Posts Tagged ‘MacOSX/Apple’

Apple laptops not made for enterprise use

Like my recent upgrade to 10.8, I was forced to upgrade to 10.9 because my 13” MacBook Air succumbed to an odd logic board error involving a heat sensor going kaput. Turns out that kernel_task would go up to 300%, ensuring that the load averages on my machine would be in excess of 40-60s. The only fix seems to be swapping logic boards, and that usually takes 2-3 weeks. Too long to live without a laptop.

For reference, the Apple Hardware Test revealed: 4SNS/1/C0000008: THSP—124.

So I had to order a new laptop, and chose the 11” MacBook Air. I was always conflicted between the 11” & 13”, and left the world of MacBook Pro’s for a 13” due to the same resolution. I travel a lot, so I think smaller is better now, and got the 11” – max specs. So far, I have no complaints. When home its docked to a much larger monitor. On the road, it seems just fine. In a span of a couple of years, I’ve gone from 15” -> 13” -> 11”. I can’t complain.

Apple hardware is just not made for enterprise use. Next day on-site warranties from Dell are amazing (I’ve experienced it plenty of times), but they just don’t exist in the world of Apple even with AppleCare. 

I’ve been locked into some software (I know, silly me but there are things I depend on in my workflow) which makes it hard to switch away from OSX. If I ran Linux, I know I could have bought another machine within a day, but because Apple is all-integrated, I had to order another MacBook Air (who would want a MacBook Air with an i5 processor, small storage (128-256GB) and 4GB of RAM?). I mean if Apple plans to integrate everything, sell top-end machines – picking stuff up retail is important in my opinion.

It took me 5 working days to get my custom-built Mac delivered. That’s just too long to be using hardware you’re not familiar with (I actually did a lot of “work” with a Chromebook – also known as answering a lot of email, but nothing more productive than that).

The upgrade from 10.8 to 10.9 was surprisingly easy with Time Machine again. The only problem was Mail was misbehaving (caching folders), so I had to upgrade to 10.9.2, and just wait it out. I’m not happy with Mail, but its about the only desktop client that handles multiple IMAP accounts and works in an offline fashion.

I read recently an article by David Sobotta about how he moved away from the Mac, and to me it felt like this was my path too. It is not going to happen anytime soon, but I’ve set aside 2 years to get things done. I want to live more in the browser, I want to be able to make use of OfflineStorage, and I want to be rid of depending on just one piece of hardware. It is likely that even after a move to the cloud I will buy Apple hardware, it just won’t mean I’m “locked in” to the wonderful application ecosystem that it has.

If anyone says the 11” MacBook Air is not good enough, I can attest that its got a small screen but in many of my use cases I have it docked to a 24” or 27” monitor, so for coding, comparative studies, etc, I find that to be a great environment. But walking to a cafe or working in a cramped airplane seat? You can’t beat the 11” Air (11.6” if you look closely).

iTunes ate my podcasts

iTunes is fixed now (11.1.3) but somewhere in-between it broke and deleted all of my podcast downloads as well as the subscriptions. It has been over four months that I’ve gone without listening to podcasts and I can’t say that I miss it hugely. Audiobooks (on phone, in gym particularly), Spotify and Rdio have taken its place. 

This means a lot to me – I always thought that podcasting could be big business. Maybe its just niche business?

Apple engineering needs to QA this stuff. It’s not hard. There should be test harnesses. Heck, just testing the damn upgrade. 

In other news, the up arrow key seems dodgy again on my Macbook Air. It is still only 11 months old and this is the second time its happening. I will have to find time to walk into an Apple Store to get an immediate replacement (something we can’t do in Malaysia/Singapore obviously).

Overall feeling on the Apple experience in these terms: relatively negative. Am I going to give up their stuff? No. There’s a more positive post on Apple coming soon.

Some Apple upgrades that I’m not enjoying

10.8.5 has been largely a disaster in terms of usability.

The FaceTime camera basically doesn’t work with apps that aren’t Apple-released on my MacBook Air. This means Google Hangouts, Skype video, all don’t work. Grr.

iTunes (11.1) podcast library scans like crazy, and the performance is terribly slow. I can’t delete iTunes podcasts, because everytime it tries to connect to the Internet and show me what else is there. Guess what? It seems that when I’m offline, iTunes just works. Annoying because I can’t listen to podcasts with ease now.

I updated my iPhone 4 to iOS7. It seems to just work, its slow as always, but I’m noticing apps crash, the camera can cause the phone to reboot. My father updated it automatically (without a backup) because he just said “yes”. It kind of bricked his phone when he couldn’t remember his iCloud password. Rather annoying. 

I think its great that updates can happen “over-the-air” since some iOS releases ago. But I should also be able to disable this, because I don’t want to remotely debug an issue. Try telling a businessman he can’t use his phone for half an hour?

What is kinda cool? FaceTime audio. This has huge potential.

In other news, I broke the up arrow key on my MacBook Air. This machine is about 6 months old. Replaced at the Apple Store, the Genius sorted it out within a minute. I’ve been using Mac laptops since about 2002 and this is the first time a key has broken. Designed in California, Made in China.

A battery management app I’d like to see

Today I killed Dropbox and Copy, then I killed Skype, turned the WiFi off, and my 13″ MacBook Air was getting about 6.5 hours worth of battery life. This is very close to the 7 hours that Apple claims will work (though they do say 7 hours of wireless usage). Chrome, Firefox had tabs running, I was working in Mail and Terminal a lot, as well as Keynote (with 15 apps running when i mac+tab)

So what’s missing is battery profiles.

When plugged in, CrashPlan, Dropbox, Copy, etc. run.

When on the battery, CrashPlan, Dropbox, Copy, Time Machine, etc. stop running.

When on the battery with no WiFi, maybe Evernote sync stops, Google Drive stops, etc.

This app should make sure its all configurable.

Why hasn’t this appeared yet?

Maybe OS X Mavericks will rock in this sense since the CPU usage is only for the current running app, not those background running apps.

I’m willing to bet this kind of app makes sense even on Linux and Windows. We’re using apps that increasingly sync to the network. Some are badly behaved.

Road warriors need better solutions. And I bet they’d pay for it.

Homebrew (Mac OS X) and MariaDB 10.0 series

Today I performed a brew update. I noticed that MariaDB now exists as stable (5.5.30) and devel (10.0.2). Brew formulas also exist for MySQL (5.6.10) and Percona Server (5.5.30-30.2) now. 10.0.3 is around the corner but I wanted to run 10.0.2 now. This is how I did it:

brew unlink mariadb
brew install --devel mariadb

It’s that simple!

X11 now via XQuartz

I tried running Inkscape and it wouldn’t start. It seems that OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion) doesn’t ship X11 any longer, and you have to use XQuartz.

You’re then forced to log out & log back in. Once that is complete, Inkscape and others work again. This problem doesn’t exist with The GIMP any longer as that is now native. Here’s hoping Inkscape moves with the times too.


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