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© Rakhesh Sasidharan

Elsewhere

Various bits and pieces

I listened to Ian Fleming’s “Quantum of Solace” now as part of the “For Your Eyes Only” collection narrated by Simon Vance. Wow, that was an amazing James Bond story. My favorite now, next to “Casino Royale” (which I listened to the version narrated by David Tennant). No guns or action in this one, just a story on human nature … and boy was it better than everything else! The narration enhanced the story. I love Simon Vance’s narration and he outdone himself in this one.

Speaking of audiobooks I have been laxing on them recently. In fact I switched to an alternate-monthly plan after emailing customer service as I simply wasn’t able to keep up with my purchases. This way I get 6 credits a year – a purchase every other month – and I continue to get access to the members only sales and Audible Originals etc. Not a bad deal.

There’s simply too much stuff to listen to now. Audiobooks plus a lot of fantastic podcasts. I have split my podcasts amongst two apps mainly coz I like both apps and want to keep a foot in each but also because I use each app for a different sort of podcast. I use Overcast to listen to a lot of the TWIT and Apple focused shows and try it use it like one would use Twitter – i.e. dip into the stream of podcasts as and when I can and try not to get too fussed if I am falling behind on my listening (which I almost always am). Side by side I use Pocket Casts to listen to “stories” – podcasts I would like to listen to from the first episode to the last, or at least in order or even just try and keep up more regularly. This too doesn’t always happen but I try and keep it that way. There’s simply so much stuff to listen to now!

Speaking of podcasts check out “Homecoming” by Gimlet. The podcast is fine, but the TV show based on it is amazing. That takes the podcast to a whole different level. Speaking of TV shows “Bodyguard” was a good one, so were some stand up comedies on Netflix like the Adam Sandler one “100% Fresh” and Trevor Noah’s “Son of Patricia”. I have been slacking on TV shows too.

Yup, life has a lot of pressure! :) Don’t get me started on the books I have in my Kindle and physical to read but which I am barely making progress on. It’s like entertainment is no longer just entertainment – you have to choose between multiple options, there’s pressure, try and not waste too much time on stuff you don’t like (and not feel guilty either about leaving things partly if you don’t like them) … so much pressure! I like to listen to music too but that’s taken a huge backstage probably recently as there’s only so much ear time I have. That said today morning I spent about an hour or two just listening to music. That was awesome indeed!

I am also getting up to grips Macs and macOS. I bought the latest Mac Mini and setting it up hasn’t been as pleasurable an experience as I was imagining it to be. For one, I went with the base model and so don’t have much storage space, but I did that hoping I can just point my iCloud etc. to an external drive and be done with it. You see, I wanted this Mac Mini to be sort of like my file server at home, hosting all my iCloud files etc., and I know in Windows I can point the iCloud drive to a different drive/ folder and so I incorrectly assumed I would be able to do the same on macOS too. Nope, you can’t. iCloud drive has to be in your home drive, and if you are stuck like me with a small home drive then you are screwed. So I had to fiddle with having the home drive itself be on an external drive, then realize that I can’t automatically mount it as I have to enter the password of the drive (not like Windows with BitLocker where you enter the password for the main drive and all other drives can be automatically mounted). On top of that I learnt that since my system drive too is encrypted I can’t even remotely connect to the Mac until I login via the console (eugh!) (it makes sense though, so while I say eugh I appreciate it). What I ended up doing finally is turn off encryption in my system drive, have my home drive mounted to an external drive, and each time I power on the Mac I’ll SSH into it remotely and will mount the home drive partition after entering password so that I can then login via console and proceed to do whatever I want.

Speaking of which. 1) the VNC based screen sharing sucks. Doesn’t just expand to the correct resolution like Microsoft Remote Desktop would do. and 2) I can’t figure out how to mount all my other non-encrypted drives automatically or via CLI as it only seems to happen once you login. I tried fiddling with the fstab file but didn’t make progress. (Again, none of these are huge complaints. If it were Windows I would have similar issues like being unable to enter the BitLocker password for the root drive without connecting to the machine directly … but yeah, I sort of didn’t expect it with the Mac Mini. My fault for assuming iCloud can be easily re-pointed elsewhere without moving the whole home directory itself someplace!)

My Mac Mini troubles aren’t ended yet as it currently doesn’t let me do time machine backups and complains it can’t take local snapshots. I haven’t had time to look into it so left it for now.

[Aside] Mac Mini 2018 Teardown & RAM Upgrade

I could never bring myself to open up any of my Apple devices! :) This video is cool though and gives you an idea of what the Mac Mini internals look like. (via)

Happy Diwali!

Yes, I am still around. :)

Been a hectic few weeks. A lot of work. My eyes hurt, my right hand hurts. Too much screen time and typing.

In non-work news though, I am now a Mac user. Yay yippee yay! It was a sudden and unexpected shift, but one long overdue I guess. I have been a Mac wannabe ever since I saw a Mac at some computer exhibition back when I was a school kid. Could never afford a Mac ever although one time I was quite close to buying a Mac Mini but I backed out in the last minute. Anyways, a few months ago (August I think) I finally bought a MacBook Air (no, not the newly released finally updated one, but its older outdated brother).  It was the cheapest Mac-anything I could find, and my wife saw it on a deal online and that got me thinking and I finally jumped in and bought it. I could have gone for the MacBook Pro but that was too pricey. I could have gone for the MacBook but I was aware of Apple’s 2nd gen butterfly keyboard problems and didn’t want to risk ending up with a faulty keyboard. I wasn’t super pumped about the MacBook Air as I knew there was the possibility of a new one coming out in October (as it finally did!) but eventually I figured there’s no point overthinking something and it’s best to just go ahead and get it.

That was a good decision! Loved the MacBook Air and the Mac way of doing things. I had to go traveling soon after that so couldn’t play much with it, but while traveling I saw one of colleagues had a MacBook Pro (not the latest model). While on travel I had been thinking of changing laptops as my current personal laptop was about 5 or 6 years old. I wanted something with at least 32GB RAM in it and oddly none of the Windows laptops I saw in shops or online had that. (Not saying there aren’t Windows laptops with that config; just that they are custom built and not easily available where I am). Anyways, I came to know that I could connect to work too via Mac (as my colleague was doing) and so all that got me thinking about MacBook Pro’s and on a hugely on-the-spur thinking I went ahead and purchased a MacBook Pro. Yup, that was one crazy leap of faith!

The MacBook Pro arrived by the time I returned from my first set of work related travels so I took it along for the second set. Was a pleasant experience working with the macOS. I love the gestures – swiping between screens, apps, etc. So convenient and I sorely miss them when I am back on Windows. The Mac’s keyboard shortcuts aren’t that great – too many keys, I barely know any of them (just screen lock and screenshots). The keyboard shortcuts are a whole level of crazy! It’s good there are so many modifiers and all that but it’s too much for me to keep track of at least after this brief period of working with them.

Anyways, flash forward a few weeks to last week when the new MacBook Air and Mac Mini were announced on Oct 30th. I pre-ordered the Mac Mini right after the announcement and it arrived today! Yay double yippee yay! :) The MacBook Pro replaced my personal Windows laptop and the Mac Mini will replace my personal Windows desktop (which I don’t use for much except media sharing and stuff). Oh, nearly forgot, during this period I also switched to iCloud Photos (I was already on Apple Music so nothing to do there) and slowly started moving some of my stuff from Dropbox to iCloud. Yup, I am on a one-way train out of Windows world to Mac world finally! I am not a fan of one-way trains so I hope this doesn’t backfire, but let’s see … got to go with the moment for now!

I am an Apple fanboy. Have been from my first iPad Mini and all the way through my increasing Apple gadgets. I don’t think I am blindly in love or anything, but I do think Apple products have some magic about them. They make things “easy” or somehow appeal to some part of your self that makes you innately love them. That’s my stand on them at least. I have tried Android phones and Windows & Linux phones and computers; but none of them evoke a feeling of love like an Apple product does. And I have discovered that feeling again with the macOS. Not saying Apple of macOS are perfect, but I tend to love them in-spite of the imperfections.

So that’s it. Once I move the data out of my personal desktop to the Mac Mini I think it’s safe to say I don’t have any more personal devices with Windows on them. I use Windows for work, and I have Windows VMs which I use to play with; but all my primary devices are now Macs.

Happy Diwali again! :)