A Trip Down Computing Memory – And How Far We’ve Come

I was talking with a friend the other day, about the “prehistoric” days of computing, about things we did in our youth tinkering with PCs, which ignited our interest in computers. And apart from this proving a fascinating “walk down memory lane”, these reminiscences got me thinking about some of the features of modern Operating Systems we take for granted today.

My earliest experience was on an Apple IIe, with a Z80 card installed, which allowed me to run what seemed to me at the time, an incredibly powerful Operating System, CP/M. And the highlight of using CP/M was what I thought was a very sophisticated Word Processor, Wordstar.

For those not familiar with this now ancient program, here’s a fantastic video from Youtube, which provides a quick overview of the use of Wordstar. And although I can’t be certain, given the “naming” of the drive used, I suspect it is actually being launched (very slowly) from a “floppy disk” – and for those who don’t know what they are – yes they’re the things that look like the Save Button in modern programs, that no one uses any more!

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Apple iCloud Drive – Where did My Files Go?

Well that was interesting? I’ve always been an avid user of Cloud based storage providers. And I’ve tried most of them:

  • Dropbox – my long-time favourite
  • OneDrive – generous space with Microsoft subscriptions, but at one time didn’t play particularly nicely with Mac OS.
  • Google Drive – reasonable free quota, and if you host services with Google, their storage quotas are pretty good. And their client’s have improved over the years.
  • Mega – I tried Mega a while back – as an Australian, I was keen to try the “Antipodean Alternative”. It was fast, it was generous in the space available, but the clients, and mode of operation wasn’t quite “retail” enough for my needs.

I had been using Dropbox as my primary storage provider but, had begun to question the value of their relatively expensive subscription. So what were my alternatives?

My various Microsoft subscriptions allowed me 1 TB of OneDrive space, and although that didn’t accommodate all of my requirements, it certainly allowed me to use that for critical files. I also host some services with Google, and a relatively modest upgrade in my subscription increases the Google Drive storage quota considerably … so that’s an option.

And unashamedly my family is a very “Apple-family”, and so despite the exorbitant price, we have subscribed to “Apple-One”, which I’d almost forgotten provides a quite generous 2 TB of iCloud Drive storage shared across our family members. I’d not really looked at how much the family was using and was surprised that along with all of the many device backups, iCloud based applications etc, we still had well over 1.8 TB free.

So, my plan was to use Google Drive as my primary Cloud provider – where the entirety of my cloud repository resides, and use OneDrive and iCloud Drive to store critical files, and keep the “critical files” synced across all three. And that’s all worked pretty well to date, except there’s been a really odd idiosyncrasy about getting iCloud Drive to work as I want.

Firstly, some background on iCloud Drive. There are some key factors I came to understand both before and as I began moving a significant number of files into it. Some of them are:

  • The location of your local iCloud Drive must be in the User Home Directory – so unless you take the radical step of moving your Home Directory to an external drive, you are very much constrained by the size of your boot drive – unless someone else has other ideas – this is the information I’ve determined?
  • There’s a particular configuration of iCloud Drive, whose meaning is perhaps a little unclear, but it’s critical you understand what it means for you – Optimize Mac Storage – It will be set to On by default, which makes sense for most, but the behaviour of this setting – or in my case – misbehaviour – is of interest.
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Australian Retail Organisations using Facial Recognition

A recent report by the Australian Consumer Organisation Choice has identified that a number of Retail companies have begun using Facial Recognition software in their stores with both minimal consent notices, and unclear purpose. A link to the article is here:

https://www.choice.com.au/ Facial Recognition Article

This article has generated a lot of discussion, but two broad themes of responses have dominated over the last few days:

  1. Heightened alarm that facial recognition is being used by commercial organisations, and that so little is known about their short and long term planned use and as importantly, storage of data harvested.
  2. On the other hand, some have responded in a relatively “benign” way, with comments such as, “Well, if I haven’t been shop-lifting, what have I got to worry about?”.

I consider myself very firmly in the first camp!

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PS/4 and USB Cables – Learning from One’s Mistakes

A quote from George Bernard Shaw goes something like this:

Success does not consist in never making mistakes but in never making the same one a second time.

Bernard Shaw’s attitude is one I’ve tried to adopt, but on occasions it’s difficult to follow through on, as this little story will make clear. My daughter is a bit of a gamer, and using her own money, earned from her part-time job, purchased a PS/4 console second hand, which has been providing great enjoyment.

Over the Christmas break, as we have a Family Apple One Subscription, she and her sister have been exploring some of the Apple Arcade games on our Apple TV in the lounge room, and had paired up her PS/4 controllers to that Apple TV. I was pretty impressed with how well it worked. For a non-Apple Game Controller to work so seamlessly with all of the Apple hosted multi-player games was really cool.

Our problems began when my daughter went back to try and use her PS/4 controllers on her PS/4. As the re-pairing process normally occurs by plugging the controller into the PS/4 with the same USB cable they are charged with, the re-pairing should be reasonably straightforward – but do you think she could get it to work? I headed into her room assuming it would be a trivial problem to resolve … little did I know that I’d still be there an hour later.

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How a Mac OS Crash Caused SOME of my software to stop working – And why

On my main office Mac – a 64 GB 2020 i7 iMac – with lots of external drives, I had an unexpected, catastrophic failure a week ago. The sort that after the machine restarts, you get Mac OS saying: “Your machine was restarted because of a problem …” and you get asked to send a report to Apple, etc, etc … From memory, I think that the issue revolved around “kernel panic”. However, as the machine appeared to have come back up fine – it seemed – I didn’t pay that much attention to the issue, and got back to work. But then I noticed that some things weren’t working as expected. And some of my Drives weren’t mapped correctly. What was going on?

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