Linux on Old Macs

I was recently given a second 20″ iMac 2007 to go along with the first. They’re beautiful machines, but Apple doesn’t want me to keep using it, so they’re making all their software not work on it anymore. So I’ve been wondering how they’d do as Linux machines.

Apparently, it isn’t very easy to get an old iMac to boot a Linux system. I don’t think I have a Firewire cable, much less a HDD enclosure with a Firewire interface.

NMT to disinvite Harrison Schmitt?

I posted the following to an alumni group’s Facebook page in response to a post that cited this article and invited alumni to ask the school’s president to disinvite Schmitt.

I have difficulty believing there is a serious movement to disinvite Dr. Harrison Schmidt as commencement speaker. He’s an astronaut who’s explored — as a trained geologist — another planet, on foot. If he’s wrong about climate science, well, he won’t be the first person to demonstrate the Dunning Kruger effect. I’m think in particular of a physics professor who was determined to bring back punched card media for his simulation software.

But more than that, I am appalled that the professors at Tech are failing to teach their students that Science is not a collection of orthodoxies that must not be questioned. When I went to Tech, I heard from my petroleum engineering friends that one of the geology faculty refused to subscribe to the theory of plate tectonics. I don’t know if that was true, but it was believable because people were allowed to hold unpopular opinions. When I was at Tech, we read “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” and learned the big problem in science is overcoming the informal orthodoxies that creep in despite our best intentions. We watched Carl Sagan’s “Cosmos” and shook our heads at the medieval clergy who treated Galileo as a heretic and refused to look through his telescope.

But worst, I think, is the boorish gauchery of disinviting a speaker from an event after the invitation had been made and accepted. What kind of people would even consider it? A few years ago, I thought President Trump was 50% vulgarian, 50% clown, and 100% reality show personality. Today, I’m afraid he embodies the spirit of our age. The idea that Techies would outdo him in classlessness… it’s #Sad.

Mojave Finder Misfeature

MacOS X has a feature that nobody else has: Miller Columns. (There were evidently once a few Linux file managers that implemented it, but I’ve never seen it, and I’m too lazy to track them down. OpenStep did, which was where I first encountered them, but that was a straight knockoff of NeXTSTEP. Besides, nobody uses a bare Window Manager any more. The hipsters these days are all about desktop environments and— Hey! You kids! Get off my lawn, you kids.)

Miller Columns, we were talking about. Neat feature. It’s been there forever. Since before it was MacOS X.

So of course, in Mojave, Apple screwed it up. Behold:

The preview (right-most) panel used to provide some useful information. Now it has a button that enables you to see some useful information. THANK YOU SO MUCH, APPLE.

Issues with printing PDF from Preview since updating to Mojave

Mojave removed the ability of Apple’s apps (preview, pages, etc.) to print using the Konica Print drivers. There’s a Konica driver, but Apple’s “Library Validation” means that Apple’s apps won’t use it. (I assume they enforce the same rules for software from the App Store, but I haven’t checked.) In order to get the full use of a driver, you have to use a 3rd party. Do that and you have access to all the features in the Konica print drivers.

I imagine that other vendors of fancy printers with non-basic features provide their own client software, like the weird little apps that come with inkjets and scanners. Those apps can use the full feature set of their vendors’ libraries. But nobody else can, if they’re using library validation.

So the solution is to NOT USE APPLE APPS (or presumably App Store Apps) to do your printing. Use 3rd party apps like Chrome or Acrobat, so you can get access to the print driver’s feature set. See more in this post.

This strategy works, if you think of computers as basically glorified iPhones with a walled garden of curated apps that your grandmother can safely use on the internet. But if you think of them as general purpose devices, with a huge ecosystem of applications to leverage to create value, well, good luck with that. “It just works” has been grayed out. You can learn more at the Apple developer forums (from this link: See also this from Xerox.

Cross posted from the Apple Support Forum, in case it disappears there.

UPDATE. I saw this too late. Try creating “presets” in the 3rd party app, and then using that from within the crippled Apple app.

Cool MacOSX feature

I’ve found it increasingly hard to approve of Apple for the last while (like seven or eight years) so I wanted to point out something I like. I don’t know when it appeared, but I only just noticed it myself.

You may have noticed that MacOSX apps are good at tracking changes to the filesystem. You can be editing a document in one app, and you change it’s name in the Finder (or the Terminal) and the first app notices that and doesn’t try to save it under the original name. Good job, Apple. All the OSes should do that.

But here’s the feature I just noticed. I’m downloading a file (using a non-Safari browser) and I notice that it looks like this in the Finder:

Notice the grey progress meter next to the file? Pretty slick. I don’t know what the API requires on the part of the web browser, but it’s nice that the rest of the OS can be aware the file is open (easy enough) and it’s 85% done (pretty impressive).

MacOSX Security Updates

I hate them, because I know they probably should be installed, but they take about an hour to install. I see a lot of this:

For whatever reason, it tends to camp out around 40 minutes. I’ll come back and it will say 42 minutes, or 41, or 43, but rarely anything below 40 or over 45.

So this week, Apple gave me a security update:

Note the size of this file. Some of have bandwidth caps, Apple.

Then, a couple of days later, they gave me another. Only it wasn’t a new security update. It was an update of the first update.

You can’t ship laptop batteries to Alaska

This sucks. You can’t bring a battery through security (as carry-on luggage) unless it’s powering a device. So that eliminates replacement batteries for a device you aren’t carrying with you. And you can’t take a lithium battery as checked luggage in passenger aircraft. Period.

Nor does there appear to be any way (for a consumer)  to ship stuff here on a genuine cargo plane.

Well. That throws a monkey wrench in my plans.