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By Jake Gooch

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Finding Our Way

Since I was a kid, every summer I've gone to the beach with a few of my cousins to stay at my aunt and uncle's house for a week or so. I've just returned from another week at "Camp OBX" and had a wonderful time. While I was there I finished illustrating a short story I wrote a last spring during quarantine.When I'm at the beach, life is good and it seems like I can just go with the flow and everything works out great. This feeling is part of what this short story is about. The other part is the question we all ask regularly; what am I doing? It feels like we're all searching for something, but sometimes we don't even know what for. Often times the things most important are already right around us: friends, family, and enjoying the simple pleasures of life.

➽ Finding Our Way

What's It All About: Metamodernism

Exploring how we got here and what comes next

Where are we and where are we going? We’re faced with this question every day and in every moment. This is the eternal question anything living must ask itself, it’s the “map of meaning”; at its most basic it might look like, “I’m hungry (a current state) and I want food (a motivated direction)”. This question in our lives mirrors that which we can ask of the society at large. We’re faced with challenges: a pandemic, political division, climate change and we’re faced with opportunities: the internet, space exploration, a better future. Metamodernism seeks to help us find our place in the present as well as point us towards a meaningful future. In this essay, we will try to understand the Metamodernism movement, and its relationship with truth and value, first by placing it in historical context and then by examining metamodernist productions and current events.

What Is?

Change is constant and our perception of reality is limited, yet we strive to make sense of the world and condense it into something simple and manageable. Humans have always faced the same core issues, issues such as love, hatred, and meaning. These everyday concerns are fundamental and even archetypal, and they are constant even as their manifestations evolve against the shifts in our environment. Since the dawn of civilization, the changes to the environment have been largely the result of our own actions. As an example, our need to form connections with others is constant, but our invention and adoption of technology has changed how we experience connection. Because of our ability to change our world, there is a cyclical nature between our actions, our response found in culture, and new ideas or consciousness which informs change in the future.

We’ve seen two of these cycles take shape since the 19th century; modernism and post-modernism are two established periods and lead to our present moment. Today, many believe we are in the metamodern world. These three periods are distinct and so to make sense of their similarities and differences, we will analyze how each of them solve one of the most constant issues mankind has contended with, how to make sense out of the world and how to find meaning. In other words how do each of these movements answer the questions, what is, and what’s it all about?

Continue Reading ☞

Mach 1

The First Batch of Apple Silicon Macs

A lot of people are starting off with the performance and speed of these new Macs but I want to start with battery. It's basically doubled. Doubled. Need I say more.

Onto speed; these new Macs are a big upgrade over the models they're replacing. The new M1 chip is what's powering all three of these new Macs, the MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and Mac Mini. It seems like the right first step, the lower end speced Macs with the Air being the only one completely replaced. The MacBook Pro and Mac Mini still have Intel options while the Air has two choices of M1: a 7-core GPU and an 8-core GPU.

The M1 is based off the A14. It's a 5nm chip and features the same cores as the A14, but more of them. The M1 has 4 “Firestorm” high performance cores and 4 “Icestorm” low power cores (compared to the A14’s 2 and 4 respectively). The M1 also has an 8-core GPU barring the Airs optionally chip-binned 7-core (that option doesn't exist on either of the other two Macs introduced on Tuesday). The M1 is more than CPU and GPU though, it has all the functionality previously in the T2 chip as well: SSD controller, Secure Enclave and support for TouchBar which is (still) unchanged. In addition to all that specific to the Mac, it carries over some features from iPhone and iPad like an Image Signal Processor which Apple said will improve the garbage webcam (slightly). The neural engine also comes to the Mac making ML tasks much faster.

Gripes

Limitations

There are a few downsides. First, I/O: there are two USB-C thunderbolt 3 ports on both of the new laptops and the Mac Mini loses its optional 10Gb Ethernet port. Second, they can only be configured with up to 16GB of RAM and start at 8GB. That seems plenty adequate for these base machines and Apple will surely improve in both of these areas with the next release of mid-tier Macs. I'm guessing that will happen at WWDC with a 16” MacBook Pro which is a developer favorite alongside the iMac.

Presentation

My second set of complaints are about the presentation itself. I'm not a big fan of the virtual keynotes. They feel over produced and too much like a commercial. Craig Federighi pulls it off best, but still, the live events were more fun and personable. Apple is continuing to give less and less details in their presentations as well. They make claims like 2x faster which begs the questions, “than what?” and “at what?”. I don’t doubt these to be extremely performant but Apple’s extremely opaque claims make average onlookers more skeptical and make me, well, annoyed I guess. Just another austere, user-hostile move in the Cook era.

Not for Me

Last little wine: I have to admit a part of me was hoping for a redesign. These Macs look pretty boring and lack some features I’m waiting for to upgrade. I want smaller bezels, MagSafe solution, Face ID and (while I’m at it) a glowing Apple logo.

A Shiny Future

Okay, enough negativity. These machines are awesome! They’re way, way faster than the models they replace (and quite possibly much faster than almost all of the Mac line) and they have amazing battery life. The MacBook Air is in better shape than it has ever been. A great screen, keyboard, battery life and performance all for a relatively attractive price and, by the way, no fan. The MacBook Pro has the same M1 chip as the Air but it does have a fan so presumably can tackle some heavier workloads without throttling. The MacBook Pro battery now gets 20 hours of video playback. If you were holding off for a laptop, these are what you've been waiting for!

I'm not as convinced on the Mac Mini though. It's just as performant as the MacBook Pro with a fan, and it's price has gone down by $100, but for the Mac Mini market, I'm not sure it's a clear win. For those eyeing Mac Mini's, upgradable RAM and a wide array of I/O was a big feature, and is now only available on the higher priced Intel Mini. This is fine, the higher end M chips are just down the road and this is a perfectly good computer, I just don't know how compelling it is to this market.

We’ll get some benchmarks and tests soon (they ship next Tuesday). In the meantime, it's safe to say this is the start of a very exciting time for the Mac. I can't wait to see what they do with the line over the next year and a half as they complete the transition and I think they're setting the Mac up for a fantastic decade of Mac computing.

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