the itjerk

my adventures with technology

Tag Archives: Apple

new computers

My teenage daughters received new computers this Xmas. The younger one (freshman in high school) got the Surface Laptop Go. It was relatively inexpensive at $540 for a 10th Gen i5, 8GB RAM, 128GB model. I also opted for a Microsoft Complete package that runs $84 for two years. It has a touch screen, touch Windows Hello power button, 12.4″ screen with 1536 x 1024 (148 PPI) resolution. On the disappointing end was that it arrived with Windows 10 2004. After a round of updates, I had to use that Windows 11 Installation Assistant to get to Windows 11. Also disappointing is the 720p camera and lack of lighted keyboard. But for what she’ll be doing, web browsing, watching movies and (hopefully) schoolwork, it was a great solution. I just hope it’s durable.

The older daughter (junior in high school) made the pitch for an Apple MacBook Air, as she didn’t want “some janky-ass Surface computer that I’ll never like”. Fair enough, all of her friends have Apple computers. Ordered on a Tuesday evening, it arrived the next morning at 9:30am in an Apple Store bag, hand delivered to my door (for $9.00 extra). It was a base model, with M1 chip, 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD, costing $899 (with Education pricing). The Air has a superior Retina screen (though without touch capabilities) and a lighted keyboard (good to see that touch bar gone). I also opted for annual Applecare at $70 per year. Kids, right?

Those Dell Latitude 3190s? Not sure if I’ll scrap or sell them, they got some heavy use during the pandemic and you know, kids put stickers all over their laptops! But I did upgrade them to Windows 11 (one required me to turn on TPM in the BIOS) before doing a Reset this PC that (among other things) cleared the TPM before restoring the OS. That’s comforting.


new macbooks – overspec’d is overserved

They’re in the store, those shiny new Apple MacBook Pros with the M1 Pro and M1 MAX chips, 10 Core CPUs, up to 32 Core GPUs, up to 64 GBs RAM and 8TB SSD. Go big, Apple hopes, so your $2500 laptop will end up costing $5000! With the iPhone’s 16-core Neural Engine too for all those pictures you’ll be taking with your laptop!

Look how easy it is to add an extra grand or two to a machine? Apple consumers are sheep! Apple Marketing FTW!

apple vs doj

Apple has already helped the government retrieve data from some 70 iPhones. Cooks stance is about selling and market share, and not helping solve the heinous murders that the San Bernardino terrorists committed.


el capitan, thank you

Don’t know if it’s just me or not, but doing a clean install on an old Mac computer has been a pain, since 10.6 Snow Leopard. Back in the early days of Mac OS X, you could boot a Mac into firewire mode and copy an image over. As Apple moved away from firewire, that became more and more difficult. Doing a clean install of an operating system became even more problematic after the switch to Intel processors, as Apple made version-specific demands on installers; this disc only worked with this machine, etc. Of course a few years ago, Apple did away with optical drives all together.

Fortunately, that’s changed, and now making a bootable flash drive is easy business. To perform a clean install of 10.11 El Capitan, go to the App Store and download the free installer, it’s about >6GB and will end up in your /Applications directory. Take a big enough USB drive, format it to “Mac OS Extended (Journaled)” and name it “Untitled”. Providing you keep these defaults the same, you just need to run this simple command to make your very own bootable installer:

sudo /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ El\ --volume /Volumes/Untitled --applicationpath /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ El\ --nointeraction

Boot the Mac by holding down the option (Apple) key and you’ll be able to choose the USB drive as your startup device and proceed with a clean install.

Now that Apple is giving away free upgrades to their OS X, there’s really no reason to not run the latest and greatest version of OS X. (Well, maybe*). El Capitan will run on most any Mac that’s got a 64 bit processor, and you’ll have to go back a decade or so to find one that doesn’t have one – like my little Mac Mini with its core solo* that keeps chugging along after all these years!

iPad2 repair #2

iPad2 repair #2

Second time I’ve had to replace the digitizer. Didn’t bother replacing the plastic mid-frame bezel, so not worth the effort. And this time rubber bumper is being ordered before the kids get it back

steve jobs 1955-2011

No doubt you've read Richard Stallman's two cents and related comments on Steve Jobs. I point it out because the media sure did attribute an unbelievable amount of hyperbole to Jobs' achievements. His passing, like any other, was untimely and unfortunate. What then is his legacy?

In its first incarnation, Apple was a computer company with a niche. My first introduction to the Mac, way back in the mid-80s, was in the advertising department of a Very Large Corporation. It was all done on a Mac. More interestingly, all the support for those computers was always contracted out to a specialty firm – corporate IT had nothing to do with them. This was the start of the greater Apple economy. As the decade moved on, Apple created other niches for their computer, but objectively speaking, they really were just another computer company, and the Mac was just another computer. For perspective's sake, I was into spreadsheets back then: Lotus 1-2-3 on a DOS box got the job done for me better than any other (and Prodigy ran full screen).

Jobs came back to Apple in the late 90s and shortly after the new millennium started to introduce funny-colored, odd-shaped computer designs, sporting a new operating system, Mac OS X. Well pundits, it was basically Unix, with a GUI called Aqua. That's probably when Stallman's ire started to rise, as Mac OS X was (and is) mostly based on free open-source software.

Though it wasn't the first MP3 player (I remember Creative Labs), the iPod was next. I started my career in Higher Ed around this time and I can tell you, categorically, no one under the age of 30 had a Mac computer. No one. But the kids did start to buy those iPods, and then their music from iTunes. And that's exactly where Jobs meteoric rise begins – with the marriage of hardware and content as a business model. Soon enough, everyone's iPods gave way to iPhones. Next, the iPhones were outfitted with a Macbook Pro and, subsequently, iPads.

Today, Apple is the new PC.

Let it be said that Jobs was an amazing businessman – and one that just so happened to be selling computer goods. Apple products aren't better per se than any other brand. Do people really do better, more productive work on their Apple products? I know my answer. But people love them and are willing to pay both extra money and, as Stallman notes, their freedom, to get them. For better or worse, Jobs was a great capitalist and the highly profitable Apple Inc. is his legacy.

And one more thing, he really did have an eye for design.

apple without jobs

I'm surprised by the lack of articles and short sellers that believe that Jobs departure from Apple could actually be a good thing. Think what a Microsoft without Ballmer would be? Onward and upward…

iPad’s black hole

I know, so much is being said about this already… but here's the main points: 1) it's a big iPhone, with some fancier multi-touch and a better display and 2) applications are only available via the Apps store. So as I read the chatter on the pros/cons of the device, I gotta side with the naysayers. The iPad is not revolutionary and it is not a computer; it's an appliance that continues the lockdown trend at Apple of only running "approved" applications. There's little good in that, even if the vast majority of users would never consider anything but what Apple allows.

Now, if it had OS X on it, I could run server admin tools – how cool would that be!?

Update – to further the "appliance" argument, Apple will replace the device, not battery!

Update Update – Seen it, used, etc. One critique that seems to have been complete missed by the media – it's one big money sucking black hole. Pay for that 3G plan. Buy a .mac account. Buy from iTunes. Buy apps. Buy. Buy. Bye.

Something tells me we don't need electronic devices whose sole purpose is to extra money from your wallet.

On the web:
Apple iPad


Remember that Dell Mini 9 that I bought earlier in the year. Check it out now:

How easy was this? Very. First, I purchased a Super Talent 16GB SSD drive to replace the paltry 4GB STEC that came with the Mini (you'll need about 8-10GB for the install). SuperBiiz/eWiz had it for $49.95 delivered, with coupon. It's a fast drive (this is the FEM16GFDL), much like the Runcore drives, but less inexpensive and in stock (ordered it Sunday, had it Friday).

Then, on a tip from the great resource of MyDellMini, I found a guide at Mechdrew that details the installation process. The step-by-step instructions show how to create a bootable flash drive from your Snow Leopard DVD ($29) on a Mac computer, and then install the OS on the netbook. The magic is two-fold: First, the Dell Mini 9 has extremely compatible hardware to OS X. Secondly, NetBookMaker, a GoogleCode project, adds the appropriate extensions to make it all work.

And work it does! Trackpad, wireless, camera, sound, battery meter, software updates (10.6.1), even sleep mode. But even more impressive is how responsive Snow Leopard is on the Mini – maybe this is the SSD too? So, however much I think Apple sucks, it's testament to the fact that OS X is Unix, and Unix is good.

On the web:
MechDrew guide
Netbook-Installer software

the beatles, remastered

Tuesday brought news that had been rumored for years: The Beatles catalog has been remastered and is set for release this fall. As one who believes that all good music starts with the Beatles, this is big news. Reportedly, the engineers at Abbey Road have been working on it for about four years, and all 12 studio albums plus the compilation Past Masters will be boxed up for sale on on 9/9/9, the date a tribute to the late John Lennon. Also available at that time will be another box set, The Beatles In Mono, a 10 disc set compiling all the original mono releases.

There's a few things that lend the Beatles catalog to remastering. It was well-recorded for the time, and has been well-preserved since then. Add to that the substantial leaps digital technology has taken since then, and it's no wonder the results will be so eagerly awaited. If you do own any Beatles on CD, it's the original reissues that came out in 1987/8. Since then, the only retooling of their catalog apart from the Anthology series in 1996 has been the new stereo mixes of Yellow Submarine Soundtrack in 1999 and the 5.1 audio of the musical Love, in 2006. Oh yeah, and Let It Be Naked in 2003 (not hard to forget about that one). And according to the press release, the new remasters will not be available in digital form. Thankfully.

On the web:
The Beatles