable before), and it even includes the power adapter should I ever want or need to plug it in. The HD I got is a Western Digital SATA 160GB 5400rpm, same specs as the internal one I have (I thought I might go bigger, but it was significantly more expensive, and I prefer to have the drives just be clones of each other anyway). The drive and enclosure went together easily, and it seems to be working well. FW800 is faster than USB 2, although nowhere even near the theoretical speed. I’m averaging about 15-20mbps when backing up, under USB it was about 7mpbs. The backup software I use is Intego’s PersonalBackup, which is the first backup software I have ever found to be user-friendly enough to actually get me to backup regularly.

June 7, 2007

Additional Thoughts on the Macbook Pro

I call this: computers,mac — Posted by KP @ 8:26 am

I have received some questions about battery life. What you have to remember is that I have a Powerbook with approximately seven minutes of battery life, so I’ve gotten used to searching for an open outlet before I ever take the computer out. I always feel better plugging in when the option is available, just so I know I will have battery power saved up if something comes up later when I can’t plug in. But to answer this question, I decided to run my battery down last night.

I spent about an hour at rehearsal with it unplugged, during which time I loaded about 500MB of test videos for our projections from a CD. I’m told the optical drive is one of the more battery-intensive components of a computer, for what it’s worth. Then I played the files back a few times, checked e-mail, and did a little web browsing. Wi-fi was on the whole time. I also spent some of the time using the USB to charge my cell phone (whose talk time will soon rival the battery life of my Powerbook, if Verizon doesn’t release the Treo 755p soon).

When I got home I plugged in my EyeTV, and watched about an hour of the History Channel until something came on I didn’t want to watch. Then I did some more browsing, transferring files from my old computer, and downloading software. Again, wi-fi in use the whole time. Screen brightness was around 75%, and as I mentioned, my keyboard lights like to come on when they really don’t need to — they must be reading this because they came on just as I was typing that.

Eventually I installed Parallels and got to the point where it was converting my VirtualPC drive image to Parallels format, and the battery meter was in the red and telling me I had about 12 minutes left. I had not gotten any low battery warnings yet. But because I didn’t want to interrupt the conversion process, I decided to end my experiment and plug in. All I can say is that I used the computer for at least three and a half hours, and had at least 12 minutes left. This is also the first time the battery has been allowed to drain, so it may still be calibrating itself. If it means anything, and I wouldn’t trust it myself, I just unplugged the cute little MagSafe adapter (which is much more aggressive as a magnet than I realized), and it’s estimating 4:46 remaining from a full charge. It said 5:30 or something a second ago, which is why I said I wouldn’t trust it. Now it says 4:52. Anyway, I kind of hate rechargeable batteries because they play these mind games with you, and nobody seems to agree on how you’re supposed to care for different kinds of battery.

Something else I forgot to mention earlier: I was surprised at the lack of an S-video output on these models. DVI is better, but as I have said, I do a lot of work on shows with projections, and one of the things I originally had to do when touring with my PB was to load into each theatre where they supplied the projector, and have all the adapters for any kind of video output.

I’m not sure if I never noticed, but it seems from checking out EveryMac.com (an excellent site for checking specs on various models), that maybe this is the first version to eliminate the port. I was relieved to see that Apple now makes a DVI-to-video adapter, with both S-video and composite (RCA) connectors. And since I now have to pay for it as opposed to the old S-video to RCA adapter which came free with the computer, I was pleased to see it’s “only” $20. The box still includes the DVI to VGA adapter. I will miss the port a little, but I’m just glad they eventually went back to including the Firewire 800 port — I was rather upset when the first MBP came out without it. I’m now looking into external HD enclosures, and would like to get one with FW800.

June 6, 2007


I call this: computers,mac — Posted by KP @ 9:54 pm

I’m having fun playing with the new (to me) software on the Macbook Pro. Front Row is pretty, although I’ve only really used it for music so far. I’m more excited about the remote’s ability to run Keynote presentations, but I don’t think I’d trust it to run a show. I will have to test it from distances longer than the walls of my apartment and see if it could be useful for rehearsals.

I was really hoping to get a new Mac with iLife 07 or whatever they plan to call it, but since I never shelled out for iLife 06, I was looking forward to those small improvements. I can’t believe iPhoto still doesn’t have subfolders or sub-albums, or sub-something (then again, I’ve been saying that about iTunes for so long I gave up years ago). Like for instance, I’d love an album of “Reagle Players” photos, which would contain thousands of pics, which could then be broken up by show. I swear I must have literally a thousand photos from the photo call of The Sound of Music and not enough time in my life to sort through them with that interface. I just watched a nice podcast from TUAW about Aperture, Apple’s pro photo managing app, which looked like an overpowered version of what I would like. And then I said, three hundred dollars, are you f%#$&*#)@ kidding me?!? If it was $100, I’d consider it expensive, but worth the convenience. I’m not a professional photographer, it’s not a business expense that will be subsidized by the income I’ll make off of it. While I do occasionally use iPhoto to organize photos for work, I will never need a tool like Aperture. It’s bad enough that I actually pay for legitimate copies of Photoshop, and I even sometimes use that in my job (not in ways that fall into my job description, but I sometimes do side work designing logos, paper props, etc.) And hey, I occasionally dabble in the Photoshop contests at Fark. I’ve actually won three of em. I’m still using Photoshop 7, but I just ordered the upgrade to CS3 to go with my new Intel Mac. After paying a little less than a month’s rent (I live in Manhattan, remember), I plan to be sticking with this version for an equally long period of time.

I’ve downloaded the trial of Parallels to play with, using my disk image from Microsoft’s Virtual PC. The key here if you’re going to try to do this is to first go into VPC on your old computer and remove the Virtual Machine Additions if you have them installed, as they can cause conflicts with Parallels. Then shut down your VPC and transfer its disk image to your new Intel computer. After that the transition was completely painless, as Parallels can recognize VPC images and convert them quite quickly. I haven’t spent that much time with it, but it definitely runs Windows as well as a real computer. It’s nothing at all like the slow-motion experience of VPC. It looks great (if Windows can be said to look great) in full screen mode. Coherence mode, where you get a floating Start button and taskbar and Windows windows appear intermingled with OS X windows, is somewhat nauseating as a concept, but it’s really incredible that it can be done. It also works like VPC where you can have a single window in OSX showing your entire Windows screen. When I get some time in the next couple days maybe I’ll try some games and see how they do, though I guess any serious gaming still has to be done with Boot Camp, which I haven’t looked into at all yet.

One app I found in my Applications folder that I was confused by is called ComicLife. I don’t know how long this has been bundled, but I’d never heard of it. When I said, “What the hell is this?” and opened it, I was surprised and amused to see it’s a comic book maker, with an insanely intuitive interface, direct access to the iPhoto library, and the most hysterical sound effects for clicking and dragging any app has ever had. You can see I threw this together in about 2 minutes without ever using the app before.

I can’t think of anything particularly brilliant to do with it at the moment, but having done this kind of thing the very long way in Photoshop, I’m sure it will come in handy.

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