Please Apple, Take My Money

Long time Apple Macintosh user here. My first Mac was the original Mac 128 bought within 100 days of it’s initial release in 1984. It eventually led me into a career as a technical writer where I worked on many software releases that supported Macs, CPU chips (68k, PPC, etc.) and software developer systems for Apple (CodeWarrior) and Nokia (Carbide.c++). I described my job as “informing people how to use our developer tools to write the software used by everyone on the supported products (Macs, cell phones, etc.).

It’s been 3+ years since my last Mac purchase and yet I’m sitting on my money and waiting for the right release for me. I want/need a new iMac just because I want an update. After 30+ years of working on pre-release software and hardware I can say without a qualm that I like new things. Unfortunately, Apple is playing hard-to-get and releasing products that while interesting and beautiful they aren’t what I’m looking for as my newest machines. Besides the iMac I own a several other machines including a MacBook Air, an iPad, an iPhone, and a Kangeroo PC (my only non-Mac machine purchased simply to run Civ III). The MacBook Air is also ready for an update as well but isn’t the highest need right now.

I was hoping they’d release a new iMac last fall so I could replace my aging 27-in 2013 model (3.5GHz i7, 16GB DDR3 RAM, NVIDIA GeForce GTX-780M).  It still works like a champ and is my core machine for my writing needs, but its showing its age now. Not when writing as it spends more time waiting for me to type something than anything else but because it limits my gaming possibilities. Modern games continuously push the graphics envelop and while my iMac runs most of them fine it’s at a reduced frame rate using lowered video configurations. Not unsuitable, just annoying.

Instead of releasing new faster iMacs they released MacBook Pros with a new Touch Bar feature on the high-end models. An interesting feature but not something that calls to me. I wanted, no I desired the latest and greatest Intel processor which didn’t happen with these particular machines. So I passed. It wasn’t a new iMac and it didn’t have the right CPU to make me replace my MacBook Air either.

I was severely disappointed.

Months later a rumor surfaces of possible new releases in March. My hopes were raised again, only to be crushed when on March 28 slightly updated iPads and watch bands were released. A week later there’s the surprise announcement the Mac Pro will be updated sometime after 2017 but I’m not really interested in that model. A decade ago I’d have been highly desirous of such a high-end machine, but now its overkill for my needs. However, they did mention new iMac Pros were in development and should arrive later this year so hope springs again.

I’m still waiting with money in hand.

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Annual Books Read in 2016 Statement

2017 has begun and its once again time to review the number of books read in the last year. I’m almost ashamed to state the number was way down from the previous 2 years, with only 64 books purchased and read in 2016. Here’s the breakdown:

64 digital books
3 audible books
67 total books read/listened to in 2016

The largest attention of the year went to reading all of the Hieronymus Bosch mysteries written by Michael Connelly. A close second was his Lincoln Lawyer books as the leads in both series are actually half-brothers on opposite sides of the law in many ways. Interesting and highly recommended if you like biographically rich backgrounds with enough character growth to make them continuously intriguing. If you like them be sure to check out Bosch, the Amazon Prime series for a very good telling of the stories.

Beyond that I read a few of the Kris Longknife series, a sci-fi series by Mike Shepherd. It follows the military adventures of one Kris Longknife, billionaire and heir to a political empire, who wants to make her own impression on the galaxy. While it adheres to many common sci-fi tropes it denigrates itself by having characters using dialog, mannerisms, and decisions that were laughable in the 1950’s let alone centuries in the future. It’s as if culture stood still and events from centuries before was better known than the most current events of the series. Every time I ran into one it made me wonder the author included it and his editor left it in. A pretty mundane series that rolled from one semi- self inflicted comical situation after another and eventually solved by the heroine’s grit and massive bank roll. Avoid unless you have absolutely nothing else to read.

Also reread a bunch of paperbacks when new ones weren’t plentiful enough but can’t say exactly how many. Some Parker (Spenser series), some Heinlein, and some Grafton (Kinsey Millhone series) were in there but the rest is kind of lost.

Seemed to be a bad year for releases as nothing much caught my eye and the ones that might were hideously expensive due to publisher greed. Anything over $10 is too much to pay for a digital version of a manuscript yet publishers continue to push prices of $13 and above for the latest releases.

That’s all for now.

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Finally Done and Moved In

The kitchen is finished!

I now have a completely functional house to live in. Still dozens of minor issues to address but the main ones preventing me from living inside have been addressed. Now to return to a normal writing schedule ASAP. Been slacking off terribly this entire summer using one excuse after another to avoid writing. But the end of the year is fast approaching and some work needs to be completed before then.

Of course, as soon as I make the decision to start writing again I screw up my back and spent a week recovering. Of course that’s a sign I really need to begin exercising again as well.

macOS Sierra

macOS Sierra

And then, yesterday Apple released the latest macOS update named Sierra and my installation failed at around 90% complete. Had totally forgotten I’d replaced the default boot loader with one that allowed me to choose between Mac OS X, Windows 7, and Ubuntu partitions. Well, by the time I’d figured that out my main partition was FUBARed. Spent all afternoon erasing, repartitioning, and reinstalling macOS Sierra onto the hard drive. Fortunately I’d finally gotten around to running Time Machine backups on an hourly basis so recovering, while time consuming, was pretty straight forward and easy. Had a working machine within a few hours with only a couple of major/minor hiccups to still recover from.

The first was my iTunes music library. I store all of my media in the Users/Shared folder and not in my personal folder. Made the decision years ago for some forgotten reason and never changed it back. Anyway, the Shared folder wasn’t backed up by Time Machine automatically. It should have been backed up, but somewhere along the way I decided to removed it from the backup list. In retrospect that was a bad decision. Figuring out how to download my music from iTunes Match was like pulling teeth. Something so simple should have been quick and easy but wasn’t. iTunes would show me songs I could download and yet nowhere was there a menu item or icon to click on to make it happen. And yes I had the iCloud column active in iTunes and yet the download icons were disabled.

After much hair pulling I finally logged out of my iTunes account and back in to make the icons enabled. Also, now the Songs menu showed a Download item in it, which wasn’t visible before logging back in. Sheesh, what a waste of time trying do something simple. Anyway, its finally downloading but that will take some time. 6500+ songs to download takes lots of time and effectively monopolizes my net connection. But, in a few hours I will have all my music back on my local drive.

My VMWare virtual machines for WinXP, Win7, and Ubuntu were also lost as they too were stored in the Users/Shared folder. I think I’ve got them backed up on another external HD but they’ll have to wait until I get my music back first. If I don’t have a backup then its back to the drawing board and starting them up again. What fun!

That’s my life right now, hope yours is going better.

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Still Waiting on a Kitchen…

Frankenfurter on GoTsWe’re still a month away from getting a new kitchen installed but everything else is slowly settling down, so much so that I’m really starting to feel the itch to start back into my writing projects. I’ve been avoiding it for the last few weeks for no good reason.

In the meantime I’ve moved into my house from the trailer and except for not being able to cook its going swimmingly. Got bedrooms setup and the office is nearly done with a larger desk and good lighting (thanks to my brother Ross). Only issue is the keyboard tray isn’t wide enough to support my keyboard, mouse and pad, and trackpad all at once. However, I’ve got a plan to fix that and then we’ll be set.

Network is still iffy at times. Not sure the AT&T cable modem is any good as it just seems to randomly forget it should be responding to web requests. I’ve tried running an ethernet line from it to my Apple router but half the time it forgets its even attached. Everything is done via Wifi when I’d prefer using ethernet whenever possible. I could replace the AT&T cable modem with my own but so far haven’t worked up the energy to do that yet. Would mean calling AT&T to get the cable modem access and then rework the entire home network into working. Need some mental energy and so far that’s been lacking. I did it once and it irks me to even think of having to do it again. Sigh, first world problems.

As for writing, on Monday I awoke with some ideas to improve a char in Built for Murder and ended up writing their history from their POV in my notes. It made their actions clearer to me then before and provided me some much needed background on which to base or rework some scenes to show their attitude.

I have continued to read and comment on papers submitted to the Austin Writer’s group I left behind. That at least is keeping up my interest in getting back into my own writing RSN.

That’s all for now. Hopefully I’ll have more thrilling news to report on my next post. Possibly even progress. Wouldn’t that be nice?

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