Friday, July 11, 2014

Genuine People Personality

There is new level of user-hostility in all current and popular computer operating systems--OS X, Android, and Win 7/8--that astounds me. I suppose it’s the result of hacking, identity theft, and the fact that most current computer owners do not qualify as computer “users.” That does not make it right, useful, or something we should learn to tolerate.

OS Market Share CP 2011-04 530 2011-05-03 For more than a decade, I’ve said, “The first company that designs an OS that pays attention to the users’ input, first, and the programmers’ background maintenance bullshit, second, will blow Apple and Microsoft out of business in less than a month.” For thirty years, Microsoft’s mantra has been, “We don’t have to be great, we only have to be better than our competition.” Since Apple and Google are the only other game in town, and those two companies suck, Microsoft’s game has become soft. In a competitive world, that would mean that the market is ripe for a new kid in town. This is not a competitive world. The various incarnations of open-source UNIX/LINUX have, for example, not exactly shaken the ground the Big Boys play on.

In trying to “upgrade” my two laptop systems—a Dell Latitude E6400 and a MacBook Pro 2,2—so that I can abandon both of my desktop systems—a Dell tower and a Mac Pro G5—as part of our downsizing attempt, I am re-experiencing the pain of both Windows and OS X. The upgrade mostly consists of moving both machines to SSDs. When I put an SSD in my little Dell Netbook, that sluggish machine became my go-to computer on our trip because it was fast, reliable, small and light, and durable. The MacBook Pro was the opposite of all of those characteristics, so it mostly languished in it’s bomb-proof Pelican case and wasted valuable space for five months. When I did need it, it required several hours of maintenance because the poor layout and cheap fans gummed up with New Mexico dust after a few hours of use. I ended up rebuilding the fans, with actual bearing grease instead of the fish oil Apple’s suppliers used. They have been working for a few hundred hours, quietly and dependably, since.

The SSD installation went quickly (about 2 hours) and, mostly, flawlessly on the Dell laptop, thanks to Samsung’s installation software. My old Dell Latitude E6400 runs like a brand new machine. Pro Tools 10, Sonar X3, Vectorworks, and the usual Office suspects flawlessly and instantly. So far, I consider this move to be a success.

macbook heatsink2 The MacBook installation was as painful as most Apple software/hardware experiences, made even more difficult by the fact that I decided to dig into the physical MacBook to clean and reinstall the heatsink thermal grease, since MacBooks are notorious for overheating and failing in moderate temperatures. (In case you are interested in making this repair, it is only possible on the older MacBook Pro laptops. Apple has not only made the newer models, especially the Retina models, unserviceable and considerably more fragile.)

macbook heatsink Counting the disassembly hassle (massively more difficult for the Mac than the Dell), I have about 9 hours invested in the Mac and after the 3rd failed Disk Utilities software installation attempt, I took the excellent advice from other Apple product owners, I gave up on the Apple OS X built-in cloning software and used Carbon Copy Cloner (CCC). Three hours later, my MacBook was up and running. In fact, running considerably more reliably (after downloading a “trim” enabling utility, since Apple only supports its own overpriced SSDs in its usual user-hostile customer disservice manner).

I had the opportunity to do a side-by-side comparison between my newly enabled MacBook Pro and a 2013 MacBook Pro with Intel's Haswell-based Core i5 processor and an Apple-installed SSD. On every functional “benchmark,” we found my old duo-core MacBook was as quick, in practical terms, as the far more expensive, less-featured (except for Thunderbolt) newer model. Counting the Samsung SSD, I now have $500 invested in my MacBook Pro. After the heatsink repair, the main and video processors are running about 50F cooler at max fan speed and 15F cooler at the lowest fan speed. Of course, some of that could be due to the extreme air-path cleaning I gave the laptop. It wasn’t all that dirty, though. On the other hand, Apple’s cheesy heatsink compound was dried into a crumbling thermal insulator that probably did more harm than good.

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Wirebender Audio Rants

Over the dozen years I taught audio engineering at Musictech College and McNally Smith College of Music, I accumulated a lot of material that might be useful to all sorts of budding audio techs and musicians. This site will include comments and questions about professional audio standards, practices, and equipment. I will add occasional product reviews with as many objective and irrational opinions as possible.