Seconds and Years

When you zoom out – when you see the macro – that's where you see change.

Seconds and Years
Photo by Ales Nesetril / Unsplash

The moment that the 2023 14" Macbook Pro with Apple's latest M2 Pro chip was announced, I immediately pre-ordered it.

My previous laptop, a 2013 edition, was struggling under the weight of modern apps. Unlocking the computer took ten seconds. Opening Firefox took thirty. An iOS simulator? Come back after dinner and maybe it'll be ready to use.

For someone who writes code almost every single day, this had been a pain to work through.

Of course when I first got it, a round of benchmarks were in order. Just how much faster was this laptop? How much better were Apple's laptops after 10 years of innovation?

A lot, it turns out.

  • 2.9x faster single-core performance
  • 9.8x faster multi-core performance
  • 10.0x faster OpenCL compute performance
  • 105x (!!!) faster Metal compute performance

Okay, these are synthetic benchmarks, but even from a real-world scenario, my builds and unit tests ran at least twice as fast. Not bad!

While I was definitely happy with the massive jump in performance, I also took a moment to look at the incremental improvement between the current M2 Pro CPU and the previous generation's M2 Pro CPU. Turns out, not much of a change.

Hmm...there's a lesson in here somewhere

In our day-to-day activities, it's hard to see the improvements we strive for.

You're not going to notice a difference after going to the gym once, or cleaning up some legacy code in your application, or going to bed on time, or journalling once, or buying a new laptop to replace your previous generation.

Looking back over a year, five years, a decade: this is where you see the changes. You'll be in the best shape of your life. Your codebase is clean. You wake up each morning rested and disciplined. You take frustrations out on the page, not on the person. And you see ten-fold improvements in the capabilities of your laptop.

Well-being is realized by small steps, but is truly no small thing.
– Zeno

That also means that you can't look to your day-to-day gains to motivate you to keep pushing forward. You can't see change on that small of a scale.

Don't compare yesterday to today. Compare last year to today. Or ten years ago to today. When you zoom out – when you see the macro – that's where you see change.