(Above: My new Retina MacBook Pro, shot with my iPhone, but there’s something missing that should be there).

It’s Game Day!
When you shoot an event for a sports wire service, they need the images from the game as soon as possible, and so during halftime I upload half-a-dozen images, and then immediately after the game, from the photographer’s work room at the stadium, I transmit (as it’s called) another 25 or so final images. They have free wireless in the workroom (and now, in the entire stadium for fans as I noticed on Friday), and there are power plugs and a counter to work on.

(Above: Another iPhone shot, this one of the Photographer’s Work Room at Raymond James Stadiums. Ahhhh, the glamorous life of a sports photographer. They really go all out for us. LOL!!! There are two rooms like this, side by side. Note the laptops throughout the room, all used for transmitting images during and after the game). 

Prepping Before You Leave For The Stadium
I’m going to have to properly identify each player (correct spelling of their name, team, position, and jersey number) for every photo I upload, and describe the action in the shot. To make things easier there’s a service you can subscribe to called “CodeReplacements.com” and it’s for photographers who use the program Photo Mechanic (which used by all pro sports photographers, myself included) and you import this generated team roster into the program and then you just type in the player’s number and it fills in everything for you. It’s amazing and saves a ton of time (totally worth the inexpensive subscription).

So, before the game I go and generate one of those rosters and load it into Photo Mechanic. Then I set up a metadata template in PM with all the details of the game (who is playing home, where it’s played, the date, copyright info, other stuff), and lastly I set up the FTP server to upload my files to the wire service. It’s takes a few minutes, but you’re better off to do it beforehand than rushing to do it at the stadium at game time.

Here’s where my problems began
I’ve got everything all ready to go, and I’m packing up to literally walk out the door. I’m excited to be taking my new thinner, lighter and much faster MacBook Pro to do my transmitting, and I grab the essential Kensington Security Cable and lock (you use this to physically lock your MacBook Pro to the table, so while you’re on the field, another photographer, or staffer, or passerby, doesn’t slip your shiny new laptop in their bag and it’s gone forever. Hey, it happens enough that every photographer locks down their stuff, just like you would at Starbucks when you have to go to the restroom).

It was at that moment that I freaked out, because when I looked at the side of my new top-of-the-line MacBook Pro I noticed that the tiny security slot that Apple puts in ALL MacBook Pros just for this purpose, is missing. It’s just not there (see the photo at the top).

There is no way I’m going to leave my new MacBook Pro unattended
I’m searching everywhere for that security slot (it’s about 1/16 of an inch by 1/32 of an inch, if that) but it is just not there. Now, what do I do! I go find my old MacBook Pro, which thankfully I hadn’t erased yet, and I frantically download a new CodeReplacement roster, and reconfigure the metadata, and I have to change card readers and now I’m running late, and sure enough I get to the stadium a half hour later than I wanted, and I literally just made it to the field before the team came out. Whew!

(Above: Here’s my old MacBook Pro so you can see the tiny slot for the Kensington Security Cable lock —- this is a really close up shot so it looks bigger than it is. Taken with my iPhone which does not need a security slot but should probably have one because mine slipped out of my jacket pocket in a taxi and it was gone forever). 

It gets worse
At halftime, I go to start the process of finding, editing, tagging and transmitting my files, only to realize that I don’t have the user name and password for the FTP upload to my wire service, and I don’t have time to get it (halftime is only 12 minutes for preseason games), so I download my images from my two cameras into the laptop so at least that’ll save me some time after the game.

After the game, I rush into the work room (we all do), while two cards are downloading, I’m going through my images and finding my “Picks” (shots that might make the final cut to be transmitted), and then I find them, launch Photoshop only to realize that I had deactivated Photoshop on that laptop when I got my new MacBook Pro (so I could activate it there).

Please, just for a moment, imagine the look on my face. It’s my first gig for this new wire service, I missed the upload during halftime (thank goodness this was a preseason game), and now I’m going to have to leave the stadium, drive 30 minutes home, and do my editing and transmitting from home. I’m really cranked, embarrassed, frustrated, and most of all…

…I just can’t understand how Apple didn’t include this tiny, tiny 1/32 of a inch slot we so desperately need!
This isn’t just a problem for sports photographers — it’s for schools that have MacBook’s in their labs, and at work, and anywhere we need to have our laptops secured (Starbucks) and now we have to find some other solution (and I’m looking at a few), but I would dearly LOVE to hear why Apple decided NOT to include this tiny slot. While they’re at it, I’d love to know why in Mountain Lion Apple decided to do away with the menubar Display menu, which is another thing that makes me shake my head, but don’t get me started.

There are other solutions (none of which I like so far, and the only one I like isn’t shipping until next month at the earliest), so there is an option or two, but now at least you know. I wonder what I’m going to do this Friday. My old MacBook Pro will need to go to someone else in my company (I think Brad) pretty shortly, so what’s my backup plan for securing my laptop this week.

Now, you’re about to learn exactly what an “Apple Apologist” is
I love Apple products. I have an iPad, an iPhone, an iMac, and two MacBook Pros. I’ve been an Apple customer since 1986; I’ve written books about the Mac (my first book ever), and the iPod and the iPhone (I have a book out on the iPhone 4s currently), and I’ve even written about Apple itself (my book, Macintosh: The Naked Truth, published 10 or so years ago became a cult hit), so I’m a pretty pro-Apple guy. I love their products, how they’re designed, and that they “just work.” However, when anyone (and I mean anyone) says something negative about Apple or an Apple product (as I have here), you will read people commenting on this post that:

(a) It’s not Apple’s fault they removed the security slot. Apple doesn’t make bad decisions. They are a perfect company.
(b) It’s somehow my fault for working in situations that require me to leave my laptop unattended.
(c) That steel cable and lock was no real deterrent, and could easily be defeated by a real criminal.

On that last point — that Kensington lock has saved many-a-MacBook Pro and you do have to be a real criminal, bringing wire cutters or having the intent to steal a laptop coming into the stadium to make away with one, and of course you still run the risk of getting caught. In the end, it’s far better than nothing, even if not “unbeatable.”

How dare we!!!
In 2009 Terry White wrote on his blog that he thought the USB ports were too close to each other on the old MacBook Pros (link), because half the time you couldn’t plug-in two USB devices at once. I totally agreed, and I had this happen to me all the time. Apple apologists lined up on Terry’s blog to tell him that it’s not a design flaw — the manufacturers just need to make their USB plugs thinner.

Or back when Apple first added the rotation gesture to the MacBooks and I complained that I kept rotating my canvas in Photoshop and InDesign by accident on my trackpad. I mentioned that I would love it if there was a way to turn off that gesture in the Mac OS, and Apple Apologists lined up to tell me that I was literally stupid for using Photoshop with a trackpad, and that “nobody uses Photoshop with a trackpad.” I guess nobody uses Photoshop on a flight.

The flip side
Because I mentioned Apple, it will also bring out the haters. There will be the requiste “You should be using a PC” and “That’s because Mac’s suck” and the whole “You’re locked into a closed environment and that’s what you get” stupidity, because mentioning Apple is like mentioning HDR, Nikon vs. Canon, iOS vs. Android, Sony or Bose — it just brings out the worst in everyone. If you own a Mac, or a PC. Nikon or Canon. You shoot HDR or not, you DO NOT have to defend your choice by attacking everyone elses. It’s OK to use the products (or techniques) that appeal to you. Grow up.

So why did I open this can of worms?
Because I want anyone to know who is thinking of buying a MacBook Pro with the Retina display, that something’s missing. It doesn’t have a Security Slot, and for some people (like me) that’s a real problem (and one I’m now going to have to deal with somehow). So, that’s it. A heads up, and here’s hoping that Apple adds them back in future models, and that someone comes up with as elegant a security option as Kensington did (who obviously teamed up with Apple on that slot). Hey, we can always dream. :)