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w/e 2022-04-03

Ahhhh, Q2, the quarter of renewal, when nature’s bounty bursts forth and everything seems possible. This week we’ve had the sunshine and showers (of snow) that are traditional for Q2, so my seasonal greetings to all who celebrate this period. May your flowers bloom and your targets be met, if not exceeded.

§ In keeping with this quarter’s theme of new beginnings, I’ve spent part of this week getting two new devices up and running: an iPhone 13 Mini and a 14-inch MacBook Pro, both replacing seven-ish-year-old models. A week of excitement, frustration, guilt, and dongles.

With the MacBook, as I mentioned, I decided to do a clean install rather than use Migration Assistant to copy everything across. There was at least two, maybe more, laptops’ worth of accumulated stuff on the old laptop and I was quite keen to leave some of that behind. All the things I’d installed that I no longer used, the hidden files mysteriously written to my home folder that probably were no longer needed, the gigabytes used up by who-knows-what written who-knows-when, the VMware and VirtualBox and Vagrant thingies I’ll hopefully never need again.

It did take a couple of days to work through re-installing apps – some fresh Apple Silicon versions – and manually copying-over files. I rooted around in ~/Library/ for all the hidden preferences, plugins, and suchlike I could find.

It was surprising what things just appeared magically, materialising from somewhere in the “cloud”, and which things are lost forever. For example, I absolutely do not need them, but when I’ve saved colours to the little squares at the bottom of the colour picker, where are they saved to? Nowhere that I found and copied.

And then there were things that behaved strangely. had all of its files and at first glance seemed to be up and running OK, until I realised it was using playlists from around six months ago. I’ve no idea why. I was able to quit, copy the library files over again, open the app with the option key held down, explicitly choose that library, and all was up to date. Mysteries.

The MacBook is very nice. Solid, clean, a beautiful screen, solid keys, surprisingly good sound. Inevitably I feel a bit guilty for upgrading, paying so much for something, while my previous MacBook was still going OK. But given one key had broken in half and the whole thing doesn’t quite sit flat any more, it’s probably best to upgrade before it conks out entirely. I’m pleased with how well it lasted, speed-wise though, which I think is a testament to my seven-years-ago decision to buy a more-powerful-than-I-needed machine, so that it would last longer.

I feel like I’ve skipped over a dodgy period in MacBooks, having avoided the Touch Bar, the broken keyboards, the removal of MagSafe power cables, the lack of ports, the omission of headphone sockets… all now reversed. But it’s not like my previous MacBook was brilliant. It suffered from screen delamination and the free replacement screen had exactly the same problem – the entire screen is now blotchy when the light catches it. And the battery bulged which meant an expensive entire “Top Case” replacement. But still, since then it’s had a good run.

I didn’t notice that my previous MacBook made much noise, apart from rare occasions when I was particularly taxing it but I guess it did – the new one is so quiet that I now realise my monitor makes a noise. Its display already looked a little clunky above the previous Retina display and even more so now… some life left in the old fella yet though.

§ And a new iPhone too! Truly the gods and goddesses of Q2 are smiling upon me and I am blessed. Despite getting a new battery put in my 1st generation SE last summer the battery life was still pretty dismal and, even given I barely leave home, I was spending too many brain cycles thinking about when and whether to charge it. With rumours that the Mini line of iPhones won’t be renewed this year I decided to just get a 13 Mini and be done with it.

This too, unsurprisingly, is very nice. Thankfully it required a lot less set up, not much more than that magical pointing of phones’ cameras at each other that somehow links them, and the pulling down of data from the generous data deities. A few apps needed a bit more work – Signal, for example, needed its conversations to be explicitly copied over within the app – but all-in-all it was a pleasant surprise to be reminded how simple it can be to get up and running.

This is my first iPhone with Face ID and I was ready to be frustrated with it but it is amazing, like it doesn’t even exist. So far, compared to the number of times I used to swear at Touch ID not working, it makes me wish I’d upgraded sooner.

I like to think that Face ID works extra well because I have such a unique and marvelous face that it recognises me extra quickly. I expect it has difficulty with some people with more average faces. “Hmm,” it thinks, “is that Ian? Looks a bit like that bloke off that show, you know? That one with the thing? Or the guy who works in that coffee shop? I don’t know. Try again maybe, ‘Ian’?” But I’m straight in. “Yup, that’s Phil!”

I’m looking forward to trying out the camera a bit more. So far I’ve only taken very basic photos to compare it with the iPhone SE’s, in this album on Flickr, but now that’s done I’ll have more of a fiddle with it. Even if the camera was exactly the same, the screen being so much brighter, clearer and bigger makes the photography a lot easier.

iPhone SE (1st gen) vs iPhone 13 Mini

But the worst thing about modern cameras is these stupid lens bumps. It seems crazy that they’ve made a device that can’t sit flat. Bonkers. I don’t want to make my phone bigger and uglier by getting a case just so it sits flat, but I guess that’s what you’re supposed to do? Anyone who writes about Apple’s design who doesn’t take into account the need for cases, or cable adapters, or hubs to make up for lack of ports, or any of the external gubbins that inevitably surrounds the products that are only pristine in useless isolation needs to go back to design hack school.

Anyway. With both these devices I’ve been surprised how quick and smooth general interactions are. This shouldn’t be surprising with new technology Phil! But my old MacBook and iPhone didn’t feel particularly slow, and a bunch of the things that were slow I put down to our terrible rural internet connection. But with both new incarnations everything moves so much more smoothly and swiftly. I imagine the previous devices felt like this at some point but along the way, as software got more and more complex, and the layers of code accreted, all the tiny delays added up to just enough clunkiness to gradually sl.ow d.o.w..n.

§ Because last week I couldn’t remember what I’d done this week I kept better track. Aside from the days spent setting up the new devices, this week involved no work but:

  • Unstacking the log pile in the garage and re-stacking the logs in the new log store.
  • Unstacking the logs from the new log store when we realised we now couldn’t close the garage door, re-organising half the garage, moving the log store, and re-stacking the logs.
  • Putting a few things from the re-organised garage on Freegle.
  • Uploading and tagging 18 months worth of photos from the old iPhone SE into Lightroom, something I try and do fairly regularly, but obviously not that regularly at all.
  • Unloading and stacking two deliveries of surplus bricks and blocks from Father-in-law.
  • Drove to three separate places in an effort to spend the last of our Shop Local card on local produce before it expired.
  • Got webmentions up and running.
  • Took the Panda 4x4 for its first service since we bought it, which is going to be rather expensive.
  • Retired to my office while Mary hosted some local women for one of their 50th birthday parties
  • Went for an 11km walk.

§ We also watched the third season of My Brilliant Friend and as with season two we did spend quite a bit of it struggling to remember who a lot of characters were. Reading that, I think I enjoyed this season more, although the first half or so was a little boring. It’s odd that the protagonist, Lenù, is so passive and limp most of the time. Things just happen around her. Which is probably why it felt more interesting towards the end as she started to get more oomph.

§ And we watched our first movie (on TV) for quite a while, The Levelling (2016, Hope Dickson Leach) which was good. Gloomy and muddy but good. It’s not the kind of farm and family you see on This Farming Life.

§ That is all. May Q2 bring all the improved performance you could wish for, and may you surpass whatever goals, indicators and targets the forces of darkness lay before you.

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