2 Weeks with a Macbook Pro 2017 in New York

Things change

Since I last posted, I’ve left my job of 17 years and started a new adventure with MongoDB.  My daily work machine  is no longer a Dell Latitude running Windows 10, but a 2017 Macbook Pro 15.  I still have my personal Dell XPS 13 happily running Solus and Windows 10, but how does the Mac stand up.


Moving from Windows to Mac OS would be a big leap, but moving from Gnome 3 to Mac OS is not a challenge at all.  Some of the keyboard shortcuts are different, some of the touch pad gestures are different, but essentially most things work just about the same.  That’s a very good thing.

Software Differences

Not having a package manager and having to go to websites and download things was a bit of a pain but easily solved by installing brew.  Windows not snapping to screen edges has been annoying me for some time, but I’m sure that can be solved.  Hitting X to close a window but instead the app minimizes to the dock and resets is actually closing confusing me daily.

The amount of times I’ve x’ed my web browser, then clicked it again a few minutes later expecting it to reload my tabs from the previous session, but instead being greeted with a fresh browser with no tabs.  So I mentally have to tell myself to do Command+Option+Q if I want to close something.

Hardware Differences

CPU/Memory and disk speed are as near as makes no difference.  I’m not going to complain about only having USB-C ports, I have one dongle with HDMI/USB-A and that’s enough.  My laptop is not connected to anything with a cable long enough for it to be a problem.

The keyboard is shocking.  I’ve tried really hard to get along with it, but it just slows you down constantly.  I used it for 2 weeks exclusively while in New York without touching another computer or external keyboard and still don’t like it.  I hope that changes soon as I type a lot.

Fingerprint sensor is great.  So quick and easy to unlock the machine when you have a complex password.

Touchpad is supposed to be amazing, buts its just average to me, nothing special.


You can get work done on this machine, you can install everything you need and get focused on the task at hand.  It would not be my first choice, but if your employer hands you one you’ll be very happy with it.  Just try get a Magic Keyboard/Mouse also.  Given the choice I’d go with a XPS 15 Developer Edition, but the difference is almost insignificant.


Dell XPS 13 9360

New laptop time!

My Inspiron 13 (7000 2-in-1) was a nice laptop.  It wasn’t the lightest but it was light enough.  It was a good size.  After adding an SSD is was plenty fast enough.  With the addition of the Killer Wireless 1535 and 8 Gigs of RAM it basically was just about perfect.  I had only a couple of complaints.

The screen resolution of 1366×768 was workable for everything except android VM’s and the soft touch finish was starting to come away in places and look worn in others.

I had previously set myself the goal of finishing the Android Basics Nanodegree in under 6 months. In order to get half the tuition back.  I managed it in just 5 months.  I took this money and added a little I had  saved and decided the laptop for me is an Dell XPS 13.  I went with this specification

  • Intel i7-7500u
  • 16 Gigs of RAM
  • 512 NVMe
  • QHD+ Touch Screen (3200×1800)

So far its been great, I like the keyboard, layout, touchpad, battery life.  I love the screen and the speed.

I’ll take some photos and talk about software development on it in a later post.

Killer Wireless in Dell Inspiron 7000 2-in-1

I’m unhappy with my wireless performance on my laptop so I decided to upgrade.  If you decide to do this it is at your own risk, I’m not recommending it, just documenting my experience.


I’ll explain why later but for now above is the new card (Killer Wifi 1535) and the old one (Dell 1708/Broadcom 43142).  Both cards provide Wifi and Bluetooth functions.


Taking apart the Dell 7000 2-in-1 is quite easy with care, you have no less than 10 Philips head screws on the base, removed them, then you need to (gently) pry the plastic base lose.  There are a number of plastic tabs all around the edge , I used a plastic guitar pick to free them, if you get stuck don’t push it, just try again from the other side, take your time.

And we’re in…

Before you do anything else, remove the 2 remaining screws holding the large black battery and take it out!

Between the fan and the silver coin-cell battery you will see our WiFi card with a couple of aerials attached (black and white wires)

Lift the aerial until they detach from the card.  Unscrew the black screw holding the card in place, the card will lift up at an angle, pull it out.  The new card is a bit longer because the old one doesn’t use the full slot available to it.  I would strongly recommend attaching the aerial cables before putting the new card in.  When they are attached put the card back in at the same angle, then push it down and hold it in place while you put the black screw back in.  (Magnetic head screw-driver or an extra pair of hands might be required)

Put things back together, battery first with 2 screws, then click the plastic back on, then put the 10 screws in the base.  Its tempting to boot the notebook/tablet before putting the plastic back on but I’d advise against running this machine open!


On booting Windows 10 the device was automatically added and installed as a WiFi card using a generic driver.  But we want the official driver and the Bluetooth driver also.  Download and install them and run through the configurations.

Initial testing:

This test is on 2.4 GHz channel 1 which has the least interference at my location.  From the same location in my home previously my best download was 67 Mbps, so already I’m seeing a 37% improvement in download in typical usage, upload is limited by the broadband connection.  5 GHz easily breaks into the hundreds, so both together (more on that in a later post) should be able to get 150 – 250  Mbps in normal usage.  100 Mbps should be possible at the edges of the range where previously I would get 20 Mbps.


The WiFi connection is faster and more stable, the Bluetooth is so much better for listening to music.  The combination of more stable network connection and Bluetooth connection means that voice calls and Skype is a far nice experience.

The old card was such a struggle to use with Linux, so I’m happy to report I’ve also had some success getting Arch Linux to work with the card, but that’s a story for later.