iPad stopgap

What I really want and need is a real laptop like the MacBook Pro 16”. But as I already posted about that didn’t turn out as well as I hoped. So now I have to wait until the next generation of the flagship MacBook Pro before trying to order again.

Meanwhile, my wife got the other MBP 16” and my iPad Pro for making online math lectures, so I was left with nothing, or seen as a positive; an opportunity to buy a new iPad Pro with the Magic Keyboard case. The iPad Pro arrived yesterday and the keyboard just an hour ago.

First impressions (I’m writing this on the new keyboard, by the way) are: it’s an amazingly nice keyboard to type on. It’s sturdy and very stiff. You can lift the whole thing by a corner without any bending. It’s also the exactly right angle for the screen.

I’m writing both in Swedish and in English, and occasionally in Dutch, on my keyboards, so I always order “International English” and then switch keyboards in software. That works just fine on this keyboard, too. I’m still getting used to there not being any escape key or home key (the latter is replaced by a trackpad gesture). The cmd-. combo sometimes works as an escape, but mostly not. Applications clearly weren’t written with keyboards in mind for the iPad.

I’ll probably be back with more impressions later on, but for the moment I’d just like to keep on writing, even if it makes no sense. That’s the kind of satisfying feel this keyboard has.

Sad about MacBook Pro

Having lost my 17″ Macbook Pro from 2011 to the ravages of time, in december I bought a Macbook Pro 16″, the larger standard config, the one with 2.3 GHz CPU, Radeon 5500M 4 GB, 16 GB RAM, and 1 TB SSD. It’s a fantastic machine, and I was very happy with it. So, naturally, I gave it to my wife and ordered another one for myself, but this time a litte more pimped out; 2.4 GHz CPU, Radeon 5500M 8 GB, 32 GB RAM, and 2 TB SSD. I think that was a mistake.

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Zoom video file conversion

It seems that if you record a zoom video meeting and then interrupt the file conversion after the meeting, the video file may disappear from zoom, so you can’t restart the conversion later. At least, that happened to me.

If you go looking for the unconverted files, you’ll find them, on MacOS, in the folder ~/Documents/Zoom/<date> <time> <meeting name>. In there you’ll find, among other things, a file named double_click_to_convert_01.zoom.

So, naturally, you double-click it, but that will only get you errors. No application is set to handle files with the “.zoom” extension. A search on the net give me dozens of articles telling me to double-click it anyhow. Won’t work. Dragging the file over the Zoom.us app doesn’t do anything either.

But, a little spelunking in the Zoom.us app shows us they’ve hidden a transcoder inside it at:

/Applications/zoom.us.app/Contents/Frameworks/Transcode.app

If you run that app from the commandline with the raw videofile as argument, it does convert the file just fine.

I think Zoom forgot to associate the “.zoom” file extension with this Transcode app in the installation script, but now I’ve described it here, I won’t forget for the next time. Example command line (all on one line):

/Applications/zoom.us.app/Contents/Frameworks/Transcode.app ~/Documents/Zoom/2020-04-16\ 16.30.10\ Martin\ Wehlou's\ Zoom\ Meeting\ 94043638090/double_click_to_convert_01.zoom

Reflowing a Macbook Pro GPU to no avail

My 2011 Macbook Pro 17″ failed again. A few years back, the GPU went bad so I sent it to a guy in the UK that replaced the GPU, and then it worked for maybe two years. It failed again a couple of months back, but I don’t think it’s worth having it repaired now. I did, however, just do a reflow on it for kicks. It didn’t fix the computer, though, but that won’t stop me from describing what I did. So this is an example of what doesn’t work.

I first removed everything removable from the main board and set it up in a preheater. I stuck the Fluke thermocouple into a mounting hole close to the GPU so I could monitor the temperature of the board.
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Battery replacement in an iPad Pro

Replacing the battery in an iPad Pro is a horrible, terrible repair procedure. It’s all about heat and glue. Jeez.

This sounds like a good idea, but it isn’t. I heated the iOpener in the microwave for 30 seconds on full power as prescribed and it was fairly hot. Let it rest on the iPad for a couple of minutes and the iPad turned maybe lukewarm. Or maybe not even that. It really didn’t work for me.
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A very disinfected stethoscope

A couple of years ago I bought a Littmann 3200 electronic stethoscope. Love the thing. Fantastic (and adjustable) sound and recording capability and Bluetooth connection to upload those sounds to a companion app.

A couple of weeks back, the stethoscope started to glitch. Every now and then it would hard reset when I pressed the “-” button so I thought that was the end of it. I ordered a new one, planning on disassembling the old one once I had another good one. Today was that day.

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Mac mini sucks (power)

I’ve got a new Mac Mini, and it has a gloriously low power consumption. At least it had for a while. If you wait long enough, it starts consuming power like crazy. See the graph of total power consumption to see the problem:

Total power consumption over time.

Now, looking at the processes, one process sticks out, the “corespeechd”. Today, it consumed around 130% of a CPU, constantly. Remarkably, I have all speech-related functionality switched off, but it still does this.

The solution? Well, I don’t want to reboot the machine all the time, so I created an entry in Lingon X to killall corespeechd once a day. I think that will do it. I’d like to kill it forever, but I see no way of doing that.

Update 2019-02-02: And this is the difference it makes installing that kill command:

Installed the “killall corespeechd” script on Jan 19. See the difference it makes to total power consumption.

Update 2019-04-03: After following Marty’s suggestion (in the comments) and even after disabling my kill-script, it looks like the problem is solved:

Whose side are they on?

This is an interview in Wired with the principal deputy director of national intelligence (of the US). It’s all about how the tech industry should work closer with the goverment (US). It starts out in classic paranoid fashion:

“SUE GORDON, THE principal deputy director of national intelligence, wakes up every day at 3 am, jumps on a Peloton, and reads up on all the ways the world is trying to destroy the United States.1

…and goes on to:

“I think there’s a lot of misconception about those of us who work in national security and intelligence,” she says. “We swear to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States. That means we believe in and swear to uphold privacy and civil liberties.”

Not once is there a mention in the text that “the” government is actually just one government. Not once does Gordon or the reporter reflect on that working closely with the (US) government means taking sides against the rest of the world. There is less and less common interest between the US government and the rest of the western world, not to mention the non-western world, so any initiative the tech companies join in with the US government is a big red flag for the market outside the US. Think Huawei.

I’m pretty certain the major tech companies do realize that the majority of their customers are not US patriots, and that being too cozy with the US intelligence services may not be good for business. Increasingly so.

I’m amazed, though, that this wasn’t even considered when interviewing for and writing that article. Maybe it would be a good idea not to distribute arguments like this beyond the US. Why do they even let us read “patriotic” claptrap like this? I can’t imagine the tech companies liking it much.