Dusting off the old iBook G4, I can’t help but wonder how the machine would behave with a solid state drive instead of its twenty year old 40G IDE drive. MacOS Tiger is surprisingly nimble except when it isn’t, and most of those involve impact to both the processor and I/O heavy operations. When I had ran OpenBSD on it, the key limits were the lack of SMP and modern javascript engines having moved on with a lack of 32-bit PPC support.

The ol’ PowerPC chip is about as impressive as a single core CPU can get, I suppose. But the hard drive is basically a potato. The trick however, is it would be a major pain in the ass to replace the drive even if one of my MicroSD to EIDE bridges would fit without a hub bub.

Ahh dang it, why is temptation such a problem when it involves old computers? SMH!

Federico Viticci’s Not an iPad Pro Review, I think is a scathingly well done piece.

Having used Android tablets as an all-the-things primary computer for the better part of a decade, I particularly found the problem of background processes to be a killer. It effectively relegated my iPad from a fully productive machine to a fully-everything-else machine that probably cost twice as much as the Galaxy Tab S-series it replaced. In fact, I virtually never reach for the Magic Keyboard and fire up a SSH client on my iPad. I’ll break out a heavy ass laptop or walk across my home if I need that, because it’s annoying as fuck when you switch apps and then it’s gone. By contrast, I readily used my Android tablets for SSH tasks both for programming professionally (ssh -> build server) and for local things (ssh -> my servers).

I also rather like the notion of Desktop-class apps as a terminology. Apple’s spiel about tablet optimized apps vs Android was largely full of bullshit and handwaving back in the day. But I think Desktop-class captures the distinction well. My aging iPad Pro grants access to a few professional quality apps like Working Copy, Procreate, and Lumia Fusion that are available on iPadOS, but relatively few Desktop-class applications.

By contrast, my Android tablets were often good enough for the dock to a monitor and have at it modularity, because guess what? Some crazy guy probably wrote a desktop class application worth paying for, or no one actually gave a fuck. iPadOS on the other hand, well the best thing I can generally say about most of the software is that app xyz is almost the same as xyz is on Android. There are a few that I miss even when using Macs and PCs. And as Federico notes, there’s basically a plethora of things that just can’t exist on iPad because there’s no support for building them.

Multi-tasking is kind of a more meh perspective to me, but I think his description of how it’s evolved is spot on. Personally, I like the more full-screen task centric nature of Android and iOS. I wrote about that plenty of times in the 2010s back when G+ was a thing, and even a few journal entries here. The whole floating window thing, I find rather nice if you have a 20″ to 30″ monitor but not so useful when you cut that screen in half, like a tablet or a laptop. I appreciate the ability to split screen or slide over or float windows on my tablet, but not as much as I appreciated Android apps allowing me to do things like switch between a terminal session and an email without fucking up what I’m doing.

Stage Manager kind of squeezes it in for me. On Mac, I enjoy Stage Manager because it helps organize and group windows effectively for working on tasks. On iPad, I mostly view Stage Manager as a sucks-less way of switching between applications when multi-tasking more than anything else. On the flip side, iPadOS did grow the ability to do external monitors far better. But of the actual multi-tasking experience, the most that I can say all these years later, is that I no longer have to reboot my iPad constantly whenever using slide over, because I basically never use it on purpose :P.

Or should we say, I enjoyed the quality of iPadOS’s launch version so much, if anyone ever bemoans the quality of my code, I’ll just ask if they ever did much with the first version of iPadOS 😂.

A nice gander at the Apple Lisa

While the video might be a tad boring by contemporary standards, unless like me, you have an interest in such ancient technologies 😛. I think that this does make a nice demonstration of the system.

Since the guy is using actual hardware, it is also slow as crap by modern standards. Let’s just say that the world has come a long way since a Moto 68k and a meg of RAM was plenty. But I think it’s fairly impressive and innovative a system for its day.

I kind of like the more Electronic Desktop metaphor than the conventional Files and Applications approach that the typical Windows 9x PC functioned as some decades later. I love the document centric rather than application centric view as a concept. Seems like it was a good attempt at creating an environment for office workers, who weren’t computer people. The ability to have files with the same name is odd, but interesting if likely impractical for software developers. The natural saving and manipulation of content is nice.

In addition to the UI design, its relationship to the early Mac seems fairly apparent. In particular, one of the odd things that I encountered digging into 1990s PowerBooks and System 7 is how the classic Mac OS treats placing files on the desktop (basically a flag saying its on the desktop) and handling of floppy diskettes. Both rather different than modern systems of any sort. The Lisa looks like a lot of its concepts made their way into the original Macintosh and later system versions.

It’s kind of a shame that the Lisa was insanely expensive and (IMHO) rather slow, like $10,000 for a basic system. While I’m not convinced that the original Mac could be a good idea without at least a second floppy, its base price of $2,500 was at least less comical than the Lisa. Or should we say, a 512k and way more storage would probably have been worth every penny and still way cheaper than the Lisa.

Odd reflection before bed

For the most part, the high point that Windows NT has achieved for me is “Not pissing me off by default” and becoming a fairly decent shell upon which to use the Linux things that I care about without needing a second machine or dual boot, thanks to WSL. The era of Windows 10 also brought iterative improvements to system components I care about like the command line environment. But versus native Linux, the main win for me is better access to DirectX games and Microsoft’s office apps.

But truth is, there are certain parts of Windows that are likely to always piss me off. Namely Bluetooth support, and to a somewhat lesser extent anything related to USB or networking will inevitably drive me nuts given enough time around NT.

Thinking about this as I finish up a few things before bed, I realize I typically like using MacOS. The aspects that piss me off tend to revolve around muscle memory, like how some common PC shortcuts are cmd+key and others are ctrl+key. Which are shell level uniquenesses not systemic design. On that note, I’ll add that I tend to find iOS/iPadOS rather more meh, or average than pleasant.

By contrast things that irk me so about using modern Linux as a desktop are the quality of mail clients, lol.

Strange definitions of fun

Decided to take a break from my expedition into Subnatica’s Lost River and break out my old PowerBook Duos. I must have a strange concept of fun.

I’m a little saddened that the Duo 2300c has gone to smear and physical rubber band land while it’s been in storage. But I now know a few things about how it boots. Thanks to Shion unexpectedly being able to mount its drive, I know the system doesn’t boot because the 8.6 install files from Apple’s anthology repo are looking for 8.5 files. Nuts. On the flip side I also learned that plugging in my Duo 230’s drive, that it will boot on the 2300c. Actually runs pretty nice despite it all being emulated, since all the applications on that drive are either for a Motorola 68030 or older, or a fat binary for both.

Given the state of the screen, even if it has a snazzy PowerPC, I opted to swap my memory cards back so that the 230 has 24M of RAM and the 2300c probably has 8M or whatever. At first, after seeing the state of the screen, I decided to try seeing if the touchpad could be swapped. The 2300c and 230 top covers only differ in the labelling and having a trackpad mounted where the cutout for the trackball would go. Sadly, I wasn’t about to use the trackpad, so I swapped these back. I don’t mind the 230’s trackball, so much as it tends to stick or stop sensing the ball rolling no matter what I do to the darn thing. Probably should just buy a Wombat to connect a USB mouse to it.

Interestingly, I also learned that the 2300c mainboard has both its new IDE header and an old SCSI header in exactly the same place as the earlier 230 and its relations. The machines are really, really similar. I’m pretty sure that the only major differences are adapting the chipset to accommodate a PowerPC instead of a Motorola processor. Since the screen is going bad and its keyboard sticks less than the 1992 one, I decided to at least switch out the keyboards so that the 230 has a better typing experience.

An Experiment In Notes

When I originally tried Evernote a long assed time ago, I didn’t really care for it because I was seeking a solution for my non-homogeneous network and disliked the lack of structure. But when the 90% of use cases were an Android tablet, they eventually one the war and displaced my previous solutions. In the end things worked out quite swell and its data model has fit my style of digital brain quite nicely. Twelve years later, I’ve stuck through Evernote’s more lack luster periods and high points, but I’m a little less enthusiastic about the recent transition.

As such, I decided to conduct an experiment that I’ve been thinking of for a while: which is investigate runners up. In this case, Apple Notes. But I’m afraid to say that it appears to be a washout for my use cases.

Much like a younger version of Evernote, I view Apple Notes as a kind of “Meh, good enough” experience. Both offer a more word processor than semantic experience. Level of detail are formatting like headers rather than sections, and the common formatting yada, yada. Outside of differences like Notes offering short cuts like shift+cmd+h and Evernote ‘# and your text’ as alternatives to the GUI, that’s mostly distinctions in taste and finer details. The typical stuff is all there.

I personally dislike that Notes uses inline hash tagging rather than separate metadata given its use of a database oriented storage model, and prefer Evernote’s handling of attachments. But neither is a hill to die on. For a great majority of tasks, I don’t think the differences are enough to moan about beyond preference, so I’d mostly say: use whichever you like, or whichever works best for you.

The parts where the experiment fails for me is performance: Notes is slow.

As an initial test case, I imported most of my Evernote data and used this opportunity to update my local backups with fresh ENEX exports. Notes supports importing Evernote’s native export format of ENEX which made it the first candidate for experiment. And it even performs fairly well importing large numbers of notes. I decided to collect data under an “Evernote Imports” folder to serve as the root of recategorizing my notes, and that’s where the first failure point comes into play. Dragging and dropping lots of notes or a folder with lots of notes to a new destination is SLOW. Performance of folders on the order of 40 to 300 notes is slow. The kind of slow where you see Apple’s spinning rainbow (Mac’s take on Microsoft’s hour glass of yester-year) for 30 seconds and then walk off for a fresh glass of water. Based on the experiment, I believe this has more to do with folders that contain many attachments more so than many notes in general, as it goes executing a rather bulky database transaction. To be fair this isn’t a common occurrence, as I’m more prone to moving handfuls of notes than entire “Notebooks” worth unless I’m reorganizing and cleaning out my notes, which I typically do every few years. Less excusable however is the sync. For comparison, I’m used to initial syncs of Evernote taking some hours. Notes on the other hand was a screw it / going to bed / still not done in the morning, level of sync performance syncing to my tablet. Likewise, opening Notes after a long while equals a “Huh” level of slow and the sync and I’m finding that often folders aren’t in the correct location after it finishes. For me, that’s a deal breaker.

In my case, Evernote represents just over 3700 notes and exports to somewhere between 2.5 and 3 GB of ENEX files. My test subset is more like 2200 notes, so the strain on iCloud should be considerably less give or take the database overhead. Perhaps this is a lot more notes than the typical user, but for me I’m finding the performance enough to preclude Apple Notes as an Evernote replacement — Evernote handles sync just fine while Notes chokes.

Safari scrolling to the bottom

One of the things that has pissed me off lately, is Safari deciding any press of the down arrow key should keep scrolling ad-infinitium to the bottom.

Solution: https://apple.stackexchange.com/questions/459274/the-up-and-down-arrows-not-working-correctly-in-safari

I’m just going to assume there was a reason for this feature in the first place that doesn’t involve stupidity.

Yes, the 2018 iPad Pro has aged well

https://9to5mac.com/2023/03/02/2018-ipad-pro-2/

I’m inclined to agree with much of this. The 2018 model came into my group of hardware and started running circles around my other devices, particularly my third generation Core i5s.

Right now the only good reason I see to upgrade are support for secondary displays and perhaps thunderbolt. Features I desire in my tablet but that aren’t worth the price of a new iPad when everything else is dandy.

Well, if you discount that the base 64GB of storage is getting less roomer, the battery is aging, and I’m sometimes tempted by the idea of an cellular capable iPad. Those are all interesting points, but still sufficient for the time being 😛

Even with the M2 Pro, Mac gaming is as bad as it’s ever been – MacWorld

An interesting subject, and one that I find amusing in some ways.

You see, there is exactly one reason I maintain a Windows machine at home. DirectX based video games that are only released for Windows. Otherwise, I would have switched to BSD and Linux based machines eons ago. By now, I’d also have dropped the desktop form factor if it wasn’t for the ten pounds of GTX problem.

With Rimuru’s recent motherboard replacement, I was left without my gaming desktop. Fortunately the games I was most playing at the time (Subnautica: Below Zero and Subnautica) have 64-bit Intel versions that my Air can play under Rosetta 2. In Below Zero’s case, it’s even a really good experience.

But there’s a reason why I consider the Macintosh a joke of a gaming platform, and this article nailed the crux of it: there’s just a few games! This problem until recent years, was also shared by GNU/Linux and even that is still an on going concern IMHO.

The comparison between a beefy Mac mini and a comparably priced gaming PC, is about what you would expect. Dollar to the pound, as nice as Apple Silicon is, it can’t out perform a dedicated Windows gaming machine — which will have both the games, and be at the forefront of developer’s optimization and quality assurance (lol) processes. I think it’s kind of awesome how capable Apple’s GPUs are, and let’s be fair, if you really do prefer a Mac, the price difference may be worth it to you versus a PC. Good financial sense, not likely, but to each their own tastes in technology.

What really doesn’t have a solution is the games. Using my own Steam library as an example, about 1/5th support macOS — and most are simply not possible to run because they require support for 32-bit Intel apps. Ones I’ve tried on my M2 MacBook Air, have left me impressed with the performance of Rosetta 2 for running 64-bit Intel apps. 

This is about the same amount of my Steam library that is Verified compatible with Valve’s Steam Deck. If we expand the criteria to “Verified and Playable”, Steam Deck is compatible with half my library. Include those that are simply untested, and the search selector suggests that 80% of my collection can at least “Attempt” being run on a Steam Deck. Those numbers are likely skewed a bit thanks to Renpy and various indy things that are more inclined to offer Linux binaries for 64-bit Intel.

That doesn’t even consider that Steam’s own app has superb quality on Windows, is meant to be the focal point of SteamDeck’s UI, and that on macOS it really has an “Valve also ran” grade of hit and miss quality issues. You won’t love Steam on macOS unless Valve makes it a significantly higher priority, and there is little reason they should when it’s most useful on Mac for streaming games from a PC!

MacWorld on the other hand makes an interesting case for investment. Apple has a lot of money at present; for years, they’ve fit the demographic I dub “More money than GOD”. I’m not sure if Apple simply bribing publishers and developers to support macOS is legally wise, but boy, that would be an interesting idea.

Sadly, I don’t think Macintosh has offered a lot for games since floppy diskette was the prime distribution media. And even then, I would probably have been inclined to explore CP/M and MS-DOS coprocessor options if such things weren’t comically out of our price range back then. Actually, I still have no idea how my mother afforded a Tandy 1000 series PC in the first place :^o.

One of the things I’ve been wondering for a while now is how the performance of macOS’s EXFAT driver is representative of its peers. It’s notably slower than what you would see in NT, but not so bad until you go from the sequential 1M to random 4K part of my choice benchmarks. Once you hit the randoms, it goes form “I wonder if that’s lack of optimization in the driver, or the I/O system design” to abysmal. But to be fair that is the worst performing metric anywhere, and I’m more interested in the sequential performance. 

Well, having a nice shiny (or should I say, mat?) Samsung T7 Shield that was on sale, I decided to do a little test cycle. EXFAT, FAT32, HFS+, and APFS. This drive is designated for Time Machine duty, so I have no need for it to remain on a interoperable file system.

Using AmorphousDiskMark 4.0.

EXFAT as formatted out of the box:
Test - Read MB/s Write MB/s
SEQ1MQD8 - 586.42 691.32
SEQ1MQD1 - 594.45 690.05
RND4KQD64 - 21.75 13.68
RND4KQD1 - 21.70 13.48
FAT32 as formatted MS-DOS (FAT32) from Disk Utility:
Test - Read MB/s Write MB/s
SEQ1MQD8 - 516.03 690.32
SEQ1MQD1 - 596.97 691.80
RND4KQD64 - 21.56 13.64
RND4KQD1 - 21.50 13.51
HFS+ as formatted Mac OS Extended (Case-sensitive, Journaled) from Disk Utility
Test - Read MB/s Write MB/s
SEQ1MQD8 - 612.39 820.77
SEQ1MQD1 - 578.25 691.00
RND4KQD64 - 120.48 55.44
RND4KQD1 - 18.33 14.70
APFS as formatted APFS (Case-sensitive), after converting from MBR to GPT from Disk Utility.
Test - Read MB/s Write MB/s
SEQ1MQD8 - 733.22 818.84
SEQ1MQD1 - 617.40 684.06
RND4KQD64 - 121.67 55.13
RND4KQD1 - 21.27 13.83

This makes me suspect the performance lossage is more to do with how optimized the FAT drivers are. I should really repeat this with one of my USB flash drives where the performance sucks to begin with, but I don’t want to spend all day on this :^o).