Apple

    How the Vision Pro caught my attention despite my skepticism

    It looks like Apple did it again!

    No, I haven’t purchased one and do not intend to do so anytime soon, but this is the first device of this type I would ever buy. Confused? Go with me for a moment. It will make sense, I promise.

    Even though the Vision Pro isn’t the only Augmented Reality device out there, I always felt like all the others were made for gamers. It might be because of how they are promoted. I don’t know. But since I’m not a gamer, buying a virtual or augmented reality headset simply never crossed my mind.

    It’s a computer

    From the very beginning, Apple was clearly positioning the Vision Pro as a consumer device, but because of my gaming perspective and the price tag, it was never an item on my radar. Then I watched Casey’s video about it, and something clicked for me. This is definitely not for gamers. It’s not a gimmick for geeks, either. It’s for everyday people who prefer or have to use computers to do their work.

    I’m still putting off buying a US$4,000 (after taxes and some accessories) first-gen gadget, but that video sent me on an endless journey on YouTube. Many people are showing it being used as a computer with several giant screens. I other words, one can use it to “work on a computer” with practically no desk space. All that real-world usage really spoke to me. Well, “real-world” might not be the best choice to describe it, but I think you got it.

    I could never use the iPad as a Mac replacement. Despite Apple spending a fortune trying to promote it as a computer, it is note a computer. The restrictions imposed by iPadOS make my work much more challenging. The Vision Pro, on the other hand, can be connected to a real computer, and that makes all the difference.

    So many Apps

    However, a computer is only as good as the software library available for it. And as far as I could understand, everything that works on macOS will work when a Mac is connected. Which kind of brings us back to the old debate about touchscreen Macs, but I digress.

    Then there’s visionOS, which has the potential to unleash a wave of new ideas, much like iOS did a long time ago.

    And, of course, the younger generation that prefers mobile devices was not left out. Thanks to Scott Forstall’s advocating for the App Store on the iPhone, there’s now an abundance of Apps already available for Vision Pro.

    Why not buy it?

    Well, first there’s that price tag. Then there is the fact that it is a first-generation device. I waited until the 3GS to buy my first iPhone, and in hindsight, I should probably have waited until the 4S.

    There is one thing for sure: Apple won again. I can clearly see myself purchasing a smaller, lighter, and much, much cheaper version of the Vision Pro in the future. And if it makes the Apple stock go up enough, I might be able to score one for free by selling some of what I own to buy its “4S” generation.




    Will I be able to automatically save my Android photos to Apple Photos?

    Even though I adore Google Photos and the endless slideshows on the Google displays I have at home and work, I wouldn’t entrust my memories to any one company. That’s why, for a long time, I’ve been using Google Takeout to download a copy of the photos from the previous year to add them to Apple Photos as a backup. The system works, but it’s too manual and prone to mistakes.

    Maybe you don’t know this, but even when you use Google Photos to manage the pictures you take, Android will keep a copy of them in the DCIM folder on your phone. And as far as I know, they will not be automatically deleted. To free up space, you must use the cleanup option or manually delete them. But what if I told you that this inconvenience could work in your favor?

    The other day, I had one of those click moments that helped me see this issue as a blessing in disguise. Here’s what I’m currently trying to do as I write this post.

    Remember Syncthing? I set it up to synchronize the DCIM folder on the Pixel with a folder I created on my Mac. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, please watch the video below explaining how to do it. On it I’m demonstrating how to sync Obsidian, but don’t worry about that. The steps are the same for the DCIM folder.

    I am optimistic that this plan will address two issues. The first one is having an easier way to back up my photos, but it will also help me with cleaning up the images that are constantly piling up on my phone. To give you an example, early today, when setting the system up, I discovered 23 GB of old photos and short clips stored on my Android.

    It will take a while for all that to be copied to the computer, but the beauty is that Syncthing works both ways. Once the files that have been synchronized with my computer are transferred to Apple Photos and deleted from the folder, they will be automatically deleted on the phone.

    This is the very first test I’m doing to make sure Syncthing is correctly transferring everything to the Mac and then deleting the files on the phone when I delete them on the computer. If everything goes well, the next step will be to create an automation to replace the manual process on the Mac side.

    This is all for now. When I have further updates about this idea, I’ll publish part two of this article.




    This is the story of how I fixed a Disk II drive

    It may sound crazy, but there was a time when Apple computers and accessories could be repaired by the user. This is a story about how I fixed a Disk II drive without any electronics training.

    Software and resources used



    I cleaned the green phosphor monitor and repaired the crack

    Cleaning and repairing a frame crack took a lot of time, but I’m happy with the result. I also closely inspected the capacitors and couldn’t find anything unusual. The board looks like it just came out of the factory, but there is a strange smell coming from the monitor when it is on. I suppose I will have to wait until the mysterious capacitor begins to leak.







    Cleaning the Apple IIe

    This Apple IIe arrived pretty dead, and even though I don’t have any training in electronics, soldering, or any of the many other skills, I decided I would fix it. The list of problems is endless, and I’ll do what I always do in situations like this. Break it up into smaller problems and solve them one at a time.

    First step: cleaning.



    Generations

    After helping me fix the issue with the ROM chips a few weeks ago, my son got to play Gremlins on the Apple IIe.



    Is your computer truly yours?

    It is remarkable how contemporary technology is built around the loss of control over our devices. In contrast, the Apple IIe, which is considerably older, is so open to experimentation and modifications.

    One or two years ago, I wanted to try ChromeOS Flex and decided to install it on my old MacBook Air 2012. I enjoyed the process of installing it and had fun with the OS. Now I needed macOS back on the computer to be able to use it on the Apple IIe restoration project, but when it came time to reinstall macOS, things didn’t go well at all.

    macOS Recovery

    If you start macOS holding command + r, you’ll be prompted to reinstall the OS. I was counting on this when I decided to try ChromeOS Flex. Anyway, I tried all possible variations of the command + r command, but at some point, near the end of the process, a glitch would always stop the installation.

    Another issue was that the countdown to the end of the process would display a huge negative number, which would also result in an error message. I searched online and found out that the negative number was related to a network problem, but my network and internet connection were working perfectly well.

    I also tried to reinstall macOS by holding the option key. This is how you tell the Mac to search for external drives when it starts up. However, I was unsuccessful there as well. I was probably doing something wrong because the system would never recognize the installation disk on connected drives. It is also possible that the bootable part of the disc was damaged during the installation of Chrome OS Flex. I don’t know. Regardless of the reason, I am puzzled as to why I was encountering such difficulty. After all, it is my computer.

    Downloading macOS

    We are provided with downloads of older versions of the operating system, but I challenge you to try installing it on a computer with a dead or new hard drive. One must go through numerous workarounds to make it work. By the way, during my saga I also learned that Apple does not provide any official instructions for how to install an older OS over a newer one. Even worse, it tells us that we cannot do it.

    Carbon Copy Cloner

    After jumping from one website to another and failing miserably, I remembered that my wife didn’t get rid of her old Mac mini from 2012. My new plan was to clone the Mini hard drive using Carbon Copy Cloner. Of course, I had problems there as well. First, I had to find an older version of the program that worked with macOS Mojave. Next, the mini drive is 500 GB, and the Air’s is 64 GB.

    To make a square fit into the circle, I created a new admin user (me) on my wife’s computer, and on Carbon Copy Cloner, I unselected her user and all the non-essential files before cloning. Of course, figuring out what are the essential files is easier said than done. After lot of trial and error, I was successful, but I would not be able to use this same strategy on a slightly newer Mac. My 2012 machine has a removable SSD, and I happen to have the correct USB enclosure. In other words, I could remove it from my computer and connect it to my wife’s Mini via USB.

    My computer finally started, but the OS was extremely slow. It would take several minutes to boot, and the mouse was jumping all around the screen every time I moved it. Thinking that some issue could have occurred during the cloning process, I repeated it several times, but I had no success. It was time to take a break, like I usually do when I get stuck.

    The next day, I remembered that macOS has an Activity Monitor. I ran it, but to my surprise, the total CPU load was over 90%, even though no software or process was taking more than 5% of the CPU time. Back to Google!

    Resetting PRAM and SMC

    In the end, there wasn’t anything wrong with the cloning process. The issue was with the different computers. Using Carbon Copy Cloner to make a copy is like transplanting a brain from one person to another. The new brain in my MacBook Air was from a Mac Mini. To put it simply, I had to help it adjust to its new body.

    I don’t have enough technical knowledge to explain this, but there’s a way to reset basic macOS configurations called PRAM and SMC. I reset them, and the OS started working like a charm.

    Finally!

    Anyway, all this was just another step in my Apple IIe restoration project. I could finally install the ADTPro software on the MacBook Air to copy old software to the IIe. Of course, I hit a new brick wall. But this is a story for another day.




    The Disk II arrived

    The case and cable were filthy, and the rubber feet were super sticky, as if they were melting constantly. I cleaned the case and cable with isopropyl alcohol and temporarily added wire tape to the feet. I’ll replace them in the future.

    The next step was to open it and peek inside. Good news! Everything appeared impeccably. Furthermore, the PCBs are in excellent condition, and there are no signs of capacitor corrosion.

    Finally, I hooked it up to the computer, making sure the ribbon cable was correctly connected. Be cautious here. Unfortunately, because of the cable design, it is possible to connect it incorrectly and burn the drive.

    Anyway, after typing the PR#6 command, I could verify it was at least spinning. But I will only know for sure if it is working properly when I receive the floppy disks I ordered a couple of days ago.



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