Past the Curse?

It was back in November that I whined about a whole bunch of things going wrong with my tech, all at once. Well, I have finally replaced the last failed item, since my Nehalem Xeon powered Mac Pro shipped a week and a half earlier than Apple promised, and I have it set up and migrated.

Engadget has posted a bunch of nice unboxing shots, so I don’t have to. I will however show a nice touch I found when installing the troublesome Blu-Ray drive that failed so miserably in the dual G5 machine this one replaces. Since the new machine uses SATA for its optical bays I can now hook up the drive directly, without the flimsily-attached bundled ATAPI adapter, which seemed mostly good for causing kernel panics. (The bay also has two slots, so I can leave Apple’s SuperDrive in place when adding the Blu-Ray drive). I quickly realized I was going to need some screws to attach the drive, but before I could start tearing apart my closet in the faint hope that my miscellaneous-server-parts box might contain some that would work, I noticed that Apple had thought of this and taken care of me.

Not only does the mounting tray pop out to make it easy to attach the optical drives, but Apple supplies an extra set of screws for when you want to use the second bay:

Optical drive bay from Mac Pro showing spare screws

Optical drive tray from Mac Pro showing spare screws.

I’ve highlighted the location of the spare screws, and the one I’d already used to start attaching the Blu-Ray drive. A most thoughtful and civilized solution!

Installing the second SATA hard drive for Time Machine was almost insanely easy, as you’ve no doubt read elsewhere. I thought my previous G5 case made drive installation almost as easy as possible, but this was significantly easier.

I am happy to report that the Toast Blu-Ray encoder does make good use of multiple threads, as can be seen in this screen shot:

Activity Monitor windows while Toast encodes a Blu-Ray disc

Activity Monitor windows while Toast encodes a Blu-Ray disc.

I still can’t get over the processor activity window with its sixteen bar graphs—two for each core, since hyperthreading allows two simultaneous threads per core.

I had to rearrange the room a little, since the new LED Cinema Display shipped with noticeably shorter cables than my previous display (perhaps because it was originally aimed at MacBook users, but still somewhat disappointing). The extravagant amount of screen space was worth it, though.

The new arrangement of my desktop to accommodate both displays

The new arrangement of my desktop to accommodate both displays.

After almost a week of getting settled and experimenting, I can confirm that this machine is a joy to use, and a most worthy replacement for the one whose motherboard died. And I’m also happy to report that the old dual G5 has an excited new owner as of this morning: a graphic designer who was expecting to repair her much slower and older machine, and who will be able to make great use of it.

Understanding the AIG Scandal

Like most people, I’ve been trying to figure out what’s been going on with the US financial system, and where we are headed. Triangulating between The Economist and The Nation, I look for plausible truths. Last week I found a posting on fivethirgtyeight.com that filled in many important factual and analytical details for me. I got such good feedback from friends I shared it with that I decided to add a “Politics” category to Arcadia and share it more widely.

So take a look at Nate Silver’s excellent article. Some of the comments are quite interesting too.

And, of course, the raw facts of this case are not the only important thing. Glenn Greenwald is another blogger I find very insightful, especially when it comes to exactly what is wrong with our political establishment and the captive media that enables and abets it. He recently wrote about how appropriate—and in fact overdue—is the public rage over the “bonus payments.” Read it here.

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