Archive for the 'Life' Category

Apple’s macOS Preview default to 100% scale

Wednesday, November 8th, 2017

You sometimes need to print documents, invoices, boarding passes, whatever? Using Apple’s macOS Preview.app and tired of having to choose: “Scale: 100%” to have an accurate printout instead of the often arbitrary default of: “Scale to Fit: 97%” or 98% (likely due to content on margins outside of your printer’s printable page size)?

defaults write com.apple.Preview PVImagePrintingScaleMode 0
defaults write com.apple.Preview PVImagePrintingAutoRotate 0

Yep. The famous Apple usability and attention to details ;-)

Hex print variables in raw GDB cli interface

Thursday, October 26th, 2017

How did I survive 20 years without noticing that GDB can hex print variables simply by adding /x:


p/x var

$1 = {0×4d, 0×46, 0×50, …}

;-)!

“Everything was better in the past”

Saturday, October 7th, 2017

When I talk about IT issues, e.g. #peakbugs in macOS / iOS, and how I liked older macOS versions more, how many modern cheap “made in China appliances / gadgets” break quickly, or the the “loudness wars” in music, many people just respond with the usual slang myth: yeah, yeah, “everything was better in the past”.
Well, of course not. IMHO Windows 10 is one of the best Windows versions (well, all the ones before were just total garage crap, … and not that I would want to use it on a daily basis, but still, …)

Just noticed another funny random glitch in the Matrix. Guano Apes, a “local” German, 90’s band from where I grew up, just released a remaster / remix of their first album. Now “Proud Like A God” was one of my examples of “you really could have produced it with a little higher fidelity and less noise”. Guess what? The 2017 remaster / remix versions is higher fidelity and with less noise ;-) And as a added bonus in this day and age you can even get it as 24-bit/48kHz FLAC.

Apple continues to overcharge EU customers

Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

So the new iPhone-X was just announced, let’s take a quick look on the pricing: $US 999, which does not include tax. So let’s divide this by the current $US/EUR exchange of 1.20, and adding 19% Germany VAT:

999 / 1.20 * 1.19 = 990,675 EUR

To be on the save side they could round this up to 999 EUR-
And what is Apple listing on their Germany website?

1.149 EUR !!!

Thanks but no thanks. I do not need to be ripped of and overcharged to maximize profits and subsidize the US market.

Update: Apple is basically calculating with an currently very far off exchange rate of 1.0338 !
999/1.0338*1.19 = 1149.94…

I would rather prefer they use actual exchange rates, and instead adapt prices if necessary. As they did before in Europe, Russia, Brazil, and elsewhere, ..!

The miserable High Sierra install experience

Wednesday, June 7th, 2017

Apple just released the first macOS 10.13 “High Sierra” Beta. Actually I’m quite surprised of the lack of inspiration in naming. They switched from nice cat names, to boring California landmark names, only to go form Sierra to High Sierra? Is there nothing else more investing to name it? Also this results in rather poor google experience when you google for high sierra issues and one get’s overloaded with old Sierra stuff, … Maybe they are just too high in their Cupertino UFO spaceship these days, …

Anyways, the install experience, oh my, god, where should I even start. Why the heck can they not publish proper, good old installer disk images? And with this High Sierra Beta they reached a new sad point of annoyance. So first some “macOSDeveloperBetaAccessUtility.dmg” packages has to be downloaded (150k or so), after some system fiddling (btw, what exactly?) You get a “Install macOS 10.13 Beta.app” int the AppStore like with previous macOS versions. But instead of including all the installer image, it is only 5MB in size.

Starting that app does some Apple authorisation (again), think preventing Hackintosh’s, and then starts downloading the installer disk images into /macOS\ Install\ Data/, like InstallESDDmg.pkg.partial, and such.

So the problem will all this error prone steps is that the first time the download got stuck at some 4.8 GB. Restarting this stupid loader app wiped all the data and stated from scratch!!! :-/ So some hour and another 5GB wasted in the internet later, it rebooted the system just to tell me I would not have enough space. Wait what? It could not determine that before all the wasted time and data? And only offer to reboot, ..!

Guess what? At that point the f*cking installer thing again removed all the 5GB+ installer image from /macOS\ Install\ Data/ !!!!1!!!

So instead of me being able to plug in other external disk or whatever for installation. I now again need to wait an hour or two, and load the 5GB+ of data, again, and again.

Why do they have to re-implement this crappy, error prone downloader, when the App Store already has a download facility that may be more stable, continue stopped downloads and would also leave the installer image where it was for the next test install.

Each year the whole install procedure feel more like a hidden, user unfriendly labyrinth maze that you would expect from Microsoft in Windows, but not from a cleanly structured Unix kind of system we expect macOS to be.

Unfortunately it looks like Apple is giving up on this clean structure for the sake of making Hackintoshs harder thru obscurity.

Sad. Just so sad :-/

What’s up at Apple? Make UI great again!

Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

While traveling abroad the other day I needed to save bandwidth and download an SD video of an HD TV series season pass in iTunes. A long search of hidden easter eggs - but I finally found it:

Why do the companies need to change their UI so often, make things more difficult and hide in the least expected corners? Why can this not be simple, context options where one would expect it?

Oqo 01 power adapter pinout

Friday, February 3rd, 2017

I got a nearly unused Oqo 01+ a few years ago for my vintage computer collection. You know, because it has “rare” Transmeta Efficeon cpu in it. As the original power supplies are apparently prone to fail, it already came without a power supply and I had to always use the lab supply on my desk (don’t ask, just the usual computer scientist office desk ;-)

Back in the day I found a bloodspot.com post form Ekawahyu Susilo, were he measured the pins - however, given the usual bitrot in the interwebs the post is now gone, and I peeled the most useful photo out of the archive.org to archive it prominently here as well:

Recompress PDF 1.0 (aka 17.1)

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017

We just released a new application we were working on: re/compress 1.0 (or by our new versioning schema 17.1).

As I mentioned some years ago we have written a new PDF library from scratch for our portable port of OCRKit.

While we always simply wrote PDF ourselves, for reading PDF files we initially used macOS’ PDF framework. Until we ported OCRKit and ExactScan to Windows and Linux, too.

We could have simply find some open source code for that, but we ultimately decided against this. One benefit of knowing your own code is, that you can usually fix issues in a matter of minutes, instead of searching thru other people’s code for days or weeks. Customers are always amazed about our turn around time for bug reports, or on-site support ;-)

In the meantime we know PDFs inside out, and thru our involvement in the TWAIN Working Group even work with the PDF Association on some PDF standards. After having seen so many defect, non standard conforming, or simply not that compressed files in the wild at customers, we though: Why not factor out PDF optimization, recompression and error recovery into an own affordable App and started to work on re/compress.

Re/compress will go thru all the file’s objects, and re-writes them in the most compact and compressed way. If any recovery methods were needed to read defect or broken files, the new file will be written with all this corrections applied for other, regular PDF applications to be abel to read the file, too.

Additionally, for the big space savings, the images can be re-compressed, and optionally down-sampled to really reduce huge files to very lightweight ones for sharing, and mailing.

And best of all: Since we created our own cross-platform UI, re/compress is immediately available for Mac, Windows, and theoretically Linux, too (if you are interested in the later just drop us a note).

re/compress PDF.

TEAC HR Audio Player for iOS

Thursday, January 5th, 2017

This thing, when you buy a Teac HA-P50 for some Hi-Res Audio testing, and the matching iOS app (you know, for hi-res, FLAC and such, …, sigh) produces extremely audible clicks and pops that sounds like buffer under run / overflow / whatever - on a recent iPhone 6s no less.

What the heck are the vendor’s thinking to ship such crap to their premium paying customers?

Funny thing, other apps, such Apple’s own Music.app do not have this clicks and pops, … ???!!!

Judging from the App review an at least one year old problem:

PS: And why the heck do they sell the Teac HA-P50 for US$199 in the states, and for 299€ in Europe?

Are 32-bit audio DACs any good?

Saturday, December 31st, 2016

I took a closer look at the latest 32-bit DACs and wondered how much better they can be over other state of the art 24-bit DACs, so let’s take a quick look:

ESS9012: DNR: 133db, THD: 120dB - 32 bit
AK4497EQ: SNR: 128dB, THD: 116dB - 32 bit

compared to classic vendor’s 24-bit reference DACs:
CS5381: SNR: 120dB, THD: 110dB - 24 bit
WM8741: SNR: 125dB, THD: 100dB - 24 bit
PCM1792: SNR: 129db, THD: 128dB - 24 bit

and some more reference points:
vintage 1996 CS4328: SNR: 120db, THD: 93dB - 18 bit
PCM5102 (as in TEAC HA-P50): SNR: 112dB, 93dB - w/ 32-bit interf.?!

So they are not really much better than other state of the art reference DACs, e.g. the Cirrus Logic Crystal DAC, and the TI Burr Brown DAC has even mostly better spec? Hmm, …

And in case of the PCM5102 as used in the Teac HA-P50 portable headphone amp I am actually quite disappointed that it’s technical specs are not really better than a vintage, 1996 Cirrus Logic CS4328. Back in the day their state of the art reference DAC.

And what are the theoretically limits for 24 bit (simplified):

20*log10(2)*24 == 144dB

and for 32 bit:

20*log10(2)*32 == 192dB

So which theoretical limit are those DACs approaching?, …

I rather have an honest 24-bit DAC than a 32-bit marketing wanna be. And even the 1996 CS4328 already accepts surplus bits on the serial bus. So you could already call those “with 32-bit interface”, ..:-)

Update: Even more curious are the newer TI, Burr Brown chips:

PCM1792: SNR: 129db, THD: THD+N: 0.0004% - 24 bit
PCM1795: SNR: 123db, THD: THD+N: 0.0005% - 32 bit

Huh? Why has the Advanced Segment 2009 DAC worse spec than the 2004 one (beside consuming less power, …)?