Tom Bihn Ristretta: The Perfect Bag for Your Mac

A few months back, I wrote about my travel machine, the Macbook Air 11″. The bag I used to carry it around back then was a freebie that I got at QCon a few years back. Needless to say, it was cheaply made and it started to disintegrate. Quickly.

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I started looking for a new bag after seeing a nasty tear on the side the bag (I threw it out before taking a picture. Sorry.) During my search, I stumbled upon the Tom Bihn Ristretta for the Macbook Air 11″. After comparing it to other alternatives, I decided to buy it.

And boy am I glad I did![[MORE]]

The Ristretta is light, compact, has plenty of room for someone on the go, elegant, sturdy, and best of all, it’s “Made in USA!” If you love your MBA as much as I do, you’ll treat it to something awesome like Tom Bihn’s slick bag. image image

I currently have the following items in my bag:

  1. MBA 11″
  2. MBA charger with long extension
  3. Kindle 3
  4. Magic Mouse
  5. iPhone charger
  6. iPhone
  7. Three pens
  8. Headphones
  9. Eye mask (when traveling)
  10. Ear plugs (when traveling)
  11. A New Yorker magazine
  12. Business Cards
  13. Keys
  14. Passport bag (when traveling)

This is the perfect computer travel bag I’ve had to date. I have a feeling you’ll love it too.

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

Jobs is a Four Letter Word

Many people might mistake this book for a mere biography of the man that made Apple a household name and its products coveted by millions around the world. It’s not.

This book is actually three books in one. It’s a business book on how to (and not to) run a company using Apple, NeXT and Pixar as case studies. It’s also a history book on the ascent and the drama behind the consumer electronics evolution. And as its title suggests, it’s the fascinating story of one of the most gifted people of our time.

As a business book, Isaacson writes about three distinct business practices. The first is how to really create a company from scratch. The passion exuded by Jobs and Wozniak is detailed with infectious enthusiasm in the first half of the book.

The second practice (and one often not talked about in business books) is how to drive a company to the ground. The book is rife with examples of internal politics, lack of leadership and the absence of focus that truly illustrate how companies fail.

The last practice is how to build and operate a creative company that endures. For me, this is the most fascinating narrative of all. But to fully appreciate it, one must truly understand the first two, which almost always precede this one.

The book offers a great case study of three companies: Apple, NeXT and Pixar. One fascinating vignette in the book draws a contrast between Apple and Sony and why Apple was successful in conquering the consumer-end of the music business while Sony, who was in a favorable position to do exactly that, failed to do so. This story draws attention to the importance of inter-departmental cohesion that Apple possessed and Sony didn’t, to the success of innovation in a company.

Business leaders reading this book will learn a lot about the power of “focus” in business. Steve Jobs’s most doled out advice was “focus.” Throughout the book, we learn how Jobs followed his own advice to a deadly fault.

As a business book, it is amongst the best.

It’s also an even better history book. It details the ascent of personal computing from the perspective of the very people that were (and still are) at its helm. The book doesn’t only cover Apple’s evolution, but Full Article

Macbook Air 11″: The Perfect Travel Machine

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Background

Here’s the thing. I own a 2.5GHz / 8GB RAM / Quad-Core i7 / 512GB SSD Macbook Pro 15″ that I use as my main computer to do all the heavy lifting I need (i.e. image processing in Aperture, code compilation & building in shell, manage my 94GB iTunes library, …etc.) It is reliable and powerful and I love it. It’s also a pain in the butt to shlep around when I’m on the go. It’s heavy enough and big enough to be absolutely immobile, at least for me. Here’s what the word mobile means to me:

Mobile: (adj.) Able to move or be moved easily and freely without any additional physical, mental or emotional hindrance to the person initiating the move (i.e. me.)

What I really need is a completely mobile machine. A travel machine. Something to use when I’m on the road speaking or attending a conference or chilling on a beach in Mexico. This travel machine has to be super light, super small and powerful enough to get things done. It also had to fit into my travel messenger bag (right.) This machine has got to be more powerful and more versatile than the iPad, which I also own but rarely use, and much lighter and far less bulkier than my Macbook Pro, which I’m on all the time when I’m at home.

Why Macbook Air?

Right about now you’re probably thinking, “come on, can’t you just use the iPad?!” or “man up, dude, and just shlep your Macbook Pro around and stop complaining.” Let me address these two passing thoughts quickly before we move on with the rest of the article.[[MORE]]

Let’s talk about the iPad. As much as I’ve liked it at first, I’ve increasingly become weary of its lack of a physical keyboard and command-line access. I tried the wireless keyboard for a while, but it kept dropping off to the point where it was never reliable and simply useless. When I’m on the road, I oftentimes need to get access to work’s VPN or to update a piece of code on my Github account, amongst other things. The iPad is just not made to do these tasks effectively. You really need a computer to do that, which brings us to the Macbook Pro and why it too is not a viable solution.

Mobility (check definition above) is paramount when traveling. When I travel, I travel light. I almost never check in luggage unless I’m going skiing or camping. I have a carry-on and a computer bag. In the computer bag, I normally carry my passport bag (when traveling internationally,) my Kindle for reading, a couple of magazines, iPhone charger, a couple of pens, headphones and a point & shoot camera. That’s it. Trying to fit my Macbook Pro into a medium-sized bag proved impossible. I would have lived with shlepping around the extra weight, but I definitely didn’t want to carry around a computer bag big enough for it. So I definitely needed something different.

After months of thorough due diligence, I decided to go with the 1.6GHz / 4GB RAM / Core i5 / 128GB SSD Macbook Air 11″. This spec had just the right dimensions, weight, and power to be the perfect travel machine for me. Quite frankly, it’s powerful enough to be the main machine for most people (more on that in the parting thoughtssection below.) During my research, I had three main factors in mind against which I measured my options. Those factors were:

1. Portability

To me, portability means two things: light, small and mobile. That basically excludes all the machines in the Macbook Pro line because light and mobile they’re not. That leaves me with either the 13″ or the 11″ Macbook Air. Although both are lighter and smaller than the Pro machines, the 11″ machine definitely feelsmuch lighter than the 13″ model and fits perfectly in my messenger bag, while the 13″ machine does not. So in the portability department, the Macbook Air 11″ has no parallel.

2. Performance

Although I won’t be doing hardcore image processing with this new machine, I still need it to be powerful enough to handle Keynote presentations and the occasional image processing and code compilation tasks I’ll invariably end up doing on the go. So in that respect, the higher end 13″ and 11″ machines are good enough for what I needed. The mid-2011 update beefed up the processing power of the entire Macbook Air line that it rendered it comparable in performance to the mid-2010 Macbook Pros. That was a huge leap forward in performance for the Macbook Air and it made me realize that regardless of which Macbook Air I pick, I’m going to get a powerful machine.

3. Screen Size

The Macbook Air 13″ is the clear winner in this category. But you could get an extra inch on your Macbook Air 11″ screen real-estate by hiding the dock. This makes the screen feel bigger on the 11″. I also learned to appreciate the power of the two-finger tap zoom, which comes very handy on the 11″ screen. As a matter of fact, it was so handy it rendered the screen size category irrelevant in my decision.

Conclusion and Parting Thoughts

In the end, portability was the deciding factor for me. I decided to go with the higher-end spec of the Macbook Air 11″, and I’m glad to say it was the best decision I’ve made in a long time as far as electronics are concerned. As far as productivity on the go is concerned, the Macbook Air 11″ blows any tablet, including the iPad, out of the park. If you’re in the market for a new computer and if nothing you do requires serious processing power (i.e. image processing in Photoshop, video editing in Final Cut Pro, …etc,) then I highly recommend getting the Macbook Air 11″ (or 13″ if screen size is very important to you.) If you plan to make this machine your main computer, I highly recommend getting the Apple 27″ Thunderbolt Display to hook it up to. I have the older 24″ display and I love it. If you can afford to wait, then I’d recommend waiting for the rumored merger between the Pro and Air lines which promises to pack the Macbook Pro power into the Macbook Air body. You’ll get the best of both worlds, that’s of course if you’re patient enough to wait. Patience does pay off in this case 😉 In the image below, I put my Macbook Air on top of my Macbook Pro to give you perspective on the huge size difference between the two machines.

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Steve Jobs: 56 Years of Genius End Today

The man who has become synonomous with "WOW" is mourned tonight by the entire world; by so many people young and old. No one had touched so many so profoundly like Steve has with his imagination and beautiful products, one of which I'm using right now to compose this post.

When I first got word of Steve's death, I was numb. Everyone knew that he wasn't doing well, but no one expected him to leave so soon. I know it's odd since I never met the guy, but it felt like I lost a mentor.

To me, Jobs represented everything that's great about America. Her exceptionalism, her promise and her genius. His departure made me cry for my country and for her future. Inexplicably perhaps, but very real nevertheless. At a time with so much turmoil and divide in America, the last thing we needed right now was the loss of an American symbole of Greatness and Excellence.

But that's life for ya.

Rest in Peace, Steve.

Jobs

Steve Jobs 1955-2011