Category: Computers

Late 2013 Mac Pro Real World Usage

By now you’ve likely heard of the new Mac Pro — whether you’ve heard to it referred to as a trash can or Darth Vader, you’ve likely heard of it.  If not, it looks like this:

Late 2013 Mac Pro

Late 2013 Mac Pro

That’s actually mine, from the unboxing photos that were taken.

According to Apple’s original specs — and many of the reviews you may read online — it’s a powerhouse of a machine.  The specs on this outdo my previous generation (from late 2009) Mac Pro by oodles and oodles. Yes, that’s a technical term.

Here’s the model I went with:

  • 3.5 GHz 6-Core Intel Xeon X5 (the upgraded model)
  • 16 GB 1867 DDR3 ECC RAM
  • Dual AMD FirePro D500 3072MB graphics cards
  • 256GB Flash Storage (I added a 2TB external drive, via Thunderbolt, as well.)

Leaps and bounds above and beyond the last generation’s computer.

Many of the reviews I’ve been seeing online focus on how quickly the new Mac Pro can output, compress, or process video — which is kind of what it’s intended for.  I don’t do any real video work — mostly web development, web browsing, email, etc — so this machine is complete overkill for my needs.  But, if you know me, I always like to have the biggest, best, newest and shiniest.

Here are some of the things that you may be interested in, in a real world environment for the new Mac Pro.  Every day tasks that can be done faster with a machine of this caliber.

  • Startup time: 5.1 seconds.  That’s the amount of time between pressing the power button, all of my start up applications opening, and being able to do stuff.
  • Opening Photoshop CC: 3.1 seconds.  In fact, here’s a video I made this morning of me opening Photoshop CC
  • Reading and writing data:
    • Reading data to the internal Flash drive is pretty fast.  According to Blackmagic’s Disk Speed Test (a widely used application to benchmark drive speeds), the write speed averages 775 MB/s and the read speed averages 950 MB/s
    • For the external drive (over Thunderbolt), it’s a bit slower, but still pretty quick: Write: 335 MB/s. Read: 390 MB/s (averages)
  • That means that you could copy a 4.7 gig movie file from the internal drive to the external drive in about 12 seconds. Give or take.  Impressive.

I picked my machine (named Pennyworth, as its predecessor was named Alfred.  I like Batman, sue me) on January 3rd after a bit of a snafu at the Apple Store I had it shipped to.  From what I’ve been seeing on Twitter, I’m one of the few every day people that has one of these.  Most of the other people I’ve seen with them are either people who work for tech companies who wanted to review them, video production companies, recording studios, or other industry professionals.  I’m just some guy with good taste, so I guess that’s good for me.

You’ve likely seen (or heard) people complaining about how expensive the machine is.  And you’re right, it is costly.  But if you’re complaining that $4000 is a lot of money, you’re not the target audience for this computer.  This isn’t a $400 Dell that you can keep for a year and not care if it dies.  This is a high end, professional, and extremely powerful machine.  It’s not for the faint of heart, nor the faint of wallet.  That said, you get every penny’s worth of your money.  I haven’t had a single issue in the 3 weeks I’ve had this machine (not that I had any issues with the previous Mac Pro, either), and have been very glad that I spent the money.

I haven’t upgraded my monitors yet for two reasons:

  1. Apple hasn’t released a new monitor in a while and their current monitor doesn’t support 4K, UltraHD or Retina resolutions.  Nor does it support USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt 2, both of which are important to me.
  2. There’s nothing wrong with the screens I have now.  I’m still working with a 30″ Apple Cinema Display (from 2009) and a 24″ Dell display as my secondary (in portrait mode) to my left.

Once a newer display becomes available from Apple, I’ll likely upgrade to get the new toys.  But for now, I’m a-okay with what I’ve got.

Why does this post exist? No real reason.  I love my new computer and wanted to help answer any questions about the performance of a machine so high end that anyone considering buying one may have had.  Hopefully this helps in some way.

Finding Simple Solutions To Everyday Problems

I’ve been chugging away at things over here, I know you were dying to know.  I struggled to come up with a title for this blog post, but there it is: finding simple solutions to everyday problem.

The shower rod in the bathroom kept falling down. Apparently the bar wasn’t long enough and the spring-loaded tension bar wasn’t holding it tight enough anymore, so simple solution: I crammed some paper towels in behind one of the non-skid pads, and popped it back up. It’s held pretty well so far.

My other problem that’s been bugging me — my new drummer’s gloves. Yea, they’re awesome, and they save my hands big time.  But I play along to my iPad.  I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to touch your iPad or iPhone screen with gloves on, but it doesn’t work.  The screens react to something in your fingers – electricity, oil, I don’t know, but something. So the problem arose when I wanted to change tracks.  I’d have to take my glove off, kind of a pain in the ass.

So I decided to find a solution, which I did — I’m bringing my laptop with me, and since there’s not a whole lot of space on the laptop for music, I put my Drum Time playlist on my iPhone, and then connect via a cable.  Apparently you can use the iPhone like a harddrive, which is what I’ve been doing.  When you step back and think about it, it’s kind of obvious.

Work continues on the book.  My buddy continues to edit chapters, and I continue to incorporate his feedback and correction of my overuse of commas. (Sorry, Austin!)  We’ll get through it eventually.

I don’t remember if I posted about it here or not, but I made the decision last week that I’ll be doing an audiobook version of the book as well.  I don’t know why, but it seems like a fun process to go through so why not?  The eBook process has been such a learning experience, I figure why not? Let’s do the whole shebang, right?

I’m having my very first surgery Friday morning, and I’m kind of freaking out about it.  I’ve never had any surgery before, so I’m probably overreacting to things, but that’s how my brain works.  Don’t worry, it’s not as major as the word “surgery” makes it sound.  In short, I’m having two sinus lifts on the upper left side of my jaw, and then they’ll be doing a bone graft.  Due to some freak act of nature part of my upper jaw has deteriorated over the years, and needs to be fixed.  Once that’s all done, they’ll be putting in two dental implants into the newly reconstructed bone.

It sounds a lot more serious than it is, and thanks to America’s crappy health and dental insurance that we have, it’s costing me around $18k out of pocket.  But it has to be done, so it has to be done.

Don’t worry, I’ll be fine. I have plenty of ice cream stock piled, and will be taking the weekend to relax.  I made a mistake in scheduling it, though.  Had I looked at a calendar, I’d have known that Iron Man 3 was coming out this weekend, and wouldn’t have booked the surgery for Friday.  Hopefully I’ll feel up to going to see the movie. I suppose time will tell.


I noticed something the other night while blogging about Friends, and subsequently Full House — I’m more apt to blog when I’m not at my computer.  I wonder why that is.

Perhaps it’s because I spend between 8 and 12 hours a day at my computer, and no matter what I’m doing it feels like I’m working, even when I’m doing something as simple as blogging.  I think there’s some subconscious  thing happening that prevents me from blogging about anything when I’m at my desk.  Yes, before you ask, that’s where I am right now.  But even now, only 75 words into this post, I’m having trouble thinking of what to write.

Maybe it’s not the computer — maybe sitting in front of the TV helps me write about things?  I don’t know.

I’ve been keeping myself busy the last few days, trying to help a friend get her website up and running for her business.  That’s been consuming quite a bit of free time, on top of my day job, and my freelance career.  People keep telling me that I have my hands in too many pots, and I’m starting to see what they mean.

Don’t get me wrong, I love keeping myself busy.  It helps keep my mind sharp.  I much prefer being working on something than sitting around not working on something, that’s for sure.

I booked a trip to Vegas in June which will mark my first vacation in five years.  I think not only am I overdue, but I also deserve it after all this time.  I can’t wait to get away to somewhere sunny, hot as hell, and full of touristy things!  It should be a great time, that’s for sure.

Dedicated Servers Rock

I was downloading a backup this morning from the fairly new dedicated server:

Dedicated download speed

Dedicated download speed

Note the 1.5 MB/s downspeed, from a server! Get that with a shared host. I dare you!

Mac Pro – day 6

I love my Mac. His name’s Alfred, in case you were wondering.  You know, like Bruce Wayne’s butler.  And he’s just as awesome, and helpful.

I’ve done quiet a bit in the last six days of having a Mac, including doing my first bit of design work on it.  I also learned what applications I need to rip and burn DVDs, which is so fast I have a hard time believing that this is actually working. Amazing, right?

I’m still in awe that I’m able to do all the things I can, and so far.

I was scared to make the switch full time. I even bought Parallels, just in case there was something I needed to do on Windows. I haven’t even opened it aside from when I installed it, to make sure it worked.  It’s amazing.

Who knew that I’d convert after all these years?  Did I go to the “dark side?”, no. I think quite the opposite, actually.  I went from years of being frustrated with Windows, and not being able to do the things I wanted to, to having the simplicity of a Mac, and the ease that comes with it.

I’ve got a lot of web-related stuff to do this weekend, so I’ll finally put it to the test.  I’ll also be upgrading the last two drives in it (the one it came with, and the secondary one that will be for Time Machine backups), and possibly getting a new mouse.

Why didn’t any of my Mac friends make me switch years ago? Thanks, jerks.

Mac Pro Day!

First, thanks to Nick at the Apple store in the Rockingham Mall (Salem, New Hampshire).  Dude knows his stuff, that’s for sure.  I know what you’re thinking, all the dudes and dudettes at the Apple stores know their stuff.  True, but none that I’ve encountered like this guy.  He had an answer to every question I had, and got me everything I wanted.  Kudos to you, sir.

So, how’s the Mac? Glad you asked. Let’s put it this way: I’ve used a lot of high end PCs in my lifetime. A lot. And not one of them has ever come close to this thing.  Here’s the final specs:

  • Dual Quad Core 2.26 Processors (I would have upgraded the processors, but a) I didn’t think I needed to, and b) the prices are a bit crazy)
  • 8Gigs of Ram
  • ATI Radeon HD 4870 (The upgrade with 512MB of DDR5 on-board  video memory.)
  • 640 GB main drive.
  • 30″ Cinema display.

I’m about 80% done installing all the software I need, and it’s so easy because this thing’s a freakin’ beast.  I’ve been installing handfuls of apps at a time.  My PC would have thrown up and died an hour ago.  So awesome.

As you may know, my PC had two external hard drives, each a terabyte in site, that I had planned on connecting to this beast. However, they used Firewire 400 and the new Mac Pros only have Firewire 800 (only, like it’s a bad thing, heh.)

So my solution was rather destructive.  I ripped open the cases, and dropped them into the available slots on the Mac Pro.  I know what you’re thinking; it’s day one and I’m ripping the thing open already to put more stuff in it?  With a PC that may be complicated, but fret not, it takes less than 10 seconds to install a new drive into a Mac Pro. Literally.

So I dropped in the two terabyte drives, and the secondary 320gb drive from my PC, for a total of 2.94TB in the Mac Pro.

The hardest part was opening the freakin’ cases of the drives, which I learned is more complicated than it needs to be. The first was easy, the second I ended up smashing to bits to get the drive out.  It worked though.

One of the drives is formatted in a way that OS X can’t erase stuff from it. (I assume this is a formatting issue), so I’m going to copy everything off of it, format it, and put the stuff back.  It’ll take a while, but it’ll get done eventually.

The biggest question people are going to ask, is about the 30″ Cinema display.  Is it as good as it should be for $1800?  You bet your sweet ass it is.  I can fit the whole freakin’ internet on this thing, on one screen. It’s huge, and the resolution is enormous.

It truly is a work of art. Given, it should be for what I paid for it, but I’m not complaining.

Overall, my Mac experience thus far, has been nothing but excellent.  My PC is sitting next to me (as a reminder of what applications I need to install) and begging me not to through it away.  With those beady Windows eyes of it.  Evil! Evil I say!

Photos of the new set up below (Warning, I didn’t re size them, so they’re going to make your monitor explode.  Mine, on the other hand, loves them this large):

Thanks again to Nick at the Apple store. You are awesome, and my new computer thanks you for selling it to me.

Mac Pro Day in 2 days

For those of you following along at home, Mac Pro day was supposed to fall on my 30th birthday.  For reasons out of my control, it’s been pushed back until I get paid from one of my clients.  Which should happen today.

Thus, Mac Pro day will be this Saturday morning, October 10th.  I’m beyond excited.

Also, in case you weren’t following along at home, I’m making the switch to Mac after 25 years on a PC.  I’ve been using an iMac at the office I’ve got with one of my clients for about 4 months now, and I love it. I can’t wait to switch. The fear of not having Windows was pretty strong for a while, but has completely subsided. I’m ready for change.

I’ll be purchasing a Mac Pro, with some added options to it, and a 30″ Cinema display. (Or possible 2 24″ LED displays, depending on whether or not the sales person thinks they’ll be better for me.)  Check back this weekend for photos.