Systems Admin, Mac Geek, Network Nerd, Developer
595 stories
·
16 followers

‘Artemis’ by Andy Weir is Out Now

2 Comments
Artemis by Andy Weir. ($17 hardcover)

The much-anticipated Artemis: A Novel by Andy Weir — famed author of The Martian a few years ago — is now available for purchase. Before you ask, no, this is not a sequel to The Martian.

Sure, both novels take place in space in the not-too-distant future and each one features a sarcastic, clever protagonist, and they both delve into lots of nerdy technical details that will please hardcore sci-fi fans, but that’s pretty much where the similarities end. Rather than being a survival tale on Mars, Artemis is a heist story set on the moon.

From the book description:

Jazz Bashara is a criminal.

Well, sort of. Life on Artemis, the first and only city on the moon, is tough if you’re not a rich tourist or an eccentric billionaire. So smuggling in the occasional harmless bit of contraband barely counts, right? Not when you’ve got debts to pay and your job as a porter barely covers the rent.

Everything changes when Jazz sees the chance to commit the perfect crime, with a reward too lucrative to turn down. But pulling off the impossible is just the start of her problems, as she learns that she’s stepped square into a conspiracy for control of Artemis itself—and that now, her only chance at survival lies in a gambit even riskier than the first.

This is a fun read you can probably crank through in a matter of days. It’ll probably make a great summer flick of its own someday (which I hear is already in the works).

Get the book in these formats:

Buy Now

Read the whole story
peelman
2 days ago
reply
This just showed up for me on Tuesday. I had forgotten I preordered it. So now it’s sitting on my desk under Lee Child’s Midnight Line and Dan Brown’s origin. 12 days into the release of those two books, I have made it all of 60 pages into Midnight Line.

And all of that days nothing of the two stacked-full IKEA Bekant cubes of reading material that my too-tired, too-distracted ass has neglected to read despite my desire to do so...
Seymour, Indiana
Share this story
Delete

Jony Ive Says Holding Onto Features When There's a 'Better Way' is 'Path That Leads to Failure'

1 Comment
After naming the iPhone X as one of the 25 Best Inventions of the Year, TIME sat down for an interview about the smartphone with Apple's design chief Jony Ive and hardware engineering chief Dan Riccio.


Riccio believes the iPhone X paves the way for the next 10 years of smartphones, given its radical redesign with a nearly edge to edge display, no home button, and advanced cameras for facial recognition and augmented reality.

"There were these extraordinarily complex problems that needed to be solved," said Ive. "Paying attention to what's happened historically actually helps give you some faith that you are going to find a solution."

That history includes, in part, Apple removing the headphone jack on the iPhone 7 last year, parting ways with the built-in disc drive on the MacBook Pro after 2012, and ditching the floppy drive on the iMac G3 in 1998.

"I actually think the path of holding onto features that have been effective, the path of holding onto those whatever the cost, is a path that leads to failure," said Ive. "And in the short term, it's the path that feels less risky and it's the path that feels more secure."

Ive acknowledged that it's not always easy for Apple to move past a feature or technology when it believes there's a "better way," and it's easy to see his point given the controversy that each change has generated.

Apple was criticized by a fair number of customers for removing the headphone jack on the iPhone last year, for example, and even competitors like Google and Samsung used it as an opportunity to poke fun at Apple.

After time, however, many customers usually learn to adapt. Google even removed the headphone jack on the Pixel 2 this year.

iPhone X is the most expensive iPhone ever, with a starting price of $999 in the United States, which Ive said is the "financial consequence" of "integrating the sheer amount of processing power into such a small device."

"Our goal is always to provide what we think is the best product possible, not always the lowest cost," added Riccio.

Despite being expensive, the iPhone X appears to be off to a successful start given sales estimates, and Apple's forecast for an all-time revenue record this quarter. Orders placed today are still backlogged by 2-3 weeks.

Related Roundup: iPhone X
Buyer's Guide: iPhone X (Buy Now)

Discuss this article in our forums

Read the whole story
peelman
2 days ago
reply
Please retire. Please.
Seymour, Indiana
MotherHydra
1 day ago
Amen, again I say Amen. He needs to be on a leash, Jobs kept him from going nanners.
Share this story
Delete

"But some Marshall voters said they were turned off by Roem’s gender. “She’s never had menstrual..."

1 Share
“But some Marshall voters said they were turned off by Roem’s gender. “She’s never had menstrual cramps, and she’s never had a baby, and she never will be able to,” said Carol Fox, a community activist in the Heritage Hunt section of Prince William, where Roem campaigned repeatedly. “She can take all the estrogen she wants, but she’ll never be a woman.””

-

Some people just need to learn to shut the fuck up.

As a women, Ms Fox should be more cognizant of the problems that spawn from being marginalized and demeaned. But no, let’s be pissy about somebody’s genetic make up and choices (neither of which interfere with their ability to serve the public).

Read the whole story
peelman
10 days ago
reply
Seymour, Indiana
Share this story
Delete

The Eastwood QST-30/60

1 Comment

A few weeks back Matt at Eastwood called and asked if I would be interested in testing one of their new scroll compressors in the shop. I’ve never “reviewed” a compressor before and didn’t have a ton of interest in setting it all up for a test in my own shop, but Rex Rod & Chassis did have a need… and Keith was interested in trying out a scroll in his production shop. So, a prototype compressor was shipped and Keith got busy using it.

I think most compressor reviews start by giving you the numbers, so I will too… The QST-30/60 runs off of a 240v 20-amp circuit. It features a 30-gallon tank, a 3.3 HP continuous duty motor and puts out 12.0 cfm at both 40 and 90 psi with a 145 psi max pressure. It does all of this while only making 69 dB of noise at 1 meter.

If you are like me, all of those numbers and specs on paper don’t mean a hill of beans. They are just numbers… And the only real way to test a compressor is to use the shit out of it. Essentially, that’s what I had Keith and Rex Rods do.

Mobility

The unit Eastwood shipped us was a prototype and one that we had to ship back. As such, Keith didn’t want to hardwire or plumb the compressor into his shop for the time being. Instead, we put a plug on the unit’s cord and then used the compressor as a mobile station that could be rolled from job site to job site within the shop.

The QST-30/60 seems to be built for this application. Rather than a pair of cheap wobbly casters found on most mobile compressors, the Eastwood unit has a pair of heavy duty swivel casters on one end and a pair of fixed on the other. These combined with the push handles on the compressor itself makes this thing entirely more mobile than you would expect for something of it’s size – 44″ wide by 39″ tall by 21″ deep.

So basically, Keith and the fellas would roll the thing over to a work area, get to work and then put it away when finished. And while this might seem like a pain in the ass, it was actually kind of handy if you weren’t moving around too much. Of course, like any other compressor, the unit could be hard wired and plumbed into your shop as well.

Build Quality

My experience with 30-gallon compressors has mostly been limited to upright units sold by Craftsman or other big box stores. Typically, these feature a heavy motor on top, cheap plastic wheels on bottom, and some kind of light weight handle for awkwardly pushing it around. This is not that.

There’s very little plastic on the QST-30/60. The pump and motor are shrouded by a really slick and nicely formed piece of steel. The tank is nicely painted and all of the fittings are placed where you expect them to be.

To put it bluntly, it’s built like a brick shit house and feels like it. There’s just no comparing it to a typical 30-gallon compressor on any level. Plus, it just looks cool…

Performance

Again, most of what I’ve just typed is just gloss. What really matters with a compressor is performance. You wouldn’t think that a 30-gallon compressor would be all that productive in a commercial shop application for a couple of reasons:

First, 30-gallons just isn’t enough capacity to keep up when there is real work to be done. And secondly, even if it was, who wants to listen to a compressor run constantly when only backed with a capacity of 30-gallons?

The QST-30/60 combats these issues individually. First, scroll compressors are very efficient. At 3450 RPM, the QST produces 12fcm. Every bit of air taken in by the intake gets compressed – there’s no residual air. This means that the pump within compresses a crap load of air in a really big hurry.

A typical 60-gallon piston driven compressor does 11cfm at 90psi and 11.5cfm at 40psi. The QST does 12cfm at both 90 and 40psi. Again numbers, but consider this:

I pulled the valve on the QST and let all of the air out of the tank. Then, I closed the valve and kicked the compressor on – 2 minutes and 38 seconds later, the compressor had already filled the 30-gallon tank to 145psi. That’s quick y’all…

The other way the QST manages to punch above it’s weight class is by way of noise reduction. Few things are more annoying in the shop than a compressor running on the reg and when you only have a 30-gallon tank, that’s inevitably gonna happen. But the QST is so damned quiet, I found myself not caring if it was running or not. Here’s a quick video demonstration with typical shop background noise:

And here’s Eastwood’s own marketing video comparing the noise to a typical compressor:

Essentially, the QST sounds a lot like an air conditioner kicking on. If you listen for it, you can hear it… But if you aren’t really concentrating on it, you don’t really know it’s running. It’s that quiet – almost eerily so…

Price & Value

Eastwood is selling the QST for just under $1,200. There’s no way around it, that’s a whole lot of money for a 30-gallon compressor… or even a 60-gallon. I mean, you can get a cheap ass big box 60-gallon for less than half the price or you can get something highly regarded (such as this Quincy) for around the same money. But frankly, the QST doesn’t compare to either.

For one, the QST outperforms most cheap 60-gallons by leaps and bounds. And while there are some nice 60-gallons for the same money and similar performance, they do it while taking up more space and making a whole lot more noise.

Putting a value on something like the QST is hard to do really. There’s not a lot out there to compare it too. And while there are certainly other scroll compressors on the market, they are typically listed for two to three times the price of the QST.

I guess it comes down to how much you value your space and how much you loathe the sound of a traditional air compressor. In my opinion, Eastwood has a winner here and the QST is worth every bit of $1200 to the right guy.

Conclusion

The QST-30/60 was my first experience with a scroll compressor of any kind and frankly, I was super impressed. It’s made fantastically well, it produces enough air for one person in your shop to use just about any air tool continually, and it’s dead ass quiet while he’s doing so. And really, what more else can you say about a compressor in a review?

I can say that Keith and the fellas at Rex Rods were impressed enough that they have decided to get their own production unit. He’s planning on hardwiring and plumbing the unit into his shop. Hell, he’s even gonna keep his current 90-gallon tank in the system and let it ride… And to me, that’s saying something.

Anyway, I wasn’t paid for this review. And while Eastwood is an Alliance Vendor, they’ve never sent me a check or anything of the sorts. This review is 100% unbiased. Had I found anything that disagreed with my sensibilities, I would have mentioned it. It just so happens that I really like this thing.

You can learn more here.

***

Read the whole story
peelman
13 days ago
reply
Didn’t realize anybody was making affordable a screw-type compressors at this size class. Updating my wishlist now.
Seymour, Indiana
Share this story
Delete

PowerPhotos for Photos.app

1 Comment
main_window

I’ve been spending more time using iCloud Photos lately, and one thing that always perplexed me was wondering where were the actual files in this database. I looked and look, but could never really locate a clear path. Thankfully, I found a simple program that can help.

PowerPhotos does it, and a lot more. For my purposes, you can right click on a file, and then click on “show original file”. It’s simple, and it works perfect.

Along with that feature, you can also merge libraries, find duplicates, create multiple libraries, and browse/search. It’s lightning fast, and I highly recommend it.

You can download a free trial from the Fatcat Software website. The full version is $30.

Buy Now

Read the whole story
peelman
22 days ago
reply
Worth a look.
Seymour, Indiana
Share this story
Delete

On Fixing that NSNull Crasher in Overcast

1 Comment

I don’t normally head home after lunch, but today I was on the bus going back to Ballard, about to open iBooks on my phone and get back to reading The Caledonian Gambit (which I’m thoroughly enjoying), when I decided to check Twitter first — and saw Marco’s tweet about Overcast’s oldest crash.

I’ve written before about how I love fixing crashing bugs. Partly because I’m adamant that an app should, at a minimum, keep running — and also because it’s fun detective work. (I’ve even written a series of blog posts on how not to crash in the first place.)

So I took this one as a challenge. Here’s how I figured it out:

  • The exception reported [NSNull doubleValue]: unrecognized selector. Now, NSNull is a stand-alone code smell: there’s hardly ever a time where it should be used. Well, there was that one weird thing with the kerning a long time ago, but that’s about it. This crash is probably not that.

  • Then I looked at the backtrace and saw -[NSRTFWriter writeKern], and then I looked a little further and saw that an NSAttributedString was being exported to RTF, and, furthermore, writeKern probably is writing out the kerning attribute, which was set to NSNull. writeKern was expecting an NSNumber. So that was it.

I replied:

The kerning attribute is NSNull. That used to be the way to specify use font-specified kerning.

And then Marco found the bug and fixed it.

* * *

This is a story about experience and luck, not brains. It’s just that I’ve been working with these APIs for a long time.

Here’s the story behind setting NSKernAttributeName to NSNull. Back in the iOS 6 days, when John and Dave and I were working on Vesper — which used a custom font, Ideal Sans — we noticed that the kerning was fucking awful. We obviously couldn’t ship it like that. We had to either figure out how to fix the kerning or switch to the system font — which would have been heart-breaking, since Ideal Sans was so perfect for this app.

So I searched around until I found that there was a little bit of magic: in our NSAttributedStrings, we needed to set NSKernAttributeName to NSNull to get the font-specified kerning. I tried it — and it worked! We were able to ship with Ideal Sans.

(Here’s a search in Vesper’s code base for that attribute.)

I don’t know if this bit of magic is still needed these days. Hopefully not — because 1) it’s weird to have NSNull have a meaning like this, and 2) NSRTFWriter doesn’t know to expect an NSNull instead of an NSNumber (this should get filed as a Radar).

I no longer remember exactly where I ran across that bit of magic. Memory tells me what it was a slide from a James Dempsey talk somewhere, though I can’t seem to find it right now.

Anyway. This bug was fixed because years ago I was working with type nerds (and I am one myself), and because of James.

Fixing crashing bugs takes a village.

Read the whole story
peelman
26 days ago
reply
I got to shake Brent’s hand over a decade ago and personally thank him for all the awesome stuff he did with NetNewsWire. His dedication to the Mac developer community and willingness to throw in on this stuff is just one more awesome facet to a pretty awesome career.
Seymour, Indiana
Share this story
Delete
Next Page of Stories