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M2 Max Maximum

Posted on January 24th, 2023

Dave!Apple just released their new M2 Max MacBook Pro laptops.

I bought the M1 Max MacBook Pro just over a year ago. But... Apple was claiming a 25% to 30% boost in performance, which is a big deal for me because that's a productivity increase I can't ignore. Less time working is more time I have for other things... IF it were true.

So I decided to trade in my M1 for the M2 with the idea that if it's not noticeably faster, I would return it. The cost to upgrade is huge, and I can't afford to do it if there's not really a benefit.

WELP! KEEPING IT! The speed for the stuff I do most definitely is noticeable. It's almost unreal that it could get even faster when the jump last time was so huge.

Besides... how could I give it up when Jenny loves that new Mac Smell?

Everything in the new model besides the faster chip with faster graphics is pretty much the same. Though you are getting better WiFi 6E (which I can't take advantage of because I don't have a 6E router) and better HDMI 2.1 connectivity (which I can't take advantage of because I rarely if ever run an external display).

Something that hasn't changed but frickin' should have changed is the SD Card slot. It's still UHS-II when UHS-III has been out SINCE 2018! Not that I can take advantage of it either, but when you're paying this kind of price tag you expect that you're getting top-of-the line components. This is just sloppy.

But hey, it's still an incredible machine that I feel lucky to have in my possession.

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NOBODY ASKED FOR THIS!

Posted on January 4th, 2023

Dave!Number 6,438 in my list of SHIT APPLE DOES THAT NOBODY FUCKING ASKED FOR: Apple Mail Inline Link Preview.

Who the fuck thought that this useless fucking PREVIEW OF NOTHING is needed, desired, or in any way helpful? It's like... here's a link to a Facebook page, and Apple removes the link to put a HIDEOUS BIG-ASS LINK LOGO IN THE MIDDLE OF YOUR EMAIL...

Ms. Marvel with her Embiggened Energy Hands Saving People

And, of course, because this is fucking Apple, there' no way to turn this shit off by default.

Oh no. You have to right click and tell it to go back to a sane "plain link."

God I am so sick and fucking tired of this kind of crap. It's only slightly less annoying that Adobe changing the way shit has worked FOR DECADES with no way to go back to the original behavior. Or the way that they randomly switch between origin-zoom and scrubby-zoom in Illustrator with no way to force a default. Typical. It's like... PICK ONE. I don't give a shit which way you go... JUST FUCKING PICK ONE!

   

Apple Shit Sandwich

Posted on December 27th, 2022

Dave!With each passing day I grow more enraged at Apple.

It used to be that they did no wrong. But now-a-days? It's just one shit sandwich after another.

Take for example HomeShit (AKA HomeKit). This technology has been fucking stupid from the very beginning. But everything I read lead me to believe that over the past six years most of the problems have been resolved and it's a very good home automation solution in 2022. And so when INSTEON bit the dust and I had to replace all the smart tech in my home, I went ahead and took a bite of the HomeKit Sandwich. With a caveat. I made sure that the HomeKit stuff I bought was "Matter Smart Home Enabled" so if I wanted to switch to Google Home Assistant or (heaven forbid) back to Amazon Alexa, I would be able to do so because Matter is going to be compatible with everything.

Yeah... HomeKit is still HomeShit.

Nothing is a more glowing indication of this than the fact that Apple just rolled out a new "HomeKit Architecture Upgrade"... then had to immediately delete it because people were having all kinds of crazy troubles with losing their smart home. Some great beta-testing Apple has there. Though I should note that my upgrade proceeded without issue. That I know of. Yet.

And... the upgrade actually seems to have solved a problem where if you edited an automation it would stop working. Mine seem to be working now.

But it's not all a bed of roses.

As I was driving over the mountains for the holidays, I realized that I forgot to turn off the alarms that I have set up on my HomePod minis to let Jake and Jenny know when it's time for breakfast and dinner (I found that by training them to listen for an alarm, they don't bother me when I'm home as it gets close to feeding time). I was not worried though, because I could just turn them off remotely using the Apple "Home" app on my iPhone.

Except, no. Not so much.

For some stupid fucking reason, Apple requires you to be on the same WiFi network before it will allow you to change the alarms. Never mind that I could easily change them remotely when my alarms were on Amazon Alexa... Apple refuses to allow me to turn off the alarms remotely. And I've never been so disgusted with any "smart home" technology I've ever used. Not being able to turn off alarms means that every morning at 6:55am and every evening at 5:55pm, my HomePod minis would have their alarms going off... and they don't fucking stop going off for fifteen fucking minutes! That's fifteen minutes of my poor cats having to listen to an alarm blaring. That's just fucking cruel, and I am so enraged with Apple that I very nearly threw all my HomePod minis in the fucking garbage when I got home. So damn stupid. WHAT'S THE FUCKING POINT OF HAVING MY SMART HOME ON MY PHONE IF I CAN'T CONTROL ALL ASPECTS OF MY SMART HOME WHEN I'M AWAY FROM MY HOME?!?

This goes beyond AirDrop file transfers not working.

This goes beyond print jobs failing all the time.

This goes beyond the Mail app being a hot pile of fucking trash.

This goes beyond daily frustrations with bugs in Apple apps that never get fixed.

This even goes beyond the fact that HomeShit automations still failing ALL THE FUCKING TIME...

HomeKit Failure.

It's a simple thing that has huge impact on my poor cats having to listen to alarms blaring at them.

But Apple doesn't give a single fuck about crap like this because they're too big to give a fuck about customers. As what has always been the case, you get the shit sandwich that Apple serves you or you eat a shit sandwich from somewhere else. And they're all terrible. Though it would seem that Google Assistant is the least worst, according to tests by Marques Brownlee...

Personally, I'm about ready to go back to having a stupid home. Sure it's not as helpful, but at least you can count on it to work as expected.

   

Passkey Performance

Posted on November 21st, 2022

Dave!Having to type passwords is a nasty business that we're forced to deal with because the world is filled with assholes who want to steal from you. Sure there are password managers that help to make things easier (especially if they can be synced over the internet to all your devices), but it's still a ridiculous thing to have to mange. Apple wants to change all this with the idea of "Passkeys"... a password system that uses biometric data, like your face or fingerprint, to handle your login security for you. It's a nice idea, in theory, but it has to actually work. And so far I'm having mixed results. I set it up on this blog, for example, but now I can't actually get into my blog because my Passkey doesn't work and my authenticator app is not syncing properly. Which means that I will have to reinstall... again... so I can access Blogography... again.

Maybe one of these days this will all be worked out.

But, in the meanwhile, here we are.

   

Bullet Sunday 786

Posted on November 20th, 2022

Dave!It's time to be human... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Again. The shooting at the Colorado Springs nightclub "Club Q" last night is yet another in a string of violent attacks on marginalized communities. And it's like... I just don't get it. LGBTQ persons are not made to feel welcome in general society, so they carve out a space where they can enjoy life for even a short time away from general society... and that's not good enough? Senseless violence has been out of control for as long as humans have existed. That's just fact. But the hatred behind the violence is quickly reaching unsustainable levels as the weapons to act out violence keep getting more powerful. Dozens of people can be cut down in an instant by a single individual, and pretty soon that's going to be the only thing we have.

   
• Let's Go Brendan! This GQ "Iconic Characters" series is always great. But this one? Oh wow...

I want... quite badly... for Elizabeth Hurley to get one of these.

   
• Todd! If you are not watching So Help Me Todd on Paramount+, then you are missing out on one of my favorite shows on television. It almost makes me forgive Paramount Network for canceling Magnum P.I. (which, thank God for Peacock TV and NBC, is actually returning despite it all)...

Skylar Astin is a gift, and this show uses him to maximum effect. So COLOR ME SHOCKED that CBS actually renewed the show for a second season! Yay!

   
• Big Animation! Floor 796 may very well be the coolest thing I've seen in my browser in a minute...

Floor 796 Detail.

Floor 796 Detail.

Worth a visit if you like looking at cool stuff!

   
• I'm Batman! And here's what I wish I would have had to post when Kevin Conroy passed...

A lot of people... like a lot a lot... have Kevin Conroy as "their" Batman. This will go on for a while.

   
• SHIT! And here we are again. Apple's HomeKit... which has always been HomeShit... is still a pile of shit. And Apple doesn't fucking care. It is absolutely outrageous how there are known issues plaguing the system and Apple doesn't even acknowledge that there are problems. A company worth billions of dollars, but they won't fix it or offer any solutions. For me the biggest problem is that Automations tied to timed events (like sunset or a time of day) don't fucking work! The event arrives and nothing happens. Which is shitty, because I have all kinds of things set up. Like turning my outside lights off and on. There are hundreds of threads on various forums with people trying to find a way to get their timed Automations working. Some things work... for a while... but the overreaching problem of HomeShit being garbage can only be addressed by Apple. And, once more for the people in the back, Apple doesn't fucking care.

   
And now back to your regularly scheduled Sunday antics.

   

Thread Smart Home

Posted on November 2nd, 2022

Dave!After the long, slow death of INSTEON (which is ongoing), I knew that I would have to make an investment in new smart home tech. This would involve replacing all my smart light switches, water leak sensors, door and window sensors, and the garage door opener. But which way to go? There's still a lot of possibilities to choose from, and you never know which one of them will die next. It's enough to drive you crazy because serious money is involved. So much so that I actually considered going back to a "un-smart home" and just manually doing everything.

Fortunately, the "Matter" smart home standard was announced, and this time it had the backing of all the major tech companies. Finally. I was all-in on the idea of open interoperability between all smart devices, so I decided to wait and see what came of it. Then, back in early October, the standard was released. As were some devices which supported it.

Matter is based on the "Thread" communication protocol, which has been around for a while. It's low-power, has excellent range, and is very fast. There are other benefits as well (such as being self-healing and not requiring a hub) so that was the direction I decided to go.

Unfortunately, to get started, I was dragged back into the world of Apple's HomeKit (which I have been calling "HomeShit" because it's just been so awful for so long). Surprisingly, Apple's smart home offerings have vastly improved. Many of the things that were missing (and there was a lot) have been added. It's still far from perfect (there is basic functionality which is still missing... like being able to construct automations for simply things like making switched turn back on if they are accidentally turned off). So, yeah, I don't have the ability to code complex cool things like I could with my ISY994i hub (which is still amazing to this day!) but at least I can do stuff like ADD A GARAGE DOOR OPENER.

Also unfortunate? Having to buy a HomePod mini. I wrote a while back about the horrendous experience I had with the original HomePod (long story short: it was shit, support was heinous, and I returned it). But Matter/Thread requires a "border router" to act as a gateway to the internet, so I spent the $95 to make it happen. The first thing I did was switch the voice for Siri to "Australian Male" because it's still the voice that gets be the closest to having HAL run my life (like he did in 2001: A Space Odyssey). The guy sounds like he must be the best-looking man on the planet, which gives me a bit of a complex, but he is still a pleasant way to interact with my home (sometimes I ask him about the weather just to hear him talk).

The first devices I ordered were the biggest hit... light switches... because I want every last switch in my home to be "smart."

At first that was going to be Lutron, because they are the "gold standard" but Lutron isn't built on Thread so I went with Eve Smart Home for most of them. The switches are ungodly expensive. And difficult to find. Fortunately I got a good discount and was able to find 26 of them, so it wasn't as horrendous a hit as I thought it would be (but still, $1000 out of my savings).

The lights in my living room and dining room are smart lights by Philips Hue. They require always-on power, so a simple on/off switch won't do. You need an always-on switch which can be programmed to control Hue lights. For these I went with Brilliant. They aren't built on Thread, but they can be upgraded to support Matter. Eventually. Maybe.

Now, I am letting an electrician install all the switches (they are deep and I want somebody who knows how to pack wires into an outlet box), but I did have to replace a couple of my INSTEON switches, so I temporarily installed the Eve switches until my electrician can get here. They are fantastic. Thread is blazingly fast. You tell Siri to turn the lights on and the task is completed before he's done telling you that he did it! This is a huge leap from INSTEON, which would have noticeable lag from when you asked Alexa to do something and it actually happening.

When it comes to the Eve door/window sensors, they are okay. Fast because they're on Thread. But, from what I can tell, they don't have breakage detection, which is a step down for me. Fortunately, I can rely on sound alerts from other devices to alert me about this, but it's still a bit of an oversight.

The Eve motion detectors are not as good as my old ones. They seem to have very narrow range and are slow to relay motion despite being Thread devices. I'm not sure if this will improve when I have more Thread devices installed so it can relay faster... or if this is a limitation of the device itself. I hope the former rather than the latter. Otherwise I'm going to have to shop for another solution.

One more thing I did that I've always wanted to do is install under-cabinet lighting. I went with Nanoleaf because it was built on Thread... and it was cheap. From what I can tell, the current crop of Nanoleaf products will not be upgradable to Matter, so I may have to replace them eventually. Unfortunate, but it only cost $30, they are blazingly fast, and they work very well with HomeKit. And they look great (even though you can't really tell in this photo)...

A blue glow under my cabinets!
The tile installer hasn't put in my backsplash yet, so please ignore the mess!

So... so far, so good.

I am still a bit dubious about HomeKit, as it's lacking professional-level scripting and still won't link to things it needs to, but the good thing about Matter is that I will be able to eventually swap out the HomeKit app for whatever comes along. But I really hope that I don't have to. From what I understand, Matter will force Apple into fixing HomeKit and adding the functionality people need (a scripting language would be nice!). But, we'll see. If nothing else, I love Thread and am excited for the possibilities with Matter.

   

Venturing to Ventura

Posted on October 24th, 2022

Dave!And lo did Apple release another Mac OS X update.

Right off the bat, Stage Manager (the feature I was most looking forward to) is a pile of shit. It's supposed to make it easy to focus on the task at hand by shoving the apps you're not using to the left-hand side of the screen. But nothing acts in an intuitive manner and trying to figure out what will actually happen when you interact with something is an impossibility because there's no sense to it. I spent five minutes trying to access my Finder windows so I could drag files to an app only to give up in frustration and turn off the entire shit-show. Maybe I'm using it wrong, but if something acts this badly and you have to get training to understand how to interact with it, then it's a big ol' fail, isn't it? So back to "Spaces," once again, I suppose. One can only hope that Apple gets this figured out, because it's an intriguing idea.

Safari is a web browser that's both great and incredibly frustrating. Great because it's fast and capable... frustrating because there are sites which break on it. Facebook, for example, is horribly frustrating because stuff randomly won't work on Safari. Take, for example, not being able to click on story links and have them open (currently you have to control-click and tell Safari to open the link in a new tab or window). It would be nice if you could use Safari without having to worry about crap like this, but it is what it is. You'd just think that Apple would put the effort in to make sure that popular sites are compatible... because you know that Facebook doesn't give a fuck. Their solution is going to be "use Chrome."

Apple Mail is a shit program that keeps getting more and more shitty because Apple takes features away and never fixes the things that needs fixing. Take, for example, being able to select the outgoing server. You used to be able to change it right from message composer. But then Apple took it away for unknown reasons. The didn't even give the user the ability to hide it or show it depending on if they need it... they just took it away. This time around Apple is improving things (like actually having search work worth a shit) and adding things (like "schedule an email" so it will send at a later date... and "undo send" to retract an email you sent), but Mail is still trash. The only reason I keep suffering through it is because there are things that are much easier due to the Apple ecosystem integration. I'd probably be a lot more forgiving if the program would quit in a timely manner... I am sick to death of "Shutdown was canceled by Apple Mail" popping up all the damn time.

In happier news... ZOMG! MacOS X has a Clock app! Works about the same as the iPhone version. What the hell took them so long? Can a calculator for iPad be coming next?

Back in the olden days, you had to purchase a separate font manager to deal with activating and deactivating the tons of fonts that designers need to use (I was a fan of Suitcase then FontBaseFont). But eventually I just went with MacOS Font Book because it's built in and worked okay. The Ventura version isn't better or worse... it's just different. All the typefaces are displayed in tiles which now gives you a hint as to what the font looks like (it's just an "Aa" shown in the typeface). This is nice, but it sure would be helpful if you could view more characters in a secondary pane or something. As it is, you have to waste time double clicking every time you want to see the full character set... or you can switch to a "Quick brown fox..." Sample view which requires a lot of scrolling if you have a lot of fonts loaded. Overall I think this is an improvement, but it would be nice if they would keep working on it, because it sure could be better.

One of the bigger shocks in Ventura is the new "Print" dialogue box. The old one has been busted for years, and now it's how it should have been from the very start. No longer is the "two-sided" option on the "simple" page and all the other options on the "more..." page, there's just one page...

Photos has always been a kinda half-baked app. It really needs a way to switch to an "expert" mode where it acts more like Aperture than something so basic. That being said, there's some new toys that make the latest version an improvement. For one thing, your photos are now text searchable in Spotlight...

You can even search for a text string in your images if you've photographed a sign or something. Also available is automatic detection of duplicate photos which can be easily merged, and you can share custom photo libraries more easily.

Continuity Camera allows you to use the far-superior camera on you iPhone as a webcam instead of relying on the customarily mediocre-to-bad camera in Apple's displays. When I tested it, people couldn't really tell the difference. Where this feature shines is when it uses the wide-angle lens to look down at your desktop, changed the distortion, and pipe that to your video stream. It's very cool. But also kind of wonky, because the distortion correction gets weird when something comes up off the desktop. Even so, this is an awesome idea.

You can choose to edit or unsend text messages in Messages now. I haven't taken the time to find out if this is apparent on the other end... but I sure hope that it is. The idea that abusers and harassers could change the narrative of events when you have to seek help is a dangerous game to be playing. If somebody is in that position, switching to SMS is essential, so worth checking out if you need it.

When it comes to System Settings... they are just... gone. Replaced, but not really. I have no fucking clue where anything is and have to search for what I'm wanting to adjust in the hopes I'll know what to do when I get there. This is a bizarre change, but I suppose that they are trying to unify how to change system settings across all platforms.

And lastly there's "Passkeys." This is Apple's admirable effort to abolish passwords. You have a public key that's on the website which gets matched to your private key on your Mac (via TouchID) or iPhone (via FaceID). You don't have to type out anything... you just get logged in after verifying on your device. It's a nice idea. So nice that other companies like Google are signing onboard. The problem is getting apps and websites to adapt it. Until they do, Passkey isn't going to help. I had read that PayPal, eBay, and Google were using Passkey, but couldn't find anywhere to turn it on, so that's not good. If there's one technology that I want to really take off, it's Matter SmartHome (a universal protocol for smart devices). If there's two technologies that I want to really take off, the second would be Passkey. So fingers crossed.

All-in-all Ventura is okay. I wouldn't consider it a game-changer or an essential upgrade though. But since it doesn't cost anything, maybe that's okay. Since all three of my Macs are running Apple Silicon now, I have a feeling that there are a bunch of little optimizations going on behind the scenes that I can't really notice to appreciate, but am grateful are there just the same.

If there's a takeaway to be had from the more recent OS X versions, it's that the big feature-busting releases are a thing of the past. From here on out it's all optimization with an occasional cool new thing thrown in so Apple's marketing department has something to sell.

You'll have to forgive me that I still keep hoping for something revolutionary to come along.

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M1 ULTRA Mac Studio First Look

Posted on May 26th, 2022

Dave!My nine-year-old iMac computer at work has been dying for years and finally just refused to work properly at all this past January. You could never search for anything. Apps would hang the computer for no reason. The display would black out at random. It was horribly frustrating, but I held on... working partly on my laptop and partly on my home iMac when my work machine was acting up... because I knew that Apple was going to release new Macs at their Spring Event. Which they did back in March.

My guess was that they would release an M1 27" iMac, which is exactly the machine I needed.

My guess was wrong.

Instead we got the "Mac Studio" which was in every way perfect for my needs...

  • More powerful than a consumer Mac, but not overly-powerful (and overly-expensive) like a Mac Pro.
  • NO BUILT-IN MONITOR, which I was very happy about, because it's always a shame when you have to recycle a perfectly good monitor when you recycle the computer. iMacs are horrible this way.
  • USB-A PORTS, which means that I can plug in my scanner, DVD-R drive, and printer without having to buy dongles or new cords.
  • AN SD CARD SLOT, so I can transfer photos from my camera to my computer without yet another stupid dongle.
  • PORTS ON THE FRONT OF THE FUCKING COMPUTER, which has been a sore spot with me when it comes to Apple ever since they started moving shit to the back of the computer. It's just senseless and stupid, and every time I have to rotate my old iMac to plug shit in I wanted to scream.

And now for the bad news... the Apple Studio Display that was to go with my shiny new computer hasn't arrived yet. It was actually supposed to arrive before my computer ages ago, but rather than ship it to me, Apple decided to hold off since my computer wasn't available yet. Then the COVID lockdowns hit China and so now the Mac finally arrived but I'm having to use a crappy old HDMI monitor that's so pixelated and low-res that I can barely work on it. Better than nothing, I suppose, but this is more than a little bit frustrating.

Design Grade: A-

The computer itself is quite nice-looking. A minimalist 1/2-height cube with pleasing rounded corners. Kinda like a tall Mac mini...

The Apple Mac Studio.

On the front of the computer is the afore-mentioned SD card slot and two USB-C ports. There was no little "lightning bolt" symbol above the USB-C ports so I assumed that they were not Thunderbolt-4 compatible (as it is on the less-expensive model). I was wrong. They are full-on Thunderbolt, which is nice, and I'm guessing Apple left off the symbol for aesthetic reasons (as they are wont to do). The SD card slot is inexplicably still the older SD-XC UHS-II standard. The much faster SD-UC standard has been out for years now, so this is kinda inexcusable given the massive size of photo and video files now-a-days. My camera is not SD-UC so it doesn't affect me... but if I ever do get a camera with a SD-UC slot, I'm going to be understandably pissed. And... oh yeah... do you want to know what's not on the front of the computer? The power button. Which means if you need it, you are groping blindly around the back. I have no idea why this is the case. Apple could have at least put it on the side near the front if they thought it was too ugly to go on the front.

On the back of the computer is that pesky power button plus all the remaining ports. On my model this means four USB-C Thunderbolt-4 ports, two USB-A ports (helleluja!), and an HDMI 2.0 port (never mind that the 2.1 standard has been out since 2017, Apple is once again using older ports for some reason). Plus 10 Gigabit Ethernet, which is nice because our offices just got rewired... and a headphone jack (surprise!). My DVD-ROM is unplugged because my two USB-A ports are taken, so I'll probably end up with a dongle for it, alas...

The ports on the back of my Mac Studio.

One disadvantage about the computer is that the soft aluminum casing paired with sharp edges is just asking for dings and nicks to appear. Mine arrived with a small ding on the front-top edge, so I can only imagine that it's going to end up a lot worse once I start actually using it...

The ports on the back of my Mac Studio.

The fragility aside, I have no complaints. For something that's meant to occupy the space between consumer and pro in Apple's lineup, this is about what you'd hope for.

Price Grade: B-

The computer comes with no keyboard and no mouse included in the price. You get the computer, a power cord, and a black Apple sticker (I thought that the black stickers were for "Pro" purchases, but I guess the "Studio" was deemed worthy...

The black Apple sticker that came with my Mac Studio.

For pre-configured machines you have a choice of a $2,000 model which has 32GB of unified memory and 512GB storage, plus the M1 MAX Apple Silicon chip with 8 performance cores and 2 efficiency cores for the CPU, 24 GPU cores, and 16 neural engine cores... and a $4,000 model which has 64GB of unified memory and 1TB storage, plus the M1 ULTRA Apple Silicon chip with 16 performance cores and 4 efficiency cores for the CPU, 48 GPU cores, and 32 neural engine cores. My work was nice enough to get me the ULTRA version because I needed the memory. It would have been cheaper to upgrade the entry model, but I was happy to get the more powerful machine.

As to whether the price is worth it? Well... yes and no. I think that the $2,000 model is actually a darn good bargain for what you're getting. That would be enough to satisfy mid-range power-users at a decent cost. The $4,000 model, however, seems overpriced. For that kind of money, you really should be getting the chip with 64 GPU cores (but that's a $1,000 add-on, $5,000 total). I might feel differently if there was a clear speed benefit to the ULTRA chip, but benchmarks show that it's mostly equivalent to the lesser version except in extreme circumstances, so I would have likely been just fine spending $2,000 for the base model and adding $400 for more memory and $200 for more GPU cores. But, hey, as Apple optimizes their "Metal" rendering engine to better take advantage of ULTRA, and app developers hop on board, I might end up being very glad that my employer spent the extra cash.

Performance Grade: A

The hallmark of Apple Silicon is that you get considerable power out of less energy. This is a godsend for portable Macs (my MacBook Pro with the M1 MAX chip can go all day on a single battery charge) but not as critical for desktop machines like the Mac Studio. Conceptually desktop machines will be able to put additional power to good use. But in practice it doesn't feel like more bang for your buck. I ran races between my MacBook and Mac Studio expecting the M1 ULTRA to run circles around the M1 MAX, but that's just not the case. Yes, the Mac Studio is faster, but it's not by a revolutionary amount. This may sound like a complaint... but it really isn't. The fact that Apple has managed to make chips this powerful means that the entire line gets an "A grade" from me.

Everything on my new machine feels zippy. Basic tasks happen near-instantaneously. Complex Blender 3D scenes render very fast when using version 3.1 that's optimized for MacOS X's "Metal" graphics package. Rendering video in Final Cut Pro is ridiculously fast. Needless to day, the Apple Silicon optimized versions of Adobe's Photoshop and Illustrator perform amazingly well. And as more work goes into Metal drivers (by Apple) and apps (by developers) the sky's the limit. I was happy to have a working computer. But having one as powerful as the Mac Studio feels too good to be true. Work is so much easier when you have a screaming-fast machine.

Final Grade: A-

Ultimately this is a very nice, very capable machine. And having an option for power-users which doesn't force you into a "Pro" machine that's overkill for your needs is refreshing. I won't get the full benefit from the machine until the Studio Display that goes with it arrives... and developers further optimize their apps to utilize it... but in the meanwhile I am a very happy camper.

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WTF Tech Wednesday

Posted on May 25th, 2022

Dave!Oh look! I've got some tech crap to beef about, and you get to come along for the ride! If you're in a good mood and don't want it spoiled by my ranting, I'd just skip this entry.

But if you're already raging on your Wednesday, this one's for you!

Apple Mail
Apple is worth billions of dollars, and yet their Mail app is one of the shittiest fucking user experience for any app ever made. And they keep making it worse! This is not hyperbole, it's absolute fact. Setting aside from the fact that Apple took away your ability to select the outgoing SMTP server for those times you need to do that... and setting aside the fact that the notification app icon badges rarely have accurate information (especially in iOS)... and setting aside that sometimes after reading an email and scrolling all the way through it to get it marked as "read" it doesn't actually mark as "read" until you force it... and setting aside that Mail will not SHUT THE FUCK DOWN when you tell your computer to shut down... and setting aside the fact that account management in the desktop app is a horrific shitshow which is split between two separate locations on two separate apps... the absolute worst part of Apple Mail is that YOU CAN'T FUCKING DELETE AN ACCOUNT... EVER! Choosing "Remove Everywhere" so that the account will fucking die does absolutely jack-shit, because the account is automatically added back seconds later. And it doesn't matter if you make the account inactive on all your iCloud devices. It still comes back, and there's NOTHING you can do about it (except make it inactive). I've read that some people have finally managed to delete and account by turning off Cloud Keychain on all their devices, then deleting the account on all devices, then starting the keychain sync again... but it doesn't work for everybody. So WTF Apple? Why the fuck doesn't "Remove Everywhere" actually remove the shit? Obviously I don't give a fuck if other devices are using it (that I don't know about) because if I want it fucking removed EVERYWHERE that includes ALL MY FUCKING DEVICES! This kind of stupid shit is what drives me fucking insane with Apple and their bullshit. Users have zero power over their own settings.

Amazon Alexa
In the beginning, Alexa was a quirky voice assistant that managed to do very little not very well. But then it started adding capabilities, having better voice recognition, and becoming more reliable in its tasks. At that point it became an essential home automation tool that made "life in the future" so very cool. But over the last couple years, Alexa has turned into unreliable bloatware that pisses me off more than anything. Ask an Alexa device to play a song, the device you spoke to acknowledges the command, THEN PLAYS THE FUCKING SONG ON AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT DEVICE IN ANOTHER ROOM! How the fuck is this even remotely sensible. I get it if a device in another room hears the command and starts playing there... but that's not what's happening. Then there's the fact that lights will randomly "not be able" to turn off and on by voice command. Then there's the fact that Alexa is constantly telling me about new abilities and features that I couldn't care less about... all while not being able to do the shit that I asked it to do. I have no idea if these many problems are because Amazon no longer gives a shit about Alexa... or if they're concentrating on adding new shit while letting the old shit deteriorate... or the system is so bloated with crap that it's just not able to function. Regardless, I am seriously considering a switch to Google Hub, which has none of these irritating and debilitating issues. At least not yet.

Apple Photos
The only way to force a sync so that any new photos in the cloud are downloaded is to QUIT THE APP AND THEN OPEN IT AGAIN! Why the fuck can't Apple just add a little "sync" button to the toolbar so you aren't doing this stupid, backwards bullshit? And what about the fact that dragging photos out of the app sometimes gets you a JPEG file and sometimes gets you a HEIC file? And what about the fact that sometimes you drag images out of the app and they don't bother to export at all... or export only after Photos sits there like a stupid shit for a minute first? Photos is categorically awful for photo management, and Apple does not give a fuck. Another case of a company with billions of dollars sitting on their stacks of cash instead of using it to update their fucking apps.

AppleTV
Worst user interface ever. Okay, that's probably hyperbole, but it certainly feels like it. If you have anything more than 25 movies or TV shows, navigating is an absolute slog. Unlike Plex (or any other decent media app) which allows you to scroll over to an alphabet directory to skip to a section, AppleTV makes you scroll through every last fucking piece of media you own. I've purchased hundreds of movies and shows... which means if I want to watch Zoolander, I am 100% fucked. Not only do I have to scroll through every other piece of media I own, I have to wait for all the catalog images to load because AppleTV doesn't cash them. Couple all this bullshit with the fact that AppleTV isn't even reliable at playing shit, and one has to wonder why the fuck Apple even bothers.

Apple TouchID
Having TouchID is cool. Not as cool as having FaceID, but still pretty cool. Want to buy something or access private information or enter a password... just touch the fingerprint sensor and your Mac will take care of it for you! Except when it doesn't. Which is often. Despite having TouchID and allowing it to control everything, I still end up having to type fucking passwords every fucking day. When I went to sync my FTP sites just 15 minutes ago, Keychain Access asked me to type my password. Why? What the fuck good is TouchID if it just randomly doesn't work for some random reason? Doesn't anybody at Apple even use a fucking Mac so they can see this? Or do they know about it and just not give a shit?

INSTEON
I am still fucking raw about the home automation company I used, INSTEON, shut down without notice. Luckily I have an independent hub that doesn't rely on their servers, but recently I've found out that all my monitoring devices are randomly failing (this morning I thought that my garage door was open because INSTEON reported it as open, even though it was closed). I understand that you roll the dice and take your chances every time you purchase a cloud-enabled device (may the people behind Feed-and-Go burn in hell for all eternity), but the very least these assholes could do is offer a workaround or give you options so that your devices no longer work.

Boy. My blood pressure is at critical levels and I'm not even half-way through the crap I'm mad about! I'd better stop before I bust a blood vessel or something. As a bonus, I'll have fodder for another WTF Wednesday, if I deem myself healthy enough to write it up.

   

Apple Report Card 2021

Posted on February 15th, 2022

Dave!Everybody has been releasing their "Apple Report Card" for 2021, so I thought I'd do the same.

MAC: A+
In the entire existence of the Macintosh personal computer, I've never had such a fantastic double-whammy as the iMac M1 and MacBook Pro M1 MAX. There's always been something keeping one or the other from greatness in the same timeframe. Then came 2021. First I got an iMac and was completely blown away by what a great low-end computer it was. Thanks to the M1 chip, it didn't feel low-end at all. Then came the MacBook Pro refresh. After far too long of getting shitty laptops that were overpriced, underpowered, and kept losing features which made them anything but "Pro," Apple finally... FINALLY... gave us a laptop that was actually designed for professionals. All we need now is a Pro desktop machine, and I'll be a happy camper.

iPHONE: A
The change from 12 Pro to 13 Pro was fairly subtle. The most noticeable thing about the latest model to me was the 3× telephoto lens and incredible battery life. But still... an excellent phone that deserves an A rating.

iPAD: C
The current iPad offerings are very good. But we're still missing one that's of a large enough size to be truly useable by artists as a graphics tablet replacement. So Samsung has stepped up and created an Android tablet that actually is large enough to be a Wacom Tablet killer... and it's been so popular that Samsung literally had to shut down pre-orders. Apple completely missed the window by once again ignoring what users need, and will be playing catch-up in a market they could have so easily owned had they not been so absurdly myopic. It's fucking embarrassing. And has me seriously wanting to take a look at the Samsung tablet... assuming they can ever catch up with demand enough that I can take a look. Pathetic and sad.

WATCH: B-
Apple Watch is a wonderful product that I never thought would be as useful as it's turned out to be. But it's stagnating. Apple makes minor cosmetic changes and acts like they've revolutionized smart watches. And it's really kind of hilarious... in a bad way. Apple needs to take a serious step back and figure out ways of pushing the WatchOS platform forward in new and interesting ways. Otherwise they're just going to be overtaken by other more affordable alternatives which can do the same thing for less money. That ain't good.

TV: D
The AppleTV interface is horrendously bad AND APPLE WON'T FUCKING FIX IT! It's just mind-boggling how Apple has BILLIONS OF DOLLARS and can't bother to improve their shitty, antiquated fucking TV OS when companies with a tiny fraction of their resources (like Plex) have a far more useable interface. At least Apple is finally addressing their shitty fucking hardware by getting rid of their phenomenally bad remote and replacing it with one that's... slightly better (but still bad). And don't get me started on the MacOS TV app, which somehow manages to be even worse that the TV OS version! This department needs an entire overhaul from top to bottom with a new team of fresh eyes who aren't interested in rehashing the same old crap we've been stuck with since Day One.

SERVICES: C
Apple actually has very good services... it's just that they're horribly overpriced. And they're bundled in ways that are fairly useless for my needs.

HOMEKIT HOMESHIT: D-
Jesus. I simply don't understand how Apple keeps fumbling their smart home offering this badly. "HomeKit" is abhorrently bad and it's not improving nearly fast enough. Amazon and Google have not only eaten Apple's lunch, they've gone on to eat Apple's breakfast, dinner, snack, and dessert. It's not that I dislike HomeKit... it's that I detest it because it's total garbage. I am hopeful that Apple's alliance with Amazon, Google, and others on a new "universal standard" will be the shot in the ass that Apple needs to actually make something worth a shit.

HARDWARE QUALITY: A
My iMac, MacBook Pro, iPhone, and iPad are all built really well and perform beautifully. Well worth the money I've paid for them, which hasn't always been true of Apple products.

SOFTWARE QUALITY: D
Where do I even start? From MacOS stagnating to positively embarrassing depths to their basic apps lacking fundamental features that regularly have them being eclipsed by small third-party developers... software quality is just atrocious at Apple. They either need to get off their asses, invest some serious time and money, stop coasting on mediocrity, and listen to their users... or start buying out developers who have their shit together. Because I am sick and fucking tired of Apple being complete cock-ups when it come to their software. Even worse? Things that Apple did well at one time get diminished or outright cut (even simple things like being able to choose which SMTP server to use in Mail are just... gone). What a way to sabotage their stellar hardware.

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