Geek

The Great World Reboot.

As I type this blog entry, Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp have all been down for several hours. There is no word as to when the services will be restored. A part of me wonders if this a distraction tactic from last night’s Facebook whistleblower story on CBS’ 60 Minutes, but we shall see. The bright side is, Facebook is down and my friend’s Internet connection in North Carolina hasn’t been this fast in years.

I have a Facebook account even though I wretch about the service all the time. Too many interest groups have a presence only on Facebook, which is a terrible shame. I have relatives that only communicate via Facebook, which is a terrible shame. I wouldn’t mind in the least if Facebook never returned to service, save that it would break my Oculus VR goggles forever. I could deal with the $250 loss.

Facebook is awful, is designed to be awful, and provides the tools necessary to destroy society. This all goes on while Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg roll in the money. The money comes from advertisers who are buying all of your information for the lowest price possible. You know all this, I know all this, and yet I still have a Facebook account.

I hope the service remains down. For days, weeks, years, whatever it takes. I’m OK with social media completely falling apart.

It’d be good for the world.

Bugs.

My love of Apple has been rabid at times. I love the “fit and finish” of Apple’s hardware and their contributions to a user’s lifestyle. With Apple Fitness+, Apple Card, Apple TV+, and the like, Apple has definitely pushed itself as a “lifestyle company” more than a technology company.

I think this is why my interest is waning a bit (again).

I’m still happy with my Apple hardware. My M1 Mac mini, originally purchased as my work computer, but moved to my the role of my main computer when work wanted us back on Windows laptops, is amazing. This M1 Mac mini is hands down the fastest desktop computer I’ve ever owned. It doesn’t even get warm, even with Zoom calls and the like going on. I’m thoroughly impressed.

There are bugs in MacOS Big Sur that I’m sure will endure into MacOS Monterey coming out before the end of the year.

Then there’s my 2018 iPad Pro. I have the larger version and I’ve tried on numerous occasions to make it my “main computer” by using it for as many of my computing tasks as possible.

It doesn’t quite fit the bill.

I don’t like the idea of everything being accessed one app at a time. I know iPadOS has “multitasking” capabilities by putting half screens next to each other, but handling things in this manner just doesn’t gel with the way my brain works. It’s probably because I’m an old computer geek, but I feel very confined when working on my iPad. I’m typing this blog entry on my iPad. It’s the only thing I can see. If I were to float a mail window or something off to one side of the app I’d feel virtually claustrophobic with my computing experience. I don’t like that.

Then there’s the bugs. A week or two ago, Apple released iOS 15 for the iPhone and iPadOS 15 for the iPad. They’re suppose to be the greatest iterations of the popular operating system. But there’s bugs. So many bugs.

For example, iPadOS Mail gives me two separate iterations of “All Inboxes”.

There’s no need for this. The “fit and finish” I loved from Apple is rapidly disappearing from their software catalog. The second “all Inboxes” should say “iCloud” and there’s only one email my iCloud inbox. Don’t even get me started on iCloud. I tried to search for a photo in the iCloud web interface to Photos and apparently there’s no way to do that. I can only search for a photo on my device. Ugh.

Then, there’s Apple Maps. This mapping service insists on calling Houghton Road here in Tucson as State Route 983. There are absolutely no road signs that say anything about State Route 983. The road was once considered to be labeled as State Route 983 but it never happened. The same with State Route 910 and State Route 810 here in Tucson. They never happened. They’re not marked. But Apple Maps has state route trailblazers all over the place on their maps. I’ve reported this too many times.

I thought perhaps the maps incident was limited to pockets of misinformation, but apparently not. Interstate 4 in Florida, which runs through the center of Orlando and provides the main access to Walt Disney World, is not marked as Interstate 4 anywhere in Apple Maps. Scroll in, scroll out, doesn’t matter. It’s marked as Florida State Route 400, which is an internal designation used by the Florida Department of Transportation.

With the Interstate system pretty much the backbone of the prosperity of the 20th century, you’d think Apple Maps would put Interstate markers on their maps. But no, it’s SR 400.

This weekend I powered down my Mac mini and powered up my Windows based gaming computer as part of my typical 30 day challenge. Has Windows come along far enough, and is Microsoft’s Surface line of computers nice enough, to meet my computing needs? When Chris’ Apple Mac Pro (trash can version) could no longer handle his graphic design needs, he opted for a high powered Windows machine that was a third of the price of a modern Apple Mac Pro and he has been delighted with the experience. His biggest struggle with the move has been the different keystrokes in familiar applications (like Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Premiere). He even put the release candidate of Windows 11 on his primary machine and it’s been rock solid. He has no complaints and he doesn’t have to juggle between a productivity computer and a gaming computer.

I’m curious to see what the next 30 days bring for my desktop computing experience.

Demo.

I had to give a software demo at work today. It was software written by me and the rest of the team, and the audience was sizable. The demo went well, I heard back great feedback, and I’d had a great rest of the day.

It’s a good feeling.

Champion Memory.

I’m sitting at my computer, writing code like a good little geek on a Monday morning at work and the oddest memory flashed across my brain.

Some time in 1982 or 1983 I must have been home from school due to being sick or something and I remembered a game show called “Sale of the Century” and the contestant that day won everything she could possibly win on the show. It was a big deal and all I remembered was that she looked like an older version of Lynda Carter’s Diana Prince (from “Wonder Woman”). I remember her winning everything the game show had to offer and she became a daytime record holder or something.

Not to be deterred by this completely random memory, a quick search via Google revealed that yes, this did happen, it happened in 1983, and the record holder was Barbara Phillips.

Courtesy of this blog.

The magic of the Internet and other folks like me that remember the craziest things. Hat tip to Hell Yeah! $ale of the Century.

Zoom.

I’m lying in bed as I type this. It’s Saturday so I allow myself to do this. I’m fiddling with the camera again, this time playing with the zoom.

All of these photos were taken from the same position on my side of the bed. I’m particularly impressed by the zoom in on the clock, and that wasn’t using the full zoom capabilities

Upgrade.

My new iPhone 13 Pro arrived this morning. This in itself is amazing to me, because Wednesday evening it was still sitting in Korea, so the fact that it’s here in Tucson, Arizona less than 48 hours later, by way of Kentucky, no less, is incredible. I also used a lot of commas in that last sentence.

I decided to step away from the gray for the first time in multi-decade Apple purchasing frenzy and I went with the Sierra Blue, 256GB model of the iPhone 13 Pro. It is noticeably but not terribly heavier than my iPhone X, even without the new clear case. The display is gorgeous and I like the way the phone feels in my hand. Even though I’m only 100 minutes into ownership of this phone, it’s already setup, everything has transferred over, I’ve done all the updates, and the entire process went flawlessly. For the first time in a few months around all things Apple, I am without complaint.

A comparison of the color on the box and the color of the actual phone. Photos taken with my old iPhone X.

The accessories in the box. Note, no power brick. I have plenty of those.

Size comparison, both in cases. iPhone X on the left, iPhone 13 Pro on the right. Photo taken with my 2018 iPad Pro 12.9″.

Comparison of camera quality. Both photos taken out my office window by holding the phones up to the glass. First photo, iPhone X. Second photo, iPhone 13 Pro. I had to reduce the size of the second photo by 6% to meet the upload requirements of my hosting provider.

The second photo shows much more detail and color depth at full size.

And of course, Truman is thrilled that I have a new camera. I’m sure we’ll be seeing slow motion video of play time. He’d now like to get back to his nap.

Clicky.

I type for a living. A lot of people type for a living, and in this day and age in the 21st century one should know how to type. A few years ago I saw a fellow co-worker typing out code on their laptop and they did it with two fingers. I don’t know how they typed for a living. I often think of how lucky I am that my mother taught me how to type when I was in fifth grade. “If you’re going to use this typewriter, you should use the right fingers”. So my mother taught me how to type and 40+ years later I can still type between 90 and 110 words per minute, depending on my stamina and the keyboard.

Because I’m what I’ll call a “legacy geek”, I like keyboards with a lot of hefty and a confident response. I’m not a fan of the mushy membrane keyboards that tend to come with PC setups or laptop docking stations these days. And I’m really not a fan of many keyboards found on PC laptops. Interestingly, I never had an issue with the very flawed-by-design Apple “butterfly” keyboards they abandoned a year or two ago; I can fly right along on my husband’s MacBook Pro from that era and he’s never had a hardware failure from a speck of dust falling into the keyboard or something.

A requirement of a keyboard that shall be graced with my fingers is that it has to have a full sized function key row, or at the very least, a decently sized Escape key. As mentioned, I’m a “legacy geek”. In my day to day workflow I still use an editor called vim, which uses what are now considered archaic keystrokes to navigate and otherwise do things in a text editor. It’s not rare to see a document I’ve typed with wwwwww or jjjjjjjj accidentally typed in the code. The “w” in vi or vim is used to move the cursor by word, the j key moves down a line.

Here’s an eight minute tutorial of how vim or vi works

Back to the keyboard.

In addition to having a confident feel and response, I prefer a keyboard that does not have a numeric keypad. I don’t type numbers that much but more importantly, I don’t like reaching over the extra couple of inches to get to my mouse. I like my mouse to be close at hand so I’m not reaching around on my desk. Plus, I just don’t like giving up the desk real estate for the bigger keyboard. So I go with “tenkeyless” keyboards. Except once in a while I want a small keyboard where I can use a numeric keypad.

Enter the Havit Mechanical Wired keyboard. (Link to Amazon). This keyboard features red switches, has a fantastic response feel to it, but more importantly, incorporates a numeric keypad where the usual other navigation keys are located. The keypad layout uses the original IBM PC layout of home-end-insert-del, so it hearkens back to my teenage years and using an IBM PC in the high school business office. I have it on one of my Linux computers and I am thoroughly enjoying the typing experience. It’s still a little loud (the switches are mechanical, after all), but it’s not as loud as my Velocifire keyboards with Brown Switches. Yet, people still know when I’m typing. I don’t know if the neighbors can hear me or not, but the rest of the family definitely knows when I’m typing and sounding productive.

I recommend this keyboard for enthusiasts who like a smaller footprint, but still need a numeric keypad. It’s clicky, but I find it a delight to use.

Inspiration4.

Today, four civilians plan to launch into orbit aboard a SpaceX capsule. This will be the first all civilian space flight in history. They will orbit Mother Earth for three days before returning home.

This is awesome.

Here’s a link to their website.

Inspiration4 is the world’s first all-civilian mission to orbit. The mission will be commanded by Jared Isaacman, the 38-year-old founder and Chief Executive Officer of Shift4 Payments and an accomplished pilot and adventurer. Named in recognition of the four-person crew that will raise awareness and funds for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, this milestone represents a new era for human spaceflight and exploration.

Deco.

I decided one of my art deco school clocks would look better in my office, so I cleaned it up, hooked it up, and hung it up. The other clock was quite nice but I like the art deco look of this clock much more. It feels more “me”.

Updates.

I blocked my work calendar to partake in the latest Apple streaming event. The event took place this morning at 10:00 a.m. Pacific, which is also 10:00 a.m. Mountain Standard Time! Yay for no Daylight Saving Time in Arizona.

The announcements were predictable, but I found the presentation enjoyable. Since my iPhone X is getting long in the tooth, I’ve decided to go ahead and purchase an iPhone 13 Pro when it becomes available; pre-orders start this coming Friday. I’m upgrading primarily because of the camera improvements. The iPhone X was the last of the iPhones to not feature “Night Mode” and I’m anxious to give that a whirl. I also really want to see how it fares with shots of the night sky.

I was happy to see the improvements to iPad, specifically the iPad Mini. The new iPads are compatible with the Apple Pencil 2nd generation, the same Apple Pencil I have on my 2018 iPad Pro. And like my iPad Pro, the new iPads have also been transitioned to a USB-C connection instead of the Lightning Port found on the iPhones.

Sadly, no models of the iPhone 13 were moved from Lightning Ports to USB-C ports. Apparently Apple can’t get waterproofing where they want it to be with USB-C ports on the iPhone. I can deal.

The new Apple Watch Series 7 looks intriguing. I’ve had this Apple Series 3 watch for quite a while and I’m looking forward to maybe asking Santa for a new Apple watch. I’m really pleased with the cycling improvements they talked about, with auto-pause happening when the cyclist stops for a break and the fall-detection alerts. I’m really enjoying the fitness capabilities of my Series 3 Watch, I’m sure I’ll really enjoy the upgrades and the bigger screen on the Series 7.

I recently traded in my 2015 MacBook Pro for an Apple gift certificate with the intent of using it to purchase the new iPhone or perhaps another MacBook of some sort. I’m not with a lack of computers; as of the trade-in I’ve been using my iPad Pro as my main unit with my Mac Mini as my Mac of choice when there’s something I can’t do on the iPad Pro.

Overall I’m pleased with everything Apple has to offer, but still wary of their privacy practices. Even with these concerns, I still believe Apple offers the best experience of all that’s out there.