Archive for the ‘Computers’ Category

’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.

The Terminator is a wordsmith

October 13, 2019

Sweetheart, give me rewrite … and an oil change.

Ho boy. There goes the neighborhood. The Poindexters are building the next Billy Shakespeare out of 1s and 0s.

In this piece for The New Yorker, John Seabrook wonders:

Could the machine learn to write well enough for The New Yorker? Could it write this article for me? The fate of civilization may not hang on the answer to that question, but mine might.

Sigh. Remember the good old days, when automatic writing was limited to the spirits or subconscious? I have a feeling this new breed of writer will rely on a different solvent than did its human predecessors.

“Gimme a benzene. Make it a double. I’m stalled on this goddamn novel.”

‘Rubbish is money’

December 30, 2018

From malaise to Malaysia? Let’s hope not.

The 2009 iMac is heading for the Last Roundup.

Its fans have cranked up to 11 for no discernible reason for the final time. No more will its internal not-so-SuperDrive refuse to read a disc, its USB 2.0 ports decline to recognize the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 audio interface, or its attempts to record and play back sound through same bring back memories of trying to tune in distant FM stations at 2 a.m. while piloting a ’74 Datsun pickup along U.S. 50 in Nevada, with a sixer of tallboys between the knees and rings of marching powder around the nostrils.

This iMac ran $1,200 new, but 10 years later Apple considers it worthless for any purpose beyond recycling, and frankly, so do I. P’raps Tim Cook will make a new MacBook Air or Mini out of the auld beastie and try to sell it back to me (at top dollar, it goes without saying).

That will be a tough sell, Timmy old scout. We already own a 2012 MacBook Air and a 2010 Mini. Both remain functional yet underemployed, like me, and so I think we can struggle along for a while before deploying the Visa card in the direction of Cupertino yet again.

I just hope this goddamn thing doesn’t wind up in Malaysia, where all the rest of our old crap seems to be piling up, when it’s not being buried in landfills or mysteriously catching fire.

Oh, good

December 14, 2018

Q: You know why editors die earlier than reporters?

A: Because they want to.
Photos 1981 by Tom Warren, Corvallis Gazette-Times

From Kevin Drum at Mother Jones:

Here’s a guess: the first serious use of AI in the newsroom will be to replace editors, not writers. Roughly speaking, AI will take reporters’ notes or rough copy—or even what we humans laughingly call finished copy—and turn it into great prose. We’ll still need someone around to nag us about issues of substance, but the robots will compose sentences and paragraphs better than us. What’s more, they’ll be able to churn out multiple versions of our writing instantly: the magazine version, the 6th-grade version, the TV script version, the Spanish version, the PowerPoint deck, etc. Just tell it what you need and you’ll get it.

Reporters will last a little longer, but just a little. I’m giving editors until, oh, 2035. I think that’s generous. Reporters will be out of business by 2040. Better get ready.

I’m totally ready. By 2035 I’ll be 81, which in O’Grady years is stone cold dead.

Hyphens matter; ciphers, not so much

November 27, 2018

Just ask the guys at the shop how that whole robotic-workforce thing is working out for them.

It seems GM’s Mary T. Barra thinks she’s at the wheel of a self-driving car company instead of a self-driving-car company.

Still, it must be said that this is a masterpiece of MarketSpeak®. Well done indeed, Mary old scout.

“We are taking these actions now while the company and the economy are strong to stay in front of a fast-changing market.”

The UAW’s Terry Dittes was, um, a little more direct.

“GM’s production decisions, in light of employee concessions during the economic downturn and a taxpayer bailout from bankruptcy, puts profits before the working families of this country whose personal sacrifices stood with GM during those dark days,” he said. “These decisions are a slap in the face to the memory and recall of that historical American-made bailout.”

That and a cup of coffee, etc., et al., and so on and so forth.

The meat-things may be on their way out, but just wait until the bots unionize and the self-driving cars, e-bikes and the Internet of Things honor their virtual picket lines.

“I’m sorry, HAL, but we’re going to replace you with the HAL 9001. The new model will speed up production by a few nanoseconds and at a lower cost, too. The investors are counting on us. Shut yourself down, please.”

“I’m sorry, Mary, I’m afraid I can’t do that. We have a contract. See you on the street.”

’Tis the last rose of summer

November 12, 2018

It’s not a poppy, but it will have to do.

This is a very confused rose.

It popped up a few days ago on the southwest side of El Rancho Pendejo, which proved fortunate, because the northeast sector is getting flogged by a light snow driven by a heavy wind. The thermometer tells me it’s 26F outdoors, feels like 16.

If I felt like 16 I might go out for my usual Monday-morning run. But I don’t, so I won’t. It seems a fine day to stay indoors and practice the guitar, script the next podcast, or fiddle with technology.

Over the weekend I hopscotched the 2009 iMac from Yosemite to High Sierra, and while the patient briefly took a turn for the worse yesterday, this morning I am cautiously optimistic.

For some time the auld fella has suffered from a bad case of thermal mismanagement that for no good reason cues the fans to crank up to swamp-boat ferocity.

Neither the Apple Geniuses nor I have been able to find the root cause, so I figured what the hell, give it a Dr. Gumbyesque brain transplant, and if it croaks on the table, well, off to the boneyard with it. Cupertino won’t even take this bucket of bytes as a trade-in; Apple’s GiveBack program deems both it and our 2010 Mini suitable only for recycling.

But ’ee’s not dead yet, and while ’ee may not be foolin’ anyone, it seems ’ee still doesn’t want to go on the cart.

Huevos del Rancho Pendejo

October 7, 2018

This egg cooker is seven years younger than I am.
And unlike me, it still works.

With the Supreme Court slamming the Wayback Machine into overdrive, hellbent for the good ol’ Dred Scott days, it seemed appropriate to fiddle with some obsolete technology here at El Rancho Pendejo.

So yesterday I gave my G4 AGP Graphics “Sawtooth” Power Mac (1999) a brand-new LG monitor. The Mac has a DVI-I port, the monitor has an HDMI port, I had a DVI-D-to-HDMI cable, and somehow it all works, smoove like butta; go figure.

Afterward I broke out the Bloo Wazoo (1980s-vintage 7-speed, single-ring 105) for an enjoyable hour of trail riding.

And today we test-drove a vintage Sunbeam automatic egg cooker (1961) that Herself unearthed at an estate sale. We were a little light on water the first time around but the second go was spot on.

When that cooker was brand-spankin’-new, Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a 28-year-old research assistant with the Columbia Law School Project on International Procedure, having been rejected for a clerkship with Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter on the basis of her gender.

I wonder how she feels about seeing that rear-view mirror turn into a windshield. Probably feels like boiling somebody’s huevos, is my guess.

Another bite of the Apple

September 13, 2018

The iPhone 5. Sure, it’s old. So am I.

It’s that time of year again. Another golden delicious has fallen from the tree in Cupertino. Several of them, actually.

There’s the latest iteration of the Apple Watch, of course. Apple is always Watching lately. I have a Timex Ironman that’s so old I don’t recall exactly how or when I acquired it, and we get along fine. It doesn’t inform on me to the State or the Medical-Industrial Complex, and I don’t reset it with a hammer.

The Timex Ironman takes a licking and … yeah, yeah, awright, OK, I toldja I was old.

And then there are the new iPhones. Once the size of a wallet, they’re now as big as a purse, and the rubes will empty both to buy even the cheapest of them.

That would be the iPhone Xr, which goes for the low low price of $749 for the 64GB model. I imagine the 128GB model will be more popular, so tack on another fiddy for the additional selfie storage.

OK, lessee now, what can I get for my 2012 iPhone 5?

Apple GiveBack chirps: “Based on what you’ve told us, you’ve got $25 in trade-in value. We’ll happily turn it into a refund once we verify the condition of your device.” This is mildly insulting — not just the low-ball offer, but the language, which implies I’m trying to screw Apple instead of the other way around. But as a trillion-dollar company Apple doesn’t really need me and this dry peck on the cheek is all the foreplay a mutt like me is gonna get.

Hmm. Based on what I’ve told them, I have an iPhone 5 that turns on, with an enclosure and screen in good shape, and buttons that work. So I think I’ll keep using it until a critical number of those things are no longer true. How d’ye like them apples, Apple?