TL;DR Apple released exactly what I wanted, but I’m not buying it yet, as the MacBook Pro with M1 Max is still amazing.
Last year I wrote about my plan to transition from the behemoth Intel Mac Pro to something based on Apple silicon, but it depended on Apple releasing the right products in the right sequence. This worked out wonderfully: I bought a MacBook Pro 14″ with M1 Max last year as soon as it was released, and sold the Mac Pro to pay for it. The laptop was faster and 10x lighter. And came with a gorgeous screen.
The next step I was looking for was Apple releasing a standalone display, and that finally happened. And while we’re still waiting for the Mac Pro, they released a faster desktop, the Mac Studio. Apple delivered exactly what I wanted: a display I can use for many years, and a fast, quiet computer I can upgrade every few years.
However, I’m not buying yet. For now, the M1 Max in my laptop is fast enough, and the LG 5K screen I’m using is okay, so I’ll just keep using these. It’s great to know that if the screen fails, I can get a good monitor from Apple. And there’s a faster Mac available when I need it. In the past, if you wanted quiet performance, the Mac Pro (and iMac Pro for a brief time) was the only choice; now Apple is delivering amazing performance in both laptops and desktops.
And while I wait, there are rumors of upgrades: the Apple Studio Display might be upgraded with HDR and faster refresh? Or larger – 6K? 7K? The Mac Studio will likely be upgraded with an M2 next year, providing faster single-core speed. And the Mac Pro is still on the horizon. Lots of good choices ahead.
I wrote about my new Mac Pro a year ago. It’s still rock-solid, and it’s done everything I asked of it. But the writing is on the wall: Apple’s new $1,000 MacBook Air is now comparable in speed to my year-old $10,000 Mac Pro. This year, Apple will likely release updated MacBooks Pro with more cores and memory and blow right past the performance of my Mac Pro. Next year, an updated Mac Pro will do the same again.
I had hoped to get seven years out of it? That was before Apple announced the switch to their own chips, and before they blew Intel chips away with the performance of the M1. My expectation was based on the incremental performance gains we’ve seen from Intel over the last decade, not the paradigm shift ushered in by Apple’s M1. The Intel-based Mac Pro is rapidly losing value, and it’s clear I’ll want to replace it as soon as I can.
Here’s my current plan; we’ll see if Apple releases the right products in the right order for this to work out.
Mid 2021: Buy the rumored 14-inch MacBook Pro. I expect it to be faster than my Mac Pro for all practical purposes. Hook it up to my existing two monitors and use as my main machine. Sell or trade in the Mac Pro before it loses too much of its value.
Mid 2022: Evaluate the new Mac Pro, and possibly upgrade to that one.
I’m glad there are finally some rumors about cheaper external displays. I think Apple was waiting to release monitors until they redesigned the iMac, so the monitors could match the look of the iMac (ideally using the same enclosure with simpler innards). And they were waiting with the iMac redesign until they could use their own chips, both for lower thermal requirements and to be able to include Face ID. Now their ducks are finally all lined up.
It makes too much sense for Apple to plug this hole in their lineup. And the work Apple has put into making resolution switching seamless also makes more sense if monitors are on the horizon. Here’s hoping — I’d love to replace the LG 5K with an Apple monitor with Face ID.
So while my Mac Pro didn’t turn out to be the long-term investment I had hoped for, I’m stoked about Apple’s M1, and very excited about what they’ll announce this year and next.
The recent ruling in the Transatlantic Go Tournament seems wrong: it puts technology ahead of the game of go. It leaves a sour taste in my mouth. There may be circumstances I’m not aware of, but basically, the game between Mateusz Surma and Eric Lui was played online over KGS, Mateusz was ahead on the board in the late endgame, and the move he tried to play with 10 seconds to spare somehow did not make it to the server in time. The final ruling is that he lost on time. To me, this violates the spirit of the game.
In ultimate frisbee, the Spirit of the Game is a guiding principle of the rules. Players call and adjudicate their own fouls; if players disagree, play gets restored as best as possible to what would have happened without that incident.
“Spirit of the Game: Ultimate relies upon a spirit of sportsmanship that places the responsibility for fair play on the player. Highly competitive play is encouraged, but never at the expense of mutual respect among competitors, adherence to the agreed upon rules, or the basic joy of play.” [Official Rules of Ultimate, 11th Edition]
Even at the professional level, where there are referees, the integrity rule allows players to overrule the referee when it’s to their own disadvantage:
“Any player or head coach can overturn any call made by an official if the official’s call favored the player’s or coach’s own team. Officials shall respect the integrity call. This allows teams to display sportsmanship and remedy an incorrect call against their opponent.” [AUDL Rule Book]
To me, go and ultimate share the same kind of spirit: highly competitive yet friendly play.
Mateusz losing due to a technical glitch makes the game of go subservient to technology. Technology enables long-distance tournaments, but that should be an incidental part of the match: the game is most important. When technology goes wrong, you try to restore the game to what it would have been without the technical glitch. And when a ruling is unfair, the winner should be able to overturn it. Integrity and spirit of the game are important, both in ultimate and in go.
The new version of MarsEdit inspired me to finally move my blog to smartgo.blog, hosted at WordPress. Having the blog tightly integrated with smartgo.com had some benefits, but it made writing blog posts somewhat inconvenient. (To add a blog post I had to write some C++ code that then generated the blog post. Not perfect.)
The design will change, but the content is here: all 71 posts have been moved. Some greatest hits:
Some evergreen posts:
Most of my tweets are about the game of Go. But you’ve probably noticed some about Ultimate Frisbee, as that’s my main way of getting exercise and staying healthy as I work on SmartGo. Fair warning: There will be more – the Lions are coming to town.
What is Ultimate? A non-contact team sport, played with two teams of seven on a football-size field. Ultimate is a fast-moving and fast-growing sport, fun to play, and exciting to watch.
Like in Go, competition in Ultimate is fierce but friendly, and there’s a terrific community of players. The spirit of the game is deeply ingrained in the culture of Ultimate.
Both Go and Ultimate recently started going pro in the US. The AUDL started two years ago, and this year it’s expanding to the West Coast: Vancouver, Seattle, San Francisco, San Jose, and most importantly: Salt Lake City.
This is tremendously exciting, especially as I know many of the people involved in starting this franchise. I’ve played with them in pickup games and leagues, and they’re great athletes on and off the field. They run circles around me, but then, I’m twice their age. I’m confident they’ll match up well against the other teams.
Having a semi-professional Ultimate team in your home town enriches the community. But these teams need our support to get them off the ground. I’ve decided that Smart Go will do some advertising with the Salt Lake Lions, helping Ultimate and promoting Go at the same time.
The games start Saturday April 12. Tell your friends. Bring the family. Be there.