I drank the Kool-Aid (and more)

April 16, 2012 — 38 Comments

As I write this, it is Sunday afternoon and I am sitting on the couch with cold pills and kleenexes on one side, my dog Ritzy on the other, and my new MacBook Pro sitting on my lap. That’s right, I drank the kool-aid and picked up a new laptop for my 40-[mumble mumble] birthday.


MacBook Pro for Life of an Architect

This has been an interesting weekend … well, today has been interesting because yesterday I did 5 hours of yard work and then went into the office for the last half of the day – Saturday sorta sucked. On the other hand, Sunday started off with a bang … actually it was more of a “crash”. Around 2:30am Sunday morning, I woke up to squealing tires followed by a loud crunch. Ugh … no other choice but to go outside to make sure that someone hadn’t hit a tree and was in need of some help. They didn’t,  so I went back to sleep. I’m sure the image of me in my underwear will be with them forever.

At 8:00am Sunday morning, my daughter Kate and I were up and building a fort in our living room because a photographer from the New York Times was coming over later that morning to take our photo in front of our masterpiece.


binder clip for fort building

New York Times photo shoot with Life of an Architect

New York Times photo shoot with Life of an Architect


The funny thing about it was we had it all ready to go when the photographer showed up only to have her ask us if we would tear it all down and rebuild it so she could photograph the process. I have to admit I saw that coming but since building forts in the front room is kind of fun, we didn’t mind accommodating her request. So why were we getting our picture taken for the New York Times? That is a story for another day.

When that dog and pony show was complete, my entire family went out to the “computer store” so that I could take a few models out for a test run. See, I spend a lot of time on my laptop and the one I currently have is really old, takes about 43 minutes to boot up, runs so hot that several pairs of pants have caught on fire, and several of the keys stick … so if you found typos in the past, it wasn’t my mistake, it was the result of a computer malfunction. It was time to replace my long-time buddy and friend. My wife had previously bought me that computer for Christmas and so it was her idea to buy me a new one for this years birthday (which happens to be today – April 16th).

I had done a considerable amount of research but was still unsure which system to buy. I even put the question out to the readers of the Life of an Architect FaceBook page … and they delivered. I received loads of good advice and a few passionate emails telling me why I should get this computer or the other, normally accompanied by some tale of woe and bad luck, followed by love of happiness.

Fast forward a few hours and I was walking out of the store with a new 15″ MacBook Pro with a monster hard drive, loads of RAM, and a ginormous video card – all the things I am likely to need as soon as I started using it. In fact, I already had a post written for today but I wanted to experiment with the process using my new laptop so I decided to write this one.

One of the things I am going to have to buy is Photoshop – which I own for the PC but I am going to pony up and get a Mac version. I create a lot of graphics and edit a ridiculous amount of photos for these posts and the software that came with the system (as awesome as the salesman promised it would be) just doesn’t do everything I need. A good example are the photos I’ve attached below – these were taken using the camera on my iPhone but to use them here, I had to crop and resize the images to make them a little more web friendly. Picture size and resolution are just some of the things that makes a big difference when a photo intensive website loads. My site might be slow but it could be a lot slower.


modern infill project - front entry

exterior handrail - concrete and steel

modern project - side yard secret garden


These pictures were taken at the large modern house that I have been showcasing here on Life of an Architect over the past 18 months. We are 3 weeks away from completing the project and things are falling (maybe that’s a bad word to use for an architectural blog …) things are coming into place and it is getting easier to see what the final product is supposed to look like. We architects like to talk about certain ethereal things like “space” and “sense of enclosure” but as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Hopefully with my new laptop, I’ll be able to write those thousand words in half the amount of time that it used to take me. Thanks for indulging me with this post which was really about nothing – but hey, it is my birthday after all. (Unless you’re going to the AIA National Convention like me – in that case you can buy me a beer).




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  • Funny but awesome way for photography. I enjoyed this.

  • AJ

    Do you have any particular preferences to CAD software on a Mac?

    • I don’t – I just got my first Mac and to be honest, I don’t know how to use it yet.

  • Dianne

    Glad to hear you’ve seen the light. You won’t regret getting the best technology. And happy birthday.

  • rafael

    happy birtday and enjoy your mac

  • Tom Robinson, AIA

    Happy Birthday Bob, and I hope the blog gets even better with the MAC.  I love mine. 

  • Sara Lotz

    Hope you have an awesome Birthday! I also recently got a new computer (except I had to buy my own); as such I could not go with the Mac I really really really wanted and had to go with the more economical choice of a Samsung. After using a Mac for the last 6 years its a weird change. Enjoy your MBP!

    • Thanks Sara!

      It’s a lot different and will take some getting used to but I think I’m up for the challenge!

  • Steve May

    Happy Birthday Bob,  waiting in anticipation for the NYT article.

    • Thanks Steve,

      I will be interested to see what they use – for all I know they are just covering their bases and I might not end up in it at all.


  • Maryemabel

    A very Happy Birthday to you Bob!!

  • ADBurt

    If you need to scale a bunch of photos, I suggest setting up a script through Automator.  Assuming you need the same pixel size for all your blog photos, this is the way to go.  Here is one description of how to do it, there are plenty of other tutorials out there, too: http://www.gadgetseed.com/mac-os-x/10-how-to-resize-images-in-mac-os-x

    • I do a little bit more than just resize so I’m not sure that will get me where I need to be. I have received all sorts of really good advice today so it will take some time to sort through my options.

      Thanks for sharing the article – it does sound like it could come in handy!

  • Genie

    Congrats on the NYT feature! Also, happy birthday and congrats on the new MBP! To save you a little $, may I suggest Pixelmator instead of Photoshop for Mac? It’s a nice little Photoshop clone for under $30 in the App store. It works beautifully and it does nearly everything that Photoshop does and works with existing Photoshop files too. Unless you’re doing really detailed photo manipulation, it will do pretty much everything you need.  I love it. It works great for me and I built nearly my entire portfolio on it. Also, to be safe, I suggest you make sure to go to your security settings and turn on your firewall and encrypt your hard drive. Then, one final thing. I would download Little Snitch. It monitors all outgoing and incoming data. With the Flashback trojan scare, it’s better safe than sorry. Happy Mac adventures!

    • Thanks Genie,

      Because of you, I have turned on my firewall and encrypted by hard drive – all those thieves out there who want to steal my unedited photos beware – I will thwart you!!

      Checking out Little Snitch later tonight once the cold medication wears off and I am a little bit clearer in y thinking process 🙂

      Cheers and thanks for commenting (and for the awesome advice!)

  • Welcome to the land of the Mac. The KoolAid is so much better over here 😉 And the NYTimes, well you’ve got me interested!

    Oh, and I credited you in my post today for your mad kitchen drawing you did for me. Check it out!

    • I will check it out!

      You will have to wait on the NYT article just like me – if I make it in, you can be sure that I will let everyone know about it (because it would be cool).

      Cheers and thanks for the birthday wishes

  • Rick Nelson

    Happy Birthday, Bob!

  • Happy Birthday, Bob! April is a great month to be born in 🙂

    I second John Nicholas’s suggestion to use the Mac application called Preview for cropping + resizing + manipulating images. It’s also handy for working with pdf’s in lieu of Acrobat. Check out Apple’s support page for Preview: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT2506 and this eye-opener from UsingMac.com: http://www.usingmac.com/2008/8/5/10-handy-mac-preview-application-tricks. Fair warning: Preview doesn’t automatically save edits as a new file, but iPhoto does. Lots of tips and tutorials are easily accessible online. 

    Can’t wait for your NYT feature!

    • Thanks Gina,

      I have received a lot of advice so far and Preview has been mentioned several times so it must be worth checking out.

      … and April is a good month to be born in! Thanks

  • Happy birthday Bob!  Can’t wait to see the reason for the New York Times photographer.  You’ve piqued my interest.

    • Hi Joe,

      Thanks for the Bday wishes and my interest is also piqued about the NYT article. If I make it into the article, I’ll let you know!

  • Happy Birthday!

  • Wondyrad

    Happy Birthday Bob!

  • Before you layout money for anything, Try the cropping, resizing and color adjustment built into Preview!  It will take you about 2 minutes to try out.  All under the Tools Menu.  BTW:  I am jealous.  My mom made us build forts outside.  

    • John,

      If we were really building forts as opposed to assembling forts, I would probably have to go outside myself! Looking into Preview tonight – thanks for the tip-


  • Happy Birthday Bob!  Can’t wait to hear the NYT story 🙂  Have fun playing with the new Mac!!

    • Thanks Ginny,

      I am currently laying in bed surrounded by tissues but I am typing this into the new Mac (and I do believe I am typing faster than I normally would … it must be the Mac!)

      Cheers and thanks for the birthday wishes

  • Happy forty-something!

  • clasqm

    Unless you need CMYK separation, try Pixelmator or Acorn. 90% of Photoshop’s abilities for a LOT less money.

    • thanks for the tips – I am looking into all these awesome suggestions tonight!

      (a lot less money is a good thing)


  • Kathilu16

    Happy birthday