Macbook Pro external display only while on battery

I haven’t really done this until now, but I figured I’d share how I worked around my issues.

Since I use my new 2017 Macbook Pro as a desktop & laptop, I don’t want to constantly charge the battery while I have it docked.  The problem is that by default MacOS sleeps when the laptop lid is closed.  This is a problem when you don’t want it open & just want to use an external monitor connected via HDMI (through an HDMI -> USB-C adapter) or USB-C directly.  After searching around for a bit, I found a free utility app that helps with this, named “InsomniaX“.  It doesn’t come in a dmg file, just a heads-up.  It’s packaged in a tar.gz tarball which can be decompressed using archive utility.  That’ll drop it into the same directory as the tarball, and you’ll drop and drop it to your Applications folder.

It’s very spartan and almost invisible unless you’re looking for it.  It sits in the tool bar on top, and looks like a crescent moon.  The drop-down menu appears like this when clicked:
Screen Shot 2017-07-15 at 2.31.29 PM

That pretty much sums it up.  As you can see, I selected “Disable Lid Sleep”, and I am operating primarily on my external monitor as I would when plugged in.  The difference when using the power adapter is there is a selection in the Energy Saver section of System Preferences that reads, “Prevent computer from sleeping automatically when the display is off”.  If desired, InsomniaX also has selections in the Preferences area to disable lid sleep while on AC along with starting the application on login.

Screen Shot 2017-07-15 at 2.43.04 PM

Anyway, it’s a neat little utility and does what it’s supposed to do.  Always nice to share those things when you run across them.  Have a great one!

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New Set of Apple Airpods Bluetooth Earpieces

I’ve gone through quite a number of bluetooth earpieces.  The one thing I’ve found though is the quality was always subpar compared to normal wired earpieces, and my guess is due to the amount of power required normally to deliver a decent balanced bass.  The market seemed to have fallen on it’s head, and went the route of creating ear inserts and calling them earbuds.  This doesn’t fly in my world, since my ears hurt after using them along with creating compacted ear wax or even collecting on the earbud itself.  They never quite sounded right since it always seemed like they were intentionally pressed closer to the ear drum.

I decided to splurge and get a set of Apple Airpods since they act as headphones along with microphones.  It did hurt to initially purchase them due to the price being artificially high with Apple not officially selling them at their stores since the stock is severely low.  There was a seller on Amazon, and I ordered through them… for $60 more than MSRP.  After a week or two of use, are they worth it to me?  Yes.

Basically, they feel the same as the stock earpods, without wires attached.  Here is a picture of them with Airpod skins protective wraps along with Spigen brand earhooks covers for use on my motorcycle.  I have to say the Spigen earhooks do a great job of containing the Airpods into my ear while riding.
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And this is what they look like without the earhooks, which is how I use them when not on a moving motorcycle.

 

The reason they have sold themselves to me so heavily after using them is for several reasons.  One is that each earpiece senses when inserted into the ear, and alerts the device it is paired with.  This has been very helpful while listening to music and talking on the phone, since as soon as the earpiece is removed the music application senses the change and pauses as if the headphones were unplugged.  This also is helpful while on speaker – as soon as the bluetooth earpiece is inserted, the phone automatically switches over.  The integration with icloud is awesome, if you use it.  Using icloud, the Airpods can be migrated between iPhone to Macbook Pro to iPad to anything else using icloud.  Once the Airpods are added to one of the devices on icloud, it’s added to icloud and instantly added to everything else while being managed by icloud.  I’ve used this to migrate my Airpods between my iPhone to my Macbook Pro, then back to my iPhone after using them for what I needed.

The ability to switch between earpieces is a nice feature as well, and I use this feature while on long production-related calls now.  Using a single earpiece, Once I notice the battery getting low on power, I pull the other one out of the charging case and put it into my ear.  Then, I put the one I’d been using into the case to charge.  The battery in the case I’ve yet to entirely use through the day, and each earpiece I’ve gotten about 2-3 hours of active use (not standby) from between charge.  I’ve also noticed if used as simply a headset, the battery lasts much longer, usually 4-5 hours.

The container holds the earpieces perfectly, since it’s molded to fit and there is a magnetic holder at the base of the container to pull down and secure them.  This makes holding them in your pocket very stable.  The sticker skin that I have around it is mostly to break up the white color.

Until another business decides to make something that has the same ease of use, quality, and integration, I’d buy this again in spite of it being outrageously priced simply because nothing else offers it that I have seen.

EDIT July 29th 2017
I gotta say, these are my favorite set of bluetooth earpieces I’ve ever owned.  I’ve used them for conference calls, listening to music, listening for notifications while at work, etc.  One of my favorite features is being able to pull them out of my ears on an instant, and the music just pausing.  That’s great at work when someone walks up, and I can pull the earpiece from my ear and talk without fiddling with my phone.  The other thing I love is that I’m able to use them when I ride my motorcycle.  With the Spigen brand earhooks, I’ve been able to ride many times to and from work without the earpieces slipping out of my ears.  Now granted I have a windshield on my cruiser which cuts wind quite a bit, but not completely when at 70+ MPH on the freeway.  Also, the noise cancellation works awesome I’ve found.  You’d think with the microphone (on the bottom of the earpiece stem) being so far from your mouth that it would be a problem, but it does just fine when I’m talking normally to someone and there’s noise around me from others talking in the office.  I’ve used it out of the office too, and I haven’t had anyone have issues with hearing me.  In fact, most don’t think I’m on bluetooth, which in itself means a lot.  When I’ve been on long conference calls, I’ve been using one earpiece, and after 2 or so hours when the charge gets to 30-35% I put the other earpiece in my ear then charge the one I’d been using without any interference with the call.  The earpiece recharge only takes 10 or so minutes, and the charging container lasts for quite a few charges.  I went without charging the container for a week or so, only charging once in its life so far when it reached 40%.

The only complaint I have so far is how oddly my phone won’t connect with the airpods even when they are paired.  I turn off bluetooth and turn it back on, and all is well.  I spoke with an Apple store “Genius” (I hate that term), and she said the same as what I’d been doing.  Not sure why, but it’s a quick fix.

EDIT September 15th 2017
I still absolutely love the quality of the Airpods.  I do think Apple needs to work on the bluetooth pairing detection, however.  One thing I notice quite a bit is how iOS at times detects them immediately and other times I have to manually turn them on in the “settings -> bluetooth” area.  I still notice turning off bluetooth and turning it back on helps at times, so it’s definitely an iOS subsystem quirk that more than likely will be fixed as the audience gets larger.  I thought I lost my main Airpod set because I was in a rush and couldn’t find them in the morning, so I picked up another set at the Apple store. (NOT liking to buy them again, btw).  Ended up finding them at home, so now I have two sets and I’m using one set for my personal phone and the other set for my work phone.  With that being said, I’m using the work cell phone for nearly all work calls now, and it’s amazing during meetings.

New 2017 15-inch Macbook Pro

That time has come.  My old laptop, a 2011 Macbook Pro, has been upgraded and repaired enough times were GPU graphics card power was starting to become an issue with new not-so-advanced games.  After holding back so long, with the recent redesign of the Macbook Pro I figured I’d go for it and I’m glad I did in a way.

After a lot of exploring, I ended up picking up the new 15-inch Macbook Pro with 500mb SSD drive and 16gb ram.  The Intel HD graphics 630 GPU chipset holds up pretty well so far with the games I’ve pushed through it, though admittedly I’m not a heavy gamer and have only really pushed it with “Cities: Skylines”.

The 4x USB-C ports originally were a pain in the butt since I needed to get converters to connect, but I noticed it’s all about mindset when dealing with them.  There’s really no need to convert everything over to USB-C since there are plenty of USB hubs/concentrators for sale that plug into a USB-C port to power 3-4 USB ports.  The beauty I found was being able to put my power and HDMI cable into a concentrator, all into one USB-C port.  Since the plugs can never be inserted wrong, that makes it much nicer as well.

I wouldn’t say it’s been worlds different than my old laptop.  CPU is about the same (2.8 ghz i7 on the old laptop, 2.9 ghz i7 on the new one), both have 16gb ram and SSD drives.  The only real difference is the design being lighter/thinner with a much better monitor and graphics chipset.  Newer hardware is always nice, as well 🙂
The touchbar is kind of neat, but it’s not a big selling point for me.  I do like being able to hold down the fn key to see the F-keys appear on the touchbar, though.

So far, the battery does hold up decently, though it does chew through the charge when using the graphics with games.  Tonight with just web surfing and instant messaging, the battery life is about 8 hours.

There are downsides, however.  The memory is soldered onto the board, and the SSD drive is not upgradable.  That is going to be a major issue in the future, and I’m not looking forward to it.

New to bike to the group: 2000 Yamaha YZF-R6

After a couple of years to stabilize myself, I’ve found I’m not leaving the sport bike world. Even with my stratoliner cruiser, I’m still missing the nimble street fighter approach instead of the lumbering metal hulk approach of the cruiser. They each have their niche.  I don’t like the sharp angry looks of the newer Yamaha series of sport bikes, however.  I’ve had two R6 in my life, mostly generation 2 and they’ve been very good to me.  I decided I’d take this time to buy a used one that was in great shape for its age.  A 2000 Yamaha YZF-R6, with Vance & Hines exhaust and LED lighting.

IMG_1342This bike originated from Alaska, from a guy who moved to Phoenix and sold off some stuff.  The guy I bought it from was a young bright kid who bought it and put new cables on it, riding for half a year and got bored.  That’s where I came in!

Right now I’m taking time to put TLC in, and do things that need to be done with older bikes.  The front suspension was a little leaky so I had that resealed and front brake pads replaced due to leakage.  A brand new battery was thrown in as well to replace the one that was dieing after 1-2 days.

Since I have a prosthesis, it can be a little damaging to the paint during spirited riding since it’s carbon fiber.  I picked up a Stompgrip brand traction pad and threw it onto the gas tank tonight to protect the tank when holding on with my knees/legs.  I don’t have pictures since it’s a fresh installation, sorry.

I’m still trying to get used to keeping the RPM above 6000 since it’s been quite some time since I’ve rode in that range haha!  With this engine, that’s where the life comes in.

Ikon B1 Slant vs Maggard Slant for Scalp

My first metal slant bar safety razor purchase was a Maggard brand.  They modelled their head off of a model that the Ikon B1 was modelled from, as well.  I wanted to compare the two, so I purchased the Ikon B1 slant head & Ikon OSS handle from eBay.  The reason I did from eBay is because of the escrutiating price otherwise, since they normally are $120+.  On eBay I was able to get both with “cosmetic imperfections” that weren’t visible to me at all, for more than half price.

Coming into slant bar razors as a noobie, I researched them and how to properly cut with them.  Everywhere I researched said that with slant bar the pressure should be minimal, however for scalp hair I found this to be relative.  I began first using a bakelite style slant before purchasing the Maggard for this reason.  The weight of the Maggard slant head works nicely when there is minimal to remove on the scalp, however last night I was removing 5-days of hair growth and found out that weight is important when you are cutting that much hair.  I am not bald by any stretch of the imagination, so my head is a great test-bed for this.

I used the Maggard with thick shaving soap lather, and the head seemed to float over the hair and not want to push down through it as it passed over.  After 5-10 different passes, in frustration I grabbed the Ikon B1 slant and started using that.  The steel head gave it enough weight to drill right down through the hair and carve the hair off.  That was a huge litmus test in my eyes, and since I wasn’t putting my skin through undue scraping through multiple continuous runs over the same area I came away with very little redness.  I’m going to see if attaching the Ikon OSS handle to the Maggard next time will make any weight difference, or if the head weight is a major player.  So far, the Ikon B1 slant is a winner in my book.

Slant Bar Open Comb Safety Razor

I just recently decided to try a slant bar safety razor to see the difference.  I’m actually very impressed and amazed at the difference in cutting style between a straight safety razor vs a slant bar.

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Going through a fit of nostalgia, I ordered a retro razor made from bakelite material, and is also a slant bar open comb!  As can be seen in the photo above, at first glance the head looks very unique, but that shape holds the blade at just the right angle to act as a scythe/guillotine when making impact with the hair.  After doing research and finding the weight of a slant razor should be kept low, I decided to pick up this one from Phoenix Accoutrements. (Phoenix Accountrements)  This was probably the third razor I’ve purchased through them, and I’m yet to be disappointed.

Upon first touching it, most people would scoff and say it’s a plastic razor.  Bakelite was the first plastic used in the industry, and it’s light & durable.  It also has a feel unlike other plastics in my opinion, and that’s why I bought it.  The head and handle fasteners are actually metal, which makes it mount up just right with no worries.

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My first use of this razor was for it’s intended use: Scalp shaving.  Head hair can be kind of rough for safety razors to plow through, and after leaving my hair grow for a week I dug in!  With this model, very slight pressure is needed due to it’s light weight… but the word VERY is important.  Otherwise, the blade will do collateral damage.  Also, due to the extreme angle of the blade the handle is kept higher than usual.  This means it’s best to start at 90 degrees and slowly tilt as dragging across the skin at first to get a feel for when the blade makes first impact.  Unlike straight safety razors, the cuts are subtle and sometimes so smooth you don’t really think much cutting is happening.  To put it into perspective, I cut against the grain on first cut of my scalp and it was like a lawn mower removing a row.  The light pressure makes sure the head doesn’t float over the hair, but also isn’t so extreme as to cause skin lacerations.  After 1-2 haircuts, the learning is usually complete.

The nice thing is the ability to do multiple passes without severe irritation of the skin, since the blade isn’t causing such trauma as it cuts the hair.  This allows a more forgiving second or third pass, and once you have the learned part down then it gets even smoother.

I used a Feather brand razor blade with mine, however I’m going to experiment with Lord, Personna, and some others as well.

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The sounds that won’t cease

I’m sure there are many out there that might think I’m insane for mentioning such things, but I’m typing this for those that feel it too so they know they aren’t alone.  That constant scream inside at yourself, the one that is intolerant of everything you do.  That doubt that the step you are taking is correct, and that desire to make things better being the only motivator.

Over the last 5-6 weeks, I’ve unburied old feelings I had before 2008 which was a physical/mental/emotional/life changing period of my life due to an accident that nearly killed me.  I’ve thought about it quite a bit since.  I had a personal goal to actually make something of my life in special forces, and that was the pivot point which stopped it all.  With the last month and half of pushing myself physically, I’ve learned I’m still the same man I used to be and I am better than I ever was.  I’ve found that by abusing myself physically through different forms of physical exertion/exercise, the hormones change and dull the pain a touch.  It takes a while but it slowly makes that die away until you have that fire, drive, ambition to do what you can before it’s too late.  That being said, you’re not alone and that scream never goes away inside.  You just learn during that work, you are in control of yourself.  I may have said it in joke before but the mantra, “Pain is weakness leaving the body” really does hold true if you don’t fear pain.  Love is out there from me to you all.

And with that, as a single leg amputee with a military-grade prosthetic, I bid you farewell with this:

strong-enough-to-make-your-own-path