Macs in Chemistry

Insanely Great Science

Multiple screens on a laptop


This looks very cool, with more people working away from the office sometimes screen real estate becomes and issue. This adds a couple of extra screen to your MacBook.



Keyboard for Macs


A while back the external keyboard I was using for my MacBook Pro broke and I've been looking around for a replacement. I know the choice of keyboard can be very personal, particularly if you are in a job where you are using it for much of the day.

After reading many reviews and trying a few out at various places I eventually settled on the Logitech MX Keys Advanced Wireless Illuminated Keyboard for Mac, at the time it was only available for preorder from Amazon. It arrived yesterday and I have to say I'm delighted with it.

The MX Keys for Mac is a full-sized keyboard with a proper numeric keypad and it’s backlit, the keys have a nice level of travel when typing and don't make the horrible clacking sound you get with some keyboards. This look and feels like a Mac keyboard, it has the command key in the correct place and usual brightness and volume controls. The keyboard feels very solidly built and does not slide when typing "vigorously".


It can be connected using wireless or bluetooth and both seem to work flawlessly. Apparently the keyboard can be used for 10 days with backlight on between charges, and 5 months without the backlight.

Can apparently be connected to up to 3 Macs/iPads with buttons on the keyboard to switch between them, but I have not tried that yet.


Backblaze Hard Drive Stats Q1 2020


A while back I wrote an article on Backing up data which seemed to attract a fair amount of interest. One of the things that was highlighted was the reliability of hard drives.

Of course the reliability of the internal disc drives can vary, fortunately Backblaze who obviously use a vast number of drives keep a regular report on hard drive reliability for both manufacturers and disk models/sizes.

The stats for Q1 2020 are now out on the Backblaze site, it does seem that the drives continue to improve in reliability.

The Annualized Failure Rate (AFR) for Q1 2020 was 1.07%. That is the lowest AFR for any quarter since we started keeping track in 2013.

The actual failure rate varies from 0% to 1.4% depending on the model so well worth having read before you purchase.


Apple updates 13-inch MacBook Pro


Apple updates 13-inch MacBook Pro with Magic Keyboard, double the storage, and faster performance.


I wonder if we will get a Touch Bar on an external keyboard soon?



Apple unveils new iPad Pro


As expected Apple released a new iPad Pro together with a new keyboard including trackpad.

Apple today announced its most advanced iPad Pro. Now with the A12Z Bionic chip, iPad Pro is faster and more powerful than most Windows PC laptops. The new iPad Pro adds an Ultra Wide camera, studio-quality mics and a breakthrough LiDAR Scanner that delivers cutting-edge depth-sensing capabilities, opening up more pro workflows and supporting pro photo and video apps. The LiDAR Scanner, along with pro cameras, motion sensors, pro performance, pro audio, the stunning Liquid Retina display and powerful apps, extends the lead of iPad Pro as the world’s best device for augmented reality (AR). The new iPad Pro is available to order starting today on With iPadOS 13.4, Apple brings trackpad support to iPad, giving customers an all-new way to interact with their iPad. Rather than copying the experience from macOS, trackpad support has been completely reimagined for iPad. As users move their finger across the trackpad, the pointer elegantly transforms to highlight user interface elements. Multi-Touch gestures on the trackpad make it fast and easy to navigate the entire system without users ever lifting their hand.


I do like the new keyboard/stand.


Remote working and videoconferencing


As more people are considering working from home it is worth thinking about how to make this work more efficiently.

There have been a few threads on twitter

One thing I would also add purchase a good quality headset because you are likely to be wearing it much of the day. I tried a few and settled on the Jabra Evolve 75, works with desktop, laptop, iPad etc.

And of course remember


Bluetooth Keyboards stopped connecting


A couple of days ago the keyboards to two of my machines stopped connecting correctly via bluetooth. I swapped out the batteries but still now joy. I connected a wired keyboard and that works fine.

In more detail

When I switch the keyboard on it appears in the bluetooth preferences and displays a message asking for a passcode, however typing the numbers does not appear to register.

Screenshot 2019-12-21 at 19.49.35

If I open up the bluetooth preferences I can see the keyboard and if I click the "connect" button again a dialog appears but will not respond to typing in the numbers.

Screenshot 2019-12-21 at 19.50.28

I have a bluetooth trackpad which connects fine as do my AirPods. The fact that this has seemingly happened to two keyboards connected attached to two different machines is perplexing. Spent an hour with the Apple Genius Bar but no joy, they would not connect to the machine in the Apple Store which I guess means it is an issue with both keyboards.

Tried deleting the bluetooth preferences, restarting, taking out the batteries for a day…

Any other suggestions?


Backup, backup, backup


This is often a time of year when people do some spring cleaning. Of course it always too easy to delete something that you may need later so having a good backup strategy in place is strongly recommended.

I was reminded when I saw the article in Nature recently "11 ways to avert a data-storage disaster. Hard-drive failures are inevitable, but data loss doesn’t have to be" Link.

I have a couple of types of backup, an archive that stores critical versions of files, I have copies in Time Machine, an external server and I use Amazon WebServices to provide external storage.

The second runs every evening and generates a copy of the hard drives and stores then on Amazon WebServices

The final type is the every day stuff and for that I use Time Machine, this gives me virtually instant access to accidentally deleted/corrupted files, this is stored on an external Synology server.

I recently had to restore a machine from a backup and was delighted to be up and running in a couple of hours.


LG UltraFine 4K monitor for Mac


I just had a look at the new LG UltraFine 4K monitor for Mac, looking at the box (image below) with the Mac logo, it seems likely that Apple were heavily involved in the design


A single USB-C cable (included) provides up to 60W of charging power to the MacBook Pro. And three downstream USB-C ports (480 Mbps) offer additional connectivity and power to compatible devices and accessories. There are no other ports.



Adaptors for the New MacBook Pro


The new Apple laptops come equipped with only Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports, I suspect the whole industry will standardise on USB-C pretty soon but at the moment there is obviously the need to support legacy peripherals. Fortunately Apple have put together a page describing most of the adaptors that might be needed. This includes standard USB, HDMI, VGA and Lightening cables. Remember up to six devices can be daisy-chained to each Thunderbolt 3 port of the MacBook Pro; and the Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) to Thunderbolt 2 adapter doesn't count as a device against that limit.

Also note.

MacBook Pro (15-inch, Late 2016) delivers full Thunderbolt 3 performance on all four ports.

MacBook Pro (13-inch, Late 2016, Four Thunderbolt 3 Ports) supports Thunderbolt 3 at full performance using the two left-hand ports. The two right-hand ports deliver Thunderbolt 3 functionality, but have reduced PCI Express bandwidth.

MacBook Pro (13-inch, Late 2016, Two Thunderbolt 3 Ports) delivers full Thunderbolt 3 performance on both ports.


Buying a new monitor


I needed to buy a new monitor and since Apple don’t supply one at the moment I spent a week searching through online reviews and then looking at a selection at various stores. Eventually decided to get the Dell P2715Q 27-Inch Ultra HD 4K LCD Monitor. Very happy with the selection I just hope Apple don’t announce a new monitor next week!

I should have noted that you have to buy a separate AmazonBasics High-Speed HDMI 2.0 Cable - 0.9m / 3 Feet (Latest Standard) Supports Ethernet, 3D, Audio Return . Also if you need a Mac compatible web cam, this one is highly regarded.