The life changing magic of tidying up your download files

Marie Kondo is author of a popular book called The Life-changing Magic of Tidying: A Simple, Effective Way to Banish Clutter Forever. Tim Harford talks about one of the tricks of the book: you should flip your status quo, so that your default behavior is to throw things out, and you have to explicitly decide if you want to keep something. Confession time: I don’t do this in everyday life with physical objects.

OS X Yosemite upgrade FileVault problem

When I upgraded to Yosemite, the installer offered to painlessly switch my hard drive to use FileVault 2 full disk encryption. I said yes. Unfortunately, the OS didn’t generate the recovery key that it was supposed to. I was left with an encrypted disk, and no recovery key I could file away in case I forgot my password. After some investigation, I discovered that you can ask OS X to create a new recovery key for you from the command line.

Why I bought a Mac (again)

While I use Linux for my day-to-day work, I have given in and purchased another Mac for my personal computing. This new MacBook Pro is a beautiful piece of hardware. The old one was, too. After some shaky early adventures with conventional aluminium casings, Apple settled on their unibody design, in which the entire machine is carved from a single piece of metal. This makes it amazingly robust, and basically lets the entire body work as one big heatsink.

The computer for the rest of them

MacWorld has an article about the sense of disappointment and betrayal many of the old “Mac faithful” feel at Apple these days. I think it’s a bit brief and could use some expanding on. The Apple II was an open machine. Open architecture, anyone could program it. Steve Jobs wanted the Mac to be a closed appliance, but the hardware was quickly opened up as well as the software. The Mac really started to catch on once development environments like HyperCard allowed everyone to develop their own software, for free, and distribute it to anyone they liked.

Reflections on a Macless month

On December 23rd, my MacBook Pro died. The screen started flickering, and the entire graphical layer died. The underlying Unix system was still responsive, and I could SSH in, but that was it. Rebooting the machine, it would run for a while, then die with the same fault. I used rsync to create a full backup–I already had a Time Machine backup, but better safe than sorry. After a couple more reboot cycles it stopped booting entirely.

BlackBerry Curve review

In mid November, our contract with AT&T (formerly Cingular) expired. We switched to T-Mobile and got BlackBerry Curve phones. I was a BlackBerry skeptic for a long time. I didn’t think I wanted a phone with a full QWERTY keyboard. This changed when we looked at the phones available. It turned out that the Curve was only marginally wider than the average phone, perhaps a centimeter or so. It’s otherwise comparable to mid-range phones in size.

Cleaning up bash customizations

One of the things I found confusing about bash was its startup scripts: there were so many of them. Eventually I snapped and sat down with a terminal and the man pages, and worked out how it actually behaves. Here’s a summary. File Interactive login Interactive non-login Non-interactive Remote shell /etc/profile A /etc/bash.bashrc A† ~/.bashrc B A ~/.bash_profile B2 ~/.bash_login B3 ~/.profile B4 ~/.bash_logout C BASH_ENV A On startup, bash executes any script labeled A in the table above, followed by the first script B it finds.

You are here

In a few years, cameras will all have single chip GPS units in them. They’ll tag their photos with the location where you took them as a matter of course, like they already tag the time and date. Some of us are unwilling to wait a few years. I’m sure you, like me, have sat down with a map and a stack of holiday photos and thought “OK, where on earth was that building?

Oh no, more Apple drama

It wasn’t much fun following Apple during the 90s. The transition from mono to color was painful, as it involved whole new chunks of OS and a different processor. The transition from Motorola 680×0 to PowerPC was also ugly and painful, and a lot of software simply stopped working and was never fixed. Those of us who had 680×0-based Macs quickly found them made forcibly obsolete long before they would normally have become unusable.

Do PowerMacs dream of electric bills?

People often wonder if they should turn their computer off, or leave it on but put it into “sleep mode”. I decided to do some analysis a while back, here are the results. If you look up the specs, a Sawtooth Power Mac G4 in deep sleep uses about 4 watts of electricity. In MA you pay $0.04823 per kWh, so it costs 4 / 1000 kW * 24 hours * 365 days * $0.