Archive for the ‘Computers’ Category

Snow and IceBook

April 4, 2017

We have a fine crop of tulips this spring.

“It’s totally snowing,” said Herself at dark-thirty as she was leaving for work.

“No sir,” said I.

As usual, she was right.

It wasn’t much in the way of a storm. Just a piddling little wind-driven dusting. Happily, it didn’t nuke the tulips, which have been popping up with more enthusiasm than the daffodils, which had a very short and sparse run indeed.

Forty-four steps later. …

It being slightly sucky outdoors, I decided to take care of a bit of business indoors, where it was warm.

Herself’s old iPad 2 had been awaiting recycling, along with my old 800 MHz G3 iBook. The iPad had already been wiped and reset, but the iBook had not; alas, when I tried to wipe it via Target Disk Mode the sonofabitch croaked on me. And after only 14 years, too. They sure don’t make ’em the way they used to.

So I had to take it apart to get to the hard drive — don’t want the terrorists to lay hands on all my classified data from 2003 — and lemme tell you, I am mighty glad I didn’t have to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. Pulling the HDD required 44 steps and like Tim “Men Are Pigs” Allen I just knew I’d be left with a real small bag of important-looking shit left over.

 

Office spaced

December 29, 2016
Hemingway sent cables; I just hook 'em up.

Hemingway sent cables; I just hook ’em up.

Now and again I am reminded that shit doesn’t just happen.

I was grumbling the other day that the iCrap-crazed Cloudniks at Apple no longer give a damn about modular, upgradeable desktop systems and the power users who love them, probably because I have spent far too much time staring at a desk that is topped by a veritable clusterfuck of computer hardware — a 15-inch mid-2014 MacBook Pro cabled to an OWC Thunderbolt 2 dock and thence to a Dell 27-inch monitor, a RAID array plus a couple other storage drives, an Apple SuperDrive and a cheap set of Logitech speakers that really need to go because they have all the sonic excellence of a 1965 GE P-1810A transistor radio.

Then I read this, and this, and I think I’m finally starting to get a feel for why Tim Cook is all like: “Fuck those bitches and their desktops. Whatsisname down in the basement is tasked with that project and if we have to we’ll trot him out and show the world what people who give a shit about desktop computers look like. Dude makes the stapler guy from ‘Office Space’ look like Michael Fassbender.”

Rotten Apple

March 9, 2015
Pardon the poor Photoshop job. I wasn't using it. Apple's Preview app works fine for basic photo editing, but not for extensive copyright violation in the name of cheap humor.

Pardon the poor Photoshop job. I wasn’t using it. Apple’s Preview app works fine for basic photo editing, but not for extensive copyright violation in the name of cheap humor.

You’ll excuse me if I’m not too excited about the Apple Watch and the latest, greatest MacBook.

The old iMac has been acting up the better part of quite some lately — a function, I believe, of the Mavericks “upgrade” I performed last year — and last week, after yet another spate of inexplicable freezes that I could not resolve via Safe Boot, Apple Hardware Test, Disk Utility, DiskWarrior, disconnecting external drives and/or monitors, and finally the deployment of chicken blood, rattles and incantations, I waved the white flag and dragged the doddering iBeast down to the local Apple Store for a chat with a Genius.

The Genius advised a “nuke and pave,” erasing the drive and installing a fresh copy of the OS. I had my doubts, having done way too much looking around online to believe that a solution would be so simple.

Still, I thought, I’m backed up all to be-damn, from Time Machine to SuperDuper!, two copies of each. Want to try Yosemite? Sure, why not? How much worse could it be? Let ‘er buck, cowboy.

So I dragged the iBeast back home with a nuked and paved HDD and a brand-new copy of Yosemite, and then let it sit overnight, to cure, or rest, or whatever. The next day, I booted it up and set about the onerous chore of configuring what amounted to a brand-new, 6-year-old computer.

Installing a new OS did not include fresh copies of the iWork and iLife suites. I didn’t want to drag over old files and applications from my backups, reasoning that if they had bugs, I’d be giving my New World Order a case of Old World pants rabbits. So I decided I’d use those drives as storage for now — sort of a Waste Isolation Pilot Project of bits and bytes — and downloaded fresh copies of Pages and iMovie for starters, plus a smallish OS update.

Word and Photoshop? Nah. Fuggem, I thought. Let’s keep this thing all Apple for now, see what transpires.

What transpired? Freezes. Just like before. One on Saturday, a second on Sunday and a third today.

Bloody exasperating, that is. Especially when you open Console to see a grinning octupus-dragon-man-thing wearing a “Think Different” T-shirt laughing at you and gibbering, “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn!

So, no, thanks, I don’t need a skinny, $1,299 laptop with a shite camera and one oddball port that will require a backpack full of adapters. And I really don’t need a Dick Tracy watch, especially if it makes me look like a Dick Head.

I already know what time it is. It’s time to retire this iBox. And I’m not buying another one.

 

 

‘Anywhere in the galaxy this is a nightmare’

March 5, 2015
"If you do not speak English I am at your disposal with 187 other languages along with their various dialects and sub-tongues. Including TeaBaggese."

“If you do not speak English I am at your disposal with 187 other languages along with their various dialects and sub-tongues. Including TeaBaggese.”

Now that The Hillinator has her own email server, can it be long before she teams up with AI for some tidily programmed press coverage?

Nah. She’s still got MeatBots for that. And it’s not like the coverage isn’t already robotic, on both sides of the political divide.

Those playing the butt-trumpet the most vigorously are on the right side of that chasm, natcho. Just wait until they find Zombie Vince Foster hosting a backup mail server code-named “Whitewater” in Benghazi!™

The ‘OS’ in ‘OS upgrade’ doesn’t mean ‘Oh, shit!’

May 20, 2014

A while back I mentioned that I was contemplating kicking the old iBox into the future with an OS upgrade to Mavericks. Being both a sluggard and a paranoid, I never quite got around to it, until last night.

It was the perfect time, really. Monday was a rest day in the Giro; I’d wrapped the most recent review and video for Adventure Cyclist; and I didn’t have a BRAIN deadline until Thursday.

There was one evil omen (there always is). The ‘puter’s optical drive went spastic on me, as they apparently do in the iMac. Mine will read and play audio CDs, but spits out movie and software discs like an infant who won’t eat his puréed spinach. So if something went sideways during the install I wouldn’t have access to my original system discs (I was still running Snow Leopard, or OS X 10.6.8).

True, I had a belt-and-suspenders HD-backup system — both Time Machine and SuperDuper! — but being familiar with Murphy’s Law through bitter, painful experience, I decided to score an external optical drive, just in case.

I went Apple, of course, which means expensive — and in this case, inoperative. Seems their $79 disc-spinner won’t work with a pre-2012 iMac, and mine is a 2009 (read those system requirements, kids, and don’t forget to say your prayers). SuperDrive, me arse.

So I barreled over to Best Buy and picked up an LG for less than half that and it worked like a top. Suck it, Cupertino.

Then I reminded myself the worst that could happen was I’d get a chance to swear a lot and buy a new computer, and pulled the trigger. Ka-pow! Three hours later the old iBeast had a new brain. It’s alive! It’s alive! It’s aaaalllliiiiiiiive!

 

Snot rag

March 6, 2014
Kleenex and Mucinex and tea, oh my.

Kleenex and Mucinex and tea, oh my.

Gah. I was congratulating myself for having avoided the cold that felled Herself — dodged a boogery bullet, evaded a snot rocket, as it were — and then, boom!

Attack of the clones: Cloning the MacBook's hard drive to a new OWC SSD using SuperDuper and a USB Universal Drive Adapter.

Attack of the clones: Cloning the MacBook’s hard drive to a new OWC SSD using SuperDuper and a USB Universal Drive Adapter.

Got me.

Thus, while it is a springlike 64 degrees outdoors, here I sit, full of drugs, hot tea and bad ideas. Like installing a new SSD in my old black MacBook to give it a taste of the 21st century.

This is not unlike putting spinners on a Nash Metropolitan, but what the hell — at just under a C note from the fine folks at Other World Computing, a bigger, faster drive is a whole lot cheaper than a new laptop for road trips requiring a bit more screen real estate and software than the 11-inch MacBook Air provides.

Plus, being slightly crazed on caffeine, pseudoephedrine and guaifenesin, I need something to keep my hands busy. It’s either this or follow the news, and that seems futile since I no longer have any hair to pull out.

• Late update: The surgery was successful, and now I have a zippy little 120GB SSD in my 8-year-old MacBook. Probably should’ve gone bigger, but SSDs are pricey, and I have a 120GB external drive I can use to store image files.

Looney Tunes

February 19, 2014

If you ever feel the urge to drive yourself stone batshit crazy, I recommend shooting a bunch of video with two GoPro HERO 3 Black Editions, only one of which works with any degree of reliability, and then editing the pile in iMovie 10, which you have never used, on an 11-inch MacBook Air, which is basically an iPhone with delusions of grandeur and a keyboard.

Good God awmighty. My brain hurts. Especially when I recall that I did this for free, just to see if I could. The next time I see a beach ball spinning that wildly, that often, I’d better be on an actual beach, and full of drugs, too.

All systems normal

January 16, 2014
So far, so good. Two more OS updates and we'll have a casual relationship with the 21st century.

So far, so good. Two more OS updates and we’ll have a casual relationship with the 21st century.

One down, two to go. I forgot we also have a Mac Mini in need of an OS upgrade. But the cute li’l Cupertino doorstop only has 2 GB of memory, which is the bare minimum, so I’ve ordered up some mo’.

The MacBook Air install went smooth like butter. The whole process took a shade over two hours, with a long-ass download, a couple-three restarts and six app’ updates. But that’s my newest machine, a mid-2012 model, so it should be open to new experiences; the Mini dates to mid-2010, and the iMac to 2009.

The Air is for lightweight road trips when an iPad won’t cut the mustard. For heavy duty I haul an old black MacBook, ’cause it has software I don’t care to upgrade, like Word and Photoshop and all the other high-falutin’ gewgaws, thingamajigs and comosellamas a fella likes for professional rumormongery of the finest quality. That beast is too long in the tooth to run Mavericks; it’s pegged at Snow Leopard.

The Mini is for watching TV at Chez Dog, and I back up work-related items to it whenever I get The Fear (I also use SuperDuper and Time Machine with an external Firewire drive for regular clones/backups).

And the iMac is The Main Device. It’s how most of the Mad Dog media is generated, save for the cartoons, which get done the hard way — drawn in pencil, then inked, and finally scanned into a superannuated 1999 G4 “Sawtooth” AGP Graphics Power Mac, where I apply color using Classic mode and a full CMYK version of Photoshop (4!) that I got for free with a scanner about a thousand years ago. Hey, it still works.

I thought I might do the iMac today, too, but wimped out. Paranoia strikes deep, as the fella says, and I’d like to fiddle with the Air a bit to make sure it didn’t lose a kidney to Somali pirates or something during the operation.

Sunrise, sunset

January 15, 2014
We had quite the sunset the other night. And tonight brings a micro-moon, in which Luna is at apogee and will appear to be the smallest full moon of 2014, according to National Geographic.

We had quite the sunset the other night. And tonight brings a micro-moon, in which Luna is at apogee and will appear to be the smallest full moon of 2014, according to National Geographic.

With cyclo-cross nats over and a couple of deadlines beaten into submission, I finally have a bit of downtime, and as nature abhors a vacuum, the to-do list is filling up like an open bar at a press conference.

First and foremost, of course, is cycling. The weatherperson says we have an extended stretch of fitty-sumpin’ ahead of us, so, yeah, time to sweat a little gravy. I have a review of the Cinelli Bootleg Hobo due in a couple weeks, and just got hold of a Kona Sutra, which is next up in the Adventure Cyclist pipeline.

Then there’s grocery shopping — seems some fat bastard has eaten everything in the house — and last but not least, I should perform a spot of computer maintenance.

Anyone out there upgraded their Macs to Mavericks yet? I’m thinking of making The Great Leap Forward with the two Macs that can handle it, the iMac and MacBook Air, but the tales of technological horror I read online give me pause.

Herself has successfully updated her MacBook Pro, but she is beloved of the gods. Me, not so much.

Snow day

December 4, 2013
GarageBand for iPad is a little daunting at first glance, but it eventually cooperates without stimulation from the Bravo Foxtrot Hotel.

GarageBand for iPad is a little daunting at first glance, but it eventually cooperates without stimulation from the Bravo Foxtrot Hotel.

Eight degrees. Snow. And a variable wind that exacerbates the least attractive qualities of both.

I’m already sick of winter and it’s not even winter yet.

I think I may have a problem here.

Well, if I do, I’m not the only one. And while this storm system seems to have settled in for a long stay, there are short-term distractions available.

Yesterday I spent the afternoon simmering up a big pot of chicken stock, using a 4-pound fryer and four extra drumsticks, a leek, an onion, a turnip and a couple of carrots.

We used some of the meat for dinner (quesadillas) and breakfast (a simple hash that also involved eggs, potatoes, one Big Jim chile and part of a green bell pepper, plus some chopped scallions, thyme and parsley). Most of the rest will get used this evening in a chicken noodle soup, though I’ll reserve a bit for a mess of chicken chilaquiles tomorrow.

Between stints at the stove, I broke out the old iPad, downloaded Apple’s GarageBand app, and taught myself how to create a minimalist podcast on an iOS device instead of a giant MacBox. This is what I like to call “thinking ahead” rather than “dicking around,” since I usually take an iPad with me if I’m able to escape the weather, the kitchen and the office for a short bicycle tour. It’s nice to be able to handle all the usual chores on the road, though for updating a WordPress blog like this one an iPad leaves a great deal to be desired.

Also, I’d like to try a slightly more elaborate podcast that includes a Skype interview with my old friend and colleague Hal Walter, who still lives up Weirdcliffe way. Hal’s main computer is a Mac Mini, which lacks a built-in microphone, but I think he has an iPad, and Skype, so with a little cultural exchange we should be good to go without resort to log drums, smoke signals or semaphore flags.