Crunching the numbers – When is the 2016 Skylake Retina MacBook Pro coming out?


It’s a story of two Apples: an Apple that makes consumer products and Apple that makes enterprise products. Devices under or around the $1000 mark like the iPhone, the MacBook Air, and more recently, the iPad Air are eagerly snapped-up by both Apple’s consumer and enterprise marketbases with equal voracity. But Apple’s more “serious” line of hardware where prosumers and enterprises regularly pay anywhere from $2,500 to $8,500 and beyond on a single device for a single employee is another story. A $2500 laptop or a $6000 workstation isn’t a spur-of-the-moment purchase that can be bundled into your wireless bill; it’s a (non-insignificant) portion of any company (or independent professional)’s hardware budget.1

It’s obvious why Apple loves to hold its cards close and keep as tight a lid as possible on news about its product releases, upcoming features, and new designs and then stun, awe, and wow the world which turns into a mesmerized unison of ooooohs and aaaaaahs as Steve Jobs or whomever is mimicking the world’s most famous, talented, and now several years dearly-departed salesman pulls out the newest iteration of an iDevice from a black top hat with a poof, lots of purple smoke, and a “one more thing” declaration.

But what’s not so obvious is why Apple refuses to play ball with its enterprise consumers that are looking for “boring,” run-of-the-mill updates on existing product lines, information on when certain features would become available or when hardware limitations would be lifted so that they can make their next purchase, be it a new $5000 workstation (monitor not included) for an indie developer or an order of fifty or a hundred $4000 laptops at your favorite tech company. While some of these are backed by VCs and are playing the startup game, competing to see who can burn through the most money in the littlest time with the least ROI and still con, err, convince more investors into another multi-million dollar round of investments, some of these are serious companies genuinely watching their bottom line and carefully weighing purchase dates and product update cycles.

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  1. Adjusting for quantity, that is. 

On the growing, intentional uselessness of Google search results

New Google LogoAs most people are aware, Google search results are constantly changing and evolving. In the past couple of years, there has been a conscious and very deliberate shift – and not just by Google – to go from showing you what you want to see to showing you what they want you to see. Be it social network integrations (Google+, Facebook connections, twitter feeds, etc), local results, results based off of previous queries (at least this one is in an attempt to show you “relevant” information), and more. This is all old news and has been hashed to death (and to no avail).

But in the past week or so, I’ve personally picked up on a rather annoying and dramatic uptick in incidences of Google’s penchant for – much like a three year old – understanding perfectly-well what it is that you want and pointedly doing anything but that.

I am speaking of course about the dreaded “Missing: important_search_term that seems to pop up in just about every search result, with an uncanny ability of picking the most relevant keywords and conveniently “forgetting” to include them in your search. Initially, this search feature was reserved for only the most esoteric of search queries that typically turn up only a handful of results (under a few pages total) with all search terms included. In an attempt to be helpful, Google would include additional search results with some keywords removed, so as to remove the burden of extra constraints and widen the search parameters somewhat. Now? It seems like Google’s either come down with a rather bad case of human-robot transmitted alzheimer’s or else we’ve reached an all-new high when it comes to dumbing down the web (newspeak, anyone?).

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srtresync: easy correction of linear drift for srt files

We’ve just open-sourced some code we’ve been using in-house in the form of srtresync, a smart and easy-to-use utility that can correct both traditional “fixed offset” errors as well as the more complicated “linear drift” issues that can affect srt subtitle files.

srtresync has been released under the terms of the MIT license, and is available on github, waiting to be forked and made even more awesome in the way that only open source software can be. It’s cross-platform (written in rust), and can be used on Windows, Mac, Linux, or FreeBSD. Use is quite straightforward in both modes, and the accompanying detailed README file should quite-easily double-up as a man file.

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Case-sensitive SEO URL redirects and routing for IIS and ASP.NET MVC

At NeoSmart Technologies, we have a special affinity for ecosystems running both Windows and *nix in unison, each doing things they excel at. Half of this website is running ASP.NET MVC under IIS 8.0, while the other half is running under nginx on FreeBSD, everything behind an nginx reverse proxy. Windows likes to make things easy for users by being a primarily case-insensitive platform, both when it comes to the local filesystem and the web. FreeBSD and Linux on the other hand, like most of the unix world1 are explicitly and unapologetically case-sensitive.

On the one-hand, IIS defaulting to case-insensitive URL routing means that your users are far less likely to a see a 404 “Page not found” error as a result of a fat-fingered or mangled URL (which as we all know can be the fault of either the user or the developer), but it also means that when Google’s spiders and ‘bots come around looking to index your content, you’re likely to wind up penalized for having duplicate content. The web itself is officially case-insensitive, and technically both and are completely separate, unique, and independent URLs that despite all semantical similarities share nothing in common (though you’d be mad to actually host different content on URLs differing only in spelling).

Welcome SeoRedirect, part of NeoSmart Technologies’ open-sourced Web Toolkit library, which provides case-sensitive routing for ASP.NET on IIS. With the latest update (freshly pushed!), SeoRedirect also gives you control over which GET parameters are also preserved, because apparently worrying about case-sensitivity alone just isn’t enough.

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  1. Mac OS X is a notable exception here, as by default it uses HFS+ in a case-insensitive mode, though an HFS+ implementation w/ case-sensitivity is enabled (but rarely used). 

A smarter month and year input field: solving the credit card expiry conundrum

Every computer-savvy keyboarder has run into this problem before: you’re typing your merry way through a credit card payment form, pounding out your address and credit card numbers, tabbing between the fields so you don’t waste time mucking around with the mouse, when you come across the dreaded expiry date fields:

Expiry Date Fields

You groan. You know what’s coming next. Your card expires in April of 2019. Are they expecting you to type ‘A’ for “April” or to key in “04”? Or maybe it’s just ‘4’? Murphy’s law guarantees that whatever sequence you try typing these options in, it’ll be the last one you try. You sigh. You either try the different options haphazardly, holding your breath and cringing when it doesn’t change, or changes to select the wrong value. Finally, you give up and move your hand those excruciatingly-far 6″ to the mouse, and sigh in despair as you resort to clicking on the drop-down box and scrolling through the entries to select the one you’re looking for.

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EasyBCD 2.3: Windows 10, EFI, and much, much more

EasyBCDIt’s our distinct pleasure to announce the release and immediate availability of EasyBCD® 2.3 for download. Development on EasyBCD 2.3 has been ongoing for the past three years as new functionality has been added and support for the latest developments in new operating systems and bootloaders has been polished and shined.

EasyBCD 2.3 features full Windows 10 and EFI support, and has been tested with the latest version of Windows under all imaginable circumstances and configurations, as well as many other operating systems and platforms, both big and small. From indie-sized micro Linux distributions to the latest major releases from Debian, FreeBSD, Ubuntu, SUSE, and more; EasyBCD 2.3 offers greater compatibility, more options, and better support while becoming even easier to use than ever before.

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CHS, LBA, and 4k advanced format drives

Modern hard drives are shipping with newer features, some of them more confusing than others. One such feature that’s causing a lot of head-scratching and confusion amongst the ranks is the new, so-called “advanced format” hard disks that are now shipping. Generally, these are newer SSDs as well as traditional “spinning rust” hard drives larger than 4TiB in capacity. What’s 4k all about and why do we need it? To understand this, we’re going to have to take a trip back in time and find out exactly how disks work, how an operating system talks to a disk in order to read/write from/to the disk, and see why the old way was broken and needed to be replaced with something newer and better.

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How-to: Upgrade to OS X El Capitan GM from a beta build

Apple has just released OS X 10.11 El Capitan GM, but users and developers running beta builds will not be able to upgrade directly from the App Store. In order to upgrade from a El Capitan beta build, for example, seed 15A278b to the El Capitan GM release 15A282b, you’ll need to jump through a few minor hoops first.

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Windows 10 Repair Install (in-place upgrade)

BlackPCGood news! With Windows 10, we finally see the return of the “in-place upgrade,” more commonly known as the ability to repair install!

Windows XP was the last version of Windows that had a true “repair install” option, allowing users to fix a non-working system by simply booting from their Windows XP setup CD and simply pressing ‘r’ when prompted to begin an in-place upgrade/reinstall of Windows XP that would replace damaged or missing system files, fix system misconfigurations, reset drivers, and more while retaining users’ files, applications, and settings.

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Explaining Windows 10 activation on upgrade with product keys from Windows 8 or Windows 7

blue-wallpaper_windows_10_hd_2880x1800Windows 10 is here. But unlike any other Windows release ever before, the situation with licensing and upgrades is quite different – and rather unclear. Who is entitled to a free copy of Windows 10, can you activate with your existing product key, what happens when you want to perform a clean install, how does Windows 10 activation work, who is covered by the free Windows 10 upgrade license, and more are questions going through everyone’s head.

Ever since Microsoft released Windows 10 last week, we’ve been receiving a flurry of emails pertaining to our free Product Key Tool for Windows, used to recover or retrieve the product key embedded in the BIOS/UEFI that can be used to activate a copy of whatever version of Windows your PC shipped with. And we’ve been replying to these emails on a case-by-case basis as our developers and testers have been putting Windows 10 (and by extension, its activation servers) through the works to try and figure out, all FUD aside, what really is the deal with activating Windows 10. Without further ado, here are our findings.

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