I’m giving my new MacBook Air a test spin now that I’ve got the basics up and running, and so far I like it. It’s light, it’s fast, the keyboard is much improved over the old butterfly design, and I love having Touch ID on the keyboard. It took a little time to integrate into my Apple ecosystem, as initially my passwords didn’t sync properly as they should have. The solution was to log out of iCloud on my iPad and the Air, and then log back in to each one, which solved the problem. I’ve got a copy of the Microsoft suite installed, Dropbox is humming away syncing my files, and I just have to sort out one email address to get the Adobe suite up and running. Beyond that everything else is working as advertised, which is great. It’s amazing to have more than an hour of battery time again; I’m going to have to buy a spare USB-C to Magsafe 3 connector to have a spare on hand.

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Meanwhile I bought and installed a tiny wireless repeater and installed it in the den, where it should be widening the range of our wifi out to the driveway and beyond. One of the most annoying things about setting off on a trip in the car has been having to drive out the driveway and down the street to pull over and then get directions from Google; the signal out there was just strong enough to stay connected but weak enough that it never loaded. It took a couple of minutes to set up but now that it’s in there, there’s much better coverage on that side of the house, as well as upstairs.

I drove up to Hunt Valley on Saturday morning with a box containing my Powerbook 160, tools, and new parts.  I bought all the components needed to repair the LCD screen and get it back up and running, and talked to the guy who handles Mac repairs for the Computer Museum housed in the building I used to work in. Walking in the door, everything looked the same up until I got to the big open area in back which used to be filled with cube squares from one side to the other. Now, the front half is an extremely impressive museum filled with computers of all shapes and sizes, and the middle section was lined with worktables covered in electronic gear of all shapes and sizes, and men milling around with tools and puzzled expressions.

Where my old cube had been now stands a display wall with the entire line of colored iMacs, under which a huge assortment of other models sat: a 20th Anniversary Mac, lampshades, portables, and original 128k Macs. Funny to think that back then I was the only guy in the building who insisted on using a Mac to build websites, surrounded by men selling PCs over the phone.

In front of that display sat an original Lisa, and next to that is an original Apple I, hardwired by Woz and probably worth more than my house. The rest of the museum is amazing, with everything from closet-sized UNIVAC units to tiny calculators and everything in between. I ran into my old boss Bob, who runs the place, and we caught up briefly.

Then I found the fellow I’d talked to and he showed me how to replace the bad capacitors on the LCD board, deftly removing them with a precision soldering iron and replacing them just as quickly. He had to repair one contact pad with a jumper, but within about a half an hour he’d put all of the new components in and handed me back the board. I found an empty table and reassembled the unit, then plugged it in to hear the happy Mac startup chime. After a moment I saw the screen come up but then saw that the backlight looks like it’s faulty, as I could see the display when I adjusted the contrast but it wasn’t as bright as it should have been.

So I’ll have to do some research on what could cause that problem, and chase down a fix. Then the next step will be to swap out the ancient spinning hard drive with a solid state CompactFlash card, and possibly a hand-wired battery. Next time they have a workshop, I’m going to bring my Powerbook 1400 up to see what he thinks about the display on that one.

Date posted: July 23, 2023 | Filed under apple, geek | Leave a Comment »

From the Electronic Frontier Foundation: How to Enable Advanced Data Protection on iOS, and why you should. I’d like to set this up among all of the devices we have here, but we run a lot of older gear that won’t be covered under this seup—and the idea that if I do enable this, we’ll lose some functionality on things like the Apple TV or this old laptop doesn’t thrill me.

Date posted: May 25, 2023 | Filed under apple, geek, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

Andy Baio has made many amazing things for the internet, one of which is/was called Belong.io, which was a tool using the Twitter API to scrape interesting links from the feeds of a bunch of interesting people daily. With Phony Stark blowing up the service and charging for the API, he’s shut the whole thing down:

Truth be told, it was already dying as those interesting people slowed down their Twitter usage, or left entirely in the wake of Elon Musk’s acquisition and a series of decisions that summarily ruined it as a platform for creative experimentation.


Date posted: April 27, 2023 | Filed under geek, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

The Washington Post did a deep dive of the dataset used to train popular AI models like ChatGPT, and as you might expect, the big websites got crawled heavily. Interestingly, IdiotCentral here didn’t show up at all, but billdugan.com ranks 1,078,227th.

Date posted: April 20, 2023 | Filed under geek, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

The Verge: Best Printer 2023: just buy this Brother laser printer everyone has, it’s fine. I have a Brother printer in the same basic family; it scans, it prints. It’s a pain in the ass to connect to the wi-fi correctly. In the comment section of the post I found this on, a helpful user goes through the steps for setting up a fixed IP address and most crucially, setting up the printer correctly to pick that IP address up. I figured this out myself several years ago after wanting to throw the fucking thing out the window. Whatever happened to HP printers? they used to, um, just work.

Date posted: March 17, 2023 | Filed under geek, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

I’ve noticed Conway’s Law mentioned twice in different places this last week, and it has a lot of bearing on some current strategy I’m involved with at work: it basically states that organizations design systems that mirror their own communication structure—essentially organizations build things that mimic their own worldview. I saw this repeatedly when I was doing IA for higher education websites, and I see it now at the NGO. 

Date posted: February 9, 2023 | Filed under geek, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

Here’s a great recap of how Netscape begat Mozilla and Shepard Fairey created a dinosaur logo based on Russian Futurism with roots in the 1987 movie They Live. I look back on those wild days of the web with fondness.

Date posted: January 23, 2023 | Filed under geek, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

When we were in New York before Christmas, one of the things we showed Finn on our way past Madison Square Garden was the big sign on the corner of 7th Avenue and 33rd Street where I’d designed the billboard for Deutsche Bank back in the day. It was blocked by scaffolding when we walked past—we kind of had to point around all the construction to show her—but I think she understood the scale of the thing.

Over the weekend, while trying to replace a power strip behind our office cabinet, I found a couple of Addy programs from 2009 that had fallen behind other books. Figuring we’d saved it for one of Jen’s projects, I thumbed through it and suddenly remembered that we’d won Silver and Gold Addys for that campaign. I don’t see anyplace on my LinkedIn profile to add awards…

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In the meantime, I’m about 75 passwords in to a migration away from LastPass and into Keychain. I’m doing it manually because I don’t want to go through Chrome to convert everything, and also because I have to change all the passwords out anyway. And having used LastPass for 7+ years, I have a lot of old records that I haven’t used in years that I’m happy to delete. It’s a slog but I’m telling myself it’ll be worth it.

Date posted: January 4, 2023 | Filed under art/design, geek | Leave a Comment »

So apparently, LastPass, the password manager I’ve been using for 5+ years, got hacked for the second time; they’re now saying that encrypted user databases were stolen from company servers. LastPass has been declining in usefulness since Apple changed Safari’s extension architecture a couple of years ago—one of the best features was password autofill, and that was disabled with those changes. So I’m looking at updating and then moving 470+ passwords to Keychain, which has no easy import function; apparently I have to go from a CSV file -> import into Chrome -> import to Safari, which then adds everything to Keychain. The benefit here is that it’ll all be shared across my Apple devices the way God intended.  I’ve resisted Keychain for decades because the interface blows and the sharing features were janky; we’ll see how this goes. In the meantime, I just updated the master password.

Date posted: December 27, 2022 | Filed under geek, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

I never really understood the lure of Twitter, and only posted there twice. Elon bought the whole thing yesterday, and apparently the tech world is abuzz. I think the best summation of the situation comes from Nilay Patel over at the Verge; the whole thing is one big quotable chunk, but he offers the best summation of what it is I’ve seen, and what the future holds for the platform.

…the tech stack is not the valuable asset. The asset is the user base: hopelessly addicted politicians, reporters, celebrities, and other people who should know better but keep posting anyway. You! You, Elon Musk, are addicted to Twitter. You’re the asset. You just bought yourself for $44 billion dollars.

Have fun with that, buddy.

Date posted: October 28, 2022 | Filed under geek | Leave a Comment »