What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Context. “Eisenhower wasn’t a great general because I’ve recently learned he was *very* anti-LGBT.” Uh. Well. He held supreme command in the 1940s. Context is king, people. Expecting a man born in 1890 to somehow embody the all the woke-ist 21st century sensibilities is, in a word, stupid. It’s like saying Charlamagne wasn’t a great commander because he refused to go vegan. 

2. Auto Save. I had a perfectly nice little post mostly written for Tuesday. I was wrapping up a final thought right before the power stuttered just enough to cause my computer to shut down. Historically the Mac auto-saves before it dies, but in this case everything just disappeared into the ether.  It’s the sort of thing generally prevented by the uninterruptible power supply… which also is apparently no longer working. So it’s a bit of a bad week for the home computer set up all around, really.

3. Numbers. Either I’m wrong or the spreadsheet is… and I’m pretty sure it’s not me. Or maybe it is. The real lesson here is that I should never be allowed to do work that involves large columns of numbers without close adult supervision. It very rarely ends well. Although I’ll make sure it at least ends “close,” so there’s that.


Google Chrome is a remarkably powerful web browser. When running on Mac OS it’s also an incredible power and memory hog. At least once a week it bloats so badly that it makes my desktop unusable. Starting today I’m going to take a trial run of living life without Chrome.

Since it’s Mac native, I’ve given Safari the honor of being the first test platform. Although today’s tests have been limited, it’s held up admirably – and more importantly hasn’t slowed the machine down to an infuriating place. As it turns out the threshold for victory in these real life tests isn’t going to be all that high. Anything that lets me get through a week without crashing the computer will likely get a pass as a better option than continuing on with Chrome.

There was a time I’d want to go out and try all the obscure browsers hoping to turn up something with wow factor to spare. These days, I’m mostly about simplicity in use rather than wow. I don’t care so much how the machine runs just so long as it does. I’m not going to spend a lot of time wanting to tinker around under the hood until it behaves “just so.”

I’d love to place all the blame squarely on Google here, but if I’m fair, I’m currently running a slightly more than 4 year old machine that was a touch under powered when it came out of the box. The ever increasing demand for raw processing power in a computer hasn’t been kind to my Mini. Truth is, switching browsers is probably the last ditch effort to coax a bit more life out of the machine before bringing a replacement online. If I were smart, I’d go ahead and make that purchase now instead of when something finally fails on me… but then needing to buy a computer right-the-hell-now after the old one has crapped out is pretty much one of my oldest continuously observed traditions.

Ditching Chrome won’t solve all that ails computing here, but it could well alleviate the most obnoxious symptom of aging equipment. For today, that would be more than good enough.

Why I didn’t upgrade…

The chance to pre-order the iPhone X for delivery on release has come and gone. It’s a fact only remarkable because it was the first time I willingly took a pass on trying to snag the latest miracle from Cupertino on day one. There are a couple of reasons for that – and at least one of them has to do with the phone itself, although Apple is largely to blame for the other reasons as well.

1. $1149 is a tough, tough price point to swallow for someone who remembers $200 cell phones and offers of “free phone with contract.” Sure those were old school dumb phones or “feature” phones of the past, but it’s still a memory fresh enough to trigger thoughts of “what the actual fuck” when it comes time to fork over a grand.

2. My Late 2014 Mac Mini is slowing down under the weight of everything I’m asking it to do as a primary computer and mini-server for the house. It’s going to need replacement sooner or later and that likely means stepping up to the iMac and swallowing another $2400 bill from Apple.

3. My first generation iPad Air, now 4 years old doesn’t quite have a battery problem… yet. It’s still burning through a full charge fast enough that it’s days are numbered. There’s $950 more allocated for tech refresh either this year or next.

4. Pre-ordering is tied to my home address in Maryland… and the state will happily charge me $68.94 for the privilege of ordering a new iPhone and having it shipped to my door. If I’m patient enough to wait until the phone is widely available, I can walk into the Apple Store in Delaware and take delivery and only pay the standard Apple Tax instead of getting hit by Maryland too.

5. AT&T and I have been together for a long time – closing in on 20 years now. The problem with that relationship is that when I’m sitting in my living room I hover somewhere between zero and one bar of service. During the great ice storm of 2017, with my internet connection down I ended up with no cell connection at all… while neighbors running on the Verizon network were still able to call out. Having minimal voice and data coverage at home during an emergency situation is kind of a priority, so it’s likely time for a switch. As an Apple Upgrade Program member there isn’t a clear way for me to change carriers during a pre-order purchase.

So there it is, five distinct and fairly reasonably assessed reasons why I couldn’t bring myself to upgrade right away this time. It’s the right decisions, but I still don’t feel any better about it.

Most foul…

I went on a bit of a tirade today. It wasn’t the career dissipating type, mercifully. Surprisingly enough it had absolutely nothing to do with the office. It didn’t come flying out of my mouth until I was safely ensconced at the house, settling in with a hot meal, and relying on the glowing box to give me a 45 minute break from really needing to think about anything.

That’s not how it played out, of course. What really happened was I sat down, attempted to flick on iTunes, discovered that Apple TV couldn’t communicate with my computer and then spent the next 30 minutes doctoring my Mac Mini out of a startup loop with my temper rising more with each passing minute and failure of the damned dirty contraption to “just work” as advertised.

By the time I coaxed the whole set up back to life, iTunes found my external hard drive, and I was again ready to sit down with a hot dinner, the meal had gone stone cold, I could feel the blood racing through my temples, and I’d apparently been shouting loud enough to frighten both the dogs to the other side of the house and the tortoise under a log.

It clearly wasn’t my finest hour and my mood is still most foul. It doesn’t bode well for the balance of the week.

Shelf life…

From the moment you buy any new bit of technology, the clock is running. Call it shelf life, planned obsolesce, or corporate money grubbing, the only great truism in high tech, is the next great thing is always just around the corner. Another, more or less unspoken truth has always been that Apple released it’s new and improved products about a year after the last model came out. Amortized out over a period of 12 months, even a $700 iPad could almost be considered a yearly purchase, especially when you account for its relatively high resale value. By the time it was said and done, the total cost of ownership of my first two iPads came out to something like $20 a month… or one vinti vanilla latte a week.

In rolling out the iPad 4 just seven months after the 3rd iteration launched, Apple has thrown my TCOO calculation all out of whack. The device got a serious spec bump and I would love to have the additional processing power/speed, but the fact is there’s nothing the 4 does that the 3 can’t do (almost) as well. This time around, I’m just not seeing the typical “killer” feature that would usually drive me to switch to the latest and greatest model. Of course that explains why that iPad 3 has been discontinued rather than simply sold at a lower price point. The specs and performance are just too close to the new flagship. I know there are plenty of people who will be up early on Friday to drop in their order, though. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t strongly consider it if for no other reason than to be able to use the same charging cable for my phone and my tablet. Unless you’re in that position, it’s hard to describe just how annoying that actually is. Still, it doesn’t look like I’m going to be a buyer for iPad 4.

Having ruled out full sized iPad out of the equation still leaves me to consider the iPad mini. Since I many use my iPad as an e-reader, I have to admit this one is tempting. I like the idea of a smaller/lighter device, but don’t think I can get past what feels like a “downgrade” in specs going from iPad 3 to iPad mini, by which I mean losing the retina display and not gaining anything particularly impressive in terms of overall performance. I’m really going to have to hold on in my hand before I’m ready to pass judgment one way or the other.

Don’t take any of this as a slam against the world’s most valuable company, because it’s not. I think Apple rolled out a truly ridiculous number of new, improved, and magical devices today. If there’s any of them that I’m super desirous of at the moment, it would be the new retina 13-inch MacBook Pro, but with its 2008-model ancestor basically still running like it was new out of the box and a Mac mini doing all of the heavy lifting in this house, a $1700 bill from the Apple store just isn’t on the table at the moment.

It seems I’m at that uncomfortable point in product life cycles where there just isn’t much incentive to change what’s currently working. If I weren’t already sitting so close to the state of the art, though, any of the new toys Tim and Company spent the afternoon showing off would be a pretty damned impressive addition to the collection.


I don’t expect alot from my tech, but when I do tend to expect is that it runs quickly when I hit the on switch. Up until a few weeks ago, my laptop delivered as much zip and performance as it did the day I took it out of the box. Now it’s gotten so laggy that I can barely stand to use it. I’ve tinkered around with some of the settings, cleaned things up as best I can without making a major effort, and have pretty much been met with more chop and even less vim and vigor. I’ve got plenty of hard drive space left, sufficient RAM, and a machine that’s acting like it’s severely underpowered. Spending your off hours trying to diagnose a sick laptop isn’t the way you want to spend your time when you’re pretending to moonlight as a real life struggling writer. I need my laptop that just works, to just work and not give me a crap ton of problems right now. I’m going to try to nurse it through the next few days and the dedicate as much time as necessary this weekend to put right. Failing this weekend’s heroic efforts to make a repair, it might be time to bite the bullet and spend some of that tax refund on something shiny and new with some plussed up processing power.

With the impending launch of the 3rd gen iPad, it might be time to consider going back to an overpowered desktop for home using the iPad for all my mobile needs. Sure, it’s another one of those fancy first world problems, but it’s the one that’s in my face giving me fits right now, and that’s the one that always gets tackled first.


I’ve got a problem with management. No, not the one that pays me, but the one that attempts to keep order in my photo collection. I love almost everything about my MacBook Pro… except that I can’t ever find the picture I’m looking for to save my life. I appreciate that the computer tries to be helpful by saving pictures taken on the same date as an “event,” but more often than not what I end up with when I download pictures from my phone are a dozen separate events full of pictures that in no way relate to each other. I take random snapshots, not full blown photo shoots. I’ve suffered in silence for years, but no longer. I need something other than iPhoto in my life.

The fact is I like to curate my own files. I like personal control over where they’re going and what ends up in them. I know that’s a very un-Mac thing to say. Steve wouldn’t like my inability to give up manual file management to the system. He’d probably yell. A lot. I’ve come to terms with that, so what I really need is a simple photo editor for Mac that lets me run the show when it comes to building file hierarchies, sorting, and naming images. It’s possible that iPhoto would let me do this if I found the right way to ask it, but so far it’s been a no go.

My research mission for the week is to find just such an app. First stop is the 30-day free trial of Aperture 3 to see if it’s file management system is more likable than it’s consumer-focused cousin. After that it’s possibly a side trip to Photoshop Elements for editing and good old fashioned manual file management to keep myself organized. I’ll let you know how it goes. If anyone has any other ideas, I’m all ears.


Like a moth to the flame, I am drawn to yet another newly released Apple product. Thank god a $29.99 download from the App Store won’t break the bank like a new laptop… although the Air updates that they released today look pretty sweet too. Other than blogging, I don’t do enough work on the computer these days to justify any kind of upgrade. Maybe I’ll convince myself next year to spring for a new laptop and ditch the current giant monitor/laptop arrangement… though by then, I’ll be doing even less on the computer than I do now.

At the moment, I’ll be happy just to finish downloading Lion and taking it out for a test drive. I’ll report back if it completely bugs out on me. Otherwise, you can assume it’s another Apple effort that just works.

Making the switch…

So I made the switch this weekend. The iPhone finally won me over completely (poor battery and all) and I embraced the dark side… or would that be the hippy side of the force. This is not officially an all Apple household. Getting all the files over has been something of your standard issue trauma, but now that most of what I need is set up and running (when I can find it), I’m very pleased with the setup overall. I’ve got a super-speedy laptop that when hooked up to the ridiculously beautiful 24-inch LED monitor produces some of the most amazing graphics I’ve seen in a long while.

The learning curve is a little steep and I’m doing my best to get by using wordpad until I can get a copy of Office and start accessing the vast bulk of my documents again, but otherwise I’m extremely pleased with how it’s working out.

I wouldn’t say that I’ve gone all zen crazy over the experience, but the longer I live with it, the more I suspect I’ll like it. I’ll need some time to really get into the nuts and bolts of the thing and start putting it through its paces, but for the time being, my satisfaction level is high… except, of course, for the ridiculous price tag they put on these things.