I bought a MacBook Pro

So, here I was two months ago complaining to everyone and sundry about my Acer notebook locking up when it chose to. I pinned it down to a heat issue and the notebook now resides in a much cooler place, though I might state also under a substantially greater amount of pressure. (You work it out).

My line of work requires a computer to provide 3D renderings without too much of an ask. Now after finally having had quite a few years of putting up, with…….PC ……oh sorry…. Where am I going with this…….? Finally, reality check,……..after 20 years, BB quote here, “I see the light”.

It’s not even the latest, as I had to have the one with a 17″ screen. Which, by the way, is sensational even though it doesn’t have double the pixel density. A colleague has a later model and is green with envy because of the bigger display.

Have to say even though this purchase was related to an article that had been off range for nearly 12 months I was made to feel the same as a current model purchaser.

The follow up from the sales department was sensational. Their product was delivered with the care and grace as if it had been the latest. The latter being a 17″ MacBook Pro. Good on you Apple.

Dare I say, I’m a convert. Sensational product, sensational service and a human answers the phone when you ring them.

Almost, “Magical”.

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Automatic Updates

It had been a while since having set up a PC from scratch and I had to do so two days ago. You know, given my now quite a few years of dealing with these blessed devices, I too would have to admit, that the install process, has come a long way.

Let me take you back to one of my first PC OS installs, DOS 3.1 as perpetrated by the then still selling PCs, Epson. There were at least six 5″1/4 floppy disks involved and one was definitely used about three times. The reference disk is what it was called. Formatting a hard disk was about as onerous as usurping a failing African dictatorship. These days we probably have a revised definition for the term, “F disk”.

Fast forward to 2013. Windows 7 64bit to be installed on a six month old Asus mini tower. All the usual specs and the like. Insert the DVD and provided the BIOS boot order is set correctly and you remember to hit any key to boot from the DVD, you’re in business. User friendly or what?

That aside, I’d have to say that the process of installing an OS for a PC has definitely come along. It was all over in about 20 minutes or so. This included repartitioning and formatting etc.

Now of course, by now you know, it doesn’t stop there. Nobody on this planet uses just the PC with just the OS. No, you first have to wade through the OEM driver installs and then printer drivers untill finally you can settle in to installing the penultimate software that you want to make use of. This of course includes the now mandatory anti-virus software as well of course.

Having established the also now mandatory Internet connection, we already start getting nagged that the OS is not up to date. Then of course, definition updates jump on the bandwagon. Which all amounts to reboot upon reboot etc. Don’t even get me started on Flash…… Moving right along.

Well, by the time it was all over it was 2am. That’s right, five hours of sitting there shuffling CDs, DVDs, memory sticks and interspersed with my wife beckoning me to come to bed already. With all of the bits and pieces installed and thinking this machine would be ready to take to work in the morning I decided to go to bed.

07:00 the same morning, computer left on, whilst having enjoyed five hours of peaceful slumber etc. I got up and showered, dressed and came in to power-down the PC in preparation for departure to the place of use. This is where this whole Windows saga gets me. As if MS, Balmer & Gates knew I was now in a rush and upon selecting Start (hmm…) and Shutdown, the bloody thing decides it was going to install not one, ney, not even two but one hundred and twenty five updates.

……………😱 Forty five minutes later (having abided by the whole “don’t unplug or power down or else” message), I was finally able to pack this thing of to it’s place of use. By the way, over the last two days there have been at least another fifty or so additional updates. Most annoyingly installed when you want to power down. Why then? Like most, I power the PC down only, when I want to go home. Even better for us notebook owners? Why the hell don’t they install their never ending tirade of soon to be redundant updates when you switch the bloody thing on? No, no, no, they want to, need to, remind you who’s controlling who.

That of course led me to ponder, what if other suppliers of goods and services were to take the route of MS. Imagine coming out of your new car showroom having made a substantial purchase (paid in full), driving nothing more than a chassis with an engine. The salesman yells out as you drive off into the sunset, “Don’t forget to register for our automatic updates”. You yell back, “Thanks, it drives great”.

Come on….. You wouldn’t cop it. I now only use Windows not as a matter of preference and only because certain applications force it upon me. At home it survives purely as virtual machine backed up as a single file and able to be restored at a moments notice when it cocks up.

Apple Time-machine is great for that………

Apple, Granny Smith or Macintosh?

Well, a year on from my spectacular iMac purchase and now where are we?

The just released iMac is thinner. Yep. Forsaking the optical drive. Deemed old technology.

More like, now go out and buy the add on drive. $$$$

Having had my share for twelve months I would love to have the forum for a rant. Well, this is neither the place or the time. Instead, I’ll bitch and moan and take it it up the tail pipe.

Seems I’ve been here before.

The most awe inspiring experience without a doubt has been Parallel Desktop. Sensational. To be able to run Windows without ever really seeing it is just brilliant.

The biggest jaw dropper was having to download a third party app to rename multiple files at once. Come on……

And what’s with the whole Energizer/Duracell deal. If I was to suggest that my keyboard and mouse were never likely to be more than two meters from the screen why would they need to be wireless. Oh yeh, I know, so they can both (respectively) consume batteries like there was no tomorrow.

Full screen apps? Where’s the clock?

To know your OS you need to know your users.

Time to get with it Apple.

Is the Apple being peeled?

Well, it has been a year or so since Steve Jobs handed the reigns of his company over and went on to greener pastures. R.I.P.

What if he’d had a say in it? Would we now have an iPhone that by all appearances scratches just by breathing on it? Would he have ditched Google Maps in favor of an app that makes bridges look like roller coasters? The lack of content and accuracy is “magical”, “awesome”.

YouTube is gone. What the? It better not be taken from Apple TV. Speaking of which, the GUI is “bewildering” now.

The competition in this world of tech appears to be based on patents and law suits at the moment. I feel privileged to have been part of these formative years. By god don’t let our children grow up to think that it’s innovation that leads the way. No, no, margins all the way for us at the moment. Take 200 bucks worth of chips and a battery and make everyone believe that the result is the most awesome device known to man.

Then, wait for it, change everything. Even the App Store is now a joke on the iPad. Big rectangles per app now replace what was a reasonably useable interface. I am definitely a big fan of progress and the latter is simply change for change sake.

No location based reminders on a 3G iPad 3. Come on.

By all means introduce new technology and definitely not have the user-base pay for real time R & D. Not “cool”.

One of the most compelling seminars I’ve ever attended was entitled, “Innovate or Die”.

Hmmm, could it be an epitaph in this case?

Lets hope not.

Last days in Ban Nong Pai

The last days have become a bit of a blur. There are activities to experience interspersed with protracted periods of absolutely nothing. I don’t know how the locals do it.

One of the major events of the week was a three day eating and drinking fest at the mayors house. His son is in the process of becoming a Monk and he was also honoring the passing of his other son some four years ago.

Of course as it goes here, any excuse for a free feed and a drink. Marquees were setup along with the mandatory sound equipment of course. This is where it pays to be the mayor of course as now the street was going to be impassable for the next three days. Not that anyone minded. If one happened upon the scene and determined they couldn’t get through they simply stopped and had a drink instead.

The last night was basically the coup de gras, as now the remaining intersection was taken up with a huge stage making ready for some live entertainment. The locals refer to this extravaganza as Lum Sing. Given that Isan has somewhat of a culture all of its own along with a strong dialect they have a stage show to show off these facets. Singers, dancers and of course the bamboo instrument (Can) players were in fine form.

Yours truly arrived and was given a VIP spot along with an ice bucket full of ice and a bottle of beer. Having performed live music myself and having a background in sound engineering I soon concluded that the sound dude for this show was deaf. Just like Beethoven used to lay his head on the piano to feel the vibrations, this guy used the kick drum as his cue. Every time the drummer hit the pedal on his kick drum the woofers of the sound system threatened to launch themselves into the crowd. I could actually feel the air pressure waves passing me each time. (Must bring ear protection next time). The locals didn’t seem to mind or notice. Then I remembered, they’re all deaf as well. My brother in law cuts floor tiles with an angle grinder without ear protection.

So given that we had put in a solid two hours listening to the diverse range of music I asked a very naive question, “When does the show finish?” This was around twelve o’clock and I was told that it would continue to at least three. So with that they gave me another bottle of beer. (warm of course). How do you ask for more ice in Isan?……

Lampao Dam – Songkran

Why do so many people here have pick-ups? Rot-gra-bah in Thia. The answer to the question soon becomes apparent during Songkran. Todays journey would have us make our way to Lampao Dam near Kalasin proper.

The vehicle of choice had been out fitted with a 150ltr tub filled with water. Small bowls and buckets were soon found and they too made their way to the back of the vehicle. The younger kids all clambered into the back with me included of course and we were off. Yes, I remembered my waterproof camera.

Lampao Dam is some 35Km from Ban Nong Pai and most of it can be travelled by way of the major roads at 80 Kph. However, what’s the fun in that? Better to take the back streets through the villages and see the locals throw water at the pick-ups. Note to self: Bring wetsuit next time.

It wasn’t long before all the water in our tub had been gleefully flung at passing motor bikes, other pick-ups, pedestrians and innocent bystanders. Now what? We’re out of water. Well, Thai ingenuity kicks in (or is it the ability to make a buck?) and we stopped off at a canal. There some guy had set himself up with a pump and for ten baht you can have your tub refilled.

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Off we went again. By now I was soaked through and through and had a generous lather of talc on my face. The latter being additional bonus relative to the passing on of good luck. The people at the side of the road will flag down the passing vehicles and touch each of the passengers faces with talc laden hand. This can of course get very messy given that everyone is wet. Farangs get priority I found.

It was great to see though that all of the antics are very light hearted. Nobody gets narky. How could you? If you complained you’d simply get another well deserved dousing.

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We did eventually arrive at the dam. Or as I dubbed it, “Kalasin Motor Show”. With the emphasis on pick-ups. It was here that I rediscovered another interesting Thai trait. They don’t use swimwear. No, I don’t mean that they’re into nude bathing. In fact truth be known, they’re the prudiest lot out. I mean they simply swim in their clothes. You might say, but they were wet already from the trip getting there. Well I’ve seen the same thing on beaches in Phuket. No real call for a swimwear outlet here I’m afraid. Swimming lessons wouldn’t go astray though. Although that would put the inflated inner tube hire dude out of business.

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And more Songkran

The destination of the day’s street parade was the local temple (Wat) and this was to be the venue for the evenings festivities as well.

When we arrived that evening we came upon a circular arrangement of chairs in front of a stage. By now I have concluded that the locals could all definitely use a hearing test as the parade’s amplification gear had been supplemented with even more gear. They obviously think that “stereo” means two of everything. The music had needless to say, an overwhelming presence.

The theme for the evening was some of community dance affair. The idea being that a financial contributor facilitates the ability for others to dance. The money is of course all put to good use I’m sure. Maybe the proceeds of this evenings event were going to be utilized to bolster the ever waining water supply.

Your’s truly was duped into (I mean selected for) making the first major contribution. It was an all in extravaganza with anyone and everyone displaying their cultural dance heritage and prowess. Others were on stage banging and clanging away (almost in time) along with the music.

Of course I was not going to get off as lightly as only making a donation. No, no, and after a lot of coaxing and a shot of VSOP offered up by local wearing a pith helmet, I entered the circle. The music began to play after I was introduced in English by the local teacher (why English when no one would be able to understand it) and before I knew it I was surrounded by Thai women. Not one of them under sixty five I might add. It was about now that all of those Discovery Channel shows started playing in my head. You know, those that deal with cultural courting rituals of sorts? It was then that I remembered that it’s OK for Thai men to be cradle snatchers and it’s frowned upon for Thai women to be cougars. Phew…..

"If not us, who? If not now, when?"