Surface Pro X (or, "Geez Apple, get with the program!")

My iPad Pro sits in a drawer, off, unused. It’s not powerful enough to do anything other than surf the web or write a few text files. I don’t watch TV. I write code. Come on, Apple, you can do better.

“Apple revolutionized personal technology with the introduction of the Macintosh in 1984.” It’s been 36 years! There’s nothing revolutionary or “Pro” about my iPad.

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I’m starting to think I’ve missed something conceptually. I’ve always thought that 2-in-1 is this awkward ASUS thing of dual boot, typically with android and windows. I get the feeling that detachable keyboard is called 2-in-1 here. My world is falling apart.

The Microsoft tax is almost as bad as the Apple tax. Plus, it’s got an ARM processor, so it doesn’t have access to the full range of applications that x86 computers have. I would love to be able to run Visual Studio code on my iPad or similar ARM device, but the support’s not there yet. Depending on what your needs are, you might be better served looking at another brand. Similarly spec’ed (but without LTE) HP 2-in-1 laptops with x86 processors beat Microsoft at every price point.

My understanding is that it runs 32-bit x86 apps (which Visual Studio is) in emulation. It’s touted to be 3x faster than a MacBook Air, 13 hour battery life, is much thinner and lighter, and uses regular SSDs. With Apple charging a ridiculous CAD$740-$750 to upgrade from 128GB to 1TB where market value is CAD$145, the Apple tax is 400% on the SSD and completely not acceptable.

The iPad “Pro” doesn’t run a single Pro app, in my view.

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The iPad Pro seems to be such a missed opportunity and many of the ways it’s crippled seem to be self inflicted. Probably trying to protect their laptop business because the think a true pro iPad would eat into laptop sales.

Tim Cook seems to be more in the mode of standard, conservative, formulaic, wise business thinking instead of playing the WWSD (What Would Steve Do) game that would be a lot more fun for all of us, for society in general, and (in a risky way) probably for Apple’s long run.


I got to see some of the upcoming Apple devices this week, but I’m not supposed to say anything …

… but I’m sure that one picture won’t hurt:

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It’s funny, not much has been said about the “molar” Power Mac G3 all-in-one that was sold primary to education markets. I’ve had the joy of using one that belonged to a professor. Neat machine! The eMac G4 that was a clear-and-white pyramid on its side, was also neat!

The MacBook feels like a computer designed around a keyboard and screen, but if you’ve used TextBlade it feels old (no matter how many times they re-release it or change the screen size).

iPad is the future. It should run the full macOS. macOS is now well-protected enough against my stepmom believing a warning about her computer being damaged and downloading a “fix”, that we can step a bit away from the walled garden, especially if you warrant the device is powerful enough to deserve the “Pro” moniker.

When Steve Jobs (or whoever came up with using stock grants that vest 5- and 10-years later) set Apple for long-term growth, I don’t think they foresaw the stock buybacks and other games that execs would play (not just at Apple, but countless major corporations), to increase share price despite a very clear decrease on units shipped. This is where Apple is. That’s why creative people who really want to make technology easy to use for the masses - have left.

Sure you can pay some news organization or site to put up a story about Bill Atkinson, or Andy Hertzfeld, or make a movie about General Magic. What do they, and Chris Lattner, and countless other people who’ve innovated at Apple, have in common? Zero involvement in the day to day running of Apple.

What does Apple care about? It’s on the bottom of their web site:

Apple Values

To me, these should be the bare minimum for any segment of society. Sad that those are now “aspirational values”. Probably about as in reach as their “aspirational” Mac Pro and monitor.


In some ways I can see Apple’s point about keeping touch screen devices separate from laptops, etc. At least as far as what I see as a general problem with reaching out to touch the screen.

Yes, if you set up an ipad with a keyboard, it has essentially the same problem of needing to reach out. To me, that isn’t comfortable and accuracy is a problem when REACHING.

Of course, maybe it is fine for some people. Then the question would be whether it is fine for enough to justify doing it.

But to me, that isn’t the real issue. What I can’t see is why wouldn’t Apple want to have a device like the Surface (I don’t have experience with it so I’m going on general impressions) that you can use like a laptop (with keyboard, mouse, and if you really need to in a pinch, tap the screen), BUT which you can also hold like a tablet where tapping is easy and even more appropriate.

Certainly having an OS that lets you do both is more complicated, but then again, both exist separately now. Heck, if nothing else, it could switch between interfaces depending on how it is being used at the moment.

Considering I can see the day coming where something like an iPhone will have the power of a desktop so when you come home, you just pop it into a dock and a big 4k (or 8k eventually) is also available, doing a laptop/tablet hybrid seems logical enough.

I get the same feeling about Apple’s philosophy on this as I got back when they only had one mouse button. Even now, unless something has changed I’m not aware of, if you get more buttons on a mouse, macOS only lets you do limited things with the extra buttons. I had to buy Steermouse to program every button the way I wanted.

In the earlier years of Mac OS X, Contextual Menu (Right-Click) support was limited, but in the past few years it is good. The Surface Pro X, like all previous Surface models, includes a trackpad with the keyboard.

What is silly is that Apple keeps touting “Education”, and “Learn to Code” and all their photos show kids with iPads. Coding, like math, requires constant use - how many of us can still do integration-by-parts over a 3D volume, without looking anything up? So you can “learn” to write hello world on an iPad, but then you’re stuck. You could have the Pro model, and never develop any actual useful software, and ironically, not iOS software. They force you to buy a Mac too.

The iPad is intentionally crippled. I am purely speculating here, but perhaps being frustrated with such short-sighted thinking is maybe why so many bright and creative people are leaving or have left Apple.

How does the inventor of Swift walk off and choose to work with an egotistical maniac like Musk? Not to slight Elon Musk, who has my respect for his bravery in investing big dollars into electric vehicles and reusable spacecraft, but the inside scoop on working conditions are enlightening (to say the least). People don’t leave “jobs” - they leave bad bosses and unsupportive environments. A person who has worked hard over a decade to fix major shortcomings of the Objective-C language, and then to boot up an altogether cleaner, safer, easier to use language (i.e. the “Mac” of programming languages) - can hardly be dismissed as a “poor performer”. These people have options. They walk away from Apple (or Tesla) for good reasons.

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Yeah, I don’t buy much of the hype from Apple, especially when they say they are doing something FOR the customer.

My last job, before retiring, they were making major changes in the job assignments for the band director staff. One of the changes was to remove two periods of teaching band students and, instead, cover in-school suspension. Now, that is one thing, but what ticked me off and made me decide it was time to retire, was they proceeded telling me this by saying, “We are going to do whatever is best for the band program”! So after they told me the change, I asked exactly how cutting out two opportunities to teach band was better for the band! They couldn’t answer, but they insisted they were doing what was best for the band. Of course, it only hurt the band.

I don’t expect any company to make decisions which hurts their business, but making what I think is the better decision would, I think, be better for business in the long run. But, regardless, just don’t tell me you are doing what is best for me if you aren’t actually doing that!

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iPhone already outperforms the MacBook. And many Android phones can just be hooked up to a monitor and used as a desktop. That future is already here, but the software isn’t yet.


iPhone doesn’t outperform the various Mac options, except for in a few benchmark specials. I’m not downplaying the power of the iPhone (etc.), but there’s a reason why the x86 CPUs burn a lot more power.

The latest generation of phones is touting 8-core CPUs, at close to 3Ghz, but the brute force compute is still between 2x and 5x lower than modern x86 chips per core, and the x86 chips are available up to 32 cores/64 threads (and 64/128 in a few months). Also note that Apple hasn’t upgraded the CPUs in any of its notebooks in 6+ years – they’re all still using the antiquated 14nm / DDR3 designs from 2013, even if Intel has made minor tweaks and changed the SKUs a few times. Intel has been stuck in the doldrums for years, now, and only launched chips with any new features (like LPDDR4 support) a few months ago.

(Here’s an article that explains some of it; be prepared to have your eyes gloss over:

That is for sure. There are relatively few technical jobs (programmer, analyst, statistician, financial modeler, music production, photography/PP, videography/PP) that can switch over to using the iPhone (etc.) at this point for the technical portion of their work.

I am curious how fast that will change. The creative arts (music, photography, video, etc.) are starting to be served by the latest iPad software packages, for example. When will Wolfram Mathematica be on the iPhone, with an auto-scalable cloud back end, for example? How about xCode? IntelliJ?

I have git and an editor on my iPhone for an emergency, but it would have to be an emergency before I’d be willing to waste the time getting anything done on it.


That’s the kind of stuff I always wonder about when I hear the Apple chips can be as powerful as laptop chips now. Not the particular use cases but just that comparisons are more complicated than we think.

Sort of like how many people don’t recognize just how much more complicated it is to deal with typing styles on a TB.

Most are concept computers. Folding screens do not currently work (the Galaxy Fold makes eggs seem indestructible).

The iPad languishing is going to be mainstream news soon.