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Installing the Asahi Linux Alpha on my M1 Mac mini

After upgrading my main workstation to a Mac Studio, I decided to break tradition.

Usually, I sell off my old workstation to offset the cost of the new one. But just last week, Asahi Linux announced their first alpha release.

Asahi Linux MacBook Pro

If you haven't heard of Asahi, it's a Linux distribution based on Arch Linux that aims to bring a polished Linux experience on Apple Silicon Macs (all the current M1 Macs, and any new Apple Silicon Macs that come in the future).

Mac Studio is 4x more efficient than my new AMD PC

Last month, I built an all-AMD PC to try out Linux Gaming with Steam and Proton, and so I'd have a faster native Linux build machine for my various compilation tasks.

This month, Apple introduced the Mac Studio, and as a now full-time video producer, it was a no-brainer for me to upgrade from an M1 Mac mini.

Mac Studio M1 Max Hero

My Mac Studio arrived Friday, and over the weekend, I spent some time benchmarking it against not only my M1 mini, but also my new AMD Ryzen 5 5600x PC build.

My Mac Studio's specs:

What does Apple Silicon mean for the Raspberry Pi and ARM64?

Note: There's a video version of this blog post available here: What does Apple Silicon mean for the Raspberry Pi and ARM64?

Apple Silicon and the Raspberry Pi

A couple weeks ago I tried using the latest Raspberry Pi 4 8 gig model as my main computer for a day, and I posted a video about my experience.

Besides many diehard Linux fans complaining in the comments about my apparent idiocy caused by being a Mac user, the experience taught me one thing: A lot of software still isn't built for 64-bit ARM processors, or even for Linux in general.

But there's one trend that I'm seeing: most of the open source software I use already works great on a Pi 4 running on its 64-bit ARM processor.

The physical Apple Card is a case of form over function

Apple Card is not just the physical card you get in the mail when you sign up for an Apple Card. There are a lot of upsides to what Apple's doing with Apple Card and Apple Pay.

I get it. And I also believe the physical titanium Apple Card is a marvel of engineering. Kudos to the metallurgists and designers who produced it—it would easily make for a durable and beautiful display piece on the history of monetary transfer.

Apple Card - Jeff Geerling - Front hero shot

The card feels great in your hand. It has a beautiful white finish. The letter and logo detail is impeccable.

Apple Card - Apple logo detail

The way the magstripe seamlessly integrates into the titanium structure of the card is beautiful, and probably required some extremely precise machining.

AirPods get stuck in low-quality 16 kHz audio mode when starting a VM

I always love when I find a really dumb solution that works reliably to fix a problem that should never really be a problem in the first place. But having worked with audio devices before—though nothing nearly as complex as the AirPods—I am willing to cut Apple some slack in building a seamless aural experience with using AirPods across phone calls, VOIP, iOS devices, Macs, music, and Apple TVs... it's hard to execute perfectly, and as I said in my review of the AirPods two years ago, these little earbuds are as close to perfection when it comes to a wireless sound solution for someone like me.

Anyways, here's the problem:

Sometimes (maybe 10% of the time) when I run vagrant up to build a local development environment for one of my software projects, and I'm listening to music, my AirPods suddenly switch into super-low-quality audio mode. It sounds like you're listening to a song played through a long subway tunnel or something.

Fixing Safari's 'can't establish a secure connection' when updating a self-signed certificate

I do a lot of local development, and since almost everything web-related is supposed to use SSL these days, and since I like to make local match production as closely as possible, I generate a lot of self-signed certificates using OpenSSL (usually using Ansible's openssl_* modules).

This presents a problem, though, since I use Safari. Every time I rebuild an environment using my automation, and generate a new certificate for a domain that's protected with HSTS, I end up getting this fun error page:

Safari Can't Open the Page - Safari can't open the page because Safari can't establish a secure connection to the server servername.

Safari Can't Open the Page – Safari can't open the page because Safari can't establish a secure connection to the server 'servername'.

AirPort Extreme showing 'Device Not Found'? Here's a fix

If you've had an AirPort Extreme for a while, and recently (within the past year or two) had it go missing from your network (when you open AirPort Utility you get 'Device Not Found'), there's a good chance you ran into the same issue I did. Basically, everything was running great, then one day around August 2016, my Extreme disappeared from the network—even though it was routing Internet traffic for all the devices in my house just as good as ever!

The fix?

  1. Open AirPort utility (it will likely show "Device Not Found").
  2. Unplug your AirPort Extreme, and wait 10 seconds.
  3. Plug it back in, and connect to the WiFi network as soon as possible, then immediately go to the AirPort Utility.
  4. The AirPort should appear and be manageable (by clicking on it) for a brief period—quickly click on it, click Edit, then clear out any Apple IDs in the 'Back to My Mac' section.

AirPort Extreme Back to My Mac Apple ID listing

How I discovered my left AirPod was bad

tl;dr: My left AirPod had some hardware issue. I got a new one. Now the AirPods work great.

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The morning Apple's AirPods went up for sale, I was boarding a plane, and had just gotten to my seat on the plane. I knew they'd be in short supply (though I didn't know just how short—my local Apple Store only gets a small batch every week, and they're sold out in hours!), so I quickly ordered a pair, then set my iPhone in airplane mode for takeoff.

AirPods on Brown Paper
These things are awesome... though a little pricey.

I returned my 2016 MacBook Pro with Touch Bar

tl;dr: After two weeks of use, I returned my 2016 13" MacBook Pro with Touch Bar and bought one with Function Keys instead. Read on for detailed Battery stress tests, performance tests, and an exploration of how Apple's botched this year's Pro lineup.

I've owned almost every generation of Mac desktop and laptop computers, and have survived many transitions: 680x0 to PowerPC, Classic Mac OS to OS X, to the PowerPC to Intel switch. I've also owned almost every generation of iPhone and iPad. I even maintain a huge list of all the Macs I've owned! I could justifiably be labeled an 'Apple fanatic'.

I use a Mac as my daily driver, and have rarely made a tech-related purchase I regretted. And I've never returned a Mac, until today.

A Tale of Two Apples: AirPods and the Touch Bar

Yesterday UPS delivered a BTO 2016 MacBook Pro 13" with Touch Bar (to replace my 2013 11" MacBook Air), and a set of AirPods (to replace three different headsets I use daily in my work as a remote employee).

AirPods on 2016 MacBook Pro 13" Touch Bar Safari address bar in Charging Case

The two products tell a different story about the company that makes them:

MacBook Pro with Touch Bar

The MacBook Pro fails to 'thrill' in a way that no other Apple device I've made the conscious decision to purchase has.

Upgrading from a 2013 MacBook Air 11" (portability is king to me, but I needed more performance), the only major external difference is the retina display—something most other 'pro' Mac users have been enjoying since 2012. The Touch Bar itself is mostly useless to me for two reasons: