Wait. Remember When…

Screen Shot 2018-01-07 at 21.14.22
Missing a few devices there, eh Apple.

In an attempt to figure out Apple’s really, really krappy cloud service, iCloud, I finally hooked up with icloud.com today. Seriously. I’ve never been to this part of the Apple universe before. I guess I always preferred to do all my stuff mostly through a Mac and every once-a-once my phone. I had two reactions to this experience. First, it reminded me of e-World. Anyone out their remember e-World? Boy was that a terrible effort on the part of a company that would soon become the most profitable greed show ever to be run by automatons. The second thing I thought of was where’s my MacBook Air in the My Devices section (see pic above). Then I remembered that in order to get through the BS of Apple’s really, really krappy cloud service this morning, I unchecked my MacBook Air from the service. Is that why it’s not in the My Devices list? Not that it really matters. Wait. There should also be another Apple TV in there and a friggin Mac Mini. Oh my. So it’s probably better that I forget that. Instead, time to remember e-World.

Screen Shot 2018-01-07 at 21.29.44
Apple’s e-World. Which should always be followed by… Why?

Rant on.

-T

Bad Apple, Bad Apple. Now Go In The Corner For Your Time-Out.

bad apple bad apple.jpg
WTF Apple?

Oh my, dear worst-reader. Since confiscating my better-half’s 2016 12″ MacBook–and she going full iOS as of late 2017–I’ve been enjoying this little über-fantastic device which has even made me forget my beloved 2015 13″ MacBook Air with that friggin i7 processor and that fan that randomly interupts everything all day long–and wants to burn hole in my lap sometimes. Contrary to what you might read or see in reviews, the performance of the 12″ MacBook with its low-end M3 processor is more than adequate for my digital needs which includes stuff like this worst-post typed in the WordPress app and using Apple Preview for the screenshot (above). According to specs, the MacBook is running the lowest available CPU Apple offers. And after a few months of use, I could give a hoot about that power-pro-macbook-nonsense–nor do I mind being a light weight computer user. But enough about worst-moi. §When the device was introduced in 2015, I even giggled here or there about what Apple had done. Keyboard. Camera. Single port. Etc. After watching you-tubers review this thing you’d even think Apple had lost its $hit when it comes to Macs. §Au contraire, dear worst-reader! §The 2nd iteration low-end Macbook (2016) is supposed to have the processing speed of a tortoise freshly hatched. Yet I’m digging it as though it’s more like a mini-hare jotting through the landscape of tech nonsense galore and all the while not paying attention to the Pam Anderson like tech-wannabes sunning their fun-parts in fields of silicon beauty. Also, since I’m a stickler for watching my back when it comes to the greed-show lead by Apple and its strategic genius of corpo-obsoletism–that is, systematically making people buy new iPhones and Macs when in reality if Apple would not push us to upgrade the OS but instead just let us chose which OS we want to keep working with (and thereyby fix those as we do), then I too might not be so critical of this/our universe’s most profitable organisation worthy of all my love-hate. But enough buttering up, eh. §When my better-half purchased the MacBook in the fall of 2016, it came with El Capitan OS X (10.11). As stated (or as worst-written), I’m a stickler for NOT upgrading my OS. Or. Put another way: I prefer to not upgrade until I’m convinced that the $hit won’t hit the fan by doing so. I also, by-the-buy, never buy first iteration Apple products–hence I pushed the 2016 model over the 2015 even though the Apple store tried to push the latter on us. And so, dear worst-reader: I’m no beta-tester, motherfcuker. But that’s neither here nor there. §I let my wife’s MacBook ride on El Capitan for most of the eighteen months she let the thing sit on the shelf as she turned more and more into the iOS centric person she has become. I also never upgraded my MacBook Air beyond El Capitan–as that gorgeous little newer device was itching (from that shelf). And while on the subject of upgrading our Macs… As far as my home server is concerned (a monstrous Mac Pro 5,1), El Capitan is the end of operating system upgrades. The Mac Pro is from 2010 (and I only miss OS X Lion a little bit). It still works great but it is truly an old truck (a very powerful truck) with numbered days. Oh, and before I forget. One of the biggest reason I can’t/won’t upgrade my older equipment is because of Apple’s new files system. Seriously. AFPS or APFS or whatever it’s called, scares the beegeezees out of me. And keep in mind, dear worst-reader, I already went through the Apple chaos of the company switching from power-pc to intel. Aghast! Anywho. Although my Mac Pro boots from a PCIe SSD (the new file system is supposed to be geared toward SSDs) it also has four spinning HDDs internally and four more externally hooked up through various ports (firewire). But I’m off topic. §There was nothing in OS X Sierra (10.12) that interested me so I didn’t even bother with it. Usually, though, after one or two OS X releases, I start to get itchy. I finally came around with the MacBook and installed High Sierra at the end of 2017. To be honest, there really isn’t much difference to El Capitan–except for new file system and (Aghast!) Apple’s attempt to be hip with its (still) awful iCloud cloud service. Of course, all the believers out there say that the changes of High Sierra are under the hood. I say, after fiddling with it, what was the point of Sierra before its High? But here comes the real killer–at least for me. If you haven’t noticed already, check out the position of my DropBox folder in the pic above. I can’t believe that Apple would allow/enable its cloud service to assume that I would want my Dropbox folder (from a competing cloud service) to be included in its service. Whaaaaaaa! Of course, being the dunce I be, I didn’t pay enough attention to the install/upgrade procedure of High Sierra. I mean, I remember being asked if I wanted iCloud integration but I was so nervous about whether or not I did the right thing in the first place…. I know. I know. I should grow a pair, eh. Btw, I also upgraded my MacBook Air to High Sierra but have since restored it back to El Capitan. The upgrade is ok for the MacBook–on account I think the only real benefit is the new file system and the retina display. Something was very different about my MacBook Air’s screen with High Sierra. I might be seeing things in my old age–with my old, weak eyes–but I swear everything was blurry on my MacBook Air after HS upgrade. But then again, once you go retina there is no going back. §And that’s what she said, baby.

Rant on.

-T

Not Only In #Trumpland Does Disinformation Serve The Agenda. Would You Believe Corporations Use Smoke Screens Too? Duh!

three dollar bill apple logo (low res)

Worst-writer has been wielding an iPhone 6s for well over two years now. It’s my second “smartphone”. Worst-writer has never been a fan of Apple’s iOS. In fact, most computer operating systems suck. On top of that, the whole smartphone thing bores me. Reason? These things can do so much more. Here’s my worst-dream for smartphones: These things should be a person’s sole device. When on the go, there’s the phone. When at home or in the office, we should be able to use it with some kind interface (hub, docking station, etc.) and thereby have a monitor, keyboard and pointing device. Indeed. We should be able, as of 2017, to carry around a full functioning PC in our pocket. Instead we carry around widget that serves a higher greed purpose. But I digress.

From what I can tell from iPads, Surface tablets, smartphones, etc., these things are most certainly powerful enough to fulfil worst-writer’s worst-dream. Yet we’re still stuck with having to buy separate hardware in order to worst-write, worst-view and worst-consume… all the porn the world and its females can offer. So when I read krapp about how the world’s greediest corporation may or may not be manipulating its products in order to force consumers to buy anew, I go he-he-ha-ha-he-he-haaaaaa.

As far as smokescreens go–which we should all be used to considering a world where #Trump can get elected–Apple has done a fine job of shifting the issue that we should really be discussing. The fact is, Apple’s products are not only dependent on batteries, but they are also dependent on software. I know. I know. Most worst-readers reading this know that. But still, since the issue broke about Apple’s greed systemamtic planned product obsoletism, it seems the whole thing is now ending in it all being about the battery. The problem is sooooooooo not the battery.

For those interested, here’s worst-writer’s solution to the whole worst-thing. Combined with a fair priced battery replacement, Apple could make an iPhone last (until the hardware fails) by allowing customers a choice which iOS version they want to use, including just staying with the iOS that came with the device when it was purchased. IMHO, it is all these crazy iOS upgrades that ruin not only battery life but the whole user experience. Seriously. There is nothing in any iOS upgrade I’ve experienced that has made the degraded functionality that follows worthwhile. Btw, IMHO, that’s exactly what PC makers–including Apple Macs–have done with operations system upgrades, too. But what the hell do I know?

Rant on.

-T

Link that motivated this post:

Typing On The New MacBook, The Joy Of Butterfly

IMG_3629

I can’t feel a thing. Well, actually I feel a small click. Yes. It’s a click where there should be movement. And I’m not talking about the trackpad? Yet, so similar are these new input and control gadgets on Apple’s new MacBook. Comparatively, there is much more movement of the keys and the trackpad of my MacBook Air (MBA). And, btw, I’ve always hated chicklet keyboards. And so, Apple came up with a software solution to enhance the typing environment–just for me.

Get this.

You can, in preferences, actually turn on a clicking sound for the trackpad. Ain’t that a hoot! Of course, I don’t know if that’s cool or stupid. But I don’t really care. The software click of the trackpad corresponds perfectly to the precise click of the keyboard and its oh-so limited butterfly key travel. In fact, I’d say this new keyboard is actually louder than the old keyboard. And so, I’m thinking about the keys of the Apple USB keyboard connected to my Mac Pro 5,1. Those keys move more than the ones on my MBA. And as stated: I’m not a fan of chicklets. Yet, in my pseudo review of this MacBook, something isn’t right… when I’m not typing on it.

Here’s the confiscation run-down.

I’m not sure my wife’s 100% behind me taking her MacBook. On the other hand, I can’t stand seeing the thing just lie around. She bought this 2nd gen MacBook in the late summer of 2016 but never really used it. Why she bought it in the first place is another story. In short, it had something to do with her job and BYOD (bring your own device). It turns out that her iPad was more than enough to be her daily driver–even at work. After about six or eight months lugging both the MacBook and the iPad to work she started leaving the MacBook home. That’s when I started fiddling with it in the name of empirical study. I was curious about the device since its debut. It turns out that the performance of the M3 processor is every bit as good as the performance of the i7 processor of my 2015 MBA. Let me tell you, dear worst-reader, that was the first sign that my MBA’s days were numbered.

The complaints.

The Interwebnet is full of MacBook keyboard sucks complainers. Reviewers and users alike all have something negative to say about this new design. Complaints usually start with the price, then comes the keyboard and it all seems to culminate with the single USB-C port. To me, considering Apple’s product trajectory, which is obviously iOS centric, this MacBook only makes sense. I for one am not ready to go iOS–but I see the inevitability of the future. Trust me, I tried i0S. I had a iPad 4 for about a year. And I honestly tried to supplant my 2013 13″ MacBook Pro with it. I did not succeed. I dumped the iPad 4 for an Apple refurbished MacBook Air. (By-the-buy, that’s the only way I buy Apple hardware now.) Apple’s pro machines are too high-priced and also a bit of tech overkill for my needs. And so, my best guess is the only reason Apple still has the Air model is so they can offer it to guys like me in the $999 bracket–or even cheaper refurbished. Anywho. The new-fangled MacBook starts at three hundred bucks more than an Air–and for the life of me I don’t really know why. Despite the new design features, it feels as though you are paying way more for way less by going with the new device. A hefty hunk of change indeed.

And now for some worst-writer honesty.

If I were at an Apple Store right now I wouldn’t even look at a MacBook. That pink colour is just too f’n scary. I would go straight to the Pro line. I’m not sure how long it would take, but after a few milliseconds of witnessing the price of “pro” models, I’d be out of the store and once again walking home where I would try and catch a great deal buying from Apple’s refurbish program. There is no doubt that Apple Macs are waaaaaaay over priced. Yet, I’m stuck in the eco-system. I’m only glad that I have a choice other than full retail consumption of this krapp.  That said, here I am–by means of marital confiscation–absolutely loving the new design, including the keyboard, the single port and f’n everything else. Is it faster than my three year old Air (with i7 cpu): no. Is the screen better: yes. Is the build better: yes. Is the keyboard better: it’s definitely not worse than any chicklet keyboard. Which brings me to…

The only thing I ever learned in #americant public school was the ability to all finger type.

I probably haven’t typed anything on a mechanical typewriter in about two years. I think I might have used my Hermes Baby last year when I needed to address some envelopes. That’s right, dear worst-reader. I addressed snail mail envelopes using a typewriter instead of printing from a laser printer. The reason for that, other than romance and nostalgia mixed with bit of boredom, is not worth addressing here. What’s important is that I don’t miss typing on typewriters. It was/is time to give them up–and not because I too am becoming outdated. I have long since embraced the glorified-typewriters aka computers of today for all my writing. In fact, I was thinking about buying one of them glass cabinets and putting it in a room and filling it with Hermes, Olivetti, Olympia, Princess and Groma Kolibri–all of which are retired in a few boxes in my basement.

glass cabinet for typwriter collection

Oh yeah. The MacBook keyboard.

For the life of me I can’t understand why people complain about this keyboard. Considering that I’ve always found chicklet keyboards a bad idear, this so-called butterfly keyboard made me curious from the get-go. I can see why finger-picking typists would have a hard time with it. The keys have very little travel and even less tactile feel. For finger-pickers it must be like tapping on a glass plate–or worse: typing on an iPad (aghast). When I focus with all nine fingers*, when I soften my strokes, when I get going, I love this keyboard. The butterfly mechanism alleviates having to find the sweet spot of, say, chicklet keys–which is often the biggest problem I’ve had when using my ring finger and little finger on those keyboards. No matter what part of the key you touch on the new MacBook keyboard, it activates. It also makes it easier to find/reach shift-keys and all the other non letter keys with ring and little fingers.

Worst-Writer conclusion: the only other laptop keyboard that has ever been worth a hoot is that of the older Thinkpads. But from what I understand Lenovo, since taking over from IBM, has resorted to chicklet keys, too. As far as I can tell, getting rid of the chicklet keyboard was one of the best things Apple could do. With that in mind, you finger typists should finally learn to type.

Rant on.

-T

*Nine fingers because I use only my right thumb when typing.

Pseudo Review: Followup Of Newly Confiscated 2016 12″ MacBook

IMG_3619

The first pseudo-review is here. A third is here.

How did I get here, dear worst-reader? How did I get to be the confiscating husband I’ve become? And how did I get to this place I’m at where being overwhelmed w/ tech gadgets could be so frustrating? You know, dear worst-reader, as a useless-eater, as an exploiter of Tennessee Williams’ and Blanche Dubois’ “I’ve always been dependent on the kindness of strangers”, I wake up in the morning (sometimes) and say to myself: what the hell am I gonna do with all this tech krapp that has begotten me? Are there not people in the world cleaning up poisonous tech gadget waste dumps because of me? Are there not children’s fingers bleeding from mining the rare elements that make up the innards of these devices? Or perhaps the better, more prudent question is: Do I really have a need for all this krapp? I’ve got desktop computers, servers, laptops, phones, watches, tablets, etc. I’ve got video editors, glorified and digitised typewriters, backup devices, routers and LAN bridges, etc., etc. And I’ve also got a big old box in my basement labelled “Apple” where I store all the stuff I don’t/can’t use anymore. I know. I know. I should call it “junk”. The sad part of all this consume-to-survive nothingness is that it’s actually hard even giving this stuff away–especially when you have no friends and so little contact with the outer world. Indeed. Corporate agenda consume-to-survive obsoletism and dust collecting. That’s me. With that in mind, who would have guessed–after years and years of youth driven anger–I’d be in this phase of life overwhelmed with too much gadgetry? What to do, what to do, what to do–other than consume more.

The pseudo review.

As mentioned in my previous review of the 2016 12″ MacBook (see link above), there was/is something about it that got under my collar. That something has left me perturbed with my beloved MacBook Air. I mean. I don’t need two laptops. Does anyone need two laptops? But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Damn you Apple engineers! In short. The MacBook is nothing short of amazing. In fact, it’s so good, I’ve found myself questioning why Apple has continued the MacBook Air line of laptops. So does it matter that the MacBook is outrageously expensive compared to other laptops, especially Apple’s MacBook Air? Which begs the question: Is this little device worth all that stupid-money? I suppose that’s exactly why Apple has kept the Air models going. For worst-moi, though, having a relatively new, i.e. three year old Air, the discussion is now moot since I got hooked on the 12″ model a few months ago. The real issue is, does the new 12″ MacBook (not really new as mine is the 2016 2nd gen version and the 3rd gen came out last June) work for me by doing the things I need to do in this useless eating, failed artist life?

Oh boy does she go!

I gave the MacBook a trial run–having left my MBA at home during recent travels. Between visits to Denmark and the bewilderment of galavanting in a north European forest that had markings for graves from as far back as 700AD, I spent a few hours each day typing on this new device. By-the-buy, my wife bought the MacBook in late fall of 2016. Being the iOS obsessed user she is, though, she rarely used it. When she finally replaced her go-to device, an iPad Air 2 with a new iPad Pro about two months ago, I don’t think she ever even looked at the MacBook anymore. It was relegated to sitting on a gadget shelf in my room. And, don’t you know, dear worst-reader, it was talking to me. It was looking at me–especially when I was using my MacBook Air or my Mac Pro. It said: Come on dude. You don’t love those outdated things. You love me.

For a while I was able to resist. But we traveled to my beloved Homeland in late October and once again, for about two weeks, I left my cumbersome MacBook Air at home. Can you believe I’m calling a 2015 MacBook Air cumbersome? When we returned to the old country, around mid November, I found myself reaching for the MacBook instead of my MBA. A few days ago I finally gave in.

Twelve inch joy and that’s what she said.

There is something about this device that just fits. For one, I love the 12″ inch form factor. The fact that it’s so light doesn’t hurt either. Of course, I never thought I’d refer to my old MacBook Air as cumbersome–but I’ve already said that. The chassis actually makes this machine feel higher quality than my MBA. Compared to the MBA, the MacBook is stiffer and feels robust. In my humble opinion, when it comes to the amount of typing I do, although it’s a bit louder when I type, it even types better than my MBA. More on that in a sec. And by-the-buy, so far the solution to loud typing on this thing is to keep your fingernails trim.

That Damn Keyboard.

Would you believe I missed typing on this machine during the few months I wasn’t using it in the last half-year? From the day the new MacBook came out, introducing a new-fangled keyboard, trackpad and screen, I was totally skeptical about what Apple had done. I mean, come on. Someone at Apple actually came with that touch-bar thing on the MacBook Pros. A touch bar on a device that wants a touch screen? Hello!

Anywho. My first thoughts were: There is so little movement from the keys. Then, the more and more I used it, it turns out that something was missing when I wasn’t using it. And you have to understand, dear worst-reader. I’m an old school typist. Other than having too many modern tech gadgets, I have a small collection of old mechanical typewriters. Trust me when I say, I know typing. The keyboard on the MacBook is for typing. All you have to do is type softer. And that’s not a bad thing.

There’s one more thing that makes this new keyboard rock. As mentioned, I really like the 12″ form factor of this device–especially how Apple made everything fit perfectly. One of the faults of the MBA keyboard is that there’s too much chassis around it, especially below it. That means, if/when I’m typing I have to remove my Apple Watch because the watch-band gets in the way of the chassis. Also, the edges of the MBA are sharp enough to irritate skin. The MacBook, on the other hand, just fits my hands/fingers better. How they fit this keyboard into the chassis is actually more impressive than how they fit the retina screen.

But the screen is the cream!

Screen Shot 2017-12-20 at 06.44.25

The “retina” display is more than a brilliant and versatile screen. The thing that makes it special is how I can adjust it–for writing/typing. What I mean by “adjust” is more than changing screen real-estate and pixels. Keep in mind, I’m getting to be an old guy. My eyes are almost shot (as in I can’t see without coke bottle glasses anymore). In fact, my eyes are so bad, if I were alive during the bronze age, I probably would believe in the mysticism of religion, too. Yeah, that’s what is wrong with the blind imagination of the men who snaked religion into humanity because they couldn’t see the trickery of things around them like… walking on water or how someone snuck in the wine to replace the water! But I digress.

The most important thing you can do with adjusting the MacBook screen is not only change the size of it but also when you do change it, it doesn’t turn the text into a bunch of ugly pixelated letters. Nomatter what size the display is, the text is sharp and crystal clear. I cannot tell you, dear worst-reader, how significant that is for me.

Fancy Trackpad.

I was never and probably never will be a trackpad fan. I’m still using a wired mouse on my cheese-grater 2010 Mac Pro. When I work with my MBA on my desk I usually use a wired mouse with it, too. Remember the red dot pointer device on Thinkpads? They were/are the best pointer solution other than a mouse–ever. I had a Thinkpad back in the day when The System let me work for the man. Speaking of Thinkpads, if/when I finally give up on Apple/Mac–and I believe that day is coming as the company keeps going down this path of being an iOS centric organisation–I’m getting a Thinkpad and installing Linux on it. But again–I digress.

Moving a finger across a small slab of glass (or in some cases textured plastic) and that translating into a pointer on your screen is the worst tech innovation ever. With that in mind, is the GUI (graphical user interface) an idea that’s reached its end? Personally, with the advent of AI (artificial intelligence), I think it is high-time to re-think the personal computing GUI. I, for one, would love having a command-line interface but with a voice activated AI that allows me to control the entire machine.

  • “Open” this or “Close” that.
  • “Put the last file I was working on in the trash, please.”
  • “Play that song I was listening streaming last night…”
  • “Open file so-n-so, please.” Etc.

The trick being to finally get rid of the graphical user interface. Really. GUI sucks. CLI rules. (If only I were the coder I wish I were.)

One last thing about trackpads. The thing I hate most about the trackpad on my MBA is how only parts of it are useful for certain tasks. The top of it acted different than the bottom. The bottom sometimes got in the way if I my hands were moving around wild and free. In fact, I would often take my eyes off my work (the screen) to make sure I was placing my finger in the right place so I could command my machine. Switching between left and right fingers didn’t help matters either. Luckily the MacBook’s new trackpad is finally approaching what I consider to be usability simply because all parts of it work equally. Although I haven’t found much use yet for “force touch”, it does seem like a logical and much needed addition to trackpad technology.

Going places with the low-end.

about mac screenshot

Compared to 2015 MacBook Air (with i7 CPU), the low-end M3 processor of the MacBook is impressive. Switching between desktops spaces and full screen apps is faster on the newer machine. When I’m working I usually have several apps open, each occupying a desktop space. I have to move between them all regularly. There is no delay in screen redraw or app performance. Surprisingly there is some performance issues with my MBA. Manipulating screenshots from the interwebnets or pics from my iPhone that are transferred using AirDrop and adjusting their size or converting formats all happen instantly on the new MacBook. If I take a break from writing and go to youtube or stream media from my home server, it all happens in the blink of an eye. Now that’s to say that for other tasks (video and more intense picture manipulation) the MBA with its heavier CPU would be better. But there is no denying that the MacBook–for a low-end device–is very impressive.

The good, the bad, the über-cheap and ugly.

IMG_3620

The worst part of this MacBook is the camera. For reasons probably better not made public, Apple decided to put a ten year old (480p) camera in this laptop. My MBA has a great camera in it. The pic above, btw, is the same ten year old camera that’s in the MacBook. I used to love that old camera when it worked on my Mac Pro–until Mavericks broke it. But get this. Even though the video of the iSight camera was $hit, I continued using it for its great microphone. But then El Capitan broke that. Actually, what I think broke was firewire. (But that’s a whole different post.) For me, video is just not a big deal. And when I FaceTime with people, it’s more than good enough–except in low light. Audio is somewhat more important to me and the twin microphones of the MacBook seem to work great. To me, the digital world is all about tools for worst-writing, typing, researching $hit on the interwebets, etc. and this machine does it better than any Mac I’ve ever used.

One I/O?

As far as hooking $hit up to this new MacBook, I don’t care about that either. The only thing I miss is the opportunity to attach an ethernet cable. But I’m starting to break away from that, too. Even though I have a USB-C dongle that gives me 3x USB 3.0, 1x MicroSD and 1x HDMI out, I really am good with the single port. Eventually I plan to utilise the port to tote around a battery, taking advantage of USB-C charging capability. Of course, I probably wouldn’t say any of this if this were my only machine. But I’m practically drowning in tech krapp at this point so I can’t judge whether I need more I/O. So far, traveling with it, typing with it, sleeping with it, hoarding it, the one I/O is not an issue. In fact, the only thing missing from this gluttonous life of mine is that I can’t own the newest stuff yesterday.

In worst-conclusion.

I’m digging the 12″ MacBook and for the future, unless something changes everything, like my wife gets really pissed at me for confiscating it or she breaks her new iPad, it’s gonna be my daily (typing) driver.

Rant on.

-T

How The #neweconomy Became The #oldeconomy And #Apple #Sucks

apple sucks.jpg

Who loves being forced to buy new technology? I mean, that’s really what’s happening these days, or? If hardware manufactures somehow acted responsibly, there would then be no reason that the investment consume-to-survivors make couldn’t last longer. Or are the engineers that make everything smaller and thinner really not that good after-all? Oh wait. We’re living in monopoly times. And. Apple just made my Mac Mini obsolete. And. Apple also made it more difficult for me to update some software that I’ve been using. And while I’m on the subject… iPhones and the corporate obsoletism that’s behind them, really sucks. Yea. Apple sucks!

After a year and a half of use, my iPhone 6s only works for about four hours a day before I have to put it on a charger. To counter this engineering #neweconomy wonder, a few months ago I splurged for an external battery case so I could forget about charging all the time. Luckily the case works really well. On the other hand, because of the case, my once gorgeous iPhone is now über-ugly, ridiculously heavy and I have to use an adapter for the headphone jack. But I’m not even complaining. Reason? I’ve been able to extend the life of my iPhone; I’ve been able to extend my investment. Ain’t that great? More importantly, this extension means I don’t have to dish out stupid-money to corporations that are already undeservedly rich because they can avoid paying taxes. And so. If I’m lucky, my technology investment (iPhone 6s) has somewhere between six months and year left in it. The reason for that has nothing to do with the battery. And so…

The problem was hardware. The problem is software. Get this bull$hit quote from one of the undeservedly rich a$$holes from richer-than-god corporation:

“I’ve always been fascinated by these products that are more general purpose. What I think is remarkable about the iPhone X is that its functionality is so determined by software. And because of the fluid nature of software, this product is going to change and evolve. In 12 months’ time, this object will be able to do things that it can’t now. I think that is extraordinary. I think we will look back on it and see it as a very significant point in terms of the products we have been developing. So while I’m completely seduced by the coherence and simplicity and how easy it is to comprehend something like the first iPod, I am quite honestly more fascinated and intrigued by an object that changes its function profoundly and evolves. That is rare. That didn’t happen 50 years ago.”

Let’s break this quote down, shall we. Below the underscored text including worstwriter’s interpretation of greed mongering corporatists’ subtext.

  • functionality is determined by software
    • This will allow us to cheat customers even more than we cheat them now
  • fluid nature of software
    • fluid = 100% control
  • change and evolve
    • profit dictation and monopolised market equals obsoletism at the flip of a switch
  • I think we will look back on it and see it as a very significant point in terms of the products we have been developing
    • There is no ceiling to what we can charge for our products (first example is the iPhone X)
  • I’m completely seduced by the coherence and simplicity and how easy it is to comprehend something like the first iPod
    • Never question progress in the name of unsubstantiated profits in a monopolised market that is determined by arbitrary costs we pass on to customers in the name of that progress
  • object that changes its function profoundly and evolves. That is rare. That didn’t happen 50 years ago
    • That because 50 years ago there was competition and corporate behaviourists with college educations in Stupid hadn’t yet realised the easy profits from the verticalisation of industries, i.e. politically supported monopolies

But I’m probably way off subject. What I really wanted to worst-write about today, dear worst-reader, was the idear that Apple’s App Store, along with the bull$hit spewed by Jony Ive, is yet another example of how the new economy has been defeated by the old economy (i.e. Goliath hath slain David). And not only has it been defeated but the new economy is now becoming the old economy. In the pic above, we see that software developers are locked into some kind of control room regarding their creations. A simple software that a few people put together must adhere to preposterous rules regarding how they run their business simply because they sell their creation through a “store” controlled by a monopolist entity. That this is legal, is beyond me. But then again, we are living in greed-times. Greed is good, right #americant?

I have never been so motivated to trash all this tech krapp. Indeed. Looks like this text will be typed on the last Apple Mac that I ever buy. Of course, I’m stuck with the iPhone for a while. But that’s only because I’ve been too lazy to adopt “smartphones” the way I adopted (real) computers. But I don’t think it will take me as long with smartphones. Luckily I was able to see through the “smart” in phones a long time ago. And with that…

But I digress.

Rant on.

-T

Link that motivated this post:

Pseudo Review: RasPlex + Hifiberry And Some Serious Audio On The Cheap

 

rasplex hifiberry dacpluspro
That little green light is more than go-go, baby!

Can a non-audiophile still hear great audio? Can a music-lover of old music still get some jams through his/her head in these digital times without breaking the bank? Do those guys that spend all that money as “audiophiles” give you the creeps? Indeed. Money. Audio. How much you got?

Because I spend too much money on other expensive stuff, I’ve never really prioritised audio in my life–even though I love listening to music. I learned a long time ago that you don’t have to dish out huge sums of cash to hear good replicated music. That said, I can’t go more than a few days without listening to something that either soothes me, rocks me or moves me. A good drink and some Jazz while cooking is heaven. Am I wrong? And so. Unlike most young folk today, I can’t listen to music through headphones–whether in-ear or over-ear. If you see me out and about with Beckett, the killer pug, and I’ve always got earbuds stuck in my head–I’m listening to podcasts! The problem with headphones and earbuds is the feeling I get with so little space between my ears and what moves air. Headphones make music not only sound weird but feel weird, too. If that makes me old fashion, then get this. I have come to love today’s modern digital music consume-to-survive world. Even though I don’t buy much music anymore–and I can’t stand most all of the music made nowadays, I’m good. Reason? I have a digitised music library that contains everything I need. Whether it’s The Beatles (the greatest album ever is Abby Roads), Beethoven (9th!) or some esoteric Jazz, I’m good. Really good. Seriously. And that’s not all. For all practical purposes, dear worst-reader, I completely missed the CD revolution, too. I couldn’t afford the equipment back then. Since the 70s I have consumed music by borrowing, sharing or trading. In fact, till about fifteen years ago, I had never even owned a sound system with speakers. But I digress.

As digital music took over by the mid 90s–along with the Internetwebs–I was still catching up on the CD revolution. Of course, at least two-thirds of the CDs I have, were all acquired pre-owned or traded. Like in the days with cassettes and albums, digital music was made for sharing. For those who consider sharing piracy, first: fuck you. Second: I still have most of the CDs I ripped in a box in my basement. I never once downloaded anything from Napster–even though I admire greatly what they were trying to do. (Note: I will never buy anything Metallica for what that $hitty band did to young people who just wanted to share music.) I did make a few downloads from BitTorrent, though. (Note: it was all part of research!) Anyhoo. I have a nice digital library of music that spans most of the 20th century. Oh, and I have two version of that library. One version is in FLAC and the other, to appease me wife’s demand for media singularity and simplicity, is iTunes compatible.

Let’s move on to the pseudo-review, shall we?

As you’ll note in the pic above, I am currently using two streaming devices for our home media. For amplification (and in order to avoid those awful sound bars, which my wife wanted after I got rid of our AVR krapp) I’m using a TEAC A-HO1 integrated amp and DAC. Here’s a review of it. I got it last year after selling my hundred pound multi-channel AVR system, 7 speakers, and one 700 watt subwoofer. I’m not even gonna worst-write how little money I got for all that krapp–which says a lot about the state of the audio equipment industry. But get this. I would have almost given it away. If I ever have to wire up five, six or seven speakers again and then try to configure an AVR for a room… I’m gonna shoot myself with your gun.

Amp and sound.

The TEAC is connected to some really, really cool Audioengine P4 speakers (not pictured). We have a fairly small living room and I’ve never once regretted having these “bookshelf” speakers–which are actually in bookshelves that surround my flatscreen TV. They are fantastic speakers and I got them on a über-great-deal from shopping on the Interwebnets. They move the air more than enough to make sound very, very enjoyable.

Streaming boxes.

For iTunes we have the AppleTV(3) connected via HDMI to the TV. The optical-out of the TV is connected to the optical-in of the TEAC. This works fine–except for the fact that one is locked into the Apple world. Which also means no high-end audio and/or limited access to my own higher-end audio files. The ATV can’t play FLAC files.

Also connected to the TV via HDMI is my RaspberryPi 2 Model B+, and connected to that is a Hifiberry DAC+Pro. This is a bit more complicated than the ATV. The HDMI of the RaspberryPi also delivers audio to the TV, and, as with the ATV, the TV converts audio signals to the TEAC’s optical-in. Again, for simplicity, I have chosen not to use the ATV’s optical out–which does produce better audio than the TV. That said, we want something more than any of these optical options, don’t we?

Analogue Audio Galore.

The Hifiberry is where the real magic happens. For less than a hundred Euros–the software, RasPlex, is free btw–the Raspberry Pi is a fantastic DAC. It actually converts and, where applicable, upscales audio and then delivers that as analog right and left stereo to the TEAC’s analog-in cinch ports. The Hifiberry DAC+ and “pro” designation means that it has the same type of chips used in high-end DACs. You can opt for a non “pro” version of the Hifiberry if you prefer to save a buck or three. But I couldn’t resist the gold cinch connectors! Nomatter.

Btw, I’ve had the RaspberryPi+Hifiberry for two years or so. I gave up on it when I first got it because I couldn’t get the drivers to work properly. Even though the HDMI of the Raspberry Pi spits out audio, it’s not half as good as what this thing spits out with the Hifiberry card attached. And so. The other day, while bored out of my early-retirement mind and while fiddling through a junk box of old gadgets, I decided to google whether or not they finally fixed the driver issue. Alas! They did. I re-installed the newest version of RasPlex on a 16GB micros SD card. I also had to fiddle with the config.txt file a bit. Then you have to tell RasPlex, using the UI, to route audio through the Hifiberry daughter card… Boom, baby! That little green light (pic above) lights up bright and shinny.

First test.

From a ripped blu-ray of Guardians of the Galaxy, the Raspberry Pi + Hifiberry streams from my Plex server via LAN crystal clear 1080p video including up (or is it down?) scaled DTS 5.1 audio to stereo and the TEAC releases what will make even an ageing grouch like me smile from ear to ear. Also. I’m really glad those boys at RasPlex got their software to the point that even I can set it up. Cool. Über cool.

Rant on.

-T