[Pre]ReMacBookless: The Saga Continues

Here we go again.
Here we go again.

Life is funny.

How often do we find ourselves in familiar situations, making familiar decisions, yet expecting unfamiliar results?

As I wrote a few days ago, I have been [Un]MacBookless for about a month. Since the famed HydraDock seemed close to shipping, I bought a MacBook (Early 2015) because I liked the hardware so much. Next, I scoured the internet for a couple of NOS Apple Cinema Displays, and bought them (well, one of them at least.

With the HydraDock, I figured I’d be able to have my cake and eat it too:

  1. I could have the exceptionally thin and beautiful and well engineered “MacBook One”
  2. I could have the exceptionally old yet beautiful and well engineered Apple Cinema Display for my codestuff

Pretty neat, right?

Well, Turns Out™: the situation’s not so neat. It’s not so neat because the HydraDock is—as best as I can tell—Dead on Arrival (DOA).

The HydraDock that Wasn’t, Isn’t, and Probably Never Will Be

Here’s the content of an email I got from the HydraDock people a few days ago, with the subject “Important update about your HydraDock or Roadie order from KickShark” (that doesn’t sound ominous—not in the slightest):

I’m sorry to send a group email and not personalized emails, but the Celery pre-order system we are using does not provide a way to send individual emails. You are getting this because we have a pre-order from you for either a HydraDock or HydraDock Roadie (or more), and we need to advise you about a delay.

Any email that starts with “I’m sorry” is most certainly bad news bears (or sad panda—whichever you prefer).

As you know these are pre-orders against a planned production run that is supposed to be happening now (last week, actually). That will be delayed.

So far, sonot so good.

The Roadie pocket hub uses the same electronics used by our larger HydraDock dock. And, when we recently began shipping the HydraDock to customers, we found out that it does not work correctly with a variety of third party displays, and has problems with charging the MacBook in some cases. Both of these are chip level software issues (called “firmware”). And, our team in China is scrambling to get a solid revision done for the component firmware, so that any next HydraDocks or Roadies we ship will not have these problems.

The short version is that we simply do not know if this is going to be several days, or a couple of weeks or more at this point. The engineers are tearing apart the code and working on a fix, but with no way to predict a completion date.

We will update you like this by email from time to time, so you know the status.

We’re sorry about this. But, we can’t ship products that we know won’t work correctly with some other products. We have no choice but to hold production and shipment until the fix is done and fully verified.

Thanks, I guess.

So the TL;DR of it all is that the HydraDock is delayed.


Air quotes because it’s been delayed before. Several times.

In fact, if you glance at the original Kickstarter campaign, the original ship date was June 2015.

June 2015.

That’s funny. I think it’s March of 2016, but I could be wrong? (Nope, I’m right—view source (Command + I) and look at the <time> tag. Sure enough: it’s March of 2016.)

I probably shouldn’t have put so much faith in HydraDock actually shipping. After all, the product was being manufactured in China, and after the first delay (due to manufacturing problems and Chinese New Year), it should have been clear to me that HydraDock was going to take a while.

And that’s if it ships at all.

Re-read the quoted text above.

Even if you’re a glass-half-full type of person, it doesn’t seem like HydraDock will be ready for at least a few more months.

I Hate Waiting

I don’t want to wait a “few more months” to use my Cinema Display(s).[1]

So what do I do? Easy, I sell the MacBook (again) and get another MacBook Pro (again).

I don’t expect any sane person to understand my carousel of Apple hardwares. (I gave up on that years ago, when instead of Apple wares, it was guitars.)

As crazy as I am to buy and sell Apple stuffs at this frequency, I’m not losing a ton on the turnaround. Apple gear retains a lot of its value, so it’s typically a wash.

An Opportunity to Try Dual Display Bliss

Once the MacBook gets here, I’ll run a Cinema Display out of each Thunderbolt port. I don’t currently have any Thunderbolt peripherals, but if I did, I could always daisy-chain the Displays. That might be a good idea.

I’ll be sure to post after receiving the MacBook Pro. I’m thinking left display for browser/text editors, and right screen for entertainment (I’ve mentioned this previously).

I could also do text editors on the right display, and just the browser in the left one.[2]

I’ll have to experiment a bit.

I Miss My iPad

Truly, I miss my iPad. I don’t enjoy the iPad Pro that Allison has (it’s too big for everything, unless you’re using the Pencil—in that case, it’s great). But I did enjoy “window management” on iPad.

Due to some recent work changes, I get up super early three times a week (between 4:30 and 5:00). I don’t need to get up that early, but my body got sort of used to it. Because I get up so early, I can’t stay up late like I used to.

So, after Allison goes to bed, when I used to be burning the midnight oil, I’m instead consuming.

I really, really liked this.
I really, really liked this.

What have I been consuming these days? Typically Tweetbot, Instapaper in the browser, and some sort of media in the background (music, or even movies/TV shows).

When I had my iPad, it was essentially the same: Tweetbot, Reeder, Instapaper, Safari, and typically, Videos or Netflix in the bottom right.

It was glorious.

I loved that I could easily anchor a window to each side of the display, and—here’s my favorite iOS 9 feature ever—I could effortlessly anchor a movie playing in the lower right (or upper/lower left—whichever).

I can’t stress how long I’ve wanted that on OS X.

Ever since I’ve been paying for movies via iTunes, watching movies is difficult on OS X. I used to just open the pirated .m4v in MPlayerX, and thanks to a handy utility called Stay, I could make it so that every time MPlayerX launched, it would open a window with the same dimensions/position as the previous window.

With iTunes, I can `undock` the media from the main iTunes window, but it’s quite finagled.

There is some hope: on a recent episode of The Talk Show with John Gruber, Eddy Cue hinted that iTunes on the Mac may be in store for an unbundling, of sorts.

Can we look forward to a separate Videos.app in OS X, like what iOS has had for some time?

That would be awesome.

But until then, I’d have to say this:

iOS 9 + iPad = window management bliss

Until next time ✌🏿

  1. I had offered to Allison that she can use the second big ol’ screen that I have (until the new MacBook Pro and/or standalone 5K display come out). This was because the MacBook (Early 2015) can barely drive a single 2560 x 1400 display—it couldn’t drive two, even if it wanted to.

  2. CodeKit has a nifty JavaScript-injecting auto-refresh feature, so when I recompile my static sites’ Jade/Sass, the browser will refresh to reflect changes. That’s pretty neat.