Thursday, January 28, 2016

MacBook Pro Performance

Every so often you'll read comments from Windows fanboys that Macs are good only for Facebook or graphic artists. Well, this is what I had running on my late-2013 13" Retina display MacBook Pro (2.8 GHz Core i7 CPU, 8 GB of RAM, 256 GB SSD) as of a little while ago:


  • Safari web browser with multiple tabs.
  • Thunderbird for 2 personal email accounts.
  • MS Outlook for work email and calendar.
  • MS Lync for work IM.
  • Slack for work IM/file sharing.
  • Textwrangler text editor for a scratchpad.
  • Evernote for note taking.
  • OS X Terminal.app running SSH tunnel to a Linux server.
  • OS X Terminal.app for ping and traceroute to troubleshoot connection to a vSphere server.
  • ZOC for SSH connections to multiple Linux servers.
  • MS Remote Desktop Client with connections to 2 VMware vCenter servers.
  • MS Excel with two spreadsheets open for looking up server IPs.
  • MS Word to review a quote I got on some electrical work in my data center.


And...


  • Windows 7 Professional running in Parallels Desktop, so I could run Internet Explorer and the HP .NET iLO remote console for a VMware vSphere server that is acting up.


I have the application windows spread out across multiple virtual desktops on my 27" Apple Thunderbolt display. It's perfectly stable and responsive.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Saturday Night Range Report

I hit the range last night with my dad, and got to put some rounds downrange through my S&W M&P Shield 9 and CZ P-09.

I was testing two new magazines for the Shield and one of them needs some work. It's an eight round magazine but even with the aid of an UpLULA, I can only load six into it. I'm hoping it's just a burr causing the follower to hang up.

The CZ just worked, as usual, shooting a mix of American Eagle 147 grain FMJ-FP and Herters (Sellier & Bellot) 115 grain FMJ. I have about 500 rounds through it so far with zero issues. Since it's a full sized 9mm with a low bore axis the recoil and muzzle flip is very mild. Recoil with the 147 grain loads feels like you're shooting a K-Frame .38.

Dad brought a new-to-him Beretta PX-4 Storm in 9mm and his S&W M&P 22 in .22 LR. I shot the latter and liked it a lot. The trigger was good and even for a .22, recoil is mild and muzzle flip is minimal.

The PX4 Storm is an interesting design. Rather than using the common tilting barrel lockup, it has a rotating barrel. Dad put the first 50 shots through it  into 1 ragged hole at 7 yards with no malfunctions. I didn't get to shoot the Storm but it feels good in my hands. The DA pull is long and not especially smooth but the pistol appears to have been hardly shot.

For me, though, the highlight of the night was getting to put a magazine through another shooter's S&W Model 52-2. The Model 52 was a specialized semiautomatic target pistol chambered for .38 Special cartridges with flush-seated wadcutter loads, intended for bullseye shooting.  Not only had I never handled a Model 52 before, I don't recall ever seeing one in person. The sights are excellent, the trigger was fantastic, and recoil with the .38 midrange loads felt like a .22. S&W made the Model 52 from 1961 up until 1992, when the machinery needed replacement but they deemed it too expensive to do so.

Afterwards, we capped off the night back at Dad's house with a bit of Woodford Reserve Double Oaked bourbon.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

K-E-U-R-I-G Spells Expensive, Bad Coffee


Yesterday the wife unit decided that she wanted to replace her 7 year old (but perfectly functional) Bosch Tassimo single cup coffee maker with a Keurig. The reasons she gave were the wider variety of K-cups vs. the Tassimo cups, and that she could get a unit that would dispense hot water so our girls could more easily make hot tea or chocolate. She also bought a refillable K-cup so that I could continue to use my preferred brand, Chock Full O'Nuts. (Strangely enough, it has no nuts. But I digress.)

What a goatfuck. She wound up getting a Keurig 2.0 unit, which is infested with their DRM. That means you can only use "approved" K-cups unless you hack the DRM sensor.

Likewise, you cannot use refillable K-cups unless you buy Keurig's -- as opposed to the 3rd party one sold right next to the coffee maker, like my wife bought -- unless you engage in some hacking. (For some reason, the incompatible refillable cup worked the first time I tried it, but was rejected the second time. That tells me the DRM sensor is flakey.)

I just love the error message that you get on the touchscreen when you insert an incompatible cup: "Oops!" To be more accurate, it should read, "Ha ha!" while showing a picture of the Keurig CEO grabbing his crotch at you.

Now, being a tech professional I'd heard of this Keurig DRM, and knew that it went over like a wet fart in church. However, an awful lot of consumers haven't. If I'd been with my wife when she bought it, I would have pointed her elsewhere.

I do not want to motherfucking hack my damn coffee maker so that I can brew my choice of coffee. That's as idiotic as having to buy Calphalon-brand eggs to use in a Calphalon frying pan.

This is a perfect example of a corporate greed overcoming good sense, and telling its customers, "Do it our way, or fuck off." The best way to fight this sort of thing is to tell them to fuck right off back, and spend our money with someone else. No, I do not support government regulation. Let the free market work.

On top of the DRM derp, frankly the coffee that comes from a Keurig sucks. Compared with a French press, my old Mr. Coffee drip brewer, or even a percolator it's thin.

We've decided to return the Keurig, keep the Tassimo and replace the Mr. Coffee with another drip brewer because it doesn't keep a pot hot enough after being brewed. For hot water, we'll rely on the good old tea kettle.

Edit: The wife decided not to buy a new drip coffee maker. I don't have a problem with our old one and since I'm the one who mostly uses it, we'll keep it until it dies.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

MacBook Pro Upgrades

Three years ago I bought my wife a 13" MacBook Pro (mid-2012, MacBook Pro 9,2). For the time it was an excellent system, with an i5 CPU, 4 GB of RAM, and a 512 GB hard drive. However, she's been complaining lately that it runs slowly.

I checked it out yesterday morning and sure enough, it felt sluggish, even more so than my mid-2009 MBP with a Core 2 Duo CPU. However, my machine has 8 GB of RAM and, most importantly, an SSD. It was time to upgrade her laptop.

Based on my experience upgrading several older Macs and PCs, a solid state drive (SSD) is the single best performance-enhancing hardware upgrade for an older machine. SSD's have vastly better read/write times than spinning disk. In laptops, SSDs also improve battery life because they draw less electricity.

My plan was to first cleanup the hard disk, then upgrade the OS on the machine, clone the hard disk to an SSD, then upgrade the hardware.

To clean up the disk I ran OnyX. Next, I upgraded the machine from Yosemite to El Capitan. In my experience, Yosemite was a real turd, giving me a lot of grief on my work machine. When I was stuck with it I had a lot of instability issues that I didn't have with earlier versions of OS X. El Capitan seems to have fixed that.

While the upgrade to El Capitan was proceeding, I went to microcenter.com and ordered a few items for in-store pickup to complete the upgrade:




(The links go to Amazon. I bought them from my local Microcenter because I wanted to get this done in one day.)

I installed the RAM first and fired up the machine. It still felt a little slow so as expected, the spinning disk was the main reason.

To clone the OEM disk to the new SSD I downloaded and installed SuperDuper, which I have used previously to clone Mac disks. My wife had less than 150 GB used on her disk, but even using a USB 3.0 interface, cloning it took one hour and 16 minutes.

The physical swap was straightforward, although I had to grab my precision screwdriver set with Torx bits, because Apple used T6 screws to hold the hard disk in place.

The machine performs much, much better now. Cold boots are much faster and applications launch with very little lag. My wife should get several more years out of it.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Shot the Samick Sage A Little More Today

This morning I took my daughter to go see Star Wars Episode VII. No spoilers, just go see it. It's awesome. After lunch I took the Samick Sage out back for a little shooting.

It continues to impress, especially with how fast it shoots my 600 spine, 6.4 grains/inch carbon arrows.

The bow is noisy, though. Most of the noise seems to come from the limb pockets, where each limb is  held in an aluminum tray to the riser. I've read where this can be quieted down by lining them with moleskin.

After I was done shooting I added two nocking points to the string. This setup is like how my Samick SLB II longbow came. When shooting, you nock the arrows between the two points.

My daughter hasn't shot the bow yet but I hope to remedy that by next weekend.