For context, I have more or less stopped watching Apple keynotes because in my day-to-day life, I just don’t have the time to watch live and I usually have few motivation for watching the recording.

Whatever, I did watch the “Hello Again” event, primarily because I was sitting in a hotel room with plenty of time to kill. This time, I was even pretty interested in what was about to be introduced. That’s because I’m totally in the market for a new Mac, and my hope was that my new computer would be unveiled in the event.

After all, if Apple takes the trouble to organize a press event you can expect around 90 minutes of presentation. There’s got to be something to talk about1, it couldn’t be all about the rumored touch-sensitive function key replacement, right?

In the first segment of the keynote, however, Tim Cook went through a lengthy introduction of the TV app for tvOs and iOS, that is ironically not going to be available on the platform that this event was dedicated to. Off to a good start, I guess. No matter how often the line about “the Mac being in Apple’s DNA” is repeated, this was already starting to look bad.

And, frankly, it didn’t get better. It was all about the touch-sensitive function key replacement. Look, we have a demo. And then, another demo. And if you still didn’t get it, here’s another one. And then, a Jony Ive vide. Got it?

It was so much about this one feature that the low-end model that does not have a TouchBar was not even mentioned until it could no longer be hidden.

I went through all of this because I wanted to see the price points Apple was going to shoot for. That’s where my jaw finally dropped. These computers have gotten really expensive with this new generation.

Five years ago, I was able to purchase a mid-tier configuration 15″ MacBook Pro for less than the underpowered, bottom of the line 13″ configuration that is available from now on.

I did a calculation of what would be the lowest spec-ed configuration of the non-touch-bar model that I could call decent and came out north of EUR 2500. And this is not even taking into account the EUR 200 worth of dongles required to make the stupid thing usable. No way, Apple, no way.

Long story short, effective the day after the event, I’m officially out of the market for new MacBooks.

I will still use a Mac, but it will either be a years-old MacBook Pro, or I will switch to an iMac. You can get2 an SSD-equipped 5K iMac for pretty much the same money as a halfway decent configuration of the bottom of the line late 2016 13″, no TouchBar MacBook Pro.

All I wanted from the event was a decent, affordable laptop that I can run macOS on.

The worst thing about this is that it is not only me. I watched other people respond to the event, and I talked to some. And what what I took from it was that many others pretty much reflected my frustration about the situation.

On the bright side3, without the event and the latest product launches we wouldn’t have something as awesome as this hilarious “review”.

  1. Given the “hello {qualifier}” tag line 
  2. I should probably say: you can still get. I wonder how much longer this holds true. It is probably a good idea to act now. 
  3. And that’s how I usually like to close an article. 

Fiery Feeds

The category of RSS readers is one of those categories of apps on the app store that has one genre-defining member: Reeder. Iconic design (if not “opinionated”, as the say), advanced gesture control, packed with features, polished to perfection.

It is hard to be an avid reader of RSS feeds and not, sooner or later, come across Reeder on iOS or macOS. It is hard to find any flaws in the app. Granted, Synchronisation with the feed source may not be the fastest in the industry. Reeder doesn’t get updated very often1. Finally, for extracting truncated feeds, Reeder relies entirely on Readability being up and running.

Which it sometimes isn’t. In one of those periods of Readbility being down for a longer period of time, just a couple of days ago, I thought it would be the time to check out another RSS reader app that’s in my “Upshots” folder of apps that show potential but may not already be there.

Enter Fiery Feeds. I have it on both my iPad and my iPhone for a couple of months already, and used it here and there2. My early days with Fiery Feeds were not so much convincing, and every time I gave it a spin I returned to Reeder within the course of minutes.

However, Fiery Feeds gets updated frequently. And those updates, over time, really make a difference. Like I mentioned, Readbility had some downtime and I started to use Fiery Feeds instead. And this time it stuck, maybe because of Readability‘s prolonged outage I was motivated to spend the time to use Fiery Feeds in earnest, as opposed to halfheartedly doodle around until the real deal was back.

Let’s get this out of the way: Fiery Feeds is way less polished and perfect than Reeder, not even close. I had a hard time coming from Reeder, where you can start a swipe from anywhere on the screen and the app will just get it. Fiery feeds, in contrast, follows the general iOS pattern of recognizing swipes initiated from the edge of the screen only.

On the plus side3, Fiery Feeds is crazy customizable in terms of the reading experience, even in comparison with the generous amount of options provided by Reeder. Control over the options is also more fine-granular than the corresponding approach in Reeder. Also, full-screen reading in landscape mode, something I was missing more and more while using Reeder.

Reeder‘s sidebar is quite spacious, and that leaves only so much room for the article. Fiery Feeds gives you options to control the width of the sidebar in three steps. Set the sidebar’s width to “narrow” if you like that better. And it is possible to hide the sidebar from the article view entirely with the tap of a button.

Fiery Feeds doesn’t rely on Readability for extracting text from (truncated) feeds. The app relies on a server run by the developer that uses open-source software modules for text extraction. It is possible to choose between two different modules with different extraction characteristics.

I have to say that the results in terms of extracted text is quite good, in some cases the result is better than what Readability comes up with. Across all my feeds, I can totally live with the results.

Fiery Feeds has my recommendation, even if I may return to Reeder at some point. Let’s see.

  1. But hey, what’s the point of updating something that’s already perfect. 
  2. I think I was initially tipped off by the Twitter feed of Gabe over at Macdrifter
  3. And I have to say that this is really big in my books. I’m a sucker for customizable apps.