posts tagged with the keyword ‘apple’

2014.12.15

QuickRes

I’m thankful for my recent discovery of QuickRes.

My 2009 MacBook recently died so I replaced it with a newer MacBook, and while I was considering the Retina models, I ultimately decided against them. It was mainly the resolution of the Retina MacBooks that interested me…

So when I connected my new MacBook to my old projector, I got nothing. Nothing! The old projector maxes out at 1024×768, and this fancy new MacBook only had two resolutions. What?

QuickRes

Wow, so many choices! 1280×800 and 1024×640. Why would you ever need more than two resolutions!?

So just to test the MacBook I grabbed a Mini DisplayPort to HDMI dongle and plugged it into the nearest television. I saw what appeared to be 1920×1080 not just on the television but also on the built-in display. What?

QuickRes

So after installing QuickRes, here’s a look at the resolutions that are now available. Sweet! I’ve been using the higher resolutions for certain tasks, and the lower ones for things like old projectors. So the real question is, why does Apple not want to make these available without a third-party hack to reveal them?

2013.03.05

Linux

Oh Linux… sometimes you make it really hard to love you.

While the recent data rescue went well, other things have not been as easy. Let’s see where we are, shall we?

Home Server
This is the old dead-screen PowerBook that ran for years without issue. Until it had an issue. I rescued the data from it, and then I figured I would do a re-install of Linux on it, but so far it’s been all failure. The external VGA connection doesn’t seem to want to display anything, so without a screen to see the install, I don’t even know if it’s booting up properly. (This is a recurring theme, btw.)

Raspberry Pi
One of my Raspberry Pis occasionally hangs on boot. Sometimes. Other times it works fine. Since it’s headless I needed to attach it to a TV to see this. The other Raspberry Pi I have does have an HDMI-VGA adapter, which works when you edit config.txt properly. Sometimes. And yeah, my RF Modulator to use the composite video seems to have died, so that option was out as well. Also, the SD card cracked. These are all fairly minor things, but they add up.

(New) Xubuntu Laptop
While it’s a new machine to me, it’s a 10 year old laptop running Xubuntu. It was going to be (will be?) my new Lab Computer, controlling the RepRap, and hopefully running Octoprint, which won’t run on the Eee PC I now use to control the RepRap. I left it running with my account logged in and it went offline… kernel panic. Hmmm, let me check right now. Yeah, it’s hosed up. I try to ssh in and get ‘Input/output error’ so something isn’t right. Dammit.

Eee PC
Well, this little beast keeps chugging along. Besides the fact that it can’t do much, it can control the RepRap, and it does a pretty good job of not losing the wifi connection. All good.

Another One
Since I may need a replacement for the old PowerBook that was the Home Server, I figured I’d try an old G4 iMac with a dead display. Multiple attempts with Ubuntu Server and Xubuntu Desktop all failed. Won’t boot from a CD or DVD. I did read about an NVIDIA driver conflict, urgh. I may try some other distros, but I’m thinking it may be an issue with the fact that the built-in display is dead and the external VGA connection isn’t doing the right thing. Bummer.

Keep in mind I’m considered really good at this stuff… but I guess when shit goes wrong, it really goes wrong.

2012.12.07

MacBook Pro

The phrase “I am no longer Appleā€™s Target Market” is one that I can identify with… and the blog post of the same name makes a lot of good points.

I’ve been using computers (mostly made by Apple) for over 30 years. Maybe I’m just a curmudgeon at this point, but I actually like being able to see the file system, and I don’t want or need some specially curated “App Store” or procedures to protect me from naughty applications I download from the big, bad Internet. I’ve been doing fine for nearly 20 years. As for people who do need such things, I understand the need, but I hope I’m not further restricted due to others and their (lack of) knowledge.

I’ve said this before, and I’ve said it again, there’s a learning curve to using computers, and I’m fine with that. There’s a learning curve to operating a motor vehicle, or a table saw, or a pencil sharpener. There should be. That’s part of life. Learning should not be looked upon as something that is a bad thing, and hey, I’m sorry, but you might have to actually learn a bit to use a computer, or table saw, or kitchen appliance. I’m not saying some things don’t need to be easier, but there’s a middle ground between ease of use, and restrictions of freedoms we once had. And easier? Hell, it’s a million times easier that it once was. Why, when I was a kid you turned on your Apple II and got a blinking cursor. No icons. No menus.

I use Apple hardware, and I use a lot of Apple software (and a lot more non-Apple software.) I also use Linux a lot. Linux has never been my desktop OS of choice, but for servers I love it. I do run some Linux desktop machines though, and they’ve improved much over the years. The work I do though, does at this time require Mac OS X.

I have a first generation iPad. I love it. It’s a great device for what it is. It is not a computer. Sometimes I wish it was a computer, but I find it very enjoyable to use as it is. I wish it were more open though. (But I wish that about a lot of things.)

Mac OS X is still my favorite desktop operating system. Is it perfect? Nope. Has it gotten better or worse over the years? Probably both. I’ve always got a terminal open with multiple tabs, which is something 95% (?) or Mac users probably don’t do.

Anyway, it’s December 2012, and I’m still using Macs (a lot) for business and personal use, and most of the time, they work well for me. I’ll let you know where I’m at some time in 2013.

2011.12.26

Xmas means many things, and one of the things it means is that we watch It’s a Wonderful Life, and for years it meant we put in the old VHS tape that the wife has and let it roll. Last year I ended up getting a VCR out of the closet on Christmas Day and connecting it to the old HDTV and watching it in all its glory.

This year I got as far as getting out the VCR, and before finding all the right cables, I figure I’d check if there was another option.

Netflix

The first thing I did was turn on the Wii and checked Netflix. It’s a Wonderful Life is not available for streaming, so that was a dead end.

I should also note that as much as I’m a technology nerd, I’m not a digital video consumption nerd. In the last few months I’ve watched about 200 episodes of Star Trek on my MacBook (usually while working in the office) but we don’t have a Blu-ray player or an Apple TV, and I’m the furthest thing from a home theater snob. I’d rather buy a DVD I can rip than rent videos online with limited usage and silly restrictions. I’m not a pirate, but I like to choose how I can use the media I buy. (All the music I ever bought from the iTunes store had the DRM stripped from it before I added it to my library.)

iTunes

Netflix would have been the easy option, since I’ve already got a streaming account, but since it wasn’t available, I moved on to iTunes. It’s a Wonderful Life is available on iTunes, but the last time I checked on iTunes video rental, there were all sorts of crazy restrictions I didn’t want to deal with, so I never seriously looked at it.

I probably would have paid $2.99 to rent it so we could watch it immediately, but the options seemed to be $17.99 to buy the “HD” version, or $9.99 to buy the “non-HD” version. (It wasn’t filmed in HD, so HD, bah, whatever.) I thought about the lock-in to the Apple/iTunes ecosystem and figured it might be worth checking if Amazon had a better option…

Amazon

Well, I don’t know if the Amazon option was better, but the film was available for $9.99, the same price as the “non-HD” version on iTunes. At this point I didn’t feel like doing a comparative analysis of the various online video rental systems and just went with Amazon, assuming it would be more open than Apple. There was a link or two about downloading, so I figured that was a good thing, and with one click, I bought it.

I ended up streaming it so we could just watch is ASAP, and we did, and the quality was good (well, better than an old VHS tape anyway!) and it all just worked.

After the movie I wanted to check on the downloadability, and discovered that Amazon has a player that is only available on Windows. Bloody Hell, what is this, 1999?

They also have a list of 350+ Amazon Instant Video Compatible Devices… none of which I own. The Roku player is on the list, and I considered getting one a few years ago, but after Netflix became available for the Wii, I forgot about it. I tend to use the Wii or my MacBook for most of the video streaming we do, so I never thought I needed a dedicated device.

So now I’ve got a video I own through Amazon, that I can’t download, but can stream. I’ve probably been an Amazon customer for 15 years, so I guess I should trust them, but It’s a Wonderful Life is over 60 years old. Will I be able to watch it 30 years from now? Should I even worry about such things? While buying music online went from a DRM mess to a more open world, I don’t know that video will go the same way… And yes, there is the pirating option, but personally I’m not a fan of that approach. Blame it on my desire to see things move towards openness.

2011.10.19

iPod Ouch

Remember when the iPod Touch 4G came out? My daughter sure does… it was about a month after her birthday… the birthday where she got an iPod Touch. The 4G had a camera, so she was a bit disappointed. I told her this was her first (harsh) lesson of the Apple World. A newer, better, faster, and shinier model will always be right around the corner.

Fast forward one year… She loves her iPod Touch. Sure, it doesn’t have a camera, but that’s fine. One day she tells me (while very upset) the the screen has a crack in it. I know she’s careful with it, and she claims she didn’t do anything that would have damaged it, but she does live in a house with many “rambunctious” siblings. I trust her, and tell her we’ll take it to the Apple Store and see what the options are. (It’s still usable, but the crack is pretty annoying.)

At the Apple Store, a kind and helpful employee says that since we do have AppleCare, we can use our “get out of jail free” card, and they’ll actually just swap the iPod for another one, at no charge. After a big, big thanks from us, and a warning to “be careful!” from the employee, we’re on our way. I figure it was the least they could do for the thousands of dollars I’ve spent with Apple over the years. (Oh, the original iPod was engraved with her name, so a tiny loss there.)

Fast forward to the release of iOS 5. I’m all set to update the iPod Touch, and it seems stuck at version 4, not wanting to update. It seems odd… I know we bought it right before the launch of the 4G model. I check the model number, see on Apple’s web site that it’s a 3G, and try again. No dice. I then dig through Apple’s Support Forums, where there are some notes about confusion between 2G and 3G and mislabeled model numbers. At this point, my daughter reminds me that we got a replacement, and we then start to believe that we were given a replacement model that was older/different than the original model we brought in. #damn

So at this point, were not even sure which model we originally had. After digging through my orders on Apple’s web site, I finally determine that we originally had a PC086LL/A, which is indeed a 2G iPod Touch. So no mistake on Apple’s part there… it’s all on us.

So what’s left? Not much. I just explain to her that even though you buy a piece of hardware from Apple, you can’t expect to run the newest software on it 16 months later. Of course it still works, and does all the stuff it did before iOS 5 came out, and that’s just fine right? We get so tempted by the new shiny stuff though… the stuff the tech sites hype up and convince you that you need.

That said, I still use the iPod I got back in 2005. It still does everything I need an iPod to do. It doesn’t run any apps, it just plays audio. But I fear those times are gone… and we’re stuck in a world of constantly wanting new hardware to keep up with the new software.

Ouch indeed.

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