Archive for the ‘Computers’ Category

Piece of Cake

April 7, 2022

OK, I know you folks floating around out there in the Innertubes are dying to know all the deets about the exotic life of the retired velo-scribbler.

So, hold my fake beer and dig this:

Yesterday I went to Lowe’s for some lawn soil to spread over the recently seeded bare patches in the yard and gave ’em a good watering, then mowed the healthier bits of grass. Later I cooked up a big ol’ pot of jambayala.

This morning I toasted and tea’d Herself, who has a full day at the lab. Then I fed and watered Miss Mia Sopaipilla, giving her a few head-bumps in a sunny spot for dessert, and emptied her litter box.

Next I got a loaf of bread going and set about watering a few shrubs and one tree out front, using SuperDuper! to back up The Main Mac to an external drive, downloading an OS update, and washing the breakfast dishes (two cups of strong black coffee and one of strong black tea will lead to multitasking).

And now the garbage is going out. Boom! You can’t stop me, so don’t even try.

I hate to go all Hollywood on you little people like this, but I figure the few of you who still have jobs deserve to know how I’m pissing away your Social Security contributions on my rock-’n’-roll lifestyle.

Macintoast

February 5, 2022

Macintoast, yum yum eatum up.

Progress marches on, towing me along behind it like a water skier who refuses to leave shore. You can practically hear the skis dragging across the lakeside gravel.

I’ve been noticing various hitches in the gitalong of my 15-inch 2014 MacBook Pro, which is the workhorse here at El Rancho Pendejo (“Your Gateway to Giggle City!”).

And as usual, the problem lies not with me, but with everybody else.

WordPress, The Washington Post, Esquire, and other stops along my daily dawdle all have been pissing on me from their considerable technological height, proclaiming that the MacBook’s 5-year-old OS (High Sierra, 10.13.6) and equally antiquated browser (Safari 13.1.2) are so 15 minutes ago, which as sayings go is likewise about as au courant as “Twenty-three skiddoo!”

It finally became so irksome that I felt compelled to take hold. WaPo and Chazbo Pierce’s site had both gotten as creaky as a geezer’s knees in February. And WordPress wouldn’t even let me swap headers on the blog, which is pretty basic stuff.

In a support chat I could sense the Happiness Engineer’s forehead bouncing rhythmically off the keyboard.

“Safari 13 is several versions behind the latest versions so I suspect that may be what is causing the issue,” s/he typed. “I would recommend that you try to access the site through a different browser such as Chrome if you’re not ready or able to update the Macs yet for whatever reason.”

Well, sheeyit. High Sierra is as good as it gets around here, Scooter. It’s on everything newer than mid-2012. And Google is evil no matter what they claim to be.

Still, it is winter, and I am retired, and also slightly bored. So I decided to do a little tinkering.

Not on the Main Machine, mind you. My testing bench would be the 13-inch 2014 MacBook Pro, the ’Book I use for road trips if I’m sleeping indoors. The 11-inch 2012 MacBook Air gets the callup if I’m tenting it.

First I paid a visit to my old buddy Mozilla, and hey presto, Firefox 96.0.3 works like a charm. But Firefox is awful needy — “Can I be your default browser? Please? Pleasepleaseplease?” — so I thought what the hell, let’s just bump the OS up a notch, see what happens. Can’t sing, can’t dance, too fat to fly.

I’ve been hinky about this shit ever since a long jump from Snow Leopard to Mavericks gave my 2009 iMac a brain bleed. But High Sierra to Mojave is only one little hop, just a year between releases. So I gave the boot drive a once-over with Disk Utility, downloaded a fresh copy of Mojave, and let ’er buck.

And so far, so good (knocking on wood). The 13-incher is my kitchen Mac when I’m not on the road, because I don’t like sitting down first thing, and anyway I have coffee to brew, breakfast to make. And as you see, all is smooth like Irish butter on homemade bread.

Old year, new Mac

December 31, 2021

It’s an early Happy New Year for Herself …

Herself has been upping her MacGame this holiday season.

First she scored an iPhone 13, a Christmas present that replaced a beat-up 7 (unlike Your Humble Narrator, Herself works a phone like a rented mule).

And now, with the New Year climbing in our window with a dagger between its yellow teeth, she’s acquired a new M1 Mac Mini to supplant her 10-year-old MacBook Pro.

… assuming the migration goes as intended.

The MBP still functions. I had long since maxed out the memory and dropped in a 512GB SSD, but this was like adding a spoiler and a flame paintjob to a Datsun B210.

A rat’s nest of cables hooked to this, that and the other — an ancient ViewSonic monitor, USB hub, label printer, and so on and so forth — the MBP took up more space than a fat cat but rarely purred.

Neither of us is exactly a power user these days. I get by with a pair of 2014 MacBook Pros and in my Golden Years don’t really need anything with more oomph. But Herself is a big earner with her eBay sideline, and who wants to watch The Spinning Beach Ball of Boredom when you’re busy trying to skin some bargain hunter?

So, after briefly considering a pricier iMac, we pulled the trigger on the Mini. What the hell, someone has to keep Tim Cook in NFTs and Krugerrands.

Apple of my ay yi yi

October 19, 2020

Old Sparky is back on the job.

Rarely do the multinational corporations come in for praise here at Ye Olde Chuckle Hut.

They routinely claim to stand behind what they sell, but often can be found standing directly behind the customer, wearing a predatory expression and not much else. Just who exactly is the “end user” here?

That being said, here’s a tip of the Mad Dog sombrero to the support folks at Apple. They got right on the twitchy 2014 MacBook Pro I sent them, found a fault in addition to the one that I had diagnosed, repaired both, and shipped the sucker back with alacrity. Saturday delivery, before noon. Booyah, etc.

There was one small hitch in the gitalong, and in the end (har de har har) it proved to be no hitch at all.

When support notified me via text of the second fault and asked permission to fix it (for an additional three hundy and change) I was unable to approve the additional work online, either via Mac OS or iOS. Couldn’t get an active link on the “Git ’er done” page. God damn it all anyway, etc.

So I rang ’em up. Mind you, this was on Tuesday last, when the product barkers were pitching the brand-new iPhone 12 to the rubes. Hur-ry, hur-ry, hur-ry! I was expecting a long wait and a short reply that proposed my going and doing something to myself of which I would not approve.

Nope. My call was answered promptly, the support person kicked me to his supervisor, and she sez to me she sez, “Lemme handle that for you.” Including covering the additional cost.

Frankly, I was dumbfounded. The tab was not unreasonable, a whole lot less than buying a new MacBook Pro, and I was prepared to pay it. But all I had to spend beyond the initial repair estimate was a simple thank-you for the generosity.

“Yeah, you gotta lotta Apple product, been with us a long time,” she replied cheerily. Right on both counts, with everything from iPods to iPhones to iPads, MacBooks to Minis, PowerBooks to PowerMacs, going all the way back to 1990 and that first Mac SE.

Frankly, the only way the experience could’ve been improved is if they’d given me a loaner to drive while my MacBook was in the shop.

“Here, take the keys to this 16-inch 2.3GHz 8-core MacBook Pro with the 16GB of memory and the 1TB SSD, take ’er for a little spin while we work on the auld fella here.”

I guess they figured I didn’t need the bait. I’ve been on the hook for 30 years.

TGIFuhgedaboudit

October 3, 2020

Santa may not be squeezing his fat ass down my chimney at the moment, but with a sky that blue, who cares?

Some Fridays I send no thanks to God.

The press brays about another delivery of magic beans from the Orange House. My main MacBook Pro develops a bloat I can’t doctor and must be shipped off for emergency surgery. Sue Baroo the Fearsome Furster goes in for a radiator transplant. And WordPress shanghais me into its pain-in-the-ass block editor.

All this being said:

At least I don’t have to edit any bean-delivery stories for The Daily Disappointment-Fabricator. (“Just who says ‘he tested positive,’ anyway? Same guy who’s been lying about anything and everything since he was whelped?”)

I have a backup MacBook Pro. Not as powerful, but hey, at least it’s not swelling up like a poisoned Russian dissident.

The Furster is 15 going on 16. Of course she’s gonna have occasional meltdowns. They’re still cheaper than a monthly payment for the car I don’t want to buy anyway.

But WordPress? Fuck those guys. This block editor eats shit out of a hipster’s thrift-store fedora. It makes me want to run away from the news, my second-best MacBook, and my credit-card statement, and go for a nice long bike ride.

See ya.

So, 12 monkeys walk into an Earth Day. …

April 22, 2020

“What’s wonderful about the air, James?”
“Very fresh. No germs.”

They tell me today is Earth Day, and indeed, it seems we still have one.

An earth, that is. No thanks to us.

Yesterday I bicycled out to inspect the property and it looked pretty a’ight from just below the intersection of Tramway Road and Juniper Hill Road.

It probably helps that fewer people are motoring pointlessly around and about lately. I only start the Subie every other Wednesday, for purposes of replenishing the pantry. Though I did take the Vespa out for a spin yesterday, too (sorry about that).

The Mad Dog Media Entertainment Complex, featuring a Toshiba TV from 2008; a Mac Mini from mid-2010 (right); and an Apple TV from 2012 (left).

Today I celebrated Earth Day by not spending $150 on a new Apple TV box. HBO Now is dropping its support for older Apple TVs like ours (third generation), and so it was either buy a new one; try AirPlaying HBO Nowto the old box from an iOS device; or use the Mac Mini to stream the sonofabitch.

The last would have been easiest, if the wee beastie weren’t running an OS from 2013 (Mavericks). That dog won’t hunt, sez HBO Now. You gotta have Yosemite at bare minimum, and either Chrome or Firefox (ixnay on the Afarisay).

So I burned a little daylight this morning getting all those ducks in a row. If you monkeys smell smoke, well, that’s why. Ook ook ook.

Looking west from the foothills on Earth Day.

The IT Guy

December 16, 2019

“Obi-Wan never told you what happened to your father. …”

The problem with having an Apple orchard is that you’ve got to tend to the sonsabitches when you’d rather be doing something else.

Like, say, making money so you can afford to tend to the sonsabitches, or even buy a new one now and again.

I have five outdated Apple products in heavy rotation around the rancheroo. Three need OS updates, one needs a vigorous cloning, and the fifth — well, let’s just say that it’s devolved to running Adobe Photoshop 4.0 in Classic mode.

And yes, I said Adobe Photoshop 4.0.

“What’s it all mean?” you ask. Why, it means that yes, yes, yes,  it’s time for another thrilling episode of Radio Free Dogpatch.

P L A Y    R A D I O    F R E E    D O G P A T C H

• Technical notes: This episode was recorded with an Audio-Technica AT2035 microphone and a Zoom H5 Handy Recorder. I edited this hot mess using Apple’s GarageBand on the 13-inch 2014 MacBook Pro. The background music is “Asunder,” from Taylor Howard at Zapsplat.com. Typewriter sounds courtesy of Tomlija at Freesound.org. Emperor Palpatine comes to you from the Dark Side, while “Alarm!” comes from “Das Boot.” And “The G4 Awakens” comes straight from the 1999 G4 AGP Graphics Power Mac, which don’t need no steekeeng updates because it’s immortal, thank you very much. Lemme know if your iPhone is still working 20 years from now. But don’t ask me to work on it.

’13 means shit and bad luck.’

December 13, 2019

I see the Donks running the House Judiciary Committee decided to postpone voting on sending two articles of impeachment to the full House until today … which would be Friday the 13th.

Shit. Good luck with that.

Charlie Pierce had his bad luck early. Dude got hit by a car, which explains why you haven’t been seeing him over at the shebeen. I’m a little irritated with management for not giving us the word. Not everyone spends their days glued to Twitter, y’know.

Shit. Good luck with that.

Speaking of being glued to things, I’ve gotten two of three modern MacBooks updated to High Sierra without incident. Still haven’t dealt with the main box or the iPhone, and given the circumstances I think I might wait until tomorrow. I don’t need any shit or bad luck.

Climb every mountain

December 11, 2019

Operations at El Rancho Pendejo are sketchy, as always.

It’s only Dec. 11, but it seems my work for 2019 is pretty much done.

I wrapped the “Quick Spin” video on the Cannondale Topstone 105 for Adventure Cyclist on Monday, and yesterday I actually got a jump on 2020, scribbling a “Shop Talk” cartoon for Bicycle Retailer and Industry News.

Today I’m contemplating some overdue computer maintenance — backups, updates, the poking with sharp sticks of things better left unmolested.

It struck me the other day that I’m a few iterations of operating systems off the back. The MacBooks are all running Sierra, but the kool kidz have long since moved on to macOS Catalina. So I thought I’d tiptoe up to High Sierra, see what the weather’s like up there. After all, I have the installers on all three ’Books.

Ho, ho. Pull off those hiking boots, Sir Edmund. The installers are all damaged, which is to say their certificates are probably expired. ’Cause, like, y’know, dude, sir, everyone else has, like, moved on to Catalina, an’ shit.

So I’m downloading a fresh installer as we speak. Shouldn’t take more than a couple-three days at Duke City DSL speeds. Then if I feel like getting the “two” in the ol’ one-two I can think about setting up the “new” iPhone 5.

Donny Appleseed

November 21, 2019

The new MacTrump. Noisy as hell, only runs Twitter, and costs a bazillion dollars. But it’s Made in USA®. Winning!

“Today I opened a major Apple Manufacturing plant in Texas that will bring high paying jobs back to America,” tweets the Tweeter-in-Chief.

Except he didn’t. And it won’t.

The plant, which employs about 500 workers to assemble one of Apple’s most expensive computers for its least extensive customer base, and is not even an Apple plant, has been manufacturing Mac Pros since 2013. The only reason it’s still doing so is because Apple sought — and got — waivers for Tweety’s tariffs.

But Apple didn’t get off scot-free. According to The Verge, “Apple is currently paying tariffs on a number of Mac Pro parts, which must be imported from China to Texas before the final device can be assembled.” Whether Apple receives further relief remains a matter for submission … er, negotiation.

Meanwhile, the stuff that people actually buy — iPhones, iPads, MacBooks and the Apple Watch — is made in China. So, uh, like, the winning, an’ stuff, eh, not so much.

And while Tweety sang his little song Apple honcho Tim Cook stood there like a mannequin, “stone-faced” and “silently,” according to Jack Nicas of The New York Times.

Notes John Gruber at Daring Fireball:

This is how Apple chose to unveil the packaging for the Mac Pro — in a poorly-shot overexposed propaganda video by the White House, scored with bombastic music that sounds like it came from an SNL parody of a Michael Bay film. Think about how it feels to work on that team at Apple. A low moment in Apple’s proud history, and a sadly iconic moment for Tim Cook. I hope avoiding those tariffs is worth it.