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It’s National Backup Day

Just kidding. If you haven’t backed up your raspberry pi lately, today is a good day to do it. I just backed up and then upgraded DietPi to version 6.33.3.

If you haven’t done this in a while. Go to the Finder.

diskutil list

Find your SD card. It should be something like /dev/disk2. It may be comprised of some logical drives as well, e.g. disk2s1, etc. Don’t blindly copy and paste the code below. Check your disk names!

sudo dd if=/dev/rdisk2 of=~/printserver-backup.dmg

or

sudo dd if=/dev/rdisk2 | gzip >printserver-backup.gz

You can do this in reverse to restore a backup but you have to remember to unmount the card. I prefer to write my backups to the card using Balena Etcher.

Apple Announces New iPhones 12

Apple announced some new products today including the iPhone(s) 12. As I previously mentioned, I’m using an iPhone 7 and am ready to upgrade. The rumors of a slightly smaller iPhone mini were true (approximately 3 mm in width and 6 mm in height than an iPhone 8/SE). I’ll preorder one of those when they go on sale. I’m going to do something different this year though. All my iPhones have been black. I’m ordering the Pacific Blue version. It looks great.

AppleScript to Save Open Tabs to Reading List

I am not good at keeping my Safari windows clean. It is not unusual for me to have three or four windows upen with tabs that look like this.

Safari

Maybe this isn’t the best way to work, but it’s how I work. I only have two problems. The first is the utter catastrophe when I accidentally Cmd-Q. John Gruber has a nice Applescript to solve this problem. The second problem is more an annoyance. Sometimes I need to restart my computer. There are cases where the system will reload open windows. There are cases where it won’t. In general I don’t trust the system to open all my tabs after a restart.

The reading list is a good place to save the open tabs but adding them manually is a waste of time. AppleScript lets us automate this process.

tell application "Safari"
	
	set windowCount to number of windows
	
	repeat with x from 1 to windowCount
		set tabcount to number of tabs in window x
		
		repeat with y from 1 to tabcount
			set tabName to name of tab y of window x
			set tabURL to URL of tab y of window x
			add reading list item tabURL with title tabName
		end repeat	
	end repeat
end tell

After running this script all the open tabs from every window are safely stored in the Safari reading list and can be opened again after the system reboots.

Internet TV is a Mess

Yesterday evening I was in no mood to hang out at a sports bar but I really wanted to watch the Green Bay Packers game. So far this year I have been able to watch the games on local over the air channels. Monday Night Football is on ESPN so I needed another solution.

I checked the Packers website and found that other than ESPN I could only watch the game on replay with an NFL All Access Pass. I decided that I had to get access to ESPN. I remembered that Disney+ has a bundle that includes ESPN+ and Hulu. My kids like some shows on Hulu. They have it at their mother’s house. My sister also likes some shows on Hulu so it seemed like a good solution. For five additional bucks per month I kill two birds with one stone.

I upgraded my subscription, logged on to ESPN+ (ESPNplus ?) and then learned that you can’t watch ESPN on ESPN+. What the heck! Kick off was about 15 minutes away and I wasn’t in the mood for this mess. I downgraded my subscription. I love my kids, but I don’t need another streaming service if there is no Packers football. I searched for other options and it seemed the only option in my area was ATT U-Verse. I have to use ATT for internet and I used to have them for mobile service. I’ve never been happy with them. I also don’t want a massive cable bill for a service that I’m only going to use 2-3 times in the next 4 months.

I almost gave up but then I found that SlingTV has ESPN in their Orange package. I was able to create an account and add the app to my TV in time for kickoff. SlingTV is a hodgepodge of channels in two different bundles that can be combined into three pricing tiers. So now I can watch my beloved Pack at home almost always either over the air, in SlingTV, via the NFL app, or through Amazon Prime. What a mess!

Apple's Skeuomorphic Hardware

In a recent post to Asymco Horace Dediu provides a long list of cababilites in the Apple Watch. He comments:

The reason the Watch can do all these things is because it’s a computer. A computer with a dual core processor based on the A13 bionic chip also used in the iPhone 11, a retina display that is always on(!) and displaying at least 500nits at all times. It has on-board storage for music, WiFi, Bluetooth and a touch screen.

But although being a computer allows the Watch to do all this and more, no PC can do even one of these things. Nor does a PC have GPS, or Cellular connectivity or NFC and is certainly not swimproof. You don’t wear a PC in bed and it does not stay with you 24×7.

I’ve read and listened to the hot takes from the recent Apple event and most commentators make the same points that they have made since the Apple Watch found its niche with the Series 2. If you see the Apple Watch as a fitness device or use it primarily for notifications then you are happy. If you see it as a watch then you question its necessity.

Horace’s point above and his thesis in the article gets to the heart of the matter. Apple is officially a consumer electronics company. They changed their name to reflect this after the massive success of the iPod. The name changed but the company didn’t. It is still very much Apple Computer. When it debuted, the iPhone was unlike any other phone. Now the vast majority of phones follow the same design paradigm. The iPhone was never a phone though. Previously there were phones with apps. Afterward there are computers that make phone calls. The Apple Watch is exactly the same. It is a watch in name only. Previously there were watches, mechanical and digital. There were also smart watches. The Apple Watch is neither. It is a health and fitness monitor with a real time clock.

A few years ago there was constant talk about skeuomorphic software design. There isn’t much talk about skeuomorphic hardware design. The iPhone and Apple Watch are skeuomorphic designs. They provide familiarity to the user by mimicing common products. An iPhone can do everything that a PC can do. Yes it is limited by Apple’s rules and the app store but it can. The hardware is there. It doesn’t do many of those things as well, but it does other things the PC can’t and it is always in your pocket.

Similarly, the Apple Watch is now running an Apple designed A13 processor. Technically it can do everything a PC can do. It doesn’t for various reasons but it can. Instead it has been extended with sensors, some always on and some used as needed, to make it something more than a PC. The Apple Watch provides a suite of diagnostic information that was only available with a multi-thousand dollar hospital visit a few years ago. None of the sensors are as good as dedicated medical equipment, but there is no medical equipment that provides the same range of sensors for the money. Also, the Apple Watch is always on your wrist.

Since the development of the integrated circuit computers have transformed or replaced a significant number of products. The trend will continue. Computation is powerful and increasingly affordable. These skeuomorphic hardware designs will continue as more products become accessible through reduced size and cost.

The Mandalorian Season 2 Trailer

Disney+ has released the first official trailer for Season 2 of The Mandalorian. I know the show has mixed reviews. I loved the first season. I’m looking forward to October 30th.

Nice To Have The NFL Back

I’m watching the Steelers and Giants. I just thought how nice it is that the NFL is playing. I hope the players are getting the testing necessary to ensure they minimize their COVID risks, although I’m not sure COVID is the biggest worry for long term players. Not having fans doesn’t change the game much for television. In fact I like that there are less camera breaks from the field.

I’m a Packers fan so this has been a good opening weekend. I feel for everyone that has to play against Aaron Rodgers this year. One of the few advantages teams have against him is crowd noise. With teams pumping in a steady 70 dB he’s going to be deadly with the hard count.