Monday, December 21, 2015

Not looking good

Ok. A day before my travel I was working on my Thinkpad and it kind of dawned on me why I stopped using Windows as my main operating system way back when dinosaurs roamed, well, ok, not that long time ago.

First, the machine worked for all purposes, execpt for quite a few things. While downloading updates, it just got stuck at 23% for 2 hours, no matter what I did, sign off, reboots and whatever else, nothing moved the update progress bar, not even when it tried again, it got stuck at 23%.

When you click the START button, you can just type in whatever you want, and it is way faster than actually trying to find things, but every single search results resulted in a non working link. Pressing the Add remove software from the menu resulted in the machine just stalling for a minute or two, then nothing happened.

Going into the Control panel or settings resulted in the same thing.

There was nothing that caught my eye in the event viewer.

It kind of looks like the machine is toast, except for, I could install and download applications, both from the store and from other web sites, the web worked quite well, opening files from network drives worked, Netflix worked, everything seemed to work but really it wasn't.

So, I did not take the Thinkpad with me on my travel. How this will affect my transition trial remains to be seen, but things is not looking good. This like the moment when a scientist calls success on his experiment a minute before it blows up.

I was looking forward to actually doing work on Windows only vacation for 2 weeks. This really puts a huge downer on the experiment, and things were looking so good.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Nearing conclusions

The title of this post was supposed to be called "Wet towels do work after all", and I meant that using Windows was like trying to dry yourself with a wet towel, when you are in a swimming place, you drop the towel on the floor and it gets cold and wet. You can still dry yourself, but it just isn't comfortable, things just don't work quite perfect, but they do work.

That was almost my conclusion about windows 10. Here are some negative feelings.

- There are so many ways of doing things. You have pc settings and control panel to change settings, then you right click on the desktop and go into display settings, there you can change the size and patterns of windows, screen sizes and even some layout. Things are just spread all over the place. Then the oldie but gold Control Panel, it is almost impossible to find anything there, if it were not for the excellent search function inside the control panel, it would be completely impossible. Things move around between operating system upgrades. This things is a huge wart in the face of modern operating system.

- Cygwin works, ye sit works, just not always the way you are used to. You have to install scripts to get the apt-get kind of feeling, but that does not work all the time, you just can't find everything. I needed a specific xml library, then I restarted the Cygwin installer and was able to find the library I needed, apparently this is the way to do things, re-run the installer. That just doesn't feel right. trying to setup Cygwin with Git, Zshell, oh my zshell and others is difficult, even for a veteran Unix administrator. But when you run services that have a prompt, like node, mongo or redis-cli just to name 3 items, as that is the rule, you always have to name 3 items. The prompt does not work, doesn't show up, you can type but you can't press ctrl-r to do recursive search through history and things like that, things you take for granted. Weird thing is, the prompts work in CMD terminal, MinGW shell that came with Git and in powershell, which tells me this has to be some simple thing, please fix. Why don't I just use MinGW that came with Git, because more things break there and there are more issues with that shell, would have been great if it worked.

- When you task switch over to a window, it does not switch to that application. Ok, this point is just me, it did take me some time to get used to the opposite when I moved to the Mac, and when you use something for 12-13 years, you kind of get the feeling that this just has to be the right way. Well, I do think this has to be the right way. My usual work environment is that I have two cygwin windows up and running, each taking half of the display, one is just for running the web application and the other one is for doing searches like ack, grep through the source code, is a window for git and committing and logging and plain just terminal for the source code. So when I switch over to Cygwin, I just get one window, and it takes quite a number of alt-tabbing to get the other one. This is not a fatal flaw, but it is a wet towel, extremely annyoing and there is no way to just jump to an application and all its windows.

- I know I said 3 items are the rule, well, 4 items will proof my point. No other filesystem support. Oh boy would  this be fantastic. I kind of like ntfs, but that is surely just because I have used it for over 20 years. But we live in 2015. We should have ZFS or something like that. I love ZFS so much, I use it on linux, on FreeBSD, of course on Solaris but I don't use solaris today unfortunately because of lousy hardware support AND on my Mac. Yes, I have ZFS on my mac. ZFS is very cool. Just a quick thing. I can create a partition that is encrypted, a partition where the same byte is not written twice, so if you have 2 copies of a file, it is just stored once, I can set resource properties, like max size and many others, I can mirror filesystems and even have a filesystem as a blob that you can f.ex. export as an iSCSI disk. Of course not everything is supported by Windows, probably can't be, but having something like that would make windows awesome.

Ok, enough is enough. Why did I change the title of this post ? Why isn't it negative ?

Well, one word, babun ( Huh ? Babun ? What is that ? Well let me give you the short explanation. Babun is a clone/fork of Cygwin with everything you want and need. It has oh myzshell, ZSH as default, it has its own package system, just badun install this and that. It works great, it is very fast, and it works 95% as well as the Mac Terminal, why 95% ? Because it does not display prompts for node, mongo and redis-cli, why not ?

I have been playing with Raspberry PI2 quite a lot lately, been writing many sd card, info to sd cards. The Mac is just a a joke when it comes to writing images on things, even back when to a DVD disk. It is so slow. Just to give you an example, I wrote Raspbian debian for Raspberry onto an sd card with dd command and it took so long time that I went to the store and to the gym, trained for an hour and when I came home it still had not finished. Yes I know I write to /dev/rdisk... it is so slow. Just for the fun of it, I did the exact same with dd inside Badun and wrote to the f drive, it took just a few minutes, it was blazing fast. WHAT ?

The search feature on the new start button is just so fast, it is amazing. It can't send email or search for contacts, but you can search for files, applications, games, settings, properties and even just type in a help question which it will search the net for you. I don't have cortana. But this works very well.

Working on net drives. I have a home made SAN at home, plenty of disks and plenty of space. Working with the Mac on these drives is a real hit or miss. When the Mac works, it works great and over a gig ethernet, I get really great speeds, but change over to wifi and it will take you many minutes to get that disk back, open files lock down and things just go wrong, then things can and will get super slow and there is nothing you can do about it. Well working with samba shares on the windows machine is super great, switch to a wifi, no problems, loose all network for a moment, no problems, get the connection again and nothing has happened, now we are talking.

So, where do I stand ?

I own a Macbook, fully loaded, and due to strong dollar and weak norwegian krona, I can sell it 2 years later for more money than I paid for it, I paid 19.900 kr, it costs 27.000 today. Looking at the market of PC machines, their prices have risen quite dramatically as well. So as a replacement machine for my Macbook would set me back at least 25.000 kr ($2200-2400). That is an awful lot of money.


Yes, there is always a but, and here there are many butts.
My Macbook is as it is. It has 500 GB SSD disk and 16 GB memory. I can't change anything on it.

At work I have two machines. My Thinkpad test machine and my work machine a 13" i7 16GB 512GB SSD Macbook pro retina.

These two machines are almost identical when it comes to specs, except the Macbook has way better and higher res monitor. But as I said, I almost never work on that monitor, so it is not an issue.
They have the same amount of memory, disks and cpu.
But the Thinkpad feels much faster, way way faster. I also removed the DVD drive and set in a bracket and a 2TB disk, so I have 2 disks, do that on a Mac. I must agree that I probably can't expand the memory any more than 16GB, but I don't need to. When I am working on the Thinkpad, I am using like 2-3GB memory, thats it. I know very well that the memory free is a nonsense on the Mac as the operating system claims most memory to speed up work and caching, so you never really run out of memory.
My Thinkpad is much faster at everything than my 13" Macbook and the Thinkpad never just stops for no apparent reason. I have not tried any games on the Thinkpad, will do that over christmas probably, but running games on the 13" Macbook is not possible, they just run slowly and skip all frames, not possible.

Then there is one last thing. I have been in the Apple world for 12-13 years. I use iCloud, I use Messages and I use iTunes Music. I have to say that iTunes Music is worse than Spotify, way worse. It is slow to start, doesn't just download everything, so the next song sometimes needs to wait until your train is out of the tunnel, and even when playing your own music the network spinner is spinning constantly. Why do I then use it ? Well my kids are all into music and love listening to music, and I just pay like 150 kr a month for the whole family, instead of paying 99 kr per person, this adds up quickly. If spotify could match this, I would probably move over.
But on Windows 10, there is this thing called Groovy, yeah I know it is groovy, people stopped saying groovy in the early 1960s. But the client is quite good actually after a limited try. I just copied my iTunes library to a net drive and pointed Groovy to that directory and it not only scanned all my music, it added album covers, even on Icelandic songs, so I checked the groovy subscription service, it does have Icelandic music as well in there, though all I need is early Bubbi and Todmobile and I am happy.
I have not checked out prices or OSX clients, but I will also check that during christmas vacation. It seems on first check to contain the same music as Spotify and iTunes Music.
It all remains to be seen.

I am not quite jumping ship yet, but my attitude has become much more positive. I can see myself though using Windows 10 and doing my work on it. The 15" Macbook pro retina has though spoiled me so much. It has raised my standards to so much height that it is almost unthinkable to use anything else, and the battery life ? Ohhh the battery life is so good on both Macbooks and not so good on the Thinkpad, but is it good enough ? Well, we shall see. Over christmas I will travel to that icy rock in the middle of the Atlantic ocean, I will only bring with me the work 13" Macbook and my Thinkpad, no 15" retina machine. My work machine will remain private free, no private crap on it unless everything else fails, all private work and doodling and programming will happen on Thinkpad. This will do for 2 weeks and we shall see. I will checkout Groovy while I am at it and I will write a post about this.
This is a process, be patient.