Apple’s Mac strategy

We’ve been waiting a long time for update Macs. And I just worked out why (maybe).

Apple has been building an ARM Mac (this much is certain, at least internally). Maybe, just maybe, they’ve been delaying the release of new Macs because they wanted to switch to ARM, but something was taking longer than expected, and in the end, they decided to release one last generation of Intel Macs just to tide them over.

Compare the year-on-year performance gains of the iPhone (while it’s getting ever thinner) with the performance gain of the Mac, against the ancient predecessors. This must be killing the Mac team at Apple. Of course they’re moving to ARM, it’s just a matter of making the thing work properly.

…just a thought

Vale the MagSafe connector

This week, Apple released a MacBook Pro that charges via USB-C connector[1]. The MagSafe connector, introduced almost exactly ten years ago [2] is no longer a feature of the Mac. This was a controversial omission, but I don’t think it’s as big a deal as people are making out.

The just-announced MacBooks Pro claim 10 hours of battery life. Based on Apple’s recent battery claims -vs- reality, you really are going to get a full work-day on battery, unless you’re frequently compiling in Xcode, or using gmail in Chrome.

When the MagSafe connector was introduced, Macs could run for, realistically, 2-3 hours, at best, on a single charge. And usable battery capacity degraded much more quickly, so a year-old Mac was never very far from a power supply.

With your original MacBook Pro, you found yourself running cables across walkways to make sure you were powered whenever you could be. With today’s Mac, you’re almost certain to unplug and work half the day on battery, if you’re away from your desk.

Here’s another thing: at my work, every desk has a charge cable integrated in the desk. That’s pretty common, and failing that, you likely have power built into your desk – this was much less common a decade ago.

In 2006, your laptop had to have a distinct charger. In that case, it may as well be a MagSafe [3]. Now a MagSafe port would have made the laptop bigger, removed a port, or both.

The MagSafe connector was a wonderful thing. I’m sure it saved countless laptops from catastrophic damage. In 2016’s Mac laptops, the trade offs are different and MagSafe was not valuable enough to warrant valuable space on the device.

You may not like this particular trade off, and that’s fine, but this is not a sign that Apple is becoming more arrogant, or that Apple has lost its way. This is exactly the kind of choice Apple has been making for 15 years now.

  1. [1] The MacBook already has this change, so it’s not completely unexpected that this would happen
  2. [2] The MagSafe connector first appeared on the first MacBook Pro, introduced January 10, 2006
  3. [3] there was no port that could charge, or perform some other function, depending on what was plugged into it

Citation update

It’s just over eight years since I moved out of science. Usually around this time each year, a friend who’s applying for another grant sends me an update on my citations, which gives me an opportunity to reflect on that period.

In just over ten years of publishing, I was an author on 18 articles. They’ve now been cited 2317 times, for an average of 129 citations per paper. That results in an h-index of 15. Eight years later, my citation rate is still increasing, which is nice.

Citations by Year
Citations of my papers, by year

My most highly-cited paper is the Acta Crystallographica 
B article which was a summary of my PhD research, and has now been cited 561 times.

It’s also nice to see that, almost every month, a paper is published that uses a Hirshfeld surface or a fingerprint plot as its highlight image. Some randomly-selected examples from 2016:

2D fingerprint plot of dipyridyl in a cocrystal with trans-cinnamic acid
2D fingerprint plot of dipyridyl in a cocrystal with trans-cinnamic acid

(that’s two articles in on issue of Acta B). I have to admit I’m a little surprised that this postscript code (right) I wrote back in 2002 is still being used, unchanged.

There are lots more examples.