[offtopic] buying advice on a macbook air

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[offtopic] buying advice on a macbook air

Tennessee Leeuwenburg-3
Hi all,

I notice that a good number of mpug'ers have Apple computers, and I was wondering how they go as Python development platforms. I'm considering getting a Macbook Air for my next laptop. I want something I can hack on, has a beautiful screen, which travels easily, but which I can also use in front of the telly of an evening, or on a desk for a few hours. I've also never owned an Apple, and I figure I need to try the third of the major environments at some stage :). 

So, some questions:
  -- Is the Macbook Air a nice laptop to use?
  -- Does OSX support development well for Python?
  -- What about other unix-like tools -- is there a decent C++ compiler, standard linux libraries etc for me to be able to compile linux programs?
  -- If not, how does open source development happen on a mac? Is everyone running linux inside a VM or what?
  -- How does it go with integration with MS office and Exchange (sigh)?
  -- What about other Apple laptops, is there a better choice?
  -- Is there anything I should watch out for when buying my first Apple?

I'm not in a particular rush, and the pundits seem to think there will be a new model out later this year, so I might take my time before making a purchase. But any and all advice would be much appreciated!

Thanks,
-Tennessee

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Re: [offtopic] buying advice on a macbook air

mattb-2

Hey Tennessee,

I run a MacBook pro and its great. Though I primarily use Ubuntu as osx has quirks that don't fit me. Python comes standard and its a bit annoying having to install xcode (~4GB) to simply get gcc.

I would like to point out though that the MacBook pro line is due for a refresh later this month. Rumor has it they are to be liter and thinner like the air and also boast very high Res screens like the ipad3. Rumors they may be though but there is nothing worse than buying last weeks tech.

-matt

On Apr 11, 2012 7:17 PM, "Tennessee Leeuwenburg" <[hidden email]> wrote:
Hi all,

I notice that a good number of mpug'ers have Apple computers, and I was wondering how they go as Python development platforms. I'm considering getting a Macbook Air for my next laptop. I want something I can hack on, has a beautiful screen, which travels easily, but which I can also use in front of the telly of an evening, or on a desk for a few hours. I've also never owned an Apple, and I figure I need to try the third of the major environments at some stage :). 

So, some questions:
  -- Is the Macbook Air a nice laptop to use?
  -- Does OSX support development well for Python?
  -- What about other unix-like tools -- is there a decent C++ compiler, standard linux libraries etc for me to be able to compile linux programs?
  -- If not, how does open source development happen on a mac? Is everyone running linux inside a VM or what?
  -- How does it go with integration with MS office and Exchange (sigh)?
  -- What about other Apple laptops, is there a better choice?
  -- Is there anything I should watch out for when buying my first Apple?

I'm not in a particular rush, and the pundits seem to think there will be a new model out later this year, so I might take my time before making a purchase. But any and all advice would be much appreciated!

Thanks,
-Tennessee

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Re: [offtopic] buying advice on a macbook air

Lincoln Stoll
In reply to this post by Tennessee Leeuwenburg-3
Inline.

On 11/04/2012, at 7:17 PM, Tennessee Leeuwenburg wrote:

> Hi all,
>
> I notice that a good number of mpug'ers have Apple computers, and I was wondering how they go as Python development platforms. I'm considering getting a Macbook Air for my next laptop. I want something I can hack on, has a beautiful screen, which travels easily, but which I can also use in front of the telly of an evening, or on a desk for a few hours. I've also never owned an Apple, and I figure I need to try the third of the major environments at some stage :).
>
> So, some questions:
>   -- Is the Macbook Air a nice laptop to use?

I find it a beautiful laptop to use - decent battery life, well made hardware, it just feels clean, well engineered and nice to use. On the OS X side, I find it a simple OS to work with, it basically gets out of my way and let's me get work done. On the portability side, I travel a lot and it's very easy to move around. Even small things like the compact power supply are a nice touch.

>   -- Does OSX support development well for Python?

Yes. I'm not a full time python expert, but it has first class python support. I build my own python with the info here: http://docs.python-guide.org/en/latest/starting/install/osx/ , and use virtualenv for everything.

>   -- What about other unix-like tools -- is there a decent C++ compiler, standard linux libraries etc for me to be able to compile linux programs?

Compilers aren't too big of an issue. You don't actually need to install the full XCode to get a compiler - you can download the 'Command line tools for XCode', ~170mb from http://connect.apple.com , free registration required. Apple are shifting towards LLVM over GCC, but I haven't found this to be an issue except with

As for libraries, everything I've come across has been available for OS X - it's a pretty common Unix development platform these days.

>   -- If not, how does open source development happen on a mac? Is everyone running linux inside a VM or what?

I occasionally use Vagrant (http://vagrantup.com) to test against a 'production like' environment, but the vast majority (95%) of people I come across are using OS X natively.

>   -- How does it go with integration with MS office and Exchange (sigh)?

Surprisingly well - Provided you're talking to an Exchange 2007+ server, the built in Apple Mail/Calender/Address Book talk natively to the server, handling it very well. IMO it's the best Exchange experience. On the Office side you can purchase Office for Mac, which is compatible with PC office.

>   -- What about other Apple laptops, is there a better choice?

I'd say no. The Macbook Air, specifically the 13" version is the best machine I've ever owned.

>   -- Is there anything I should watch out for when buying my first Apple?

I've been using Apple for a while, so nothing I can think of. There isn't any tricky customizations required, it's pretty straight forward. If you tell them your a developer an ask nicely, you might be able to get a ~10% discount

> I'm not in a particular rush, and the pundits seem to think there will be a new model out later this year, so I might take my time before making a purchase. But any and all advice would be much appreciated!

The current model has been out since mid last year, so I'd expect a refresh in the near future. That said, there's nothing particulary lacking with the current version. I generally buy a new machine when it's required, it's not like it will change when a new one comes out.

- Linc
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Re: [offtopic] buying advice on a macbook air

Lars Yencken-3
Just chiming in with a few notes:

> So, some questions:
>   -- Is the Macbook Air a nice laptop to use?

Macs in general are well built laptops. I use a Macbook Pro, a solid machine, but several people I know have migrated from to the lighter Macbook Airs, and none have complained. The only gripe I've had is that when stressed, it can heat up uncomfortably on your lap. That's probably the same for most laptops though.
 
>   -- Does OSX support development well for Python?
>   -- What about other unix-like tools -- is there a decent C++ compiler, standard linux libraries etc for me to be able to compile linux programs?

OS X Lion has Python 2.7 built-in. Most people install their own though, usually through one of the two prominent open source package managers you can install after the fact: Homebrew and MacPorts. Homebrew builds the minimum needed and is tightly integrated with the system, whereas MacPorts is more isolated and installs a full unix subsystem in a prefix (/opt/local).

Overall, there's very good coverage of open source packages. If you're doing a lot of work in X11, that works too, but it doesn't feel native – you'll certainly notice the difference between open source tools with Mac interfaces vs those that run in X11.

>   -- What about other Apple laptops, is there a better choice?

The MacBook Pro line at the 15" size supports i7 rather than i5 processors, and a higher-dpi display upgrade is available. They're certainly heavier though.
 
>   -- Is there anything I should watch out for when buying my first Apple?

Memory's not priced sensibly on the Apple store. Everyone I know buys their laptop from Apple and then upgrades it with RAM from another seller at better prices. This is also our practice at work.
 
> I'm not in a particular rush, and the pundits seem to think there will be a new model out later this year, so I might take my time before making a purchase. But any and all advice would be much appreciated!

As these guys have mentioned, there's a good chance a newer model is coming out. Since Apple doesn't give much warning, sites like Macrumour's buyer's guide show what normal time between new models coming out is. Both Macbook Pro and Macbook Airs are "due" for a refresh relatively soon.

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Re: [offtopic] buying advice on a macbook air

Tennessee Leeuwenburg-3
In reply to this post by Lincoln Stoll
Hi Lincoln,

Thanks for the detailed reply. It is much appreciated. I feel much better about buying one as a personal dev/hack environment as well as for a general PC. Everyone is advising to wait until later in the year, so I expect I will do so. Thanks again for giving so much detail.

Cheers,
-T

On Wed, Apr 11, 2012 at 8:05 PM, Lincoln Stoll <[hidden email]> wrote:
Inline.

On 11/04/2012, at 7:17 PM, Tennessee Leeuwenburg wrote:

> Hi all,
>
> I notice that a good number of mpug'ers have Apple computers, and I was wondering how they go as Python development platforms. I'm considering getting a Macbook Air for my next laptop. I want something I can hack on, has a beautiful screen, which travels easily, but which I can also use in front of the telly of an evening, or on a desk for a few hours. I've also never owned an Apple, and I figure I need to try the third of the major environments at some stage :).
>
> So, some questions:
>   -- Is the Macbook Air a nice laptop to use?

I find it a beautiful laptop to use - decent battery life, well made hardware, it just feels clean, well engineered and nice to use. On the OS X side, I find it a simple OS to work with, it basically gets out of my way and let's me get work done. On the portability side, I travel a lot and it's very easy to move around. Even small things like the compact power supply are a nice touch.

>   -- Does OSX support development well for Python?

Yes. I'm not a full time python expert, but it has first class python support. I build my own python with the info here: http://docs.python-guide.org/en/latest/starting/install/osx/ , and use virtualenv for everything.

>   -- What about other unix-like tools -- is there a decent C++ compiler, standard linux libraries etc for me to be able to compile linux programs?

Compilers aren't too big of an issue. You don't actually need to install the full XCode to get a compiler - you can download the 'Command line tools for XCode', ~170mb from http://connect.apple.com , free registration required. Apple are shifting towards LLVM over GCC, but I haven't found this to be an issue except with

As for libraries, everything I've come across has been available for OS X - it's a pretty common Unix development platform these days.

>   -- If not, how does open source development happen on a mac? Is everyone running linux inside a VM or what?

I occasionally use Vagrant (http://vagrantup.com) to test against a 'production like' environment, but the vast majority (95%) of people I come across are using OS X natively.

>   -- How does it go with integration with MS office and Exchange (sigh)?

Surprisingly well - Provided you're talking to an Exchange 2007+ server, the built in Apple Mail/Calender/Address Book talk natively to the server, handling it very well. IMO it's the best Exchange experience. On the Office side you can purchase Office for Mac, which is compatible with PC office.

>   -- What about other Apple laptops, is there a better choice?

I'd say no. The Macbook Air, specifically the 13" version is the best machine I've ever owned.

>   -- Is there anything I should watch out for when buying my first Apple?

I've been using Apple for a while, so nothing I can think of. There isn't any tricky customizations required, it's pretty straight forward. If you tell them your a developer an ask nicely, you might be able to get a ~10% discount

> I'm not in a particular rush, and the pundits seem to think there will be a new model out later this year, so I might take my time before making a purchase. But any and all advice would be much appreciated!

The current model has been out since mid last year, so I'd expect a refresh in the near future. That said, there's nothing particulary lacking with the current version. I generally buy a new machine when it's required, it's not like it will change when a new one comes out.

- Linc
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--------------------------------------------------
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http://myownhat.blogspot.com/
"Don't believe everything you think"

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Re: [offtopic] buying advice on a macbook air

Tennessee Leeuwenburg-3
In reply to this post by Lars Yencken-3
Thanks Lars,

I read the Air doesn't have upgradeable RAM though, so I will probably just pay the fortune required to get better capacity. My current laptop is uncomfortable on my lap already. I don't think anyone has tried to really tackle cooling in a way that doesn't leave the laptop a bit uncomfy after a while. I just go with putting it on a book or other insulator, it's "okay". 

I'm not fussed about the non-native feel, but it's good to know.

Thanks for the info.

Cheers,
-T

On Wed, Apr 11, 2012 at 9:57 PM, Lars Yencken <[hidden email]> wrote:
Just chiming in with a few notes:

> So, some questions:
>   -- Is the Macbook Air a nice laptop to use?

Macs in general are well built laptops. I use a Macbook Pro, a solid machine, but several people I know have migrated from to the lighter Macbook Airs, and none have complained. The only gripe I've had is that when stressed, it can heat up uncomfortably on your lap. That's probably the same for most laptops though.
 
>   -- Does OSX support development well for Python?
>   -- What about other unix-like tools -- is there a decent C++ compiler, standard linux libraries etc for me to be able to compile linux programs?

OS X Lion has Python 2.7 built-in. Most people install their own though, usually through one of the two prominent open source package managers you can install after the fact: Homebrew and MacPorts. Homebrew builds the minimum needed and is tightly integrated with the system, whereas MacPorts is more isolated and installs a full unix subsystem in a prefix (/opt/local).

Overall, there's very good coverage of open source packages. If you're doing a lot of work in X11, that works too, but it doesn't feel native – you'll certainly notice the difference between open source tools with Mac interfaces vs those that run in X11.

>   -- What about other Apple laptops, is there a better choice?

The MacBook Pro line at the 15" size supports i7 rather than i5 processors, and a higher-dpi display upgrade is available. They're certainly heavier though.
 
>   -- Is there anything I should watch out for when buying my first Apple?

Memory's not priced sensibly on the Apple store. Everyone I know buys their laptop from Apple and then upgrades it with RAM from another seller at better prices. This is also our practice at work.
 
> I'm not in a particular rush, and the pundits seem to think there will be a new model out later this year, so I might take my time before making a purchase. But any and all advice would be much appreciated!

As these guys have mentioned, there's a good chance a newer model is coming out. Since Apple doesn't give much warning, sites like Macrumour's buyer's guide show what normal time between new models coming out is. Both Macbook Pro and Macbook Airs are "due" for a refresh relatively soon.

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--------------------------------------------------
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http://myownhat.blogspot.com/
"Don't believe everything you think"

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Re: [offtopic] buying advice on a macbook air

martin schweitzer-2
Hi Tennessee 

Sitting in sunny cape town typing on my iPhone  .  As someone who a long time ago drank the apple coolade I am happy to recommend the air. However python integration has not always been smooth. In particular, apple ships with its own version of python - and in the past I've had to do quite a bit of googling to set up certain things (eg. Scipy). When you get your shiny new Air, consider installing Enthought. 

Regards
Martin


On Thursday, April 12, 2012, Tennessee Leeuwenburg wrote:
Thanks Lars,

I read the Air doesn't have upgradeable RAM though, so I will probably just pay the fortune required to get better capacity. My current laptop is uncomfortable on my lap already. I don't think anyone has tried to really tackle cooling in a way that doesn't leave the laptop a bit uncomfy after a while. I just go with putting it on a book or other insulator, it's "okay". 

I'm not fussed about the non-native feel, but it's good to know.

Thanks for the info.

Cheers,
-T

On Wed, Apr 11, 2012 at 9:57 PM, Lars Yencken <<a href="javascript:_e({}, &#39;cvml&#39;, &#39;lars@yencken.org&#39;);" target="_blank">lars@...> wrote:
Just chiming in with a few notes:

> So, some questions:
>   -- Is the Macbook Air a nice laptop to use?

Macs in general are well built laptops. I use a Macbook Pro, a solid machine, but several people I know have migrated from to the lighter Macbook Airs, and none have complained. The only gripe I've had is that when stressed, it can heat up uncomfortably on your lap. That's probably the same for most laptops though.
 
>   -- Does OSX support development well for Python?
>   -- What about other unix-like tools -- is there a decent C++ compiler, standard linux libraries etc for me to be able to compile linux programs?

OS X Lion has Python 2.7 built-in. Most people install their own though, usually through one of the two prominent open source package managers you can install after the fact: Homebrew and MacPorts. Homebrew builds the minimum needed and is tightly integrated with the system, whereas MacPorts is more isolated and installs a full unix subsystem in a prefix (/opt/local).

Overall, there's very good coverage of open source packages. If you're doing a lot of work in X11, that works too, but it doesn't feel native – you'll certainly notice the difference between open source tools with Mac interfaces vs those that run in X11.

>   -- What about other Apple laptops, is there a better choice?

The MacBook Pro line at the 15" size supports i7 rather than i5 processors, and a higher-dpi display upgrade is available. They're certainly heavier though.
 
>   -- Is there anything I should watch out for when buying my first Apple?

Memory's not priced sensibly on the Apple store. Everyone I know buys their laptop from Apple and then upgrades it with RAM from another seller at better prices. This is also our practice at work.
 
> I'm not in a particular rush, and the pundits seem to think there will be a new model out later this year, so I might take my time before making a purchase. But any and all advice would be much appreciated!

As these guys have mentioned, there's a good chance a newer model is coming out. Since Apple doesn't give much warning, sites like Macrumour's buyer's guide show what normal time between new models coming out is. Both Macbook Pro and Macbook Airs are "due" for a refresh relatively soon.

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--------------------------------------------------
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"Don't believe everything you think"


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Mobile: 0412 345 938


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