Desk Rig While Migrating To Linux

desk setup Feb 2020.jpeg

In worst-writer’s quest to eventually (when exactly?) dump MacOS, I’ve been dabbling in Linux for quite some time. The problem, of course, is that I’m a very slow learner. Add to that the relative slowness of previous RPi’s, I’ve not yet felt comfortable with Rasbian or any other Linux distro on the RPI3, with the exception of Dietpi, but that’s not really a desktop option. Besides, as we all know, eh dear worst-reader, there’s no place in this worst-world for slow learners or pure CLI. Hence I am worst-writer and I’m destined to live as such–slow CPU here or there albeit with a desktop environment. And so. Since Windows is out of the question, the alternative OS for worst-moi can only be Linux with a fancy desktop distro. My only regret with facing such a reality is that I have to wait till my current MacBook is ready for the dung-heap before making the change. The laptops from System76 are looking pretty right now. Reason for the wait, though, is simple: that fcuking pink MacBook was fcuking expensive and to make matters worst it fcuking works great as a worst-writer daily driver, USB-C dongle or not. I’m mean, it is one of Apple’s smallest and weakest computers. Yet I love the thing, krappy keyboard n’all. And for fourteen hundred painful Euros… I can’t believe I paid that much for such an underpowered device. What’s wrong with me? Goo-goo, ga-ga. Bling, bling. Anywho.

The reason I’m eventually (when exactly?) changing to Linux is the open question of the day, of course. What’s clear is that I’m really NOT interested in paying the über high price for Macs anymore. Considering how the company is going full iOS, plus the Apple tax, i.e. the made-up cost (arbitrary) of Apple + intel that is bordering on STUPID, when considering the power and usability of something as cheap as an RPi (ARM processors), it all only reminds me that the whole industry is, not unlike #Trump and the LAND OF FREE TO BE STUPID, waaaaaaaaaay out of whack. And as we all know, I’ll tolerate an iPad as a hand-me-down from my wife for viewing media and reading digital books but boy oh boy do I hate touch screen computing–and I’ll never (in this case never say never may or may not apply) buy another iPad for as long as worst-live. But let’s not get tied up on the tablet thing and me making promises worst-writer might not be able to keep, eh.

As you can see in the pic above, I’m currently running my Mac world on the right side of my desk and on the left my new RPi4 world. Since I’m also not ready to splurge on a new monitor, I’m using an old TV that has two HDMI ports as my RPi monitor. And although a TV is not a computer monitor, this one works pretty good on account it’s desktop small. At the least, it’s good enough for fiddling around with Raspbian-Linux (a Debian distro). To my surprise, even after only using it for a few weeks, the whole desk setup, including those new infancy monitor arms, works pretty good. Considering I didn’t have to buy a new keyboard for the RPi4, which I thought I’d have to do to use two computers systems on one desk, the setup is looking even cooler. My old Apple keyboard and mouse work just fine on the RPi4. As you’ll note in the pic above, there is also a second RPi, an RPi3b+, that I’m currently using as a retro game tester, which is plugged into the TV’s second HDMI port. I did splurge on a cheap knock-off PS3 controller for that one, though. I may or may not post something regarding RPi retro gaming but that’ll have to wait since I’m still trying to figure out how it works.

As far as desktop setup and duel monitor arms, I splurged on a you-know-who Basics offering. Although there is no vertical movement of the monitor arms, you can easily adjust height via the centre poll. It’s all not as uppity and fancy as those more expensive arms that seem to float in the air but I suppose that’s the reason this one only cost 35,-€. And since I can rotate my Dell monitor 90° when needed, as I sometimes use it in portrait mode when working on longer draft worst-writing, this is all über-good, baby.

Yes. All in all this is a cool desktop solution for lots of worst-writing, including lots of continued worst-writing procrastination. Combined with my Ikea height adjustable desk, I should be good till the next urge to consume-to-survive hits and I have to buy something else that I don’t really need but is, well, cool. Speaiing of consuming things needed (or not), I’m really digging the idear of getting back into motorcycling. Maybe this year I’ll be able to worst-post something about getting back on two (powered) wheels again. Or maybe not.

Rant on.

-T

Decimate Manufacturing

three dollar bill apple logo (low res)

Trying to figure out the linked article below, dear worst-reader. Sometimes I have that problem as I scan the Interwebnets being the info junky I am. And while some articles perturb me, others disturb me, this one kinda makes one side of me head glow as though I were the missing target of unicorns and their rainbow shooting liquid carbines. Either that. Or. This article is meant to get buyers to buy more APPL stock. Wait. Or could it be meant to get more suckers, like worst-moi, to buy more Apple stuff? Nomatter.

To worst-moi this is an interesting analogy. Comparing the value of a single company’s stock to the value of a country’s entire stock market… Well, I guess I wish I would have thought of that. But here’s the thing, dear worst-reader. Not only am I an Apple fan-boy but I’m also an expat that has been living in the #Eurowasteland tribe of Germania for almost thirty years. And so. Having some experience with the Huns, it’s a bit hard for me to swallow an article like this. Reason? Comparing a company that is the epitome of failupwards, free-for-all pseudo-capitalism, i.e. #Americant, where the manufacturing base has been completely decimated due to the political ignorance of voters, to a country that actually makes stuff (Germany is still a manufacture juggernaut), is a bit of a stretch. And all because of the price of… financial funny paper galore aka stock from a market that uses (stock) buy-backs in order to increase compensation packages of a bunch of compulsive behaviourist CEOs and and and…?

Or am I the only one noticing NOTHING from Apple is actually made in the (my) beloved & missed united mistakes of #Americant? Wait. Is that the point that the article is trying to make? Or how ’bout this:

Designed in Cupertino, baby!

Yeah, #Americant corporatism has perhaps culminated in companies like Apple. But at what cost? I mean. Where do you think Apple would be (stock price) if it made products where workers had to actually be paid a living wage?

Anywho.

Rant on.

-T

Link: https://www.macrumors.com/2020/01/29/apple-worth-more-than-germany-dax/

Pseudo-Review: iPhone 6s > iPhone 11

Why go to 10 (or Xr or 8) when you can go to 11? For that is the worst-question, eh, dear worst-reader? I mean, wouldn’t we all go to 11, always skipping the others, if we could? Or is the issue mute? Nomatter. The moment I’d been avoiding for so long by nursing my iPhone 6s–you know, the good-fight we all must lose in order to postpone Apple’s corporate strategy of forced product obsoletism–finally arrived the other day. Even though I’ve been giving it my best for almost four years, the whole time knowing that these devices really only last, on a good day, for about two years, I hung to a glimmer of hope. I mean, come on. Almost 4 years out of the 6s? WTF. That is pretty cool. On the other hand. Maybe. Just maybe. Why couldn’t I make it last a bit more? You know, make it last until the iPhone 12–or the 13, etc. Or? But then, about two weeks ago, I updated my 6s to iOS 13 and suddenly the bells and gongs of Steve Jobs’ greed-mongering rang galore. The 6s was the last old iPhone that was supposed to handle the new update, its predecessor the iPhone 6 being hurled to the official wastedom of obsoletism. Indeed. FYI. They should have hurled the 6s, as well.

Obsoletism And Batteries

The first thing that went, about two years ago–the thing that always goes first–was the battery. And not just one battery. I utilised Apple’s offer of replacing the 6s’ original battery with their 30,-€ deal last February. And don’t you know, for about two months I thought things were great. But then, probably after another system update (or two), that 30,-€ battery deal turned sour. Unwilling to make a claim that Apple’s battery replacement program was a hoax, I decided to resort to a somewhat extreme solution. After my 6s’ first year I bought one of them Anker battery cases. Although it bulked-up the device to being the size of the newer “plus” phones Apple was offering, I went with it. The battery case lasted for about eight months till it too started showing major power degradation. After that I tried carrying around one of those USB chargers. It also worked for a while. Then I came across an original Apple iPhone 6s battery case at a reduced price of around 100,-€. I went for it. To say the least, that damn 6s cost me quite a bit to just keep it going. So was/am I glad that it kinda died the other day? Now that I finally upgraded, I can easily say… shur-nuff, baby!

Old=out New=in

Of course, there were a few moments here and there where I thought I shouldn’t splurge so much cash for the latest model. Why not just take the iPhone 8? It’s priced at about two hundred less than the 11, don’t you know. In fact, I don’t really need much in/from an iPhone. I had long realised that the worst part about corporate forced product obsoletism isn’t that they design these things to make you buy more, but, during the last two years of stretching its life, I could barely use any non-Apple Apps. The processor is just too slow to keep up with new software. With the 6s it’s really not so bad since most of my computing activity is with my MacBook. Also. I rarely make phone calls with it and if I do, it’s mostly using FaceTime with family. Otherwise, I use it for podcasting, GPS, camera, news, reading books (Kindle and Apple Books), weather, note-taking, etc. Most of that stuff worked till the end because the software was from Apple. Indeed. The Kindle software (Amazon) was pretty much toast, though. Plus, I got tired of reading on the little 6s screen. Anyhow. After only twenty-four hours of use of my new iPhone… Boy have I been missing-out.

Price Reality

Lucky for worst-moi and because of pricing politics after the ridiculously expensive iPhone X–which my wife paid almost 1200,-€ for last year–the price of the new iPhone 11, including a 50-, trade-in for my old 6s, wasn’t looking too bad. Comparably the Xr model, only a hundred Euros less, and the 8 model, two-hundred less, but also with substantially weaker hardware specs, meant that nomatter how I cut it, I was gonna fork out anywhere between 550,- to 800,- with this consume-to-survive transaction. For you see, dear worst-reader, I’ve never had a phone contract so buying one of these things with a contract is a no-go. I hate cell phone carriers, but that’s another worst-post. In the end, with the trade-in, I paid 749,-€ for the newest iPhone. Does that make me want to jump up and down and or kiss Pamela Anderson posters till I blow my goo? Indeed. 749,- for a new iPhone of this caliber is a long way away from 1000,- plus. Indeed. Indeed.

Setup

So I went through the crowded rigamarole at the Apple Store on a Saturday afternoon. Luckily, nomatter how crowded my local Apple store gets, I’ve learned that if you’re buying something, especially hardware, the line to get service is easily shortened for you. Within a few hours I was back home getting ready to unbox and set up my new iPhone 11. Since I had made a backup on my MacBook the night before of my 6s, I declined the offer to setup up my new phone at the crowded store, always telling the Apple rep that I new what I was doing. Of course, deleting and emptying my 6s, so I could turn it in to him, took a while, too. Btw, it’s pretty cool how Apple makes sure your devices is wiped. For whatever reason, my old iPhone was having trouble NOT backing up my data to iCloud while at the store. The rep kept saying I should let the backup happen but I also kept telling him that I trusted the backup I made the previous night on my MacBook. All in all, I was right, but with one caveat. The only setup issue I had with my new iPhone, iCloud account n’all, was that I didn’t expect it to not be on the latest iOS, which, btw, my 6s had. That meant I couldn’t “restore” from my backup because the 6s iOS was newer than what was on the iPhone 11. And so. What should have taken about half-hour to forty minutes, took almost an hour and a half to complete. The new iPhone iOS update took the longest. The restore from iTunes took about fifteen minutes. Even though direct old phone to new phone updates that Apple has are cool and work great (it’s how my wife does it), the way I did it works, too. It just takes a bit longer. It’s really cool that my new phone, after the update and restore from old 6s, is identical. Love it!

Apps Crash

Wow. After just under 48hrs of use, I’m tickled to death with my new iPhone. I can finally run a few 3rd party Apps I haven’t been able to run for years–or they completely got out of my usage radar because my 6s has long since been obsolete. iaWriter, for example. One of my favourite worst-writing apps. It syncs with all my worst-writing to my MacBook now. I was never able to do that with either my new MacBook or its predecessor my MacBook Air and the 6s. (Why?) There’s also a few Apps my wife wants us both to use (for cooking recipes, of course) that I couldn’t use before because she’s got a iPhone X. Even Apple Apps are no longer crashing as much as they did before e.g. FaceTime and Contacts. Volumio, my audio player/controller of choice (in combination with a household full of Raspberry Pi’s plus HifiBerry), was also crashing. The 6s used to crash all the time before I could even start a song with my iPhone 6s; had to resort to playing/controlling music with my MacBook. Hasn’t crashed once with the new 11. But. Ok. Obviously this new iPhone is better than the previous one. I mean, it’s the best iPhone apple has EVER made. Or? Nomatter. Lots of re-learning about Apps is still to come.

Design Flaw Ongoing

Of course, let’s not get too junky about being an Apple fanboy. Like the 6s, the same things I hated about that design will still be with me in the new 11. For example, the volume buttons being directly across from the power button–or what is now also the Siri button–is stupid. Whoever at Apple came up with this idear is, well, stupid. Reason? Unless you take special care, you cannot change the volume on this device with one hand. Cupping the iPhone and then using your forefinger to either increase or decrease the volume, thereby requiring your thumb to counter the pressure on the other side of the phone, either turns it off or, now, calls up Siri. Whaaaaaaaaaa! Also. Why the hell do they make these things as slippery as a greased pig. (No. I’ve never tried to catch a greased pig! But I have read about it.) The fact that I’ve become accustomed, since the 6s, to being very careful how I handle/hold/pick-up this phone, says everything. I feel like, sometimes, someone at Apple (Steve Jobs?) had the idear: how can we subvert product obsoletism, which only alienates customers, with a surer way of getting them to buy more of these things? That’s right. Make them out of glass so that they are supposed to slip out of your hands and fall crashing to the ground. Apple care anyone? (Fcuk you!)

Summary

Although I probably pissed away a lot of money trying to keep my iPhone 6s running for so long, in the end the only thing that killed it was battery. After getting used to an old, slow iPhone, I could have lived with it, including not being able to run certain apps. Oh well. And by-the-buy, I would have replaced the 6s sooner if Apple would have upgraded (hardware) the iPhone SE. Personally, another design flaw of these things is that they are just waaaaaaaay too big. The last best fitting iPhone for me was the 5s. Again. Oh well.

Now take my money Apple!

Rant on.

-T

Apple Pay, Credit Bureaus, Moneyed History Straight Line To Now

apple card 2
This is a screenshot from the pdf, see source link below.

When did it begin in my beloved & missed united mistakes of #Americant, dear worst-reader? When did the obsession to consume-to-survive through the happy monetary machine of plastic begin? When did that little plastic card replace hard earned cash someone’s grandparents slaved for–or wheel barrelled into a bakery in Berlin in 1923 to buy bread? I mean, we all know when the greed $hit$how began, right? You know, the $hit$how where you can and must live above and beyond your means–so that you are always beholden to some/one/thing else. Yeah, baby. #Americant indeed.

Go with the following worst-thoughts for a sec, eh, dear worst-reader.

I’m worst-guessing, off the top of my worst-head, that the fascination with systematic consumer loan-sharking, or the credit card industrial complex, as a means for nation-state consumption, began in the seventies. Why the seventies? Well, by the end of the sixties, the powers-that-be realised that it was time to shift the costs of war-mongering, from which they had oh-so profited, onto the backs of something or someone else, otherwise the $hit was gonna hit the fan again–just like it did in 1929. And so. Now that the great wars-of-need were over all that was left was the creation of Empire through minor wars-of-want1 (aka wars of choice). While the military industrial complex was taking advantage of The Stupid (the riff-raff), the lords of commerce were diligently getting rid of that other burden that was in the way of über profits galore: labour. These two things put together are a potent poison, don’t you know. All that’s needed to get them both out of the way are a bunch of willing suckers, i.e. a huge consumer base that can only culminate in #MAGA. Yeah, baby. Let the riff-raff (The Stupid) pay from now on–and they will. You want a car? Well, good for you sucker. Good thing getting a car is never about the actual price of the thing. No. It’s about what they can get you to pay for that car per month–for the rest of your fcuking life. You want a computer or a smartphone? Pay 23.99% interest while you pay monthly for it, even while that device is manufactured for obsoletism in less than two years, because that’s the way it is, sucker. And not only let them, the riff-raff, pay, but let’s make them also pay double or triple with political capital, too. Enter Faux-Newz (early 1990s) and an industry of propaganda that is making Joseph Goebbels cream his deadman rotten shorts. Yeah, that is the power of misconstrued patriotism mixed with greed and spite and hate and bigotry and and and….

Wait a sec. Am I on about credit cards yet?

The reason for credit-cards as a means to consume was required because someone thought new & improved great wars must be avoided at all cost. Banking and finance in the sixties wasn’t as devious as it is today and thereby couldn’t simply jimmy and screw and dazzle The Stupid (the riff-raff) with interest rates. The powers-that-be were all still frightened out of their minds by the concept/reality of inflation, socialism and it all mixed with an informed riff-raff (the not-so stupid?) that would not only jump from skyscrapers in NYC but also rise up with AK-47’s disguised as pitchforks and then go around mass-shooting everybody and everything in El Paso, Dayton, Columbine, Las Vegas, etc., etc. As we all now know, the fun & games with interest rates, to prevent not only hyper-inflation but also stock market crashes and great wars, would be a long term game. So too would the AK-47 slash pitchfork phenomenon carried by the by-product of Dr. Americant Frankstein. Wow. Little did anyone know how willing the riff-raff (The Stupid) would become in this game, eh. Welcome to #MAGA.

But I wanted to get on about credit-cards.

Oh, how I remember those American Express commercials in the late 70s. And what ever happened to Diner’s Club? Why is it that I always think of Benihana restaurants when I think of consuming-to-survive back in the day when it was exotic to pay for anything with a plastic card? Elitism hits you young, don’t you know. It was the aura of the times, eh? Not unlike the lore of travel. High-end products. Airports and luxury. Being serviced by people who at least acted like they were interested. Pan Am. The TV show Mad Men reminded me of those days. But wait. I’m getting off subject again.

As of early 2019 I’m finally allowed to use Apple Pay as a means to consume-to-survive. I mean, it’s kinda like a credit card, right? At least it’s attached to Visa, I think. It’s been a long time waiting, dear worst-reader. The long wait has something to do with Germania’s banking system. I mean, it’s not like The Huns needed other means to enable the purchase of $hit. Their EC-Card system, which is basically nothing more than a debit-card system directly attached to your bank account, i.e without the third-party enablers like Visa, M/C & co., actually works pretty great. The only problem with it is, well, in order to have the coolness of something like Apple Pay, the bank would have to enable a third party to make it happen–which greedy little Huns don’t want to have to pay for in the form of fees. Hence, since expatriating to the Germanin tribe of #Eurowasteland so many years ago, I guess I’ve been waiting secretly to finally run up a credit card bill to see if/how they repossess me for over-draw galore. Has that secret day finally arrived with ApplePay? Not quite.

Although Apple Pay has been available in Germania since around 2017, my bank turned it on at the beginning of this year. It took me till two months ago to finally set it up on my iPhone and, of course, my AppleWatch. After that it took a few more weeks before I had the guts to actually use it. Now that it’s working, I don’t want to pay with anything else. The only problem is, The Huns are still a bit behind in making it available everywhere. I mean, wouldn’t it be cool if those stuck-up Bier servers at those great Bier halls could take payment with just a click from my watch? Or, if I need a train/tram ticket, wouldn’t it be great to just flash my phone at the ticket dispenser? And what about being able to use it in those houses of il-repute? You know, where most German males have to go in order to get some relief from being married… you guessed it… to a fcuking German female. Oh wait. Banks the world over have issues with financial transactions and… houses of il-repute, don’t you know. Yeah, cash-only still works.

The good news is: don’t worry; at this point in my worst-life, I don’t have to worry about credit. Not much into hookers anymore either. I’ve long since learned to live within my means–and I’m no longer ashamed of relieving both my balls and my prostate through other left-handed means. And although I consume-to-survive a lot of material $hit, especially tech gadgets, I think I’m pretty prudent when it comes to spending. The drive/need to exercise my prostate is also waning. Still, it would be cool to finally have a bit more payment modernity in the old country and to wait-n-see if a hot-chick repossessor rings my door-bell wearing porn clothing and carrying a bottle of that lube found in Osama Bin Laden’s bedroom at his last Pakistani stand.

But I should really really really move on now.

Using Apple Pay got me thinking about my brethren in my beloved & missed #Americant. For one thing–and get this, dear worst-reader–I haven’t had a revolving credit card for almost thirty years. For another thing, in the Germania economy, revolving credit ain’t a consume-to-survive necessity. People here have spendable income through both savings and earnings. And so. When I hear things from President Stupid that the economy in my beloved & missed #Americant is doing great but then read about how much debt is held by the Riff-raff… Come on. For the life of me, I have no idear how/why so many people subject themselves to the whims of #Americant loan sharking. I mean, is it so hard to live within your means–as opposed to charging everything until the repossessor comes or you just pay every month after month on that revolving, interest laden account for the rest of your life? Would I too be as bitter as #Americants are today–and thereby resort to drugs and violence and disarray–if I had to afford something less than this fancy, jewellery MacBook that I’m typing on now–and/or lose patients for 3pm to arrive where I can finally poor that first Gin?

Maybe.

And while doing all this useless, worst contemplation about all the suckers (the riff-raff) that enable and facilitate #Americant, while enjoying the fact that I finally have a modern western world form of payment in the old country, I happened across the new-fangled AppleCard’s user agreement–which, for goodness sake, no one knows when it will be available here. Anywho. The user agreement kinda threw me for a loop, don’t you know–even though I’m no where near possessing it but instead reading the rules & reg regarding a form of monetary payment made out of titanium that is obviously waaaaay cool. Whaaaaa? It has no numbers on it either. It only as the owners name on it and, of course, the emblem of the corporate elitism so many (worst-moi included?) espouses. Is this the next future of modern payment I’m waiting for?

First, did you know that AppleCard is nothing but a Goldman Sachs master-card credit card? Whaaaaa? Second, get a load of those interest rates. I mean. Goldman doesn’t even tickle you a bit here. Nor do they give you a small, slight, conduit kiss… before they get right into how they’re going to fcuk you with interest rates. I mean, come on. Are you serious? 13-24% interest rates, dear worst-reader? What idiot pays this $hit? Then something else hit me. I’ve been gone so long. I’ve been so far away from the essence that is my beloved & missed #Americant–i.e. credit-card and working poor mayhem–that I completely misplaced somewhere deep in my worst-psyche what it is people must be going through and hence only the worst of the worst of human behaviour can be the result. No wonder you’all are killing each other and no one can figure out why nor can anything be done about it.

Don’t get me wrong here, dear worst-reader. I’m no conspiracy theorist. I know that there is no single group of men (powers-that-be?) that sit around in a star chamber and hammer out a plan to screw the world. Yet, what is it that makes people accept 13-24% interest rates on doing the only thing that anyone can/should/must do to survive in the West today? Sure, the other parts of the Goldman Sachs AppleCard are a pretty good deal. There’s no transaction fees, no penalty fees, blah, blah, blah. But then the card is going to be an elite card, right? A very controlled bunch of people are gonna get it, right? You know, like American Express once was elite. Or Diner’s Club. By-the-buy, I could never get a Diner’s Club card and I only briefly was able to get an American Express card through an employer once–which I no longer have nor would I touch with a ten foot penis.

apple card 1
This is a screen shot, with search highlight, see source link below.

And that’s not the worst of it. What the fcuk is a Credit Bureau? Yeah, that’s the $hit that registered with me when I read the corporate user agreement. It’s bad enough that #Americants enable idiotic politicians that only favour rich people but it’s another thing when they also enable the scammers? Wait. What am I saying? They just elected a scammer as President. Ok. Ok. All politicians are scammers. But Pee-Pee-Hair #Trump is a scammer of a whole ‘nother order, or? And on top of that, there is the scam of having to rely on credit in order to consume-to-survive but to get credit you first have to go through a credit bureau, which is privately owned, that makes or breaks your credit reliability which then determines how much interest you pay for having or not having an elite credit card, and then, you know, paying between 13-24% interest….

Whaaaaa?

Jesus fcukin‘ christ!

Come on #Americant. You are a country of scams. Everything is a scam. And why the fcuk did I buy this Apple computer in January in Europe where these things are even more expensive than, say, tax free Delaware? Oh wait. It cost, like, 1400,-€ but I paid cash for it. So I guess I’m not being totally scammed cause I had the fcuking cash to pay for it…. Fcuk!

Credit bureaus, people. Credit bureaus, or credit rating agencies, are an industry. What should be something more akin to a utility is instead a private, profit making industry owned by a few people with the help of more shareholders. Indeed. Like so many others, they took one scam industry to make another scam industry and when will the next scam industry happen? But wait. You also took a guy with pee-pee-hair and gave him the highest elected office of scammer-ville. Yeah, this makes sense, now don’t it. This is #Americant galore, baby. THE LAND OF FREE TO BE STUPID.

Anywho.

Reading through the customer agreement document for the new titanium AppleCard got me riled, dear worst-reader. It got me riled because, well, even though I’ve been an expat for almost thirty years–and I’ve only recently received the privilege of being able to pay for $hit with a modern form of payment–the most shocking thing is how nothing has changed back home. As backwards as things are in #Eurowasteland, everything has gotten über-worst in my beloved & missed united mistakes of #Americant. I suppose this document only re-emphasised the fact that, for worst-moi, there’s no return. Not because I don’t want to go back but instead because I don’t know how I would deal with so much STUPID. Either that or I wouldn’t be able to buy anything anyway on account, well, I’ve got no credit.

Rant on, suckers.

-T

Link that motivated this post:


  1. In order of appearance: Korea, Vietnam, Middle America, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq. ↩︎

Network Station Galore In Pine64 Heaven

network station rock64 rockpro64 etc.png
Network station galore, baby.

And yet another update is here.

UPDATE (to this post): The Rock64 with 4-bay drive enclosure (the gadgets on the left in the pic above) failed the other day. That means, this entire post is null & void. Oh how I wanted the Rock64 (from Pine64) to succeed. But I suppose, for tech newbie/wannabees like me, I’m barking up the wrong tree here. At least the RockPro64 (black box on the right), as a dietpi//Samba/Plex/Pihole server hasn’t yet failed me! That said, I can’t get the Rock64, either using OMV or Dietpi, to just work the way I want it to work. I’m soooo disappointed, don’t you know. Or maybe not. Although I’ll go ahead and leave this post–it’d be a shame to waste all the worst-writing–I’m pretty much done with Pine64 products, especially since a new RPi4 just came out. Oh well. I guess this level of tinkering is fun while it lasts. Or maybe not.

Subtitle 1: Avoiding, circumventing an industry hell-bent on the grand rip-off?

Subtitle 2: In a world of trucks or no trucks, SBC’s rule, biatch!

If you want to skip all my worst-writing about Apple and Trucks, scroll down to it’s a network station galore, baby.

To begin this worst-post, dear worst-reader, I have to express a word or three about trucks. Do you remember that schtick from Steve Jobs about the post-PC era (ca. 2012-13)? As usual, I ate it up. Well, maybe I didn’t exactly eat it up. But I certainly heeded the words of the tech-guru who changed the friggin’ world twice! (1984 with the Macintosh and then again in 2007 with the iPhone.) I mean, even though I’m not a tablet guy (yet), as in, I can’t give up on a real computer, the change that’s being forced upon us consume-to-survivors, especially in all-things tech, is too often in my thoughts. After purchasing earlier this year what might be my last Mac, the question I’m currently dealing with is this: does my tech future include Apple?

One of the questions I’m throwing around in my head is if/when I have to replace yet another device due to strategic, monolithic, corporate obsoletism, what will/should I replace it with? Even though I love my new, retail-bought 2017 MacBook (jewellery galore, eh), there’s something about the tech path that Apple’s taken in recent years that gets under my gander. The truth is: not only do I hate tech-jewellery but I also hate touch screens. (And don’t laugh too hard since my new MacBook is pink-gold.) I mean, I really hate touch screens. (But this pink-gold is growing on me.) In fact, I hate touch screens as much as I hate NAS boxes. Of course, I tolerate touch screens on my iPhone. I even still use a first gen iPad Air (that I inherited from my better-half as she’s full-on iOS) as an e-book reader and a streaming client for Plex, Amazon Prime and YouTube–the latter while I’m in the kitchen cooking. But get this! To throw things into a craze-loop, what does Apple go and do at its 2019 WWDC that confused the hell out of me–especially considering I vividly remember Jobs’ truck analogy–that I ate up? That’s right. Apple brings back the friggin’ truck. And it doesn’t bring it back slightly with, say, a tickle and a smooch. No. It brings those friggin’ trucks back with a vengeance in the form a new, über-fancy, über-über expensive cheese-grater MacPro. WTF!

So let’s recap, shall we?

Steve Jobs claimed back in 2013 (see links below) that the PC was dead. Long live the post-PC era. The gist of his proclamation is simple. We (consumers) don’t need PCs (trucks) anymore. What we need are tablets. I suppose, in a way, he was right. Right, don’t you know, for other people, of course. Me? If I choose to leave Apple after I’m done with my latest MacBook, I’m either going to join the gang and get an iPad (but only if I can accompany it with a MacMini) or I’m going full Linux. Indeed. I’m seriously digging what System76 is doing right now–even though they don’t, as of this worst-post, have a laptop with a German keyboard. (That’s right. I can only speed-worst-type with a German QWERTZ keyboard!) But that’s not all, dear worst-reader, that relates to Apple contradicting its dead hero. The Steve Jobs truck proclamation was about a few things other than just PCs. Wasn’t that also around the time when cloud-computing was getting its mojo on? You know, there’s no need to have a big (truck) PC for storing your files and data anymore cause, well, you can conveniently store it all on well-controlled corporate servers… in the cloud. Now ain’t that the ticket! (Sarcasm off.) Don’t get me wrong here. I’m using the cloud. But should it be the solution for future private data needs?

Before I get too far off worst-subject and get too far on about the conspiracy of corporate control over private data–which is all cloud computing is, really–there is one other thing that has gotten under my gander in this very confused post-PC, corporate control, krapp-touch-screen era. As I’ve said here, here and here, I hate the NAS industry. And don’t get me started on RAID (Synology, Drobo & Co., etc.) and how krappy that is. I mean, come on. With the cost of digital storage these days, why would anyone want/need to fiddle with the added ill-begotten complexity of things like RAID dished out in machines that are built to substandard, if not outdated hardware specs? For you RAID lovers out there, don’t fret. I get why you may (or may not) need it. But I remember RAID when it began. Then it was either about increased data speed or subverting the high cost of HDDs. So let’s move on.

It was a motivating factor for me to modernise a bit so I could 1) free myself and 2) live a little. Plus, I guess, I wanted some jewellery! (Sarcasm off.) The other reason I wanted to get rid of ageing hardware wasn’t because it didn’t work or anything like that. Apple computers are great even when they’re old. In fact, my old stuff ran flawlessly–and I’m sure the nice folk that bought it all will be happy with it for years to come. By-the-buy, that old friggin’ MacPro worked even when I took it with me to Bangelore, India, in 2016, where–get this!–the power went out ten times a day for the six months I lived there. With every power outage (surge?) that damn MacPro turned itself right back on and on and on. I never had one hardware issue with it. But enough about spilt milk, eh. It’s time to clean things up.

The main reason I got rid of the MacPro was because I was tired of maintaining large amounts of data (yes, for me, 3.5TB is large) on a device that needed days to move or copy it. Over the years, as stated, I’ve never had any major problems with Apple hardware but I have lost a few hard drives here and there–and the data that was on them. Indeed. The days of ripping, hoarding, maintaining multiple hard drives and waiting for terabytes of data to backup or copy are over. I’m tired of it. So it was time to prioritise, organise, get rid of the hardware, keep the data, see how it goes. And so. My personal data was about 1TB, including paper correspondence*. Media data is about 3.5TB. Since, as you can tell, I’m kinda frugal and cheap, if not bored of hardware, there was no way I was gonna invest in upping my data bandwidth or capacity. Fcuk thunderbolt & Co., and the same for 3.5″ HDDs, don’t you know!

Most of my personal files and data (1TB) was a rigamarole of duplicates and excess of worst-writing, employment data, official correspondence, etc., and I needed to dive into shark waters to clean it up. Indeed. Over a few months I weeded through it all and got it organised. I discarded all excess. And get this. It’s amazing, when you put the effort into it, to realise, like in the analog world, how much waste there is in the/your digital life. That worst-said, you’d be surprised how much digital AND analog space you can save if you put a bit of effort into getting organised–as opposed to just hoarding it all in the name of cheap HDDs that build up over the years. I was able to reduce that 1TB of personal data down to about 250GB, an amount that is easily maintainable considering the price and accessibility of portable (non spinning drive) storage. On top of that, I’m also using multiple and cheap 2.5 inch (yes, still spinning) external HDDs with TimeMachine for my remaining (2x) Macs. (At one point till mid 2018 I had five Macs running in my house.) Ok. Ok. My personal data is organised. What do I do with 3.5TB of media that I’d still like to stream–in my home media setup?

It’s a network station galore, baby. It’s not a NAS!

It’s taken a while, dear worst-reader. About two years, to be exact. Which also means I’m a bit slow (in more things than just tech). Nomatter. Starting with the genius of Raspberry Pi, I currently solely rely on single-board-computers (SBC) for all my personal home network activity, including household media streaming and, where applicable, extra data storage. With that in mind, what I’m doing here I also take with a grain of salt. I do not rely solely on this setup as a means for securing my data. Of all the old hardware that I sold late last year as a way to reduce my personal digital footprint, which was really about replacing too much old with a bit of new, this is where I’ve arrived–and it’s starting to look rosier and rosier. In fact,  I’m getting more and more confidant, if all continues as it has, I will be able to heed my PC-truck-age cries: to never buy one of those stupid, fake-priced NAS boxes, e.g. Drobo, Synology, etc., that I love to hate. And. Since. Apple has contradicted its Master, let me just add: Trucks are $hit, too!

My network station setup. (Did I mention it’s not a NAS?)

In the pic above, I finally got my Rock64 (far left), that I bought in mid 2018, running OpenMediaVault (OMV). Using USB 3.0, it’s attached to my most recent thrifty purchase, an IcyBox JBOD 4-bay HDD enclosure. I got that enclosure for about 50,-€ used. It’s Stocked with 2x 2TB, 1x 3TB and 1x4TB drives, which are most of the drives left over after getting rid of old hardware. As far as OMV on the Rock64 goes, you can forget the ease–due to the variety of functional software–of R-Pi’s. These Pine64 SBC’s take a bit more effort, don’t you know–especially considering, what should be a staple on it, OMV, should work toot-sweet, even with a novice like me is at the helm. Anywho.

Rock64, baby.

My choice for a file server is OpenMediaVault. It’s worked well on the R-Pi, albeit slow and hence the reason to go with the Rock64 (which has gigabyte ethernet). After numerous tries with both release and pre-release from Ayufan, I could never get OMV to work on the Rock64. Although it would be recognised on my network, once I started configuring shares, it all fell apart. Frustrated that no OMV Rock64 builds were ready–and I’ve been fiddling with them for six or so months–I gathered one of my spare R-Pi’s (far left in the pic) to give it a go–slow bandwidth be damned. Just before flashing the R-Pi’s SD-card,  though, I did another quick search for a different Rock64 OMV build. Lo and behold, I found a build via the OMV website here. I flashed the SD-card and boom, baby. Immediately the look and feel of the build was spot on. Not only that, I was able to access all the drives of the external JBOD enclosure and set up shares. It’s been purring–with gigabyte ethernet!!!–on my network ever since.

Media = RockPro64 + Dietpi.

On the far right of the pic above is my RockPro64 in its fancy-pants Pine64 NAS case. It has a PCIe sata card and 2x 3TB HDDs. It’s been my trusty Plex media server for the past six months where I am able to store and serve my old 3.5TB of media data–as good if not better than my old MacPro. Just like the Rock64, though, it was a rough start with the RockPro64. I could never get OMV to work on it which was a big disappointment. The RockPro64 sat on my shelf because of that for a few months. Again, although the R-Pi’s are stable and are much easier to setup, there is that bandwidth limitation they have with ethernet and USB, the two being combined on the USB 2.0 bus. Nomatter.

So I kept fiddling around with various other builds for the RockPro64 till I finally discovered DietPi. And don’t you know, DietPi has been the best solution so far turning the RockPro64 into an amazing media server. Although it took of bit of effort to get back into the cryptic, command line interface of DietPi, I’ve since come to think of it as fun-time whenever I have to do anything with the RockPro64. DietPi has done a great job of creating a really friendly but also minimal build that is loaded with software that all seems to work–except, of course, OMV. But that’s neither here nor that at this point. Not only does Plex run great but I’m also running Pi-hole, to rid my home network of all those stupid and obnoxious internet ads, a WordPress iteration (that I use to experiment with) and, using a single Samba share, the RockPro64 serves various R-Pi audio devices in my house that all run Volumio. I’ve not yet begun to find all the RockPro64’s fun. Yeah, baby.

The stuff in-between.

Also included in the pic above is what remains of some old but functional hardware. As you can see, I’m still an Apple Airport fan. In fact, this is my third Apple Airport still in use. I use these devices for all my WIFI thereby turning off the WIFI from those krapp routers issued by ISPs. On my top floor I have an Airport Express that serves two bedrooms and a bath. For the ground floor, living room, kitchen, atrium and our master bedroom, is a newer AirPort Extreme. The older Airport Extreme (pic above) is in my basement and still provides great bandwidth when I’m ironing, working on my bikes, or just hiding from my better half and Beckett, the killer pug. In fact, I might even buy a fourth, newer AirPort Extreme in the future to replace the Airport Express upstairs. Even though Apple has cancelled these excellent routers, I’m gonna use them till the cows come running. By-the-buy, this one also serves as second TimeMachine. You see that HDD underneath it? That is an Iomega 2TB Firewire, USB 2.0 and USB powered hub HDD. It’s gotta be over ten years old now. I know. I know. I’m waiting for it to fail, too. But it just keeps going and going and going. But don’t worry, dear worst-reader. As stated, I’ve got more than two TimeMachine backups. So we’re all good there. (I hope!)

The other HDD case (the black case to the left of the AirPort Extreme) is a 2-bay IcyBox raid enclosure. I’m not sure how old it is–but I’ve had it for a long time. It has 2x 2TB drives in raid-0, i.e. 4TB. Although I rarely use it anymore, it does have some old data on it–none of which is unique. Once I get the Rock64/OMV to meet a few more criteria for file serving, I’ll transfer all that old data to it and then retire it, salvaging the HDDs for other use.

As far as being thrifty and rebelling against an industry hell-bent on ripping us off, also being able to re-use stuff that shouldn’t be made obsolete, the cost for the SBC’s mentioned in this post, is under €300,-€. Obviously, it takes lots of time and effort to get this thing up and running and I’m sure most working-stiffs out there don’t have the time for such endeavours. For tech gurus this is a nothing-burger. With that in mind, I’m kinda joyous right now. I’ve really had fun getting back into CLI, Linux and taking some of my fate into my own hands. Kinda rewarding, don’t you know. Or. Put another way:

This has been PRICELESS, baby.

Ok. Nuff for now.

Rant (and Rock64) on, baby.

-T

Links:

*For worst-moi paper correspondence is all that snail-mail krapp you get, some of which can also be kind of important, that requires space. Sick of having to provide space for it, a few years ago I purchased one of them fancy-pants document scanners (only documents, NOT one of them stupid scanner-printer thingies that have been ripping people off for decades). I digitise all important snail-mail and store it appropriately. The remaining paper gets shredded and recycled, of course.

It Takes A Licking And Keeps On…

Subtitle: My friends 2015 MacBook has been through hell.

An old friend came by the other day to mooch of an extra bed on his way to a boating thing in Köln. He does that once or thrice a year, don’t you know. I mean, wouldn’t you? He gets a nice place to sleep (saving lots of money on a hotel), a great vegetarian meal (cooked by worst-moi who makes a great fresh Pesto), and, of course, an evening with worst-writer. For you see, dear worst-reader, he’s a nautical engineer–from Holland. I know. I know. What else is there to do in Holland, eh? Of course, I have to also give credit where it’s due. Even though he’s not much into technology, he was my first intro into the then new MacBook that Apple introduced in 2015, of which I was very skeptical at the time. By-the-buy, my better half ended up buying the device a year later, i.e. its 2016 iteration. At the time I was still using my MacBook Air (i7) and loving it but was slowly coming around to the new MacBook mostly because of the screen.

When my Dutch friend mentioned that he was gonna buy a first iteration Apple product, I tried to steer him away from it. But then he went on and on and on about how much smaller the new device was after he fiddled with it in the Amsterdam Apple Store and its size would help him work. He needed something that would be out of the way as much as possible, he said. And get this, dear worst-reader, up to that point he’d been using one of those white, polycarbonate MacBooks. So you get it, right, when I worst-say he’s not much into new tech. In fact, he actually made his old white MacBook last longer than I’ve ever made a MacBook last–and in the end it was pretty beat up, too. I’m just wondering if he’s gonna make this beat up jewellery-like device last longer than my pampered and shinny 2017 version of it. Indeed.

The only problem is, even before my better half, on the fly, without consultation from her household tech guru (worst-moi) purchased her 2016 MacBook, my Dutch friend has been bitchin & moaning about his the whole time. Worst long story short, since purchasing it, he’s had the keyboard replaced twice, the battery has been replaced once, and a few months ago, he even had the screen replaced. The good news is, the Dutch Apple store did most of the work on warranty. He did have to pay for the screen, though, on account it wasn’t Apple’s fault a truck ran over it. The one thing he’s not had replaced is the case. And what a case it is. Talk about dented jewellery. As you can see from the pics above, the MacBook has been through quite a bit. It’s been dropped, chucked (as in accidentally catapulted into the air) and, it’s even been run over by van–or was it a truck? Nomatter. A few of those marks on the bottom could even pass for it having been shot. But on that note I digress.

Rant on.

-T

PS on the bottom my friend had his company logo put on to replace the “feet” saying that he need it to be more sturdy, if not sticky, while using it to input nautical engineering data while working on yachts. Cool, eh!

Ok. This Hurts.

Even though the Apple store where I bought the same configured MacBook as the heavily discounted one in the link below in January, where they discounted mine by only €250,-, the idear of someone else lucking out and getting $600,- off, really hurts. Of course, it doesn’t matter at this point. I’m really digging my MacBook. My only hope now is that with Apple’s upcoming event at the end of this month, they will discontinue the 12″ MacBook. That way at least mine here in Germany (with a German keyboard) will maintain some value till I get rid of it on the used Market in about 18-20 months. That’s right. For those of you not in the KNOW. Apple products, unless you stretch them, are only good for about 2 years. If you’re really good at stretching them you can keep an apple product for up to five years. Stretching means that you have to avoid OS updates and then you have to be careful about app updates. I had this problem between El Capitan and High Sierra. With that in mind, I can also say that this may be my last Mac. At least it might be my last Mac for a while. Yeah, it’s time to go Linux, don’t you know. For example. System76 laptops are looking good right now. But more important, the automatons, lead by lead automaton Tim Cook, don’t seem to be able to continue Steve Jobs’ ingenuity, although I do think the Apple Watch is pretty good (it wasn’t developed under Steve). Apple products are really starting to suck–like they sucked in the 1990s.

via Deals Spotlight: 12-Inch MacBook With 512GB SSD Reaches Lowest-Ever Price at $999 ($600 Off) – MacRumors

Welcome To NAS Hell

Update to this post here.

Pseudo alternative subtitle: Years of digital living is hard to leave behind. But behind it must be left.

As mentioned here, I’ve been telling myself for years, and thereby avoiding a certain kind of reality, that I need a NAS (networked-attached-storage). Although I was able to circumvent having to own such a system till recently, after accumulating around four to six terabytes of personal data over the past twenty years, reality has crept in. Circumventing this need, by-the-buy, meant nothing more than instead of buying a NAS all these years, I just owned a bunch of computers. About three years ago, though, I started to cave-in. I was simply tired (and bored) of having to manage all the data on all those computers. Indeed. Three computers, multiple iPhones and iPads and lots of data confusion. Did I back that up, or this up, or what-up?

In order to protect all that data I habitually only trashed stuff I knew I didn’t need or could download again and again from the Interwebnets and then I maintained at least two copies of everything using TimeMachine. By-the-buy, I haven’t lost any data since a devastating disk failure about ten years ago. Since then I’ve lost several HDDs, though. That means, for each computer, I had at least two TimeMachine backups. But then there was all my media data. Since my media library was too big for any TimeMachine backup, I had to use separate HDDs to back it up.

And now for a short mute issue.

Of the three computers I owned, one was a massive 2010 MacPro. You know, the cheese-grader Mac. It was/is quite a machine. After about five to seven years, though, it really started to lose its lustre. Reason? It was useless as a desktop machine–compared to the agility of modern laptops–and it just didn’t cut it as a file server or NAS. I tried using Apple’s MacServer app with it to up its game, but that turned out to be nothing more than bloated and weird Apple dependent Krapp-software that screwed-up two of my HDDs with unix permissions! What I needed was a better and more flexible server that wasn’t all about Apple. I especially needed a way to serve SMB shares because I had long since chosen AGAINST Apple’s continued iTunes krapp and its subsequent Music streaming service. The most important thing I wanted was to be able to stream, on my home network, my personal digital music library to two different Raspberry Pi Hifiberry audio clients. And nomatter what I did, I couldn’t get that to happen with the Mac–unless I used iTunes.

Btw, iTunes sucks!

In its day, the MacPro was a great device. But, as Apple made it more and more obsolete, its graphic card was practically worthless when it was deployed in 2010, by 2015 it was a nightmare. Heck, I couldn’t even render 720p iPhone movie clips on it without wasting part of day waiting for it to finish. Long story short, it was not the do-everything server and headless Mac I was hoping it would be and it was definitely not a viable desktop machine anymore. Why keep it? So I sold it along with a MacMini, my trusted MacBook Air (i7), and gathered enough cash to pay most of the cost of an over-priced, jewellery-like netbook device known as a 2017 12″ MacBook. More on that here. Indeed. Part of getting rid of all that krapp was that I was just tired of how heavy it all felt. And boy is this new MacBook light!

Back to NAS hell.

Since round 2016 I had been looking for alternative hardware for my home network file management. Obviously one of them branded NAS devices was the only solution, right? Having used multi-bay hard-drive cases and even fiddling with a DroboFS a few years back–which I subsequently threw in the friggin trash on account it was so slow and cumbersome–I concluded that I would put off going that route for the foreseeable future. Indeed. That future has arrived. And get this: all those multi-bay hard-disk devices… they are all built like $hit and they all cost way too much. But then I came across some stuff on the Interwebnets and kept on reading and reading and reading. Enter my world of cheap SBCs. Soon one thing lead to another and since I already had a bunch of HDDs lying around, by 2017, I was an avid Raspberry Pi fiddler–as a means of subverting the idiotic NAS industry. It was exactly that little foray into the NAS world that caused me to realise, my world will only change if I make it so.

Apple’s eco-system wants not only all your consumption but also wants to consume you. Thank goodness we live in world where a 35€ credit card sized PC is a way around all that. -Worstwriter dot com

The foreseeable future task is to get out of the old world of monolithic branded computing and enter a world of something new. It was also about weaning myself from all that media data I had accumulated over the years. You now: ripped DVDs, Blu-Rays, my entire audio CD collection, etc. On the other hand, since 2015 I’ve digitised my whole world. But in the last few years I’ve realised that once you move form analog to digital, there’s no need for access to analog anymore. Or am I wrong?

Have the cloud and streamers won?

Between prime-video and/or renting movies with an AppleTV, I just don’t need the hassle of buying disks and digitising them anymore. Then there’s the peace of mind that it’s not all suddenly gonna disappear because, well, HDD makers all make $hit, too, I somehow screwed myself by not backing it up.

For the hell-of-it, and still pondering what I was gonna do with a half dozen or so HDDs lying around, most of which included copies of all my movie and tv files, could I, should I, finally break down and buy a $hit NAS? The SBC (and RPi thing) was working but something didn’t feel right about it. Yeah, a world of all-things beta just ain’t reassuring. Also, when I get bored, I have to consume-to-survive, don’t you know. So come on, worst-writer. Buy something!

Side note: Btw, all my personal and important data is now in the cloud and no longer solely dependent on HDDs. Although I still maintain HDD copies of it all, I’ve finally given in to the Apple’s iCloud being part of my digital life. So what about all those media files?

Break on through to the other side.

Since 2016 I’ve fiddled on/off with Raspberry Pi and a few old USB2 external HDDs. To my astonishment, the RPi as a NAS is viable. The only issue I’ve had using them is the size and capacity of external USB2 HDDs. Both 2TB and 3TB eternal HDDs seem to work but not 4TB. But that’s ok. Or? Also. TimeMachine backups using OMV work great. Of course, the little RPi couldn’t transcode a Blu-Ray ripped MKV file for my iPadAir but that just doesn’t feel important anymore.

Oh. Wait. Another mute-issue.

The RPi thing got my lips wet. So I thought I’d up my game and last year I gave an RPI killer a try. To my astonishment, the Rock64 SBC, offered by Pine64, was really, really cool. To my disappointment, though, the Rock64 ain’t ready for prime-time. External USB HDDs were unstable, ethernet was always falling off, and OMV (OpenMediaVault), compared to how it worked on the RPi, was wishy-washy at best. But those little Pine64 devices did prove themselves to be plenty more powerful than an RPi. Hopefully the software for the Rock64 will get out of beta soon. We’ll see.

Back again to NAS $hit.

Right after Xmas 2018 I started seeing various NAS offerings on sale on that you-know-who online retail site. For the heck of it, knowing with Prime I can always send it back, I purchased a mid-range 4-bay NAS through a warehouse-deal. It was a WD device from around 2015. But after reading various reviews and watching a couple videos, I thought: what the heck. When it finally arrived I filled it with four drives and waited for it to set up a RAID5 configuration. About two hours later I then plugged in one of my backup media drives to its “copy-now” USB3 port and hit the copy button. It took about eight hours but eventually it copied almost 3TB of movie and tv files. I then plugged in another drive with all my music files. After four hours that was done copying. I then went about setting up the NAS to be a Plex media server.

And here we go with all-things-worst.

Long story short: the WD My Cloud EX4100… sucked. The thing couldn’t even transcode one MKV blu-ray ripped movie to my iPadAir. At least it couldn’t do its anybetter than my RPi could. When I utilised both of its gigabyte ethernet ports, setting them up as some kind of duel connection to my home router, it only marginally improved file transfer speeds–but video was still choppy and broken. How is it that WD can even make such a krappy device and then make claims that Plex runs on it? So I erased Plex and gave the WD device’s internal DLNA capabilities a try, thinking that maybe Plex was just too bloated for the minimal specs of this device. Using VLC on my new MacBook and on my old iPad as a client, things only improved slightly. Nomatter what I tried, as far as I’m concerned, that piece of krapp NAS failed at everything–except being a basic file server from the early 2000s. Humbug!

So. Is there room for regret here? Should I have kept my old MacPro? At least that thing handled all the transcoding I ever needed. Heck, that thing could deliver transcoded movies and tv shows to four or five devices on my home network. So do I miss it? The honest answer is: No. I haven’t ripped a DVD or Blu-Ray since 2017 and I had no plans to do it in the future. Those days are gone. I’m committed to that change in (my digital) life.

I guess my worst-point about all this NAS ranting is this: WD, Drobo, Synology, for what they cost… suck-a$$. Too expensive or too slow–makes them no different than the world of PCs for the past thirty years. That’s why I’ve long since given into the MacBook I’m worst-writing this on right now and then simple fact that it is just my/a glorified typewriter that allows me to do lots of research, watch a video or three and manage files here and there. Which is all I need. Which also means: I’m slowly freeing myself from digital hell.

But all is not lost. I returned the krappy WD device and have gone back to the drawing board with those SBCs–as I’m not quite ready to dump all those media files yet. Heck, I even bought a super SBC from Pine64, its RockPro64. It took about three months to get here and when it finally arrived I could feel all my digital boredom making way for some renewed tinkering excitement. Considering I have spent less money for three different SBCs than I spent for a warehouse-sale on a branded NAS device that worked like $hit… And I’m not sure I give a hoot about all that media data anymore…

Yeah, it’s time to bravely move on and while doing so continue tinkering to my hearts ill-content.

Rant on.

-T

Never Quite Knowing Exactly What You’re Doing–The #Americant Way

three dollar bill apple logo (low res)

Disclaimer: some poignant and verbose language is in this post. Good luck.

Yeah, dear worst-reader. We’re here once again. It’s time to get it on about my beloved & missed #Americant, the Land Of Free To Be Stupid, where dysfunction wallows in a toilet bowl that some think is a swamp and will never, ever, be cleaned. So what’s on the ranting plate this time? More mis-newz about the greed $hitshow of dysfunction that is the realm where college grads do their automaton corporatism at the behest of hierarchy, spite and, my favourite, sweet-bitter-schadenfreude. And what corporation best exemplifies it all? That’s right. You guessed it. Apple.

So. Like. I’m walking Beckett the killer pug and listening to the latest MacBreak Weekly podcast the other day and suddenly the pseudo-bourgeoisie talking-heads of Silicon Valley start talking about an article that tries to explain how #Americant can’t manufacture anything anymore–even if it wanted to, let alone follow the delusions of President Stupid. According to the article (see link below), the delay of delivering its über-expensive, trash-can über-Mac back in 2013 was due to the #Americant assembly plant’s inability to either get or make special screws that were required for the device. This caused Tim Cook & Co.–Tim is a specialist, by-the-buy, in manufacturing and sourcing, he is not a business or tech guru!–to have to resort to some extreme actions and order the screws needed to make this thing… you guessed it… In the end in order to make anything, even make something in #Americant, it can only be done via China.

Whoop-dee-fcuking-doo, eh.

Now. That’s all fine and dandy. Under normal circumstances I wouldn’t have made heads or toes about the issue. But then the Silicon Valley talking heads starting to ramble on about why #Americant can’t make the screws–instead of getting on about what the real issue is–what the real issue should be. For you see, dear worst-reader, it’s not about whether or not Tim & Co. can source the parts they need from inside the US in order to make the claim that an Apple product is made in US. The real issue, and the thing Apple doesn’t want anyone talking about, is the simple fact that the screws for the device are part of the companies ever lasting desire to monopolise everything. You know, as in, make everything it does, everything it sells, everything it shows, EVERYTHING, proprietary.

screwed screw
Apple proprietary $hitty screws from 2010 MacPro HDD trays.

The problem is, when corporations get so fcuking greedy and resort to this level of, well, GREED–I mean what else is it really?–then things go awry. The reason they go awry is because customers don’t want to be burdened with proprietary stuff that shouldn’t be proprietary. I mean, we’re dealing with screws here, dear worst-reader. I get it that Apple owns its software and hardware technologies and it is the anthesis of open-source… But screws??? Seriously?

As you’ll note in the pic above, I’ve already scorned Apple for this level of bull$hit. Although the cheese-grader MacPro (I owned a 2010 MacPro until recently) was the best piece of hardware ever–and I wish I could have kept it–Apple’s lust for making great products obsolete has no boundaries (hence the reason I got rid of my MacPro). Of the four trays I had on my MacPro, each with four special, non-standard Philips screws made out of some form of soft-metal, at least two of the screws on each tray were stripped because I couldn’t get the proper screw-driver for them. Why? Why would a company do this? What purpose does it serve? Obviously Apple’s college edumacated bull$hitters–all of whom have probably never created anything–could answer that question toot-sweet–with more bull$hit. My point, though, is this: they don’t have to do this. Just like President Stupid doesn’t have to be an a$$hole and #Americants don’t have to be… #Americants… Then again… If everyone’s an a$$hole…

They’re just fcuking screws, man. And because the screws don’t meet the whims of corporate $hitbags that couldn’t manage their way out of a paper bag… The reason Apple can’t make its $hit in the US is because workers in China are better slaves than #Americants–but just give #Americants a bit more time. Plus shareholders and hoarders and greed-mongers love things the way they are. Ain’t that right, dear worst-reader? On that note, typing this worst-post on a new MacBook, I hope Steve Jobs is getting fcuked in the a$$ down in Hades lair right now.

Rant on.

-T

Links that motivated this post:

How Compulsives Run The Show

three dollar bill apple logo (low res)

We live in a world of Trump-Uglies and the disgust his ilk pro-creates. We live in a world of teeth-less, comb-over dog-fights that are clawless due to cosmetics and ill-fitted matrimony. And even better… We live in a world that is not lead by the merit of one’s or the collective’s actions. No. Indeed. We live in compulsive-behaviourism-world. You know, one absent of the superman symbol, which isn’t really an ‘S’. But don’t take my worst-word for it, dear worst-reader. Have a look around. In fact. You don’t have to look far. Just dip your head above the water-line and take a good look at the tip of the iceberg you’ve been living asunder. Squint, if you must. Pull on your eyewear. Adjust your teeth. But have a look at that tip–before you descend again to have it all ever-so slightly penetrate you. Familiar? Of course it is. There they are–at the top of the tip. The people you look at from your glamour magazine life which is stuck in a bathroom medicine cabinet because, according to Sam Shepard, it’s the best place in your house to avoid germs1. And there they are. Atop. Asunder beyond. The ones with all the friggin money and power and, of course, Trump-Uglies that you so enjoyed watching on your mind… I mean on you TV. Congratulations. Look at what you’ve done.

But I’m off subject. Again.

This is just another worst-post that is supposed to be about consuming-to-survive and figuring out to compete with the Compulsives.

Who?, you asked.

You know, just check out the leader of them: any friggin CEO.

And would you believe that Apple’s Tim Cook is panicking right now because the compulsion that has driven him, the things he learned in College, life, are all what didn’t get him to where he is today? Or did it? But let’s not get personal. No. Instead. Have a look at Apple’s stock price. I remember the price when one of them could be bought by Gomer Pyle… I mean Forrest Gump.

Nomatter.

The thing to focus on is how corporations are starting to show signs of the fake economy that has been used to facilitate and build–your life. The(ir) game(s) is starting to show some transparency–or are they cracks? That is, the likes of Tim Cook are seeing what their seed/deeds has sewn/done. It is perhaps a thing called consume-love, don’t you know. This thing called perpetual war and all its mis-glory. This thing called… Hey! Hold a sec. Stop the worst-presses. Nancy Pelosi just kinda… sort-of… maybe… uninvited Trump and his piss-air to this year’s #SOTU. Now wouldn’t that be cool if Nancy could actually pull it off? You know, putting the $hitbag in his place. But. Again. I’m off subject.

To the article linked below.

First. I’m one of them cheap-o’s that took advantage of Apple’s battery offering last year. I’ve been struggling for almost two years now to keep my four year old iPhone 6s going. I’ve tried everything. I’ve purchased battery cases –which oddly only last about six months each before finding their way to the trash heap. I’ve erased all non essential apps from the device–in order to save on the trickery of tracking and surveillance that secondarily ruins battery life. Up do the battery deal, I did my best to keep it always charged at least above half-full. For don’t you know, dear worst-reader, at half full the iPhone 6s’ battery can die within minutes if not immediately put on charge. And so. Apple’s battery replacement offer for only twenty-nine Euros was a godsend to me last year. Wow, I thought. This might be the first time I’m not forced to buy a new phone when, in fact, I’ve got a perfectly good phone–if it weren’t for the compulsive behaviourism that drives the corporatists that think they work for a living but instead con-man us all into their product-obsoletism. I mean, come on. Who else can come up with this level of centralised economics run amok?

On the other worst-hand, maybe it’s time to buy some Apple stock.

Rant on.

-T

Link that motivated this post:


  1. See the play “Fool For Love”. ↩︎

Let’s Call It Red-Brass, Shall We?

Dabbling away, dear worst-reader. Dabbling away with the fancy of my new MacBook aka exuberant über glorified typewriter. Not quite two weeks in my consume-to-survive possession, the only issue I’m having with it so-far is the colour. Seriously. I love the keyboard. Don’t mind the single USB-C port (as I’ve got plenty of dongles already due to my better-half’s same device that’s a year older), and boy… I do not miss that fan constantly winding up and down on my previous 13″ MBA.

The question I’ve been asking is whether or not the colour of this fancy device can actually be called “gold”. No. Really. I’ve even checked the box it came in several times. It’s obviously not gold. Or? Then again, even though I’m quite afeared of the colour pink, it’s definitely not rose-gold (pink) either. Or? I suppose I’ll be dabbling in the coming days/weeks with what exactly “hue” is. In fact, would it be too much to ask that Apple re-label this: red-brass?

Ok. Maybe it’s time to wake up to my love of pink. Maybe.

Rant on.

-T

Links that motivated this post:

Pseudo Unboxing & Review Of 2017 12″ MacBook

Title 2: Or How I Got My (Almost) Pink On

What is it you do, dear worst-reader? In other worst-words, what do you do between the hell-day that is modern western consumerism run-amok aka Xmas combined with the ending of yet another krappy (worst) year in a universe lead by the greatest land of free to be stupid–that I expat-ed from 30 yrs ago? Obviously, beyond the luv-lust I have for my (beloved & missed) #Americant, there are a few other things that need be considered. Or?

And so, to busy my worst-self…

I don’t/can’t know what you do with your end-of-year time but here’s what I do that is all encompassing and subservient to shopping till I drop: I clean out my friggin basement. In fact, at the behest of my better-half, I cleared and cleaned and even profited from two days of sorting, hauling and picking cobwebs out from under my finger nails and my balding head. That is, after sorting the mess into what can and cannot be thrown away, there was a whole bunch of stuff left over that was totally sellable–and my wife needed it all to be gone. So sort & sell I did. But let’s be clear here. In order for my better-half to get me to do something akin to labour–and I’ve long since surpassed the sex-deal phase of matrimony–she said: But you only get to keep the analog-cash. And don’t you know, dear worst-reader, there is indeed a difference between analog-cash and digital-cash. She’s also the one with the PayPal account. And so goes these modern times of online yard selling, eh?

It’s been a long time since I’ve sold anything online.

Utilising that classified-ad service, and NOT its auction service, and as of the writing of this worst-post, I managed to raise, through analog (cash) means, the required amount to consume-and-survive a new motherfcukin MacBook. Am I getting too old for this sort of consumption? You know: pseudo-bartering? Probably. Can I afford–in these days of forced and/or coerced early-retirement–to buy krapp otherwise? Perhaps. But that’s not the worst-point worth worst-blogging about today, eh.

Things in the basement and throughout sold that contributed to new Mac acquisition:

  • 2010 MacPro
  • 2011 MacMini
  • 2015 MacBook Air
  • Cyclo-cross bike
  • A few vintage portable typewriters
  • Speakers (actually not yet sold but still working on it)
  • Tyres (summer tyres pulled from our new Mini and replaced with all-weather tyres; also not yet sold and will probably wait another two or three months to tick them off)
  • Coffee machine from Jura that was ten years old and broke, sold for scraps, etc.

Things from basement cleaning that were discarded or aren’t worth a hoot and made it to the trash-heap and counted as special work done by husband for wife’s pleasure and laughter:

  • Old luggage
  • Clothes and shoes and belts, etc.
  • Camping equipment
  • Shelving
  • Propane bottles
  • A box full of Xmas ornaments never used
  • Sorted miscellaneous years worth of junk from two major world traversing moves, etc.

So get this.

This was the first time in about eight years, for my own consumption, I purchased a brand new Mac…retail! And, for posterity’s sake, for the record, before that and before Apple’s refurbished sales channel became part of my computing life, I always bought my Apple hardware used. For you see, dear worst-reader, if you want to save some doe but still own great computer hardware, I learned long ago that buying cheap PCs ain’t the way to go. If you know what you’re doing, there’s a plethora of used Macs out there that are worth their weight in gold.

Oh yeah, gold.

Yesterday I trekked to my local Apple store with a wad of cash and bought a 2017 12″ MacBook m5/8GB/512GB… in gold. And since this device retails for 1,800,-€, you’d think that it was actually made of gold. So let us begin this pseudo-review with that colour, shall we? In fact, as soon as the Apple-dude brought out my new Mac wrapped in cellophane my eyes started aching at my choice.

“Dude,” I said. “That ain’t gold.” I stared at the packaging and the image of the device on top of the box.

“Uhhhh… Sure it is,” he said.

“No-no-no. Seriously.”

I pointed to the cover of the box underneath the shinny and sealed viscose material. My mind’s eye was already looking at those silly stickers that Apple includes with these things–that I’ve never used–and whether or not they match the colour I was purchasing.

“Dude,” I continued. “The one I was looking at over there,” I pointed to the other side of the sales floor. “Over there on the presentation table. That one is gold. This one is…”.

“Uhhh,” the dude interrupted me. “That one is the 2015 MacBook. It’s a different shade of gold than this one. But this one is definitely gold.”

It’s gold because Apple says it’s gold, right?

I waved it off in my mind. There are more important things in life. Or? As the sales-dude continued to process my transaction, I pressed him with another issue. From my shoulder bag I whipped out a previous generation Apple bluetooth keyboard. You remember the one, eh, dear worst-reader? The little wireless keyboard with the mushy keys–just like the previous generation keyboard on MacBooks? I told him it when my MacBook is connected to a separate monitor on my desk but it broke a few months ago and I had been meaning to bring it in. He reminded me that hardware service was another part of the store and then he immediately called over another Apple t-shirted dude. I explained to the other dude that I’d like to get this keyboard repaired–if possible. Juggling between the two dudes, I whipped out a wad of analog-cash and handed it to the MacBook-dude. And I was till pondering my choice of colour, the sales-dude got a kick out of counting so many small bills, especially after I told him how I acquired it all. The service-dude on my other side started fiddling with his store issued iPad and informed me that the keyboard most likely is out of warranty. (Damn straight it is!) He also added that it most likely cannot be fixed. Then he informed that he could replace it with the same one for 60,-€. I told him that was fine since I wasn’t interested in buying Apple’s latest over-priced keyboard that–that he tried to sell me first.

Long worst-story short: while the service-dude was fiddling with getting me a new-old bluetooth keyboard I teased the sales-dude while he was still counting the bills.

“Dude. Say. You know I could get the same MacBook refurbished for 270,-€ less…”.

Pause.

Worst-side-note: I’ve since learned that Apple differentiates its hardware sales channels and, although refurbished machines can be picked up at stores, they cannot be purchased at stores. That means, when you sell a bunch of krapp out of your basement and you’ve got cash and you’ve only got an online banking account–meaning I haven’t been in a physical bank for more than ten years–which also means it’s a pain in the a$$ to get cash into my account…

Back to our regularly scheduled pseudo-review.

Yeah, I reminded the sales-dude I could buy the MacBook quite a bit cheaper refurbished. Then I hinted to the question about the exorbitant retail cost of what I was about to do. Not responding to my un-witty challenge to his sales abilities, he turned away for a few seconds indicating he was gonna make me an offer. I turned to the service-dude who was happily fiddling with solving my keyboard issue as he pecked away at the screen of his service-iPad. Then the sales-dude turned back to me. He showed me the screen of the iPhone he uses as his cash-register slash price-calculator. He pointed to the screen and said this was his best and last offer. My eyes opened wide in surprise as this young whipper-snapper mopped the floor with me. He had taken 180,-€ of the MacBook’s retail price. Wow. That was kinda unexpected.

Take my money now!

While the sales-dude and I finished our transaction and he handed me my new MacBook and simultaneously emailed me the receipt as pdf document, I pulled out my wallet to extract the 60,-€ to pay for the new keyboard that the service-dude had just received from some other dude that obviously brought it out from the storage room. The service-dude removed the new (old) keyboard from a cardboard-box and then handed it to me. It was neatly packaged in cellophane just like my new Mac–but obviously less consume-to-survive shinny. I counted out the 60,-€ from my wallet, and at the same time wondered if I had enough left for lunch. Before I could hand the service-dude the cash, he turned around and smiled.

“It’a ok. We’re good. It’s yours.”

He handed me the neatly wrapped keyboard.

Whaaaaa????

Apple replaced my five year old bluetooth keyboard that hadn’t functioned for over a year with a brand new one. Is that cool, or what? Obviously this transaction has to do with going into a retail store and paying a not-so-small sum of cash for a new, under-powered albeit discounted laptop. Yeah, I consider 180,-€ off an already inflated price a discount. Nomatter how you cut it, I think that’s worth calling it customer service, baby.

Review?

Why did I buy a previous year’s Mac for an enormous, overpriced amount of money that is obviously less powerful than practically anything else on the market–especially Apple’s latest hardware offering? The thing is, dear worst-reader, I’ve been using my better-half’s 2016 base-model 12″ MacBook on/off for a year now–along side my trusted (early 2015) 13″ MacBook Air (with the i7 CPU) which I had just sold. The newest MacBook Air, introduced in November 2018, which is very motivating, left me a bit un-dazzled. Apple’s new offering just didn’t rock my world. So here’s some rationale for this irrational purchase:

  1. I’m a MacOS guy thru and thru–so it has to be a Mac and NOT an iPad and most certainly NEVER a windows machine. (But the future is bright for Linux.)
  2. As I’m sure I’ve worst-written somewhere in this worst-blog before (see link above), I never buy first iteration Apple products (but my wife seems to slip one in every once-a-once).
  3. Even though Apple did a pretty good job of finally finally finally coming out with a replacement for my 2015 MacBook Air, the new Air doesn’t cut it. At this point in my digital-world I don’t give a hoot about the latest & greatest hardware. To me it’s all about functionality. My wife’s spontaneous purchase of the 2016 12″ MacBook, which at the time kinda irritated me, did rock my world. The thing is this: the design of the new 13″ Air seems/feels like it’s more of an appeasement by Apple as it may or may not be in a hardware transition phase (Intel > ARM). In other worst-words: the new 13″ Air simply isn’t as appealing to me as the tech and engineering and design of the minuscule but functional 12″ MacBook.
  4. I’ve had to travel here and there this past year. When I travel I always ask my wife if I can borrow her 12″ MacBook–as my 2015 13″ MacBook is too big for economy seats on airplanes. The 12″ MacBook, which is the size of an iPad, is a blast in economy seating–not to mention that I can type on the thing for hours and hours on battery! And so… Nuff said from a guy unwilling to pay for bidnessclass seats so he can afford underpowered, over-priced tech krapp.
  5. I couldn’t bring myself to buy the 2018 MacBook Air because, well, as a first iteration product, it’s not a third iteration product–like the 2017 12″ MacBook. Have I mentioned how much I love typing with ten fingers on Apple’s new butterfly keyboard? While I tested the Air’s third-gen keyboard, I found myself missing the clickity-clatch of the second-gen keyboard–something to do with Apple having put plastic covers underneath the keys to protect from dust. Seriously. The butterfly keyboard introduced with the 12″ MacBook is nothing short of amazing–even if a speck of dust can break it. The good news is: Apple has a four year guarantee on these keyboards!

Oh yea. The colour.

Once I got home and unboxed it I walked around my house holding it up against walls, open windows, light bulbs, etc. I had to get to the bottom of the colour. Is it really gold? Once I had it setup, synced with iCloud, used migration assistant, etc., I did a quick search on the Interwebnets and discovered that the “gold” is actually a combination of the two previous two generation’s gold and rose-gold. The problem is, since I’m partly colour blind, it looks totally pink to me. I think. So I guess I need to trust my better-half who says she only sees gold.

The boredom of performance.

As far as CPU, graphics and hardware is concerned, and having just bought a “netbook” for the price of a real computer, i.e. a friggin MacBook Pro, don’t fret. I’m a writer. My digital world consists of typing, online research, more typing, a krapp load of typing and every once-a-once watching a movie. For blogging I do basic graphic/picture work, which is nothing more than cropping and resizing. I also manage my home network with my computer, which is made up of a bunch of old hard-drives and a single raspberry pi. And since this little thing is as fast–but definitely not faster–than my 2015 MacBook Air with the i7 CPU, I’m good with it. This MacBook is more than enough for my needs, especially since I upped the storage capacity to 500GB. Oh wait. Did I mention how much I love ten-finger typing on this thing–or how much I hated the mushy-keyboard of my old MacBook Air? Nomatter. The world is now pink-gold.

MacOS confusion.

My 2015 MacBook Air came with Yosemite. I eventually upgraded to El Capitan. I avoided moving away from El Capitan for as long as I could. In fact, I totally skipped Sierra but then, eventually, I gave in and installed High Sierra. Result? I hated it. Main reason: the screen. Since the introduction of “retina” displays, which I think was after El Capitan, my guess is Apple did something with the OS that changed how older, non-retina displays worked. After El Capitan my old Air just seemed even more pixelated than before. I might be totally off with this assumption but my guess is retina-OS’s were/are part of Apple’s forced obsoletism. You know, kind of the same as what they do with batteries on iOS devices. Although skipping Sierra was the right thing to do with that version of hardware, giving High Sierra a try was better. Even though the OS worked fine, and I finally got to see the benefits of iCloud, that old screen just didn’t cut it anymore. Apple’s obsoletism works–if you can afford it.

Mojave.

So far, after only a few days of use, I’m impressed with Mojave except for one thing. The light and dark modes are cool. But if I choose light mode (on account I like dark mode to come from whatever app I’m using), I can’t change the menu bar to dark–which was one of the few things I liked with High Sierra. Whaaaaa? Come on Apple! Also. Full-screen mode is much better in Mojave, especially when the screen splits with two apps. Anywho. So far I’m digging Mojave. But experience tells me, either the next or the next-next OS update will ruin something for my new, over-priced, under-powered gem of a device.

There is no pink-gold dongle.

I purchased a fairly cheap dongle for my wife’s MacBook last year. Its cheapness meant you could only use one of the three available USB ports reliably while it was also hooked up to a monitor. Although my wife doesn’t need anything more than that, I do. I’ve learned that the worst part of dongle-hell isn’t the single USB-C port of this machine but instead the dongle makers themselves. The market for dongles is as confusion as it gets. So I splurged and purchased two new dongles. I bought my wife the Apple multi-port dongle that she uses to connect a second monitor, which also enables the monitor as a reliable USB hub. For myself I bought a dongle with seven ports. Although it gets pretty hot, so far, its three USB3 ports work without issue. The only problem remaining is that there is no dongle to match the odd, pink-gold (or is orange-gold?) MacBook. Oh well.

Nuff for now. More to come?

Rant on.

-T

Apple’s Macs quite literally a dirty secret and there need be more lawsuits (I guess)

And to think all those years where I literally tore my Macs apart to de-dust them… I knew there was something up. And now…

I have to be honest. I don’t quite know what they mean by “flogging” in this post.

Oh well.

Rant on.

-T

The lawsuit claims that Apple is flogging computers and laptops without dust filters, which causes damage to the internals and screens of the machines.

Source: Apple’s Macs are quite literally hiding a dirty secret, lawsuit alleges

A German, A Jew, And Tim Cook Walk Into A Bar

Screen Shot 2018-11-28 at 12.47.17.png
Don’t panic. It’s just a screenshot.

… The German, with a heavy accent, asks Tim in broken English, “wahn kahn ik pey myna bahr drink mit apple pey in Deutschland?”

The Jew, who is also the bartender getting ready to start his shift, turns to Tim, greets him by showing him the red dot on his new Apple Watch, and says, “don’t worry, Tim. We’ll let you know when you can.”

Now. Before any worst-reader gets all hot n’ bothered with my Semitic and stereotype joke, heed this: having lived among the Germans (the Huns) since the late 1980s, I think I can tell you why Germans hated Jews so much. It’s really very simple and not as complex as Hitler loving a$$holes the world over would have you otherwise think. The reason the Germans (back then) hated the Jews was because the Jews, of all the peoples of Europe that were integrating into tribes through out the (insert your favorite number of centuries here), the Jews were the ones that had the most success at life. That is, it was never about Jews running or owning banks, it was never about financing wars (with banks they either owned or didn’t own), and it certainly wasn’t about babies being devoured by long, pointy nosed werwolf type dudes or dudettes! No. The Jews simply had their shit together as a tight-nit group–that happened to be somewhat different than the onslaught of WASP/Christian-ism that was struggling so hard to find meaning (in anything) other than greed mongering as espoused by their own killing of the/their Christ/God. I mean, get this. As a family, Jews stayed together. As business owners, they stayed together there too. As achievers, they achieved like no other. (How easy it is to forget the achievements of artists, musicians, scientist of those days–who were all, thank God, Jews!) The Germans and many other Europeans, at the time, were nothing but a horde of ugly, disgusting, farting, fat-ass, knuckle dragging pseudo-religious $hitbags that couldn’t get by on their own wit because, well, they had no wit. And so, as  WASP/Christian-ism tried to deal with the self-perpetuating greed of feudalism turning to capitalism, Jews simply already had the/a right/correct formula for life. They believed in something other than just money, they believed in something other than just pseudo-wealth and/or patriarchal power that they could impose on others. And so… How admirable is that? In other words, the reason Germans and so many Europeans hated Jews (to the point of murdering six million of them FOR NO GODDAMN REASON) was because they were all jealous and spiteful and moronic and ugly and disgusting and knuckle dragging… and and and… Oh look. It’s Donald J. Trump. He’s the new best of the best in the knuckle dragging tradition of a fail-upwards European aristocratic Wasp/Christian-isms that can’t seem to die-off–when indeed they should. But I digress.

How the article below (and screenshot above) got me thinking about Jews, Germans and the fact that Apple Pay is still not available in Germany but is available in Kazakhstan…? Oh well. Maybe what I’m really thinking about is that Jewish girlfriend I once had. Boy was she sweet. And she had such a nice family, too. I really liked her dad. In fact, he was the first guy that introduced me to computers. I’ll never forget those floppy disks and the way they slid into slots at the front of that IBM behemoth and then he hit the start switch at the back of the machine and it made a loud click and immediately hummed to life. After him telling me all about operating systems, floppy disks and boot-ram, etc, Gwendolyn and I finally went out on our date. (Note: names have been changed to protect the innocent.) That night after we made love in a park and I shot my goo all over her three times, she asked me if I was done searching for her red dot.

“Your what,” I asked as I was recovering with the hopes of going at it again.

“I think it’s time you find my red dot or I won’t let you almost die of happiness a fourth time,” she said.

Boy, was she sweet.

Rant on.

-T

Link that motivated this post:

Getting Some Tech On

 

Subtitle: How To Get Some Tech Freedom With SBC

As previously mentioned here, I’ve been dabbling of-late in the world of SBC (Single Board Computing). Reason? I’m on a long and curvy path to weaning myself from/of Apple and its hellacious eco-system. In fact, I’m currently fiddling around with the idear of getting off the whole greed $hitshow that is personal computing and digital eco-systems. I mean, come on, dear worst-reader. Am I wrong here? Am I the only one who feels a bit perturbed, penetrated, pissed-off at how one of the most successful industries in all of human history has managed to deject customers to the point of mutiny? Nomatter.

After installing three Raspberry Pi’s in my home network (2xclient; 1xserver), I’ve concluded that the time is ripe for not only SBCs but also Linux. Recent purchase and concurrent fiddle-diddle with an RPi 3B+ has done more than completely blow me away. But then again, I might be the only one looking deeper into the recent mega-purchase of Red Hat by IBM. Even though this huuuuge corporate transaction is about enterprise computing, what it really does is finally bring Linux to the forefront as an alternative to the fail-upwards, exploitative and non-competitive conglomerates of Microsoft, Apple, etc. Of course, even though IBM has a reputation for being just as exploitative as any other corporation, the one thing they can’t totally control is the Linux kernel that Red Hat was born out of . But before I get too far off subject.

These little beauts, SBCs, at least for me, have reached validity and user value above and beyond anything available in the old-school tech world of personal computing. Seriously. Although the RPi 3B+ isn’t quite there yet as a total desktop replacement, it is very, very… almost. At the least, the RPi has motivated a lot of others to fill the gap of producing alternative ARM-based desktop replacements, e.g. Intel. So far my little experiment with SBC’s, e.g. OpenMediaVault (OMV) NAS, RasPlex (media player) and Volumio (digital audio player), have all turned out to be solid functioning devices. I’m especially tickled with the RPi 3B+ and its enhanced but still limited ethernet–which is not quite gigabyte because of dependency on a USB2.0 bus. Nonetheless, I can honestly say, it’s a rockin file-server. In fact, it works so well, I’ve completely deleted my wish list for things like a Synology or a Drobo.

Although I was skeptical at first of the RPi 3B+ as a NAS–again, because of limited ethernet bandwidth–after a few months of use my skepticism is null. Easy setup, slight learning curve for OMV, take advantage of already owning several old 3.5″ HDDs, including powered hard-drive enclosures and… Boom! So far, the RPi and OMV, with 2x2TB HDDs connected via USB2.0, has worked flawlessly. Oh wait.

There was one issue when I hooked up the second HDD. I dug out another old hard-drive enclosure and after installing the HDD and then hooking it up to the RPi, I couldn’t get the RPi to restart. Note: the micro-USB power connector is what I consider the only serious flaw of the RPi. I’ve had trouble restarting them before. But after hooking up this second HDD, the problem really showed its nasty face. I’m not sure if this has anything to do with the HDD or just the RPi’s power source. Keep in mind, I’m using powered HDDs so there’s no excess draw on the RPi’s board. Also, I’ve purchased dedicated micro-USB power cables (5v-3a) for two of my RPi’s. (The third RPi uses a 12v-4a connector albeit via the HifiberryAmp2 daughter board; this is the best powered RPi I’ve used so far!) Eventually the RPi and OMV restarted but this seems to be a recurring issue if/when I have to perform a hard-restart. My guess so-far is that the problem is the micro-USB power connector of the RPi board. But let’s move on.

After a few months of use, I’m sold on SBCs. Even though I’ve not really taxed my setup with anything but samba, AFP, FTP and a TimeMachine backup server, including my entire music library to the HifiberryAmp2, which is my living-room music player, it works. Considering the price of SBCs, the small amount of know-how required to get them going, their low power consumption, they are definitely the beginning of a future without monopoly-monolithic products we have to deal with now. And so… In my search for a Linux desktop replacement, and fully satisfied with RPi as client device, I recently went ahead and splurged and tried something new.

After research and review, I concluded that it was time to break from Raspberry Pi. So I bought a Rock64 (4GB) from Pine64. I’ve been using it for several weeks now. Compared to the RPi, the Rock64 has true gigabyte ethernet and a faster processor. It also has 1xUSB3.0, 2xUSB2.0 and an emmc slot for increased data transfer compared to the micro-SD. Although this device has slightly higher specs than the RPi, including increased price, it’s my new favourite SBC. The Rock64 is even closer to being a desktop replacement than the RPi. With that in mind, the Rock64pro, the Rock64’s bigger brother, looks like it is the replacement SBC I’ve been looking for. Yeah, now you know my current wishlist.

The Rock64 isn’t officially offered in #eurowasteland yet. So I paid almost double for it in tariffs and import taxes. But that’s neither here nor there. After initial use, dabbling with several Linux distros, the Rock64 is a winner and I’m even sold on Pine64 and the software made available by DietPi. It definitely rival Raspberry Pi. So far, I’ve got VNC running so I can practice/learn Linux (headless9, Pihole blocking obnoxious internet advertising and I was even able to install WordPress and download this entire blog to it locally.

Cool!

Worstwriter’s home network setup so-far:

  • Media Server(s):
    • MacPro[^2010 MacPro 5,1] with Plex Server
      • PlexMedia Players on various devices
    • MacPro/iTunes
      • 2xAppleTV, 4xiOS devices
    • RPi/OMV-NAS/Music (filesever)
      • HifiberryAmp2, Volumio (DAP)
  • RPi/OMV-NAS (test bed):
    • Samba file server
    • FTP
    • TimeMachine Backup (this works better than Mac Server App on my MacPro!)
  • Rock64 (test bed):
    • Pihole – DNS server and home network ad-blocker
    • VNC – Remote desktop, headless SBC
    • LXDE GUI but mostly used for SSH access to learn Linux
    • WordPress.org – installed WordPress and imported this blog locally

Rant on.

-T

From New To Old Or Skipping What’s In-Between

ibooks v kindle v book.JPG
1st Gen iPad Air, 2nd Gen Kindle Paperwhite, a fcuking real book!

Subtitle 1: E-Book reading. Looks like there’s no turning back (for worst-moi).

Subtitle 2: A pseudo-review of e-readers.

I first started e-reading on a Kindle 2. I loved the design of the Kindle 2, especially the analog page change buttons and the odd but fully functional keyboard that enabled the best note-taking (at the time) while reading electronic books. Luckily, including voice dictation, I think I’ve finally found a viable replacement for the only Kindle I’ve ever loved. More on that in a sec. Because the battery died on my Kindle 2 and Amazon offered no upgrade, I broke down and bought a Kindle Paperwhite while it was on sale. From day one I’ve hated the thing. Talk about technology going backwards! Ok. Ok. The “Paperwhite” screen is pretty good, especially during night reading. But to be honest, that really doesn’t matter until night lamps go the way of the Dodo. Also. What can one expect from a guy like Jeff Bezos, the greatest mooch and scavenger capitalist the world has ever seen? Or do you actually believe that hijacking already marginalised capitalism from the likes of Walmart and retail, physical book stores is really such an ingenious endeavour? Please. Amazon and Bezos suck bat balls on account he’s only found a way to lead in the race to the bottom. But before I get to far off subject.

I’ve pretty much given up on Kindle as my e-reading device (for now). Here a few reason:

  1. Eco-system. There’s basically three digital eco-systems that I would consider using. Amazon and Google have lost out to Apple (for now). But to be honest, if/when I have to change eco-systems, my next choice will be Google.
  2. 3G. When I needed it, it never worked. I remember once traveling through Asia and not being able to download a book for a research project. Not only that, when I finally connected to WIFI in an airport lounge, Amazon wouldn’t let me download the book that way either–something about copyright. Go figure!
  3. Performance and obsoletism. We’ve had three Kindles in our family so far. Sure, they are relatively cheap devices but now that Amazon has gone full expensive with their newest fancy-pants Kindle (as of 2016 or so), where’s this gonna go? Their colour screen tablets are a joke. They can’t make a phone. And that voice-AI speaker thing… No thanks!

Of all the Kindles we’ve had (I can’t remember exactly but it’s somewhere between three and four), they are all, after eighteen or so months, great door stops. The third gen Paperwhite in the pic above is also so incredibly slow that it’s no fun to use. Yeah, Jeff Bezos. Innovation ain’t just about bringing something to market but also making it better without breaking the bank.

Moving on.

I gave up using an iPad 4 three years ago. The main reason for giving it up was because 1) I’m a Mac guy and 2) I have an iPhone. Although I did learn to appreciate the iBooks interface and preferred it over the Kindle, the iPad 4 was just too heavy as a reading device. There are times when I read for more than two hours. But last year after my wife upgraded from her shattered iPad Air 2 to an iPad Pro, we also discovered in a drawer her shattered first gen iPad Air. We traded in the shattered iPad Air 2 and she got a pretty good deal on a new iPad Air Pro. But since Apple only lets you trade in one device for another device, we put the shattered first gen iPad Air back in the drawer. While visiting our local Apple store a few months later, I happened across a conversation with one of the dunces in the blue shirts. When I mentioned that I still had a shattered iPad Air he quickly checked inventory and told me that if I trade it in, he’ll sell me a brand new one for €250,-.

A brand new what, I asked.

Oh. Sorry, he said.

Even though Apple had just announced their new low-end iPad line which had a better processor and more storage, the hundred to hundred-fifty price difference wasn’t a factor. Reason? I don’t need an iPad. I especially don’t need a low-end iPad. I mean, let’s face it. As much as I fight it, it looks like Macs are doomed. Apple is going full iOS. I’ve since learned from my wife’s multiple iPad to iPad Pro experience, that I’m eventually gonna have to give in. Of course, it’ll take till iPads can drive a second monitor–as that’s the way I use both my 2016 MacBook and my 2015 MacBook Air–I’m putting off full iPad integration into my life. Again. All I really needed was a new e-reader on account of how much I hate the Kindle Paperwhite!

Long Apple-Store story short: I went home and got the shattered iPad Air. I traded it in and nervously paid €250,-. Gee, I thought, I just got the best e-book reader there is, didn’t I? And not only that. It really was a brand new first generation iPad Air with 32GB and cellular. It’s not even a refurbished one. Say what you will, dear worst-reader, about my lack of scruples when it comes to consuming tech $hit. I mean, I could have easily afforded the  new iPad. I just don’t need a new iPad for anything but watching the occasional video while it’s propped up in the kitchen and I’m cutting onions or I’m consuming lots and lots of research, reading, study, etc. Since the newest Kindle (that’s waaaay overpriced one) cost almost the same… Yeah, it was a no-brainer.

I think I lucked out. I’ve had the iPad Air (version A1475) as a news reader, the occasional Plex client, definitely a useful you-tube watcher and, when needed on account I’ve already purchased books there, it’s great with the Kindle app, for about six months now. And to be honest, I’m enjoying reading/using Apple’s iBooks more and more. Not only is the iPad Air much lighter than that iPad 4, but its also got a much better screen. The only negative with the iPad as an e-reader is the battery life. Yeah, Amazon does have the advantage with that one. Which means I have to charge the iPad every night… along with all the other krapp I have to charge. But then again, compared to the Kindle, it’s a fcuking computer beast.

As stated, I really like to interact with what I’m reading. I like to write short notes in the margins of pages (of real books) and also underscore text. The iPad does that huuuuuugely better than the Kindle. In fact, with the iPad I can highlight text and if I have a comment about the text, I then call up the note function and instead of using the cumbersome iPad keyboard, I just dictate my comment and voice recognition transcribes it. Also, if I need to write anything longer, I can immediately go to Apple’s Note app, which I’ve actually become more and more dependent upon even when using my Mac. So I’m really digging Apple’s eco-system right now. It works great when reading.

Who knows how long relations with Apple’s eco-system will last. Btw, I’m still not using iCloud for all my files. I prefer Dropbox for that. Also, as far as home media is concerned since we stopped watching TV ten years ago, I haven’t and don’t plan on upgrading my old AppleTV3 anytime soon. For one thing, as stated, we don’t consume TV anymore. When we do watch stuff, we do so through the internet or our Plex server which is on a 2010 headless MacPro in the basement. Replacing our living-room TV with a new bookshelf system where my wife and I are able to combine our entire (physical) book collection into a really, really cool private library, has been one of the best choices we’ve made yet when it comes to life and living at home.

Rant on.

T

Apple v Pi Or How I Slowly Got My Computing Future On

I tried to become a watch-nut once. Not a real watch-nut, mind you. Of course not. A real watch-nut spends lots of money on watches. Heck, I don’t even like money. Anywho. A watch-nut knows what a complication is. In fact, that’s the only thing that made watches interesting to me. The simpler the complications, the better the watch. That’s why for years I wore a cheap, mechanical watch that within a twenty-four hour period lost at least two minutes of time. But it was a cool watch. Every morning I had to get up and wind it. Which brings me to the worst-subject of the day. As in super expensive and it works or something quite a bit cheaper and maybe, well, it loses two minutes of time a day. You in, dear worst-reader?

As you can see in the confused pics above, I consumed Apple’s #WWDC2018 the other day. Already dislocated from expectations, I was, as usual, disappointed in the show. Long worst-writer, pseudo-technologist, story short: #Apple sucks. The only consolation, as an Apple user, is that Apple will remain the best of the worst for the foreseeable future. That said, I’m not ready to fully go elsewhere for my personal computing needs. Or maybe I am. I’m especially not ready to go iOS. That’s for sure. And that’s what I got out of this year’s WWDC. In other words, if you’re an old-school Mac user like me, it’s probably time to move on or at least get ready to move over rover. That means, iOS is definitely gonna take over fairly soon. And even though the guy with the funny hair and plastic look (pic above of the iPad) claimed that there will be no merge of iOS and MacOS, I don’t believe him. Well, I kinda believe him. I mean, look at him. Compare him to the slimy, filthy ashtray that I refuse to clean behind him. The duschbags running Apple these days are definitely earning their weight in bull$hit. And that’s coming from a guy who has nothing but Apple products in his digital life. Aghast!

In order to prepare myself for the future I’ve been experimenting with what I consider the only true innovation in personal computing hardware in the past twenty years. And when I say personal computing I mean old school stuff as in a keyboard, a monitor and where necessary a mouse. And it doesn’t stop there. I’m also old school because I believe that when I buy a computer, what I do with it after purchase is all up to me. With that in mind, the thing I hate most about iOS and the direction computers are going is the touch screen interface and the fact that that it has exponentially increased the distance between human and the computer and device. Wow. I bet that’s worth a worst-thought or three, eh? Anywho.

Now don’t get me wrong, dear worst-reader. I’m not afraid of change. It’s just that I really do hate tablets. Nomatter how bright, clear and shinny they make those screens, for me there is something awfully wrong with my finger tips hitting a piece of hardened glass in order to interact with the/my digital world. Add to that the closed eco-system these new devices have ushered in to personal computing… at the behest of greed mongering corporations…

The thing to remember to keep in mind while reading this worst-post, dear worst-reader, is that nomatter what Apple does, worst-writer ain’t going to move to tablet computing anytime soon. In fact, so far, it looks like they’re gonna have to pry my dreams of old-school personal computing way of life out of my cold, dead, nightmare hands.

And so…

IMHO the most innovative personal computing product in years is the Raspberry Pi. Since its introduction as a code learning device for young people it has become a viable and versatile computer that has no rivals other than other single board computers, although it’s not quite ready to replace desktop computers. (But it is almost there.) And get this! It costs just under less than 40,-€.  Depending upon use and purpose, total cost of this device is around 100,-€, and that includes audio-boards, power supply and micro-sd cards. Considering what I’ve paid over the years for inevitably obsolete Apple products, that’s pretty impressive. FYI, I currently have three Raspberry Pi’s in full-time use in my house. And there’s this thought: I’m using R-Pis more than any of my Apple digital devices combined, except, maybe, my MacBook. In other worst-words, I’ve replaced what could have been Apple purchases–if Apple weren’t run by duschbags!–with some serious household cost-cutting purchases.

Enough worst-writer anger, though, eh.

One Pi is a Plex media client that has replaced one of my AppleTVs. It’s only a matter of time before another Pi replaces the other AppleTV. My second Pi is an audio streaming device using Volumio and a Hifiberry audio-board. It has 1) replaced iTunes for streaming music in our living room and kitchen and 2) will prevent us from having to buy any of those stupid little speaker thingies everybody and joe is pushing onto the music listening market. Sorry. Let me just put this out there:

Apple HomePod + iTunes + Apple Music + blah blah blah = fcuk you Apple.

That’s right. Finally. I can play my FLAC formatted music collection in its purest form–and with real air-moving speakers. Amen, brother.

The third Pi is the latest device available, the 3B+, and because it has increased ethernet capacity–although still via a bottlenecking USB 2.0 bus–I’ve been testing it as a NAS (network attached storage). Other than a few twerks and quirks here and there, these Pi’s work great and are slowly but surely proving themselves as alternatives to my ageing Apple home infrastructure and, more importantly, my unwillingness to accept Apple’s monopolisation of everything.

On that note, a few words about NAS on the cheap.

As you can see in the large pic above, I’m using a 2010 MacPro as a headless server. In fact, I’ve been using it for almost ten years. It’s where all of my household data is stored and backed-up. Of course, I know it’s time is limited, especially considering what Apple is doing with MacOS. It’s currently running El Capitan and I’m not even gonna bother with Sierra or High Sierra for it or any other OS. What I’d really like to do with it is stop wasting it as a over-energy-consumptive server and re-install Snow Leopard on it and just use it as a awesome desktop computer. Any by-the-buy, the newest MacOS just released, Mojave, won’t run on it at all. Indeed. More obsoletism. And for those interested, I don’t favour going the commercial NAS route i.e. Synology & Co. on account they are just an added complication in something that should be simple, where do I go in the future with my home digital needs they all seem like over priced and over complicated un-neccessities.

The fact that I have to even ask such a question is proof enough that there’s something seriously wrong with the world–or at least Apple’s and its, what I consider, corporate dysfunction. And perhaps this relates to my silly little watch analogy at the beginning of this post because when I heard that the latest Raspberry Pi had increased ethernet speed, albeit not quite gigabyte, I thought it finally time to take the plunge. Indeed. NAS here I cometh–even if you’re off two minutes each day!

Conclusion after about a month of Raspberry Pi NAS testing?

It works but…

Using OpenMediaVault, a 32GB micro-sd card, and a dedicated 5v-3amp micro-USB power supply, and, of course, numerous available HDDs I’ve got lying around–including really, really old USB 2.0 cases–my new cheap NAS is a go-go works great so far. Currently occupying two USB (out of 4) ports I have an old 750GB HDD in a single case that is dedicated to audio. Another dual HDD case that has hardware enabled RAID-0 case and 2x3TB drives in it, gives me a total of 6TB as an experimental backup server. I’m using testing the big drive for shares where I’ll be copying most of what’s on the MacPro to it as an alternative to the MacPro. Btw, the MacPro is a great server but it is obviously wasted in this role. Also, I’m not able to connect any of the Raspberry Pi’s to it unless via a Plex server. Something about Linux file systems and Mac files system not getting along, don’t you know. Anywho.

Hiccups so far mostly occur when I stream music and perform large data transfers. The Pi just doesn’t have enough ethernet/USB to make it all happen. For example. Copying my movie collection, which is about 1.5TB of data, from my MacPro to the big NAS share, the Pi then cannot deliver audio files at the same time. This screws up Volumio quite a bit and has required more than a few restarts and a few frustrating evenings where I was attempting to enjoy music. I’m assuming that these hiccups will decrease once I get all my music, movie and photos copied to the NAS, which is about 4TB total and will take a few days at current i/o bus speeds. And to think I’ve still got two more USB ports on the Pi for more drives… Cool.

Update two days later: All big files have been copied and I’ve had no hiccups with Volumio anymore. Über cool!

In worst-conclusion: So far I’m pleased with the time and effort required to get these Pi’s doing what I want working. And that’s the ticket, along with the price, if anyone wants to free themselves from monopolisation and corporate dysfunction galore. Of course there is a learning curve here. And even though there are forums out there and what feels like a large user base, the Raspberry Pi is not at all like any of the devices that I’m replacing. Obviously AppleTVs worked from the point-of-purchase until Apple makes them obsolete. So I’ve had to do a bit of research, reading and fiddling to get these Raspberry Pi’s to work. Then again, listening to Beethoven through real speakers in FLAC at 24bit streamed from a tiny server in my basement to a device that is hidden, tucked behind books on book shelf in my living room… Fcuk yeah! There is some wow going on in my audio listening pleasure zone, baby. And so. Good ridden monopoly Apple. Hope you choke on your duschbaggery and greed.

Rant on.

-T

PS As far as the two other pictures included in this post, you’re guess is a good as mine. The one with the runners is kinda cool and reminds somehow of Apple’s dysfunction. Yeah, that kid running along the group looks like he’s trying to keep up with his daddy or stop his daddy from running away from his mommy, which is most likely, considering #eurowasteland greed mongering, inevitable. The picture of the smoke stack is Apple, too. Yeah, it’s gotten that big and fat and in the way of seeing a horizon.

The Wrong Of Success In The Land Of Free To Be Stupid Because Rest Of World Is Even Stupider

three dollar bill apple logo (low res)

Here’s the latest greed-mongering-magazine’s list of top corporations in the world ranked by whatever-$$$ (I guess). I came across this list because, as an Apple pseudo-fan-boy, my favourite company-to-hate was recently downgraded. How can that be–especially after I just took advantage of a battery replacement program for my ageing phone that was probably the best deal ever? Seriously. If you have an iPhone 6s and an extra thirty-bucks, get the battery replaced. It works great.

Here’s the newest list of really, really great corporations that are doing so much greatness in/for the world–in order of $$$-significance. I guess.

  1. Walmart
  2. Exxon
  3. Berkshire Hathaway
  4. Apple
  5. UnitedHealth Group
  6. Mckeeson
  7. CVS
  8. Amazon
  9. AT&T
  10. General Motors
    (Source: Forbes 2018)

I’m actually surprised by the first company on this list. I had no idear that the rural, redneck family business of Sam Walton was back at the top of the greed $hit-show. But then again, considering the cesspool that Walmart’s nearest rival also operates (with)in, Amazon is close enough. So let’s run down the list, shall we–as only worst-writer can.

First. Nuff said about Walmart. Unless, of course, one wishes to see yet another of the family kill itself by some ridiculous means. Yeah, über-rich people and their toys. Watching the whole damn family fall out of the sky in a cheap airplane and crushed on the ground would be cool. Or maybe not.

Second. There is no surprise with an oil extraction and distribution company being number 2 on this list. Or is there? In fact, as worst-surprised as I am about Walmart being number one, I’m really surprised Exxon ain’t a whole bunch further ahead than the rest. I mean, come on. Exxon wouldn’t be where it is today if there weren’t enough poor, young #Americants trying to achieve a living-standard based on an overly outdated past and an dinosaur old-economy that could care less about them, by joining the military and, of course, fighting wars-of-choice for… You guessed it: oil. Am I wrong?

The owner, founder of Berkshire Hathaway, the infamous filthy rich grandpa that likes simple ice cream cones, Warren Buffet, has said that he wouldn’t invest in Amazon because it was a miracle company–and he doesn’t invest in miracles. When I first heard Mr. Buffet say that I was taken aback. So there are a few wise men in this greed-mongering world of greed-$hit? Nevertheless, Berkshire Hathaway makes all its money in the stock market. And for those not in the know but wish to worst-know: the NYSE is propped up by lies, lies and more lies–baked and cooked with a whole bunch of sugar-cherries on top. Go figure, eh. The only reason the stock market doesn’t crash right now is because there is no alternative to what my beloved #Americant has put forth in the world: unabated and unhindered greed. And on that note, I digress.

Although I have a lot of negative to say about Apple–especially it being ONLY the best of the worst in technology–I’m kind of relieved that its on this list. I mean, at least one company among these greed-mongering monsters actually produces something worthwhile in this day & age of worthlessness. Say what you will about smartphones, the Internet, social media, etc., Apple is the only company out of all tech companies that has managed to hold together, although not perfectly, the exploitable nature of hardware and software via the human interface. Among the many things I will never forget about Steve Jobs, the one thing that stands out the most right now is his contempt for Mark Zuckerberg and the willingness of a new generation of so-called entrepreneurs who will get rich quick by transgressing achievement and success with the simplemindedness of exploiting the vulnerable, the naive, The Stupid, i.e. Facebook. Go Apple!

The next three companies on the list are all about healthcare. There is only one word that comes to my worst-mind when I think of my beloved and missed dysfunctional #Americant and it’s ludicrous healthcare system: scam. Indeed. So many have been scammed for so long that there is probably no way to get out of the scam. Live by the scam, you become the scam. Only in the land of scam can you also elect #Trump to the highest office–and what a scammer President Stupid is, eh. On that worst-note, I’m way off subject.

For a long while now I’ve been trying to put myself in Jeff Bezos shoes. I remember vividly checking out Amazon on my CRT screen connected by RGB cables to my second (or was it third) used pizza box Macintosh computer back in the mid 90s. Wow, I thought. I could read about books. I could read what other people thought of those books. I could then order a book and… bam! It’s suddenly delivered in… a week? Nomatter. And then I thought: what a stupid idear this is. Why does the world need a retail middleman based on software and an internet connection? Why can’t products be sold directly form maker to buyer? Amazon is indeed a unique company on this list. It is unique because very few can see it for what it really is. Amazon is a scavenger business. It is the result of there being nothing left to exploit and all creativity (in business) being dried up. It is the same with companies like Über and Facebook. These businesses are bottom of the barrel scrappers. But because one of them makes a list like the one above, few people can see through to what they really are all about. Except Warren Buffet, of course.

The last two companies on the list deserve to be combined because they are old economy $hitbag companies. Indeed. AT&T and GM are the remnants of dinosaurs that refuse to be fossilised. That is their only achievement. I suppose that’s good enough for most, at least most of the privileged old economy that partake in their exploitation. Yet I’m reminded of how it was supposed to be a good thing to break up monopolies in the 70s and 80s only to see that exact monopoly return twenty or thirty years later in the form of At&T. The fact that GM received a huge bailout from the government in 2007/8 should disqualify it from being on any list. In fact, GM should be owned by the government and all profit it makes should be used to repay taxpayers for bailing it out. But what am I saying? These dinosaurs can live and prosper, as so many other companies beyond and below this list, only in the land of greed, where free to be stupid reigns supreme and where the likes of an old man like Warren Buffet exemplifies living death–with lots of money, money, money.

Rant on.

-T

Kudos To The Best Of The Worst

three dollar bill apple logo (low res)

One of the world’s most greedy corporate CEOs (I mean, come on worst-reader, it is all about greed and not achievement or merit or the like, right?) has found a moment to put a few degrees between what he represents (über-greed) and what the worst of the worst represents (stupid-greed). Pretty much from day one worst-writer has claimed that Facebook is just bad bad bad. I also call it internet for stupid people. Anytime you see a bunch of consumer dunces giggling over their phones while connected to the past or other family dunces, eyebrows should be raised with bloody splinters in them. Of course, what can one do when the consume-to-survive world has so few choices regarding meaning in this worst-life? If anything, Facebook should be proof of how empty the western world of consumption has become–and who and what has brought us to this point. Yet all is grand in galore-ville and you’ve elected a comb-over as president. On the other hand, this world deserves the likes of Facebook. I mean, seriously. If stupid begets stupid, welcome to consumption galore. Here’s a ticket to your Colloseum–which was erected and used as part of the fall of the Roman Empire. Make sure you LIKE all the people you’re connected with who are as equally stupid as you as lions eat you. Go figure.

Rant on.

-T

Link that motivated this post:

Apple’s Spinning Wheel Of You Suck

Don’t you hate it when that happens? This particular wheel lasted for well over ten minutes–until I forced a restart on my MacBook Air 7,2. This is but another reminder of how much I’m gonna enjoy making this my last Apple hardware purchase (I spitefully hope). As far as MacOS goes, Apple has really dropped the lead ball and shown its corporate intentions with this once great computing platform. Obviously iOS is the future (for Apple). And that’s all fine and dandy–if you don’t mind obnoxious closed eco-systems and pseudo-computing. I’m just too old for that sort of thing. Seriously. I tried iOS. I purchased an iPad4 from Apple US refurbished store about three years ago. I used it on and off for about a year, testing if it could replace my 2010 13″ MacBook Pro. I bought a keyboard for it, too. Even typed a few thousands words on it. But was seriously no match for a real computer. The new iPad Pro is another story. My better half has one. Other than her work’s krappy use of spreadsheets and closed eco-system corporate communication, she uses her iPad for everything. It has replaced her use of a PC. My problem is, even after trying an older iPad and still using an iPhone is different. I just don’t like iOS. System upgrades on that platform are worse than on regular computing platforms. I’m assuming the reason for that is simple: they got you more by the balls with their closed eco-systems then they do with real computers. With every iOS update (especially on my iPhone 6s) I’ve never actually seen any improvement in the device. The only thing you get is the/a need to replace what Apple is making obsolete. Btw. When I started computing it was all about owning a device. It was about data being mine. It was about me being part of something as an individual. The thing is, I’m seriously not impressed anymore with the industries move away from personal computing to collective, eco-system digital consumption. But then again, I haven’t been impressed with an OS since I moved from WinXP to Mac Snow Leopard about ten years ago. With that in mind, I suppose my time is up. Indeed. Time to move on from Apple. Time to figure out how not to follow trends. I guess.

MacPro5,1_MacOSX10.6.3
MacPro 5,1 with Snow Leopard

The pic above is from a system downgrade I did recently on my ageing MacPro which serves as my home network server. I was upgrading drive capacity and decided to do a clean install. I used to do them every year so this one was long overdue. While erasing and cleaning disks, I installed Snow Leopard 10.6.3 (yes, from original disks) for the heck of it. Nostalgia rules, baby. And boy does it still work great. Since I mainly use this device as a “headless” server for iTunes, Plex and file sharing, it’s not possible to keep Snow Leopard running. Also, even though I boot El Capitan from a PCIe SSD on the motherboard, the important stuff is on old fashion spinning drives. Apple’s High Sierra is using a new file system specifically for SSDs. Sure, the new file system will work with old spinning drives. But I’m not going there on this device. El Capitan is the end OS for this great machine which no existing NAS can replace. After it no longer works, then maybe I’ll just finally get to install Snow Leopard and do lots of nostalgic fiddling or maybe even turn it into a fish tank.

It’s such a shame that Apple and its Macintosh has gone down the road of suck.

Rant on.

-T

Wait. Remember When…

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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.

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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

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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

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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.

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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