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Now is the worst time to buy any MacBook laptop from Apple

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macbook pro 2017 Apple

It is currently the worst time to buy a new MacBook laptop directly from Apple.

By MacBook laptop, I’m not just talking about the lightweight and portable MacBook. I’m referring to any model that Apple currently offers on its main website. That includes the early 2015 MacBook, the early 2015 MacBook Pro, the mid-2107 MacBook Pro, and the 2015/2017 MacBook Air.

It’s not just a question of age, even though age is a major reason why it’s not a good idea to buy some of these laptops. Some of Apple’s latest models also have unreliable keyboards, and it’s not an easy or cheap fix to get it repaired once the warranty runs out.

Check out why it’s not a good idea to buy any of the laptops you can buy directly from Apple right now:

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The current MacBook Pro models have unreliable keyboards that could cost you a lot of money to repair.

The current MacBook Pro models have unreliable keyboards that could cost you a lot of money to repair. Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

Just about everything about Apple’s recent crop of 2016 and 2017 MacBook Pros is great. The Touch Bar might be a little divisive, but you can buy models without the Touch Bar, or ignore it altogether. And the fact these models only come with USB-C ports is also a little divisive, but Apple isn’t likely to add all the ports from older models back onto its upcoming laptops.

The major thing that’s getting a lot of negative attention is Apple’s new “butterfly”- style keyboard on the newer 2016 and 2017 models. It’s a new design that lets Apple make thinner laptops, and it supposedly offers a better typing experience.

But some users – myself included – have reported that certain keys stop becoming responsive. AppleInsider also reported that the 2016 MacBook Pro keyboards with the butterfly-style keyboards were failing twice as often as older models.

In my 2016 MacBook pro, the “G” key became unreliable and would often skip when I pressed it. I brought it to the Apple store to get repaired, and thankfully it was still under warranty. Apple couldn’t simply replace the “G” key. It had to replace the entire top portion of my MacBook Pro, including the battery. An out-of-warranty repair can cost upwards of $700, according to AppleInsider.

Hopefully Apple fixes the keyboard issues in its next MacBook Pros. There’s no way of telling if they are, but if you’re looking for a new MacBook Pro now, it’s worth waiting until Apple comes out with new models to see if Apple resolves the keyboard issues.

The older MacBook Pro model you can buy, which has a better keyboard, is too old to justify its $2,000 price tag.

The older MacBook Pro model you can buy, which has a better keyboard, is too old to justify its $2,000 price tag. Apple

You can buy an older 2015 15-inch MacBook Pro from Apple for $2,000, which still has an older-but-reliable keyboard.

The problem with the 2015 model is that it’s from 2015. That means it’s running on parts that are almost three years old.

Now, that said, the three-year-old components in the 2015 MacBook Pro will work just fine, even in 2018. It won’t be as fast or future-proof as the recent models, but it’ll handle basic tasks well. But the other problem linked to the older parts is that the 2015 model still costs a whopping $2,000, which is a poor deal for an older computer, especially if you just want to run basic apps like a web browser, or if you plan on using the laptop for several years.

The MacBook Air is also too old, and there are rumors that Apple will soon announce an updated model.

The MacBook Air is Apple’s cheapest MacBook laptop at $1,000, but it’s an old and tired laptop in 2018.

The latest model that was refreshed in 2017 doesn’t actually have 2017 parts. It’s running on a 5th-generation Intel processor from 2014. To give you an idea, Intel is currently on its eighth generation of processors in 2018.

Even for $1,000 – Apple’s cheapest MacBook computer – the MacBook Air is bad value. It has a lower resolution display that basically looks fuzzy compared to Apple’s recent laptops with the company’s “Retina” display. The MacBook Air display also has comparatively poor color and contrast compared to the Retina displays on more recent MacBook laptops.

Plus, it’s rumored that Apple will soon release a new MacBook Air sometime in 2018. So, if you’re looking for a portable and capable machine like the MacBook Air, it’s worth waiting to see if Apple comes out with a newer model with better specs.

MacBooks are extremely light and portable, but they have the unreliable keyboard, and they’re expensive for their performance.

MacBooks are extremely light and portable, but they have the unreliable keyboard, and they're expensive for their performance. Apple

Apple’s MacBooks are incredibly light and portable, even more so than the MacBook Air. And that extra portability is reflected in its relatively high price tag.

But MacBooks also come with Apple’s butterfly-design keyboards and could potentially face the same issues as the butterfly-design keyboards on the recent MacBook Pros. Hopefully, Apple will redesign the butterfly-style keyboard to be more reliable.

For the price and despite their portability, MacBooks are also relatively underpowered and are only suited for basic productivity. They should only really be an option if you highly value their ultimate light weight and portability.

So what do you do if you need a new MacBook laptop right now?

So what do you do if you need a new MacBook laptop right now?
My refurbished 2016 15-inch MacBook Pro.
Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider

You can still buy Apple’s latest MacBook Pros, but you should go into the purchase knowing that several users have reported problems with the new butterfly-style keyboard. You may find that you’re one of the lucky ones that don’t encounter a problem.

Either way, I’d suggest you look at Apple’s refurbished laptops. They come in pristine condition and you can get a few hundred dollars knocked off the price of a new laptop.

As for the older 2015 15-inch models, I’d only recommend buying them from Apple’s refurbished Mac store, as you can get them at a better price that reflects their older innards than buying them new.

Same thing goes for the MacBook Air: Check out the refurbished Mac store. Better yet, wait until Apple releases a new model.

MacBooks? As I mentioned earlier, you could face similar issues that others faced with Apple’s butterfly-style keyboard. MacBooks are also expensive relative to their performance. But if you prize portability over everything else, MacBooks are the Apple laptops of choice. Again, I’d check out the refurbished Mac store to get a little discount.

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IT’S OFFICIAL: T-Mobile and Sprint are coming together to form a $146 billion new company to take on Verizon and AT&T

john legere t-mobile
T-Mobile CEO John Legere.
Steve Marcus/Reuters
  • It’s official: T-Mobile and Sprint have announced plans to merge, with a combined company valued at $146 billion.
  • John Legere, T-Mobile’s CEO, is expected to serve in that role for the merged entity, which would retain the T-Mobile name.
  • The agreement marks the culmination of four years of on-again, off-again discussions.
  • The deal is likely to draw scrutiny from antitrust regulators, considering the Trump administration’s treatment of AT&T and Time Warner’s attempted merger.
  • Sprint dropped by 13% in premarket trading on Monday, while T-Mobile slid 2.4%. Follow live trading on Markets Insider.

The boards of T-Mobile and Sprint have put the finishing touches on a massive merger agreement that values a combined company at $146 billion.

T-Mobile’s CEO, John Legere, made the announcement on Sunday by tweeting a seven-minute video breaking down the merger and linking to a website that further explains the combination.

Deutsche Telekom, which owns two-thirds of T-Mobile, would control the newly formed company.

—John Legere (@JohnLegere) April 29, 2018 //platform.twitter.com/widgets.js ” data-e2e-name=”embed-container” data-media-container=”embed”>

Legere is expected to be the CEO of the combined entity, which would keep the T-Mobile name and have headquarters in Bellevue, Washington, and Overland Park, Kansas.

The deal, which would combine the third- and fourth-largest US wireless carriers, is expected to come under serious scrutiny from antitrust regulators, as the Trump administration has fervently opposed AT&T’s proposed mega-acquisition of Time Warner.

The agreement marks the culmination of four years of on-again, off-again discussions between T-Mobile and Sprint; this is the third time the two rivals have tried to merge.

With a combined 127 million customers, the two firms are expected to compete directly with Verizon, the US’s largest carrier, and AT&T.

“This isn’t a case of going from four to three wireless companies — there are now at least seven or eight big competitors in this converging market,” Legere said on Sunday.

The agreement involves T-Mobile exchanging 9.75 Sprint shares per unit of T-Mobile. Deutsche Telekom would own 42% of the combined company, while SoftBank, which controls 85% of Sprint, would own 27%. The public would hold the remaining 31%.

Sprint and T-Mobile discussed a deal in November, but talks broke down amid disagreement over who would control the new company. A Wall Street Journal report suggests that SoftBank’s founder, Masayoshi Son, may have since become more willing to give up control amid mounting pressure on Sprint to roll out 5G technology.

“This combination will create a fierce competitor with the network scale to deliver more for consumers and businesses in the form of lower prices, more innovation, and a second-to-none network experience — and do it all so much faster than either company could on its own,” Legere said in an official statement.

Sprint’s CEO, Marcelo Claure, added: “We intend to bring this same competitive disruption as we look to build the world’s best 5G network that will make the US a hotbed for innovation and will redefine the way consumers live and work across the US, including in rural America.”

The all-stock transaction values Sprint at 0.10256 per T-Mobile share, or $6.62 a share, based on T-Mobile’s latest closing price, for a total of about $26 billion.

T-Mobile had a market value of $55 billion as of Friday’s close, and the two companies have roughly $60 billion of combined debt.

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People using their phones while driving is a huge problem, but a new iPhone feature is helping

Phone while driving Getty
  • 37% of trips include at least some significant phone usage while the car is moving, according to a new study.
  • But features like Apple’s “Do Not Disturb While Driving” can reduce phone use by as much as 8%.
  • The results show that small software changes on big platforms like Apple’s can nudge people to make safer decisions.

It shouldn’t be surprising that people love to use their phones while driving — if you commute in a car, you see it every day, either in your car or other people’s.

But it’s somewhat surprising how many people drive while distracted: there’s significant phone use during as many as 37% of trips logged by Everdrive, an app developed by car insurance company Everquote.

During those trips, people were using their phones for as much as 11% of the time, or about 3 minutes during a 29 minute drive on average, according to the Everdrive study released on Wednesday, which examined 781 million miles of driving data from sensors like your phone’s GPS and accelerometer.

But there is one silver lining to the study: Apple’s new “Do Not Disturb While Driving” feature designed to reduce distracted driving is working. Basically, if your iPhone detects you’re in a moving car, it will turn off all notifications and you can set an automatic text response to tell your friends and family you can’t respond because you’re behind the wheel.

Everquote found that 70% of people in its study kept the DND While Driving feature turned on after Apple released it last September. And between September 19 and October 25 last year, people with DND on used their phones 8% less, according to the study.

So it’s not a silver bullet, but it turns out a software update can reduce distracted driving.

Other interesting stats from the study:

  • States with laws prohibiting phone use while driving showed the least phone use while driving.
  • Drivers tend to make a hard brake on 25% of trips.
  • The states with the worst driving scores are Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Connecticut.
  • The states with the best driving scores are Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Alaska, and Idaho.

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A ‘Star Trek’ writer made a 1999 prediction that absolutely nailed what technology is like today

star trek screenshot/”Star Trek” (2009)
  • A column from 1999 went viral because its predictions are dead-on.
  • You have to read it to believe it.

An 18-year-old magazine column went viral over the past week because it’s just so good. The column effectively predicts the iPhone, Siri, and even Facebook’s privacy scandals — all the way back in 1999.

The prediction was made by science fiction author David Gerrold, who writes novels and used to write for “Star Trek.” It was shared this week by technology writer Esther Schindler. It was published in a now-defunct magazine called Smart Reseller, according to Fast Company.

Check it out:

—Esther Schindler (@estherschindler) March 28, 2018//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js ” data-e2e-name=”embed-container” data-media-container=”embed”>

What makes this so special is that not only did Gerrold foresee smartphones, but he also clearly saw the privacy issues that have come with them.

If there’s one quibble with the prescient column, it’s that voice assistants — whether Apple’s Siri, Google’s Assistant, or Amazon’s Alexa — can’t really do complicated queries the way Gerrold predicted. But maybe the prediction is still ahead of its time.

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San Francisco is so expensive that more people are leaving than moving in — and it could mean disaster for the nation’s tech capital

San Francisco
San Francisco is so expensive that more people are leaving the city than moving into it.
heyengel/Shutterstock
  • San Francisco’s metropolitan area lost more residents than it attracted between 2016 and 2017, according to US census data.
  • People are leaving San Francisco because of the out-of-control housing prices. The city’s median-priced home now costs $1.5 million.
  • The nation’s tech capital risks losing talent if they can’t afford to live there.

People are leaving San Francisco because, as they say, the rent is too damn high.

US census data shows the region that includes San Francisco, Oakland, and Hayward — a city in the East Bay that offers a quicker commute to Silicon Valley — lost more residents than it attracted between 2016 and 2017. And the migration is worsening in the Bay Area’s urban core.

The Wall Street Journal reported that in the year ending July 1, census data shows the area had a net loss of almost 24,000 residents who moved into other parts of California or the US.

The San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward metropolitan area lost only half that many residents the year prior. As recently as 2013 – 2014, the region saw net annual gains of about 15,000 people.

A critical lack of affordable housing and sky-high rent prices have made the San Francisco Bay Area unlivable for many artists, artisans, longtime residents, and even tech entrepreneurs.

The median-priced home in San Francisco sells for $1.5 million, according to Paragon Real Estate Group. It’s not uncommon for buyers to bid hundreds of thousands above asking and pay in all cash.

The situation has forced many to rent longer than they would like. In March, San Francisco’s median two-bedroom rent of $3,040 was about two and a half times as high as the national average. Still, people are finding ways to make it work. They cram into communal housing, or “co-living” units, that offer perks like maid service and free internet in lieu of space. Some give up their internet, cable, and cars, while others take home wherever they go by living in vans.

The housing crisis could put Silicon Valley at risk

The San Francisco Bay Area, recognized as a global hub of tech finance and innovation, may be at risk of losing top tech workers if they can’t afford to live there, even on six-figure salaries.

A recent report from Paragon Real Estate Group showed that the household income required to buy a median-priced home in San Francisco reached an all-time high of $303,000 in December.

Katherine Maher, executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation, which is based in San Francisco, responded to the report on Twitter, saying: “As a non-profit employer, I cannot see how we reconcile this with a future for our organization in San Francisco.”

She added: “Our local employees, particularly the younger ones, struggle to make ends meet. They leave when they start families. How can we be an equitable employer when only those who can afford to work for us, do?”

Brian Brennan, senior vice president at the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, told the Wall Street Journal that while the area’s high-paying jobs and lifestyle still bring tech workers to the Bay Area, “it is hard to get the best talent outside of this region to come here and stay here.”

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This is what your smartphone is doing to your brain — and it isn’t good

your brain on apps 1200px_bi graphics

Dopamine versus serotonin top image Samantha Lee/Business Insider
  • Scientists aren’t sure if technology is destroying our brains, but they’re pretty confident it’s addictive and can lead to depression.
  • It’s also slowing down our thinking processes.
  • And some tasks are better done off the phone, research suggests.
  • This is an installment of Business Insider’s “Your Brain on Apps” series that investigates how addictive apps can influence behavior.

All day long, we’re inundated by interruptions and alerts from our devices. Smartphones buzz to wake us up, emails stream into our inboxes, notifications from coworkers and far away friends bubble up on our screens, and “assistants” chime in with their own soulless voices.

Such interruptions seem logical to our minds: we want technology to help with our busy lives, ensuring we don’t miss important appointments and communications.

But our bodies have a different view: These constant alerts jolt our stress hormones into action, igniting our flight or flight response; our heartbeats quicken, our breathing tightens, our sweat glands burst open, and our muscles contract. That response is intended to help us outrun danger, not answer a call or text from a colleague.

We are simply not built to live like this.

woman phone smartphoneGarry Knight/Flickr (CC)

Our apps are taking advantage of our hard-wired needs for security and social interaction and researchers are starting to see how terrible this is for us. A full 89% of college students now report feeling “phantom” phone vibrations, imagining their phone is summoning them to attention when it hasn’t actually buzzed.Another 86% of Americans say they check their email and social media accounts “constantly,” and that it’s really stressing them out.

Endocrinologist Robert Lustig tells Business Insider that notifications from our phones are training our brains to be in a nearly constant state of stress and fear by establishing a stress-fear memory pathway. And such a state means that the prefrontal cortex, the part of our brains that normally deals with some of our highest-order cognitive functioning, goes completely haywire, and basically shuts down.

“You end up doing stupid things,” Lustig says. “And those stupid things tend to get you in trouble.”

Your brain can only do one thing at a time

Scientists have known for years what people often won’t admit to themselves: humans can’t really multi-task. This is true for almost all of us: about 97.5% of the population. The other 2.5% have freakish abilities; scientists call them “super taskers,” because they can actually successfully do more than one thing at once. They can drive while talking on the phone, without compromising their ability to gab or shift gears.

How dopamine and serotonin circulate differently in the brain Samantha Lee/Business Insider

But since only about 1 in 50 people are super taskers, the rest of us mere mortals are really only focusing on just one thing at a time. That means every time we pause to answer a new notification or get an alert from a different app on our phone, we’re being interrupted, and with that interruption we pay a price: something called a “switch cost.”Sometimes the switch from one task to another costs us only a few tenths of a second, but in a day of flip-flopping between ideas, conversations, and transactions on a phone or computer, our switch costs can really add up, and make us more error-prone, too. Psychologist David Meyer who’s studied this effect estimates that shifting between tasks can use up as much as 40% of our otherwise productive brain time.

Every time we switch tasks, we’re also shooting ourselves up with a dose of the stress hormone cortisol, Lustig says. The switching puts our thoughtful, reasoning prefrontal cortex to sleep, and kicks up dopamine, our brain’s addiction chemical.

In other words, the stress that we build up by trying to do many things at once when we really can’t is making us sick, and causing us to crave even more interruptions, spiking dopamine, which perpetuates the cycle.

More phone time, lazier brain

Our brains can only process so much information at a time, about 60 bits per second.

The more tasks we have to do, the more we have to choose how we want to use our precious brain power. So its understandable that we might want to pass some of our extra workload to our phones or digital assistants.

But there is some evidence that delegating thinking tasks to our devices could not only be making our brains sicker, but lazier too.

The combination of socializing and using our smartphones could be putting a huge tax on our brains.

Researchers have found smarter, more analytical thinkers are less active on their smartphone search engines than other people. That doesn’t mean that using your phone for searching causes you to be “dumber,” it could just be that these smarties are searching less because they know more. But the link between less analytical thinking and more smartphone scrolling is there.

We also know that reading up on new information on your phone can be a terrible way to learn. Researchers have shown that people who take in complex information from a book, instead of on a screen, develop deeper comprehension, and engage in more conceptual thinking, too.

Brand new research on dozens of smartphone users in Switzerland also suggests that staring at our screens could be making both our brains and our fingers more jittery.

In research published this month, psychologists and computer scientists have found an unusual and potentially troubling connection: the more tapping, clicking and social media posting and scrolling people do, the “noisier” their brain signals become. That finding took the researchers by surprise. Usually, when we do something more often, we get better, faster and more efficient at the task.

But the researchers think there’s something different going on when we engage in social media: the combination of socializing and using our smartphones could be putting a huge tax on our brains.

Social behavior, “may require more resources at the same time,” study author Arko Ghosh said, from our brains to our fingers. And that’s scary stuff.

Driving texting smartphoneFlickr/André-Pierre du Plessis

Should being on your phone in public be taboo?

Despite these troubling findings, scientists aren’t saying that enjoying your favorite apps is automatically destructive. But we do know that certain types of usage seem especially damaging.

Checking Facebook has been proven to make young adults depressed. Researchers who’ve studied college students’ emotional well-being find a direct link: the more often people check Facebook, the more miserable they are. But the incessant, misery-inducing phone checking doesn’t just stop there. Games like Pokemon GO or apps like Twitter can be addictive, and will leave your brain craving another hit.

Teens Texting Getty Images/Spencer Platt

Addictive apps are built to give your brain rewards, a spike of pleasure when someone likes your photo or comments on your post. Like gambling, they do it on an unpredictable schedule. That’s called a “variable ratio schedule”and its something the human brain goes crazy for.This technique isn’t just used by social media, it’s all over the internet. Airline fares that drop at the click of a mouse. Overstocked sofas that are there one minute and gone the next. Facebook notifications that change based on where our friends are and what they’re talking about. We’ve gotta have it all, we’ve gotta have more, and we’ve gotta have it now. We’re scratching addictive itches all over our screens.

Lustig says that even these kinds of apps aren’t inherently evil. They only become a problem when they are given free reign to interrupt us, tugging at our brains’ desire for tempting treats, tricking our brains into always wanting more.

“I’m not anti technology per se,” he counters. “I’m anti variable-reward technology. Because that’s designed very specifically to make you keep looking.”

Lustig says he wants to change this by drawing boundaries around socially acceptable smartphone use. If we can make a smartphone addiction taboo (like smoking inside buildings, for example), people will at least have to sanction their phone time off to delegated places and times, giving their brains a break.

“My hope is that we will come to a point where you can’t pull your cell phone out in public,” Lustig says.

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New leaked images claim to show the screen of a massive ‘iPhone X Plus’

iPhone X Hollis Johnson
  • New leaked images claim to show parts from a 2018 iPhone.
  • The photos show a large notched display that would reportedly be for an “iPhone X Plus,” a massive 6.5-inch phone said to be coming later this year.
  • The parts may not be for an Apple phone however, since the original post claims they were manufactured by LG rather than Samsung.

New leaked photos claim to show the screen of an “iPhone X Plus,” a 6.5-inch iPhone said to be coming in 2018.

The photos first showed up on the MacX forums, although the post has since been taken down. MacRumors saved the images and said the original post claims the parts are from an LG facility in Vietnam, and are part of a “trial run of production equipment.”

Apple is said to be releasing three new iPhone models in 2018: an upgraded iPhone X with a 5.8-inch OLED screen, a larger model with a 6.5-inch OLED screen, and a third iPhone model with a less expensive LCD screen.

The leaked parts would seemingly be for the larger, 6.5-inch iPhone X Plus:

—MacRumors.com (@MacRumors) February 25, 2018 //platform.twitter.com/widgets.js ” data-e2e-name=”embed-container” data-media-container=”embed”>

It’s clear from the photos that the screen is larger than the iPhone X but has the roughly the same size notch at the top of the screen. According to MacRumos, the part number printed on the flex cable attached to the screen is similar to Apple’s format. Still, there’s no way to verify whether these parts are legitimate and not made for an iPhone knockoff.

Plus, if the original post is to be believed, the parts were manufactured by LG in Vietnam. While Apple did reportedly invest $2.7 billion in LG Display to build the OLED displays, Samsung was Apple’s exclusive OLED supplier for the iPhone X.

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