Listen to the Light ...

And now a moment of furious silence for the Timex Microsoft Data-Link Watch c. 1995. It’s right here beside me, and it ticks on. “With the Timex Data Link watch and Microsoft® Windows, you can transfer information from a PC to your wrist.” And yes you can! Without a cable! You just hold the little devil up to your screen and the software flashes at you mindlessly and, voila!, your watch is filled with your phone book!...

My edition of this valuable artifact has a plastic band with binary codes on it which, in ASCII, say somewhat plaintively, by now, “Listen to the Light”. Yes indeed; I did. But then when it came time to replace the batteries — couldn’t. I was supposed to pay a trained professional to do that (not very likely). I did it anyway and now it doesn’t squeak anymore. And finally this last 3/1/01, it forgot what day of the week it was. So sad. Obviously some weird Y2K+1 imbroglio. It still knows what date it is; it’s just it thinks the day of the week is tomorrow’s. How sad. How sensitive. How computeristic. ...



*nix EMACS! Anybody home?!

Ok someone must use it. I mean, Richard Stallman high guru of open source wrote it, and presumably uses it. But one dark and stormy night I was trying to hack an executable to remove the annoying GPL message Borland insists on sticking in everything — you see how this ties into Stallman? — and I realized that users have got to be scarce on the ground. Or at least in the Linux KDE GUI environment. ...

One of the handy commands one can use in the EMACS “hexl-mode” is “C-M-d” which should “insert a byte with a code typed in decimal” — but which instead immediately minimized all my KDE windows. I think there was a whooshing noise maybe. ... Of course you immediately understood “C-M” means control+alt; ... of course. You do see the “M” on your Alt key, don’t you? No? ... Oh you pathetic idiot; you’re probably not using a circa 1956 Concurrent Conundrum time-sharing terminal. ... I mean, what kind of drooling fool are you anyways!? ... So as I googled the web trying to reassure myself “C-M” did mean control+alt, I came across http:// www.csd.uwo.ca/ staff/ magi/ personal/ nak/ emacs.html:

Escape-Meta-Alt-Control-Shift?

“There weren’t very many students, even in the nerd squad, who were willing to go through the pain of learning how to use a drum card, but I did. Having made that sacrifice, I have never been tempted to go through the latter-day equivalent of this rite of passage (i.e. I don’t use EMACS).”

- Mike O’Brien <obrien@antares.aero.org>

and then the thoughtful fellow offered some simple procedures for “using EMACS” which appeared to involve deleting it....

... But getting back to our story, you understand Borland’s considerate attitude towards their GPL message means that it is very difficult to write non-GUI applications with the free Kylix, because very few console tools can deal successfully with a line of pointless noise prefacing conceivably useful information. And while in the end I discovered that I could use “C-M-o” to enter an octal value, and it didn’t minimize all the windows, or start up the octohorn, or anything (I’m too scared to try the hex entry “C-M-x”) — Borland was too smart for me. It just obliterated the first letter of the message, replacing it with a \0, which doesn’t really help much. ... But at least now I know how to enter an octal number in EMACS. That must come in handy someday. ...

— Tuesday, April 5, 2005 12:55 pm

The sad denouement of Cadsoft Eagle PCB/Schematic Program

@ 12/15/15 Cadsoft/Eagle tempted me with a bargain super upgrade deal of ONLY $329.40 and pitiful sentimental idiot I am, I bit. And was punished, with these files:

cadsoft-packing-list-84654.pdf  16   12/15/15 9:06:14a
cadsoft-invoice-84654.pdf       16   12/15/15 9:06:54a

which were each 16 byte files and NOT PDFs. And were presumably supposed to contain a magic license number or instructions on how-to-get or who cares, but I did not receive a license of any kind or at least I don’t know where it’s hidden, and complaining emails to sales@cadsoftusa.com and sales@cadsoft.de went unanswered. Actually I suspect this kind of low-life fly-by-internet merchant now waits for the charge dispute before taking any action, by way of blowing-off the riff-raff, but whatever, that of course was my next step, and so I bid a poignant adieu to the once-arguably-great but now despicably-failed-but-still-beautiful schematic capture / PCB creation software.

Cadsoft Speaks!?

... And then, after I disputed the charge, astonishingly Cadsoft came to life with a response! ... And emailed another 16-byte broken PDF. ... The next day an actual PDF showed-up, with a note improbably claiming this kind of thing only happened very occasionally, as if it were some sort of fungus disease stalking the internet. But they were still unable to supply the intricate debris — the installation code, anyway — necessary to actually license the product, and obviously had no idea hos it was supposed to work. Probably the 16-byte “cadsoft-invoice” might’ve contained it, were it somehow de-fungus-diseased — but who knows. ... And oh yes; the “freeware” version now comes with an annoyanceware screen “thanking” us, presumably for waiting until we’re allowed to close it....

I consider myself lucky to have escaped my upgrade folly by this simple demonstration of the vendor’s incompetence. I assume further punishment awaits those who manage to penetrate Cadsoft’s deteriorating defenses services, and I am relieved that I will not attend. For occasional peculiarities like my Arduino imbroglio, the annoyanceware version will probably be enough....

The Utter End: Autodesk

1/17. And now the final door is shut: the glorious Cadsoft was acquired by Autodesk and all is done, as they slide into the eternal subscription tomb, the final resting-place for modern $oftware mediocrity....

KiCad & Autorouting?

I’ve never used it, but KiCad might be a likely FOSS eagle replacement. Although brief inspection suggests KiCad’s autorouting — which is an absolute requirement for snooty professional work — is mostly notional. And there’s still the free kiddy-wheels annoyanceware eagle which, if you’re going to do without autorouting, might be good; at least a lot of forums/support ... for a while, anyway....

For my humble-to-nonexistent purposes the autorouter in my eagle 6.6 still works, and by the time I actually need something else, which’ll probably be in a subsequent incarnation, the free offerings will have matured to a glorious competence I’m sure. ... Well sadly my eagle seems to reliably freeze-up the first time in the morning on a win7 system and I have to kill it — but seems to always work the 2nd time. So perhaps I will batch-file its infirmity away....

DEXPCB.COM?

Well they have a working web site; not free, but cheap $50 @ 2/17. Download trial of course....

The Inevitable, Universal, Parts Problem

I should note that one of the reasons I will be not-so-anguished with my antique Eagle is because I know how to make my own parts. And I’m pretty-sure I’d have to, no matter what software I use. I’m definitely not an eagle parts expert, but I’ve done it numerous times and probably, if I really wanted, could do it again. Perhaps the opulent slave-owning wealth of autocad will provide constant parts updating, but that certainly never happened with Eagle in my years before the mast....

Normally, the gadget-contriver is using the newest most up-to-date parts, because they’re so wonderful and exciting, and in my limited but depressing experience such parts will never have their software realizations available when you want them. ... Sometimes, the part vendor might contrive them for your pcb/schematic program ... be sure to hold your breath....

Operating any PCB/schematic program is always appalling — it makes the average paint program look like a walk in the park — but the parts-contriving part of the software, always assuming there is one, will be an order of magnitude more infuriating than the software itself. Modern parts are mostly rectangles with hundreds of pins, but one still has to make not only the schematic symbol, but an accurate PCB image of the thing, and the ridiculous subterranean connections between the two. The general plot is you find a part with the same geometry/pin layout, and then copy/hack it to what’s wanted. ... Just a simple vector drawing/labeling exercise, which can easily take forever....

Magic Working Parts Software

In the ideal world of the future, when those flying cars finally show-up, the schematic/pcb software of my dreams will have a complete repertoire of parts, and create a parts-list order form what I can just shoot up to the web, along with a sufficiently adequate credit card #, and receive everything in a few days. This is an imaginary ideal product; as far as I know it doesn’t nearly exist, although some spluttering attempts have been made, with proprietary software & parts of course. In sad reality, ordering the parts, while not as hard as doing the schematic/PCB or part-contrivance, is still ridiculously difficult.

CAM

Finally there is the magic step where one prepares “Gerber” files at least and who knows what else, to shoot off to your PCB vendor, so he can prepare boards implementing your design with astonishing & amazing errors. There is a button or something in Eagle, but really it’s mostly necromancy. ... An obligatory although inadequate defensive measure is to view the gerber file with appropriate software; “Viewmate” and “Viewplot” were two such, once available in free versions....

Broken Eagle 8.0

Reliably crashes on my win7 system — trying to open that ol’ login window, of such supreme importance to eternal slavery programs. ... So long old frenemy. ... But I reinstalled 7.5, which has now officially evolved to that beloved modern software barnacle, the “last working version” — unless that traditional honorific should still belong to my actually working 6.6 version. ... Ooops, make that 7.7, which has dumped the annoyance screen; but not 7.8, where the help is apparently missing....

— the existentially-challenged & sadder & wiser programmer
2/17

The Golden Age of a Thousand Chips

One of the truly charming things about the approximately-deceased EagleCAD schematic/pcb program was its multiple-gate IC placement; how it supported ICs containing four or 6 instances of a particular logic element — the 7400 for instance with 4 NAND gates, or the 7404 and its six inverters. . ... I provide these details because no one’s designed with more than a few of these devices for quite some time, and Eagle charmingly displays its heritage by the complex and often infuriating ways it supports these things. ... People still complain about the feature in my yahoo eagle forum....

But once, Oh Young Ones, designs teemed with such; boards stretched — well, 10’’ or more — with multitudes of, first, the TTL 74 series, then the speedy new-age 74LS (“Low power Schottky”), then the cornucopia of strange wandering technologies, culminating in my life and times with the 74HC (High speed CMOS) and HCT flavors (etc. with ”TTL“ levels — so they’d work with LS and original TTL). The HC are so recent as to be neglected in Eagle’s library menagerie, but were great & glorious in their time.

That time is long gone, and has been since around the year 2000. But Eagle still lets you place them on your schematic — actually it insists — one gate at a time, cleverly taking-care of all the details of ”hidden“ power-supply provision, and multiple packages. This is a powerful feature. ... Thus one can place five 74LS00 NAND gates in one’s design, and Eagle will attentively place two ICs. If you ever get around to placing another 74LS00 NAND gate it will remember those leftover gates in the second IC and use them up. And so on, into a glorious imaginary schematic and PCB populated with hundreds of these things!

Degraded Latter Days

In our degraded latter days, the practices so extravagantly supported by Eagle have fallen into disuse, and the modern with-it design consists typically of a few “giant” chips — well, possibly miniscule, but lots of pins — perhaps a few other components and hardware with, to be sure, an occasional 74xx-style device commonly referred to as ”glue logic“. Sadly, the eager and ingenious Eagle support, like an aged thespian shuffling around the modern playhouse, trying out his antediluvian speeches and steps to the annoyance of the post-modern assembled throngs — sadly, Eagle and its multiple-gate ICs are just an annoyance. ... The power-supply and gate provisioning features mostly result, at least in my limited experience, in designs with missing power supply connections and wandering unconnected gates (a well-known menace, at least when people did this sort of thing a lot). The ERC (Eagle’s Electrical Rules Checker) catches such errors in Eagle version 5.10, but probably somehow (still?) screwed-up in previous versions and in any case it’s all just a tedious inconvenience one must work around. ... When I had occasion — once! so far — to use such a part, I copied it to my library and mutilated it to remove all the automatic functionality. ... And the auto-connect power supply thing is provided in many non-multiple gate parts, which I similarly crush relentlessly wherever I find it.

... But in those golden days — ah, what bliss it was to be alive! The chips marched into your design, rank upon rank, while you, the Venn-diagramming technological savant, conjured-up intricate complexities of logic without stopping a moment for annoying physical details. ... What joy, what bliss, it must’ve been, to capture a schematic in that distant dawn!

— the nostalgia-ridden hacker
2/17

The Story of a Board

One of the many problems I had making PCBs with EagleCAD was — well, complete ignorance in all things, but especially price. I had no idea what these things cost. So now I will share my pitiful experience. ... This was a 4-layer 5.7“ width x 6.5” height board; the inner layers were VCC, ground.

TOTAL PARTS COUNT: 141
THROUGH HOLE: 18
SMT (141-18): 123

Eight different drills

The Eagle count.ulp “user language program” said:

Number of Pads: 119
Number of Vias: 243
Number of Smd
[pad]s: 468
Smds in Top: 468
Smds in Bot: 0
Total number of
drill [hole]s: 363

I was trying to get the board completely made; the vendor would get the parts, make the board, install the parts — just like someone used to do at Burroughs, the last time I worked at a real company. ... So in modern times I wanted to just pay them money — actually of course my employer — to do a comparable task. Which we didn’t, in the end; just wasted their time....

AAPCB quoted $2,200; Sunstone $554.30 + their associate Screaming Circuit assembly $550 ==> $1200 or so. These are ridiculously approximate numbers and probably totally unfair, since the engineer in charge was obviously on drugs (me) — and anyway some other circuit won’t have the components, layout, etc. I had. However, it is an actual dollar amount. I’m pretty sure you are seeing it here first. ... I certainly looked a lot....

Idiotically I was surprised how costly the assembly was, but of course there is labor there. In AAPCB’s case, a bright woman or a really bright robot with whom I had 2 or three email exchanges relating to my parts list. The Sunstone/Screaming Circuits combination wasn’t nearly as impressive but, of course, they came in $1K cheaper. Two points:

  • Neither vendor is set-up for making R&D prototypes a la the old days; which is what I was looking for, in my pitiful nostalgic delusions. ... I really don’t know what their target market is, but something like short production runs of already-proven designs. Great emphasis is placed on rapid turn-around, which didn’t make much difference for me.

  • Apparently, assembly houses and PCB producers are natural enemies, presumably since it’s so pleasant to blame the other for problems, when one isn’t blaming the customer. ... And indeed some of my formative years were spent holding PCBs up to the light to inspect substandard plated-through holes, so it all makes perfect sense.

And that’s all I know ... and more. ... After chickening out, I learned in a few weeks that my EagleCAD design was indeed defective in various embarrassing ways: most notably, I had set the traces to 6 mils, when a more average 10 mils would’ve done fine. ... Indeed once I started poking around, I discovered there was enough room so I could autoroute a 2-layer board without any stinking inner layers, with 10 mil traces. ... I guess I got natural talent....

Money

I never wanted to make PCBs in my bathtub or hand-solder SMDs with mysterious hidden super-powers or reflow PCBs in my toaster oven. ... I just wanted to use a nice hi-tech tool where I could draw my schematic and magically produce assembled boards. I can sort-of do that, but (1.) it costs more than I expected and (2.) there’re still numerous areas for error, even if the circuit is more-or-less correct. The two issues relate: I wouldn’t mind so much making a few broken cheap boards. But it’s too much money to spend just to find-out I’m an idiot and shouldn’t’ve done 6 mil traces. ... What I really want is a service that will take a month or so, be of course ridiculously cheap because of that, and tell me I don’t need 6 mil traces. ... I am not holding my breath....

Iteadstudio and the Little Board

But behold, at last, I exhale, and my PCB experiences come to a glorious lifetime conclusion for about $30 / a dozen little 2-sided boards / 30 days, at Iteadstudio. ... See my pitiful triumph in my resume....

— the content-at-last angry programmer
Tuesday, November 29, 2011 6:29 am

Don’t Buy a Mini!!!

Before we stroll down memory lane, I must note that the minis you can buy today (Wed 4/1/15) from the kind beneficent Apple have soldered-in RAM. The only excuse for buying one of these things in the past was that the RAM was user-upgradeable. It isn’t anymore. Apple of course charges unconscionable amounts for RAM “upgrades”, but when one could buy them from one’s local internet low-price dealer, it was OK. It is no longer. The rest of the Apple computers are exorbitantly over-priced and unupgradeable — ’cause Apple designs ’em so good of course....

The iMini: Owen Whines

First I relented on Microsoft, no doubt the cause of endless rejoicing at that dark principality; and now I’ve turned to Apple — and the darkness truly gathers! ... Actually, after the initial shock and awe, well, it’s not so bad. ... I’ve seen worse, as the poor fellow reiterates in Slaughterhouse 5. ... For several days I thought the machine was an imac — apparently a much more expensive all-in-one unit including screen / keyboard / mouse; it was disappointing when I realized my error. ... I mean, why couldn’t they call it an “iMini”?! ... I want an “i” something! ... Maybe I’ll just call it that, between ourselves, and ignore their heartless discrimination....

... It certainly boots faster than Windows! ... As the beautiful illustration should convey, the laboratories generally make-do with lower-rent stuff than the estimable iMini, which is a totally unprovoked 2006 xmas gift of the dangerous but irrationally-generous LOL and the cheapest PC Apple sells. ... As shown, the single antique CRT served one-at-a-time the mini, the broken laptop, and even the dos/win 3.1 machine....

... So this user did not perceive the storied Mac interface as friendly. ... At least during setup, I found it extremely annoying — in part, no doubt, because Apple is the last bastion of the screw-the-customer business strategy. ... For example, the separate power supply — which I have cleverly hidden under the iMini, using part of the packing material — has weird connectors all-round, i.e. even the AC side, so you can’t use a standard three-pronged AC plug like everything else but instead if you have to replace it pay Apple the $200 or whatever it wants for the part. ... Surely this is one of the last of the breed; the only other like that at OwenLabs is probably an antique Windows 95 Compaq laptop!

(... The weary years stumble by ... )

... But ... It’s still better than Vista!

So after a few seasons idly whacking the imini and macintoshery in general — even writing some Xcode software along the merry way — Microsoft pulled-ahead dramatically, snatching defeat from market stagnation, and Vista definitely sux worse than the Mac. ... Even the Mac’s LAN-killing Leopard update!

Why Windows?

... So why do I keep using Windows? ... The Macintoshers and the Linux hordes seem to have a hard time with this, but it’s because windows is cheaper,[1] and there are more of them. And because of this competitive environment, Windows-compatible software is often cheaper, there’s more of it, and more stuff works with them.

To put this another way, if you had some goal — professional music synthesis is a good example — you might pick a mac. Even ’though the computer’s more expensive, some of the best music synthesis software is mac-compatible, and it costs a lot anyway, so you want to proceed with your principal goal and not bother with a stupid cranky operating system like Windows.[2] You probably wouldn’t choose Linux, no matter how heart-rending their pitiful cries, because it doesn’t support the best music synthesis software.

On the other hand, if you want to do embedded system development, it’s stupid to use anything other than Windows. Despite the onrushing tide of Mac and Linux development environments, most microcontroller manufacturers, strangely, concentrate their development support on the most popular platform....

All these things change, as everything must in this vale of tears. ... Macs get cheaper, and Windows gets stupider; I’m pretty sure Linux is beyond the pale — aside, of course, from servers, where it pretty-much owns the show. ... I’m not suggesting an ethical course or predicting the future; I’m just trying to explain why someone would prefer an obviously inferior operating system....

... Also, of course, I’ve been using Windows, and MSDOS before it, for all these decades, and have tons of software, much of it written by me, and it’s my familiar place, no matter its little quirks and sudden pathological hostilities....

— the ever-enthusiastic programmer
Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Then again ... RIP Tiny Imini!?!?

Monday, September 14, 2009 6:32 pm. I tried upgrading to the fabulous super-speedy $30 Snow Leopard aka OS X 10.6 — and my 3-year-old mini was too cheap! ... It’s only got 500 meg! Snow leopard demands a gig at least! ... And the mini is officially un-user-upgradeable! ... I’ve seen the pictures in the gushy puffy mac magazines — not one of whom hinted-at this minor snow leopard restriction — and you have to use a knife to get in there and I won’t I won’t I refuse! ... So my pitiful little mini, so happy so gay, has reached the end of its tiny lifespan so fast; indeed, I did hardly know her. ... It’s really quite Microsoftian! ... Our motto: obsolescence while you wait! ... But then of course I gave-in, and upgraded my imini memory with a few putty knives and good ol’ common sense!!!

Thursday, July 21, 2011 7:06 pm. But that was then, and now the vicious Apple obsolescence commandos have come again in the night, and OSX “Lion” will upgrade the imini no more forever, with its ridiculous ancient 2006 so-cool-in-its-era Intel duo. ... I may buy another. I may give-up. It is bleak and dark in the cold winds of obsolescence.....

The Lion Whimpers ...

Wednesday, August 10, 2011 2:52 pm. So like an idiot I bought another mini (which died in 2016). The new improved comes-with-Lion unit. Which my attic network of dubious Windows computers cannot see — just like when I “upgraded” to Leopard OSX 10.5, in 2007! ... There’s consistency! ... And now that I have two of the things, I can verify that the old mini can see the new one fine. ... Because they’re friends. Not like those nasty Windows machines; why are they even talking to me?!?!

... I am having self-image problems. Am I a geek who screams at computers? Do I want to be? ... If I don’t, should I stop dealing with Apple? ... Of course, every new Microsoft operating system has the same effect on the existing frightened herd of older crates, so I guess I’d have to stop dealing with them, too. ... Actually, it is my no-doubt irrational impression that every new operating system, Microsoft, Apple, and Linux!!, will stand mute and silent in my pitiful network of rejects until after I have screamed at it at least for a while; a sufficient time. ... Is that likely? ... Will Science ever answer these important questions? ... Will I?

But I still love my precious white iphone. ... So gleaming; so pure. ... So I guess I’ll just wait ever so patiently for an update, whenever Apple feels like it, in its own good time. ... When it’s good and ready. ... Around the time the market levels off for Windows replacements that will work with the new mac their pitiful victims customers just bought....

And after all the magazine hype about Lion’s exciting new features, I was thrilled at the obvious stunning differences!

... And Then Windows

came along in a new HP desktop — one of the last, since HP is moving into higher-markup products/services, i.e. can’t compete with the Chinese — and it only took two days to get the wonderful machine integrated into my decrepit attic network.

The Story of Windows 3.11 and Peer-to-Peer Networks

Let us go back in time, when once there was an evil Microsoft competitor known as Novell. They competed with Microsoft by offering a networking product in those dark days, 1992 or so. Novell’s product was wonderful and geeky; only the strongest mumbo-jumbo would make it work, and that was good. But the heroic Bill Gates decided they could slay the Novell evilness by offering an easy-to-install Windows network, which they did. And in a very few years, Novell departed the sector, although to be sure they only finally evaporated a few months ago in 2011.

I remember a fellow we somehow got in discussion with at a Radio show who, unasked, extolled the glories of Windows-for-Workgroups aka “3.11”. “You just hook ’em up” he cried with amazement and to our open skepticism, we being already all-too-familiar with the ways of Microsoft. But as usual I was wrong and indeed WfW3.11 did hook-up easily, locating other machines in a peer-to-peer network almost magically. ... As opposed, that is, to the kind of network where there are central “servers” and all the other machines hook-up to those things, instead of each other. With appropriate religious blessings and ceremonies.

I think it is fair to say that 99% of computer installations in the entire world would benefit from peer-to-peer networking and, contrariwise, server installation is a disbenefit. This is because most computers are cheap, gather in small numbers, and it’s stupid to buy expensive servers when you can just hook 3 or four machines together. ... Of course people who sell computer stuff don’t look at it that way and, indeed, optimize things for the very largest customers who indeed can benefit from complex centralized server arrangement. But despite their wealth and power, as with most things, such organizations still probably represent a small minority of the world population of desktop/laptop (potentially) networked computers.

I cannot tell you how to hook up your computers in a peer-to-peer network. Even with my vast knowledge and ignorance, it took me two days to get the latest one on! (I can mislead you a little) ... After Novell skedaddled, mysteriously Microsoft no longer had any interest in easy-to-install peer-to-peer small networks, and since then, has been totally gung-ho for giant servers running expensive Microsoft server software. So you have to beat the Windows machines into peer-to-peering....

But none of this explains Apple, who recently offed their only server product! They should be interested in supporting peer-to-peer networks and, actually, I suppose they are! ... Just so long as no Windows machines are involved. ... I guess that makes sense; so long as “screw-the-customer” is a sensible business practice....

— the kindly programmer
Monday, August 22, 2011 2:11 pm

And now Friday, September 2, 2011, in just a little while — well, the struggle started around 8/11/11, but still less than a month! — the first faint stirrings of network visibility have appeared; in the misty distance. ... I set the thing on auto update, and maybe it did, or maybe it just takes a while to settle down and feel nice with its new friends. ... But I can see my “save” directory from Windows machines; no more “Access is denied”. ... Still, only faintly; it has trouble, there are errors, and confusion, and the files are as of yet unwriteable — but oh what a carper I am! ... At last, the golden sun of a visibile mini! ... Think of the fun I can have now! ... Well, see, the mumbo-jumbo on my “save” directory isn’t right, foolish child....

The Lesson

... And what have we learned here? ... Probably not actually? ... Why, simply to never never never NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER buy any computer product before it’s at least 6 months old. ... Preferably 6 years. ... But of course by then they’re all obsolete. ... Yeah, this is like one of those software bad peoples’ releases, where it’s really a beta! ... Must be my imagination ... but obvious things like the screen saver doesn’t work consistently, nor does the finder come-up every morning on its own, poor thing. ... Gee could those high-minded Apple guys be using their customers for beta test?!?! Just to get the junk out the door? ... Or using the pitiful little mini as their Lion beta test?!!

... And now MacUser magazine, one of the better Brit mac mags, informs us in their “Sharing with PCs” article (8/5/11 page 100) that “Apple has discarded Samba and replaced it with enhanced functionality”. Being a tech expert I can translate that to “doesn’t work”. Another quote: “Authentication can prove quite tricky”; translation: “passwords don’t work”. But I knew that already....

And Then ... Let’s Download Some iThing Apps!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011. Uh, no. ... I can’t do that, on my brand new — well, recent — Lion-running mini. ... I can run itunes, “authorize” the new machine, get it to sync with my iThings. ... But I got a new app, and app updates, and nothing happens. ... Of course I could well be missing the necessary mumbo-jumbo which everybody at the genius bars just chortles about day and night. ... But I’m inclined to conclude they just didn’t finished that part. ... Either....

Simple solution: abandon stupid broken new Lion mini, go back to dumb obsolete intentionally-broken Leopard mini. Works great! ... De-authorize new mini. ... See, it’s so simple! Scammery for the rest of us! ... Of course I could just install iTunes on a broken-down Windows computer, aka a “working” computer....

... Oh wait, I’ve been terribly mistaken. It wasn’t Lion’s fault at all! ... The destructive insane ridiculous hate-the-user behavior I’ve carefully observed is standard; if you ever want to switch your iThing from Mac to Mac or iTunes to some foreign iTunes, you must (1.) perform requisite mumbo-jumbo; it’s not easy, you must be fierce, and resolved, and presumably stupid; and (2) your iThing’s carefully-arranged folders will be strewn to the winds. Although it’s entirely possible, again, I didn’t do the right mumbo-jumbo. ... I am such a child in this universe ... for the rest of us! ... I would say one obvious although mysterious goal of Apple management here is to seriously discourage anyone from ever buying a second Mac! ... Sharp; that’s really sharp....

... The Silver Lining ...

When I upgraded my old mini to 2 gigabytes of RAM, so it’d run the brutal heartless snow leopard, once I was through with my putty knives the speaker stopped working; it would “ta-da” at power on no more forever. I thought. ... I assumed I’d nicked some vital organ in my clumsy putty knife surgery and, indeed, I got hold of a USB gadget, all meticulously documented on previous versions of these pages, so it could play and sing. ... And moved on, to the glorious saga of Apple obsolescence celebrated above. ... But then Monday, November 7, 2011, I turned my old mini on and behold: It ta-das again! As of yore! ... Apple tried to stomp it, apparently upgrading its speaker to a faretheewell, and then presumably through some recent software fix resuscitated it again! ... Giveth and taketh; and we poor mortals must not complain....

The Last Days

Thursday, January 31, 2013. I am moving the “new” mini to the Old Computer Corral; I will put it on a KVM switch with the old one. That is its fate. ... Well no it isn’t; it’ll probably wind-up in the recycling bin, since the modérne super-hot obsolete-next-week “new” mini has no VGA no more forever, because it’s so wonderful and modern and Apple loves to surprise the customer with utterly-predictable what we used to call planned obsolescence; and after all, those iThings are what’s important anyway. ... And no one will write exciting Macintosh software anymore; heck, no one will write exciting Windows software! ... If you want to write an iThing program you must get a mac, which precisely parallels the ancient days when the only reason to buy the blundering dinosaur Lisa machines was to write the exciting new macintosh software. So the loop is complete....

The Utter Last Day: Thu 3/24/16 9:37 am

It is over. My 2nd imini restarts no more, displaying an endless progress bar which progresses no more forever. This is a 2011 machine. I am typing these words on a 2011 Lenovo Windows machine. I have numerous XPs dating back to long before that, some of which I wantonly destroyed just to make space, that were and are still going strong, although of course the software restraint-of-trade DRM has effectively crippled them. ... A stirring lesson in the absolute superiority of Apple machines compared to the wretched common herd....

Actually Apple slacked-off in this round, not killing-off my mini #2 with explicit software upgrade DRM requirements, the way they did my mini #1 when it had too little memory for the next OS. ... Of course, Apple couldn’t know that their older machines would boot forever for the upgrade; how could I think such a thing? They would’ve tested it on all the old machines of course, desperatel to preserve the quality reputation of Apple. ... Snicker snicker.

... I bought these wretched machines because in those dark days I deluded myself I could use them to create Apple software and foolishly wanted to keep up, but I was older then. Today I could go out to the garage and resurrect the old girl and her antique OS; apparently many of the innocent appleoids do just that without thinking, even ’though Apple hounds us so to upgrade for our own good. Just like Usux™....

Compulsory Random Obsolescence?

Before the last day, both of my beloved macs were pestering me about OS upgrades, and I refused. And then one day, they stopped. ... No computer ever stops pestering — unless it was tremenjous Apple emergency blap blap, and they just updated us without us clicking that license agreement? Like the eeevil Usux™ does to some poor victims customers with the beautiful everybody-wants-it-so-bad Windows 10? ... After the silent hermetic upgrade, the endless boots started on the poor mini. Coincidence?


1. If you don’t think Linux is more expensive, you’ve never tried installing Linux on a Windows computer. If you buy a computer with Linux pre-installed, it will probably be more expensive. If you install it — which is the normal route — you may not succeed. Buying another computer which may work with Linux is expensive. Researching the subject is costly. If your time is relatively worthless, then spending the necessary effort to figure-out what computer’ll work with Linux might be worth it. So it’s cheap, in a sense. But not in general.

2. Pricewise, you’d be even more likely to pick a Mac for music synthesis since Apple lowered the tariff for their highly-regarded Logic Pro DAW to $200 at the Apple Appstore! ... Not to mention the $5/free GarageBand....

2014 iMacbook Pro Laptop (before the imini extinction event)

My associate fled to the mac after being repelled by Windows 8. But now it is mine, since it was fled in its turn, to the welcoming arms of Windows 8 again & touch. ... Such are the unfathomable tides of users’ incoherent desires....

USB Ethernet Feature

So I’ve encountered a heartwarming example of the finest customer extortion — for the rest of us. ... Apparently older Mac operating systems — I kind-of get the feeling the common folk don’t upgrade their mac software, which is the kind of thing “the rest of us” don’t do — these less-advanced macs will tolerate the odd USB-ethernet adapter from several manufacturers. ... But the Mac pro, at least updated to 10.17 or whatever it is, will not. It turns its digital nose up at those lower-class things that “just work” on the degraded and loathsome Windows, and I will get a $30 unit from Apple instead; what do I want with one of these common $10 jobbies I have littering the house?!

Why the up-to-date change? Could it have anything to do with these newer macs coming entirely without an ethernet port? Or maybe — gasp! — monetization?!? ... That is, the previous Apple machines had built-in ethernet — even my imini — and the pitiful users only got the USB things for an extra port, or to fix an old mac weary in the saddle whose ethernet had sprung a leak. ... But once you flog machines that feature no ethernet — why it’s time to make ’em pay! ... Or maybe it’s just the people left supporting the Macs — i.e. after the cream is skimmed for the ithings — are so incompetent they can’t do anything else ... take your pick. ... Whatever; it’s a stirring business. ... But the panting slashdot is booming subscription Windows, so maybe usux’ll catch up....

Wireless Internet for None of Us ... or, how it would pretend to connect to the wireless, complain about “no internet”, and refuse to let me enter the password

Yes it just doesn’t work! It’s amazing! ... I still have no idea how to fix it, except in my case my Belkin wireless apparently provides a “5Ghz” version of the wireless server or whatever it is, which the svelte new iMacbook could “see”, unlike all my other machines including the imini, and for that it would ask me for the password like a decent little automaton. Which I gave it and then it worked. I suspect without the slightest basis that it somehow remembered the previous user’s acquaintance with the Belkin wireless network — buried in the hardware somewhere somehow — and that made it cranky. ... That is, incompetence....

And of course my Macs Won’t Talk to Each Other!

Yes indeedy. I could see everything on either mac from my nasty low-life Windows (7) machines; but I couldn’t see either Mac — the imini or iMacbook pro — from the other. ... It really is “for the rest of us”. ... Oops I foolishly clicked “Notes” on the task bar — trying to get to text editor foolish child — and the screen’s turned green and the task bar’s disappeared. But it comes back after a minute or two. Really sharp stuff for the rest of us. ... Well I found it, but I can’t save the file anywhere but in the cloud — Apple’s iCloud jihad. ... Ah sweet tyranny.

... So the green screen seems to be here for the duration. Probably just the cheap s--t hardware falling apart. And the dock disappearance? Probably a feature; I “hid” it and it wouldn’t show but then after about a minute it would. So I “unhid” it and made it smaller. Let’s reboot. ... I mean Windows is junk too, but it’s familiar junk. ... Well screen’s still green; maybe it always was? At least it will be forever after now apparently. ... So after the reboot, a cute little TextEditor icon was stuck in the middle of the screen; I suppose I could’ve left it there and wonderful GUI windows covered it up. ... Ahhh! See the desktop picture — the stupid ocean wave — is green at the top. But the green somehow leaked onto the top-of-screen menu bar; that’s what changed. Changing the desktop picture, even back to the stupid ocean, fixed it. Oh Oh it’s probably the unspeakably wonderful transparency feature, which I may’ve turned-off in the maelstrom. ... Take that low-quality Windows! Your desktop pictures don’t so-cleverly infect adjoining graphic elements. ... Well actually I always defeat the cute transparency dumb junk in Windows — which, to its credit, provided an “old-fashioned crude XP-style turn-off cute shimmering features you dumb techno-peasant” mode....

So I will cast off this earthly Macintosh prison — and I upgraded both of the things to the grand rapturous Yosemite. I’m sure they’ll work perfectly then. ... Well actually they did. Possibly “sharing” random folders helped, but surely I did that before? ... Oh well I was able to transfer whole directories from one Mac to another. But they wouldn’t backup/copy to my real Windows systems via my fiendish batch files until I invoked the sovereign cure I’ve read so much about in the Mac magazines, “repair permissions”. Yes it cures warts and straightens legs ladies ’n’ gennlemen, without a trace! ... It’s just like my Windows cacls command, except it does ’em all at once and takes much longer....

— the ever-cranky programmer
Thu 12/18/14