Category Archives: computers

Why does Apple hate me?

Lately I’ve been considering restarting this blog.  I’d repurpose it a bit, getting back to what I had originally set it up for, years ago, namely photography related stuff, and not so much relating to ranting about Apple garbage.  Who knows, I might even go and hide some of the anti-Apple bitching. Or maybe not.

See, it’s hard, because Apple continues to get more and more retarded over time. I’m to the point now where I really need to upgrade my computer to something newer, and there is literally nothing in Apple’s lineup that meets my needs.  Maybe the closest would be a top of the line Mac Mini, since those don’t come preinstalled with some weirdo, non-standard wide gamut UHD display that all the larger iMacs have now.  (And a Mac Pro is simply not going to happen.  The so-called “trash can” may just be the most ridiculous computer Apple has come up with since their original seven pound laptop back in the 1990’s, and it costs a goddamn fortune!)

Well, there’s the Windows option.  That’s a big unknown in some respects.  I’ve used various Windows systems at work going back to the 1990’s, from Windows 3.2 up to Windows 7, although I never suffered through Vista.  A new computer would certainly come with Windows 10, which I am not familiar with. I haven’t heard a lot of positive comments about it, although people who have used it for a while do seem to quiet down after some initial complaining.  My father described Windows 10, “It’s as if they took everything that was useful about Windows 7 and hid it.”

(One of my big frustrations with Windows is that I like to move stuff around a lot, or rename stuff.  But Windows tends to make that very difficult.  Say you want to rename or move a folder full of images.  It’s likely that the system will generate an error and the process will fail due to one of the files within the folder being “in use.”  In the case of moving a folder, the easiest solution, assuming you have enough disk space to spare, is to simply copy the entire folder to the new location, then delete the old one. Hopefully you don’t use shortcuts, though, because that process will break them all!  As for how well that works with simply renaming a folder, you’d start out with a copy of the folder named “my folder copy” (or whatever), which would then need to be renamed, which is the same problem all over again.  I suspect that the copy could be renamed as long as you haven’t done something foolish like peek inside it with Windows Explorer or some application…heheh.  Anyway, this is getting pretty digressive. Are all of these problems solved in Windows 10? I have no idea!  However, I’ve used Microsoft products for over 20 years and have noticed that certain minor bugs simply never get fixed, ever.  So I’m not holding my breath.)

And, as for Linux…well, that’s an idea that has a certain appeal to it, but no.  Even though I’m probably going to ditch Adobe products too, since I am not interested in software rentals, the question of, “Is this application available for Linux” is usually going to lead to, “Nope.”

Anyway, all of this came to mind recently, especially after reading this article, and getting into the comments, at The Online Photographer:

Computer Update (OT)

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Regarding the iTunes store…

Dear Apple:

Please FIX YOUR DAMN BUFFERING on audio samples.

Thank you.

Sincerely,
Me.

P.S.  Or, maybe I can start buying all tracks from Amazon.com? Now there’s an idea.

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Some new equipment…

As mentioned in previous posts I’ve been having recurring issues with Apple’s Time Machine backup software over the years.  The latest issue proved to be the final straw.  The internal drive in my iMac crashed, the local Apple dealer replaced it with a new drive and also did me the “favor” of installing Snow Leopard on it.  I then restored my previously saved files using Time Machine, when prompted to by Setup Assistant.

Time Machine never worked right after that.  It would typically try to back up tens of thousands of files every single time, often taking more than a half hour, which resulted in Time Machine being active more than 50% of the time, and that just doesn’t work.  There are too many things that can go wrong when Time Machine is running—having it run more than half of the time is just asking for trouble.  I tried and tried to get this fixed, going through every damned solution on pondini.org, including reinstalling Snow Leopard myself, and NOTHING worked.

So now I’m going to give up.  Arrived via FedEx today is a brand new Synology DS1513+, with four 4-terabyte hard drives loaded into it.  The setup routine recommends having a complete backup prior to proceeding, so I am doing one last Time Machine backup prior to formatting those four drives into a RAID array which will then be used to back up this system.  12 terabytes of space ought to be enough to last me for a while, but if I run short I can always add another drive to the array and bring it up to 16.  WΩΩt!

Getting the thing put together and hooked up was pretty easy.  My only complaint is that the little fastening bars on the side of each disk slider doohickey are made of plastic, which suggests a high likelihood of breakage over the long-term.  It also seems that the locking procedure for the individual slider doohickeys are not quite idiot-proof, although once you figure out what can go wrong it’s easy enough to avoid (i.e., it’s the sort of mistake that can only be made once).

Anyway.  Time Machine is about halfway through what’s recently been roughly a 20-minute process.  I’ve been keeping it turned off most of the time and just running one backup manually each evening.  Moving forward I’ll be using Carbon Copy Cloner to handle the backups onto the array.  Who knows if I’ll run into any issues.  Hopefully this will work out ok.

One question that pops into my mind…am I going to get to name the volume?  If so, I’m leaning towards “Utopia”.  Then again, that sort of optimism may be tempting fate.  Maybe I’d be better off with a nice, pessimistic name like “Purgatory.” ;)

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Annoyances.org apparently gone

It’s been a long time since I was there last, but when I attempted today to pull up the classic website annoyances.org, all I got was the message “Annoyances.org is temporarily down for maintainance [sic] and will return shortly.”   But, based on accounts posted here in early 2013, it appears that the temporariness of that maintenance is getting pretty non-temporary.

One poster at that Majorgeeks link very helpfully posted the link to the Annoyances website via the Internet Wayback Machine:  http://wayback.archive.org/web/*/annoyances.org

Using that, we can determine that the issue started right around the beginning of the year, 2013, and has been going on ever since.  To access an actual archive of the site, you’ll need to go back to late 2012 or earlier.

I wonder what other cool, 1990’s-era websites I always used to like have quietly disappeared like that.

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Datum

Back a few years ago, I idly wondered how long it would take to securely erase a 1 terabyte hard drive. I had no idea at the time.  More recently, I gained some real-world experience with something similar to this.

Due to having (surprise surprise) Time Machine problems, I at one point decided it was necessary to zero out my Time Machine drive.  Why?  Because I’d heard somewhere that zeroing a drive will “map out” any bad sectors on the drive, preventing them from being used once the format is complete.  An ordinary format supposedly won’t do that.

The drive in question was a four terabyte drive.  It took about four days for Disk Utility to zero that sucker.

A 7-pass wipe should take about 7 times as long, which would be about 28 days.  And the most secure option, which I believe uses a 35-pass wipe (don’t take my word for it, though), well…that would take about 140 days.  Dividing that by four, you’d end up with about 35 days for a most-secure wipe of a terabyte drive, or about a week for a less obsessive 7-pass wipe.  This is assuming that it always takes the same amount of time to do a single pass over any drive of a given volume.  I imagine that is not true in reality–some drives would go faster than others, due to inherent differences in drive performance and the amount of bad sectors encountered during the process.

This effectively disproves the, “Quick! The cops are here, wipe that drive before they grab the computer 5 seconds from now!” bulltweet that we used to see in the movies.

(As for that four terabyte drive that I zeroed out: Opinions differ as to whether that process will actually map out bad sectors on the drive. I was unable to tell if it had any significant effect at all, and suspect the entire exercise may have been a waste of time.  And I’m still having Time Machine problems.)

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Old versions of Firefox

Sick of the way Firefox updates itself every month or two?

A while ago, I gave in and decided to just let it do its thing—resisting the constant onslaught of  upgrades was getting to be a bit of  a pain.  And, for a while, it worked out ok.

Then this morning my work computer upgraded itself to Firefox 29, which…well.  I’m considering going back to 28.  I haven’t decided yet.  However, if I do, the following link will end up being useful:

http://ftp.mozilla.org/pub/mozilla.org/firefox/releases/

That contains downloadable copies of what appear to be ALL Firefox versions.  They are organized by version, then subdivided into platform, and subdivided further by language.  Myself, I’d be wanting the “en-US” version. The final folder contains either a DMG for Mac version, a couple of EXE files on the Windows versions, or a compressed TAR for Linux.

Happy downgrading! :)

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Irony

Something just occurred to me.

I have been an Apple user since…..well, maybe 1982? Something like that. It was before the Mac came out anyway–a computer math class in high school in the early 80’s, programming in AppleSoft on an Apple IIe. Not a bad computer, for that time, incidentally, even if it was possible for me to physically type enough text to fill up the entire RAM capacity of the computer. LOL

Anyway. The point is that I’ve been an Apple user for a long time. But something occurred to me, as I’ve been looking over my last few posts on this blog tonight. As a long-time Mac user, I’ve slung more than my fair share of criticism towards Microsoft, especially back in the DOS and Windows 95 days. Nevertheless, I have to admit that, possibly, my favorite application of all time is a Microsoft product: Microsoft Excel.

And, my most-loathed application of all time is Apple’s Time Machine.

What a dilemma. I, a long-time Mac user, have proclaimed my all-time favorite application to be a Microsoft product, and my all-time most-hated application to be an Apple product. WTF?

Hmm. Well, I have no particular insight into that question at the moment, but I do feel moved to traverse the garden path for a bit, as it were:

Every once and a while, my dentist, knowing me to be a computer geek, asks me for a recommendation or other pertaining to hardware or software if he’s got a big upgrade coming, or whatever. Over the years, I’ve found myself less and less sure of what to tell him. Gone are the days when I could brazenly brag about how I ran my iMac with no malware protection whatsoever. Granted, I still do that (depending on what you consider “malware protection”–for instance, is Adblock Plus considered “malware protection”? Or NoScript?). But long gone are the days when I would unconditionally recommend a Mac system.

At the same time, though, I have never gone so far as to actually recommend a Windows 7 system to anyone (with the exception of the odd Windows XP user wondering if it was a good idea to upgrade–short answer, “it ain’t bad, you’ll get used to it, and I don’t hate it myself, which is more than I can say about a lot of upgrades”).

Really, if someone came to me today, or during the past few years, and asked what sort of system they should buy, I’m honestly not sure what I would say. It’s my feeling that there is really no good choice out there, or that (really) the best choice is to simply stick with what you have. Out of Windows, OS X and Linux, each has their advantages and disadvantages. I stick with OS X because it would cost me too much to switch, given the gains I would realize. Maybe the correct answer to the question is, “it doesn’t really matter all that much.”

Then again, it can be said that desktop systems aren’t the main issue anymore. The real question these days is what sort of mobile device to get. Android? iPhone? Blackberry?!?! Hmmm.

[For me, the answer is “none of the above”, because 1) I detest the expense involved in any of those systems, 2) I don’t want people to be able to reach me that easily and 3) “the cloud” is a BAD idea in most cases. In the long run, I am guessing that this will spell my demise as a “tech” guy, due to the world’s moving into a realm of stupidity and me refusing to follow. Oh well. Ask me if I care. No. Why do you ask?]

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