Billy Sangster

Stuff out of my brain

WWDC Part Five

Jings, I can’t believe how many blog posts I’m managing on this trip. I had intended doing a bit of filming, and I did get some footage, but sometimes the proper media for the exercise just presents itself. This time, it seems to be the blog that is the best tool.

During the conference I’ve been eyeing the computing devices of my fellow attendees with great envy. Everyone here seems to have relatively new Retina MacBook Pros or MacBook Airs, as far as I can see. With my (ancient in comparison) late 2008 MacBook Pro, I’m feeling a bit like the bairn at school who’s wearing last year’s trainers, the ones his mum got in the sale because they were cheap. I’ve been toying with an upgrade for months now, holding off until newer models arrive in case the one I buy ends up obsolete in the first week I’ve got it.

But every piece of tech will become obsolete at some point, so I think the best idea is just to jump in and get the highest spec current model you can afford. I decided that the time had come. I needed a new laptop.

I looked and compared prices online and found that the prices in the US were a good couple of hundred quid cheaper than they are back home. I looked up the ins and outs of paying duty (laptops are 0% duty when entering the UK) and VAT (20%), finding that it would still be cheaper to buy here than to wait until I was home again. I headed to the Apple Store.

Now, what model to get? I narrowed it down to two choices: Top of the line 13” MacBook Air, or second-from-top of the line 13” MacBook Pro Retina. I spoke to the salesman hoping he might point out something I hadn’t thought about to sway me, but he didn’t, so I finally came down on the side of the Retina. One new laptop purchased.

I was a bit disappointed to find that I’d been charged sales tax on top of the price advertised – not like in the UK where your VAT is normally built in to the total. Never mind, it was only a hundred and eighty quid, that probably levelled up the cost difference. But wait a minute, I could claim back the VAT at home, because I was buying it through the business. Ach well, I’ve got it now, have to take that one on the chin.

I went back to the hotel, unpackaged it and realised another caveat in the deal; The plug and adaptor were both made for US power points. I’d have to buy UK ones when I got back. Things were starting to niggle me about this purchase, but still, I put it in my bag, heading back to Moscone West where I’d set it up. I could install the betas of OSX and Xcode 6 and use it as a coding machine because all my documents and stuff were on my old laptop.

I set to work and immediately realised the third big problem with all of this; the physical keyboard layout was US. The return key is different, US models have the backslash key above it where we have an extended key. Also there was no £ symbol. A hash symbol was there instead, referred to as the “pound sign” in America, ironically. I finished setting it up though, but even thought I fell instantly in love with it (the screen is magnificent; it was insanely fast), I knew I had to take it back. With sadness, but ultimate relief, I went back and got a refund. One thing’s for sure, I know what my first purchase will be when I reach Scotland again.

Friday was the last (almost) full day of the conference. I performed my daily ritual of consuming a rather unhealthy high-calorie breakfast and watched the last three sessions. In between I even visited a lab for the first time. My old laptop is creaking with the strain of the new betas, crashing frequently in the midst of coding. The engineers couldn’t really help in that respect, however. He told me to file bugs against the crashes and hopefully it would be picked up in the next release.

So with a heavy heart I left Moscone for the last time. I know that coming to something like this isn’t your average sane person’s idea of a holiday, but I’ve really enjoyed the last few days.

I spent that afternoon walking around downtown San Francisco, visiting Chinatown and having a look at the gargantuan Westfield Mall.

I’ve got a full Saturday left, then I fly back on the Sunday evening. Time for a wee bit of sightseeing, I think. But first, I’m away to hunt out some breakfast.