Under the Radar

Under the Radar 117: The iMac Pro

 

  welcome to under the radar a show but

  independent iOS app development I'm mark

  Worman and I'm David Smith under the

  radars never longer than 30 minutes so

  let's get started

  both you and I'm Marco had a I guess

  he's slightly belated Christmas present

  this year and that we both are I believe

  currently sitting in front of brand-new

  primary development computers

  specifically iMac pros and I think it

  seemed like an interesting topic to talk

  about both I think there's some

  interesting things to unpack a little

  bit about the machine itself I think

  it's probably also interesting to talk

  about why we both use this particular

  set up which i think is if I had a guess

  a minority of people use you know use a

  an iMac or in this case an iMac Pro as

  it as a primary machine versus using a

  laptop and then I think it's also

  whenever I get a new machine which is

  fairly rare you know fairly rare it's

  think you know it's not some nothing

  that I have to do very often it's an

  interesting opportunity to kind of look

  at my development set up see how

  portable it is and kind of take and take

  inventory and all the different things

  that you have to do just that one up and

  I think that process hopefully there's a

  few things to share and two to learn

  from there but first I think maybe a

  place to start is why do you use an iMac

  rather than a laptop as your primary

  machine I've done both like I've spent

  years as a laptop as my only machine and

  then just plugging it into a monitor

  keyboard a mouse like when I was at work

  and then bringing it home every day then

  this is a very very common situation

  people people use and and there are a

  lot of advantages to just having the

  laptop like that first of all you know

  cost wise you only have to buy and

  maintain an upgrade and and you know

  later buy again one computer you know

  there's a there's a pretty big question

  among a lot of people's minds about like

  do you need a laptop at all or can you

  just get an iPad but for a lot of

  developers that you know there is no

  question from the developers the answer

  is you can't do what you need to do on

  an iPad or it would be so cumbersome

  that that it would be you know very not

  practical for you so a lot of developers

  need laptops and so then the question

  only becomes do you have one computer or

  to know if you're going to have one

  you have a lot of advantages and things

  like you don't have to worry about how

  you sing file between them how you you

  know whether you set them up the same

  way and how like oh I forgot to install

  this app on this computer or it's

  configured differently and you can't

  quite figure out how the heck do I get

  Photoshop settings to look the way they

  look like my look I'm at the computer

  things like that like there's there's a

  lot of like pains in the butt around

  maintaining multiple computers that you

  if you just had the laptop you're

  totally fine with on the other hand when

  you only have one and say something goes

  wrong and you need to bring it in for

  service and be without it for a few days

  you are kind of out of luck and you know

  you have a problem in that situation so

  there are advantages both ways if you

  have multiple computers you can also

  intentionally set things up differently

  between them so you can have like you

  know your work desktop that it has

  certain things on it versus your

  personal laptop or vice versa you can

  have you know your windows will be

  preserved on your desktop and you can

  come back come down and you know sit

  down in front of it and start work

  immediately as opposed to you know

  plugging in your laptop rearranging

  everything you know closing the things

  we're running at home certain things

  you're running at work so there are

  advantages and disadvantages on both

  sides I personally find the ergonomics

  of a laptop for long term work pretty

  rough when it's used as a laptop so I

  find that for for getting work done all

  day I really want to be sitting in front

  of a desktop screen positioned you know

  away from my face by a few feet lift it

  up to the right height and then a

  keyboard that is low in front of me and

  a split organ ah McNall keyboard that's

  the style that I find most comfortable

  organ honestly that that reduces my RSI

  issues a mouse on once on my right side

  a trackpad on my left side so I have two

  input devices one for each hand this is

  the kind of setup I like and then the

  monitor should be as being as possible

  because that is directly related to how

  happy I can be in how productive I am

  with what I'm doing on my computer all

  that basically leads to you know either

  the laptop plugged into a big monitor

  and keyboard when you're working or the

  iMac and really either these options are

  totally fine but when you use a laptop

  as a

  stop it's not a very good desktop you

  you not only have issues with like you

  know just the pains of connecting and

  disconnecting every day and bringing it

  back and forth but then also laptops

  don't cool themselves very well under

  sustained load or especially if using

  clamshell mode where the laptop is

  closed and you're plugging the monitor

  and it really doesn't cool itself well

  they're usually louder when they're

  under low because they have these little

  tiny fans they usually have lower

  powered parts the laptops tend to lag

  behind the consumer imax in cpu

  performance by a couple of years and GPU

  performance by maybe more laptops are

  more constrained with things like what

  kind of storage you can put in them how

  much storage have what kind of upgrades

  how much RAM you can put it in the

  current lineup and then things like

  ports and peripherals and you know

  desktops to have more ports and

  different ports and better ports usually

  and so there's desktops can be better in

  a number of ways and I really like

  having both the the like reliable

  consistent set up where like my desktop

  screen never changes sighs so the

  windows are always in the right spots

  and everything's always like where I

  left it and and all the apps can stay

  running or not stay running or whatever

  else you can have stuff running in the

  background that like serves media to

  your house for instance because it's

  never asleep or never close or never off

  or whatever else so there's a lot of

  advantages to a desktop and I think that

  the decision is made even easier when

  you work at home for yourself then you

  don't have to worry like about having

  the same computer between work and home

  all these reasons I just really like

  having a desktop if you are a developer

  and you get a desktop computer the one

  you probably want is the iMac gotta say

  it's it's a great computer like even and

  for the last three years I used a

  regular 5k like you know non Pro I'm at

  cuz I'm AI Pro didn't exist I used a

  regular iMac and it's great it is you

  know they're pretty good machines they

  they really are very compelling with the

  features you get the the combination of

  like then I screen the 5k you know

  retina 5k resolution and this beautiful

  color or screen and everything and

  having everything be you know fairly

  tidy fairly all-in-one it's it's just a

  really nice overall package so

  I use an iMac in general and not even

  considering whether it's a pro or not

  because a it's a desktop B it's a really

  good desktop and and C I think it's the

  best choice and and in many ways the

  only choice

  in Apple's current lineup for the kind

  of things that I like yeah and I think I

  use a iMac for the same read many of the

  same reasons like I've used the retina

  iMac since like I bought a maxed out

  first-generation retina iMac like as

  soon as I could get a Retina screen in

  you know the 27-inch size I mean that

  was huge I remember how just at the time

  how amazing that was for things like

  doing iOS simulator work on the iPad or

  like the whole iPad simulator like it

  would just be any of this simulators

  honestly would just be these comically

  huge things it's like what I can have a

  retina you know monitor that's this big

  because that was what sold it for me

  initially and then I just got used to it

  and I really liked it and in some ways

  like some of the things are kind of

  silly like I like that my yeah like that

  my like I have a work set up and that

  works that up for me you know it's

  downstairs and when I'm at work I'm at

  work and I don't have a comb from my

  most comfortable place to work

  is down at that desk and I think it

  helps with a temptation to like work in

  other places or at other times when I

  maybe shouldn't be working because you

  know I feel very separate when I'm down

  here working and so like I can still I

  have a 12-inch MacBook that I can do

  work on it's certainly slower and

  smaller and not as good but I can get

  worked on there but it's it's

  uncomfortable and so it's a nice thing

  that I have like the super comfortable

  great place to work and then I have a

  place that I can work and then yeah I've

  just rather than dealing with the like

  don't try all manner of things for

  dealing with the kind of like the two

  computer problem I mean there was

  actually even a period where I had a an

  external drive like I bought a external

  SSD hard drive that I would boot from

  and so I would plug it into my iMac and

  boot from that for a boot from that and

  then if I wanted to use it on my laptop

  I would unplug it and plug it into my

  laptop and boot from it there

  which works like surprisingly well but

  it's just like in kind of mind-bending

  it's a little cumbersome cumbersome is a

  good word yes there's not the most

  straightforward and so instead I just

  well I just work for my iMac and it's

  worked out very well for me like I'm I I

  was a little bit skeptical to start with

  and I think I used to also come from a

  world where I used to having the the two

  monitor setup like I was a very I used I

  typically had like my previous setup

  often was the you know laptop up on a

  stand so it wasn't like organ ah mcli

  gonna cripple me and then a big main

  display that was plugged into it I liked

  having the two monitors but honestly

  once like once the monitors went retina

  I'd really don't miss having the two

  monitors set up anymore like I'd like

  having just one big retina monitor you

  know and from a peaceful perspective

  it's like I have four monitors I guess

  from a you know the number of the amount

  of detail that I'm able to to reasonably

  look at so yeah and iMac is the machine

  for me and really at this point you know

  it was just a question of should I stick

  with the the ret just a regular 5k iMac

  or you know now that there's a you know

  the pro model I am a pro you know is it

  something that I should go to and in the

  end I decided it made sense based on

  just you know a variety of things that I

  guess we'll get into a lot of him around

  performance and ports and just trying to

  you know it's like if I use this machine

  so much I want to make sure that it's

  the best that I can reasonably have

  because it's it's what I use to make you

  know my entire living so it may as well

  be a sharp tool exactly and moving back

  just a moment to the dual monitor thing

  I I forgot the first mention that foot

  like I too went through you know a

  period where I used dual monitors and

  you know and we're you know first one of

  them was the laptop on a stand and then

  you know a big monitor usually a that's

  when I was using 24 inch monitors next

  to it and then you know eventually I

  upgraded to the laptop with a 30-inch

  monitor which is the same resolution as

  27 s that are in IMAX and then I decided

  that you know after years of using dual

  monitors this way I learned that I

  really don't use dual monitors very

  effectively that

  you know one of them would always be

  like the primary and then this whatever

  the secondary monitor was like off to

  the right or whatever it was just like a

  junk drawer like I would just I would

  have like you know maybe I put like my

  email client or you know Twitter or

  iTunes over there but it's like that it

  didn't really serve any purpose I wasn't

  usually looking over there and it didn't

  serve any purpose that just like hiding

  those windows when I wasn't using them

  wouldn't also serve just as well like I

  didn't I found that I was not

  well-suited to do monitors I thought I

  was for a while and if I'm gonna have

  you know only a 24 inch size sure give

  me a second one but once I stuff up to

  the 27 / 30 inch size I realized that

  just having one larger monitor worked

  better for me and it allowed me to avoid

  a lot of just like bugs and OS weirdness

  around dual monitors certain apps still

  don't really behave well with dual

  monitors there are certain other issues

  like if one of them is your laptop

  screen and the other is like an external

  monitor then you'll have usually a

  different pixel density between them so

  like if you move the windows to the to

  the you know other monitor it'll appear

  physically smaller or bigger because the

  two monitors are different pixel

  densities and all sorts of you know just

  weird little like OS weirdness around

  having dual monitors where like clearly

  Mac OS supports dual monitors but there

  are certain things that get a little

  iffy with them or that don't work the

  way you expect or things like full

  screen mode that kind of don't work at

  all you know or have weird limitations

  and it's just the entire computer

  experience I find for myself and you

  know this is personal preference but I

  find for myself just works a lot more

  smoothly and better and cleaner with

  just with one monitor that is as big as

  it can be rather than having two

  separate ones yeah exactly and it's now

  that I'm used to it it just feels like

  the right way to do it and and if you

  don't never feel lacking for space yeah

  even when I'm doing you know have lots

  of windows open like I use a I think a

  tool cool call size up which I know

  there's millions of these but where I

  can easily make a window an exact

  quarter of my screen

  and I find that works really well to

  just be able to like keep it organized

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  our show so we both now have iMac pros

  and I think we have almost identical

  ones I know we both be both got the 10

  core model I believe and then I got the

  lower spec video card the 2 terabyte

  drive and I think it's 64 gigs of memory

  is what I ended up I don't know I had to

  check - it's like it's enough yeah I got

  the exact same setup but for gigs or 4

  terabytes inside a 2 terabytes in

  ancestry so yeah and so I mean I picked

  that configuration a little bit from

  your advice in terms of like the 10 the

  10 core seems to be a reasonable

  trade-off in terms of cost and

  performance and you know seem to be

  reasonable I got a base the base video

  card because I just I don't think

  anything I do is ever gonna really tax

  it or at least the if you know every now

  and then when I happen to do some Final

  Cut Pro work for like an app review or a

  youtube video and the export takes a

  little bit longer like it's so rare that

  that's not something I'm worried about

  but overall I think my initial

  impressions are that it's like it is

  noticeably faster it's noticeably

  snappier and like is it's a tangible

  improvement which you know you never

  really know like it's also at this point

  honestly it's the funny thing I've been

  using it for a couple of weeks and so

  now my main my brain is entirely

  recalibrated itself - this is normal so

  it's even hard to remember which is

  always something to keep in mind with

  these kind of improvements where you'll

  notice them for a day or two and then

  you just get used to it and then this is

  the new normal and so when it takes you

  know it's the things still aren't

  instantaneous or there are many things

  that still aren't like when I hit you

  know build and run it still takes a

  moment for Xcode to like do it stuff and

  so until those times actually go to zero

  it's still gonna I'm still gonna be

  aware of performance as a thing but I

  mean overall I'm very happy with it and

  I think I'm it's more it was just about

  it was time to upgrade from my my

  earlier computer and I think it's a it's

  a you noticeable upgrade whether or not

  was in a central one it's hard to say I

  think I was starting to notice some you

  know like my older computer every now

  and then would have some image retention

  issues or things like that that I was

  starting to notice that's like well it's

  maybe it's just time to to move on and I

  think the three years I think it had

  been since I got that computer it seemed

  like a reasonable time to upgrade but

  like it's a noticeable upgrade it's a

  good upgrade it's not like a

  mind-bending like wow this is amazing

  now I can do all these things that I

  couldn't do before but you know

  welcoming welcome improvement

  nethertheless yeah I don't have much to

  add I agree with everything you just

  said all the exact same experiences

  basically yeah and so one thing I both

  say that I do do like is I like the

  having extra ports on the back

  I found that to be quite nice where we

  have previously on the previous

  generation IMAX I only had four USB a

  plugs on the back whereas now I have

  four of those and four USB C or yeah I

  never know this probably that's under

  both three ports maybe as well it's yeah

  it's both it's their Thunderbolt 3 USB

  see ports

  great whatever those are the small

  skinny ones I have four of those as well

  and that's been a welcome improvement

  but like I plug a backup drive into one

  of those like I have a thunderbolt three

  backup drive that I plug in there and I

  do daily snapshots on to and so it's

  nice to not have to because the one

  thing that I can never find like I and

  you can never have enough USBA ports and

  I mean I even have one of them going

  into a 12 port I think mine's only ten

  port but yeah it's like because I mean

  and they're all every one of them is

  used because they're all going out to

  some test device or Apple watch or

  something so like I have so many things

  in here that charge via USB so it's nice

  to kind of have those and then I now I

  have this other array of ports that I

  can plug drives into and things that I

  feel like should be plugged directly

  into the computer because I never felt

  good about plugging my backup Drive it

  you know into the hub because I mean

  it's fine it's a backup drive but it's

  it's the kind of thing where you feel

  like a direct connection would be good

  for bandwidth purposes well and also a

  lot of times direct connections are the

  only reliable connections you know for a

  lot of peripherals a lot of adapters and

  hubs and things they are like 99%

  reliable but not a hundred percent

  reliable and for a you know for certain

  tasks that matters a lot like you know

  things that are related to like my

  network connectivity where my audio

  interfaces for podcasting I need those

  to be a hundred percent and you know and

  and you know my keyboard like I can't

  have my keyboard drop you know 1% of its

  keystrokes or repeat things or be weird

  and I've I have had those issues with a

  lot of hubs and adapters I've used in

  the past so I rent you know this is a

  much bigger problem on the laptops and

  the desktops especially the more recent

  ones but there's there's a lot of

  reasons why the port's that are built-in

  to computers tend to be 100% reliable

  whereas anything that's broken out with

  a hub or anything tends to not be quite

  a hundred percent a lot

  time yeah and so it's great to have

  those extra ones and as a brief aside I

  my main like the way I typically I'm

  working when I have when I'm developing

  is I'll have you know a iPhone depend on

  which depending what I'm developing and

  what I where I am you know one of my

  various tests iPhones you know plugged

  into you know plugged directly into my

  computer with lightning I know you can

  do the wireless version of this now but

  I just like the lightning version

  because I'm old and curmudgeonly but one

  thing I was curious was is if the USBC

  to lightning cable would be a faster way

  to do that process than the USB a to

  lightning cable and so this last week I

  actually did an experiment that I

  figured I mentioned on the show where I

  you know is just basically benchmarking

  how long it took to move files and

  things back and forth when it was

  plugged in via the USB C to lightning

  versus USBA to lightning turns out it's

  basically the same it's basically a wash

  between the two which makes me think the

  the bottleneck is on the phone rather

  than on the on the computer because

  clearly more data could be pushed

  through the USB C port to the lightning

  cable or the lightning cable is the the

  bottleneck but along the shorter is I'm

  feared I'd mention it here that it's I

  pre while I appreciate having the extra

  USB C ports because now when I can have

  a dedicated direct connection as my

  primary development plug it's not a it's

  not there for speed it's pride is there

  for a reliability and not having to go

  through the hub so you know he went some

  you lose some I suppose yeah actually

  minor feedback on that I would be

  interested to see if the test is the

  same if you if you're using a 10.5 or a

  twelve point nine inch iPad pro because

  those I think are the only iOS devices

  that actually have USB three support on

  their Lightning port as far as I know

  all of the iPhones and every iPad except

  the ten point five and twelve point on

  pros the the internal USB parts of their

  lightning plug are USB two and I think

  the USB a two lightning cables are also

  USB two cables

  whereas the USB C to lightning cable is

  USB 3 cable and the ten point five and

  twelve point I have USB C or have USB

  three as their interfaces okay so maybe

  it is just yes sir yeah I I was I will

  I was testing with an iPhone 10 so I

  didn't actually but I can certainly

  repeat the test with an iPad or iPad Pro

  and see if it works any better but not

  the 9.7 that's that still use me - it

  has to be a temper if I were to avoid 9

  anyway yeah that's and and I have I've

  found to like the wireless debugging I I

  like it but it's I don't know if it's

  like when I upgrade to a new beta or

  something but well it just stops working

  like I have to like plug in the phone to

  reconfigure it and so I just like it's

  kind of annoying yeah

  and that's not what you want like you

  don't want you don't want your debug

  cycle to be ever so ever save every so

  often just to stop working it's already

  the most inconvenient part of

  development is that sort of this the

  cycle where you're kind of you're making

  a change and then you're building into

  pulling it to your phone and then going

  back and forth so yeah I will continue

  to use a plug directly plugged in and

  now I'm using USB C to lightning just

  because now I can have you know I have

  an extra port that I can dedicate to

  that and it seems to work really well

  last thing I think it makes sense to

  probably close off talking about it I

  always find getting a new machine is

  kind of an interesting process just as

  it's an opportunity to see how portable

  your setup is and I think as a slightly

  more meta point like it's an important

  thing if you're self-employed to think

  about how portable your your setup is

  because you are going to be it's like

  you're responsible for being able to

  continue work progress irrespective of

  whatever is going on externally like if

  your computer if your computer has a

  horrible problem it has to go to the

  shop and for two weeks or whatever you

  have even if used you have to you know

  buy a new computer for some you know you

  spilled water on it and it breaks or you

  know falls off your desk or whatever

  like if something happens is you what

  you need to be able to continue to work

  and so it's an important thing I think

  to use getting a new computer as an

  opportunity to see how portable your set

  up is to see how quickly you can get to

  set up and going onto a new machine

  because you know it's you want to

  practice it when the stakes are low

  rather than having to practice when the

  stakes are high when suddenly like you

  know you're in a situation where you

  have a critical bug fix you need to do

  and then your computer dies for some

  reason and

  and all of a sudden you you're in a

  really big problem even if you went to

  the Apple store bought our brand-new

  laptop brought it home if you don't have

  all the files you need if you don't have

  if you're not kind of if your setup

  isn't portable in that way if you're

  entirely reliant on the data on that

  drive like you're gonna be in big

  trouble so hey it's always a good thing

  to keep in mind that I trust and hope

  that you have a robust backup solution

  that allows you to make this process

  straightforward that like I said I have

  a daily clone of my main development

  machine that I just always running and

  it means that if ever my you know

  something were to happen I will at most

  lose a day's worth of work probably less

  than that because of you know sinking

  and check-ins and things but at worst it

  would be that and it's a bootable backup

  so if I worst came to worst I could just

  get any laptop any Mac laptop ever plug

  my you know plug my back up into that

  boot from that and at least even if it's

  not as optimized of a setup I could do

  it there but anyway it's just worth

  worth mentioning and when I was doing my

  my my-my-my Gration to this new computer

  I tried to kit in a keep track of the

  things that become part of that and it's

  like I need to move over all my code I

  need to move over all my assets graphic

  design assets like Photoshop files

  things like that migrate my SSH keys so

  I can connect all my machines all my

  signing keys which you can there's a in

  theory Xcode makes much easier now with

  all of its tools but I in practice I

  found it still was a bit cumbersome and

  problematic but oh yeah it this is the

  import and export developer profile

  settings and xcode's account pane

  yes I've had great luck with that it's

  always worked for me it's like I always

  find that it works maybe should because

  I have so many apps but like I find that

  it inevitably there's some little thing

  that catches me out and I have to do

  something at a slightly more manual

  process or export the keychain from my

  old computer and move it into my new

  computer and kind of merge them together

  things like that but overall it's

  certainly gotten a lot better and that

  the automatic code signing stuff helps a

  lot with this too that at least once you

  have the base signing Keys transferred

  over then it can take care of a lot of

  if you're missing other profiles or

  things that can take care of that a lot

  for you now

  one thing that I do I have run into

  recently that I was kind of a funny

  thing is I forgot that I run a local

  development database like I have a

  Postgres database that's just running on

  my main computer oh sure and which you

  know it's like but it's I in my for some

  reason I got so used to the fact that

  all my databases are remote and hosted

  on servers that I've got totally

  forgotten that when I you know when I

  kicked up a development environment in

  this I can't connect to database it's

  like what do you mean you can't connect

  to the database and it's like oh right

  that's because the database is on the

  computer that's sitting on the floor

  next to me and so I can remember to go

  and get the actual like the data from

  the database and move it over into the

  into the new the new computer even

  though I had setup Postgres on it as

  part of my process one thing I like to

  do for this is keep certain files and

  scripts for doing new computer setup in

  Dropbox I have a whole whole Dropbox

  folder for basically like setting up a

  new computer and it concludes a couple

  of shell scripts for doing things like

  configuring homebrew and and installing

  the home the homebrew apps that I use

  you know on my Mac you know so that I

  can run that whenever there's no upgrade

  or whenever there's you know a new

  machine or clean install and and just

  like a like you know checklists I always

  look at KC's checklist and move into a

  computer that here on his blog willing

  to because it's great it could lose a

  lot of stuff that I might sometimes

  forget like you know D authorizing and

  reauthorizing certain applications and

  iTunes and things like that

  well yeah it's it's it's something that

  it's really nice to like write down

  keeping a list and keep that list

  somewhere that that you will find it and

  that's obvious like Dropbox and

  everybody that there will be steps to

  the migration process that you want to

  remember or that neo you need to

  remember that you will very likely

  forget if it's not in a list like you

  could in theory use like migration

  assistant or like make your make a clone

  and deploy that clone on to your

  computer but I really think the process

  of going through that checklist and

  going through and rebuilding is so

  useful and because it only happens every

  couple of years it's something that's

  worthwhile doing and I will say always

  keep a snapshot clone of your old

  machine and keep that drive like forever

  and I have found I've started he said

  habit I got into well

  I keep the last snapshot of every

  development machine I've ever had and

  even if I end up discipline you know

  getting rid of that computer I sell it

  or I give it to a friend or a family or

  whatever like whoever ends up happening

  I have a snapshot of that machine and

  the number of times that has proved

  invaluable for going back and finding

  some file but I thought I'd checked in

  but I hadn't and it's you know it's it's

  come back time and time again to save me

  so I highly recommend just take you know

  take a snapshot put it on a hard drive

  label what it is put it on a shelf you

  never know when you're gonna that can

  come into handy in the future so always

  yeah recommended practice it's a good

  tip all right thanks listening everybody

  and we'll talk to you next week bye