What’s the deal?

As time passes I’ve found myself liking to hunt deals. I like buying extreme cheap, it’s satisfying. Oddly enough, I don’t do it because I want to be frugal. It’s amusing to be honest as I just keep this extreme, obsessive behavior of trying to find the cheapest price on items that would normally cost $853 bucks for example. My last deal hunting I found a really nice desktop priced at that price for $200. It was oddly satisfying. 

It doesn’t take long for relatives to comment on how crazy cheap it is. Or “how did I even find it?” I wish they’d stop for a second thinking it is easy. Keeping track on every little product ID is not easy. Doesn’t matter if you have automated it, there’s just too many IDs for one person to track and your attention is sometimes drawn to other things that you may feel you need. 

But, going back to the frugal part. I don’t consider myself frugal. I like to pay the right price whenever I feel it. If I want something, like an iPhone X, I’ll wait for a BOGO and get a relative onboard for it. Now, that’s just an example, but basically I don’t think I ever had this need to be frugal. Deal hunting isn’t about being frugal, at least to me is not. 

Deal hunting for me is a hobby. Sometimes I take that hobby to the extreme. I’ve drove 60 miles just to find out that they no longer have the product. That’s okay. You are not meant to win every round when it comes to deal hunting. There are many players out there and I just happen to be the one that has this obsession with tracking prices and checking the market. 

It’s fun nonetheless. There’s a thrill to it honestly, especially when you are around the clock where things are being cleared out. I just saw a 50″  1080p TV go on clearance for $50. But nobody knew that. The store normally doesn’t advertise such sale and I imagine there are perfectly sound reasons for it. You don’t want to generate that attention. You don’t want to create a “good” habit of making people wait for a clearance. You have black friday but to be honest there’s a lot of pitfalls with black friday. Simply put, you don’t want to buy something that might end up 75% discounted. 

What’s the deal then? Well, in my defense it’s a hobby that keeps me busy. Sometimes I make some money on the side, sometimes I don’t. It’s a nice exercise for people that don’t go out much as it incentivize them. 

Iterative stagnation

I wasn’t sure how to open this blog post tonight. It’s a subject that has been on my mind for a long while and I’ll do my best to explain it. There’s probably a better term or word for this. 

Apple is a trendsetter. I think at this point we shouldn’t question that. Even if Apple isn’t innovating they are still doing iterations of their product every year. As long as there are diehard loyalists Apple will be fine. 

I’m not here to question what Apple has become or what it will become. Rather, observing a certain trend on the latest smartphone flagships.

Over one thousand reasons to say no

These days new flagships are not only having the courage the drop the headphone jack, for no legit reason whatsoever, but are becoming a luxury with the new prices. $1,000+ for a phone. What an insane price! 

Let me toss you an idea. It’s a very silly one, and I’ll probably sound like a conspiracy theorist at best… but what if we have reached the stage of stagnation where upgrading doesn’t make sense? 

If you buy the flagship from 2017 or this year, you are set for the next two or three years because it has gotten to the point that the hardware is just good enough. It’s not becoming that disposable device that needed to be kept replaced every year because the CPU was still crap back then. But from 2017 and on, I’m finding very little reason to upgrade. 

Have you seen the performance on a Pixel XL 2? Sure, it doesn’t beat the benchmark of a Galaxy Note 9 or a iPhone X…. but it’s incredibly smooth. It’s a phone I feel like can last for me until 2020, maybe 2021 until I start feeling that CPU degradation, or battery degradation.

So what’s in the price? I don’t think we are paying $1,000 because the technology behind it is the cutting edge. We are paying $1,000 because you are basically paying the two years you will skip upgrading because your new 2018 phone is powerful enough to last for a couple of years. That’s not good for business in any way. I think the new prices are future-proofing the losses of people not upgrading. 

I high doubt that Apple, or Samsung are paying $500 bucks to make those phones. At best they are probably paying $200-$300 per unit. Sadly, I don’t think there will be ever proof of what I just said so… I’ll take my tin foil hat off and let you folks be. 

Until next time.

Bowers & Wilkins PX 🎧 makes me kokoro feel alive

I always saw myself only ever using Sennheiser products. I had a nice pair of MOMENTUM 2.0 which I ended up selling for the Bowers and Wilkins pair. There’s a very simple reasonable reason on why I ended up buying into a new brand. 

Sennheiser MOMENTUM 2.0 with the earpads off

It all started with the ears hurting every time I used the MOMENTUM 2.0.

I was getting dead tired of dealing with the same problem. After a session of 3-4 hours my ears would hurt in two different ways. The first reason is that my ears were too big and the cans couldn’t help but to clamp hard on me poor ears. It was painful to the point I ended up giving hours of music because if I kept wearing them the pain would increase and I don’t think I signed up for that. 

The second reason is harder to decipher. Sometimes when I listened for longer times and stopped momentarily for a few minutes my ears would be too overly sensitive. I couldn’t bare any sound without feeling disgusted or in pain. I had to stop as even listening to my coworkers was becoming a challenge.

So I set forth on looking for a new pair of cans thus, after hours of researching and hard work I found the Bowers and Wilkins PX.

If you thought of MOMENTUM as a dark and bassy headphone the Bowers and Wilkins has a slight more treble into it (not too much) and not overwhelmingly too light. It doesn’t shy out on the bass either but it’s obviously not a basshead’s go to for bassy headphones. (I wouldn’t know either, I don’t consider myself to be a bass or treble guy. I prefer a more well-balanced “jack of all trades” headphone)

I think what really surprised me about the headphones is how comfortable it is to wear. The build quality is great, sturdy even. I think they cheaped out on the buttons but it’s all forgiven at least from me… because for a product that’s ranged at $400 bucks at least they don’t have the audacity to sell you plastic like Sony or Bose does. 

I find the pair to be well balanced. I read reviews that the sound was muddy or that the product felt low quality… and after using them I was having a hard time believing it. The thing about the “sound sounding muddy” is that if it’s a low quality audio it’s truly going to sound like crap. And I’ve experienced that myself with a few remastered songs, I don’t think all types of genres shines with the B&W PX.

I think the first song that I was just baffled on how amazing it sounded was this track below: 

Listening to Lucid Dreams by Juice WRLD in Google Music (highest quality possible) made me realize that perhaps these were the headphones for me. I enjoyed listening to music so much to the point I would repeat tracks just to enjoy how they sounded and to this date I haven’t stopped doing that.

And it’s not just that genre. Anything acoustic sounds great on these cans. Electronic/Dance music is not inherently bad but I feel like other types of headphones may be more suitable. I just feel like anything electronic may not be best suited for the B&W PX. 

Sennheiser still has my heart with the HD6XX series, but my soul belongs to Bowers and Wilkins.

All that said, give the Bowers and Wilkins a try. This is by no means a throughout review nor do I consider myself knowledgeable in audio. I think after hearing the differences in Sennheiser, AKG, and now Bowers and Wilkins I can only hope to have a modicum of experience when it comes to audio. 

In conclusion, I am a very happy B&W user. My only complain is the sound leakage, it’s a bit of a problem in an office environment which is where I drive the cans. It’s not a deal breaker as I keep the volume around 60-70% but it also means I can’t fully blast it through at least in the office environment. But what I really gained back with the Bowers & Wilkins wasn’t just a good pair of cans I could go rock with everyday, it was restoring my desire to pursue different brands in audio and get to know them. 

I was giving up. After my experience with AKG I just felt it was a letdown altogether. Sennheiser wasn’t providing anything new to the table when you started comparing MOMENTUM and some of the headphones in the HD series. AKG felt more like a downgrade to Sennheiser, but in terms of design I would choose AKG in a heartbeat because I dig their designs. 

Then there’s Bowers and Wilkins which rocks in both design and audio. But don’t listen to me. If you have the opportunity, go try them out.

Two weeks with password managers (LastPass and 1Password)

As a rather “casual” paranoid person security is always something I obsess about to the point I have to take a break from obsessing about it because it just eats me alive. I feel like once you start focusing about security there are so many rabbit holes left open that you never stop closing them.

Whether that’s good or bad, it’s not really a healthy obsession.

I spent two (maybe three) weeks with LastPass and 1Password. Troy Hunt, a security-minded individual I follow and the owner and creator of HaveIBeenPwned has said it best: A secure password is the best you can’t remember. At first I had some real issues with that thinking, I’m used to memorizing long, unique passwords, and I also realized that there were issues with what I was doing. Password entropy being an important subject on all of this, and sadly still a subject that it’s hard to explain to people outside the field. I think xkdc explains it best

 

Another issue is password reuse, something I ended up doing because when you have accounts on over 40+ sites it’s impossible to remember all the unique passwords. I’m guilty, but at the same time I never reused a password on important sites (banks, paypal, etc).

 

Whether the comics comes off as arrogant or presumptuous it doesn’t eliminate the fact that having a good bits of entropy and avoiding password reuse are one of the most important issues. Password managers like 1Password gives you the ability to just “set it and forget it”. You’ll have a secret key and a master password, when combined it will derive a key to unlock your vault.

I started my journey with LastPass and it was an incredibly rough one to the point I was blatantly ignored when asking for a refund.

LastPass is great if your only focus is to just generate passwords and save them in your vault. Where LastPass falls, besides being plagued with security issues (you can make time for yourself to read their wikipedia entry), is that it immensely sucks in the storage area. I couldn’t for the life of me store a simple document of 2MB. It was nigh impossible, you just kept getting “Sorry, request taking longer than normal” to the point of needing to upload again.

I got fed up. I wanted to store my important documents in case I needed them “on demand”. I contacted support, requesting a refund and they proceeded to ignore my request to troubleshoot the issue. I actually played along because I didn’t have anything to lose but time… turns out uninstalling and installing the client doesn’t fix the issue. So I placed the request of refund AGAIN to be asked to record a video on how I’m doing the things. I refused to do so because I’m not comfortable of doing so.

In the end, I told them they can keep the money and shared that I had a very bad experience with them.

1Password by AgileBits, Inc

In waves of frustrations I discovered 1Password. I learned that 1Password had a very strong commitment to security and they were sponsoring Troy Hunt (which is how I discovered it).

The first things I noticed of using 1Password were the following:

  • The user interface is fast unlike LastPass
  • I could upload any big file with no timeouts or problems
  • The integration with OSX is lovely
  • iPad and Android support is superb
  • Had an additional secret key it generated per vault + your master password

Using 1Password has been a delight. I redid all my reused passwords from different sites that weren’t of importance, maintaining a healthy level of entropy in each generation.

1Password also features Watchtower which is an additional service that you aren’t forced to use. It checks how many times you have reused a password, match your password against Troy Hunt’s HaveIBeenPwned, match your email against Troy Hunt’s service. I think my favorite is matching your password against HaveIBeenPwned because THEN you know if your password has been truly been leaked and brute forced/cracked. 

Between HaveIBeenPwned and 1Password? Honestly, I feel secure and confident that my accounts aren’t going to be compromised. But, the thing with security is that you never have that certainty that you are secure. It’s a process of continuous improvement and continuous monitoring.

Beyond 1Password? I have been using multi-factor authentication as an additional layer and I’m currently researching Yubikeys to leverage an additional security layer on top of the services I use.

If you have any questions let me know, the comment section is below and if you want to contact me directly check my Contact page.

 

 

Final Notes on Microsoft Azure

These are my final notes on Microsoft Azure. It’s not meant to be taken as a review, but just yet another experience.

I’ve spent a total of two months with Microsoft Azure(referred as Azure from here on). Most of the time I spent with Azure was using their B-series virtual machines which for small/medium sites it’s perfect. My complaints about Azure does not start with the service quality but the prices they offer. I left Azure with a satisfied experience, yet somewhat bitter I couldn’t keep using them.

Azure is yet another cloud services like Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, etc. You can spin up as many virtual machines, put them in the same virtual networks, or put them behind a load balancer, or simply keep it private as the choice is ultimately yours. There’s also a vast amount of services Azure offers for a very steep price as well. Managed database servers, DNS hosting, storage services, cognitive services, container services (application server plans), and the list goes on.

There’s something I have to point out. Like Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud, Azure is not for beginners. Yes, there are beginner tutorials but put it in the context of “I have experience configuring linux servers, but I’ve never used Azure or AWS”. That’s the beginner context I’d like to highlight because there will be a lot of terms that will make people scratch their heads wondering what they mean. I think it’s a necessity to point out what defines a beginner when it comes to cloud services.

Now jumping back to the subject. I loved working with Azure network security group (firewalls, etc). It gave you most of the controls you needed to open/close inbound/outbound ports. Their storage services was a incredible delight to use, especially and specifically the file share storage. Being able to mount the file share on Windows and Linux was just pure bliss for me as I could backup visually anything from a server outside Azure, or even my personal computer back into the file share. File (storage) is something I’m really excited about and something that I’d like to see grow consumer wise because there’s nothing more satisfying than mounting a file share, do your tasks, unmount and be on your way to the next server.

I couldn’t find any services that aligned with what Azure did with its File storage. And this is outside cloud services. I’ve been looking at a service where I could do this without paying an exorbitant amount of money. If you know any, let me know in the comment section.

There are two glaring issues I have with Azure. Let me start by saying that I know Scott Hanselman wrote (two?) articles titled Penny pinching in the cloud where he goes on showing you how to save money with Azure. I think having an estimate of $33 monthly without accounting for bandwidth is not saving money. This isn’t me criticizing him in any way, I just feel like the intentions may be misinterpreted as just telling people Azure is cheap and you should totally get on our services. And to be fairly honest he mentioned multiple times that you should just stick with “that $5 dollar service”, which by the way if you haven’t visited Linode and used their service it’s to be honest up there in terms of quality. It’s probably the best $5 spent if you are just starting out there.

I have to disagree with Mr. Hanselman on his “penny pinching” articles. Azure isn’t cheap and I don’t believe you can save any money outside of reserved instances. However, I do think that you get what you pay for. Linode may have the best $5 expenditure and get an amazing service, but Azure wins in the sense that it does not limit your CPU usage in any way. Let me do the best to explain: Linode, being awesome as they are have a somewhat strict and disturbing terms of services. What makes it disturbing? If you use your CPU a lot Linode may be notifying you about it, or even stop the services if they find it’s impacting other users. And I have a lot to say about this because to me while Linode tries to sell it as a “way to maintain quality; and this is a shared environment” in my eyes is just “we want to maintain a low level effort on limiting everyone VPS resources while maximizing profits”. This is my interpretation on how Linode operates, and ultimately it’s the vibe their terms of services give off. I’m open to be proven wrong on Linode.

Meanwhile in Azure, if you have a  CPU skyrocketing at 80% because it’s doing something CPU intensive Microsoft won’t bat an eye at it. So in a sense Azure, AWS, Google Cloud probably has your back on doing CPU intensive tasks. I personally would be at a fear using Linode, Vultr, Digital Ocean trying to use what I’m paying for. They could come and shut you down anytime they want.

The other issue is bandwidth. Azure needs to offer reserved capacity for bandwidth. It’s direly needed for that wide adaption on small business/medium business sector. No one wants to pay $88 bucks for 1TB bandwidth. I’m not saying that everyone is out there hoping to use that amount because if that was the case a lot of service providers would be either out of service or plainly struggling. The pay-as-you go for bandwidth has to be improved for a massive Azure adoption rate, in my opinion. I can deal with virtual machine prices because reserved instance has my back on this.

In conclusion: Microsoft Azure is amazing, and ultimately if you have the money and don’t mind paying premium I ask you to give it a try.  For small time people like me, Azure comes off as an overpriced service. I hope to come back to Azure someday, but it’s highly unlikely with those bandwidth prices.

 

Site updates: Done, and done.

I finally finished moving everything off Microsoft Azure. Using Azure made me realize that as much as I wanted to use it it was just a huge money sink for what I was going to use it for. Over the days that passed I was just pondering whether or not I should stay with Azure. It didn’t sit well for me paying additional fees for Bandwidth, disk performances (reads, writes, premium, standard), and other types of details.

I hope that in a near future Microsoft Azure offers a B-series virtual machine with the capability of reserving bandwidth capacity. It’s a much needed feature for customers that have small or medium sites. I know that most of Azure is managed, as in, if I open a ticket the standard support is supposed to do the work and investigate what’s going on. I know it’s not profitable assigning so many resources to support small/medium customers when you want to keep that response time low for enterprises.

I hope that in the following days I have the time to write a long winded post about the cloud and the current prices. In fact I’m hoping to talk about Linode, Digital Ocean, Scaleway, and other services where I spent my time doing setups.

Now, having said all that. I ended up in ArubaCloud. I thought long and hard about it. I gathered that many people didn’t have problems with them. I’m actually excited because not only I got a low cost out of it but I can now create actual affordable virtual machines based on current needs: Do I need an e-mail server? Let me spin up a VM. Do I need an additional SQL Server? Let me spin up a VM and see if I can even out the current load.

I ended up creating a setup I really liked. For a long time I wanted to have SQL Server separated from NGINX/Apache, and with ArubaCloud that was made possible so now I have a dedicated SQL server serving this site and a HTTP server (nginx) serving all dynamic/static data. I loved working with UFW, setting up the firewall, fail2ban, etc. I think if I have to put an order out there it would be like this:

  • Spin up a VM in ArubaCloud with Ubuntu.
  • Notice that it doesn’t have the latest Ubuntu, but that’s okay with Ubuntu Xenial I can jump to 18.04.
  • Jump to do-release-upgrade -dand that will guide you through the process.
  • Once upgraded, which shouldn’t take you more than 30 minutes, apply security settings to sshd_config and add the rules I need to protect my VMs with UFW which is a tool to simply firewall management.
  • Install fail2ban, change SSH port and so on.
  • Configure server roles (DB, HTTP Server in my case)
  • Install LetsEncrypt’s amazing certbot.
  • Generate certificates for your site and be sure to enable SSL on your virtual host.

And the steps goes on and on and on. It looks tedious, and sometimes it is. I enjoy setting up my environments. After all the configurations were done?

I had a few hiccups from the MySQL Server. I wasn’t getting a decent response time, I think it was a network issue because as I’m writing it the response times have improved greatly.

There’s still a few security enhancements I have left to do, but they aren’t exactly priorities. I feel incredibly accomplished with my little journey on configuring my first remote MySql server and making it work with the HTTP server. At first sight it isn’t hard, but as you start considering security things become a bit harder.

 

ArubaCloud is not as bad as I expected: A contender to the “one dollar wonder”?

I’m astonished that my first experience with ArubaCloud is not as bad as I initially expected. It’s not how I expected to open this post tonight and it’s certainly something that I’ll be giving a real test throughout the year because when you offer $1 Virtual Private Servers you can’t help but wonder how they stay in the business while providing such a cheap service.

Let me start by saying that this is not a VPS review, but hopefully a journey that will lead me to do a full review in a near future. ArubaCloud simply put is one of those services that makes you scratch you head and wonder if it’ll be okay to leave your site/blog/forums in the hands of a $1 dollar service.

What can I expect from a $1 VPS service? I have no idea. But I can tell you what I don’t expect from a $1 VPS:

  • Network stability
  • Good uptime
  • Support (come on, let’s be realistic here and say that support was never thought of for this type of service)

ArubaCloud has a lot of things that it got right: The separation concerns between billing and managing your cloud are split in two different areas. Billing takes care of charging for the service and the control panel manages all things with the service. At first sight it may not look like the most user friendly experience but having that peace of mind that I can have two different passwords for billing and managing my cloud is not that bad in my book. Of course, this is incredibly debatable and I’m sure there are people out there that don’t want it like this.

ArubaCloud control panel is the heart of all things related to the cloud. The server creation process is straightforward but the user interface leaves much to be desired of and while that’s the case I was still able to get everything up and running in exactly:

Exactly one eternity later. The problem with ArubaCloud is that it’s under so much demand that it took around 6 hours to get my server through whatever queue they have. Before I even had access to the control panel I had to wait 24 hours to get my ArubaCloud account fully activated because it’s, and this is conjecture here, manually activated.

Another bad thing is that their ticket system is quite literally broken. I could never open a new support request. On a similar note, I don’t think I would blame any poor soul there trashing the ticket system so it doesn’t work because the high amount of support tickets for a $1 VPS must be too damn high.

I researched about ArubaCloud a bit before diving in. Yes, I was doing a full checkup on it because I’ll be using it in production for the hostname https://storage.thehumble.ninja/ and as the name states it’s mainly used for storage at the moment.

Now for the intriguing part is that, and please bear with me here because I will probably be called out for this and it’s only expected. Whether I hit the cluster bingo or not I can safely say I’ve had a better experience on this $1 VPS than on Vultr, Digital Ocean, and Namecheap (VPS, and shockingly it’s faster than the VPS Namecheap provided me). Usually my experience with the services I mentioned above is that they have something in common, a common that should also affect ArubaCloud but strangely doesn’t. They are under high demand. I’ve yet to replicate the same performance I get from Azure in DO, Vultr, Namecheap. I do not know why but Azure and now ArubaCloud performs better for me than any of the services I mentioned. Whenever I used SSH on DO, Vultr, Namecheap it always lagged out and took a while to send/render what I typed, not only that the time taken to render PHP pages was just longer.

It’s all highly dependent on so many factors that I know I’ll be called out for the simply reason that not everyone is experiencing the same. It could be a networking, hardware, availability of the CPU/Disk to process my requests to it (which is also part of hardware). With Azure I feel like I have a local server at home because of how simply responsive it is and with ArubaCloud I feel the same as well.

After my server was set up I upgraded the server to the latest Ubuntu Server LTS (18.04). I enhanced security the best I could and enabled UFW after setting up all the rules because I don’t like leaving ports opened to the public. Then I did a speedtest and to my surprise it wasn’t that bad:

In conclusion: It’s one dollar. I don’t expect much from a dollar and you can only stretch it so much to the point that you get a VPS out of it, quite elastic if you ask me.

In all seriousness. Give ArubaCloud a try. I am in no way related to them, but I thought that if you are someone with a site that currently can’t spend on a premium service like Vultr, DO, Linode, and the whole known gang of cloud hosting then honestly you don’t have much to lose at all.

TheHumble.ninja now with SSL

I’ve made some changes to thehumble.ninja as I plan to restructure to site and start purging content here and there. There’s an article I’ve been wanting to write about and it’s about saving costs with Azure, the cons and pro of using cloud services, and how scary it can get if you decide to use cloud services like Azure, Google Cloud, etc.

With that in mind I’d like to emphasize that I do like Microsoft Azure and would love to use it without the constant fear of overage charges, but that’s another subject that won’t be discussed here at all. Now, going back to Azure I’ve read two articles from Scott Hanselman where he goes over demonstrating how to use Azure and deploy cheap containers.

In an ideal world, I would have supported every word he said. Using containers is amazing, wonderful, and just plainly awesome. It gives you that control of isolating services (mysql, httpd, mail, etc) into separate containers and you can cram as many, MANY, applications in your app service plan.

But I can’t simply support it and it’s honestly for a very silly yet incredibly harmful reason that I can’t agree that Azure is cheap. It’s harmful for anyone that wants to run a personal project, site. If you have disposable cash and have never in your life budgeted for a single thing then Azure is for you.

Bandwidth is my biggest concern. Not just for Azure, but for any cloud service. I think Azure VMs are decently priced and competitive, heck I even thought of paying a reserved instance myself for this site (well, many sites hosted in it). As of today, 1TB is $88.65 USD. If that’s not expensive for you then sir, by all means go for Azure as I won’t stop you. But an average joe with an average job like me who just wants to write, and deploy personal projects to the web? 88 bucks is too much + all calculated prices on top of it.

My suggestion to Azure team? Include bandwidth packages in App Service Plans, offer reserved instances to containers/app service plan and I’ll be more than happy to subscribe for the years to come (as long as the prices are reasonable). And it doesn’t have to be 1TB exactly. I think we all need that safety net most service providers offer with VPS and we don’t have that in Azure.

Why? Imagine an scenario that an individual is targeted. See, if the person gets DDoSed Azure has basic protection and I’m sure it can withstand any attack. More so if you have Cloudflare as your front and you keep a good chunk of malicious individuals out. But, hey, the malicious individual just found out that for some reason you are using cloud services to host your site and decide to download 1 million time a 100 megabytes zip archive you offer. That’s 100 TB bandwidth down the drain alone, and I doubt that Azure will throw the towel and say “it’s ok we understand you were targeted and attacked. So we will invalidate the bandwidth usage”.

And maybe my example is overly exaggerated, but my point is even if you aren’t attacked, and you have a medium sized site with 1TB bandwidth usage I highly doubt anyone would pay $88.65 when Digital Ocean, OVH, even Amazon with Lightsail gives you that bandwidth cap at a lesser monthly price. I get it. They are overselling bandwidth. Any service provider will probably monitor your VM and try to assess if it’s getting abused or that’s just the normal bandwidth usage of the server. If it is? Great, carry on, there’s no abuse involved. Most service providers won’t care in the long run because they have so many customers that use at the very least 3-4GB of bandwidth and it’s expected they will never reach 400GB bandwidth as it’s just a bunch of personal sites, etc. Now, if all their customers used 1TB exactly I guess they’d be running at a deficit. I honestly don’t know much of the deals involved with data centers and network usage and there are better people specialized in this sort of stuff than me.

In conclusion, because I never meant to write a post this long. As you can see, I want to use Azure, but Azure is a big threat to my wallet when it comes to bandwidth. Do keep in mind that my thoughts on Azure are going to be a larger post than this, but this is one of the issues that I really needed to throw out there to the public.

As for the site. It’s temporarily hosted in a Azure instance until I decide whether to stay or not. I highly doubt I would stay considering the bandwidth concern. I don’t use much bandwidth but I know sometimes it’s a good 10GB that is used, that doesn’t eliminate the concern though.

 

Site updates

A few weeks ago I wrote about completely stopping creating content for thehumble.ninja. I realized that I wanted to keep creating content and be more active in different communities, share what I have discovered and enjoy doing the process of content creation.

This site will stop being about my life, programming, and career related stuff. The content I mentioned just now will be moved to a different domain while I repurpose thehumble.ninja to focus on different entertainment mediums: anime, manga, games (and keep alive linux gaming), and tv series. Part of me already think it’s a good idea to keep two different things completely separated and at the same time I wonder if it would lean itself to be more of a “reactionary” type of content where I react to things and they come. I’m sure I’ll come up with a way to even the process.

How often the site will be updated will solely depend on my free time. I’m not getting any younger, my life priorities have changed completely. I’ve had to leave communities and other things to achieve (usually) a short term goal or just move on with everything else going. What I’m trying to say is that while I’m happy I’m doing this I’d also like to focus on other aspects in my life like losing weight, traveling to other countries and well, see other things.

 

The Apple experience so far with the MacBook Pro (2017)…

 


I guess sooner or later I had to write about my experiences now that I’ve joined the Apple family. I don’t think I have to make any introduction about who or what Apple is so I’ll try to get straight to the point regarding where I see myself with the products I’ve purchased and give my honest thoughts. Today I’ll be reviewing the 15-inch MacBook Pro, which comes with:

  • 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display packed with:
    • 512GB PCI-Express SSD drive
    • 16gb RAM
    • and a Radeon Pro 570 4GB

Let’s start with a little background about me, the user. I’m a software developer who has worked mostly on web applications, “traditional applications” aka using winforms/WPF, mobility projects, etc. Most of my experience has gone into web development in general and being a developer, in a way, means sitting in front of a computer for countless hours providing solutions to your assigned client, or company. This means you need a reliable machine to do all the heavy lifting I would need to provide a solution. A solution could range from using tools that would squeeze the “life”, meaning it would be CPU-heavy or memory-heavy.

What does all this means to you, or me? Well, for starters you want a portable machine where you can do all that and doesn’t hold you back. You could argue that I can simply do this on a desktop and call it a day in which you are correct. I could do this from a desktop, sadly sometimes things are too fast paced and we don’t have the time to be transferring things from a desktop to laptop and be prone to missing files, missing presentations, missing important visuals. And no, you don’t need a MacBook on all the points I mentioned. There are artists, engineers, scientists, doctors, and all sort of professionals who uses Apple products, not just development. What I mean by this is that as the user you can decide for yourself whether or not all of this hardware is necessary depending on your particular circumstances and needs.

Over the past few days I’ve been using my MacBook Pro. It’s thin, fast, and beautiful. Being all that however, doesn’t exactly justify dropping the amount of money it requires just to acquire it. If you want to start development you can simply buy a i5 powered laptop with a solid state drive and you’d be on your way to producing code.

So let me categorize my thoughts: the good, the bad, and the worst aspects of the MacBook Pro (2017).

The good

The MacBook Pro (2017) is a solidly built beautiful machine. In terms of the build quality I have no beef with itwhatsoever. Everything is and feels premium. It doesn’t have any part that feels cheap, or perhaps I haven’t discovered it yet.

The battery life of the MacBook Pro is incredible. I easily get 8-9 hours out of this while using the web browser, talking in WhatsApp, basically doing casual things. While I haven’t experienced what would it be like doing development on battery life, I’d say I still would have a good 6-7 hours to accomplish many tasks; and development doesn’t necessarily mean you’d just be compiling sources 24/7 either. I could simply decide to just work on new UI mockups, or simply write/refactor lines of code.

The operative system, OS X, isn’t half bad. At times it feels polished, yet out dated. I can’t describe this feeling of unconformity to be honest. I have for weeks been trying to find the best way to describe how I feel using OS X. I’ll do my best to break it down into terms we can discuss. Remember, I’ll be listing the good things I’ve found about the system first.

  • The file manager (Finder) feels outdated. As someone who has used Linux and Windows for years and seeing the evolution of what they could provide Finder feels like it has stayed true to itself for all the Mac users out there. There is a sense of flow when using Finder, one that I haven’t quite mastered yet; as a Windows/Linux user for many years I barely know all the shortcuts and gestures to use with most of mac applications.
  • The App Store is a great start to find applications that can enhance your productivity or simply entertainment (games!).
  • Configuring anything system related is easy with the provided user interface.
  • Multiple Desktops feature is always welcome to anyone who likes to organize themselves per context. A context could be development, anything art related (drawing), or even just simply having a browser in a separate desktop. In my case I always like to maintain my development tools in a separate desktop.
  • An amazing trackpad. Yet a little too big.
  • The main Mac applications OS X with ships satisfy all basic and perhaps intermediate purposes.
  • It probably packs one of the best speakers I’ve heard from a laptop. It’s loud and proud.
  • One big plus is not being forced to use iCloud and still being able to have a separate “normal account” versus using an iCloud account. This is great if you are a paranoid user, or simply a user that doesn’t want too much clutter and wants to enjoy a good ol’ Unix system.
  • Beautiful text rendering.
  • Amazing out of the box printer support. I’m amazed on how effortless it is to set up a printer by just being connected on the same network.
  • The weight is strangely quite a big plus compared to my Dell Inspiron i7559-5012GRY 15.6″ UHD. It’s so lightweight I fear for it sometimes.

The bad

  • Let me begin by saying what a disappointment iTunes is. For the price you pay you’d expect all main applications of OS X to be polished. iTunes is not polished, it’s slow and slightly broken. If you are scratching your head on what I just mentioned let’s being with the green flashes/flickering you get when watching videos in the MacBook Pro. It doesn’t matter how many times you reinstall the applications and what not, it’s purely Apple’s developer fault that while it’s using the integrated card it doesn’t behave well. But, if I choose to use fully dedicated card it performs as you would expect. I don’t really know if this is normal on MacBook Pro machines with just integrated card. If it works for you, awesome! Sadly, it won’t make my problem go away.
  • On the same line as iTunes. The Mail application needs a real user interface revamp. Like I mentioned above, for the price you pay you’d expect the main applications to be fully polished.
  • Gaming on the Macbook Pro is the biggest joke to the point they should just forget about having Nvidia or AMD GPUs in it. Developers just don’t care about optimizing the games for mac and they always end up just hiring a company that just wraps up the game with a heavily modified version of WINE.

The worst

  • The touch bar is probably one of the most useless additions in the MacBook Pro (2017). It’s not practical, it’s not innovative, and it certainly does not resolve any real world problem. It’s completely useless.
  • The ports. The dongle hell is real and I want no part of it.
  • The keyboard feels like it was an afterthought for Apple. It’s shallow feedback kills it for me.

 

There are some points I want to bring up as I wrap up this review. The first days using the MacBook Pro for the first time in my life has led me to a series of disappointments with it and maybe, just maybe I’m not seeing what everyone else sees in Apple products. I honestly don’t think Tim Cook is leading Apple to the right direction while Microsoft with Sadya Nadella at the helm is catching up while elevating the Windows 10 experience each year.

You may think whatever you want of Windows or Microsoft in general, it doesn’t change the fact that they have put so much work into improving their products to the point that Windows 10 has left a better impression on me than using OS X. And before you call me biased if you notice my old post you can see I adore GNU/Linux and have written quite a few posts on the subject targeted to help Linux users. If that doesn’t dissuade your thinking then I don’t know what else will change it.

Going back to MacBook Pro. There are a few things that I’ve been noticing starting with the headphone jack; followed by the keyboard, trackpad, and the god awful touch bar.

“Just give it a chance, you’ll get used to it. Pinky promise!”

Sure, the same can be said to anything. May I remind you that you are sinking over two thousand dollars over a machine? If you have the disposable income that’s okay with me; do whatever you want with your money. To tell people “you get used to it”, to obvious flaws or faults that should be acknowledged by Apple is just preventing Apple learning from its mistake. I get that you love Apple, but it’s time to realize that they want your money more than your love because they are a business (yes, I’m wearing my Captain Obvious cape) and by trying to downplay people’s experience using the MacBook, or whatever Apple product they’ll keep pulling this type of crap and call it innovation.

If you are a score guy I would give this a solid

7.5 out of 10

In conclusion

Don’t drink the koolaid Apple users are giving. The sales pitch of how Apple is innovating everything, sit and think about what have they really innovated recently and look at other competitors in comparison. You may get sucked in with the eye candy snazzy interface and retina display (high density displays). What Apple really has going for them is the ecosystem between iOS and OS X. It’s tight, and it’s perfect for many that don’t want to spend too much time dealing with configurations, backups, file transfers, etc.

Go to a Apple store, use it, try it out and if you like it go for it. I think, for the money Apple asks it’s not worth it and in the long run I’ll probably sell this MacBook for a Surface Book 2.