Full stack web developer, interested in all the things, but especially the web, code, design, Linux, OS X, PHP, WordPress, JavaScript & robots.

Tagged: apple

Why I left Mac for Windows: Apple has given up image/svg+xml

I don’t say this lightly, but Windows is back, and Microsoft is doing a great job. Microsoft is getting better, faster at making Windows good than Apple is getting better at doing anything to OS X.

Another post by another Apple user switching to an alternative OS, this time it’s Microsoft. Also, see the follow-up post for details about how the author has set-up their new Windows development environment. The interesting part for me was this remark about Hyper:

OK, there are a few weird bugs. For the most part, I’ve managed to avoid them, but there’s one I’m yet to figure out: how to escape nano. There’s no way to CTRL + C out, and you end up needing to close the terminal.

I’m pretty sure this is a known bug with Hyper and something that I experienced too. In my case, I was trying to detach a screen session with CTRL+A D, pretty basic stuff and I was surprised Hyper couldn’t handle it. I’m sure this will get fixed in the future, but until that happens, Hyper will be unusable to me, which is disappointing.

[RESOLVED]: Macbook 2016 HDMI output flickering

The other day, I updated macOS on my MacBook to 10.12.2 in the hope that it would fix this issue. And, the update does appear to have fixed the issue, although I’ve only done limited testing.

The strange thing is, I couldn’t see any reference to it in Apple’s 10.12.2 release notes. I’m thinking that the fix is either experimental, unconfirmed, or the by-product of another fix. Either way, I’m just happy that this issue is resolved and I can now happily dock my MacBook, without having to turn it off and on again.

All the Ways I Automate image/svg+xml

Scripting and automation have been in the conversation lately, owing to Apple’s reported disbanding of the macOS team responsible for them and the departure of scripting advocate Sal Soghoian from the company last month.

They sounds like arcane, abstract concepts. And to be sure, scripting and automation are the sort of feature that’s used by more like 5% of users rather than 50%. But in pondering Apple’s possible shift in automation strategy, I began to consider all the ways I use it in my working life.

I’m always interested to discover new productivity hacks, so I enjoyed reading this. Also, I wasn’t aware of Automator, or how useful it can be, until I started using OS X. I have to wonder why the folks at Apple don’t make more of a song and dance about it? I can’t say for sure, but I think I’d have probably switched to OS X sooner, if I’d known more about Automator.

The Talk Show: Ep. 173, With Special Guest Jason Snell image/svg+xml

Jason Snell returns to the show to talk about the new MacBook Pros and the Touch Bar, and Apple’s new book chronicling the last 20 years of their industrial design, Designed by Apple in California.

As a Mac user, I’ve been consuming a fair amount of media coverage about the new MacBook Pro devices, and most of it has been pretty poor. The words emotional and hyperbolic come to mind. So, it made for a refreshing change to listen to John and Jason discussing the new devices in a fair and balanced manner. If any of the recent media coverage and reviews have made you feel slightly uneasy about the future of the Mac, it might be worth a listen.

I found my old 4th gen iPod, and it still works

TL;DR, I found my old 4th generation iPod Photo, having not seen or used it for ~10 years, I charged it up, turned it on, and it worked. Sweet.

4th Gen iPod Photo

My 4th gen iPod Photo

At the weekend, I cleaned out my old office. I’ve not used the room as an office for about 4 years and whilst I’ve tried to keep it clean, it still managed to collect a substantial amount of junk. In fact, for the past few months the room ended-up being used as a dumping ground for all sorts of crap (empty boxes etc) and it got so jammed that it became difficult to enter the room at all. Not good.

Reminder to self; throw away empty boxes!

Anyhow, realising that I actually need be able to access the room, it still houses my router and servers, I figured I’d just have to roll up my sleeves and get rid of all the junk. So, that’s exactly what I did, and whilst I was at it, I also decided to clean out my “bits” box — you know, the box that you chuck all your old cables and tech into — we’ve all got one, right?

Unsurprisingly, my bits box was also overflowing with junk. It was rammed with cables and all sorts of old tech, including numerous network cards, webcams, microphones, disk drives, phones, an Iomega zip drive (remember those?) and a gazillion other bits and bobs. To be honest, most of the items in the box were worthless and I have no idea why I decided that I needed to keep hold of them. That said, hidden at the bottom of the box I found my old 4th generation iPod Photo, which I couldn’t remember seeing for years!

I actually got quite excited about this discovery and promptly decided to plug it into a power socket and charge it up. I then returned to cleaning out my office and forgot about it, until tonight (reminded by a post about iPod socks). Excited to find out if a) it still worked, and b) it had any music on it, I turned it on and found that it booted into Rockbox. Urgh.

To be fair, Rockbox was pretty handy back-in-the-day when I was only using Linux and I didn’t have access to iTunes, however; now that I’m a self-confessed Apple fanboy, I have no need for it and so I decided I’d try and restore the iPod to its factory settings. This turned-out to be surprisingly easy. I connected the iPod to my MacBook, opened iTunes, selected the iPod and then hit the “Restore iPod” button. A couple of minutes later, Rockbox was gone and the iPod was restored with its original functionality. Win!

I think it’s pretty cool that Apple are still supporting these old devices within iTunes. I mean, 12 years doesn’t actually seem that old, but I’m sure I’ve got some computers of similar age that cost a lot more than the iPod, but officially became unsupported a long time ago.

Nice work, Apple, nice work.

Macbook 2016 HDMI output flickering

Tonight, I connected my MacBook to an external monitor via a new HooToo USB 3.1 Type-C Hub. This was the first time I’ve attempted to connect an external display to my MacBook and I’d very much like to be able to say that it just worked, but it really didn’t. As soon as I connected it to the monitor, the display started flickering, sliding in-and-out, and occasionally blanking-out completely.

For a few minutes, I wondered whether I had a flaky hub or HDMI cable, but after some googling I discovered that my MacBook was experiencing a known issue. Bummer.

Anyhow, after reading through a bunch of forum posts, I discovered that the fix is to turn the MacBook off and on again, I shit you not.

I’m frustrated and slightly annoyed with this experience. The MacBook was not a cheap device and I really didn’t expect it to exhibit a shoddy technical issue like this. I guess I’ll just have to wait patiently with anticipation in the hope that Apple can fix this via a software update.

Why Your Next Mac Should Be a Hackintosh image/svg+xml

Needless to say that it would a very bad investment to throw a couple of thousands of dollars on a 3-year-old Mac Pro when you can get twice the performance with a custom-built computer.

I’ve been pretty happy with my Hackintosh, it’s proved itself to be a powerful system and it’s been running reliably for about 18 months.

That said, I’m now faced with updating it to macOS Sierra, and that could be problematic. If I remember correctly, the update from Yosemite to El Capitan was not too bad, but I did have to play around with the boot loader. I’m hoping the macOS Sierra upgrade will go smoothly, but not knowing how it will go is part and parcel of running a Hackintosh. If you can handle that, maybe your next Mac really should be a Hackintosh.

New iPhone, Transformation to Apple Fanboy Accomplished

Last week, I purchased a new iPhone. It’s my first iPhone, ever. And, I love it.

Prior to the iPhone, I’d been using Android devices, with my last phone being a HTC One M8. Now, I thought my M8 was a good phone, but, just one week on from purchasing my iPhone, I now realise how disjointed and kludgy my M8 was.

In the past, many people have lauded Apple’s accomplishments with the iPhone, attributing much of the iPhone’s success to the fact that Apple tightly control both the hardware and software. As an Android user, it was easy for me to read these statements and not give them too much attention, but now as an iPhone user, it’s clear to see what these people were talking about.

On my iPhone, everything just works.

Here’s an example of something just working, seamlessly: yesterday, I was working on my Macbook when my daughter called. When the call came through, a notification popped up on my desktop asking if I wanted to accept the call. I clicked accept and the call was routed to my Macbook, where I proceeded to have a conversation about a joint of gammon.

Mind blown.

For any long-time Apple users, you might be thinking, duh! But, for someone like me who has been using Linux on the desktop and Android phones, this kind of seamless integration is like voodoo magic. In my experience, it just didn’t happen with my previous hardware and software choices.

There are plenty of other features and services (reliable Bluetooth, Siri, iTunes – yes iTunes, Force Touch, Touch ID) that I’m enjoying on my iPhone, too many to mention here, but to summarise, in comparison to my previous Android devices, my iPhone feels and works how I would expect a premium-luxury device to work.

And all this, before touching on the topic of security, which is one of the main reasons I opted for an iPhone. For the past few years, I’ve not felt at all confident about my Android device. Even though I was running the latest CyanogenMod builds, it still felt like I was walking around with a pocketful of known exploits. I simply couldn’t shake the feeling that my device was dirty.

Meanwhile, my iPhone carrying friends and colleagues were receiving OTA security patches and updates.

Then this happened, and it was the final nail in the coffin. As soon as I’d read that, I’d made my mind up, I was moving away from Android.

For a while, I did consider purchasing an Ubuntu phone, but then I came to my senses. There was really only one option. Buy an iPhone, and in the process, complete my transformation into a fully-fledged Apple fanboy.

For anyone who might be interested, I opted for a Space Grey iPhone 6S with 128GB storage. This might seem a little strange considering the iPhone 7 has just been released, but I figured the 6S was a solid device, plus the price had just been reduced by £100.

A week later, satisfied that I’d done the right thing, I purchased another iPhone (same model, but in Silver) as a gift for Becky. And now, Becky loves her new iPhone too.