* Posts by ianbetteridge

72 publicly visible posts • joined 3 Mar 2023

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The real significance of Apple's Macintosh

ianbetteridge

Re: Apple reality distortion field...Amiga Alert..Amiga Alert

It might shock you to discover that this applies to every other computer, too. You should see how much an IBM 5150 costs in today's money… and that didn't even include a monitor. “What a joke”.

ianbetteridge

Re: Before OSX, the Mac didnt appeal to me

That, though, is down to both Linux and Windows becoming a lot better and more reliable over time. We're in the lucky era of computing where it's actually got a lot harder to terminally mess up your OS, with kernels and low-level stuff that is incredibly reliable compared to what we had to use even twenty years ago.

I'd argue that in all three cases, though, we're subject to “it works... until it doesn't”. And when it doesn't, fixing it is incredibly hard. Less so with Linux, where are least almost every “going wrong” scenario is a well-trodden path where a bunch of nerds online have almost certainly written a solution that's a Google search away. But Windows and Mac? Boy, when they go wrong, they really go wrong.

Case in point: last year, I managed to mangle an install of MacOS (or rather, macOS TM) so badly that it needed reinstalling from scratch. There's now no way to do this by simply downloading an ISO and reinstalling: you have to use Apple's recovery tools. Which of course did not work.

After a few weeks of messing around, including getting help from Howard Oakley (former MacUser technical bod, help expert and the man who probably knows more about the internals of Macs than anyone outside Cupertino) I had to admit defeat and send it off to Apple for them to do it.

ianbetteridge

Re: Before OSX, the Mac didnt appeal to me

I was running Blue (what became System 7) on my Mac Plus in 1990, as I had access to the first widespread internal release (I was working in IS&T at Apple at the time). Even though that version was sloooow as hell, it was better than System 6 in almost every way.

ianbetteridge

Re: Old Mac photo: MOUSE and GUI matter!

Betteridge's Second Law: In the comments of any article written by Liam, someone will pop up to complain about Wayland.

ianbetteridge

Re: IPhone

Ha! I reviewed the LG Prada. God, was that a terrible piece of junk. I can't remember if the screen actually was resistive, or whether it was such a terrible capacitive screen that it just behaved like a resistive one. It's probably in one of my boxes of awful old technology, somewhere.

How Sinclair's QL computer outshined Apple's Macintosh against all odds

ianbetteridge

Re: The 128K Mac was not "rubbish".. really?

Getting a really very good windowing operating system into 64kb ROM and 128Kb RAM is an amazing achievement.

That it only had 128Kb RAM was down to Jobs’ intransigence.

ianbetteridge

Re: Apple rubbish

That must have been a fair bit later, as the Amiga didn’t launch till 1985 and production issues meant they were rare in any quantity till 1986.

ianbetteridge

“ I don't know if Sinclair knew that the Mac was coming, but I don't think it did. I don't think anyone did. I think a just-about-affordable GUI computer shocked the industry.”

Hmmm, not sure about that. Development of the Mac proper kicked off in 1981, and Apple was a pretty leaky ship so I doubt Sinclair wouldn’t have caught wind of it. But it’s worth remembering, as I’m sure you do, that at the time the “obvious” superiority of GUIs wasn’t accepted by everyone, and I suspect Sinclair probably didn’t have the resources to build one on a 68000 - no mean feat, especially with the memory limitations that were inevitable at that price point.

War of the workstations: How the lowest bidders shaped today's tech landscape

ianbetteridge

Re: Sorry Liam, Not Even Wrong...really?..again?...anacdotes

"Those are just personal anecdotes dear boy. I'm talking actual sales."

If you still have the Visicalc spreadsheets to prove that, I'd be impressed ;)

Debian preps ground to drop 32-bit x86 as separate edition

ianbetteridge

Re: Good thing too

Sure, I agree. And it's open source. So you should maintain it.

Asahi's Fedora remix dazzles and baffles on Apple Silicon

ianbetteridge

Re: Why?

They're all signed (an ad hoc signature is fine). This is not necessarily a bad thing, but some people are concerned that over the long run Apple will seek to "iOS-ize" macOS and have only known signatories, certified by Apple.

ianbetteridge

Re: Why?

You've hit the nail on the head. I don't mind Apple making it simple. I don't mind Apple making it harder for ordinary users to mess things up by locking them down a bit. Lord knows, as resident Mac expert it's probably saved me a lot of distraught phone calls from friends and relatives.

But I do mind when it when Apple makes it significantly harder to fix something if it goes wrong, even for knowledgeable and highly-technical users.

Case in point: cloud storage. A few versions ago Apple implemented an API for providing cloud storage seamlessly in the Finder. This means that the likes of Dropbox, OneDrive, etc can write apps implementing their system without having to do weirdo kernel extensions. It makes the experience more consistent, so, for example, if you want to make a file or folder always local, no matter what provider you're using, it's in the same place in the user interface. And your storage is shown in the Finder's sidebar in a single place too. So it's an all-round good thing.

Except when it's not. Because, bizarrely, Apple chose to implement it so that the folder containing your files is hidden in /User/YourUsername/Library/CloudStorage, a place which is hidden from users unless you either hold down an option key and select a menu or use the Terminal.

Why is that bad? Because a user can remove the storage folder from the sidebar in the Finder... and after that, they have no way of getting to their files *unless* their app supports doing it through their own, unique menu. To many users, that looks like you've just accidentally deleted your cloud storage (you haven't, and it's still actively syncing).

But if that's bad, worse is to come. What happens if, say, you delete the Dropbox app from your machine? Well, all your files are still there, hogging up storage space. You just can't easily get to them now. And if you want to delete them, you can't actually remove the folder they're in via the Finder. You have to do it using rm -r in the terminal. So in other words, if you stop using Dropbox and want to clean everything Dropbox-related off your Mac, you *have* to use the terminal to do it. Installing Dropbox and then reinstalling it is worse: when I did this, my files were all there, but when I went to them in the Finder I got a cryptic error message.

I understand why Apple might want to ensure cloud storage files can only go in one place. But a hidden directory, that can't be deleted? That's just bonkers.

ianbetteridge

Re: Why?

You could do that, but it's really not comparable hardware to either the Framework or Mac, is it? Not that it's a bad laptop. But for one thing, it's 15in with 1080 vs the Framework's 13in, 2256x1504 screen and the Air's 13.6in 2556x1664 screen, both of which will be far nicer screens to use.

ianbetteridge

Re: Why?

From my real world use, the battery life alone makes one of the M-series laptops miles better than anything I've come across in Intel-land. When I'm using my M2 Air, I charge it once every two days, or a day and a half if I'm pushing it a bit harder. I've had to train myself out of automatically wanting to plug it in once it hits 25% battery.

Some of that is down to tight software/hardware integration, and the battery life tests I've seen with Asahi show some reduction compared to the same hardware under macOS, but I would expect that to improve. And even with that reduction, it's still great.

Doom is 30, and so is Windows NT. How far we haven't come

ianbetteridge

The thing that people don't seem to have cottoned on to is that conversational interfaces are the operating system of the future, and will replace or augment windowing GUIs for many tasks. Go back and look at Apple's “Knowledge Navigator” video of 1987(!) and you get a pretty decent idea of where all this is heading. And I don't think it's that far away.

My worry about that is that it's all going to be cloud-based and thus effectively rented, rather than locally based and owned (and tinkerable).

ianbetteridge

Re: Monopolistic stagnation

Microsoft has been adding stuff which benefits its bottom line since 1976. It's a company, they tend to be interested in that sort of thing.

ianbetteridge

Re: Never seemed to gain critical mass...

Apple certainly seems to be selling quite a lot of its "Pencils" (I hate that they're calling it that).

ianbetteridge

I'm going to look a *little* dubiously at you because I know memory plays tricks.

In my head, my System 6 Mac Plus was incredibly fast to boot. And then I watch a video of one actually booting on YouTube and it turns out it took several minutes.

ianbetteridge

Re: "Yes, I could buy an ad-free version, but why should I?"

You do remember the days when every update to Windows and before that DOS was paid-for, right?

ianbetteridge

Re: "Yes, I could buy an ad-free version, but why should I?"

Yep. And you would have to be pretty unaware of the entire history of Microsoft, dating back to the "Open Letter to Hobbyists", not to expect the company to want to charge for anything and everything it makes.

Systemd 255 is here with improved UKI support

ianbetteridge

Re: Everyone Hates systemd

One person's bloat is another person's "easier to use".

And it was ever thus, he said, remembering the times people told him GUIs were "bloat" in the 1980s.

Canonical reveals more details about Ubuntu Core Desktop

ianbetteridge

Re: Succesful

You're right that it's a trade off. But I don't think "do less with the machine" is that useful a way to look at it. Unless your job or hobby involves just tinkering with the system (and there's nothing wrong with that!) then what matters is whether you can you use the applications you need effectively and with the minimum amount of fuss. For some users, every minute you're spending configuring, tweaking, massaging etc is time you're actually spending "doing less" -- it's not what you need the computer to do.

Sorry Pat, but it's looking like Arm PCs are inevitable

ianbetteridge

Re: Seriously

If I was an investor, I would expect the CEO to understand the threat, take it seriously, and have a plan to beat it. What I would not expect him to do is minimise what is a clear threat, because companies that do that don't stay top dog for long. Didn't another CEO once say that only the paranoid surivive?

GNOME Foundation's new executive director sparks witch hunt

ianbetteridge

Re: It's not a witch hunt.

And people wonder why FOSS doesn't appeal to a whole world of users (and by "users" I mean people who aren't coders, people who aren't technical).

ianbetteridge

Re: It's not a witch hunt.

"No doubt Apple was feeling some phantom pains from the lashes it took over the first couple versions of OS X and people who preferred the OS Classic look."

And completely ignored them, and were right to do so.

Ubuntu unleashes Mantic Minotaur with 23.10 build

ianbetteridge

Re: SNAP is an infection that shows no sign of dying off

"We have managed for almost 30 years without it."

We managed without GUIs for a long time too. "We managed without X" is a very poor argument, no matter what you're talking about. "Paved roads? Pah. We managed with dirt tracks for hundreds of years! What do those Romans know?"

55-inch Jamboard and app ecosystem tossed into the Google graveyard

ianbetteridge

Do we think Google is deliberately going out of its way to show business customers that it just can't be trusted?

Linux interop is maturing fast… thanks to a games console

ianbetteridge

Re: Given the wealth of good software for the pc...

Christ on a bike, do we really have to do the "M$" thing? It was tedious in the 90s.

Ubuntu and Fedora clash in beta race, but who wears GNOME better?

ianbetteridge

Most of the more popular extensions -- Dash to Dock, Applications/Places menus, etc -- already have versions available for Gnome 45, which is good to see. It's the smaller ones which are most likely to fail to make the jump.

One thing I found interesting about Fedora 39 beta is that the installer doesn't actually install Gnome 45, or any of the other big new versions of packages -- they're all downloaded in that first big update.

Mastodon makes a major move amid Musk's multiple messes

ianbetteridge

Re: Shame about Mastodon

The key point is "aiming to be". And to be honest, I would bet against that federated protocol being quietly forgotten as soon as their investors demand a return.

ianbetteridge

Re: Shame about Mastodon

And all the same dreadful people who basically turned Twitter into a trash fire - grifters, homophobes, racists - are now landing on Bluesky and turning it into Twitter Mk 2. Where it's easy to block an entire instance full of Nazis with Mastodon, Bluesky makes it a one by one process (and if you think they are ever going to do federation, I have a bridge to sell to you).

Portable Large Language Models – not the iPhone 15 – are the future of the smartphone

ianbetteridge

> Yes even Apple whose ads make it look like they are squeakily clean and don't collect personal data from iPhone users still vacuum up a large amount of it from iOS even if they aren't selling it to 3rd party ad companies,

First, turning off personalised ads on Apple OS' really is pretty easy, as long as you're capable of tapping a button: https://fossbytes.com/apple-data-collection-explained/

Second, Apple has continually moved away from the cloud for ML towards doing more on-device. It announced yesterday it's moved a bunch of voice recognition tasks for Siri from cloud to Apple Watch, because the processor on it now has a fast enough neural engine to support it. It's absolutely in its interests (and yours) to do more ML tasks on-device.

ianbetteridge

I'm guessing that you missed the part about Apple moving voice recognition - a core ML tech - from the cloud on to the *Watch*?

They're fully away that ML is moving on the device. Why do you think they have spent years building chips with Neural Engine into all their devices? The problem with shifting LLM's on to the device, though, is that they're incredibly power-hungry, and that means the more you use them, the more you can watch your battery slide towards zero.

LibreOffice 7.6 arrives: Open source stalwart is showing its maturity

ianbetteridge

Welcome to the comments on all Linux posts here, where many posters appear to regret that any software has been created since 1998.

ianbetteridge

Re: "it is increasingly difficult to develop entirely new features"

Absolutely 100% this. Of the main parts of the LibreOffice suite, Writer is fine, Impress is simple but does the basics well enough, and Calc feels like no one working on it has looked at another spreadsheet since 1998.

ianbetteridge

Have you tried Fastmail's web interface? If not, I would recommend it.

ianbetteridge

Re: I miss ClarisWorks

LIbreWriter is pretty good, apart from outlining as Liam notes. I don't think I've hit a point where I had to get back to Word instead with it for as long as it's been "libre" rather than "open".

LibreCalc, on the other hand, is pretty much useless to many users because it lacks tables, the single most useful (and used by normal people) feature in Excel.

And worse yet, whenever you mention this, some bright spark hops in with "well it's a spreadsheet, not a database, use a database instead". Which of course misses the point by about a country mile: tables are easy to use for normal people, a database is not.

I remember about 25 years ago someone from Microsoft telling me that something like 90% of their customers used Excel as a database rather than a spreadsheet -- and of course they didn't care, as long as people used it. That's a lesson in pragmatism which some open source developers could handily learn.

ianbetteridge

Re: long-form writers...

If you're self-publishing, maybe. But if you're working with a publisher, Word format is the de facto standard and what you're expected to submit in.

Linux on the Arm-based Thinkpad X13S: It's getting there

ianbetteridge

Re: Still lots to do

Mostly I don’t particularly want to watch streamed stuff more than a couple of times, so buying it is just creating more physical clutter.

As for music, most digital files you buy are unemcumbered by DRM these days, and again for me CDs are just clutter.

antiX 23: Anarchic for sure, but 'design by committee' isn't always the best for Linux

ianbetteridge

Re: The sytemd-free ecology

All of those search terms are big, which means they tend to be full of relatively low-quality content designed to exploit Google's increasing inability to determine what a good answer looks like. Same, of course, for "best Linux for beginners" – although with most of the pages designed for that keyword, at least they'll come to the same (correct) conclusions of "just use Mint or Ubuntu".

30 years on, Debian is at the heart of the world's most successful Linux distros

ianbetteridge

Re: We should distinguish between server and desktop

I don't want to come across all "this is the year of desktop linux" but I think as people become more conscious of privacy and the degree to which Microsoft (in particular) wants to use personal data harvested from it for advertising, Linux will become more popular. Similarly, as the desire to treat computers less as throwaway devices and extend their longevity comes into play, the more appealing Linux becomes – you can take an eight year old machine and get at least another two years out of it by dumping Windows and installing Linux.

It's never going to be the biggest platform, unfortunately, but there are more opportunities for increased numbers of desktop users than I can remember.

Red Hat redeploys one of its main desktop developers

ianbetteridge

Someone will be along to make the traditional snarky moan about Wayland in three... two... one...

Charging your iPhone literally costs Apple millions as Batterygate saga slams shut

ianbetteridge

The batteries are replaceable – they're just only officially replaceable by Apple and it's approved service partners. Which isn't good enough, of course.

Sparkling fresh updates to Ubuntu, Mint and Zorin on way

ianbetteridge

Re: They could

I don't think that's quite right, Liam (although I agree with you that they need to work on making this clearer). You can get a free version which is based on Gnome. There's three versions of Zorin:

1. Lite – this is free, and based on xfce

2. Core – this is also free, and based on Gnome

3. Pro – Runs with either xfce or Gnome and has lots of pre-loaded themes and stuff, but is paid for.

It's all on the site, but only on the download page - https://zorin.com/os/download/

GNOME 45 beta: Less buggy, more colorful, and still not your grandma's desktop

ianbetteridge

Re: That’s no worse than the alternatives

Well you can argue (and I do, often) that the absolutely woeful state of Windows is largely down to Microsoft's acquiescence to the constant desire for backwards compatibility from their enterprise customers. It's a millstone round the necks of non-enterprise Windows users, and I don't see why the Linux world has to follow suit when the code for older versions can be forked if enough people really don't like the direction something is going in.

Soft-reboot in systemd 254 sounds a lot like Windows' Fast Startup

ianbetteridge

Re: And Pottering continues to screw up Linux for its primary purpose....

Yeah, how dare anyone want a Linux system to be easier to use for normal people.

ianbetteridge

How do "properly set up systems" get properly set up in the first place? Do they come like that out of the box?

No, they need tweaking.

GNOME project considers adding window tiling by default

ianbetteridge

Re: They're overcomplicating it again

Not everyone wants to spend their life rearranging windows so they're *just so*. Why bother posting a comment that's basically just a variant of "I don't like it, and won't use it" when you're clearly not the intended audience for it?

ianbetteridge

Re: What I really need is multiple desktops

I'm not sure if I'm missing something in what you're saying, but Gnome has had mutliple desktops (workspaces) for quite a while.

ianbetteridge

Tiling is sometimes useful when you're working on a task which requires you to keep an eye on two different windows or applications at the same time, or need to keep two things in view. I use PopOS, which has a nice built in tiling system you can turn on and off with super-Y. I probably use it about 10% of the time, and the rest of the time I'm mostly just working in one application. I don't understand the fervant "tiling is the one true way" nonsense that you see spouted all too often, but it is occasionally useful.

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