For the past 8 years I have had the most faithful and reliable travel partner one could ever hope for. But everything has to come to an end. When I arrive in Berlin this evening, the curtain will come down on those years, the end of those hours and hours spent in close proximity, the thousands of kilometres passed together.
I am of course referring to my laptop; I collect my new machine tomorrow. This blog entry, like more than a thousand of my other blog entries, is being typed on my 13″ MacBook Pro, manufactured on 20th July 2009 somewhere in a factory in China, and in my possession from sometime shortly after that. For the nerds it is a MacBook 5,5 (mid-2009), that shipped with 4Gb of RAM and a 500GB hard disk, and a 2.53GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor (info on EveryMac here).
Things are not quite now what they were then – I am on my third battery and fourth power supply, and I replaced the DVD player with a Samsung 120Gb SSD drive to boost the machine’s speed. I added RAM and had to take it out again because there is some minor motherboard issue. I’ve even managed to make it run MacOS Sierra (using this trick) – even though that OS is not supported. The screen remains as sharp as on the first day, and the keyboard as crisp and slick to type with as ever.
But, with some sadness, I have had to accept defeat in my effort to wring more life out of this laptop. It currently runs so hot that I joke I could fry an egg on its underside. The fan can sound like a plane about to take off. The battery life – never excellent – has been further curtailed by the installation of the SSD drive. Using Opera as my main browser reduced CPU processes, but trying anything complex in Keynote or Pixelmator can bring everything to a halt. As making presentations and running workshops is my business unreliability there is unacceptable.
Ultimately however this blog entry is a testimony to fine Apple engineering. My previous laptop – a Powerbook G4 – lasted barely half as long, the iBook before that even less. But this MacBook Pro has been my main everyday work computer for a full 8 years. That’s pretty damned extraordinary.
That then leaves just two things to explain. What am I going for instead? I’ve gone for a non-TouchBar 13″ Kaby Lake Retina MacBook Pro – with 16Gb of RAM and a 512Gb SSD (details here). I remain unconvinced by the TouchBar, and the longer battery life, slightly lower cost, and similar processor performance of this version won out in the end. Let’s see if it too can last 8 years!
And last but not least – what will happen to the old MacBook? I also have an old 2008 iMac at home as well, and I will keep one or other of them as a spare machine, and sell the other one. So maybe there might be life in the old machine yet – only in someone else’s hands.