You May Have Noticed…

…that I’ve been quiet of late. Not to worry. Ben and I have just moved to new digs and I’ve been too exhausted to even think about posting anything, but regularly scheduled programming will resume shortly.

Back to Mavericks

So much for my mouse problems disappearing. There are dangers to being an early adopter.

I considered myself lucky that I hadn’t suffered any of the truly horrendous game over problems being reported by other Yosemite Beta testers in the MacRumors Forums, but the mouse issue I’d previously reported had become intolerable. It had reached the point that not only would it spontaneously disconnect, it was often taking two or three reboots to get it to reattach itself. Way too much trouble.

Time to abandon Yosemite in its current state and revert back to Mavericks.

The reversal process wasn’t a walk in the park. Even though I’d dutifully backed up my Mavericks installation to Time Machine before I loaded the Beta, for some reason after wiping Yosemite and reinstalling Mavericks from scratch, Migration Assistant couldn’t actually use the backup. “No valid volumes found.”


Thankfully I’d used Carbon Copy Cloner to create an image of the entire Mavericks drive around the first of July and was able to successfully restore from that. As for data that’s changed since then, I was able to manually transfer everything back from my latest Yosemite Time Machine backup.

I’ve learned my lesson. I can wait for the general release. October isn’t that far away.

Aspire to Greatness

Depression is something so profound it transcends being a comedian (or even happiness itself). It may even be correlated with the profession. But hearing that Robin Williams—who if only unconsciously we all expected to always be with us—took his own life, does make you step back for a moment and ponder the entirety of the human enterprise.

Microsoft’s New Mac vs. PC Hyperbole

From Rene Ritchie at iMore:

Microsoft has three new Surface Pro 3 ads out today that, as promised, switch from trying to attack the iPad to trying to attack the MacBook Air. Given how heart-breakingly, bank-breakingly unsuccessful Surface has been to date, it’s hard not to sympathize. It’s also hard not to think repeating past strategic failures will only result in more failures. Instead of shifting from iPad to MacBook, maybe Microsoft should shift from attacking Apple to attacking the PC market?

Mac sales were up 18 percent year-over-year last quarter. The Mac has grown 32 out of the last 33 quarters. That’s against Windows PC sales that continue to be on the decline.

It’s incredibly tough to imagine anyone would leave a MacBook Air for a Surface Pro 3. More specifically, that they’d leave the ability to run OS X on hardware of that caliber for Windows 8 on anything. Especially because the MacBook Air can run OS X and Windows 8. Putting Windows on a tablet turned out to be a liability not a feature and it looks like the same is going to hold true for hybrids.

People who use Macs use them intentionally. We love not only the quality of the hardware but the experience and workflow enabled by the software, by OS X and iLife and iWork and all the OS X-exclusive apps by Panic and Flexibits and Tapbots and Aged & Distilled and SuperMegaUltraGroovy and The Iconfactory and, many more. That’s simply not attainable by PC hardware, and certainly not by the widely-maligned Windows 8.

It’s telling that “run Windows instead of OS X” wasn’t even suggested as a benefit in any of these three new ads. When Apple ran their famous “Mac vs. PC” series, OS X being better and preferable to Windows was almost always front-and-center.

Microsoft does mention running Office and Photoshop, but both of those apps are available on the Mac. Office is available for iPad now as well, as are really great detachable keyboards. They also suggest you need a paper note book to use a pen with Apple products, which, given the stylus market for iPad, is either ignorant or deliberately false.

I’m almost tempted to suggest Microsoft would be better off running an ad encouraging OS X customers to buy a Windows license for their Macs, to get the “best of both worlds”, but again, given how poorly Windows 8 has been received, that probably wouldn’t help very much. Maybe focus on Bootcamp and gaming?

I’m even more tempted to suggest Microsoft shouldn’t focus on Apple at all, and go gunning for Dell, HP, Lenovo, and other PC vendors instead. People who buy PC laptops and hybrids are already Windows-only customers. All the things Microsoft is actually showing off in their ads — great specs, capacitive touch, pen input, etc. are probably something Windows-only customers would be really interested in. Hell, for anyone used to the creaky plastic and gaudy stickers of many Windows laptops, Surface could be a welcome upgrade. Even for people with higher end PC ultrabooks, getting something not painfully, slavishly derived from Apple design could be a breath of fresh air.

Given the politics involved in Microsoft’s OEM partnerships, however, I don’t think we’ll ever see that happen.


The Absurdity Runs Deep

“The absurdity runs deep: America is using American military equipment to bomb other pieces of American military equipment halfway around the world. The reason the American military equipment got there in the first place was because, in 2003, the US had to use its military to rebuild the Iraqi army, which it just finished destroying with the American military. The American weapons the US gave the Iraqi army totally failed at making Iraq secure and have become tools of terror used by an offshoot of al-Qaeda to terrorize the Iraqis that the US supposedly liberated a decade ago. And so now the US has to use American weaponry to destroy the American weaponry it gave Iraqis to make Iraqis safer, in order to make Iraqis safer.
It’s not just ironic; it’s a symbol of how disastrous the last 15 years of US Iraq policy have been, how circuitous and self-perpetuating the violence, that we are now bombing our own guns. Welcome to American grand strategy in the Middle East.”

Vox: The US bombing its own guns perfectly sums up America’s total failure in Iraq

A Little Over Two Weeks In…

And so far, so good. A few little glitches here and there (all of which I’ve dutifully reported back to Apple) but overall Yosemite has been much more stable than I’d anticipated it would be.

The biggest problem I’ve encountered has been the spontaneous dropping of the connection to my Bluetooth mouse and the subsequent refusal to reconnect, requiring a complete reboot. I’m not a hundred percent sure this wasn’t a problem with the mouse itself, because it the poor thing was four years old and this behavior had been happening occasionally under Mavericks, but to rule out the mouse itself we bought a new one and the problem has disappeared for the most part.

Other issues have been mostly graphics related: items not aligning properly, text overshooting other elements in windows or being cut off, inconsistencies in what is translucent versus what is not from application to application; things that don’t prevent me from productively using the OS, but definitely need to be addressed before this is shipped.

In short, I’m still very impressed what Apple has done here.

What Does It Mean?

Last night I dreamt that I met George Takei and Elton John (although not at the same time). I think William Shatner was also there for a moment, but only making bitchy comments toward George.

Elton was working as a waiter in a restaurant to raise money for some charity. He gave me his phone number and told me to call him to talk about music.

Desert Breath

Located near the Red Sea in El Gouna, Egypt, Desert Breath is an impossibly immense land art installation dug into the sands of the Sahara desert by the D.A.ST. Arteam back in 1997. The artwork was a collaborative effort spanning two years between installation artist Danae Stratou, industrial designer Alexandra Stratou, and architect Stella Constantinides, and was meant as an exploration of infinity against the backdrop of the largest African desert. Covering an area of about 1 million square feet (100,000 square meters) the piece involved the displacement of 280,000 square feet (8,000 square meters) of sand and the creation of a large central pool of water.

First Photos of One of the Solar System’s Craziest Objects

In March 2004, the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft left Earth in pursuit of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Today, more than 10 years and four billion miles later, Rosetta became the first spacecraft in history to rendezvous with a comet. The probe is now soaring through space in tandem with its target—and the view is incredible.

In November, from a projected orbital distance of just 2.5 km, Rosetta will deposit a lander on the comet’s surface—all this in preparation for 67P’s closest pass of the Sun in more than six years. As it swings around our parent star, the mass of ice and dust will warm, shedding bits of itself along the way; Rosetta—and Philae, the lander—will have unprecedented front row seats to the show.


“For everyone who hates Yosemite, I have a perfect solution for you. Don’t upgrade and don’t complain. This is the new interface, so accept it or keep the version you have. It’s hard to believe that some of you are arguing because some people just don’t like Apple the way others think they should. It doesn’t matter how long or how short we’ve been using OS X. We’re here to appreciate the progress and submit constructive feedback directly to Apple whenever appropriate.” ~ DaJoNel at the MacRumors Forums

Who Even Buys Physical Media Anymore?

I think it’s a legitimate question, and one that popped into my head while inventorying about two dozen BlueRay players that were unceremoniously dumped into our department the other day. They were mostly prototype units provided by manufacturers for testing, or outright trash…ridden hard and put away wet by Testing & Quality Assurance, but one or two (a Yamaha A-1000 in decent condition for instance) caught my eye and I found myself thinking that since we don’t actually own a BlueRay player I should probably keep it in mind when the department does its annual garage sale—especially since we get first dibs on anything being sold and can probably snag it for ten dollars or so.

But then I thought, “Why?”

I haven’t bought a DVD since Prometheus (yeah, yeah, I know…) came out, and with the exception of The Aadams Family/Adams Family Values disk that Ben got me after catching it on TV one night a couple months ago, we haven’t purchased any physical media at all.

It’s kind of funny, actually. Back in 2005 or thereabouts when iPods were first becoming “mainstream,” I was a holdout. I owned hundreds of CDs, and my holier-than-thou audiophile attitude was that MP3 encoding was shit. I was still using minidisks for my portable and in-car needs, and I couldn’t fathom getting rid of physical media. I mean, I grew up in the age of vinyl, for chrissake!

But then I met Ben, and things changed.

I bought my first iPod a few months after I got my first Mac and found myself loving it. Maybe there were a few sonic glitches here and there, but I also realized that my high-range hearing wasn’t what it was 20 years ago and I couldn’t really hear the difference anyway.

Suddenly (or rather, not so suddenly, as it took months to rip all those CDs) I was able to carry my entire CD collection around with me. I then started ripping vinyl, and not very long afterward (okay, it was a couple years) I had my entire collection in my pocket.

Something similar is happening with my relationship to video, although I’ve never been as intimately involved with movies as I was with music. At one point I owned a hundred or so movies on disk. But when I was out of work a year ago and had to come up with cash, I realized it was time for the majority of them (along with my CDs) to go. Thankfully there’s still a market!

I kept a couple dozen CDs that had some sentimental value, and a dozen or so DVDs that I actually have watched more than once and want to keep for that reason, but by and large rest of it was sold off.

And I haven’t missed any of it. New music is purchased directly through iTunes (or, acquired through other sources). With Hulu and Netflix, pretty much anything I’d ever want to watch is available on demand.

Much like I proclaimed in 1977, “I’ll never see that stupid Rocky Horror Picture Show movie!” only to stumble upon it at a friend’s house ten years later and immediately fall in love with it, in 2005 I proclaimed I’d never get rid of my CDs. Both proved ridiculously shortsighted.