Hooray! We’re going to Jalopyrama #11 on Saturday. Nothing but 1962 and earlier American hot rods, customs, and race cars. I will be bringing a good camera and a big memory card. We’re also meeting the Morrises there to hand off their iMac and maybe see the sights in Annapolis.
My home laptop is now running Yosemite, and seems to be pretty happy. I like a lot of the new features they’ve baked into things, although I won’t be able to take advantage of a lot of the phone -> computer functionality until I upgrade my iPhone (dialing and making calls on my laptop, Continuity with my files, or tethering). Most likely I’ll wait until 2015 for a new phone, as the holidays and some home renovation projects demand my extra cash. Or maybe they’ll have a good update to iOS 8.1 that makes my old 4s happy.
Also, I used a feature of Mail.app I never knew existed until last week: Preferences -> Junk Mail ->Reset. I’ve been getting more and more spam mail over the last two years, to the point where 95% of my inbox was junk (at a rate of about 150 messages a day). Each evening I’d waste 5 minutes of my life weeding through spam mail and moving it to the junk folder. Having reset the filter I’m seeing 3-5 junk messages make it through and another 2-3 valid ones get marked as spam, but that’s a much better average than before.
I loaded Yosemite onto my work laptop yesterday morning, figuring it would make a great test case for the rest of the machines I run (my home laptop, Jen’s laptop, a workstation under my desk, client machines, etc.) and overall it’s pretty nice. My work laptop is a Retina 13″ with an SSD, so installation took about 10 minutes and everything looks wonderful. It seems to be fast, there’s no performance hit with anything I can see, and all my apps seem to be running just fine (Adobe Creative Cloud, CS6, Office 2011, and a handful of utility apps I depend upon). The real test will be the aforementioned laptops–my home machine is an early 2010 model MacBook Pro which might not like as many of the visual improvements in Yosemite.
Amazon delivered my copy of Information is Beautiful this morning, and I can testify, it is, indeed, beautiful. An entire book of charts, graphs, and visuals well-designed and displayed, about a huge range of subjects. Go to the site, absorb some of the work, and buy the book. It’s well worth the money.
Monday night I went out to the garage and started running wire to the ceiling for overhead lighting. Currently it’s a mishmash of plugin fluorescent fixtures scrounged from my old job run off extension cords, and I’ve dreamed of simply having a switch next to the door to light the space since we moved in. I ran wire from the panel to a new switchbox near the door and then started fishing wire up to the ceiling, then stopped because I wanted to make sure I was running the wire correctly. It’s looking like I’m on the right track based on this diagram, so I’ll continue getting things in place in preparation for buying the fixtures and a new breaker.
Apple announced new iPhones and a watch yesterday. The phones are nice; I’ll probably upgrade my 4s to a 6 when they’re released, because my 4s is beginning to get a little flaky on battery life, and I like the idea of Apple Pay. Having printed out a full-size comparison of the 6 and 6 Plus, the Plus is HUGE. Like, Mini iPad huge. The watch? Meh. I could care less, although it probably does some cool stuff. As I’ve said before, I’d rather spend that cash on something classic instead.
There hasn’t been much else going on, other than on the weekends; work is busy but exhausting. I have been playing around with digital sound recording and syncing with video for the past two weeks, and I think I’ve got both of our digital recorders figured out when connected to wireless lav mics. I shot some interviews earlier in the summer and while the video looks beautiful, the audio settings I was using were too low. I’ve run a bunch of tests on syncing up digital video with audio through the mic/recorder system, and I’ve now got it dialed in. There’s talk of recording an interview here at work in the next couple of weeks, which I think I’m ready for.
The Mac Pro I got a few weeks ago was having some reliability issues. I was getting about 18 hours of uptime before it would decide to crash and reboot itself, so I dug around the Console and found that the memory was throwing errors constantly. I put some new memory in this evening and we’ll see how well it performs now. I also dug out a second 2TB drive and filled the last drive slot with it, so there’s a total of 5.5 TB of space on board. Let’s see how fast that 2 fills up.
Update: Uptime is 22 hours and counting, and the scheduled sleep/wake cycle is working.
While I was fooling around with that, I wiped the drive on an old iBook I had and set it up with a clean install of OS 9.2.2 so that I can run legacy software if need be; it was a challenge to dust off the cobwebs in my brain to remember how OS X worked with Classic, and it took some research. At some point maybe I’ll dust off the old hardware and do another laptop lineup.
Sadly, all of the laptops in that picture are gone; the Powerbook 100 and the 520 died years ago, the Pismo died after about 10 years of frontline service, and the iBook was sold to help fund a 17″ MacBook Pro.
So the Mac Pro I wrote about yesterday looks like it’s a done deal. Tomorrow I drop off a check and roll out a 44-lb. hunk of aluminum on a hand cart. I spent my short lunch break flattening the drive and installing 10.6 from a thumb drive, and updated that to the latest point release. Then I went to put Mountain Lion on it, but got stymied by its age; it’s too old to support 10.7 in any form, apparently. Which is kind of fucked up, because it was the most powerful machine they sold at that time. There is a workaround to install it, involving a new graphics card and some bootloading trickery, but I think I’ll pass on that for now.
Either way, it’s a better solution than the G5s we’re using now; it has 4 internal drive bays so I can consolidate a handful of external drives into one enclosure. It should be much more stable than the current machine and I’ll bet iTunes is actually functional in 10.6 (the one we’ve been using liked to corrupt its own database like a baby pooping its diapers), which means reliable audio streaming might be a reality again. We were using the G5s as print servers, because everything past 10.7 doesn’t support AppleTalk. This workaround allows us to talk to our ancient LaserWriter 4000N, which doesn’t support IP printing; I’d never thought of using HP JetDirect before.
Right now we have a 1TB and a 2TB drive working as file storage and backup, respectively; I’d like to buy a new 4TB drive and consolidate files spread out all over creation, as well as have some room to put our burgeoning video library.
And, with aluminum prices being what they are, I can gut one of the G5s and make the purchase price back by recycling it.
My Flickr account stats spiked last week, probably because I shared a bunch of the weekend’s photos with friends. Yesterday I got another strange spike, this time from the r/AbandonedPorn subreddit (don’t worry, it’s safe for work). There’s a lot of nice stuff on there, and someone added this photo of mine:
It’s a shot I took of a diner in 1990 or so on 35mm film, somewhere on the west side of the Hudson by the Bear Mountain Bridge. Commuting to my parents’ old house in Putnam County, I used to find different ways to get across the river when traffic was backed up. At some point, I stumbled upon this place and had some film in my camera.
In the meantime, I inquired about a castoff Mac Pro at work today, and found that I can purchase it for a reduced price as a piece of depreciated equipment. Which means I’ve got a possible replacement for two balky 10-year-old G5s at a nominal price.
I found out, quite by accident, that the maker of my current password vault application was purchased by Facebook some time ago and hasn’t been updating it since then. Password vaults are handy for capturing all one thousand online profiles the modern human needs to have in 2014; I say it’s better to have your banking login secure behind 256-bit AES encryption than on a Post-It taped to your monitor. I’ve slowly been searching for a better solution to having all my passwords available on each smart device I’ve got, and having something that can securely share them is key to the future, but now the need is greater.
After seriously considering 1password, I found LastPass, which is basically a browser plugin but which securely keeps passwords in an encrypted bundle and decrypts locally (so you’re not zinging your info all over the web). It has an iOS app available and the “premium” version is an affordable $20/year, which allows sharing between multiple machines and apps. And why is this so important, all of a sudden?
Firstly, I’ve got two laptops now. My trusty MacBook Pro is chugging along, and remains my primary machine for getting things done. Now I’ve got a laptop through WRI, which isn’t decked out as well as this one, but which has my work email and applications installed—something I’d rather keep off my personal machine. Sharing all of the passwords between two work machines is key to happy telecommuting.
Secondly, Santa brought me a shiny iPad Air this Christmas, the idea being to leave my personal laptop here at home instead of lugging it to and from the office every day. As long as I can access my personal email, passwords, VPN, and basic online accounts through the iPad I think I’ll be in fine shape. I’ve already loaded a ton of books on it, and I’ve got most of the apps I need set up.
Leaving my laptop behind will feel like cutting off my left arm, but lugging two laptops back and forth has been less than pleasant. The only thing I can’t figure out is how to get photos from a phone downloaded and posted without going through my work machine. But that’s a small problem.
I did some surgery on my Powerbook 160 last night. Apple, in its wisdom 20 years ago, soldered the clock battery to a daughtercard, and from all I’ve read the machine won’t boot if the batteries are dead. So I busted out the iron and got the original battery off (with some difficulty), then put a new one in. Unfortunately it still didn’t come on. No bong, no whine, nothing. I have a working G3 Pismo in the basement for any OS 9 needs, but it would be fun to have an working monochrome Mac in the house, for old time’s sake.
Rooting through the basement a few weeks ago, I stumbled across a tupperware full of unused black and white film. Never one to waste money or pass up a challenge, I dusted off my Minolta X-700 and found it, too had dead batteries. With the clock battery order I got two new cells for the camera, and dropped them in. It fired right up and I started shooting pictures again. Having practiced about 10,000 digital shutter actuations on the D70, I knew exactly how to use it, and I’m hoping the film is still good so that I can develop some film. I have a scanner at work with a negative attachment, so I’m going to plug that in tomorrow and try it out. If I get good results, I’ll start scanning boxes of negs we have sitting around the house.
This Minolta is actually my second. My father has always been a camera nut, and he bought me the first when I left for college. I used it through most of my freshman year, until my asshat second-semester roommate invited a homeless thief to stay in our apartment for a few days. Predictably, it went missing. My dad replaced it that summer with a new one, and it served me well through four years of college and afterward as my primary camera until I bought my first digital. It’s a shame I didn’t learn to master it then as much as I wanted to, but I hope I can now use my digital experience to improve my film skills.